Thursday, November 27, 2014

Our Outdoor Christmas Lights for 2014

Every year we look forward to putting out various Christmas lights and holiday yard art for everyone to enjoy. There are a handful of us here in the neighborhood that do it every year and some of my neighbors go all out. We keep ours pretty basic and simple.

One thing we like to do is to change up the look every year. This year we decided to put lights around all of the front windows on the house, along the rooftop on all four sides and we used net lighting on the bushes out front.

We decided to move our Christmas garland this year and used it on our front porch and mixed in some pretty LED lights with it. We have lit door wreaths on 2 of our entry doors and then just a plain wreath on the third.

I picked up these adorable glass snowman balls at our local Christmas Tree Shop for $10.00 (they are made out of glass) and included very nice black shepard's hooks. They are solar and I picked up four of them and have them sprinkled around the front of the house. I love them!!! The lights inside each snowman's head morphs into different colors. I wish I would of bought more!

At Kohl's we picked up this adorable inflatable snowman family for $39.00 and they are worth every penny! I had been wanting inflatables but wasn't willing to shell out $100+ so I was pretty excited to pick up this set for less than $40.00 on clearance at Kohl's last month.

Every year we add a few new pieces and/or items to our outdoor Christmas lights display and we are pretty excited about our ever-growing collection. This year everything looked nice and once Christmas is over I will be hitting the stores for some additional items on clearance to add to our collection for next year.

Do you like to decorate outside? Do you do just a little bit or do you go all out and really light things up? I would love to know! Got any tips for us? Thanks!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How to Treat a Family Member with Dementia This Holiday Season

How to Treat a Family Member with Dementia This Holiday Season
World-renowned Expert Shares 5 Helpful Tips

Whether it’s Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa – or your spouse – the “holiday quarter” can present special challenges for families with a loved one suffering from dementia.

“We have an expectation that loved ones should never change from the person we’ve perceived them to be for years, but everyone changes significantly over an extended period, especially those diagnosed with dementia,” says Kerry Mills, a sought-after expert in best care practices for people with dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s. November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

“Dementia encompasses a wide range of brain diseases, which means it’s not the fault of a Grandma if she has trouble remembering things or gets flustered. Empathy for what she’s experiencing on the level of the brain will help your relationship with her. Do not expect her to meet you halfway to your world; you have to enter her world.”

Spouses have a particularly difficult time coping with their partner’s dementia, Mills says. A spousal relationship is a team and is central to the identities of both people. So, while you’re paying special attention to a parent’s or grandparent’s condition, extend it to his or her spouse, she says.

Families tend to have a hard time coping with a loved one’s dementia during holiday gatherings. Mills, coauthor with Jennifer A. Brush of “I Care, A Handbook for Care Partners of People with Dementia,” (, offers tips for how to interact with a loved one – say, Grandma – whose brain is deteriorating.

• Do not get frustrated. “First, do no harm” – the excellent maxim taught to medical students, is also a great first principle for those interacting with Grandma, who may be experiencing a level of frustration and anxiety you cannot comprehend adequately. She simply doesn’t have access to certain details, but she is still a conscious and feeling person who has plenty to offer. If you get frustrated, she’ll pick up on it.

• Dedicate someone to Grandma during the gathering. Of course, loving families will want to include Grandma in the group, but be careful not to overwhelm her with attention. Her brain, which has trouble processing some information, could use assistance – a liaison to help her process things. Grandpa could probably use a break; her son or daughter may be the best handler during a gathering.

• Give Grandma purpose; give her a task in the kitchen. Keep Grandma, who may’ve been prolific in the kitchen in the past, engaged! Simple tasks, such as mashing potatoes or stirring gravy, may be best. Engage her in conversation about the food. If it’s Grandpa whose suffering dementia, include him in a group. Give him a cigar if the other men are going outside to smoke. Engage him in a conversation about football, which may allow him on his own terms to recall details from the past.

• Use visual imagery and do not ask yes-or-no questions. Again, asking someone with Alzheimer’s to remember a specific incident 23 years ago can be like asking someone confined to a wheelchair to run a 40-yard dash – it’s physically impossible. Don’t pigeonhole her. Direct Grandma in conversation; say things to her that may stimulate recollection, but don’t push a memory that may not be there. Pictures are often an excellent tool.

• Safety is your biggest priority. Whether during a holiday gathering or in general, Grandma may commit herself to activities she shouldn’t be doing, such as driving.

“She’s been driving for decades, and then she develops a memory problem, which not only prevents her from remembering her condition, but also how to drive safely,” Mills says. “This major safety concern applies to any potentially dangerous aspect to life.”

“Currently, there’s a stigma with the condition, but I’d like to change the baseline for how we regard dementia,” Mills says. “As with other medical conditions, Alzheimer’s should not be about waiting to die – patients often live 15 years or more after a diagnosis. It should be about living with it.”

