Make A Difference Day is October 23

This will be a day of helping others and doing good deeds. Projects for helping people will be organized and recognition given for their work.

A special day for this is important but we know that doing good for others and making a difference is an ongoing effort.

The Mukies have been making a difference for many years. These children‘s fictional creatures in a character building book show kids how to live in peace and harmony with each other. They make a difference by the way they treat others.

Robert Bohlken, Ph.D., the author of the book, Listening to the Mukies and Their Character Building Adventures, is a communication specialist with a special interest in listening and how it impacts problem-solving. This book encourages adults and children to share thoughts, ideas and feelings and helps create mutual understanding.

In these lessons about relationships, the Mukies address topics such as prejudice, rights and responsibilities in a society, and peaceful co-existence. They reveal the value of sharing attitudes, ideas and feelings about important issues.

In families and communities, effective solutions to problems evolve through the problem-solving process. However, often personal characteristics influence the process, such as perceived power, prestige, intelligence, gender, and/or physical appearance. Through careful listening and open communication, mutual respect can be achieved.

This book has been highly recommended by parents and counselors in bringing out important ways of making a difference in personal lives as well as those of others. The books can be ordered through Amazon here or at our website here.

These books help children share a vision for a better world.

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Helping promote family well-being through knowledge and skills.
Books for home and family living
http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com

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Healthy Tasty Treats Remind You of Mom’s Love

Sent Package
Image by pamplemoussen via Flickr

We have a guest post today, especially for those of you with children “leaving the nest”. Read some of the recommendations given by Edina Jones, our guest blogger for today.

Are you wondering how your grown child will get along living on his or her own? He or she may be at college now or away working at a job. You remember how they depended on you; how they asked you for favors; how they could never do a thing without your help. You hope you have given them a good foundation and taught them basic skills, including how to cook. However, once your son or daughter leaves home, you start fretting about him/her.

Stop worrying! Instead, focus on how to convey your love to your young adult. You can email, phone, write a letter or send some photos. Do you know what they would really love? Yes, you are right, care packages full of their favorite foods! In addition, you can include healthy recipes in the packages.

Delightful goodie baskets

Here are a few ideas to try out.

Organic food basket
– Put together a selection of organic fruits that your child loves. Choose fruits like apples, pears, oranges, peaches, and others. Include dry fruits like cashews, strawberry flavored fruit preserves, whole-wheat crackers, tortilla chips, peanut butter, green tea, and other easily packable items. Who said health and taste didn’t go together? Your health conscious son/daughter is sure to love this gift.

Chocolate basket – Opt for an assortment of chocolates, dark chocolates, milk chocolates, cupcakes, or whatever he/she likes, to put in this basket. Add chocolate-coated almonds, raisins, walnuts, and chocolate cookies, chocolate dips, chocolate snack mixes, and others. It will be a welcome sweet treat for your son or daughter.

Pizza basket – Want your child to really be impressed? If they have a way to do some baking, send a collection of bread baking mixes for pizza making. Include some tomato basil sauce, smoked pepperoni, and spices like peppers, onions, and garlic and herbs to make a delicious pizza. A nice gift along this line would be to include a pizza stone and rack to make the baking process easier. Every time they bake a pizza, they will be reminded of home and, of course, mom’s special touch.

Seafood basket – Is your young adult a connoisseur of seafood? Student care packages filled with smoked salmon, mackerel, herring, mussels, oysters, etc. are sure to delight a seafood lover. You may also include tasty treats like clam or lobster chowder, oyster crackers, sauces, and many other related foods. Just make sure that the package will maintain the correct temperature for the safe eating of its contents.

Ice cream basket – Most young people love ice cream. The idea of this basket is to enhance the experience of enjoying a scoop. No, you are not going to send ice cream; as delivering it would be a difficult job. Add contents such as colorful sprinkles, cones of different flavors, chocolate or raspberry sauces, almonds, peanuts, cookie crumbles, banana chips, chocolate crunch, etc.

You can prepare the food baskets yourself. Or, you can choose one ready-made or order custom gift baskets. There are many companies online and in catalogs that deliver the type and kind of basket you specify at the appointed time.

Edina Jones is a self published author and food critic. She writes articles on many food themes such as Dessert Recipes, Picnic Recipes and similar topics. For more information on Healthy Recipes and Salad Recipes she recommends you visit: http://www.womansday.com

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Drive to an Orchard

Apple Trees
Image by WxMom via Flickr

I drove 75 miles to deliver apple cookbooks yesterday. Nebraska City, Nebraska is having an Applejack Festival this weekend, September 18-19, and Tree Adventure at Arbor Day Farm needed more books. I wanted to make sure they had them in time.

Arbor Day Farm is owned and operated by The National Arbor Day Foundation which is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting tree planting and conservation throughout the United States. There are lots of signs at Arbor Day Farm to “Plant Trees”.

While there I stopped to buy some apples and had a piece of apple pie. The pie was absolutely delicious. (I don’t usually do this, but they looked and smelled very inviting)!

