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New's Year ResolutionsLiving Life to the Fullest - Posted On 12/30/2014 04:13 PM, Last Updated 01/23/2015 10:45 AM
Setting resolutions together as a family is a great way to build a stronger bond and also gives you accountability partners to make sure you keep those resolutions! From building a stronger marriage to building stronger sibling bonds you are sure to find one or more New Year's Resolutions to make with your family this year.
11 New Year's Resolutions to Build a Stronger Family Bond
1. Establish a family game/movie night- Commit to one night a month (or one night a week), prepare special snacks, grab a game, or a movie or two. Enjoy time together, some laughs, and soak it up.
2. Commit to one technology free night- In this day and age this is a tough one, we are all attached to our phones computers, tablets, and video games. Set them all aside for a predetermined length of time- I recommend at least 3-4 hours, start with once a month and if you find it is doing amazing things for family time bump it up to weekly. Use this time to play board games, cook dinner together, play outside, make crafts, take walks, whatever your family enjoys. 150 Screen-Free Activities for Kids is a great book to give you some ideas!
3. Reduce screen time- If you have a high tech family that tends to be glued to their devices, try cutting back – at least an hour or so per day. Commit to setting them down at mealtimes and during family meetings. Our boys all got Kindle Fires for Christmas, so we used the time settings in FreeTime to only allow 2 hours of usage per day & they lock up an hour before bed time.
4. Volunteer together- Coming together to serve others can only strengthen your family bond, not only will you feel good about helping others as a team but you can't help become more grateful for what you have. Volunteering is also great for your kids, as it helps them develop a positive self-esteem, increases empathy, and children that volunteer have been shown to be less likely to become involved in high-risk behavior later.
5. Cook dinner together once a week- (and eat together) Simple meals where everyone can toss in a few ingredients or add to the dinner like a veggie soup, pizza, taco's, etc.. Setting the table, clearing, and doing dishes can all be part of the fun too. Eating as a family is so important to us that we don't do any outside activities that would interrupt meal time, especially when my husband is home from work.
6. Read together- If you are not already reading together consider making it a nightly ritual. A chapter or two from a classic, a comic, the newspaper, nursery rhymes – whatever your family enjoys. Taking turns reading out loud is great or pile everyone on the couch and let everyone enjoy their own selections.
7. Save money as a family- Whether it is for a family vacation, a night out at a family friendly restaurant, bikes for everyone, or a day trip. Set a goal for and work toward it together.
8. Commit to Date Night with your spouse- I know, this article is about strengthening your family bond and here I am telling you to plan a night away from your kids. Getting away from the craziness and business of family life and connecting with your spouse as your husband instead of viewing him as daddy will strengthen your marriage and in turn your family. Since my husband isn't home from work very often and many times he's only home for a few days, this was a hard one for us this year. Instead of taking a night away from the kids every time he's home, we've starting doing Skype dates after the kids are in bed a couple times a month and going out for date night every other time he's home.
9. Start one on one dates with your kids- If you have more than one child they would benefit and shine under some one on one time. Make up your mind to set aside time for each child to surprise them with a fishing trip, a dinner date, laser tag, hiking, bike ride, or let them choose something.
10. Establish family meetings- If your children are older (early elementary to high school) set up weekly or monthly family meetings where everyone is free to discuss issues, or share what is going on in there lives. You could also do “best & worst part of your day”. This is one of our children's favorite parts of the day. Once everyone is done eating, we go around the table saying the best part of our day and the worst part. Sometimes the kids really surprise us with their answers!
11. Get Active- Try a new sport or a half dozen this year, organized or just start your own quick game in the backyard. “The family that plays together, stays together” or so I have heard. Sign the kids up for organized sports like basketball, soccer, or cheerleading- mom and dad can even participate by joining a co-ed softball team. Joining together each week to cheer one another on, learn good sportsmanship, and get healthy is a great way to bond. Due to our “no missing dinner” rule, most organized sports don't work for our family, so we elect to get out into nature together and hike during the warmer months!
What are some of your favorite ways to strengthen your family bond?
Midwest Modern Momma
Cheddar Pecan Crackers with Apple ButterRecipes - Posted On 12/19/2014 01:47 PM
1/2 stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup), softened
4 ounces mild cheddar cheese, finely shredded (1 cup)
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for rolling dough
1/2 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted
Homemade Apple Butter:
Nonstick cooking spray
8 - 10 large cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large chunks (12 cups total)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups apple juice
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Add the butter and cheese to the bowl of a food processor; cover and process until well-combined, about 20 seconds. Add the egg yolk, sugar, and salt; cover and process until combined, scraping bowl as necessary. Add the flour and pecans; cover and process until a dough forms, about 30 seconds more. (Or, for an electric mixer, place butter and cheese in a large bowl and beat with the mixer on medium speed until well-combined. Add the egg yolk, sugar, and salt; beat with the mixer until combined. Finely chop the pecans. Add to beaten mixture with the flour. Beat until crumbly. Use your hands to gently knead mixture until it a dough forms.)