About Kerry Mills: Kerry Mills, MPA, is an expert in best care practices for persons with dementia both in the home and in out-of-home health care residences and organizations. She is a consultant to numerous hospitals, assisted livings, hospice, home care agencies, senior day care centers and nursing homes. In her twelve-year career in health care, she has served as executive director and regional manager for numerous long-term dementia facilities. She is an outspoken advocate for persons with dementia, lecturing in Hong Kong, Canada, China, Europe and the United States. Her book, coauthored with Jennifer A. Brush, “I Care,” (, is the 2014 Gold Award Winner of the National Mature Media Awards.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lance’s Toastchee Chicken Nuggets Recipe

For over 100 years, Lance® has been baking fresh, great tasting and wholesome snacks for the entire family. But did you know that some of your family’s favorite snacks can be used to create some delicious and easy dinner and lunch recipes. Kids, already love to snack on some of Lance’s® Xtra Fulls Toastchee but they may love this recipe for Toastchee® Chicken Nuggets even more. Crunchy and juicy chicken nuggets, made from their favorite snacks…this recipe is sure to become a family favorite and may be too good to be true.

This recipe will make 4 servings.

Lance®’s Toastchee® Chicken Nuggets Recipe

3 packs of Xtra Fulls Toastchee® with Peanut Butter, crumbled
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 1/2 –inch pieces
1/3 cup of milk
1 egg
Honey mustard dressing

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg and set aside. Grab your food processor and blend the 3 packs of Lance® Xtra Fulls™ Peanut Butter Toastchee® into crumbles. Then pour crumbles into resealable sandwich bag. Take your cut chicken and coat both sides with the egg and milk mixture until fully covered. Toss the chicken into the cracker crumb bag, a few pieces at a time, pressing gently to stick. Once all the nuggets are ready, you can place them on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Serve with a side of honey mustard for dipping.

Disclosure: This recipe and photo is courtesy of Lance.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

5 Tips to Fight the Holiday Food Fiasco

Well, it’s almost that time of year again: the dreaded caloric nightmare that is the holiday season. You’ve got stuffed turducken with all the fixings, bacon-wrapped sausages, pumpkin pies topped with globs of whipped deliciousness and the sugary-goodness which somehow finds its way into every dish imaginable. Cranberry jam? Check. Casserole everything? Check. 10 lbs. of unwanted belly fat? Check!

Shane Griffin, a certified nutritional practitioner and CEO of Whole Life Balance – an international nutritional coaching company – has a few tips for all of us to say on the leaner side of the holiday table and still enjoy all the pleasures the season has to offer.

5 Tips to Fight the Holiday Food Fiasco

1. Snack before you attack: Time to head over to grandma’s for dinner? Prep your growling stomach before going to battle! If you remember to munch on a healthy snack like almonds, carrots or fruit, by the time you get to dinner - a.k.a. the battlefield – your brain will have registered that you are in fact not dying from hunger and don’t need to consume ALL the food in the house to survive. Trust me – your waistline will thank you later!

2. First is the worst: In this case, being first in line is not the ideal place to be. Never underestimate the visual power of food – specifically untouched food. A brand new, hot-out-of-the-oven casserole topped with fried onions looks a lot more appetizing when 10 people haven’t destroyed it trying to get at the best parts. If you let others go ahead of you, by the time you reach the most calorie-packed items they’ll have lost some of their appeal. Less appealing = less on your plate.

3. Remember #PlateGate: Controversial as your decision may be amongst loved ones, choosing to use a smaller plate than everyone else is not a crime against the Turkey gods. In fact, our brains equate a full plate with a full meal, and by reducing the size of your eating apparatus you can trick your brain into thinking that you’re eating more. According to the Calorie Control Council, we eat an average of 3,000 calories per holiday dinner. Swapping out your full-size dinnerware with a smaller salad plate can help you eat 40% less food, cutting out up to 1,200 calories. Not to mention, this just saved you a bunch of time spent coming up with a clever hashtag for when you inevitably post a picture of the glorious meal you just consumed! #stuffed

4. Stop, Drop the Roll: Easy to remember in case you catch fire and also for when you’re approaching the bread basket! The baked white bread roll is not your friend, and its companions are not your friends either (ahem, butter, jelly, etc.). Simple carbs like white breads are digested quickly by the body, leaving you feeling hungry faster and more likely to go back for a second helping. Instead, fill yourself up with more lean protein like turkey which there is bound to be plenty of and will keep you feeling full longer.

5. Fight the Bite: Slow and steady wins the race here, so resist the urge to engulf your food in less than five minutes. In fact, play a game with yourself to see if you can eat slower than everyone around you. Your brain takes up to 20 minutes to register the chemical signals from your stomach letting it know you’re full, so slow down and take note of how you feel. If you’re starting to feel full, you’re probably already there and should take a few minutes to let your brain catch up to your belly.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quinoa With Pomegranate & Pistachio Recipe

In the Oct./Nov. issue of AARP The Magazine, Stanley Tucci shares his wife’s gluten-free Quinoa With Pomegranate & Pistachio recipe that makes a perfect side dish to complement the traditional offerings at this year’s Thanksgiving meal.

