5 Tips for Beating The Winter Blues

5 Tips for Beating The Winter Blues

1) Start Fresh and Declutter/Re-Decorate Your Home 
Before the great outdoor weather arrives, take the time to get rid of all the stuff you and your family have been accumulating in closets, drawers, the toy room, under the bed, and anyplace else you lovingly “stick” things.  Tackle one space at a time, and you will eventually be clutter free!

Maybe your daughter’s desk could be freshened up with a coat of bright paint? Or take it one step further and stencil flowers on the front of the drawers for a little extra personality. Maybe your toy room could use an update? Find a flea market table and create a one-of-a-kind game table for your kid’s playroom. Paint is an easy way to add color and life to dreary winter days.

2) Visit the Library
If you haven’t found the time to pick up a great book and curl up with some hot tea or a glass of Cabernet, this is the perfect time to head to the library and check out a good read.  We often forget what an amazing resource our local libraries are because we get caught up with the daily grind (and all those electronic devices don’t help).  There’s nothing like turning the pages of a book to take you away to another place and time.  When you visit the library you can become instantly refreshed for free.

3) Practice Random Acts of Kindness
When’s the last time someone did something unexpectedly wonderful for you or your family?  Most people tend to feel a little blah during the winter months, so why not find a way to brighten someone’s day with a random act that will make them smile?  Leave a plate of freshly-baked cookies for the staff at your child’s school, or the next time you’re in the drive-thru at your favorite coffee shop, put a dollar or two towards the car behind you. They’ll get an unexpected surprise.  Think outside the box.  It needn’t be much — just enough to make someone smile — which in turn is going to really perk you up this winter.

4) Finish One Thing You’ve Been Putting Off
We all have a list of “could’ve, should’ves” so why not take a drab winter day and finish something you’ve been wanting to do? This could be anything from working on your child’s baby book, to getting your favorite photos framed, to mailing overdue thank you notes, updating your recipes, hanging your child’s artwork, or anything else you’ve been meaning to do. Whatever it might be, the late days of winter are a great time to complete some unfinished business.

5) Learn a New Skill
If you’re stuck indoors, why not expand your horizons and learn something new? A new language, perhaps; or how to make bread from scratch; or how to troubleshoot your technical gadgets – learning a new skill can feel victorious on a dank winter day. Don’t leave the kids out, either. If your children have been asking to try a new hobby, this might be the perfect time to let them explore their creative side.

More at: quickanddirtytips.com.

Child Safety Tips for Autumn and Winter

Child Safety Tips for Autumn and Winter

1) Pack Away the Garden Toys
With garden toys, it is important that after the good summer weather has ended, you pack them away and store them in a dry space to avoid potential issues caused by the cold weather of winter. Move, or dismantle, large outdoor items, like trampolines, and store them in garden sheds or garages to avoid water damage and the possibility of the metal frames rusting, which will cause safety issues during the spring and summer when they begin to be used again.

2) Prepare for Outdoor Wet Weather Play
Just because the weather is cooling and there’s a higher chance of rain, doesn’t mean that your children will no longer want to spend time in their garden and the local parks. As a parent you need to ensure that they can continue to enjoy the outside by installing safety equipment and checking for existing safety apparatus.

When taking your child to their local play park, ensure that the surfaces are non-slip to prevent falls, and when your child is playing in your own yard, you may want to install some safety surfacing that allows them to play will a smaller risk of falling over.

3) Make Some Home Improvements
With the temperature dropping, families will be starting to spend more time indoors, meaning that autumn is the perfect time to make some home improvements that will help your children play safely in your own home. If you have children that are learning to walk and crawl then installing special safety equipment, like baby gates, hob covers, socket covers, and corner cushions for tables and worktops will help aid safe play, and prevent young children from accessing areas they shouldn’t.

For older children, parents should take a more interactive approach, and spend time discussing the possible dangers within the home and help them become aware of the safest ways to play and how this is beneficial to them.

4) Continue to Educate about Road Safety
Throughout the year, schools and parents should constantly be educating youngsters on road safety, but with children returning to lessons and the night’s drawing in, many parents may find that autumn is the perfect time to reinforce road safety rules and advice. Teaching children to stay on the pavements, showing them where the safest crossing places are and explaining the potential dangers of all roads will help reduce the risk of accidents.

