Holiday Family Traditions

milk and cookiesBy Diane Ruyack

What a special time of the year to have family traditions.  Obviously, putting up the Christmas tree, either  chop one down or drag it out of storage and put it up is one of those traditions.  Have hot chocolate and cookies to go with decorating.  Giving an ornament to each child every year (mark them with name and date) is fun and a great starter for their future family Christmases.  Some people then have a slumber party under the tree with even Dad participating!  Cookie and baking days are so special!  Teaching children how to cook is a blessing and letting them be creative in decorating with frosting, sprinkles, etc is also great fun.  But eating them with a big cold glass of milk is best of all!

Checking out the Christmas lights and going to the top of the City County building in Indy is a highlight for our family. Another family tradition is an advent calendar where everyone takes a turn to open one of the tiny little doors to see what is inside. This helps young children learn about waiting.  Having a special menu after Christmas eve service is a way to keep cultural foods handed down from one generation to the next.  Many people have special soups, pasta dishes, and/or desserts.  Reading the Christmas story before bedtime is a terrific way to remember the reason for the season. Start Christmas off with homemade rolls, pancakes shaped as snowmen, brunch casseroles that can be made beforehand and baked Christmas morning.  Try waffles with ice cream and  if you haven’t tried peppermint ice cream, you haven’t lived!

Making your own gifts such as homemade cookies, candy in a basket or festive plate or cards is another terrific way to be creative and stay on budget. There are all kinds of traditions that make Christmas  the most special of holidays!

Ingredient Substitutions

Hot CocoaBy Diane Ruyack

If you don’t have a particular ingredient for a recipe — or you don’t want to buy it, or you run out while you’re cooking — here are some swaps you can make with ingredients at hand.  For sour cream or mayonnaise use fat-free, plain Greek yogurt. It is just as thick and creamy with less fat and double the protein.  Idea: Mix a scoop of Greek yogurt with salsa for a dip. Equal amounts of yogurt can be used instead of sour cream.  For butter, half is replaced with half as much yogurt. (1 cup of butter would become ½ cup of butter and ¼ cup of yogurt.)  For shortening or oil, replace half the oil with three-quarters the amount of yogurt. (For example, instead of 1 cup of oil, use 1/2 cup of oil and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of yogurt.)

Swap out the oil in baked goods with the same proportion of applesauce,  strained prunes (use baby food, if you want to save a step), mashed banana, pumpkin puree.  You may want to reduce the sugar a little since fruits are sweet.

If you are out of eggs for baking, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water or for  2 eggs substitute 1 egg + 2 whites or egg substitute.

Regular whole wheat flour can be strong in flavor and texture, but there are two kinds of whole wheat flour that are closer replacements for all-purpose flour. When a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, you can substitute white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour for 25 – 50 percent of the amount. Both of these swaps work great for many baked goods, but may present too much flavor for the most delicate items like angel food cake.

Another simple substitution for 1 ounce of chocolate is 3 tablespoons cocoa. Making frothy hot cocoa is easy just use 1 c. milk, 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp cocoa powder cook on low until desired temperature! Whisk until frothy.  Bottoms up!

Tomorrow is Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day

Time TravelBy Mary Nicholson

If you could time travel, which way would you go – forward or backward?  This year, I’ve felt like I’ve been traveling forward much faster than usual.  It was a big and busy year, both with work and family.  We started the year being involved with Fuel Up to Play 60 at the NFL Experience during the Super Bowl festivities.  We also helped to host a national Fuel Up to Play 60 forum soon after that.  Then toss in two college graduations, a first-ever family reunion, a conference in Denver, the Year of Dairy Cows at the State Fair, and a daughter’s wedding.  My Mom always said the older you get, the faster time goes, and I certainly see what she meant!  So, I think, in an attempt to put on the brakes, I’ll opt for traveling backward.

