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.

Cheese Ball Recipes

By Diane Ruyack

Everyone is hungry waiting for the holiday meals this season!  Try serving these delicious cheese ball recipes with veggies and crackers. The first recipe uses lower fat ingredients while the second one is super easy.  Enjoy!

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Puzzle and Game Week

By Diane Ruyack

On average children spend just 38.5 minutes each week engaged in meaningful conversation with their parents compared to 1,197 minutes spent in front of TV, video games or computers. Increase your meaningful time together by playing a board game each week for 20 minutes. This casual environment includes all members of the family from preschoolers to teenagers and even grandparents. It also opens lines of communication, creates memories and teaches valuable life lessons. Get started during National Puzzle and Game week, November 19-23! This week helps increase the appreciation of board games and puzzles while preserving the tradition of investing time with family and friends.

Tips for school teachers:  classrooms could spend 20 minutes each Friday playing a board game as a reward for hard work and good behavior all week. Another idea is schools can host a once-a-month game evening as a way to help families become familiar with the staff and facilities, lead into discussions of various matters or upcoming events, and establish and maintain a line of communication with parents.

Host a trivia night fundraiser using board games. Encourage families and businesses to purchase a table and play as a team. Another fundraiser could be a Game Night Lock-In that allows kids to play their favorite games with their friends in a safe and secure environment. Groups could change games each hour or so, or conduct a giant tournament where everyone plays together!

Parents go to different websites such as can give you some great trivia questions such as how many acres of pizza and mozzarella cheese are eaten by Americans every day? The answer: 10 acres

See if anyone one can answer this?

To get the same amount of calcium provided by 8 ounces of milk, you would have to eat 2 1/4 cups of broccoli, 6 3/4 oranges or 6 slices of wheat bread

Farm-City Week

People love to shop for clothes and eat! We love the variety of food we can taste and the styles that clothing stores offer. Who is to thank for all these wonderful products – it starts with farmers!  National Farm-City Week is celebrated this week. This year marks the 57th anniversary of the annual celebration. As you prepare your Thanksgiving meal think about these things which you are grateful.

Farm-City Week celebrates the partnership between farmers and their urban colleagues who help prepare, transport, market and retail the food and fiber farmers grow for America’s consumers. Did you know that nearly 1 in 20 workers in our national economy plays a role in getting food and fiber from the farm to consumers?

Many people are now two, three or even four generations removed from life on the farm. People do not completely understand and lack the first-hand knowledge of how their food gets from the farm to their plate.  National Farm-City Week helps call attention to the agricultural community and the origins of products we enjoy daily.

Although the number of farms in the United States has declined over the years, agricultural production continues to meet the needs of a growing population. Today’s farmer grows twice as much food as his or her parents did, but uses less land, water and energy to do so.

Some ways Farm-City Week is being celebrated in communities across the country are hosting farm days at schools, farm tours, banquets and proclamations. Farm-City Week can be celebrated throughout the year too! I urge you to visit a modern dairy farm with your family if you have never stepped foot on one.

Consider adding the farmers and all those who helped get the food you will eat this holiday season to your list of people to give thanks.

More info about National Farm-City Week is available at . Test your knowledge and take a farm city quiz as well!

Bread and Butter

By Michelle Plummer

You can smell it now, the yeast, the flour and then the aroma of BREAD.

I have been making bread for what seems forever, up until a couple of years ago, all the bread we ate was from me, bread in a bag-never. The bread making process is simple and fool proof. Actually I think the bread talks your through the process.

Basic Italian Bread: ( in food processor)

3 cups King Arthur Bread flour                                   3 swirls of olive oil

2 tablespoons fast acting yeast                                  1 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. kosher salt                                                         about 1 ¼ cups warm water

Place flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil in food processor and mix for 10 seconds.

With machine running, slowly add warm water, as the dough is being mixed the sound will from sand to flop, flop, flop and pulls away from the side of the bowl; stop adding water, continue to ‘knead’ bread for a count of 30.  Stop.  In a resealable bag place the bread and remove the air and seal.  Allow to rest in a microwave (do not turn on) until doubled in size.  Open bag, punch down; knead 5 times and form into a loaf; place on baking sheet, cover with kitchen towel and allow to rise until double in size.  Place in preheated 400 degree oven and bake until golden brown and when thumped, the loaf sounds hallow.  Remove from oven, cool for 20 minutes and serve warm with cheese or butter or even plain!

Jazzed up Italian bread- (focaccia)

Use the same ingredients above and add any combination of the following: 3 tbsp. Italian herb blend, ½ cup Parmesan cheese (shredded if you have it), sun-dried tomatoes, olives, onions, roasted garlic—use your imagination.

Add all of the ingredients about to the dry mixture and then begin adding the warm water.  It may take a bit more water.  Follow the same directions as above, but with this dough you can make a round focaccia or small rolls, or 2 loaves…have some fun, but this is delicious.  When it comes from the oven be sure to have a small plate of olive oil with herbs for dipping!

This is a staple in my house, the other is King Arthur’s Oatmeal Toasting Bread. This is simple loaf bread and the recipe is attached.  I make a few changes for my family of using the butter only, using brown sugar and adding dried cranberries.   This toast with a glass of milk is perfect for breakfast on the go!

Several years ago I took a baking class at King Arthur and found that the flour, the recipes and the help are fool proof.  When you have a question, they are right there, yes at 6 am on Thanksgiving morning to answer questions.

You Can Enjoy That Thanksgiving Feast AND Eat Healthy!

By DeDe Hausmann

Don’t laugh—you CAN enjoy that turkey and all the fixings but you don’t need to overdo it.   It just takes wise planning.

Many of us have foods/specific recipes that we always prepare for TURKEY DAY.  Take the time now to pull out those recipes and see how you can make them more nutritious without sacrificing taste.

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