Father’s Day 2 Weeks Away

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Gift giving has come a long way since the days of macaroni necklaces. With Father’s Day just two weeks away, it time to start looking.

Put down the necktie! You don’t have to give him a tie, unless his job requires it…. how about jewelry?

Yup, I said jewelry- a ring to be exact. You might be thinking, he has a ring, I know. So does my husband. But when you find the right ring, it sure will be a great surprise.

This is a Tungsten Carbide ring, it also has “I love you” engraved on the inside. Great character right? Where did I find it? Right here : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MZ1MCQC

They offer many other colors and designs. Not sure what ring size to get? If it’s not a surprise gift here’s a ring sizing chart you can use

Mine wasn’t a surprise gift so here’s how it looked on him

Here’s a bonus- use this discount code for a great deal on the ring; PH7ULI4R

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Families “Make- A- Wish” Come True

Every child has a special wish. From having a pony as a pet to what they want to be when they grow up. And we as parents or guardians spend many years helping them make the latter wish come true. Numerous after school and summer camps, don’t forget the clubs that focus on the future astronaut or chef. Many years of experiences and trials to endure.

But what if you didn’t have all of those years? As heartbreaking as it is to think about, there are those precious children that don’t have the luxury of time due to an unfortunate illness.

That’s where organizations like Make-A-Wish come in. Not just nationwide but world wise. An organization that combines donors, supporters and volunteers together to make a critically ill child’s wish come true.

What is your part in it? Of course you can go straight to their website (www.wish.org) and sign up to volunteer or make a donation.

Or you can participate in a sponsored event at different establishments in your local area.

Recently, Maggiano’s had two special events where a portion of the proceeds went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation!!

Their first event was for the kiddos! A Kids Cooking Class featuring their famous lasagna!!

The little chefs were lead by none other than Chef Patrick!

Step by step they were guided into making their lasagna and learning a little more about the Maggiano’s lasagna.

Of course, like in any family, you can’t go home without having a bite to eat….. appetizer buffet is all set!

The second event was for the adults…. a Paint and Sip Class! Since it was on Cinco de Mayo, sangria cocktails and a summer cactus to create led by Hope.

Stations at every table Its time to begin.

This is Maggiano’s so noshing is allowed. In the form of an appetizer and dessert buffet!

Finally the finished product….

Fun filled events, but more heart filling knowing that you have been able to contribute to making a child’s dream come true…

And when those wishes come true, their happiness can light up the world!!

A Place for Everything, Everything in its Place

Tidying up has never been this trendy when I was growing up. Back then the joy came from being done with the task!!

But now that we are older, we feel more than joy, it’s a sense of completion. It’s almost like wiping a clean slate and starting fresh. To get to the end, we have to start.

We look at our humble “abodes” and try to decide what area to tackle first. Along with how to organize or , maybe even, purge.

Just this past April 23rd I had the pleasure of having Amanda Scudder and her co-organizer Melissa from Abundance Organizing as my guest speaker at my “Dish the CFA Tea with Geri B” event!!

What great insights they shared! With the benefit of not being in a large convention setting like her past appearances, we were really able to get out our questions.

It’s in this type of casual setting that can process the process of true organization. What do I mean? Organizing is more than just de junking. I fall guilty to clothes that I “might” fit back into, or seem too sentimental to let go. Amanda and Melissa’s take? If you do fit back into that piece of clothing, will it still be part of the 80/20 section of your clothing repertoire. Would you actually wear it? And, if it is sentimental it shouldn’t be hanging with what you wear- makes sense.

For the record- I probably should look at my closet with the 80/20 in mind, something many of us do.

“We wear 80% of the time the same 20% of clothes” Yup! Guilty!!

What about the junk drawer? It’s time to gather up your items, segregate like items and designate, because do we really need 3 staplers?

What about containers? Love them- but find clear ones so you can see what’s in them. An item she uses that’s so versatile are chalkboard style labels. Easy to clean and rename your container.

There’s so much more!! And let’s be honest, sometimes we need someone outside our immediate “bubble” to help us work through the designating part.

If you are in the Virginia area you can contact their office; http://www.abundanceorganizing.com

If not? To find your local professional organizer go to; http://www.napo.com

“Dish the CFA Tea with Geri B” wouldn’t be the same without its book of the month contributed by Harlequin Books

Not to mention our featured corner of new products, and of course….. great raffle gift baskets from me and prizes from Chick Fil A!

Stay tuned ! For May we are having High Tea!! So out on your fascinator hat and pinkies up for petit fours and tea.

Another Weeknight Dinner

It’s May and we’re deep into Spring!! We’re gardening, reorganizing the house and prepping for Summer that is a hop-skip, and jump away!!

Amidst all this, dinner has to be made. As you’ve seen, all over the internet are the quick dinner recipes. Now, if you’ve got an InstaPot you’ve got it covered. But what if you’re one of the few, like myself, that don’t?

Guess what? Casseroles are still trending. I know what you’re thinking, casseroles now a days aren’t like what Grandma used to make. They’re diverse, adjustable and hearty. And depending on the ingredients, can be an all in one incorporating your protein, starch and vegetables.

Let me share with you the casserole I recently made. My feature protein? Wild Planet Food Wild Pink Salmon!!

