Back-to-school sleep tips

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Summer vacation is almost over, and whether kids break from summer, winter, spring, or even a long weekend, they seem to want to stay up later. Late nights can lead to difficult mornings transitioning back into their normal school routine. It is important for parents to put healthy sleep on the back-to-school list of necessities. Here are some helpful tips to get kids prepared to go back to school.

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  1. First, calculate how much sleep your child needs. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Ages 5-10 need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers 9 to 10 hours.

  1. About 10 to 14 days before school starts, parents should gradually start adjusting their child’s bedtime schedules. Have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day before school starts. This will help set their circadian clock to school time. Try to also keep the same sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep sleep rhythms regulated.

  1. Stick to an age-appropriate bedtime routine to help them wind down. For younger children this may consist of taking a bath before bed, brushing their teeth, or reading a bedtime story. For older children, they may want to read a book to relax or find a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.

  1. Control the sleep environment by keeping the room cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electronics such as, cell phones, televisions, video games, and computers should be turned off an hour before bedtime.

  2. Limit caffeine intake after lunch or at least 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and inhibits sleep. Healthy meals and regular exercise can help promote quality sleep.

  1. Avoid food close to bedtime, especially spicy foods that can cause acid reflux and raise body temperature, both of which inhibit sleep.

  1. Practice what you preach. Studies have shown that parents who set rules and abide by them themselves are more likely to have children follow their example. The right amount of sleep every night can help your child do better in school and help with mood and anxiety. 13717923_10205279444144540_1107853922_o.jpg

    These strategies can help you and your child have a healthy, successful upcoming school year.

5 Festive Fourth of July Recipes

Independence Day is this weekend. I am excited for one of my favorite Fourth of July traditions: the cookout. Each summer, I search for new and delicious fare to serve for this festive occasion. This year, I found some great recipes on Good Housekeeping’s website and also on azcentral.com.

Firecracker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

If you’d like to add a little spice to your holiday lineup, this sandwich will really hit the spot.

Ingredients

Sandwiches
  • ½ c. hot sauce
  • ¼ c. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. ketchup
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Hamburger buns
  • ½ c. ranch dressing
Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw
  • 1 c. packed shredded Savoy cabbage
  • 1 small apple
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1½ oz. bleu cheese
  • ¼ c. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl; reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Add chicken to the remaining mixture and toss to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
  3. Grill chicken, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Grill buns until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread dressing on buns.
  4. Serve chicken topped with Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw and drizzled with reserved sauce between buns.
  5. To make the slaw:Combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl.

 

Smoky Barbequed Shrimp & Peach Kabobs

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

For lighter fare, these flavorful skewers kick it up a notch.

 Ingredients

  • 12 metal or bamboo skewers
  • 1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 lb. shelled de-veined shrimp
  • 3 medium peaches
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in cold water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  2. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add shrimp, peaches, and onion; toss until evenly coated.
  3. Thread shrimp, peaches, and onion alternately onto skewers.
  4. Grill 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and shrimp become opaque throughout, turning once. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Red, White, and Bleu Potato Salad

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

This fresher version of a traditional staple is a welcome accompaniment to any summer barbeque.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. red potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ c. aged sherry vinegar
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. bleu cheese
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 oz. watercress
  • 2 green onions

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in an 8-quart saucepot. Add water until potatoes are immersed. Add 2 tablespoons salt and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium. Boil 10 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are just cooked through, but not soft. Test by piercing a potato with a thin skewer or toothpick; when skewer meets some resistance but can slide all the way through, drain potatoes immediately. Potatoes can be drained and set aside at room temperature up to 4 hours ahead.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, bleu cheese, and 1/3 cup oil. This vinaigrette can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead.
  3. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  4. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of each slice with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, then sprinkle with a 1/2-teaspoon of salt and a 1/4-teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Place potato slices on the hot grill grate. Grill 5 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on both sides, turning over once.
  6. Place watercress on large serving platter. Top with the potatoes and green onions. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top. Serve immediately.

 

Firework Fruit Skewers

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids (and adults) will love these colorful and festive fruity fireworks.

Ingredients

  • 1 set of 10-inch skewers
  • Watermelon
  • Star cookie cutter
  • Blueberries
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Red grapes (optional)
  • Raspberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash fruit and skewers.
  2. Slice watermelon into 1-inch pieces that fit your cookie cutter’s width.
  3. Cut out stars from the watermelon using your cookie cutter.
  4. To assemble the skewers, slide a blueberry onto a stick. Follow with a mini marshmallow.
  5. Repeat, rotating between berries and marshmallows until there is about an inch of stick left.
  6. Place a star-shaped watermelon slice at the top of each skewer, making sure the pointed stick is not exposed.
  7. If desired, add red grapes or raspberries after the marshmallows to make a red, white, and blue pattern on the stick.