On a cold, clean surface (flour surface, if necessary), use your hands to form dough into a 16x1 1/2x3/4-inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and place on a baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from the freezer to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the slices one inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
In a small bowl, whisk the reserved egg white with 1 teaspoon water. Brush lightly on the dough slices. Bake on separate racks in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown, switching racks halfway through baking. Remove and cool completely on the baking sheets on wire racks. To store, place in airtight containers and store at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Homemade Apple Butter:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a very large bowl mix together the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Transfer apple mixture to prepared baking dish. Pour apple juice over apple mixture.
Bake, uncovered, about 50 minutes or until the apples are very tender when pierced with a fork, stirring once. Remove from oven; lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Carefully mash the apple mixture with a potato masher. Return to oven. Bake, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes more or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven. Mash again with the potato masher until nearly smooth. (For a very smooth texture, cool slightly and puree in a food processor.) Cool completely. Serve at room temperature or cover and chill up to 1 week.
Per Serving: cal. (kcal) 371, Fat, total (g) 16, chol. (mg) 53, sat. fat (g) 7, carb. (g) 52, Monosaturated fat (g) 6, Polyunsaturated fat (g) 2, Trans fatty acid (g) 0, fiber (g) 5, sugar (g) 32, pro. (g) 7, vit. A (IU) 447.22, vit. C (mg) 9.64, Thiamin (mg) 0.22, Riboflavin (mg) 0.22, Niacin (mg) 1.23, Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0.13, Folate (µg) 41.58, Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (µg) 0.18, sodium (mg) 351, Potassium (mg) 324, calcium (mg) 141, iron (mg) 1.47, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Are you Ready For Christmas?- Posted On 12/19/2014 10:25 AM
6 more days until Christmas. Where does the time go. I am so far behind this year, and not really sure why? I think I need a kick in the butt. I did manage to get Driscoll Property Management's office decorated. I love how the home improvement tree came out. If you get a chance, stop and see it, and have a cookie or candy cane. My one Granddaughter and I did get some baking in. We made Dog & Cat treats for the Forest County Humane Society's Bake Sale. http://www.forestcountyhumanesociety.org/
Caught in the act. You going to eat that? I guess its ok, made with peanut butter and whole wheat flour. Only thing is they are hard as a ROCK.
So back to my decorating! My tree at home is still on my side porch. Maybe this weekend? Wish me luck.
Should I get Renters Insurance?Rental Tidbits - Posted On 12/16/2014 11:16 AM, Last Updated 12/16/2014 11:23 AM
Why You Should Have Renters Insurance
You come home one day and discover that your apartment has been gutted by a fire. All of your possessions are destroyed. Your landlords homeowners insurance policy will cover your loss, right? Wrong. Many renters, believing they are covered by their landlords policy, fail to purchase their own insurance and only discover the truth once it is too late. Unless the damage is the result of the landlords negligence (such as your place being burglarized after the landlord ignored your repeated request to fix a broken window), landlords insurance policies typically only cover the physical structure of the building, not tenants personal property. To protect yourself, you need renters insurance.
What is renters insurance?
Another benefit of renters insurance is that you do not have to worry about collecting money from someone else if they cause the damage to your apartment. Lets say your apartment flooded after your upstairs neighbor left the shower on all day. Legally, he is responsible for the losses you incurred, but that does not mean he will be willing to pay you. If you do not have renters insurance, you may have to hound him to pony up. However, if you do have renters insurance, all you have to do is file a claim with the insurance company. They will pay you (not only for the damaged property but also costs incurred for alternative accommodations if your apartment was temporarily uninhabitable) and then seek reimbursement from your neighbor.
Getting proper coverage
Determining your level of coverage is the primary decision that needs to be made with a standard renters insurance policy, but depending on your situation, a standard policy may not be enough to meet your needs. There are many extras you can get (for an additional cost, of course), including:
Homemade Holiday MarshmallowsRecipes - Posted On 12/16/2014 11:00 AM
Homemade Holiday Marshmallows Recipe ~ photo by Taste of Home
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 55 min. standing MAKES: 117 servings
2 teaspoons butter
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup Corn Syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
Optional toppings: melted chocolate, hot fudge and/or caramel ice cream topping
Optional garnishes: baking cocoa, confectioners' sugar, crushed assorted candies, chopped nuts, colored sugars and/or sprinkles
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1 marshmallow (calculated without optional ingredients) equals 22 calories, trace fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 5 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, trace protein.
Line a 13-in. x 9-in. pan with foil and grease the foil with butter; set aside.
In a large metal bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 240° (soft-ball stage).
Remove from the heat and gradually add to gelatin. Beat on high speed until mixture is thick and the volume is doubled, about 15 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Spread into prepared pan. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight.
Using foil, lift marshmallows out of pan. With a knife or pizza cutter coated with cooking spray, cut into 1-in. squares. Dip or drizzle marshmallows with toppings if desired; coat with garnishes as desired. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Yield: about 9-1/2 dozen.
Originally published as Homemade Marshmallows in Taste of Home December/January 2010, p65
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