It’s light but satisfying, and we all know the great benefits of salmon. Especially when you have quality salmon that is sustainable seafood and of such high quality.

Here’s what I put together into our weeknight dinner casserole…..

A couple of cans of the Wild Planet Wild Pink Salmon, (condensed) cream of mushroom soup, pasta and (“squeeze drained) frozen chopped spinach.

While I cooked the pasta (to just before al denté stage), I combined all the other ingredients into my mixing bowl. I do a lot of “eye-balling” when I cook so let me apologize in advance.

Just a dash of salt and pepper, I also like to add a sprinkle or two of garlic powder. As you mix, you’ll see if it looks too dry or clumpy, add a splash of milk. Or if you want a richer texture use heavy cream. It should have a smooth creamy base. On occasion my dash of milk have turned more into a splash- no worries!! I add some grated Parmesan cheese, which, come to think of it works well too.

Since I used the entire pound of pasta, which I didn’t cook all the way because it will cook some more in the oven and you don’t want mushy pasta. I will be baking it all in one of my rectangular roasting pans.

I mix the pasta with the salmon mix, I did spray my pan so it won’t stick when served. Put your casserole mix in the pan, cover with foil. Bake at 400°, my oven is quite old so I had it at 425°. After 20 minutes I uncovered it and sprinkled a mix of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese (I didn’t add it previously), back in the oven for about ten minutes or until it had a golden brown color to the top.

Voilà! Dinner, and leftovers make a great lunch!!

Special thanks to Wild Planet Foods for sponsoring this article and their generosity sharing their products with me!!

Interesting learning more about them? Go to :

http://www.wildplanetfoods.com

Junior Sous Chef? Maybe

 You’ve heard me talk about how kids now a days are foodies. Way more than we were kids… back in the day. It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s amazing to see their take on all the different foods around us.

What makes it even more amazing is that these young foodies not only want to taste all the flavors, they want to create it!

So grab your toque, and tie that apron. Maggiano’s Kids Cooking Class are in full swing.

Now, I may have some biased, my kids have been attending these classes for some time, dare I say- years!

Do the classes repeat menus? Sometimes, but that’s ok. Repetition helps them remember what to do.

So how long have we been going? For kicks, my daughter acted as sous chef for Executive Chef Mike at the last class!

They had her wear a chef’s coat and class began! Side note- she has attended enough classes to qualify for her own her coat, it’s on order. How? They offer each attends a lunch card. Once the card is completed the “student” earns his/her own chef jacket compliments of Maggiano’s!!

Starting with fundamentals and at each course Chef Mike goes to each table to help guide and answer questions.

Maggiano’s makes sure that all their guests are comfortable and happy. So as the kids are learning and creating, parents- breakfast and warm coffee awaits!

What happens to all of their creations? The student get to take it all home. No, it doesn’t become their lunch. Maggiano’s has something else for them!

A nice buffet of their famous dishes, spaghetti and meatballs, along with their Mac n’ cheese. Complete with salad and bread

Do I recommend these classes? Yes! There fun, yummy and a great way for kids to learn a life skill!!

Check with your local Maggiano’s, mine has a class once a month. Where to find them?

You can call your local Maggiano’s, or check the Eventbrite website, where you can also purchase tickets for the event.

Earth Day Everyday

April 22nd is Earth day!

How do you celebrate Earth day?

It doesn’t have to be a big parade or a big party. We can celebrate Earth Day, each day, a little but every day.

You can start with the food you share with your family and friends. Here’s some fabulous tips from Chef Gerard Viverito in an article he recently wrote:

Five Earth Day food-shopping tips to follow all year   
Earth Day, celebrated every April 22, is a global event designed to raise ecological awareness. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world. I’ve seen firsthand how different cultures protect their natural resources. Here in the U.S., we’re getting better at making planet-friendly food decisions but doing the right thing can be confusing. Here are five simple grocery shopping tips you can start doing right away that will help protect our environment.

Buy only what you need. It’s all about efficiency. More than 30 percent of the United States’ food goes to waste. Eat your leftovers or freeze what you can’t consume right away. If you find you overbought, share with your neighbors or donate the items to a local food shelf.Choose products with less packaging. Stroll past the individually wrapped packaged snacks. Drink more tap water. Spread Nutella on apples or whole-grain crackers instead of stocking the cabinets with bags of fruit snacks or chips. You will produce less waste, and consume more essential vitamins and minerals.

  1. Use cooking oils that require less land to produce. For example, genetically modified crops such as corn, soy and canola require as much as 10 times more land than palm oil. As our world population increases, the edible oil demand could easily lead to more deforestation. Thankfully, a large percentage of the nutritious palm oil in our U.S. food supply comes from Malaysia, where it is certified as sustainably produced. Plus, while those other oil crop fields are routinely plowed under, oil palm trees produce fruit for up to 30 years. So, the lush oil palm plantations provide stable homes for wildlife. Fun fact: In Malaysia, barn owls and snakes are used to control the pest populations, enabling farmers to reduce the use of harmful chemical pesticides.

  2. Go meatless at least once a week. Not only is a plant-based diet healthy but livestock is the largest driver of deforestation in the world. The Union of Concerned Scientists  (UCS) have even made beef cattle the emphasis of its deforestation campaign. Livestock accounts for 71 percent of agricultural land, or 30 percent of land surface on the planet, according to a FAO report. While less significant, soybeans, pigs and poultry, and corn are causes of deforestation according to a Climate Focus report.

