Favor Your Mother’s Day Table

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

If you want to set a fun Mother’s Day Table and leave each guest with a special memory and a smile on her face, check out guest blogger Natine Abreu-Shaw’s fantastic favors for inspiration!

I love Mother’s Day!  Each year I treat a group of moms to a special meal and a bit of fussing over.

When I began this event 15 years ago, it was just for my mom, two aunts, and a dear friend, all of whom lived in the neighborhood. My cousins and my friend’s son lived out-of-state, so I filled in the gap. Then I began inviting other ladies whose children lived away, and now the annual number of guests is 8-10, ages 60+ to 90-something. I usually try out new recipes for the occasion, and I make sure there are options for everyone’s individual dietary needs. But my favorite thing to do is to provide some kind of inexpensive party favors, so they can take a bit of the fun home with them! Following are some of the fun finds that put a smile on my guests’ faces!

Early on, when the number of guests began growing, I bought shelf-sitters from a home décor catalog. A set of six was about $15, or $2.50 per guest. One year they were all fruit-related; another year they were different flowers.

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

Then shelf-sitters disappeared from the catalog,* so I began haunting dollar stores. One year I bought little glass vases for $1 each, and put a bloom in each one.  There was the year of miniscule tea pots, the year of faux ceramic baskets of flowers, the year of faux tulip and daffodil planters.

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

One year I filled little gift bags with travel sized hand creams, tissues, and lip balms. Another time I gave each lady a small jar of artisan jam.

Favor Your Mother's Day TableTwo years ago, I made homemade linen spray, which I put into colorful dollar store spray bottles that also served as place markers. (Mom still requests refills when hers runs out!) And last year each guest got a flat plastic vase filled with tiny marbles and water. The marbles inflated to help keep the vases stable when flowers are added; they made the table look quite festive!

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

It’s an enjoyable challenge to come up with a new idea every year! Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s…

Favor Your Mother's Day Table

Wishing all moms a very HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

*A variety of shelf-sitters can still be found on-line from different distributors.

Favor Your Mother's Day TableGuest blogger Natine Abreu-Shaw  is a recalibrated woman of the Sandwich Generation, who enjoys writing and occasionally  mines her mind, flexes her fingers, and publishes her pith at Write-MindedWoman.com – when she is able to take a break from  some of her other pet (pun intended!) projects – such as writing as the persona of her fur-kids at their Facebook home Corgi Characters!

National Pie Day – January 23

National Pie DayThere are actually two annual pie days in our calendar – how lucky are we!!! Pi Day, the celebration of the mathematical constant π, takes place on March 14 as 3, 1 and 4 are the first three digits of π. OK all you Math Lovers – mark this day on the calendar for some wacky Pi fun!!!

The other national pie day is celebrated tomorrow, January 23 and was created simply to celebrate the edible pie. As near as we can tell, this day became a ‘holiday’ in the mid-1970s when Charlie Papazian, from Boulder CO declared it so. The American Pie Company took up sponsorship of this national day in 1986.

For more pie history, check out these two sites for starters – Time’s history of Pies and the Pie Council. You may find yourself wandering all through the annuls of pie history if you are part-time foodies like we are.

January is a perfect time to enjoy the comfort of either a savory or a sweet pie. The weather outside (at least here in Michigan) is frightful! A warm, delicious smelling and tasting dinner, or dessert, is welcome relief.

022I recently made my first homemade, from scratch, pie crust and all, chicken pot pie. I was going to be out-of-town for the weekend and this was something that could be re-heated for those left at home. I was surprised at how wonderfully delicious it was. The kitchen was an absolute disaster, but I learned a few things that will make it easier next time – because this pie was fabulous and there will definitely be a next time!!

I used Ina Garten’s recipe with a few adaptations. She also has a version that uses lobster – yes please!!! You can personalize your pie as well and include veggies you know your family will enjoy if they turn up their noses at peas and carrots (although Forest Gump believes they are a natural and perfect combination – just like him and Jenny).

Here are a few other ideas for celebrating whether savory or sweet suits your fancy! Click on the pictures to get recipes from the sites in which we found these delicious items.

  • Fried Green Tomato Pie: Made the summer before last when I was left with way too many unripe tomatoes in my garden. This was WONDERFUL!!!Fried Green Tomatoe Pie
  • Classic Sour Cherry Pie : I usually have some cherries left over from summer time picking to allow for out of season enjoyment.

