Holidays & Entertaining

Happy #GivingTuesday

Written on December 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm , by

You’ve made it through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But have you heard of #GivingTuesday, the global day dedicated to giving back? In December 2012, #GivingTuesday was founded by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation to bring families, businesses, community centers and students around the world together in celebrating generosity and giving. Today, December 2, 2014, marks its third annual observance, and it’s not too late to get involved. Helping those less fortunate is a great idea to focus on at the start of a month full of gift giving, family celebrations and winter fun. So today, find a way to do something small for someone else—as a family, with friends or with others in your community. For a list of #GivingTuesday movements in your neighborhood, click here.

And if you want to add a little do-gooding to your holiday shopping and donating this season, check out our tech-savvy friends getting into the giving spirit today. Microsoft is offering store customers a free $10 donation card to #YouthSpark on GlobalGiving with any purchase (while supplies last). They’ll also match today’s contributions (up to $350,000) to #YouthSpark on GlobalGiving, which supports organizations providing critical technology skills and resources to youth around the world.

Also, starting today and running through December 31, PayPal’s launching a holiday giving campaign to match 1% of each donation made at www.paypal-donations.com. Consumers can choose one of thousands of U.S. 501(c)(3) charities, with 100% of every donation reaching each cause.

How will you give back today? Remember to hashtag all photos and posts with #GivingTuesday.

Clean Your Home for the Holidays in Four Steps

Written on November 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm , by

With November upon us, we’re about to enter prime party season—you know, that time of year when guests are coming over and your home needs to look its holiday finest. No worries! Study up on these quick-clean tips, and your space will be on its way to sparkling in no time.

De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. Before you even pick up a mop or vacuum, best to clear off any surfaces that look messy. Grab a basket or bin and go through the rooms where you’ll be entertaining, collect out-of-place items and stash them in a closet for the time being. Target the coffee table in the family room, and get rid of catalogs and old magazines. Wipe down your downstairs bathroom vanity. Clear countertops are a must in the kitchen, and never leave pots or pans in the sink for company to see. Load and run the dishwasher before the party, even if you don’t have the chance to put everything away. The latest machines, including Samsung’s new Chef Collection model, are whisper-quiet and could even be run during the festivities if need be.

Shine surfaces in high-traffic areas. Guests tend to congregate in a few key places during get-togethers: the kitchen, the family room, the dining area. Whatever your cleaning weapon of choice—microfiber cloth and hot soapy water, disposable wipes or all-purpose cleaner and a rag—the process is the same. You want to focus on any visible surface where dust and grime build up. In the kitchen, run a disinfectant over the counters, stove, sink and island. Do the same in the powder room, wiping the sink, faucet and toilet handle. Spend a little time on the toilet, swishing the bowl with a long-handled brush and disinfecting the seat. Dust off the coffee and side tables in the family room, and make sure you wipe down the dinner table before you set it or lay out a spread of food. Be sure to use clean cloths each time you attack a new surface to avoid cross-contamination. Some pro cleaners even designate particular rags or cloths for certain rooms or jobs—a few for the bathroom, a few for the kitchen and so on.

Fake it till you make it. If you have enough time to mop the floors and dust off all your downstairs light fixtures, ceiling fans and baseboards/moldings, by all means do it. But if you can’t, your best recourse is to vacuum area rugs and give the kitchen floor a quick once-over with a wet mop or steamer. Fluff pillows and cushions on the sofa, and buff away fingerprints on stainless-steel appliances and streaky mirrors. Put out fresh hand towels and a candle in the powder room. Empty the trashcans. It’s all about the illusion of tidiness—that is, until you can actually take the time to do a deep clean, post-party.

Make it fun. Cleaning is a chore, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complete drudgery. Bust out that wireless speaker before the party starts, and check out one of the many cleaning playlists on Spotify. Or crank your own. Make it a point to get through all the songs before you stop.

This post was sponsored by Samsung.  Opinions/content are Family Circle editorial. 

You Make It, We Post It!

Written on June 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm , by

“We are berry patriotic!” says Instagram user @mommi_swag, who re-created our Berry Kabobs.  The All-American dessert is easy to make and a surefire hit! Find other patriotic treats at here.

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

Memorial Day Savings

Written on May 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm , by

Kick off summer with awesome shopping steals!

