Five Tips for Thanksgiving Success and a Giveaway!

This year for Thanksgiving, I’m inviting all my local friends who don’t have any family in the area. It’s going to be a potluck, of sorts, which means I’m giving up control of a large portion of the meal. I’m making the turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes (okay and some martinis and a cranberry sauce). Everyone else is bringing the rest. I’ve done Thanksgiving dinner for many years now, and wanted to share my tips for success.

1. BRINE THE BIRD: Yes, it’s a little work ahead of time (not that much) and yes, you have another couple steps with the turkey, but it makes the turkey OMG tender. I buy the giant Ziploc bags for the turkey when I can’t find brining bags, and do it the day before. I swear, you could roast that turkey for twenty hours and it would still be tender. Brining is worth it. trust me. If you want to know how I do it (there are all kinds of variations), I have my brining recipe on my blog.

2. PLAN AHEAD: I’m starting my Thanksgiving plan today. I’ll shop tomorrow, and I have a whole long Me and Mandy after making pies 2012list of what needs to be done and when (I keep last year’s plan in a folder so I’m not reinventing the wheel every time). A list, along with a timeline, makes it a LOT easier.

3. DON’T BE A CONTROL FREAK: It’s okay to let your friends and family help. To let your mother-in-law peel the potatoes or your kids roll out the pie crust, or even let someone else make the green beans. Stick to your one main thing (the bird for me) and don’t stress about the rest. Me and Mandy after making pies 2012 (me and my daughter after we finished making pies :-)

4. ENJOY THE DAY: If you plan ahead, you won’t have much to do when guests arrive (except for slicing the turkey, which should rest after it’s done roasting, so even that can be done just before everyone arrives and covered with foil). I try to have everything done and made (mashed potatoes in the crock pot, stuffing in the oven, pies done the day before) at least an hour before guests arrive. Then I’m enjoying a glass of wine with my friends and family when the bird is done.

5. IT’S JUST A MEAL: I learned that lesson the year my husband made the pumpkin pie we were bringing to dinner (this is before I took over, LOL) and added salt instead of sugar. Yeah. I have had stuffings that were too dry. I have forgotten to buy potatoes. Run out of ice, burned the pies. In the end, it’s just a meal, and I’m not going to take it too seriously. Enjoy the friends and family, and don’t sweat the small stuff. After all, there is always dessert (and if it’s been ruined by too much salt, hopefully you saved some Halloween candy! :-)

Shirley

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Tips for Putting More SPRING in Your Step

I love this guest post from Samantha Hunter! I’m a runner, not so much a walker, but I think anything that gets you out and moving around is awesome!

Put More Spring in Your Step!

unexpectedtempationBy Samantha Hunter

We walk pretty much every day, and have since we got our first dog 12 years ago. Actually we walked before that, usually about three miles a day, and having a dog to walk with us just made sense. We have winter gear, rain gear, mud gear, and whatever it takes to get out for our two-plus miles a day, but it’s so much nicer to have the walking path dry and clear and not to have to worry about being run over by snowmobiles. I love walking on new Spring days when we’re likely to see more wildlife – definitely birds, but also turtles, frogs and rabbits, all emerging from the cold months to find food.

So the nicer weather in and of itself is good for making me want to walk more and longer –especially after some winter walks felt like… well, you can imagine. Our trail is not always groomed, so we slug through as much as a foot of snow, as long as it’s manageable for the dog, or we put on trackers to walk over ice and through ruts carved into slush and then frozen – that’s probably my least favorite walk.

But Spring is the season that begs for walking after being closed up all winter. If you don’t walk regularly, this is the time to think about getting out and doing it, before the summer heat, when it’s harder (but still a lovely time to walk). If you’re like us, and you have a dog, you know dogs love their exercise, so taking your dog out is the best possible way to make sure you walk every day. (I advise, if you don’t have one, get one – the best and most affectionate exercise machine you will ever have). J

You can check out sites like this one, The Walker’s Site (http://www.thewalkingsite.com/beginner.html), that will give you good advice and programs for starting to walk regularly. You could also read up, and a book I’ve always liked is Chi Walking (http://www.amazon.com/ChiWalking-Fitness-Walking-Lifelong-Health-ebook/dp/B002XQAAW2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395428904&sr=1-1&keywords=chi+walking+danny+dreyer), though I have to admit, I don’t “Fitness Walk.” We walk, in the dry weather, at a pace of about 3 mph, maybe faster on some days. Now and then we mix that with a little jogging. But you have to do what’s good for you. If you try to work too hard too fast, you are likely to give up. If you want to run eventually, start by walking – and work your way up to it.

Walking is a good option if running is too strenuous or causes injury to you. Running is better for losing weight as a targeted goal, but walking at a brisk pace (this is important – working up to at least a 15 minute mile) will offer similar health benefits without the chance of injury. But the way I see it, walking has a lot more benefits than health: you can think, have a conversation, or simply enjoy and observe your surroundings. You can walk to new areas of your city or try new paths.  You can take pictures and visit with other people on the path instead of running by them. I do suggest finding a safe place to walk, somewhere where you don’t have to worry about being hit by a car or that sort of thing, so you can enjoy your walk, and to do some kind of stretching before and after, as walking can leave your muscles tight.

And Spring is the perfect time to start a walking habit that I hope would see you through the rest of the year – I know I hate to miss my daily walk, and I try never to do so. 

Do you walk daily? Is it something you’d like to start?

Now’s the time! Don’t forget, also, to enter the giveaway! Lots of great prizes below!

Samantha

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BLOG HOP: Spring Slim Down Tips

I admit, I just ate a pizza. Crazy bread. Marshmallow Peeps. And a hollow chocolate bunny. I love Easter candy and treats, LOL. So when I saw Susan Meier’s blog post about Spring Slim Down, I had to read it and post it. Maybe it’ll get me motivated to get back on track again. BEFORE bathing suit season. Of course, I live in Florida, so it’s always swimsuit season, LOL.

HSwtM_500Spring Slim Down by Susan Meier

Most of my life, I’ve enjoyed the status of being at the same weight/size. Then suddenly I gained 40 pounds. Rather than slim down, I bought a bigger size bathing suit last summer. LOL! Not quite cheating but sort of.

This year, I don’t want to buy a bigger size. In fact, I’d like to fit into a few of my smaller suits. So I’ve joined the ranks of those doing the spring diet. Or maybe better said, spring slim down…because I’m not good with diets but I love exercise.images

I have every DVD known to mankind except P90X. One look at that infomercial and I knew I wouldn’t survive it. The Zumba tapes looked like so much fun on TV that I bought them immediately. Never took them out of the box. But my daughter’s friend did use them. I loved Tae Bo in the 90’s so I bought the “classic” edition, thinking I’d get the routines I’d loved. But not quite. Either that or my added years and weight made the workouts beyond my abilities.

Luckily, I hired a personal trainer last year. She also teaches a much simpler form of Zumba. More like dancing. J I also bought the Hip Hop Abs DVDS and love them.

So now I get up in the morning and do a half-hour Hip Hop Abs routine. Then I work/write until noon. Wednesdays and Fridays at noon I workout with my trainer. Tuesday night, Thursday night and Saturday morning I do Zumba with Cindy.

I may not lose a ton of weight but by vacation I hope to at least be tucked in!

How about you? Are you a Spring Slim Down person?

Blog HopChat with Susan about your Spring Slim Down Tips, and don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter for this awesome prize! a Rafflecopter giveaway

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