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Recycle magazines by gifting them. Ask friends or colleagues if they have an interest in the magazines. For example, industry journals might be popular with colleagues; and business, news, or society publications might be favored by family and friends. If you don’t mind spending a little money, make the gifting an extra treat by mailing the magazines as a package to someone you don’t see regularly. Many people still experience a small thrill in receiving and opening packages, even when the contents are known and thought to be boring.

Looking for ways to occupy your children’s time during the winter break? Consider the following.

  • A scavenger hunt. It can be indoors or outdoors. You can create the list or let your children identify what they plan to find or want to find (meaning, they set out to find something without knowing if it’ll actually be there). Scavenger hunts don’t have to be limited to collecting objects, but can involve taking pictures. They don’t have to take place in physical spaces – children can try to spy objects in books or magazines.
  • Inspire a challenge. Ask your child to consider what fantastic things they’d like to accomplish in their lives, and then help them take steps to achieve their dreams. For example, if your child wants to become president, enlist her in political activities, contact local politicians, or begin imagining what she must do to make it there, what her policies must be, and why. If your child wants to become an athlete, help him identify the sport, begin a regiment, and start taking steps towards learning more about or becoming more active in the sport. If your child wants to become a writer, create assignments – including research and writing assignments – that will help develop skill, connections, and an understanding of the business.
  • Develop a new hobby. Train your child in something you like to do, would like to do, would like to learn more about, and/or something you think they’d enjoy, such as photography, painting, gardening, or cooking.
  • Create a collage from old magazines or weathered books.
  • Give back. Let your child learn the joy of helping others by being active in one or more charitable or religious organizations.
  • Create a photo album or story with pictures from the holiday or year using software or printed pictures.
  • Create a movie, play, or cartoon. Help you child develop a story, plan the production, assign roles, and design the set and costumes.
  • Create a kinetic or electrical mechanical or motorized tool or device. This can be done through a kit, instructions obtained online or in a publication, from your own or another’s experience (e.g. reach out to your child’s science teacher) or work with your child to develop her own design: determine what she wants to accomplish and different approaches to reach that goal.
  • Tutoring. Tutor, or engage someone else to tutor (your school might have free programs), your child in areas in which he is weak, has a strong interest, or might need to prepare.
  • Learn a language. Challenge your child to spend the time trying to learn one or more languages and teach what he learns to you.
  • Teach them about investing or budgeting through games, virtual activities, and/or actual investments or financial considerations. For example, practice budgeting by creating a list of optional chores, possible rewards, and their price points and times or deadlines so that your child can choose which chores to perform in order to earn certain rewards and determine when the tasks must be completed in order to enjoy the rewards.
  • Put their creativity to use by asking them to think of solutions for a project on which you are working, such as redesigning a room or planning a garden.
  • Ask them to help you with a big person’s chore you think they’d enjoy working on, such as building shelves or cabinets, painting a wall, or fixing a car engine.
  • Play. Carve out time to play with your child, or helping them play, such as by building new toys or preparing an area for their play.

Still looking for gift wrapping ideas? Make a gift out of the wrapping, too. Present the gift in something practical and reusable, such as a:

Gift

–       Basket

–       Ornamental box or container

–       Holiday bag

–       School or sports bag

–       Backpack

–       Purse or satchel

–       Jewelry box

–       Tin box

–       Beads

–       Scarf

–       Saran

–       Quilt or afghan

–       Hair or dress ribbons or binders

Tired of heavy, prepackaged, overly-processed meals?  Looking for a fresh lunch? Try this salad for a crisp, light, yet robustly-flavored meal. It will give you all the textures and tastes you could possibly crave but not weigh you down while doing so. (Matt E.)

 photo

Salad

5 Asparagus Stalks

2 T Olive Oil

Dash of Ground Black Pepper

½ C Master Masher Potatoes

½ C Mixed Greens

2 T Balsamic Vinegar

½ Persimmon

3 Large, Ripe Blackberries

¼ C Mixed Pitted Olives

1 oz. Gruyere Cheese

3 Slice (Deli-Style) Provolone Cheese

¼ C Pecan Halves

½ Clementine

Slice the Asparagus stalks into 1” pieces. Drizzle 1 T olive oil and sprinkle black pepper over the asparagus. Microwave the mixture for 1 minute in order to soften the asparagus. Add mashed potatoes to the side and on top of the asparagus slices.