• Up to 20% off at Macy’s
*Code: MEMDAY

• Extra 15% off at JCPenney
*Code: SUNNYDAY

• 40% off regular-price items at Gap
*Code: EVENT

• 40% off at Banana Republic
*Code: BRHEAT

• 20% off select styles at Aldo

• Extra 30% off sale pieces at J.Crew
*Code: PACKME

• Extra 20% off clearance items at Lord & Taylor
*Code: MEMDAY

• Up to 70% off select styles at H&M

• Up to 60% off select products at Pottery Barn

• 10% off $100 at West Elm
*Code: SUMMER

Every Mother Counts

Written on May 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm , by

By Reisa Feigenbaum

Just in time for Mother’s Day, the folks at handbag e-tailor Emilie M. have chosen to sponsor a charity that’s dear to their hearts and consistent with the brand’s mission of supporting women in all walks of life. As a mother herself, Emilie was undeniably drawn to a cause that strives to provide the love of mothers to millions of children.

“From the first day, motherhood is a journey of dedication and giving. Giving a hand, giving advice, giving encouragement, giving smiles, giving love. For all the things our mothers give us, shouldn’t we give back?” asks Solomon Hedaya, president of Emilie M.

Between April 15 and May 31, 5% of the brands’ proceeds will support Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit founded by model and mother of two Christy Turlington Burns, dedicated to making pregnancy safe for every mother by informing and engaging audiences to take action and support maternal health programs worldwide.

Nothing beats a gift that gives back. You’ll find a collection of timeless accessories for any mom on a budget (all under $110), including statement-making silhouettes in polished styles from printed canvas and neutral linen to colored croc and tri-tone color block.

Irene Ostrich Shoulder Bag in Rose, Emilie M., emiliemshop.com, $85

Leslie Compartment Double Shoulder, Emilie M., emiliemshop.com, $90

Kimberly Ostrich Tote, Emilie M., emiliemshop.com, $110

 

What It Means to Mother Yourself

Written on May 9, 2014 at 9:44 am , by

As Mother’s Day approaches and millions of Americans reach out and touch the speed-dial button to their favorite floral shop, I find myself thinking about the day in another way.

This Mother’s Day will be the first for me without the visible presence of my own mother, Joan Taylor, who passed away last spring. The loss of my mother has made me think about the qualities that I need moving forward that will allow me to mother myself.

Those qualities include treating myself with compassion and loving kindness, and being more accepting of difficult situations by hearing my mother’s supportive words in my head—words like “everything will work out” or “you did a great job”—even when I’m unsure.

Since I have four daughters myself, Mother’s Day makes me examine the legacy that I am trying to leave for them, a legacy not of material or financial wealth but of social and emotional capital. In other words, the ability to tap into their own reservoir of self-understanding and acceptance with a dose of optimism sprinkled in.

This holiday, it’s also important to remember that while 90% of women want to be mothers, 39% of them may never be because of issues of fertility or circumstance. And  6% choose to be child-free. For these women, Mother’s Day may have multiple meanings.

One consistent factor for all women is the reality that we have been mothered. That experience, either with a biological or nonbiological mother, has a lasting impact throughout our lives. We learn how to love, experience life’s challenges, work out feelings of frustration and develop our strengths and values from our relationship with our first love and primary attachment, our mother.

The capacity to support each other as women by sharing our experiences of being mothered and what we have learned about our mothers and ourselves is truly what Mother’s Day represents. It’s about honoring our growth and origins and loving who we are just as our own mothers, in their unique and individual way, loved us.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

How do you mother yourself? Post a comment and share.

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanetRead more of her posts here.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.

 

Three Quick, Easy and Pretty Mother’s Day Gifts

Written on May 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm , by

It’s only Thursday, so while the weekend’s still a couple of days away, the good news is that Mother’s Day is too. Here are a few quick gift ideas that won’t break the bank but will let mom know you’re thinking of her—and value her love and advice. Be sure to order now, before it’s too late! And don’t forget a card or a handwritten note. Chances are she’ll cherish that the most.

The best thing about Teleflora, other than the fact that they bring fresh flowers on demand to virtually everywhere in the U.S., is that this Mother’s Day they’ve teamed up with Spafinder to offer spa eGift Cards along with their arrangements. So now you can treat mom to a bouquet and a massage in one swoop. She can redeem the gift card at any of the 20,000+ local spas that belong to the SpaFinder network. Choose from four styles, each with a keepsake vase, and three different eGift Card denominations ($25, $50 or $100). Shown above is the Pink Bliss bouquet. Teleflora.com, from $83 for a standard bouquet and a $25 eGift Card

 

 

One of these lovely porcelain plates makes for the perfect finishing touch on a dresser, vanity or nightstand, where mom can use it to stash her rings and bracelets. Or pair the plate with a sweet-smelling bar of soap; it’s the ideal soap dish for a powder room. Shown above is the Porcelain Word Plate in Je t’aimeCwonder.com, $18