With sun setting earlier, you may want to invest in some safety clothing that will make your children more visible to traffic. Reflective stickers and patches on their school bags, bikes and coats will help them stay visible.

Tips from mommynewsnetwork.com.

Thanksgiving Apple-Shallot Roasted Turkey Recipe

Thanksgiving Apple-Shallot Roasted Turkey Recipe

Roasting the herb-rubbed turkey with apples and shallots is the secret to flavorful meat. Extra shallots in the roasting pan give the gravy a rich, caramelized shallot flavor.

Makes: 12 servings, 3 ounces each, plus plenty of leftovers
Active Time: Total Time: 

NUTRITION PROFILE
Diabetes appropriate, low calorie, low carbohydrate, low saturated fat, low sodium, heart healthy, healthy weight, gluten-free

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 10- to 12-pound turkey
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus 3 sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus 3 sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise, divided
  • 1 tart green apple, quartered
  • 3 cups water, plus more as needed

 

PREPARATION
1) Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 475°F.

2) Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities and reserve for making Turkey Giblet Stock. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan; pat dry with paper towels.

3) Combine oil, chopped parsley, sage, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place herb sprigs, 6 shallot halves and apple in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups water to the pan.

4) Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown, 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven. If using a remote digital thermometer, insert it into the deepest part of the thigh, close to the joint. Cover just the breast with a double layer of foil, cutting as necessary to fit. Scatter the remaining shallots in the pan around the turkey. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting until the thermometer (or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone) registers 165°F, 1 to 1 3/4 hours more. If the pan dries out, tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan and add 1 cup water.

5) Transfer the turkey to a serving platter (reserve pan juices and shallots) and tent with foil. Make CiderGravy (recipe follows). Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Remove the string and carve.

From EatingWell:  November/December 2007.

5 Tips On The Best Time To Exercise

5 Tips On The Best Time To Exercise

When you’re working full- or part-time and taking care of your kids, the best time to exercise becomes somewhat of a foreign concept. Although working mothers find it difficult to make time to exercise, it’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle. For this reason, finding the best time for exercise is essential.

1) Decide on a type of exercise.
Ask yourself: Why am I exercising? Is it to stay fit? Lose weight? Stay healthy? Do I want to add cardio into my routine? Figuring out your motive for exercising will help you choose a workout that will help you reach your goal. Identifying a type of physical activity also will help you find the best time to exercise during the day. For example, an early morning wake-up routine might consist of gentle yoga, while a lunchtime cardio fix might include a Zumba class.

2) Schedule time to exercise.
Despite how impossible it may seem, there’s always time for exercise in your day. Even if you can only spare a half hour two times per week, identify that time slot and get moving. Whether it’s waking up a half hour earlier to do Pilates, skipping lunch for an hour of strength training or an evening run after the kids are in bed, there is time to exercise if you really make the effort.

3) Set reasonable goals.
If you haven’t exercised since your high school gym class, don’t start out with an overzealous work-out routine. Even if your main goal is to lose over 50 pounds, don’t take on a very demanding exercise schedule, such as five days a week for an hour at a time. If you do this, you’re less likely to stick to an exercise routine, and reach your goals. You can even injure yourself if you push too hard. Instead, start out slow and build up to a challenging exercise routine. If it’s in your budget, work out with a personal trainer who can help you ease your way into exercise.

4) Make exercising a priority.
Even if you set aside time to exercise, you still need to make it a priority in your life. Inspire yourself to exercise. Think about the physical and emotional benefits you’re receiving. It’s sometimes helpful to give yourself rewards, such as new gym clothing, for completing a good work-out, and sticking to an exercise routine.

5) Don’t be too hard on yourself.
If you or your child is sick, or you simply had a rough day at the office, it’s all right to miss one day of exercise. You simply want to make the time to exercise on a regular basis. Don’t fault yourself if you have to skip a day as long as you’re dedicated. Remember it’s all about taking care of yourself.

DIY Art Supply Organizer

DIY Art Supply Organizer

Whether it’s for your child’s always-messy art supplies or just to help keep your desk in order, this handy organizer will brighten your day and keep you on task.