Classic Sour Cherry Pie

  • Empanadas: Some would argue that these are not true pies as they are fried and not baked. However, they do involve dough and filling and could even be baked if one desired so….pie it is – say we!

EmpinadaPicture by Stu Spivak

  • Greek Chicken Phylo Dough Pie: I believe this would also be good with beef or pork – yummy!

Greek Chicken Phyllo Pie

  • St. Patty’s Apple Pie: This one could be saved for use in March for a Pi Day Celebration in combination with St. Patty’s Day!

St. Patty's Day Apple Pie

With the variety of pies listed above, it would seem that pies really do allow for creativity and ownership. As we start the new year, we certainly encourage celebrations of each of those traits.

Enjoy your weekend and may you find time for pie eating at its finest!

5 Fast, Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

blog2 edible christmas trees

Looking for a festive addition to your holiday buffet that offers a tasty alternative to sugar-laden treats? Here are 5 colorful options that are fast, festive and easy on the calories. Presenting: EDIBLE CHRISTMAS TREES!

The kiwi tree comes complete with ornaments – with very little assembly required!

5 Fast, Fit and Festive Christmas Foods

If you want a little more drama, start with a styrofoam cone and some toothpicks to have your tree go vertical. Berries, melons, kiwis – plenty of fruit options to make your own masterpiece!

Fat Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

For those impromptu gatherings, you probably have the ingredients for a vegetable tree in your fridge already. Sliced pepper stems, cauliflower tree lights, broccoli floret greens all make great substitutions for the cucumber/carrot/tomato version shown. While a click on the picture gets you to the site it originated from, I couldn’t find the specific link for this  tree. I suspect you’ll be okay on this one without specific instructions!

Fast Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Tree

Does it get easier than a one-fruit tree that’s naturally decorated in Christmas colors?? Click on the picture for Eating Vibrantly’s suggestion on attaching the “tree trunk.”

Fast Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

These pita trees are a great choice for an appetizer to contribute to the office party or family potluck. You will arrive knowing that no matter what is on the buffet, you have a great choice to snack on. They look artful and the recipe is an easy mix of seasoning, fat-free sour cream and guacamole. This substantive finger-food is a calorie bargain at only 30 per tree!

Fast Fit Festive Edible Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees never tasted so good!

Celebrating National Johnny Appleseed Day

Johnny Appleseed StampSeptember 26 is National Johnny Appleseed Day. For those of you who may not be familiar with this oft-overlooked holiday, here’s the lowdown on who Johnny is and how to celebrate the day!

I know when I worked with 3rd graders, Johnny Appleseed was celebrated and taught with enthusiasm. He is an affable American hero that we can all be thankful for. Even if you don’t like apples or apple pies or apple fritters or applesauce or apple muffins or dried apples or bobbing for apples or making apple witches (seriously – does anyone not like something here?)… you can enjoy the story and legend behind his germination of apple orchards throughout the Midwest Ohio River region.

John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was born September 26, 1774 – hence the timing of Johnny Appleseed Day. Rumor has it Johnny’s orchard smock was made from a coffee sack with holes cut out for arms and he wore his cooking pot on his head while traveling. Can’t verify that is true, but it does make for some great graphics for posters and children’s books.

JA was able to acquire large tracts of land from western Pennsylvania along the Ohio River on which he transported 16 bushels of apple seeds and saw to their plantings. At that time, certain requirements were set before the colonies granted land rights. There was an act defining how the land was to be used.


 Why should we care about the lowly apple? Henry David Thoreau, a naturalist and noted author, took time to pen the following related to the timing of men’s and apple’s appearance on the earth.



So.. here at FBFGF, we offer the following apple related choices for your celebration of Johnny Appleseed Day:

  • The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin: A great book about the life of an orchardist. It’s fiction that rings true. The story revolves around William Taldrage’s care of his apple and apricot orchard and the peace and solace it provides him. It also provides insight into the thinking and hard work of a dedicated and professional nurseryman. For some time I have nurtured the fantasy of being an orchardist, but details like hard work and commitment didn’t enter in to muddy my fantasy!


The Orchardist

  • Apple Butter. Who could resist the opportunity to have this great smelling concoction simmering away while enjoying a lovely fall day full of your favorite pursuits?? Click on the picture for a great recipe courtesy of Cooking Light.