  3. Buy only US-caught seafood. Ninety one percent of our seafood is imported. We don’t know how it was caught or what regulations were followed to protect our oceans. I serve as Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, an NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. One of the most important questions you can ask at the supermarket or fish market is the country of origin. The American seafood industry generally has better sustainability practices than those of other countries.


This year’s Earth Day theme is “Protect our Species”. Some of the best solutions for protecting our wildlife and their habitats are to support the global use of certified sustainable products, such as Malaysian palm oil, buying local to help keep nearby farmlands from becoming paved shopping malls, and choosing American seafood to help protect the health of our oceans.


Author Biography: Chef Gerard Viverito, The Sustainable Chef, is a culinary instructor as the Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. He is also operator of Saveur Fine Catering, a company whose beliefs and products center on local, sustainable and organic foods. Chef Viverito’s pantry is loaded with items commonly overlooked in the supermarkets, yet he has a thorough understanding of them and a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully.


In addition, Chef Viverito has dedicated a large part of his career to what he terms “functional cooking.” This is where he adds nutritional ingredients to dishes to gain healthful results. He is well known for his ability to lower the glycemic index value of food, add omega fatty acids, and whole proteins to dishes without compromising the texture or taste. He appears regularly on radio and television programs demonstrating this as well as consulting clients on their dietary needs. www.ChefGerard.com

Now, I have been so fortunate enough to have met Chef Gerard- and he’s so down to earth and practical with his recipes and techniques. He truly understands what the “everyday” family is about.

It’s true that every little bit, adds up to us help preserve the planet we love. And when you put together all the little things that we can easily do, we also lead by example to our children on the importance of clean environment living! ❤️

HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!

Salmon To Go

As we make our way into the Spring season, the weather gets a little more warmer and scenery more alive! Who wants to be inside?

Time to start thinking about picnics and food on the go! Maybe some lighter fare..

I know you what me talk a out about Wild Planet Foods, this is another reason why! Their salmon!! Yes, salmon! Another fish that is as popular and versatile as tuna, but a smidge more!

Around the Spring season you tend to see salmon take a forefront with dishes. I love tuna salad and I like to alternate it with salmon. I’ve started from fresh salmon, ok, ok, leftover salmon.

With Wild Planet Foods Wild sockeye salmon it’s as fresh as if I had just cooked it! And since I want to be able to make it quick, easy and on the go, I need a vessel besides Tupperware. Ah ha! I’ve got a package of puff pastry sheets in the freezer!!

So here’s my ingredients:

I made my simple salmon salad of :

2 cans of wild sockeye salmon

One package of cream cheese

2-3 teaspoons Lemon juice

Fine chopped celery

One tablespoon dried dill weed

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Puff pastry sheets

I have an “empanada” mood which has helped in forming my salmon salad pockets.

You could also use a round cookie cutter and fold them over. How many you yield will depend on the size you make. Don’t forget to dab a little water on the edges to seal your pastry. Once you’ve set them on your baking sheet, brush a little egg wash on them .

Bake at 425° for about 15-20 minutes, golden brown. And voilà….

Easy to take to the botanical gardens, or just out to the park.

Hope you like it!!

Special thanks to Wild Planet Foods for sharing their wild sockeye salmon to create this dish!

Small Fish, Packed Protein

Need something quick and packed with protein? Reach for a can of one of Wild Planet Foods’ different varieties of sardines!!

WHAT?!? Why the face? Have you tried sardines lately? Listen, they’re not the same as they used to be eons ago. They have more versatility and personality now. Which is why I chose Wild Planet Foods brand, they have a great variety to suit every need.

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Now, if you already love sardines, I know you can probably pop open a can and grab some crackers. Yes, I’ve done that; their sardines with the extra virgin olive oil and lemon is perfect for that.

But what if you have never had sardines before, where do you start? Or maybe you need a quick lunch (or snack). I’ve got something simple but yet satisfying. Remember these little guys pack the protein.

Checking the cupboard I found some Naan bread, and with a can of the sardines in marinara sauce…..

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How simple? All I did, besides open the can 😉 I added a dash of Italian seasoning and a small dash of parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top. Into the toaster oven in went.

The finished product…..

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Its makes for a great option if you celebrate Lent, too. Now I’m not saying this will convert everyone into sardine lovers, but it is a great option.

In the past I’ve also used the variety in extra virgin olive oil tossed with some Angel hair pasta and a smidge of pesto sauce.

Sardines have come such a long way, there’s  always a recipe that showcases its great flavor. Who knows who you may “convert”.

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I would like to give a special thank to Wild Planet Foods for their endless support and generosity!

Want more details on what makes Wild Planet Foods a family favorite? Just go to http://www.wildplanetfoods.com

“March”On Moms

There’s so much to being a “Mom” that isn’t just like it’s written in all those baby books. Why? Because everyone is different!! Surprise, right? Sure, family and friends can give great advice, but sometimes you need an unbiased answer to all those questions.

