Tag Archives: Family

12 Activities to Get You in the Christmas Spirit!

Can you believe that Christmas is only about a week away? If you’re anything like me, you’re saying, “No way!” It just doesn’t feel like Christmas! Thanksgiving bumped up to December this year, leaving Christmas cards arriving later than usual, less lights going up on houses, and a mad scramble to get gifts. We had no time to recover from Thanksgiving! So if you are feeling like me and need to get into the festive holiday mood pronto, follow this simple holiday to do list!

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1) Bake cookies. There’s nothing to get you in the mood for Christmas like baking cookies for Santa and decorating them. Grab some friends or your family and insist on baking together, with uninterrupted (i.e. no cell phones!) bonding time. Cooking can inspire conversation and is a great opportunity to get some laughs and just have a great time. Invest in some fun cookie cutters, and use this recipe for simple and buttery sugar cookies.

2) Listen to Christmas music. It may be a great idea to combine our first suggestion to this one, because cooking to music makes the food taste better in my opinion. Even if you don’t have time or just happen to forget to turn it on at home, be sure to tune in to your local Christmas radio station.

3) Sing. Some people think singing out loud is silly, but that often goes out the window when it comes to holiday songs. Everyone can join in because they often know the words, and you may be surprised when your friends or family join in with you. Just let go and have fun, that’s what the holidays are about. To quote the movie “Elf,” “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

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4) Wrap presents. There’s something therapeutic about methodically wrapping gifts and making them look beautiful. Many rush the process, so I suggest putting an hour or two aside to wrap presents especially. Just enjoy it, don’t let it be the aggravating thing that is making you late for a party.

5) Watch the classic Christmas movies. There are tons of cheesy Christmas movies around nowadays, some only made for TV. Though they may be wonderful, it’s the time of year to pull out your family’s old fall-backs and let the happy memories from over the years wash over you. You know, those ones you’d watch every year while opening presents. Be sure to gather blankets, get a cup of hot chocolate, and cozy up!

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6) Make an ornament. When we were kids, we’d often make ornaments in school or an event, but as adults, we rarely make one. You may rely on your kids to make these little handmade treasures, but it can put you in a really festive mood to make one! Check out these easy recommendations from Buzzfeed.

7) Go through old photos. This is the perfect time of year to look back and reminisce about trips you took and things you did over the year and beyond. Look at old baby pictures, birthday moments, and silly memories.

8) Make snowflakes. Remember in school when you’d spend hours cutting up a folded piece of paper, anticipating what it would look like when you were done? Do it again! All it requires is a square piece of white paper and scissors. Simply fold the paper in half (into a triangle) and then again (it should still be a triangle). Then cut fun shapes! Avoid cutting completely down the folded edges, as this will cause your snowflake to fall apart.

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9) Go for a drive around your neighborhood at night. Seeing your neighbor’s homes all lit up is so much fun, especially as you snake your way slowly through the twinkling lights. Be sure to bring some hot cocoa and turn on some of that Christmas music!

10) Enjoy a fire in a fireplace. I know this may be tricky if you don’t have a fireplace, but it’s so nice to get cozy next to a fire and smell the wood burning. If you don’t have a hearth of your own, see if a friend or family will open their home to you. In return, be sure to provide the egg nog/hot chocolate and candy canes to thank your hosts!

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11) Go out and shop. I know most people do shopping online now, but there really is something fun and festive about going somewhere and actually walking through the shops. Christmas music is playing, sales people are especially nice and attentive, and people are generally nicer than usual (though occasionally some may be a little stressed). Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s invigorating to go out and enjoy window shopping.

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12) Give back. See if there’s anywhere near you to volunteer, like at a Senior Center or Homeless Shelter. If you can’t donate your time, then donate a gift or toy to a local drive. Look up online where you can find a station in your area. The mall often has a giving tree with gift tags and suggestions for gifts for children and seniors in need.

As always, SteerList is here to help you from getting into the Christmas spirit to picking up New Year’s Eve party supplies. Get last minute gifts and don’t forget to pick up the fruitcake, all while getting your weekly groceries and remembering to fill everyday prescriptions. SteerList is the ultimate to do list and reminder app… and you don’t need to check it twice!