  • Baked Apples. My husband and I found these pottery dishes for baking individual apples. (This must have been in one of the in-between times when we didn’t have any chicks that had yet to return to the nest and individual dishes seemed like a great idea.) We just wash the apple, core it, place it in the dish and cover with cinnamon, brown sugar, whatever other spices look great and bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. This is one of our favorite desserts!


  • Apple Products. Mac Book, ipad, iphone – all great devices which can add new dimension to your busy lifestyle and streamline certain processes. They also teach great lessons in why we don’t always need to be connected to our great devices. We can use the apple logo to remind us to get out and enjoy the natural things in life from time to time. I’ll bet there’s an app for that!!!


  • Apple Cider/Wine. I feel wine of any sort really needs no explanation. If you feel like making your own apple wine, click on the picture for instructions. If you would rather just pick up a bottle, I am sure this seasonal wine is available at a great artisanal wine shop somewhere near you!



Take some time to celebrate the versatile apple and give thanks for all it’s history and delightful pleasures!!


Bonus Apple Facts:

  • Scientists believe that apples were first domesticated in the Tian Shan region of southern Kazakhstan. In fact, by as early as 2000 BC, domesticated apples were being grafted in the Near East.
  • The Greeks and Romans introduced the domesticated apple to North Africa and Europe during their trading and conquests.


Celebrating Siblings

sibling science

The sibling relationship is one of the most complex I can imagine. Either a tie or a very close second to the complexity of child/parent relationship. While friendships and spouse relations can certainly be complicated, at least you’ve signed up for them. And, if the very worst happens, you can terminate them. Not so with siblings! Sure, you can terminate interaction if you choose, but you’re still siblings.

Sibling DayEver discover your sibling’s recollection or interpretation of a given event so differs from yours it makes you wonder if you’re talking about the same thing? I find it fascinating that people raised by the same parents in the same environment have such different takes on the whole experience. And, of course, it’s all colored by the relationship each had with the parents and how the environment affected each. Complicated, or what? So love-hate, so yin-yang.

I have heard about families where the siblings grow up as inseparable best friends. While it sounds lovely, that is not the family I was raised in. But I have found over the years, that the same two and three year gaps that made me an outcast in my teen-aged sister’s and brother’s world are pretty negligible now. And the four year age difference between me and my “little brother” are irrelevant in this phase of life.

One frustration in the mix is having so much information about each other that sometimes we don’t recognize, or have recognized, the personal growth that each has older siblingundergone. Maybe because my three siblings and I have all lived in different states for decades, this is heightened in our case. Or maybe because no matter how evolved, mature, and confident we all get, there is some regression when interacting with siblings.

I realize that on the other side of the best-friend-sibling’s rosy spectrum, there are the caustic sibling relationships that can be irreparable. Or the unrealized relationships that did not get to evolve because of illness, death, or some other form of loss. Whatever the relation, it contributes to our own growth, how we view the world, and the decisions we make. Did I mention this was complicated? I mean libraries of books have been written on this stuff!

Sibling DayWhat I do know is that no one else in the whole world knows my origins and what my young life was like more than these siblings. Even though sometimes it is years between visits with each other, we just talk. Conversations never start out with “My father was the type of man . . . ” or “when I was growing up . . . ” because we know. We all understand that each experienced some harsh disciplines, heightened expectations in our childhood that eventually served us well, the fruition of parental wisdom, and an appreciation for how and where we grew up that isn’t possible in the youthful moment. This adult-sibling bond cemented by shared history is what I celebrate.

And now, I have recently learned, that there is actually a day of the year to commemorate such bonds. While Mother’s Day and Father’s Sibling DayDay have been federalized and on the calendars for decades, National Sibling Day is a relative newcomer. Claudia Evart, a freelance paralegal from Manhattan, New York, got things started. After losing both her sister and brother at an early age, she took on the mission of establishing a recognized day to honor the sibling relationship. April 10, the birthday of the sister Claudia lost, has been designated as National Sibling Day. While it hasn’t been federalized yet, it is recognized as a state holiday in 39 states and the organization Claudia founded, the Siblings Day Foundation, is working to expand that number.

To celebrate National Sibling Day, we can phone, text, email, or visit that special sibling. As a matter of fact, the Siblings Day Foundation would be happy to send a sibling e-card for you! If you have lost a loved sibling, you might celebrate with contacting another who loved them and sharing a memory or honor them with an act of kindness done in their name. Well, I’m off – I have a few phone calls to make!