 

 

Think you can’t afford to buy her diamonds? Simply not true! Get her a diamond candle, and once she’s finished burning it, there’ll be a ring with a bright sparkler inside, valued at $10 to $5,000. A modest jewel is the most likely outcome, but she’ll definitely enjoy the thrill of burning the candle to reveal the spoils—and for the pretty scent it’ll bring to the house in the meantime. Diamond Candles, diamondcandles.com, $25

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with These Healthier Food and Drink Recipes

Written on May 5, 2014 at 4:11 pm , by

One of the best things about Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, is that it can be celebrated the healthy way meal-wise and still stay true to its Mexican flavor. Instead of going heavy on the cheese dip and Coronas, why not focus on fresh guacamole and lime? If you haven’t given tonight’s menu a thought yet, not to worry. Here are a few quick and easy Cinco de Mayo recipes that feature an unexpected ally—the pomegranate, rich in antioxidants and potassium. We’ll drink to that! If you can’t get it together in time for tonight, these refreshing drinks make for fabulous sips all season long. And you can’t go wrong with guac—ever—just don’t overdo it on the chips.

Chef Katie Chin’s Pomegranate Guacamole (makes 4 servings)

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados, skin and pit removed

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt to taste

Tortilla chips or pita chips

1/2 cup arils (seed sacs) from POM Wonderful Pomegranates or 1/2 cup POM POMS Fresh Arils

Directions

1. Prepare fresh pomegranate arils, if necessary.*

2. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the avocado and stir in the lime zest and juice, red onion, jalapeño and garlic. Season to taste with salt.

3. Stir in the arils.

4. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

*To prepare fresh arils, score pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate under water to free the arils. They will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the arils and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.)

 

 

Cinco de Mango

Ingredients

1 oz POM Mango

1.5 oz tequila

.75 oz fresh lime juice

.5 oz agave syrup

3 dashes Hellfire Bitters (habanero)

Lime wheels

Directions

Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake and strain over ice. Garnish with lime wheels.

 

 

 

Dragon’s Punch

Ingredients

1 oz POM Coconut

1.5 oz vodka (recommend green tea-infused vodka, e.g., Charbay)

.75 oz basil syrup

.75 oz fresh lime juice

5 dashes angostura bitters

Crushed ice

Directions

Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake and pour over crushed ice.

Holiday Traditions in Blended Families: Easter Edition

Written on April 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm , by

By JM Randolph, the Accidental Stepmom

It’s time to break the silence on one of the more problematic issues facing blended families today: what to do about the Easter Bunny.

For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, my stepkids adjusted far more easily to all holiday celebrations other than Easter in our new family situation. I place the blame squarely on that nebulous bunny.

When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny brought the baskets and hid the eggs that my sister and I then found, but even then I knew it didn’t happen the same way at everyone’s house.

The Easter Bunny has no standards. He has neither sidekicks nor clearly delineated responsibilities. In the realm of mythical childhood mascots, every other one of them has a well-defined job description. At least with Santa, you can connect the goodness and giving part of his gig to the deeper spiritual nature of the holiday. The validity of connecting a bunny to an empty tomb is a stretch. Even if we connect him to the prolific…proliferation…of bunnies in order to symbolize the rebirth and fertility of spring, in no tradition anywhere does a rabbit lay chicken eggs.

Trying to understand the Easter Bunny is like reading a technical manual that has been badly translated from Arabic to French to Chinese to English. Some words are there on the page, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense.

My husband wasn’t terribly helpful when it came to sharing Easter traditions. “That was their mom’s holiday,” he said. “I did Christmas.” So that first year, we guessed. The Easter baskets were ready when they woke up in the morning. They contained bubbles, chalk, Frisbees, balsa airplanes, two Hula Hoops and enough candy to send a small village into a stupor.

13-year-old girl: What’s all this?

Me: Easter baskets. From the Easter Bunny.

13-y-o: Why did the “Easter Bunny” come so early? He usually doesn’t come until after church and he only brings candy. [Insert sarcastic teen voice.] Mom would get us all in the car to go to church waaay early, and suddenly remember that she forgot something in the house. She’d go back inside for like fifteen minutes, and then when we got home from church the “Easter Bunny” would have miraculously delivered the Easter baskets.

Me: Easter is all about the miracles.

Where things really broke down was the egg hunt. If you’re not raised with the belief that the Easter Bunny hides the eggs, nothing will convince you otherwise. Not even the 4-year-old was buying it.