Materials:

  •  2 scrap blocks of wood, about 2 x 4 inches
  •  wood glue
  •  wood screws
  •  drill
  •  3/8 inch drill bit
  •  wood putty
  •  putty knife
  •  sanding block
  •  paint brushes
  •  saw
  •  clamp
  •  ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape
  •  cutting mat
  •  x-acto knife
  •  acrylic paint (in colors of your choice)
  •  palette knife
  •  computer with word processing program
  •  printer

 

Instructions:

Step 1: Spread glue on one 2 x 4 inch wooden block and lay the second block on top to sandwich them together evenly.

Step 2: Clamp the wood together and drill two small holes to countersink the heads of the screws. Drive two screws into the bottom of the wood to hold the pieces together.

Step 3: Putty any cracks or holes. Sand until smooth.

Step 4: Use your word processor to write a word you want to appear on your Art Supply Organizer. Try a word like: create or art. Print out the words in a font you like using letters that appear about 3 inches high.

Step 5: Lay a strip of the ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape on your cutting mat. Lat the printed copy on top of your cutting mat and use a few pieces more piece of the tape to secure the corners and keep the paper in place ove rthe strip pof tape.

Step 6: Trace around the words with the x-acto knife (be sure to have a few fresh blades on hand.)

Step 7: Transfer the resulting cut-out tape letters onto the block of wood. Press the edges to secure the tape.

Step 8: Paint a base color onto the block. Then using a brush and/or palette knife dab thick paint over the block. Use the X-acto knife to very gently peel off the tape mask. Let the paint dry thoroughly overnight.

Step 9: After the paint has dried completely, mark the location of the utensil holes with a pencil. Put a piece of painter’s tape on the drill bit to mark the depth of your holes. Drill holes at each mark.

Tutorial from Pretty Handy Girl.
10 Style Tips to Look Effortlessly Fabulous

10 Style Tips to Look Effortlessly Fabulous

1. Put hair in a loose, tousled updo. Whether you use a side bun, a low and loose ponytail, or a messy braid, leave some near your face and pull back the rest.

2. Wear big earrings. If in doubt, opt for big hoops.

3. On hot days, keep comfortable and wear a nice-fitting tank top with slacks. To accessorize for a lunch date or evening out, add a long necklaces and bangle bracelets.

4. Wear glasses. A pair of nice frames that look great on your face can be a great fashion accessory.

5. In cool weather, wear a long sweater over a snug top, and complete the look with a pair of jeans.

6. Highlight lips with lip gloss or Vaseline.

7. Keep eyebrows groomed and hair trimmed. Doing these two things helps the most frazzled mama look put together.

8. Tuck hair back with a headband to fight the stringy look caused by heat and humidity.

9. Keep versatile pieces in your wardrobe. SheKnows Beauty suggests five great clothing items that are appropriate for work, meetings, and even a night out.

10. Play up your personal style. Redbook magazine has a few fabulous tips from stylish mamas, all of whom stick close to what’s comfortable for them without giving up a great look.

Tips to Keep Your Marital Bond Strong

Tips to Keep Your Marital Bond Strong

1) Avoid Taking Each Other for Granted
One of the disadvantages of long term relationships is the fact that lovers start to take each other for granted. They assume they know their partner’s likes and dislikes and end up making a lot of assumptions, which can be critically wrong at times.

On the other hand, even favors and special gestures are taken for granted as the years go by. If a husband prepares a breakfast-in-bed for his wife every Sunday morning for a few months, it’s a special gesture at the beginning. But as the months go by and the husband decides to sleep in one Sunday morning, the wife ends up getting upset that she wasn’t served her breakfast. Likewise, there may be several other kinds of special gestures that lovers share with each other which can eventually be taken for granted.

By taking these gestures for granted, nothing really becomes a special gesture anymore. Instead it becomes an obligation. Always remember to acknowledge a gesture, however small it may be if you want to understand the secret behind knowing how to keep love alive in a relationship.

2) Surprise each other
Remember the first year of your relationship? Both of you went out of your way to buy each other birthday gifts, and every now and then you popped in a surprise just to see your lover smile in surprise. Do you still do that?