Happy Siblings Day!



7 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Super Bowl Watch Party

7 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Superbowl Watch Party

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “Superbowl”? And what’s the second thing you think of after thinking “cool commercials?” It may be a tie between easy-to-grab snacks, camaraderie, and the game itself. Well, here’s 7 ideas (plus a bonus) for your gathering that will have you thinking more about fun than calories. Go (insert your favorite) team!

1. Free football printable to set the mood.  Jazz up your food and decorate your table with the paper printouts found HERE.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Superbowl Party

2. To start out the snacking. Remember those easy-to-make white-chocolate dipped pretzels from the holidays? You can use miniature straight pretzels or small pretzel knots to slash the calories and trade Christmas hues for team colors!

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Super Bowl Party10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Superbowl Party








3. Glazed pineapple sausage bites – an idea from Real House Moms using kielbasa. Switch to the turkey kielbasa or sausage for less calories and bottled teriaki sauce for ease! (Click picture for recipe)

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Super Bowl Ideas

4. Marinated feta skewers. Another flavorful bite.   (Click picture for recipe)

10 L0-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Super Bowl Party

5. 5-Ingredient Sausage Balls. This made-over favorite now includes some whole-grain nutrition! (Click picture for recipe)

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Super Bowl Party

6. Chocloate-covered strawberry footballs. Several sources stated that one chocolate covered strawberry is about 57 calories. Even if you add in a few more for the extra stripes, it still makes for a reasonable sweet ending to the finger-food feast.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Super Bowl Party

7. Another game going on: Commercial Bingo.  Commercials are the best part of the program for some people – playing Commercial Bingo gives you another reason to pay attention to them! Go HERE for cards ready to print off, or make your own!

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Superbowl Party


Whether for a starting snack or a post-game munch, how about a cheese puff? Well, not cheese puffs exactly – but “bean puffs” doesn’t sound as good. While it comes in cheddar and white cheddar, hot chili lime is a zesty flavor profile if you’re looking for a bit of oomph! And check out the ingredients on Beanitos’ version of this familiar-looking crunchy treat!

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Super Bowl PartyINGREDIENTS: Whole Navy Beans, Long Grain Rice Flour, Sunflower Oil, Tapioca, Lime Juice, Lime Oil, Cane Sugar, Garlic, Sea Salt, Onion, Tomato, Citric Acid, Chipotle Pepper, Paprika, Spices, Jalapeno Pepper.


5 to Get You Sparkling

5 to Get You Sparkling

Many of us want to greet the new year with a little shimmer. Not the covered with sequins look-at-me look of earlier eras – just a bit of sparkle that proclaims we’re heading into the New Year with with confidence and optimism. Here are 5 ways to add that extra sparkle to your New Year’s Eve look!

1. Tatoo jewelry. Foil bracelets add a temporary sparkle that can be washed off! This shows an expensive version because it was the best picture I could find of what the “jewelry” looks like. But I found lots of $12-20 options by Googling “foil tattoo jewelry”.

5 Ways to Sparkle

2. Sequin scarf. Wrap a little sparkle around your neck and let it reflect in your eyes! This one is by Rose and Rose, but you can find plenty of scarves with sparkle at your local big box stores, discount clothing and (of course) regular priced department stores.

5 to Make You Sparkle

3. Belt with sparkle. Glam up any outfit by belting on a splash of sparkle. Belts can be found in a range of prices and styles from rhinestone cowboy looks to more formal shimmer at the same places you look for scarves.

5 With Sparkle

4. Snowflake polish. Nothing finishes a look like a bit of glitter on fluttering hands that greet and treat family and friends. I liked this “Heavenly” by Revlon for a little glitz without calling too much attention to my short nails.

5 to Make You Sparkle

5. Sparkle ballet slippers. From your fingertips to your toes, you have your shimmer on. Dancing the night away – whether in your living room or at the ball – in these festive ballet flats let you sparkle without the toe-crimping pain that goes with high heels. From JCrew to a costume supply store, glittery flats come in a range of prices.

5 to Make You Sparkle

 And, of course – let’s not forget to add in our sparkling personalities to the mix!