That’s why this month’s “Dish the CFA Tea with Geri B” was meant for all the new moms and soon-to-be-moms……This month’s meeting we were so fortunate to have a very special guest; Sharon Filegar, RNC-MNN,BSN,IBCLC of St. Mary’s Hospital Mother Infant Unit. IMG_2062

It’s just us, so ask all the questions. With 30 years experience, it’s safe to say that Sharon has probably heard it all. And reassures us that though as new moms we feel like aliens- we aren’t alone. IMG_2068

So much to fit into the one hour, Sharon brought some take aways for all the moms.

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Now, you know that at every “Dish The CFA Tea” we have goodies to share! I always bring my new finds to share and sample, and Chick Fil A Short Pump Crossing Family has the Sweet Tea flowing!!

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When you join us at the event don’t forget to sign in to our guest book to be entered in to the raffle- great prizes await!!!

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And special “Thanks!” to Sprout Organic Baby and Toddler Food for the awesome coupons they gave to share with all the attendees! Thank you too, to MomsMeet for connecting us!

It goes without saying, a big hug and thanks to our host, Chick Fil A Short Pump Crossing for their generosity !!

 

So much fun having such wonderful moms gathered in one place! Can’t wait for the April meeting!!

*Spoiler Alert * Time for some Spring cleaning……..

 

February Art Fun!

I’m really enjoying the monthly meetings I have been Blessed to be a part of at my local Chick Fil A (Short Pump Crossing Richmond VA)!!

For the month of February our theme was Art!! And what better way to get those creative juices flowing with the guidance of Painting with a Twist! Step by step, Shauna (owner) guided us through out masterpiece creation.

No previous art experience needed! Whether you can draw a straight line of recreate a Monet, you can paint with Painting with a Twist!

It was very basic in the beginning. But, within the hour, two brushes and three paint colors later my painting came together and had its own personality.

I won’t be opening a gallery any time soon. But my family loves it and I had a blast making it.

That wasn’t the only thing that morning…… Harlequin Books/Harper Collins Publishers sent a great art mystery read….. all about a family owned Goya painting that’s been stolen. Don’t you just enjoy a great mystery? This book and others from the book club portion can be found at:

http://www.harlequintradepublishing.com

When you think of art you tend to think of France… and look L’Occitane joined us too!

Did you know that you can grab your gals and have a mini “spa party ” at your local L’Occitane? All attendees get a special discount on their purchases and you can choose which “spa like” treatment you would all like to participate in. I’ve done one a few years ago- it was a blast!! They take care of the refreshments too!

Speaking of refreshments…. we all love to snack. I’m an expert at that – hahahaha!! In the theme of “art” the deliciousness company sent their Mozaics chips! All 5 flavors! They are popped veggie and potato chips. Packed with 4grams of fiber, great flavor and their sea salt flavor only contains 7 ingredients. They show that you don’t have to jeopardize great taste and quality to have healthier options.

As with each meeting, all attendees get their free Chick Fil A sweet tea, or a different beverage upon request.

Once again great times spent at Chick Fil A and the community.

Special thanks to:

deliciousness for the fabulous Mozaics chips

L’Occitane Stony Point for the samples

Harlequin books/Harper Collins for the amazing books they send per month for the raffle

Shout out to Painting with a Twist- Richmond VA for being a great part of the event!

Always…. a huge thank you and hugs to Chick Fil A Short Pump Crossing for sponsoring and hosting “Dish the CFA Tea with Geri”, along with being a great supporter of my blog.

More details about the March meeting coming soon!!

They’re Back!

Remember last year when Maggianos had Kids Cooking Classes? Well, they’re back and as fun as ever!

Why do we love them so much? Because kids learn a life skill while having fun! And “Foodies” are starting young these days. Don’t underestimate the kiddos- many of them have great palates just waiting to show their stuff.

The class breaks it down to a full meal from salad start to dessert finish.

With these classes they’ll learn time management. How? They start by making dessert! Since dessert needs to be baked, they teach how you can complete the meal while dessert is baking. What are they baking? A yummy apple crostata!

Hands on makes it fun and helps them get a feeling of independence.

So as their first creation is baking- it’s on to the salad!

Everyone loves the Maggiano’s house salad dressing.

While the kids are working in the chef game the parents get a lovely breakfast treat.

The class isn’t over yet! We still have to make the main course- lasagna!!

Chef Patrick takes them step by step through out each dish. And yes, he goes table to table to answer any questions or add addition guidance.

The entire meal that the mini chefs have created are packaged and bagged to be easily taken home to enjoy.

What? They don’t get to eat it there? Nope!!! Because this is Maggiano’s, and they have lunch for our star chefs in the making (yes, parents do too).

And it is from start to finish- delicious!!

So stay tuned for the next set of classes. Contact your nearest Maggiano’s for when their classes take place. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Special thanks to the Maggiano’s Short Pump Richmond staff for these great classes

And a special shout out to JAMM_SHOTZ for the great photos!!

Me and my Kitchen Gadgets

I love to cook, I love to experiment and try different cuisines. But when it comes to baking, I wish I could bake every day- though my husband says if I did he wouldn’t be able to fit out the door- HAHAHAHA!!

I’m not an experienced baker or a step away from having a bakery. I just love to bake- it is my zen!

With that being said, it takes a lot of restraint on my part to buy all those neat baking products and tools. Recently, there was a baking tool set, for some reason, I couldn’t resist!