In almost all cases, couples stop paying attention to happy surprises after a few years. We want to keep the love alive in a relationship, but almost all of us stop doing anything to keep the relationship exciting and unique. It doesn’t matter if it is concert tickets, a surprise vacation or even a posse of flowers. Go out of your way to make your partner feel special like you used to, and you’ll see that the relationship will only get more exciting and affectionate.

3) Celebrate Special Occasions
Pay attention to relationship landmarks and special occasions in the relationship. Many Valentine’s Days, anniversaries and birthdays may come and go, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them because you have so many special moments all year round.

Try to make every year exciting and special in its own way. And wherever possible, try to go out of your way to make your partner feel special. You may lose a few hours or a couple of days planning something special, but the fact that you still try to please your partner and make them feel special is a sure sign that you’re taking an initiative to keep the love alive in the relationship.

As long as you give enough importance to affection and sexual desire in a relationship, it’s a great assurance that the flame of love will burn bright in your relationship for years to come.

4) Keep Intimate Moments Exciting
Sexual desire is by far, one of the most important requirements of a happy romantic relationship.

Can you remember the first time you got intimate with your partner? It may be a while ago, but you can’t really forget the racing heartbeats, the passionate cold sweat and the weak knees, can you?

Now just because it’s been a few years since you’ve been together, there’s really no reason why your relationship can’t remain exciting and heart pounding. Most people want to know how to keep love alive, but yet they don’t really pay attention to attraction between the partners. It may feel awkward at first, but you’ll be able to have a more satisfying and fulfilling romantic life if you can satisfy your urges. 

Delicious Recipe for Fall: Apple Cider Baked Chicken

Delicious Recipe for Fall: Apple Cider Baked Chicken

This amazing apple cider baked chicken recipe only takes about ten minutes to prep (perfect before work in the morning), and then after marinating all day, you just pop everything in the oven. And voila! This simple and healthy dish — celebrating the goodness of baked apples, chicken, potatoes, lemons and herbs — will be ready to go.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1 large lemon, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 cups apple cider, homemade or storebought
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 chicken legs or thighs
  • 2 large apples, each sliced into eighths
  • 1 lb. small, red or Yukon Gold potatoes, halved

apple-cider-chicken-prep

Method

Place a gallon size heavy-duty zip-top bag into a large bowl. Place the onion and next 10 ingredients into the zip-top bag, combining well. Add the chicken to the marinade. Close the bag, place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken pieces in a large roasting pan skin-side up. Pour all of the marinade, including onions and lemons over and around the pieces. Tuck the apples and potatoes around the chicken. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through to re-coat everything with the marinade.

Arrange chicken and potatoes on a platter and sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme.

Feel free to add some mushrooms, red peppers and/or other favorite vegetables to this dish.

10 Home Decor Tips to Add Color

10 Home Decor Tips to Add Color

A bright and colorful home can make you feel happy and be more inviting to guests. But sometimes it’s difficult to add these pops of color in our own homes due to fear of commitment to color. Here are some tips on how to infuse color in your home without making a big commitment.

Screen shot 2013-10-01 at 2.40.02 PM

1. Look For Colorful Accent Pieces
Accent pieces are easier to adjust to, cost less than furniture and are less of a permanent commitment than paint. Get a lamp in a bright color—be it the post or the shade—and don’t worry about matching it with anything else.

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2. Paint Small Furniture
Give a small piece of furniture a new paint job—either something you already own, or find a small, inexpensive piece from a used furniture store. A console table is a good piece to start with. Paint in a color that makes you happy and it’ll make you happy every time you see it.

3. Add Colorful Chairs
If you can’t find a colorful chair that fits within your budget or in the color you want, you can always spray paint an old chair. To cut down on the brand-new paint job look, you can distress the paint a little with steel wool, sandpaper or other distressing techniques.

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4. Decorate With Big Bold Letters
This idea will not only add color and a playful feel, but be a conversation starter in your home. Some home decor stores sell oversized wooden letters, or you can also buy them in metal at a sign shop and spray paint in the color of your choice.

5. Frame Your Photos With Color
You can either add a colorful frame to your photos or add colored mats with simple black or white frames. Even if you only add one color, it’ll make the photos pop. Multiple mat colors are best used on black and white photographs.