Healthy and full of flavor, the recipe is ideal for parents and kids alike who are following gluten-free diets and can easily be customized to add favorite cheeses (feta, goat, etc.) and/or spices:

Quinoa With Pomegranate & Pistachio Recipe
* Serves 6

· 2 cups quinoa
· Salt and pepper
· 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
· 1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
· 6 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, plus 2 tablespoons for serving
· 3 tablespoons salted pistachios
· 3 scallions, chopped
· 1 orange, peeled and sliced into rounds (optional)
· Extra-virgin olive oil, for the orange

1. Rinse the quinoa in cold water to remove its bitterness.

2. Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Dress with the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.

3. Gently mix the pomegranate seeds, pistachios and scallions into the quinoa. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

4. Serve with sliced oranges dressed with olive oil, if desired.

Disclosure: Recipe and photo is courtesy of AARP Magazine.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Delicious Cocktail Beverage Recipes for the Holidays

With so many reasons to celebrate this month, it's easy to see why November is dubbed the "unofficial" start of the holiday season. Kick off the season by incorporating Powell & Mahoney into your celebrations, such as National Happy Hour Day, Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Award-winning Powell & Mahoney vintage original cocktail mixers are the perfect way to celebrate National Happy Hour Day on Wednesday, November 12th. Each bottle comes with three recipes, allowing you to fill your glass with either your favorite standard or something new. No matter what you choose, Powell & Mahoney's all-natural mixers let you concentrate on raising your glass, no t cutting up ingredients.

This year's signature National Happy Hour Day drink -- the Agave Mango Mule -- comes to you from Powell & Mahoney's master mixologist Tad Carducci.

Agave Mango Mule:
Glassware: Collins glass or Cooper Mug. In a shaker: 2 oz. Powell & Mahoney Mango Passion Fruit Margarita an d 1 ½ oz. 100& blue agave blanco tequila. Shake and strain over ice. Top off with ginger beer of choice. Garnish: Lime wedge.

On Thanksgiving morning, toast the balloons while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Classic Bellini or Perfect Bloody Mary -- breakfast cocktail staples as longstanding as the parade itself.

Classic Bellini:
Glassware: Champagne flute. 4 oz. chilled Prosecco and 1 oz. Powell & Mahoney Peach Bellini. Garnish: Slice of white peach.

Perfect Bloody Mary:
Glassware: Pint glass packed. In a shaker: 4 oz. Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary and 1 ½ oz. vodka. Gently shake and strain over ice. Garnish: Celery stalk, slice of lemon, pickled long beans, olives, salami, grilled shrimp or a slice of crispy bacon.

For the Thanksgiving feast, give thanks for Powell & Mahoney's mixers for giving you one less thing to prepare. No need to go harvest all the individual ingredients for a delicious and festive cocktail -- all you have to do to make Powell & Mahoney's Pumpkin Smash is combine 1.5 oz. bourbon or rye whiskey, 1.5 oz. Powell & Mahoney Lemon Sour and 1 tsp. canned pumpkin (Libby's or Dole) in a shaker and strain over ice in an old-fashioned style glass. Then just dust with ground cinnamon and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

After slaving away in the kitchen for days and surviving the crazy sales of Black Friday, you deserve to put your feet up and rejuvenate yourself. Powell & Mahoney's Pomegranate mixer provides the anti-oxidants you need to pull yourself out of that food coma and start all over again on Monday. And the Pomegranate Martini is the perfect antidote to the cranberry sauce you just gorged on 24 hours ago!

Pomegranate Martini:
Glassware: Martini glass. In a shaker: 2 oz. Powell & Mahoney Pomegranate, 1 ½ oz. citrus vodka and ½ oz. of orange liqueur. Shake over ice and strain. Garnish: Lemon twist.

Disclosure: You must be 21 years of age to consume alcohol. Please drink responsibly. The recipes and photos are courtesy of Powell & Mahoney. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nutmeg Noel Holiday Cookies Recipe

It is hard to believe but Christmas is just around the corner and many of us are already thinking about the delicious holiday cookies we will be making. Every year when the holiday season rolls around, I make at least three batches of these nutmeg cookies!

Nutmeg Noel Cookies Recipe

2 Tbsp. red colored sugar
2 Tbsp. green colored sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, divided
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl combine colored sugar and 1/4 tsp. of  ground nutmeg. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine all purpose flour, granulated sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and 1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg. Add the butter, the large egg and vanilla extract. Beat at low speed until well mixed for about 2-3 minutes. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls into 1" balls. Roll in ground nutmeg & colored sugar mixture. Bake on a ungreased cookie sheet 2" apart at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until done. Let cool and then store the cookies in an airtight container.