While browsing Williams Sonoma on a recent trip to the mall…. I found the cutest thumbprint cookie cutters!! I know, it’s not that hard to make thumbprint cookies…. but, again it’s hard for me to resist. And home I went to make some cookie dough.

Why am I fascinated with them? They’re like cute little stampers!!

Too cute!!

And in an instance I have a tray full of “fancy ” cookies.

Now for the filling….. as you’ve noticed, I’ve been fascinated with the new Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips from Clabber Girl. So, why not!

I made a ganache/ icing type filling for the cookies and piped them on.

It’s fancy, like a decadent treat! I may (or may not) have mentioned before, these wonderful baking chips are NON-alcoholic but still have that great Baileys flavor we all love.

Ready for any gathering or even put them in a pretty container as a gift!

Until we bake again!!

Spruce up Shortbread

I love simple cookies like shortbread, or another cookie I found called Amish cookies- just like a shortbread just thinner.

They’re light, but sometimes they can be a little …. boring. I need something to spruce them up!

From my last article I shared a recipe using these great new baking chips from Clabber Girl, Baileys Original Irish cream baking chips. Well, I figured I’ve got some left, and I have some heavy whipping cream- to the double boiler!!!

These chips melt so beautifully, love the shine it gets.

And there it is, a nice chocolate ganache….

My shortbread is boring no more!!!

Valentine’s treats for your Sweet

There’s such a wide array of treats that you can choose from when it comes to a sweet treat for your Valentines. There are times though that you walk up and down the aisle and you just can’t find the right treat.

How about making your own? Now, now don’t give me that look! I’ve got a a great recipe that I’ve used a lot and doesn’t need too many ingredients. It’s Brazilian Brigadeiros! To make it extra special I used Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips from Clabber Girl Baking. Here’s what you need

This recipe will yield about 25 pieces.

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

4 ounces (bittersweet chocolate) Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips

2 tablespoons butter

One-fourth teaspoon salt

One-half cup sprinkles of your choice

Directions:

1) Heat the milk, chocolate, butter and salt in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat until the mixture thickens. Takes about 15 minutes

2) The cooking process is complete when you can see the bottom of the pan when you run the wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan

3) Let it cool for 15 minutes.

4) There’s two ways to complete this step, you can use a one inch scooper like I did, or you can grease your hands and form one inch balls.

5) From this point you can roll the chocolate balls into the sprinkles of your choice.

And there you have it!

It roughly takes about 40 minutes to create.

If I may, I can’t wait for the Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips to hit the store shelves!

They are AMAZING!!!

Special “Thanks!” to Clabber Girl for sharing these incredible baking chips. I can’t wait to bake with them again!!

Here’s where you can find them:

http://www.clabbergirl.com

Shiny Smile in a Jiffy

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So let’s talk about kids, braces and flossing (not the dance). Yes, it’s that phase when the kiddos need braces. And in their defense it’s not always an easy up keep for them to get used to. Aside from the wax to prevent cuts inside your mouth, and those teeny rubber bands that come in an array of colors, they have to learn how to floss around them!!!

You can use those little plastic flossers that look like Christmas trees. But that can be trying on the gums. I’ve heard that you can also use a water pick…… but if you not at home!!!

Here’s what I found….. a non-electric water flosser!!!

Super easy to use. Literally, fill the base to the line with water and pressing the trap button and away it goes!

So easy for the kids to use and perfect on the go. Helps the kiddos maintain keeping their braces clean!

Love things that help life go a little smoother!!

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Taking Savory Bites

Phew….. the Holidays are over- we made it!!

I don’t know if you noticed, but this past Holiday Season has a lot of “thumbprint ” cookie recipes that seemed to pop up. So many variations; jam, chocolate, and even a cheesecake like filling (totally want to try that one!). It may be time to go a little savory.

Which leads me to a new recipe I just had to give a try. How about Savory Thumbprints!!!

Yes! I’m talking Savory Parmesan Thumbprints!! Topped with my favorite protein- Wild Planet Foods Albacore Tuna!!!

I happened to come across the recipe for the savory thumbprints via the Land O’Lakes website. One recipe batch makes about 48 little “cookies”. Very simple and easy to do, all you need is:

1 Cup softened butter (they recommend Land O’ Lakes)

1/4 Cup sugar

2 Cups all-purpose flour

1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Start by prepping your baking sheet, parchment paper is my best friend when I bake. Preheat your oven at 350°. The next steps are just like making your usual thumbprint cookies.

Cream your butter with the sugar, then add your flour- don’t forget to scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl so it all gets incorporated well. Last will be adding in the cheese.

Shape the dough into one-inch balls, with your thumb make indentations into the balls. I used the back of my measuring spoon since I was putting in my tuna filling. It takes about 9-11 minutes to bake.

When you go to the Land O’ Lakes website they also have savory jam fillings that you can use.

But….. since I wanted to make these little bites a little more hearty I turned to my favorite protein.

I love tuna salad, with the right tuna of course. With a savory thumbprint, texture wise it’s a real nice bite to have something a little firm. So I used Wild Planet Food Albacore Tuna. I want to compliment the tuna, and not have too many flavors going on since it is just a bite. When you open a can of the Wild Planet Foods tuna you will not find mushiness, or a lot of liquid like in other brands. Which is key for this recipe because liquid can literally make your cookie crumble!