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A Delicious and Stunning SteerList Thanksgiving Feast!

Is it just us, or has this month just flown by? With less than a week before Thanksgiving, it’s okay if you haven’t allowed yourself to even think of your meal because you can feel your pulse quicken and you start hyperventilating. Don’t stress, we have a full menu planned for your Thanksgiving dinner that as yummy to look at as it is to eat!

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Just remember, almost every single feast-planning site will mention the importance of lists at least once in their tips. In this day and age, a list app on your iPhone (like our free SteerList app) is exactly what you need to pull off your best, most memorable, and least stressful Thanksgiving ever. With location-based notifications, we’re more than just a list because you don’t need to remind yourself of anything. With location-based reminders, SteerList remembers for you, and even notifies you as you pass the grocery store or whatever you need to do. This makes it easier for you to deal with more important things, like where you’re going to seat your cousins so they don’t get in a fight with your aunt like they do every year.

To further ease your feast prep, we’ve also noted recipes that can be made ahead of time with an asterisk (*).

Drinks:

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(Photo courtesy of Pincookie)

If you’re looking for an extra-special beverage to accompany your meal, this apple cider sangria from pincookie.com adds a festive flair to a delicious drink. You can also make a kids’ version by simply adding the chopped fruit to a glass of apple cider, so kids feel included and like they have a special drink too. Be sure to mark the kid’s glasses or use different cups so there are absolutely no mix-ups.

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(Use SteerList to ensure so you don’t forget a single thing!)

To get things started:

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(Photo courtesy of “A Spoonful of Photography”)

*This pumpkin soup can be made ahead and heated up on the day-of, which translates to less stress for you. If you don’t like pumpkin, you can substitute any seasonal squash, or a combination of a few different ones for a unique flavor. This recipe comes to us courtesy of the “A Spoonful of Photography” blog.

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(Photo courtesy of “Your Home Based Mom”)

This pull-apart garlic cheese bread from “Thirty Hand Made Days” looks absolutely amazing, and your guests will be scrambling to pull it apart until it’s all gone. Soft, cheesy, warm… is there anything else to say? Oh, and its made with ready-made dough. Score!

 The Main Event: THE TURKEY

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(Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart)

Wow your diners with this classic turkey and cornbread stuffing (stuffing recipe is separate) from Martha Stewart. This beautiful bird is easier to make than you probably think. The turkey itself requires little preparation. A lot of the attention goes into the stuffing. Don’t worry, if you use a pre-made stuffing, we won’t tell Martha.

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(Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart)

If you’re feeling ambitious this year, Martha Stewart recommends tackling this maple-glazed turkey with gravy and cracker stuffing. The maple syrup makes a super crispy and slightly sweet coating on the outside of your bird, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly never had a cracker stuffing before!

Sides:

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(Photo courtesy of “Modern Mrs. Cleaver”)

Mashed potatoes are a long-standing tradition at any Thanksgiving feast. If your guests are bored with plain mashed potatoes (I’m not even going to mention the b-o-x-e-d word) garlic mashed potatoes (with real potatoes) are a great way to add a flavorful twist to the annual tradition. Thanks, “Modern Mrs. Cleaver“! If you want to get really fun, you can explore making a mashed potato bar where guests pick and choose their own add-ins to mix in on their own!

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(Photo courtesy of “Le Man and Wife”)

A great salad starts with great accents, just ask “Le Man and Wife.” Don’t just grab a forgettable bagged salad and toss it with some ranch dressing. It takes a true chef to make a salad memorable and leave kids asking for seconds. This apple and walnut chopped salad adds a sweet and salty crunch to the creamy goat cheese topping. I wouldn’t recommend making this ahead of time because the apples will brown, but you could probably make the rest of the salad and the dressing and just wait to toss and chop the apple until before serving. Omit the bacon or leave it on the side for a vegetarian-friendly dish.

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(Use SteerList to remind you to get all the freshest produce at your local Farmer’s Market)

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(Photo courtesy of Alton Brown)

Forgetting the green bean casserole is forbidden at most tables. If you don’t have a recipe passed down in your family, you can start the tradition by passing down this green bean casserole from famous chef Alton Brown!