It was a beautiful fall day. As you drive into the area you see many, many apple trees still loaded down with fruit. That is what fall is all about! That is why I love what I do.

In one of the apple cookbooks I delivered, Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes from America’s Orchards, there is a write-up about the Orchard at Arbor Day Farm and one of their favorite recipes.

I now share the recipe with you that was shared with me for the cookbook:

Apple Pie A’Plenty

Filling
8 cups sliced apples (Jonathan makes great pies)
2 – 2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Topping
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups sugar
12 tablespoons butter or margaring

Make pastry for a double crust pie. Pat pastry into a 9 x 13 inch pan, forming and crimping edges as usual. Peel and thinly slice enough apples (about 8 cups) to fill pastry lined pan. Combine apples with sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Place this apple filling mixture in pan and sprinkle with topping. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 1 hour or until done. Servings: 15-18

I hope you get  to visit an orchard this week-end. If you are at the Applejack Festival in Nebraska City, make sure you visit Tree Connection at Arbor Day Farm and ask for my apple cookbooks!

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Books for cooks and apple lovers
kids, families, and parenting professionals
http://www.ImagesUnlimitedPub.com

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Operation – Kids Cooking

Doughy Chef

Image by Bas Van Uyen via Flickr

What are some of your happiest childhood food/kitchen memories?

Do you remember when your Mother gave you some dough to roll into biscuits? Or the time you baked a pie all by yourself?

Or, can you relate to the ways any of these children had fun and lasting memories from working in the kitchen:

Twelve year old Jessica said she loves to cook and was proud of her efforts in making  the cookies that appeared on the front cover of a magazine. She says, “My Mom and I love to read and experiment with recipes”. She thanked the magazine for the opportunity to work so closely with her Mom and sister in the kitchen.

That was a statement that warmed my heart, and I’m sure it did the same for the magazine.

Here is another warm fuzzy about working in the kitchen: Mom and 2 year old daughter are recalling the day and what makes them smile. The 2 year old says her favorite moment of the day was helping her mother make salads for dinner.

A 5 year old says playing on the jungle gym at his new school makes him smile. While Mom says “sharing a bowl of raisin bran with my daughter makes me smile.”

These are some of the ways of cultivating gratitude together and appreciating life as it is today. Sometimes we just have to celebrate what’s right with the world.

Enjoy YOUR world,

Lee Jackson
http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com

About Lee Jackson

Writer and entrepreneur Lee Jackson is the award-winning author of Careers in Focus: Family and Consumer Sciences, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers, Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards, and the children’s storybook, The Littlest Christmas Kitten. As the president and CEO of Images Unlimited Publishing, she works to provide books and information that helps families live more satisfying lives through knowledge and skills. Sign up to get her FREE newsletter full of tips for better family living through knowledge.

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Cantaloupe – Another Summer Fruit Favorite

North American "cantaloupes"
Image via Wikipedia

All summer long I have different “favorite” fruits – right now it’s cantaloupe. Although cantaloupes are available all year around, their peak growing and harvesting season is June through August. The western states are major producers but I bought a luscious one at the Farmers Market here in northern Missouri last week-end.

This is one fruit that is good for those watching their diet, or not, because it is low in calories and is a good source of Vitamin A and C, potassium and some minerals. Its sweet and juicy flavor spells summer all over. It is another food I sometimes tend to eat “over the sink”.

When I was much younger, a favorite dish to serve was to cut a small cantaloupe in half and fill it with ice cream. It was a dessert to die for! I have not seen mention of this for many years, nor have I eaten it this way recently. It combined two of my very best tasting foods and I loved it!

After buying a cantaloupe, it’s best to wash it in warm soapy water, as this gets rid of any dirt and impurities on the rind before cutting into it. There are a number of ways to cut it – from wedges, cubes, to quarters and halves or making into melon balls.

Some like to make cantaloupe into soup, others sorbets and other dishes. For me, if I can’t fill it with ice cream, I like it straight.

How do you like yours?

Lee Jackson
Home and Family Living Educator
http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com

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Peaches and “Eating Over the Sink”

Autumn Red peach.
Image via Wikipedia

I once read that Julia Child said there were some foods you could eat over the sink. A peach was one of those foods. That’s why I ate a juicy peach for breakfast this morning “over the sink”.

Can you think of other foods that fall into this category?

Lee Jackson
Home and Family Living Coach
Check out my website here

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Happy Independence Day Holiday!

American flag
Image via Wikipedia

I’m proud to be an American. For all our faults and shortcomings, I feel blessed to live in a country free from tyranny and persecution. I value the freedoms we hold dear. May God continue to bless America, the home of the brave and the land of the free.

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Home and family living coach

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Are you Listening? Really Listening?

I have to admit I don’t always listen very well. Sometimes others are telling me their story and I’m thinking of what I will say in response and not always tuning in completely. I remember when the children were little, one of their comments was “Mommy, you’re not listening with your eyes”.