I used Sir Kensington organic Mayonnaise, mainly because of it being already seasoned it gave a nice binding finish to the tuna and I didn’t have to add any salt and pepper. I did add a dash or garlic powder.

I took my quick and easy tuna mixture, and filled my little savory bites. Just for color, I sprinkled a pinch of Parmesan then placed the bites back into the oven to get the top a little crisper. Final touch is dash of parsley.

I like to pair this with soup or serve at a “afternoon tea” or gathering with the other moms.

Now if you’re wondering if it’s hard to find the tuna I used. Great news! I have found it in almost every grocery chain in my area. Stores such as Kroger, Wegmans and Walmart! Even happier news- Costco offers it too!!!

There’s so much more to Wild Planet Foods-

Check them out at http://www.wildplanetfoods.com

Ounce of Prevention

I know, I know, it’s still the Winter Season. But, it hasn’t been your typical Winter, agreed?

There have been lots of bouts of warm weather which lets us go on out and enjoy the great outdoors.

With that being said I’d like to share an article with all of you that was shared with me about keeping in mind to protect ourselves from those little bugs that can cause big problems:

Lyme Disease, Deer Ticks, and Your Family                                

(Robert Oley, PE, MSPH, Public Health Consultant, www.boboley.com)

 

It’s that time of the year once again, when you and your family are enjoying the warmer weather and all the outdoor activities that come with it.  Unfortunately for you, deer ticks are also taking advantage of the nice weather, and are waiting for you as you step outside.

 

The spring and summer months are when you are most likely to be bitten by a deer tick, and become infected with Lyme disease.  The highest risk age group for contracting Lyme disease is children.  Not only do they tend to spend more time outside than others, but they are less likely to be careful about where they play.  Although Lyme disease is a grave health risk to these and other family members, there are other equally debilitating tick-borne diseases one can also become infected with such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia, mycoplasma, tick paralysis, and viruses.

 

 

LITTLE BUG BIG PROBLEMS

How can such a small bug cause such  big problems for all of us?  Ticks are parasites, which survive by feeding on the blood of hosts such as mice, chipmunks, shrews, birds, squirrels, opossum, rabbits, lizards, and deer.  Regrettably, they also feed on people and their pets.  Although the deer tick season is pretty much year round now, the peak of the deer tick’s activity starts in May and begins to wind down in August.  During this time, the nymphal deer tick (about as small as a poppy seed) is actively looking for a host.  And it will be from the nymphal deer tick-bite that you and your children will most likely contract Lyme disease and/or another tick-borne co-infection.

 

Deer ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be found anywhere their hosts live.  Thus they can be encountered in a variety of settings including woodlands, as well as leaf litter, brush piles, your lawn, ground cover (pachysandra, etc.) and gardens.  They can also be found near old stonewalls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs, bird feeders, and storage sheds, anywhere their hosts feed and/or make their nests.  They have even been found on park picnic tables and benches.

 

 

LYME DISEASE SYMPTOMS

There are over 100 possible symptoms associated with Lyme disease, and that is one of the reasons why it is so very difficult to diagnose—it mimics so many other disease conditions that it is usually not diagnosed early on in the disease, allowing it to spread to most every part of the body.

 

Soon after a tick bite, you or your children may get a rash, and have vague flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, muscle ache, stiff neck, and swollen lymph nodes.  Other more serious conditions can affect your brain and nervous system, heart, muscles and joints, bones, and skin.  Not uncommon are extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, chronic headaches, sleep disturbances, allergies, stomach pain, ear ringing, blurred vision, sensitivity to sounds and smells, facial numbness and tingling, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks, memory impairment, and lack of concentration.

 

 

PERSONAL PROTECTION AND PREVENTION

When your children play outdoors in tick endemic areas, it is strongly recommended that they wear tick repellent clothing. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the EPA as safe for use on clothing apparel worn by adults and children.  You can treat your own clothing and footwear, or purchase pre-treated clothing with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.  Once per month you should also spray outdoor shoes, athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep the ticks away. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work as effectively as tick repellent clothing

 

 

Some simple prevention measures which are highly recommended for you and your family to follow include:

 

  1. Avoid areas where there are ticks to the maximum extent possible.  This is much easier said than done, but is well worth the effort.
  2. When outside, wear clothing that is treated with permethrin.  This is one of the easiest things to do with big prevention payoffs.  Also spray your outside shoe wear with permethrin once per month.  And clothing your children wear at summer camp, such as T-shirts, shorts, and socks, should likewise be treated.
  3. If you do not choose to treat the clothing yourself (good for 6 washings), you can also send it to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina.  It will come back, looking the same as you sent it, but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for more than 70 washings.
  4. Wear a tick repellent on your exposed skin.  The tick repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long.  You can buy insect repellents with chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET in them; or if you prefer using organics, try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil.
  5. Keep your outside clothes outside your home.  There can be ticks on the clothing from outdoor activities.  As soon as your      children come in from outdoors, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage if possible.  Then as soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  6. Do not allow any pets, which go outside, to sleep with your children or allow your pets on couches, etc.  They can bring ticks into your home, which can get transferred to your children.
  7. Treat your pets with tick repellent products as recommended by your veterinarian, and check them for ticks when they come in from outdoors.
  8. Conduct full body tick checks of family members who go outside, both when they return indoors as well as at night before they go to bed.  You can never check too often, as ticks      can be very hard to find.