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(Photo courtesy of “Baking with Blondie”)

These roasted asparagus spears look gorgeous when wrapped tightly with crispy prosciutto thanks to “Baking with Blondie.” The ham adds a saltiness against the nutty flavor of the asparagus. Does it count as a vegetable if it’s wrapped in meat?

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(Photo courtesy of “In Sock Monkey Slippers”)

 *This champagne cranberry sauce from “In Sock Monkey Slippers” can be added to your “make ahead” list to save you time and stress on the big day. We don’t know if the champagne adds to the taste, but it sure sounds fancy to say!

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(Photo courtesy of “Tar Heel Foodie”)

*Here’s another item to add to your make-ahead list: Sweet potato chips from “Tar Heel Foodie”! Sweet potatoes are another item commonly found on the dinner table, but unless you love them, they can sometimes be hard to move (especially with kids). If you want kids and adults to munch on a new way to get sweet potatoes on your table, try these honey glazed sweet potato chips that promise to disappear like their plain potato counterparts!

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(Photo courtesy of Babble)

 *I know that pull-apart bread was already included in the beginning, but I decided to throw in traditional buns at the last minute just because I have fond memories of making miniature turkey sandwiches with butter and jam at the Thanksgiving table. I’d make these ahead of time too, though. From the store, they come cold anyway… like sandwich bread.

Dessert

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(Photo courtesy of “Tastes Lovely”)

*This picturesque apple crumble pie from “Tastes Lovely” can be made baked ahead of time or prepped and baked the day of, depending on your personal preference. My family prefers cold pie, but if your guests like hot, then you will have to put it in the oven while dinner is being served, or you can cheat a little by making it the day before and putting it in the oven to warm up. Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream!

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(Photo courtesy of “Madigan Made”)

*If your meal has you totally wiped out and you can’t stand the thought of baking anything else (especially since most people will probably be too full to even eat it, really) this pumpkin fluff dessert dip from “Madigan Made” can be made ahead of time and just requires different items to dunk that can be bought from the store (such as graham crackers, ginger snaps, apple slices, or Nilla wafers) and can allow your guests to graze as their stomachs allow. If you don’t like pumpkin, there are tons of dessert dips out there to choose from, such as a “cookie dough” version and even cheesecake!

Don’t forget to download the free SteerList app from the Apple iTunes store today! It’s the ultimate grocery list app and to do list app to help you get anything done– from Thanksgiving dinner, to holiday presents, to every day tasks!

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A Family-Friendly Pinterest Halloween Party

Are you planning the Halloween party for friends and family this year? Throwing a family-friendly party can be tough if you look around at a party store. Blood and gore don’t have to take center stage at your soiree. If you’re looking for some quick and easy party ideas thrill and excite, these Pinterest picks are sure to do the trick AND be a treat!

Decorations:

Balloons and a permanent pen, what could be simpler? Pick up some orange and white balloons and draw some jack-o-lantern or ghost faces on them for a friendly floating display. You can also send balloons home with kids as party favors! Tie little bags of candy as weights to keep the balloons from flying away.

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(Click Here to Find it on Pinterest)

Do you feel like someone is watching you? These creepy eyes don’t have to all be menacing to still give a creepy-cool effect. Simply take old toilet paper tubes and cut your “eye” shapes into them, then put a glow stick inside and place in a hedge or dark area.

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(Click Here to Find it on Pinterest)

 Food:

These two-ingredient witches’ brooms are as easy as grabbing a bag of peanut butter cups and pretzel sticks! All you do is put a pretzel stick into the top of the peanut butter cup and you’re done. Be sure to make sure they don’t get into the hands of anyone with a peanut allergy!

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(Click Here to Find it on Pinterest)

Looking for a healthier snack? Simply hollow out a small or medium pumpkin and throw some dip in. Surround with bite-sized vegetables.

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 (Click Here for Pin)

 These “mummy” hot dogs look snug and warm in their crescent roll wrappings! Simply get Pillsbury pre-made croissant dough, then cut into individual strips and wrap around the hot dog. Follow baking instructions on package and add two little mustard dots for eyes!