Layer mixed greens onto the other side of the plate. Drizzle 1 T olive oil and Balsamic vinegar over the mixed greens.

Thinly slice the persimmon. Halve the blackberries and olives. Add the persimmon, blackberries, olives over the mixed greens.

Slice the gruyere cheese into chips. Tear the provolone cheese into strips. Sprinkle the cheese over the entire plate. Scatter the pecans over the cheese. Squeeze juice from the clementine over the cheese and pecans covering the mixed greens.

Dessert

1 Chia Seed Truffle

2 T Chilled Sugar Cookie Fondue (recipe to come)

½ Persimmon

2 Large, Ripe Blackberries

2 T Lemon Sorbet

Press the chia seed truffle into the bottom of a small dish. Spread the sugar cookie fondue over the truffle until it is completely covered.

Thinly slice the persimmon. Halve the blackberries. Layer the fruit over the fondue. Top the dish with the lemon sorbet.

Perfect for the holidays: fantastic, flavorful, country-style mashed potatoes.Eaten Potatoes

32 ounces of vegetable broth

32 ounces of water

1 table spoon chopped garlic

4 sage sprigs

4 rosemary sprigs

3 bay leaves

3 pounds red russet potatoes

2 5.2 ounce packages of Boursin garlic and fine herbs cheese

¼ cup Half & Half

Pepper to taste

Bring the first six ingredients to a rolling boil.

Dice the potatoes into cubes and add them to the boiling broth. Once the broth returns to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Diced Potatoes

Check the potatoes after forty-five minutes. They should be soft, breaking apart easily when pressed with a spoon. Once the potatoes are to that point, remove the potatoes from the broth (save the broth). Remove the sage and rosemary sprigs from the potatoes.

Boiling Potatoes

Mash the potatoes with the cheese and half and half. Add broth for smoother mashed potatoes. (The broth can also be used to make gravy.) Add pepper to taste.

Prepared Potatoes 3

If you like to dry flowers, consider drying fruit, as well. Due to the variety and complexity of colors, textures, and shapes, fruit are dynamic, versatile devices for preserving memories, enhancing arts and crafts, and decorating. Their composition lends to greater applications. For example, unlike many flowers, a dried orange can be sliced, and those slices can be pressed beneath glass to create framed art. Yet, like a dried flower’s petals, dried apple slices and lemon rinds can be added to potpourri, teas, or decorative arrangements.

Fruit can be dried in a number of different ways. For example, fruit can be dried in a dehydrator, oven, freezer, in a cool dry place in your home – such as an empty cabinet drawer in your basement – or, if you live somewhere sunny and dry, such as Arizona, fruit can be dried outside. Keep in mind, each method may produce a different effect. For example, using a freezer can produce wrinkles in fruit. As such, we recommend trying more than one method so that you are familiar with the results and achieve the effect you seek.

Due to our electrified political environment, arguments for and against the passage of any new law abound. Following are three irrational arguments that we are astounded to hear frequently in news clips.

Not fully understanding or being informed of a law is an invalid reason to oppose its passage. Essentially, what this person is arguing is that he’d like to harm others in order to coddle his ignorance. All people and businesses are responsible for informing themselves of the laws applicable to them.

Likewise, when the financial implications of a new law are immaterial or nil to a person, arguing that he doesn’t want a regulation simply because it’s ‘bigger government’ or because he’ll have to spend some time learning about the law is fallacious. He needs to get off his duff and not seek to harm his neighbors just to appease his sentiments.

There might be one or more valid arguments to oppose the passage of a law, but, these three are not.

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