5 to Make You Sparkle

5 to Get You Sparkling

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table









Enjoy the little splurges that make the holiday special – those foods that you can only get this time of year, a seasonal drink or two, that dessert you’ve been dreaming about. But you don’t want to undo a year of effort in a two-week period or start the New Year with holiday regrets. Want to put the “ho ho ho” in Christmas without the next day “oh no, oh no, oh no”? Here are 10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal ideas to celebrate the joy of Christmas where “indulging” is more about time with loved ones and friends than calories consumed.

1. Cream Cheese Berry Coffee Cake.  Personally, I’m tempted to sneak this one for myself when everyone has gone to bed on Christmas Eve.  I can brew myself a fresh cup of coffee and relax knowing that the stockings were hung by the chimney with care and all has been done for the early morning celebrations. You can of course be virtuous, and save it for the morning when others are around to share in the deliciousness. This dessert is versatile enough that you could serve it with your other options. It does save on calories and fat but it is also rich enough to hold its own with your other desert selections. Click on the picture for the recipe and nutritional information.

Cream Cheese Berry Coffee Cake


2. Grinch Kabobs.  A fun choice for pre-dinner snacking as well a dessert companion for those wanting a lighter bite of something sweet. Click the picture for instructions for the pictured dish. I’ve also seen this combination with a simple face on the grape – two dots for eyes, diagonal slashes over them for angry eyebrows, and an upside-down half-circle for a frown. I think they may have been squeezed on with a thin line of squeeze-frosting.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

3. Lighted Burlap Garland. This homey decoration, used instead of a table runner, can light up your dining surface without losing much serving dish room or the fire hazard of knocked over candles. Click on picture for the how-to.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

4. For adult sipping. This indulgent recipe for eggnog is half the calories of the regular version. You’ll want to make this the day before so it’s plenty chilled. But remember, portions are a half-cup. Click picture for the recipe.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

5. The Christmas Tree Napkin. It’s not as complicated as it looks. Sometimes it’s easier to learn by seeing it done, so we’ve linked to the site that has both pictures of the folding sequence as well as the simplest video instructions we could find at Handimania.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

6. Green Beans with pizazz. For an alternative to the traditional creamy green bean casserole, how about beans with the crispy prosciutto and pine nuts? Tip: Almonds can be substituted for the more expensive and harder-to-find pine nuts without losing the crunch. Click the picture for this Eating Well recipe.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

7. Whole Grain Biscuits. Making a few savvy ingredients swaps moves this biscuit from the “avoid” category to an acceptable “enjoy in moderation.” Click the pic to check out the Food Network’s recipe.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table


8. Dinner Conversation. There’s certainly more to celebrating than the food. To enhance the table chat in a way that will get everybody talking, check out these fun conversation-starters.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

9. For a sweet ending, there’s nothing mousy about this bite of cherry, chocolate and almond – well, except for the shape, maybe! Click the pic for the MidWest Living recipe.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table

10. Poppers. Also called “Crackers” sometimes, these festive rolls have been a traditional holiday-meal ender at our house for years. The guests tug at both ends at the same time, a satisfying “Pop!” is heard, and surprises spill out. Usually a paper crown in addition to a silly joke (we take turns going around the table reading these) and a trinket or two. Poppers come in a variety of price ranges and the contents vary accordingly – from Cracker Jack-like toys on up to useful items like nail clippers – but each Cracker in a box has a different surprise. I am usually able to find some at the discount store Tuesday Morning, but there are also many on-line options. They are also available for Hanukkah celebrations.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Your Christmas Table







10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for ThanksgivingThe list of what there is to be thankful for in our lives would probably take days to write – the people, the moments, the things, the freedoms, the blessings are probably just too numerous to count. And yet, there’s room for more. Here are 10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving that will help you add that you enjoyed the holiday season without gaining weight to your gratitude list!


1. Gobble up a couple of servings of these guilt-free tasty turkeys – great as a stroll-by appetizer before dinner or a later-in-the-day grazing snack.

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


2. Greet them with this Sparkling Cranberry Pear Punch from Women’s Health Magazine. 1-1/2 cups cranberry juice + 1 cup pear nectar + 1 liter sparkling water + 1 orange sliced = a festive drink! Substitute sparkling wine for the water for an adult-only version!