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(Click Here For Pin)

This chip and dip “graveyard” is like a miniature diorama! Use any ingredients you want for the dip, just be sure to have a layer of lettuce on top. This particular dip also uses chopped olives as “stones.” You can get strip-shaped tortilla chips to make the headstones as a cheat to make this easier than cutting and baking tortillas, though the chip tree is pretty impressive.

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(Found on Pinterest, But Click Here For Original Link)

 Red “Vampire punch” is always a easy go-to for Halloween, but if you want to go for a fun drink that looks like you put a little more into it, try out a 7UP and sherbert ice cream float for a fun “swamp” drink. The 7UP bubbles up when you add the ice cream, and you can even add some gummy worms as garnish for good measure.

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(Photo from “Here Comes the Sun”)

 Bonus! Some fun and quick games:

“Witch, Witch, Where’s Your Broom?” this is like “Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone?” simply have a chair set with its back to the rest of the people playing. Place a paintbrush or picture of a broom behind the chair and select a “witch.” The witch sits in the chair while a player is quietly selected from the rest of the players. That person must sneak up to steal the broom, then return to the rest of the players. Everyone then hides their hands and chants “Witch, witch, where’s your broom?” and the “witch” has to guess who has it.

“Pin the Nose on the Jack-o-Lantern” is very easy, simply draw or print out and paste a picture of a pumpkin on the wall, but only draw the eyes and mouth. Then, take black paper and let people cut out their own “nose” shape. Add a piece of double-sided tape (or a rolled-up piece) to the back of each nose. Blind fold and let guests take turns trying to pin their nose on! Silly fun.

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Get the Kids to School on Time

All moms know the sounds of a typical weekday morning: Birds chirping, bacon sizzling, and the desperate shouts of “TIME TO GET UP! NOW!” from moms heard ‘round the world. For those with kids, we know that the morning is a race against the school bell, with many obstacles to overcome before making it to the front door. A single missing shoe can be the defining moment that guarantees a walk of shame to the principal’s office for a tardy note. Here are some of our tips and tricks to helping you get your kids to school on time.

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The best weapon you have in your mommy belt is to prep ahead. Bedtime needs to become a ritual of picking out clothes and laying them out for the next day (including the full set of shoes and socks), making sure all homework is packed, and that lunches are made and ready to be grabbed from the fridge. Consider this your training for the morning marathon. If nothing else, the clothes are key. Simply picking out an outfit and shoes can eat up time quickly, even as an adult. Just getting that done ahead of time can save you a good fifteen minutes to half an hour, and you’ll get the “But I don’t wanna wear that” out of the way. If you have older kids, make sure they’ve picked out their own clothes the night before.

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 The next morning, set your kids’ alarms for about fifteen minutes before they need to get up. This eliminates the frantic yelling and dragging them out of bed by the foot. It will wake them up, but allow them that extra “five more minutes,” to gently wake up. It will give a little warning head’s up, rather than suddenly being awoken. No one likes having to jump right out of bed. Another tip? Open the blinds or turn on the light, the brightness which will pull them out of sleep. Consider this the stretching.

Finally, the moment of truth begins from the second your kids’ feet touch the floor. That’s when you’re off and running. Pack their lunches in backpacks while they’re getting ready so you don’t forget— we want to avoid the second trip to school to drop off a forgotten lunch bag. Have a variety of healthy options that are fast for breakfast, such as microwaveable oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, or fruit that can be taken in the car or on the bus if need-be. Kids like to have choices, and for your sanity, don’t let yourself fall into the “I don’t feel like pancakes, can you make me eggs?” trap. As wonderful as it is to make breakfast for them every morning, make sure you have a fast plan B if they refuse to eat it and you don’t miss a beat.

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 Hopefully some of these tips will help your morning roll a little smoother. A free organization app like SteerList can really help with a morning checklist so nothing is forgotten. The morning reminders can make sure you sign and pack a permission slip for the upcoming field trip, or remember to stop by the office to put some money on the kids’ lunch cards. Being on top of your morning routine guarantees a strong finish, rather than frantically tripping over the finish line.

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