You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2011.

Orzo is one of my favorite quick, universal pastas that is good warm or cold; as a light meal or side dish; and almost always a kid-pleaser.  This particular recipe comes together in just minutes, and can be shaped to meet the likes (and dislikes) of your family.

A simple orzo salad

To make orzo salad, first cook according to package directions.  Drain and rinse under cool water, as this is one pasta that tends to stick together if not handled properly.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil, stir in coarsely chopped fresh basil and diced sun-dried tomatoes, and sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.  Other options for this salad are goat or feta cheese, fresh spinach instead of basil, and fresh tomatoes instead of sun-dried.  Many kids think this is rice and will eat it without question, and it’s a dish that is delicious as leftovers.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

 Trivia Question:  (Answer found at the bottom. When draped over a casket, where are the stars placed?)

It’s Memorial Day and I was glad to see so many parades scheduled in and around Orange County.  It’s a tradition that should never be forgotten. 

And it’s easy to forget about our freedoms throughout our busy lives. We hop on a train, we drive for miles from one state to another, we worship where we please, we can read what we want, and we can spend this Monday working in the garden, gathering with friends, going to the movies.   

Our blessings, here in America, have meant little bit more to me recently since I’m planning a trip to South Africa in 2012 with my high school-aged daughter. It was her choice, and I’m sure that her interest in photography was behind it.  But, I had to really outline for her that although we’re going to a modern city (Capetown), and visiting National Parks for safari drives, we were still going to a continent with pockets of unrest, and areas that we’re being advised to be super-duper-hyper-vigilant.  (I’ve paraphrased.)  But, in fairness, it’s something we’d have to remember wherever we went in the world.  

I am very excited about this trip, to see this beautiful country with its awesome beauty and amazing herds of big animals, but when it’s time, I will anticipate landing in New York, safe and sound, back in the USA.  TTYL, mj

(Trivia answer:  the stars should lie over the body’s left shoulder.)

The weather forecast calls for 80+ degrees for the next week or so, and make-your-own ice pops seems like a perfect topic for parents everywhere.  This recipe comes from a magazine published by BJ’s Wholesale Club. They’re fun to make with your kids, and as they are little more than pureed fruit, you can feel good about letting them enjoy an ice pop at any time.

Blend 3 cups cut-up fresh fruit, 1 tbsp. of sugar, and 1 tsp. of lemon juice

until smooth.

Pour into 4 or 5 oz. dixie cups, insert popsicle sticks into center,

and freeze on a flat surface for three hours, or until firm.

These can really be made with any variation of fruits, and are a great way expose your kids to some new flavors they wouldn’t normal try.  To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

We are looking for Hudson Valley video stars!!  Some of the funniest videos I’ve seen on the internet have been made by regular people.  That’s why we’re running a contest where our readers and fans can nominate the special Dad in their life, one that still has need for a DiaperDude diaper bag (or not…this bag is very versatile, it could just hold handy things for the garage or the car).  The thing is, the bag is chock-full of kid stuff that Dads can use when out on an outing their baby or toddler, things like picture books, a miniature greenhouse seed-starter, handy wipes, and other fun stuff.  I’d say the bag is worth over $150, so it’s worth trying to win one for the Daddy.

All you have to do is record a video about why the Dad in your life is deserving of this bag (see below).

Record your video, not long, a minute at the most, and send it to me at editor@excitingread.com.  Attach the video to the email, or send me the YouTube link.  We will post them on facebook video page  beginning June 8, and you will have until the morning of Monday, June 13 to “like” the video you think is the most creative nomination.  The person who made the video will have the thrill of presenting the bag to their winning “Dad” as a Father’s Day gift.  And, the video-maker will receive our very first, one of a kind certificate recognizing that they are official “HV Parent Video Star.”   (The winner needs to come to our Newburgh office to pick up their prize.) 

Log on to our website contest page for the exact run down of what’s in the bag, and any other rules and regulations we’ve come up with.  So, put on your thinking cap, get out your video camera, and start recording. We can’t wait to see what comes in!! 

TTYL, mj

Our field rep, Jeremiah, visited the Touch a Truck Event last Saturday…

Had you passed by the Orange County Airport last Saturday, you might have been alarmed by the sound of horns beeping, sirens blaring, and alarms ringing.  At a closer glance you then might have been worried, or perhaps even terrified, to see young children in the drivers’ seats of large tractor trailers, semi-trucks, utility trucks, and even airplanes and helicopters!  There was no danger, however; it was all in good fun at the 4th annual Touch a Truck Event. 