 

Star-Spangled Sangria

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

Don’t forget a crisp and refreshing beverage to beat the summer heat.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 3 oz. elderflower liqueur
  • 2 c. blueberries, washed
  • 2 c. strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 3-4 Granny Smith apples
  • 12 oz. sparkling water
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a pitcher.
  2. Slice the apples into 1/4-inch pieces, wide enough to fit your cookie cutter.
  3. Cut out stars from the apple slices using your cookie cutter.
  4. Chill beverage for at least 4 hours.
  5. Just before serving the sangria, add sparkling water.
  6. Serve sangria in a tall glass with ice and garnish with an apple-star cutout.

Now that you have some delicious ideas for your holiday cookout, you can have peace of mind going into this busy holiday weekend. Just remember to hit your local farm stands and farmers’ markets to get the freshest local organic ingredients.

Click here >> for more fun OMI recipe ideas.

 

 

Father’s Day gift ideas

Great last minute Father’s Day gift ideas:AdobeStock_106425785(2).jpeg

Don’t forget your dad this Father’s Day.

Here are some great gift ideas for your special dad.

 

  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your dad to his favorite restaurant or plan a family fishing trip, hike with a picnic, movie, concert, or sporting event that he would enjoy.Family fishing
  2. Plan a special at-home treat: Make him breakfast in bed, or plan a night in you can make his favorite dinner, then watch a video and relax.
  3.  Build him an eco-inspired bird house out of a recycled bottle – HERE 
  4. Get dad some new items for the barbecue to inspire more summer night barbecues.Grill, bbq area with tools hanging on the wall
  5. Show dad how much he’s appreciated by making a homemade picture frame. Here’s a link for some creatives ways to make a frame – HERE
  6. Create a gift basket and fill it with some of his favorite things. Maybe pick a theme based on his hobbies or favorite treats and fill the basket based on the theme. Some great examples of theme ideas: sportsman, coffee lover, sweet-tooth fanatic, bookworm, Mr. Fix It, film buff or outdoorsman, to name just a few.
  7. Get him a digital magazine subscription or pick out some books by his favorite author at a used bookstore.

This Father’s Day, show dad how important he is and how much he’s loved.

 

Great Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Colorful_spring_gardenMother’s day is only days away. Show your mom how much you love her with a thoughtful gift straight from the heart.

  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your mom to her favorite restaurant, museum, play, movie, concert, or some other event she would enjoy
  2. Plan a Special At-Home Treat:  Make her breakfast in bed, or plan a night in, make her a delicious dinner, then watch a video and relax.morgan-making-smoothie-273x300
  3. Create a gift from things you have around the house, such as this no-sew t-shirt pillow:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDVcStxBINs
  4. Make Her Kitchen Mason-Jar Herb Garden:mason-jar-planter-board-747x1024Use a piece of wood and affix the quart-size mason jars using heavy-duty stainless hose clamps, adding chalkboard strips for labeling. Place gravel or clay shards at the bottom of the jars to avoid rot.Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  5. Paint a Tin-Can Mini Flower Pot: Transform tin cans into elegant containers for potted roses with a can of spray paint in a bright and stylish color.
  6. Give Her the Gift of Relaxation: Gift your mom a relaxing gift basket filled with assorted “tub teas.” pampering items, lotions, etc., to help with sleepless nights.
  7. Glass Vase Centerpiece:Shanty2Chic-Bottle-VaseUse recycled glass wine bottles in a pine or whitewood frame and with fresh flowers.   For a full tutorial on creating this gift, visit Shanty 2 Chic
  8. Recipe Ring:
    DIY-Recipe-Ring
    A great easy gift to help keep your mom’s special recipes. Type out recipes with 6” long and 4” tall dimensions so you are able to glue them onto note cards. Print the recipes onto different-colored paper. You can even color code them according to side dish, entree, dessert, etc. Cut out and glue to note cards; laminate if possible. Hole-punch the top left corner and add a ring. You can even attach a new bright spatula or whisk to the ring for a fun extra addition.  
    Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  9. Head Outdoors:
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    Enjoy the great outdoors with a trip to the park for a picnic, or plan a hike to a favorite outdoor area.
  10. Framed Memory: A picture can be worth a thousand words, so give your mom a favorite picture of you or your siblings, or even the two of you together.
  11. Send a Thoughtful Card: Skip the funny card from the card aisle at the grocery store and make your own. Include a note about how special your mom is to you.

This Mother’s Day, make sure to do a little something extra special!