I’m not sure how far back I would travel, but I don’t think I’d care to go back before certain discoveries were made.  For instance, I’m not too fond of pain, so I wouldn’t want to go back before buffered aspirin was available around 1853.  Then, even smart people, like surgeons, were unaware that (a) germs existed and (b) that they could cause diseases. Imagine being present when it was discovered that washing your hands would have a huge impact on death rates! Food safety is also a plus in my book, so I wouldn’t want to travel back before Louis Pasteur patented the process to make milk safe!  Originally discovered during the 1860’s in response to problems in the wine industry, the pasteurization of dairy products didn’t get started until the mid-to-late 1880’s.  So it doesn’t look like I’m going to be travelling too far back!

I think I could deal with a day during the 1920’s, probably in Chicago.  I think I’d want to be in a big city to capture all that I could in 24 hours.  Buildings that are now landmarks, such as Shedd Aquarium, would just be getting underway.  But dining and shopping in the city would still be quite an experience.  I was always fond of the flapper dresses when I was little.  I wonder if a klutzy dame could learn to do the Charleston in 24 hours?

National Hand Washing Week

handwashingBy DeDe Hausmann

How sad is it that we need to designate a week to make us aware of the role hand washing is for good hygiene and better health?!  If more people would realize that hand washing will help combat the spreading of infectious diseases, think how much more healthy we could be…  We needed to empower people to educate and help protect their family members who, in turn, can then help communities have more healthy environments.

Most people don’t wash their hands enough and they can’t figure out why they get sick.

Want to know where the GERMIEST PLACES are:

  • Grocery stores: shopping carts (look for disposable wipes to clean handles).
  • Playgrounds: wash hands or use hand sanitizer after playing.
  • Sinks in public restrooms: bacteria live in moist environments, as in faucet handles and soap dispensers. Wash hands well and turn faucets off with paper towels.
  • Offices: phones and desks.  A quick fix is to wipe down desk, phone and keyboards with disinfecting wipes.
  • Restaurants: table surfaces and high chairs.  Carry disinfecting wipes to sanitize both.
  • Libraries: countertops and other surfaces.  Use hand sanitizer or wash hands after leafing thru books, magazines, etc.
  • Cruise Ships: handrails.  These are floating cities  and niro-viruses are resistant to normal cleaning so wash hands frequently.
  • Malls: escalator handles.  Wash hands often or use hand sanitizers.

I found FIVE CLEAN HAND PRACTICES we all should do:

  1. Wash hands when they are dirty, before eating, before preparing and/or serving food, after using the bathroom, and after handling doorknobs or shopping carts.
  2. Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.  Sneeze/cough into your elbow or into your collar.  This keeps your hands free of microbes that are emitted.
  3. Use a tissue to clean your nose or ears.  Then wash your hands with soap and water.  Ear wax is FULL of bad bacteria.
  4. Don’t rub your eyes with your fingers and then place them in food that you are serving others.
  5. Wash or sanitize your hands before and after touching your face, eyes, nose, mouth or ears.

These are basic and easy-to-remember hand washing hygiene measures that all should want to practice.   Proper hand washing leads to better health and we all want to be healthy.

Have you been naughty or nice? Tomorrow is Santa’s List Day!

Santa ClausBy DeDe Hausmann

I didn’t believe it either but it’s FOR REAL!!!   According to reliable sources via the internet, December 4th is when Santa Claus decides who goes onto the NAUGHTY or NICE lists.  Yep, he’s making those lists and checking them twice, three times or more and deciding who’s been GOOD or BAD!  He’s got to have time to decide what to bring to all the boys and girls of the world and I think he’s pushing it.  Considering there are over SEVEN BILLION people world-wide, as of September, 2012, then he’s got a massive job on his hands!!!!  I sure wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.

Some feel that you can’t change Santa’s mind regarding one’s status after December 4th but others beg to differ.   Of course I think that most parents are those that are begging to differ and they don’t even bother to bring up SANTA’S LIST DAY.   If our kids were still little, I sure wouldn’t!  I remember when I was a wee one that my parents often reminded my FOUR brothers and I that Santa knew whether we were GOOD or BAD clear up until Christmas Eve so we’d better be good! That did wonders especially with my youngest brothers, at least up until they were maybe 6 or 7.  After that, forget it!  They were back to their normal, “get into mischievous often”, selves.