The event, sponsored by the United Way, was dedicated to allow children a firsthand look, and even an opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat of some of the most fascinating vehicles on the road and in the air; don’t worry, though, the keys were kept far away, and even if they weren’t there was plenty of local law enforcement and ready parents to enforce the NY State driving laws! LOL

  

This family-oriented, and at $5 admission (free for children 3 and under), inexpensive day out was well attended, despite the cloudy, hazy weather.  High points, besides the vehicles, and the cheeseburgers, French fries, pizza, ice cream, and zeppolis, was the train ride, added in just for fun. 

Many of the families in attendance return year after year, said Judy Eurlich, President of the Orange County United Way, and from what I saw, I’m sure any family who attended once would come back for more year after year.  So keep an eye out for this great family event for next year.  (All proceeds went to the United Way of Orange County and the United Way of Dutchess.)

(Judy Eurich, President of the United Way, Orange County holds up souvenir tee-shirt.)

Barbecue season has arrived, and is a great opportunity to do some outdoor prep and cooking, leaving your kitchen clean.  My husband is always itching to BBQ, so on a recent night I sent him outside with a package of chicken breasts, fresh veggies, and some skewers.  Zucchini and yellow squash are awesome on the grill, but we only had grape tomatoes and red peppers, so he threaded them on along with chunks of chicken.  BBQ night is always my chance to keep a low profile, so I decided against making a marinade.  I had him brush everything with a quick concoction before putting it on the grill.  Served alongside a salad, some wild rice or whole wheat couscous, and fresh fruit, you have a quick and healthy meal.  Little pieces of food, especially on skewers, are fun for kids, and this makes a great dinner to accompany an evening of playing outside.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

My favorite Easter treat is the chocolate Cadbury Egg. Most times they run out before Easter, leaving me with such a feeling of loss.  This year after going from store to store and being disappointed they’d run out, I bought 40 Cadbury Eggs the next time I found them!  Then, I rationed them, eating about 3 a day.  Now that Easter has long gone I have plenty of eggs left over. Something about supply and demand seems to be at play—we want what we can’t have, and overlook what’s within our reach. 

These Cadbury Eggs got me thinking about our children.

When our kids are small, most parents can’t wait until they can take their first steps. Once they can walk, we can’t wait until they’re potty trained. Once potty trained we can’t wait until they start school to save us thousands a year in Day Care costs. Once they begin school, we can’t wait until they’re old enough to let themselves in afterschool. Once they can do that we can’t wait until they can drive themselves to their baseball or dance practice. Once they are driving we can’t wait until they graduate so they go off to college and we can finally have some peace and quiet. Once they head off to college, we find ourselves in those quiet times, reminiscing about all the laughter and joy they gave us. Then we ask, “Where did the time go?”

So what does this have to do with a chocolate Cadbury Egg? Those eggs I wanted so bad are sitting next to my bed, a handful are left untouched. What I thought I wanted so badly doesn’t seem to satisfy. Sometimes we wish away the present. Children will only be children but for so long. Enjoy, savor and appreciate today’s experiences. Tomorrow will come soon enough, leaving you longing for a taste of the past.

Live life with intention!

We love getting mail in the office, especially large boxes with fun stuff that marketers want us to talk about, use, and know about.  Most of these items come to me — aren’t I lucky!!  However, I now have a little barrier around my desk of boxes filled with books, samples of products, games, DVD’s and the like.   Just this morning, my colleague almost did a “whoops,” at my desk, and I knew it was time to clean up.  But, before these items get passed around to other staffers to be enjoyed (with the promise that they’d write about it!), I wanted to give them their fifteen minutes of fame: 

Shrinky Dinks: print a photo on this paper, then personalize it, then shrink it down become something to sew on a hat, create a piece of jewelry, or probably a tag for your pet.  It looks terrific. Thank you Shrinky Dink people.

Camilia Homeopathic Medicine that gives teething relief to babies, helps with painful gums and the irritability that comes with it. 

Xlear Soothing & Moisturizing Saline Nasal Spray with XylitolIt’s natural, drug-free, safe and effective for all ages.  Washing away airborne contaminants and pollutants. 

SmartMouth On the Go 12 Hour Mouthwash Packets. I’ve purposefully given this away to staffers for their comments.  This looked real fun!