A Menu for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

With Cinco de Mayo only days away it is time to begin planning a delicious meal to share with friends. Here are some great recipes to help you start planning a yummy menu:

CUCUMBER-JALAPEÑO MARGARITA

Tuna Nachos w/Cucumber Margarita

INGREDIENTS

  • Coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • ½ cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
  • 4 slices of jalapeño
  • ¼ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz. light agave nectar
  • 2 oz. 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ½ oz. Cointreau or triple sec

DIRECTIONS

Pour an even layer of salt on a plate. Rub the rim of an 8-ounce rocks glass or tumbler with lime wedge and invert glass into salt to coat rim.

Combine cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar in a 2-cup cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or pestle, gently muddle the mixture.

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and then add tequila and Cointreau. Cover and shake well until shaker is frosty and cold.

Fill prepared glass with ice. Strain margarita into it and garnish with the cucumber slice.

RAINBOW SALSA

Mexican cuisine: tasty salsa and corn chips nachos close-up. Horizontal

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small bag tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

TEQUILA-MUSTARD-GLAZED CHICKEN SKEWERS

Grilled chicken skewer with grilled vegeyables salad

INGREDIENTS

Marinated Chicken

  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 tbsp. chopped oregano
  •   1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Tequila Mustard

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  •  1 tbsp. ground cumin
  •  1 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the tequila, brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, water, malt vinegar, honey, tequila, lime juice, dry mustard, coriander, cumin and chile powder. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously until thickened (approximately 5 minutes); do not boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lime zest and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mustard to a small bowl. Thread the chicken onto the top third of the skewers; grill over moderate heat, turning, until browned and almost cooked (approximately 8 minutes). Brush the chicken with the reserved ½ cup of mustard and grill until glazed and cooked through. Serve the skewers with the remaining mustard.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients possible for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

Enjoy a Delicious St. Patrick’s Day Feast

Celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with fun and delicious dinner and dessert!

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples

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Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 12-ounce bottle stout beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 14-16-ounce package smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, cut in 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 8 small sage leaves

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 of the beer and the crushed red pepper; bring to boiling. Add sausage and green beans. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add apples. Cook, turning occasionally, until apples are just tender. Transfer to a platter.

3. Add sausage to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add to platter; cover. Drain fat from skillet.

4. Carefully add remaining beer to skillet (mixture may foam); stir to scrape up browned bits. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and orange peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return sausage and green beans to skillet to coat in glaze. Fold in apples. Return to serving platter. Sprinkle with sage.

Potato Rolls

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Total Time: Prep: 25 min. + rising

Bake: 15 min.

Yields: 24 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup warm mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, shortening, potatoes, egg, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Punch dough down and divide in half. Divide each half into 36 pieces; shape into balls. Place three balls each into greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

4. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm.

Chocolate Stout Shake

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Servings: 4

Start to Finish: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/8 cup chocolate stout beer or stout beer
  • 1/4 cup prepared chocolate fudge ice cream topping
  • 1/4 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 purchased chocolate-and-nut-covered pretzel rods (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small saucepan, heat beer and chocolate topping until warm and combined. Cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender combine ice cream and milk, half at a time. Cover and blend until combined. Divide ice cream mixture among 4 glasses. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and, if desired, serve with chocolate-covered pretzel rods.

Eco-Conscious New Year’s Resolutions

2016 is almost here, and with the New Year come New Year’s resolutions!  Many people opt for popular resolutions like losing weight or traveling more. But what if this year you tried something a little different and tried to incorporate some eco-conscious resolutions?

Here are 15 resolutions to help get you started on becoming more eco-conscious:

  1. Implement a recycling system, or ensure that your current system is the best it can be
  2. Stop buying water bottles and use a reusable bottle bottles-774466_960_720
  3. Add some indoor plants for better air qualitySpider_Plant_Blades
  4. Unplug unused appliances and turn off unused lights
  5. Make your home more efficient by switching out old bulbs for longer-lasting energy-efficient light bulbs, or install a new digital thermostat for more accuracy and to better regulate the temperature while using less energy4473348751_55a915d276_o
  6. Go Paperless – stop paper bills
  7. Pay bills online
  8. Lower water temperature to conserve energy
  9. Repair, restore, and reuse items, when possible
  10. Use rechargeable batteriesbattery-1071317_960_720
  11. Adjust your thermostat one degree lower in the winter and one degree higher in the summer to help conserve energy15114147602_fb7e282435_o
  12. Buy local produce to reduce your carbon footprintFarmers_Market_and_Occupy_Eugene
  13. Take shorter showers
  14. Try to include a vegetarian meal in your weekly menu6933047123_ddefeb7037_o
  15. Enjoy the outdoors

This is only a short list of ideas. However, there are hundreds of ways we can make our lives more eco-conscious.

May your 2016 be a happy and healthy year!