Now if you’ve done the UNTHINKABLE and let the cat out of the bag regarding SANTA’S LIST DAY then you might consider telling your children that there’s ALWAYS WIGGLE ROOM— meaning you need to encourage them to be on their best behavior for you have a DIRECT LINE OF COMMUNICATION to the guy in the red suit and he will gladly give your kids’ gifts to good little girls and boys who really deserve them!!! LOVE IT!  Make ‘em sweat a little.

So parents, it’s up to you what you tell your kids regarding SANTA’S LIST DAY!!!  My suggestion is to USE IT TO THE FULLEST AND GIVE THEM A LITTLE WIGGLE ROOM.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

(and remember the true meaning of the season!!!)

Stay Home Because You Are Well Day

MP900316497By Mary Nicholson

Little did I realize when given this what I thought would be a fun topic how hard this is going to be to write.  It’s not that the topic is complex; the title pretty much explains it all.  The difficulty arose when I thought things through, remembering that the boss will most likely read this.  Uh oh!  What to do, what to do?

A little more research on the topic did provide some history and insight about this day.  Stay Home Because You Are Well Day has been around for more than a decade, and was created, along with many other zany holidays, by Tom Roy, a radio personality in Pennsylvania, and his wife, Ruth.  November 30, the official Stay Home Because You Are Well Day, is also Tom’s birthday.  This wasn’t the first holiday created by the Roys.  It all started with Northern Hemisphere Hoodie-Hoo Day, which is always February 20. Citizens are asked to go outdoors at high noon (local time) and yell “Hoodie-Hoo” to chase winter and make ready for spring, one month from now.  And according to Tom, it always works!  For more about the creators of this “holiday”, check out this article.

So what would you do if you got a “free” day and stayed home because you are well? For me, it depends on who else in my house is taking advantage of that day.  If I’m on my own, the conversation in my head would go something like this:  “Oh boy!  A whole day!  I could go to the gym, get all the laundry done, bake bread, finally organize my closet, lose 20 pounds, take items to Goodwill, finally get the crud off the shower walls and doors, vacuum/clean every square inch of the house (including those dreaded blinds), get the holiday decorations down from the attic, and cook a wonderful, FoodNetwork worthy dinner.”  Here’s reality:  “Oh boy!  I don’t have to get up with the alarm clock!  Let’s have a leisurely breakfast, toss something dirty into the washer, do a few Sudoku puzzles, and then just one more, go to the gym, and then go shopping”.  But you know what, either way, I had a great Stay Home Because You Are Well Day.  Cheers to you!

The Countdown to Christmas

Thanksgiving is now over and the countdown to Christmas has begun! The Holiday season seems to become hectic and sometimes we lose sight of why we are celebrating. We also tend to forget to enjoy our family and friends. I know a little organization can go a long way to alleviate stress. Here are a few tips and a simple ‘to do’ list to help with the stress during the Holidays.

Make your list of gifts (if you haven’t already) and wrap as you buy them. Online shopping is a time saver but order your items NOW so you have plenty of time to wrap them.  Also wrapping gifts right away will help keep little eyes from finding out what Santa is bringing. For out of town presents, a good rule to follow is to make sure out-of-town presents are mailed by second week of December.

Ah yes, Decorations. Get out your lights, ornaments, wreaths, and lawn ornaments. Is anything broken, need replaced, or is it time for an update? If you have a lot of decorations try to tackle a room a day. Have the family help and make it festive by playing Christmas music!

Do you send Christmas cards? Buy your cards and start addressing them.  If you’re too busy to get them addressed and mailed during the first week of December, consider putting them off until after the holiday rush.

Another big stressor is hosting Christmas dinner. Shop for nonperishable items a week or two out. A couple days before your meal make sure you hit the store for the last-minute vegetables or fruit you need for meals.

Most of all enjoy your family and friends and relish the traditions you share.

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