Sprout Change.  A reusable, reversible, daycare-friendly, super-absorbent and easy to use diaper for babies.  Organic, too.  It goes from birth to potty. 

Blood Stop, which is a handy gauze pad that turns into a gel to seal a wound.  Great, I’m thinking, for day trips. 

WonderFile, which looks like a great way to keep your desk clutter organized.  It’s one of those “as seen on TV” products. 

Wayne Brady: Radio Wayne…that funny created a CD for kids.  Songs like “Reading Can Be Fun,” and “Say Please,” sound like good things for our kids to hear.  In fact, I’m going to play it in my car on the way home..it sounds like fun.

Thank you to all the marketers who include Hudson Valley Parent on your list.  We really do appreciate your products, and do want to spread the word about ways to help our parents parent.  TTYL.

Sometimes my time is the kitchen is short, whereas on other days I find myself making three meals in a row. Recently I had a day during which I was cooking more than not, but it was lots of fun, as most of it was done with my daughters.  For a full version of everything that came out of the kitchen that day (there was more!), visit my blog, but here’s a preview.

A day in the life of “A Year in the life of a kitchen”

Egg cups– a great breakfast on the go, or even lunchbox treat.  Mix together four eggs, a handful of shredded cheese, ½ cup cooked veggies, and ¼ cup cooked turkey bacon (if desired), and pour into four muffin cups.  Bake at 375 for 15 mins or until firm.

Fresh veggie platter- we were craving fresh vegetables, so I quickly put this together with some low-fat dip.  My kids were eating vegetables faster than I could believe.  With some cheese on the side for protein, this was a nice, light lunch.

Ice pops- Add three cups of fresh fruit, one tbsp. of sugar, and one tsp. of lemon juice into the blender, and process till smooth.  Divide among four 5-oz. dixie cups, add sticks, and freeze for three hours.  These are really not much more than pureed fruit, but my girls were delighted nonetheless.

Finally, a pretty easy dinner.  We baked a whole grain potato bread (but any nice sandwich bread or roll would do) and topped it with grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, baby spinach, and grape tomatoes, and served it alongside some raw veggies and honeydew.

To find out what’s cooking in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

I’m a little behind in my blogging, so I’m going to cover two topics today.  The last time we chatted, I mentioned my daughter’s request that our “mother-daughter, before you leave me and go to college” trip be held in Africa…on a safari tour.  I was torn: torn with joy that she’d come up with a place she’d actually want to be seen with me (ok, so it’s Africa), and fear that we’d get caught up in the local tribe conflicts. But, I soar when it comes to a challenge. 

I began searching “safe African safaris” and came up with a few very nice options.  Evidently, they are very popular, and get good reviews from people who write their trip comments on the website.  Whether these people are related to the tour operators remains to be seen.  But, it looks like come next summer (Africa’s dry season), my daughter and I will be filled with not only anti-malaria medication, but with passports stamped, “Nairobi Airport.”  Of course I will chronicle every move via blogs/wifi (if they have it on the Serengeti).  Every move.  Every bug. Every wildebeest.

Next.  A thought about that Tiger Mom book and Mother’s Day.  All I know about the book (it’s on my reading list), is that the author felt a birthday card created by her daughter on looseleaf paper was not acceptable.  (I read that on the internet, so forgive me if there was a whole lot more on the subject.)  The gist was that her daughter could have done better, and accepting this below-par token would, perhaps, give the idea that sub-par work was okay. 

Now stay with me on this one.  For Mother’s Day, my two girls and I went for breakfast.  Did they pay? No.  Did they give me flowers?  Did they give me a card? (One did later that night, and it was absolutely stunning.)  But for me, the thrill of the day was these two teenage girls, who love to sleep in on weekend mornings, got out of bed without argument, to ride to iHop.  While that may seem like nothing, or that I am easy to please (maybe I am), but I LOVE to sleep in on weekends, and I know that getting up at 7:30 when you don’t have to, get dressed and be out in public, is not tops on the list.  I am grateful for the little sacrifice my girls made on my behalf.  (And, Caroline: I LOVE the card!) 

The reason I share this story is because it was a lesson for me, and maybe for you, too:  just keep in mind that while a gift may not always seem to be valuable on one level, but take a few moments and dig a little deeper and consider who it’s from, what’s going on in their lives, and how truly rich that gift may be.   TTYL

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