10 Lo-Cal/No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


3. 100% Whole Wheat Stuffing Muffins with Sausage and Parmesan revamp a traditional side dish. [Click on picture for the recipe]

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


4. Kale Salad with carrots and apples. From complaining about kale ice cream to becoming completely enamored with this green that appears regularly on “super food” lists in a matter of months, this salad caught our attention. A plus to using kale as the main salad green is that the hearty greens can be dressed early with no need to worry about wilting. [Click picture for recipe]

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


5. Fun alternatives for place cards make sure everyone feels special and thought about when they gather to find their place at the table. Here are a couple of examples – one with character and the other a more classic or traditional option. You know your crowd, find an idea that inspires. For even more ideas check out the blog A Cultivated Nest.

LoCalNoCalNameCards for Thanksgiving


6. Wishbones for everyone – a party favor that can make dreams come true! No more tussling over the one and only wishmaker – and no need to wait until it dries out!

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


7. Interesting table talk.  Generate conversations that include all the generations, teach something about the holiday, or just get you talking with the 3 options at this link.

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving


8. Turkey Trot: A little something to do while waiting for the bird to cook! To see if there’s one in your area, Google “Turkey Trot” and your zip and I’ll bet you find something close. Even if you don’t find one nearby or its too late to register, you can trot all by yourself or with family and friends. Put the turkey in the oven and head out for a trot (or jog or walk) to ensure that some of the damage done on Thanksgiving will be mitigated.

Thanksgiving LoCalNoCal Ideas

9. A centerpiece to remember. We love the re-purposing of an old globe; love the nod to exploration; and love the simplicity of this centerpiece.  Bet your local goodwill, library, school system, thrift store, etc. will have just what you’re looking for!  If not, you could probably find an old map and decoupage a bowl to create a similar look. Find more information about this centerpiece and other ideas at Midwest Living.



10. What’s Thanksgiving without dessert? Incomplete! But most holiday desserts have enough calories for a whole day – or at least more than you should have at one meal. Not this Country Pear Tart!  With reduced  fat and amped up fiber, the total calories for a slice come in under 200.  [Click on picture for recipe]



Send your guests home with leftovers in style! World Market has containers for soup, pies and meals-to-go!

10 Lo-Cal and No-Cal Ideas for Thanksgiving





Ghosts of Halloween Past making Halloween Present a Success!

Ghost of Halloween Past...3Best part of the day most times, is that moment when you either have all your daily responsibilities met or have decided they can wait until tomorrow. It’s the time you get to put your feet up, relax with family, read a book, or watch a favorite show. Whatever floats your boat. Yesterday, my ‘feet up moment’ was upon crawling into bed at 12:55 AM! That is technically today which would mean I’ve already had my ‘feet up moment’ for today!!!

The making of my granddaughter’s Halloween costume was the reason for the late night. When my girls were younger, we lived in base housing and Halloween was a HUGE event – lots of kids, lots of candy, lots of costumes and such fun. My girls were also attending a Catholic school so regardless of when Halloween fell in the week, the next day was All Souls/Saints day and there was no school! They really hit the jackpot. I loved the process of watching them decide what they would be that year and then gathering our materials and creating those memorable costumes. Many witches, many princesses, many dancers – one year each was a main character from Wizard of Oz, another year a stuffed Care Bear costume hit the Halloween runway (note: we were living in Hawaii at the time and a stuffed fur costume was not the best option for comfort factor). This year, Elsa (from Frozen) is the costume of choice, and not just for my granddaughter. It seems to be the costume of choice for many, many girls out there. Enough so that Joann Fabric no longer has enough of the perfect blue and perfect snow flake material for creating this impressive gown! After many trips to all the fabric stores in driving distance (Geez Louise!), we have made some unique design choices in order to put it all together. A moment of panic occurred upon realizing we did not have, nor could we find, an Elsa wig. Given the love of Halloween in our home, Ari’s Aunties were on it! Creativity being an integral part of their characters, an impressively handcrafted Elsa wig was quickly assembled and photo sent for approval! I was not surprised and extremely pleased and once again reminded of how often it does indeed take a village.

Ghost of Halloween Past

As of 12:55 this morning, only the finishing touches are necessary, hemming and trimming!! (Hallelujah). Another Elsa will hit the sidewalks in style come Friday evening!

We know lots of you have your own favorite Halloween costumes either from your own childhood or possibly from your children’s. Please share any stories of Best Halloween Ever- whether costume related or party related or candy related or something else related (which of course sounds VERY interesting)!  -M

Pictures would be amazing!!!

Ghosts of Halloween Past...4