6. Hang A Bold Color Poster
If you have a neutral-tone space, brighten the area with a bold-colored poster with no more than two colors to make a statement. The neutral colors will make the single colorful piece pop.

7. Bright Colored Pillows
Pillows are an easy way to add accent colors and can be changed according to seasons, or to your heart’s content. By adding a few colorful, patterned pillows to your space, you’ll also add personality. Buy a common size pillow so you can find prints at any price range and swap the covers as often as you like.

8. Start Small
If you’re just not ready yet for color commitment in the living room or other common areas, what about adding a touch of color in the bathroom? A simple, colorful light fixture can transform a smaller space without much fuss.

9. Ready To Go Bigger & Bolder
If you’re ready to add a bigger wave of color to your home, try getting a bigger piece of furniture such as a desk or a dining room table in a bold color. It’s easy and economical to also give old furniture a DIY makeover with a fresh coat of paint.

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10. The Floor Can Take It All
Not ready to commit to large furniture pieces or painted walls? An area run with a complimentary color and a simple print can add color without seeming like it’s taking over your whole space. You can go as small as a runner in your entryway, or as large as a living room area rug.

Natural “No-Makeup” Tips

Natural “No-Makeup” Tips

So that makeup blends in easily‚ first wash with cleanser and a cloth to gently exfoliate your face.

1. Moisturize and Even Out Skin Tone
The fastest, most natural way to do this is with a tinted lotion, like La Mer The SPF 18 Fluid Tint, which also contains sun protection ($70,saks.com). Because it’s sheer, you don’t have to match it to your skin exactly, as you have to do with foundation. You can even go slightly deeper to warm up your complexion, says New York City makeup artist Polly Osmond. Apply it like a basic moisturizer.

2. Conceal Any Flaws
For visible breakouts or deep undereye circles, use a pigment-rich concealer, like Chanel Long Lasting Corrective Concealer ($40,chanel.com). Its small applicator deposits just the right amount of makeup, which is key. The trick is not to use too much concealer, that just accentuates problem areas. For blemishes, dab, blend, and build up coverage in thin layers. For dark circles, swipe the wand under your eyes, then pat with a finger to blend.

3. Use Powder If Needed
If your skin gets shiny, follow with an oil-absorbing powder. (Note: If your skin is very oily, skip the tinted moisturizer and use only concealer and powder.) Swirl on Bare Escentuals Bare-Minerals Matte SPF 15 Foundation ($27, sephora.com) using a brush and a circular motion; this will leave an undetectable veil of cover-up (not a powdery look).

4. Pick a Warm Cheek Color
Cream blushes in warm peaches or pinks give skin a natural, subtle flush. Cool pinks, on the other hand, look more made-up.

To make sure you’re using the lightest touch, do your makeup in daylight, if possible. Prop up your mirror near a window.

5. Shade Eyelids
A soft, brownish tint enhances your eyes’ natural contours without showing up as shadow. “Choose a shade slightly darker than your skin,” says McGrath. “Brush it into the creases and along the lower lashes, making sure there are no hard edges.” For extra eye brightening, she applies CoverGirl Eye Enhancers in Champagne ($4 at drugstores) to the centers of the lids, the brow bones, and the inner corners of the eyes

6. Dot on Eye Pencil (Optional)
If your eyes need a little extra definition (or you want a slightly less bare look for evening), lightly dot a soft gray or brown pencil between the top lashes. Try Shiseido Makeup Smoothing Eyeliner Pencil in Brown ($20, nordstrom.com).

7. Subtly Amp Up Lips
To get a pretty tint (that also lasts), pick a shade that matches your lips exactly and press the color into your lips with your fingertip rather than applying it directly from the tube. Concentrate it in the center and blend out. Try Aveda Uruku Color Gloss in Verbena ($16, aveda.com), a sheer, universally flattering berry.

8. Enhance Lashes
Defined lashes are essential, even for a no-makeup look. You can forfeit shadow and liner but never mascara. Apply two coats to the top lashes (if they’re blond, use brown mascara; if darker, brownish black). Try Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara ($15, clinique.com). For a boost, use a flat eyeliner brush to grab a bit of mascara from the wand and apply to just the roots of the bottom lashes. Coating the lashes entirely creates a spidery effect,