The only egg hunts they had done were at churches or parks in large groups. These kids are super competitive to begin with, so we hid some easy, some hard, and let them stagger the start youngest to oldest. That only made the oldest notice all her siblings occupied in the back and immediately move to the front yard to find every single egg there in about ninety seconds.

They were sorely disappointed that only real eggs were hidden. Apparently there were supposed to be plastic eggs filled with candy and money.

Easter remains the holiday that I never get right. I’ve stopped trying, and instead look for ways to amuse myself.

I have to give the Easter Bunny due credit: He saved me one time by stepping in for the Tooth Fairy. After the Tooth Fairy forgot to show up several nights in a row, the Easter Bunny covered the duties and wrote a note of apology, which was unquestioningly and gleefully accepted by the loser of the tooth (the Easter Bunny being more generous than the Tooth Fairy).

I was interrupted during story time the other day by the 18-year-old barging into her brother’s room to ask me to pass along to the Easter Bunny the fact that she doesn’t like the large robin’s eggs candy, only the small ones.

I decided it’s time for the Tooth Fairy to repay the debt to the Easter Bunny by taking over duties this Easter.

JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.

 

2 Must-Watch Videos for “Frozen”-Obsessed Kids

Written on February 24, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Disney’s Frozen—a haunting but happily-ending tale of sisters Elsa and Anna, one of whom possesses icy powers that have seemingly condemned the city of Arandel to a Forever Winter— has been the Big Thing in my house since the weekend it opened. We’ve seen it in 2D, 3D and, most recently, the Singalong version. (As if this were somehow inadequate, my kids, 9 and 6, ask regularly about getting the DVD, which isn’t even out until March 18.)

To get her daily Frozen fix, my daughter is loving Alex Boye’s tribal-inspired cover starring 11-year-old Lexi Walker, who seems poised to become a huge star. Her other current fave is ThePianoGuys’ amazing mash-up of music from Frozen with Vivaldi’s “Winter.“ Their obvious passion and the spectacularly icy setting make this a slam dunk. Watch and enjoy.

Tell me in the comments if your kid loves these as much as mine!

 

Everything You Need for the Perfect Valentine’s Day Toast

Written on February 14, 2014 at 8:24 am , by

By Danielle Blundell

It’s not too late to do a little something special for Valentine’s Day, whether you’re celebrating with a significant other or a group of girlfriends. Here at Family Circle, we know what it’s like to play the role of hectic hostess, so we turned to our friends at POM for these two simple cocktail recipes that look effortlessly festive and taste delicious. Better yet, they’re even healthy—just one small container of POM POMS Fresh Arils has plenty of fiber, potassium and vitamins C and K. For more info and a store near you, visit pomwonderful.com. Enjoy!

POM Sparkle

Sparkling wine
POM POMS Fresh Arils

Fill wineglasses or champagne flutes with sparkling wine about 3/4 of the way. Garnish by spooning arils into glasses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POM Smash

1 tablespoon POM POMS Fresh Arils
1/2 oz lime juice
1 oz POM Hula
one-fourth of a passion fruit
1 1/2 oz dry gin
Soda water
Lime (for garnish)
Mint (for garnish)

Muddle arils with lime juice. Combine ingredients in a shaker and pour into a Collins glass over crushed ice with a splash of soda water. Garnish with lime and mint. A drink to remind us all of the “wonderful” things to come.

The Case for Snail Mail Holiday Cards

Written on January 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm , by

Like many, I spent a good part of last weekend de-Christmas-ing my house. One task was to take down all the holiday cards that arrived throughout December, which I tape around the “window” in the wall between my kitchen and living room. I know some people say cards aren’t necessary in this day and age—”That’s what Facebook is for!”—but I definitely beg to differ. A snapshot on my Facebook newsfeed is here and gone in an instant. A paper card lasts the whole season and becomes part of our holiday decor. My kids (9 and 6) get excited when the envelopes start to arrive, and it quickly becomes a nightly ritual to ooh and aah over the photos. As for our own family card, we spent more than an hour looking at options on Tinyprints and Shutterfly, my hands-down favorite sites for high-quality cards and invites. (Tinyprints had the winner this year, but it was a tough call!) According to Hallmark, 85% of consumers surveyed said they send Christmas cards, letters or photos. I hope that number continues to hold up in our increasingly digitized world. To me, it’s a tradition worth preserving.

Do you send holiday cards in December, or is it not worth the effort or expense? Do you enjoy receiving them? Tell us in the comments.