 

 

REMOVING DEER TICKS

Removing deer ticks promptly can prevent the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  If you discover a tick attached to you, use pointed tweezers or other tick removal tool to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, taking care not to twist or squish the attached tick. Finally, wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic.  Save the tick, dead or alive, in a zip lock bag for future identification and testing for possible disease organisms.  You should also seek the immediate assistance of your health care provider for advice on initiating prophylactic treatment.

If you follow these recommendations and use good common sense when outdoors, you can keep your family safer from ticks and the diseases theyLyme Disease, Deer Ticks, and Your Family                                

(Robert Oley, PE, MSPH, Public Health Consultant, www.boboley.com)

 

It’s that time of the year once again, when you and your family are enjoying the warmer weather and all the outdoor activities that come with it.  Unfortunately for you, deer ticks are also taking advantage of the nice weather, and are waiting for you as you step outside.

 

The spring and summer months are when you are most likely to be bitten by a deer tick, and become infected with Lyme disease.  The highest risk age group for contracting Lyme disease is children.  Not only do they tend to spend more time outside than others, but they are less likely to be careful about where they play.  Although Lyme disease is a grave health risk to these and other family members, there are other equally debilitating tick-borne diseases one can also become infected with such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia, mycoplasma, tick paralysis, and viruses.

 

 

LITTLE BUG BIG PROBLEMS

How can such a small bug cause such  big problems for all of us?  Ticks are parasites, which survive by feeding on the blood of hosts such as mice, chipmunks, shrews, birds, squirrels, opossum, rabbits, lizards, and deer.  Regrettably, they also feed on people and their pets.  Although the deer tick season is pretty much year round now, the peak of the deer tick’s activity starts in May and begins to wind down in August.  During this time, the nymphal deer tick (about as small as a poppy seed) is actively looking for a host.  And it will be from the nymphal deer tick-bite that you and your children will most likely contract Lyme disease and/or another tick-borne co-infection.

 

Deer ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be found anywhere their hosts live.  Thus they can be encountered in a variety of settings including woodlands, as well as leaf litter, brush piles, your lawn, ground cover (pachysandra, etc.) and gardens.  They can also be found near old stonewalls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs, bird feeders, and storage sheds, anywhere their hosts feed and/or make their nests.  They have even been found on park picnic tables and benches.

 

 

LYME DISEASE SYMPTOMS

There are over 100 possible symptoms associated with Lyme disease, and that is one of the reasons why it is so very difficult to diagnose—it mimics so many other disease conditions that it is usually not diagnosed early on in the disease, allowing it to spread to most every part of the body.

 

Soon after a tick bite, you or your children may get a rash, and have vague flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, muscle ache, stiff neck, and swollen lymph nodes.  Other more serious conditions can affect your brain and nervous system, heart, muscles and joints, bones, and skin.  Not uncommon are extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, chronic headaches, sleep disturbances, allergies, stomach pain, ear ringing, blurred vision, sensitivity to sounds and smells, facial numbness and tingling, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks, memory impairment, and lack of concentration.

 

 

PERSONAL PROTECTION AND PREVENTION

When your children play outdoors in tick endemic areas, it is strongly recommended that they wear tick repellent clothing. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the EPA as safe for use on clothing apparel worn by adults and children.  You can treat your own clothing and footwear, or purchase pre-treated clothing with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.  Once per month you should also spray outdoor shoes, athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep the ticks away. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work as effectively as tick repellent clothing

 

 

Some simple prevention measures which are highly recommended for you and your family to follow include:

 

  1. Avoid areas where there are ticks to the maximum extent possible.  This is much easier said than done, but is well worth the effort.
  2. When outside, wear clothing that is treated with permethrin.  This is one of the easiest things to do with big prevention payoffs.  Also spray your outside shoe wear with permethrin once per month.  And clothing your children wear at summer camp, such as T-shirts, shorts, and socks, should likewise be treated.
  3. If you do not choose to treat the clothing yourself (good for 6 washings), you can also send it to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina.  It will come back, looking the same as you sent it, but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for more than 70 washings.
  4. Wear a tick repellent on your exposed skin.  The tick repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long.  You can buy insect repellents with chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET in them; or if you prefer using organics, try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil.
  5. Keep your outside clothes outside your home.  There can be ticks on the clothing from outdoor activities.  As soon as your      children come in from outdoors, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage if possible.  Then as soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  6. Do not allow any pets, which go outside, to sleep with your children or allow your pets on couches, etc.  They can bring ticks into your home, which can get transferred to your children.
  7. Treat your pets with tick repellent products as recommended by your veterinarian, and check them for ticks when they come in from outdoors.
  8. Conduct full body tick checks of family members who go outside, both when they return indoors as well as at night before they go to bed.  You can never check too often, as ticks      can be very hard to find.

