Whether you are with your family, with a loved one, or on your own, here are some simple ideas to ring in the new year.
Keeping it simple is always a favorite when you have a larger family. Host a dinner for friends with young ones so the adults can enjoy some adult time while the kids watch movies. Make it a pajama night so if the kids fall asleep, it’s easier to transport them home and put them to bed when the night is through.
Most towns offer some kind of outdoor party to ring in the new year. From live music to fireworks at midnight, it can be fun for the whole family or just you and your significant other.
If you’re kidless, make it a pot luck so everyone can enjoy a little bit of something while playing cards or games or watching TV for the ball to drop. A nice dinner out with your significant other followed by a walk in the park can be romantic.
Enjoy a family activity like bowling, skiing, going to the movies, or going for a midnight (late-night) hike. There is nothing like being outdoors enjoying the air to start a new year. Not a nighthawk? Then get up early to see the sunrise in the new year.
Regardless of how you spend your New Year’s Eve, we wish you a safe and happy new beginning to 2017.
As the holiday season is in full swing, many people pull out their wonderful holiday decorations of candelabras, votives and candles in wreaths. But many of those candles are scented to smell like cinnamon spice, apple, or even pine tree or more. As tempting as burning those scented candles may be, they may be causing more harm than good.
Many candles are made from paraffin wax, and when this wax is heated, the toxic chemicals benzene and toluene are released – the same chemicals that can be found in diesel fumes! These toxins are also known as phthalates , which can cause major health effects if inhaled and have been linked to cancer, asthma and common allergies.
The wicks of the candles can also contain heavy metals, most commonly lead. Inhaling lead can cause hormone disruption and behavior problems.
Not all candles are harmful. Be sure to read all labels fully to see what materials are used in the creation of the candle.
There are many alternatives to achieving the beautiful aromas of the season without the use of candles, such as:
Soy-based candles with wooden wicks
Beeswax candles with wooden wicks
A small live tree in a pot
Wreaths made from fresh branches
My favorite solution for a natural holiday scent is this Holiday Stove-top Potpourri:
3 cinnamon sticks
1 orange (sliced)
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons cloves
1 cup cranberries
1 sprig of rosemary (optional)
Fill a saucepan with 2 to 3 cups of water and toss in all ingredients. Simmer on low. Add water as needed to freshen up.
First and foremost, your fur-friends should have a comfortable place to lay their heads. They may be exhausted from all the family that visits and need a place of their own. Consider our certified organic pet bed. Made with a certified organic cotton cover and an organic buckwheat-hull bladder, it makes the perfect pet bed to cuddle up on. Sizes available are small round, small square, and large square. Your local retailer will help with availability and pricing.
Whether you have a dog, cat, ferret, or other furry friend, they all have one thing in common: they love their toys. It can be a simple ball, an empty box, or a small stuffed animal. Regardless of your pet’s favorite toy, the simple gesture of handing over that toy can make a pet’s day. If you celebrate the spirt of giving this holiday season, remember to give a little something to your four-legged friends. They’re celebrating too!
Treats can provide another quick way to their hearts, through their stomachs of course. There is a wide range of healthy, organic foods out there for them. Everything is covered from treats to main meals to special dinners. Much like humans though, you don’t want to overdo it.
Love comes in many forms including four-legged, kissable, snuggable, and lovable forms. Cherish every moment you have with your fur-friends and family this holiday season.
With Halloween just around the corner (less than a week away), it’s always nice to have some fun food ideas to share with the kids. Why not start the Halloween weekend off with some goodies to get everyone in the Halloween spirit? Check out a few ideas listed below that will have everyone begging for more.
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (4-oz.) package goat cheese, at room temperature
black and green olives
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tortillas into 24 bat-shaped wings. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, but not browned, about 15 minutes: let cool. Line a second large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the Cheetos crumbs and seeds in separate small bowls.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, and pepper to taste. Using a 1 oz cookie scoop, scoop balls of cheese and round out, gently molding with your hands.
Coat the cheese balls in the crumbs or seeds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
Once the tortilla wings are cool, gently press into the sides of each cheese ball. Thinly slice olives and place on top of each ball for eyes.
8 oz. Thinly sliced black forest ham or Virginia ham
8 oz. Thinly sliced Cheddar or Swiss cheese
1 large egg
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.
Unroll pie crusts. Cut each crust into 24 pumpkin shapes with a 3” pumpkin cookie cutter. Using a 1/2” triangular cookie (aspic) cutter or a sharp knife, cut out eyes and a nose from 12 of the cutouts.
Using a 2” round cutter, cut 24 rounds from the sliced ham and 24 rounds from the sliced Cheddar.
Place 2 slices Cheddar in the center of each of the 12 solid pumpkins; top each with 2 slices of ham. With a small brush, brush beaten egg around edges. Top with remaining pumpkins with cut-out faces, carefully pressing on the edges to seal.
Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake 12 – 15 minutes until light golden. Let cool on rack 5 minutes before serving.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with foil liners. Place the potatoes in a pot, add enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt, reduce heat, and simmer until just tender, 15 – 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper; stir in the bread crumbs. Add the garlic and carrot and mix to combine. Add the beef and pork and mix just until incorporated. Divide the meat mixture among the foil liners and push a tomato into the center of each one. Transfer to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the meat registers 155 F., 14-16 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the sour cream and ¼ tsp. salt and mash until very smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2” ribbon tip (Wilton 104). Transfer the meat loaves to a platter and pipe the potatoes back and forth over each top to resemble a mummy’s wrapping. Place 2 peas on each for eyes.
It is the last weekend of summer and time for one last BBQ before we put the grills back into storage. If summer has to end we might as well make good food to send it off right. Here are some great recipes to help make the perfect Summer’s end feast!
Watermelon “CAPRESE” with Balsamic Glaze
1/2 red seedless watermelon, sliced 1/2 inch thick (calculated with 16 oz)
8 – 1 oz thin slices fresh mozzarella
1 loose cup baby arugula
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic glaze
Use a 4-inch star-shaped cookie cutter (or any shape) and cut 16 stars out of the watermelon (about 1 oz each). Save the excess watermelon for another use.
Arrange the watermelon on a platter, then layer with cheese, arugula, 1/4 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt on each. Top with a final star, drizzle each with balsamic glaze and serve.
Prep the burgers: Combine the salt, paprika, pepper and granulated garlic in a small bowl. Form 6 turkey patties and sprinkle on both sides with the seasoning mixture.
Make the glaze: Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeños and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the marmalade, mustard, black pepper and chili powder and cook about 2 minutes, until fully combined. Reserve until ready to use.
Preheat a grill to high. Grill the patties until nice markings are shown, about 5 minutes per side, then reduce the flame to medium and cook until well done, 12 more minutes, flipping after 5 minutes. At the same time, toast the buns on the grill.
Serve the burgers on the buns; top with the glaze, lettuce, tomato and red onion. Serve with pickles.
Here are some great gift ideas for your special dad.
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.
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.
Build him an eco-inspired bird house out of a recycled bottle – HERE
Get dad some new items for the barbecue to inspire more summer night barbecues.
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
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.
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.
Make Her Kitchen Mason-Jar Herb Garden:Use 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.
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.
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.
Glass Vase Centerpiece:Use 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.
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.
Head Outdoors: Enjoy the great outdoors with a trip to the park for a picnic, or plan a hike to a favorite outdoor area.
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.
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!