Listening is a skill that can be developed. In order to hear what the other person is really saying take time to listen  – to be willing to give of your time and attention. You can show you are listening by nodding, smiling, making eye contact, or showing other ways of paying attention. Asking questions helps to clarify points. The art of communication has not died. It is a two-way street though- someone needs to talk and someone to listen intently.

The ability to listen does influence quality of life as well as the lives of those around us. When listening to your children, make it absolutely clear that the only thing that really matters at that time is what is being said. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Listen not only with your eyes but with your heart as well.

One of our authors, Robert Bohlken, is a listening expert and has written a book for children that enhances reading and listening skills. The stories in the book, Listening to the Mukies and Their character Building Adventures are set in a primitive society, but their problems and conflicts are much like our own. The stories are intended to be read aloud between adult and child. This encourages much sharing of thoughts, ideas and feelings about issues that concern children. There is room for discussion, such as, “if you were in this situation, what would you do?” “Do you think this is the only solution?” “Can you think of other ways to solve this?”

To learn more about this book, go to Listening Stories and Lessons.

Lee Jackson
Snaptail Books for children, families,
and parenting professionals

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Smile While You Cook!

Watching Jamie Oliver on the Food Revolution show brings out an important aspect of cooking, among other things, and that is to really get into what you are doing (the cooking part) and SMILE. This is what Jamie told the young boy who was interested in cooking. Just to enjoy the process. So many times we get overly-concerned about getting the ingredients in just the right proportions, and being very precise about our cooking methods, that we forget to enjoy what we are doing!

Jamie has so many lessons in his TV programs, but I thought this was a very important one to teach our children – to enjoy the process of cooking.

There are different types of cooks. Some are more experimental than others. Being creative and coming up with different combinations is part of the fun of cooking. When children are young, they love to combine ingredients to see what they will do. Even combining baking soda and vinegar and seeing the results is an activity that interests children. As an adult you can explain what is happening. You can tell them that it is the carbon dioxide gas formed from mixing the two together that causes the bubbling and foaming. The resulting foam and fizz from the reaction is often used in school projects to demonstrate the eruption of a volcano.

Some recipes need to be followed closely. For example, when you are baking cakes from scratch, it is important to follow the recipe carefully, but you can still smile. As you spoon the flour and sugar, notice the texture, and yes, even the feel. The entire process of combining foods and seeing the end result can leave you with a great sense of satisfaction.

Think how enjoyable working with bread dough can be. Children love to punch, knead, and roll the dough. Then to see, smell, and taste the end product is the ultimate experience.

These are some of the pleasures of cooking at home with your child. Here are the times he or she will remember. Make it enjoyable. Let them know it is OK to touch, to feel, to taste. And make sure you convey your interest and excitement in what you are doing. It’s contagious.

Here’s how Amy Houts, author of new book, “Cooking Around the Country With Kids-USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities” shows you how to get your kids cooking all across the country.

See Snaptail Books

Get those cooking skills going!

Lee Jackson
Home and Family Living Coach

Children’s Activities for Snow Days

You say, “What will children do again today since we have another snow-day?” This has been a recurring question and theme these last winter days – at least here in the Midwest, as I am sure in many parts of our country. The children, and you, are probably tired of looking out the window at the snow coming down, or watching the birds at the bird feeder. Some may have even ventured outside, but I wouldn’t recommend it if your area is as cold as it here in Missouri.

Having something to do can be a problem, or a fun challenge, especially if the “vacation” has been extended. I always found it helpful to pack away some toys, especially around Christmas time, and then when the novelty of holiday toys had worn thin, it was time to bring out the long forgotten ones.

Hopefully, video games or TV are not the prime activity during these days. We hear so much about the sedentary life style of all age groups, including children. It’s important to plan some active games – to get out and move. This is also one way to stay warm! Maybe you and your child or children can take turns using the exercise equipment you have acquired. Get out the jump rope and see how many turns can be made before the timer goes off. Or jump on one foot. Turn on some music. Kids love to dance to music.

There are quieter activities, too, such as reading, drawing, coloring, and playing board games. Kids like to be creative. This can be seen in their dress-up play and their manipulative play. Cooking is always a good activity to engage in. They love to pour and measure and taste.

For an activity that uses food products, but is not to be eaten, is to make play dough. Here is the recipe from Amy Houts’ new cookbook, Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities.

Play Dough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
Food coloring

Children can help measure and pour ingredients into a medium-sized saucepan. use a few drops of any food coloring you desire.

An adult can place pan over medium heat, cooking and stirring until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from pan and let COOL. (This is important, as children will want to dig right in – it is so appealing, but so hot!) Keep in an airtight container in a cool place. This play dough stays soft and pliable.

Keep those creative juices flowing and help your kids have some fun, safely, while you are all snow-bound. They may not remember how cold it was, but they remember how you played with them and how much fun they had when the snow came down.

Lee Jackson
Books for home and family

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