 

 

REMOVING DEER TICKS

Removing deer ticks promptly can prevent the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  If you discover a tick attached to you, use pointed tweezers or other tick removal tool to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, taking care not to twist or squish the attached tick. Finally, wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic.  Save the tick, dead or alive, in a zip lock bag for future identification and testing for possible disease organisms.  You should also seek the immediate assistance of your health care provider for advice on initiating prophylactic treatment.

 

If you follow these recommendations and use good common sense when outdoors, you can keep your family safer from ticks and the diseases they carry.

About the author:

Bob Oley is a professional engineer and public health consultant with an engineering undergraduate degree from Tufts University, and a graduate degree in Public Health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Bob has been involved in public health and site work for over 30 years. Early in his career he served as Director of Environmental Health for the City of Stamford, CT, after which he started a public health, site engineering, and land use planning consulting business. 

Bob works as a Public Health Consultant specializing in tick-borne disease prevention. He advises families and businesses on how to make their properties safer from ticks, and on what personal protection measures can be taken to safeguard family members and workers.

Bob has conducted educational seminars on Lyme disease and tick-borne disease prevention. He has spoken before such diverse groups as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Whitpain Township, the Montgomery County Public Works Association, the Lower Bucks County Lyme Disease Support Group, the Swarthmore Garden Club, the International MOMS Club of the Greater Ambler Area, as well as numerous others.

In 2017, Bob published a book on tick-borne disease prevention titled Preventing Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Infections. 

Bob has appeared on several radio shows, including You Bet Your Garden (NPR), Sirius XM Doctor Radio, and the Magic Garden Show, where he has talked about tick-borne diseases and prevention. He has also appeared on TV on NBC News 4 New York, where he talked about what parents can do to prevent their children from getting bitten by ticks when away at camp.

Bob and his wife reside in San Diego, California, where he continues to carry on his public health consulting work.

At this time of the year it can be difficult to find the proper bug sprays. Though the sprays are affective, for individuals that are sensitive to the sprays and even the lotions/insect wipes. There are many bands and clip-ons, but you want complete protection.

Needing a little more? Then take a look at Insect Shield. I was fortunate enough to have been sent a few sample to take a look at how affective they really are!

Now, these are just sample bandannas.

But if you’d like to see more and learn more here is their website:

www.insectshield.com

I’d like to give a special thanks to Gail Brandt for sharing all this great information that I have the privilege of sharing with all of you!!

Shedding Some Light

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The Holiday Season brings so many special and fun moments that you want to capture in photos. But there are more times than not you get those photos that are either too dark or you use a flash and they’re crazy bright!!

Then you see those great photos that look like they were just torn from a magazine. How do they do it? It’s the lighting!

Now, I can’t afford my own camera crew, so I look for an alternative.

Lo and behold! I found a small light that can help!!

It’s handy size and lightweight.

Easy to use and attach, yes it is LED.

Just when I thought that I’d be investing in a ton of batteries, my rechargeable battery from my camcorder fits just fine!!!

I can finally take photos worth sharing and displaying! Here is the link to where I found it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M0VDOGX

Ok, so my son has started to really get into photography. And as I was looking for my light, I found a great light for him too!

This one is a little bigger, with a couple of differences.

This light also can use the rechargeable one from our camcorder- AND can take regular batteries!!

It is bigger than the previous light

It mounts just as easy as the smaller version.

This has a different functions where you can have a wider range of brightness and warm to bright white light.

I found this light at : https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071YPQZVW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B071YPQZVW&linkCode=as2&tag=tacconchen-20&linkId=1da3059e2a028eed012cb71fc655ecd9

I can’t wait to start taking photos this season!

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A Hiking We Will Go

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You can’t beat a nice hike when the weather is perfect. Sometimes that weather doesn’t occur in the Summer; but in Fall, Winter or Spring. Using the word “perfect” is also subjective, what’s considered perfect for some won’t be the same for others.

But what we can all agree on is being able to bring the necessities without feeling like a pack mule!

Check this out!

This is the Shimonfly hiking pack. Ok, so yes it looks like a fanny pack. But, you don’t have to wear it like a fanny pack. The back portion of the pack is wide and firm enough to rest across your back.

It looks compact, right? Can it hold much? Why yes, it can.

Pockets in all the right places! And that water bottle is a 32 ounce bottle!

Adjustable straps helps for additional comfort when you’re wearing it.

Use it on your next hike! Or trip to an amusement park, fair or any outdoor activity!

Here’s a link where you can find one

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=me%3DA18N9C8PGQFAIV&field-keywords=green+fanny+pack

Makes a great gift to all your outdoorsy or traveler friends and family.

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Have Gel Pens will Craft

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Crafting can be fun for some or a trial for others. But when you find a tool or product that’s easy and fun to use- why not?

Sometimes even the simplest item can make a big difference.

I just recently found….. Gel pens! Ok….. yes I know, it’s a pen.

This is what I got

All of them have glitter in their color. Which for the Holidays is perfect!

I’m preparing for my Annual Holiday Cookie Exchange, and I wanted to do something a little different for the invites. So, a quick trip to my local Dollar Tree and I stumbled upon mini painting canvases.

Have stampers will create. Unfortunately, the stamp pad didn’t seem to have enough ink. Thank goodness I filled in the color with my new pens.

They’re all done and festive!

Going to have a lot of fun using these pens in many projects!

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