Category: Uncategorized

What to Give on Halloween Besides Candy

Little girl in halloween costume trick or treat at door

While my kids were growing up, the family home was on Washington Street in San Francisco. To call it “Halloween Central” would be an understatement. Ant-like ribbons of ghosts, goblins and all manner of creatures climbed the stairs, trick or treating well past dark. The last time I counted I had dished out 700 pieces of candy. I was the meanie on the block, always asking trick or treaters to say “thank you” and take only ONE! A teal pumpkin indicates non-candy treats are offered. A teal colored pumpkin on the front porch indicates that alternatives to candy are being offered. This is a very thoughtful gesture for kids who don’t eat candy, whether it’s because of food allergies or other health concerns.  Since real pumpkins don’t come in “teal” here’s where you can get one: teal pumpkins. If you prefer not to give candy, here are some alternatives: I like to fill a big basket with a variety of things and let the kids choose. If you do a web search for these and want to stick to the holiday theme, precede your search term with “Halloween,” as in “Halloween pencils.” bouncy balls bubble wands Cracker Jacks erasers finger […]

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Holiday Time Savers & Tips

holiday time savers & tips

The holidays have a way of sneaking up on me every year. But especially this year. With rehearsals (I sing with a jazz vocal group), work, a couple of dental surgeries and just trying to stay on top of everyday tasks I got behind on holiday preps. Then, three days ago, everything came to a stop. I tested positive for Covid. I  cancelled everything for 10 days. In the meantime, I’ll make good use of these favorite holiday time savers & tips. I hope you find them useful, too. Time saving make-ahead holiday dishes In case you haven’t planned your menu yet, here are 35 Make Ahead Holiday Dishes for Stress Free Entertaining from Martha Stewart. Help with gift ideas If you’re still struggling with gift ideas, see my Wrap Up Your Gift Shopping  blog post from 2020. Secret Santa gift exchange It may be too late this year, but if your shopping list is starting to look more like your address book, consider having adult family members draw names so they buy only for one person. Wrapping paper standby Whether for the holidays, birthdays or another gift wrapping occasion, I bet you’ve had the same problem I’ve had. The […]

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Turkey Safety Myths

turkey safety tips represented by carved turkey

At my home, nothing says “Thanksgiving” like the aroma of a turkey roasting in the oven. It’s a holiday filled with tradition. But there are some traditions we can do with out – including several  turkey safety myths. Make sure your family and friends don’t spend the day after the big meal suffering from food poisoning. Beware the myths below. Turkey Safety Myth 1:  Refrigerating a whole cooked bird is safe False! Always carve your turkey after cooking. A whole cooked turkey will not cool quickly enough, putting it at risk for bacterial growth. Carve the turkey into smaller pieces so it cools faster in the refrigerator. Turkey Safety Myth 2: Thawing it on the counter is safe False! Never thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter. Once a turkey has sat at room temperature beyond two hours bacteria grow rapidly. Thawing a turkey in a refrigerator is safe. Allow approximately 24 hours of thawing time for every four to five pounds of turkey. Turkeys are also safely thawed in a microwave and cold water. When using the cold-water method, allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey and keep it in the original wrapping. Change the water every 30 minutes […]

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Springtime Allergies? Here’s Some Help

allergies, woman suffering from

Spring has sprung and so have your allergies? The birds are singing and the bees are buzzing. It’s spring, glorious spring. Unfortunately, for those of us with springtime allergies, it’s also time to break out the hankies. I’ve suffered from “hay fever,” also known as “allergic rhinitis,” since childhood. Unless you lock yourself in the house, you can’t escape pollen. And the sneezing, congestion and runny nose can be made even worse by non-seasonal allergens like dust and pets. Read this before you stock up on tissues and meds. You may need the tissues, but before you resort to over-the-counter allergy medications, read “Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud” by the Mayo Clinic. The article includes tips on reducing your exposure to allergens as well as info on types of nonprescription medications, nasal rinses, allergy testing and allergy shots. Because I was allergic to my cats in addition to having seasonal allergies, I went for allergy shots for years. When the cats went to the “great litter box in the sky” I stopped going for shots. Five years ago, despite suspecting I would have to start shots again, I adopted a kitten. Surprise! I haven’t had any allergy symptoms […]

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Microwave Shortcuts for Thanksgiving Dinner

microwave shortcuts for Thanksgiving dinner

I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my family many times over the years. And I loved doing it. But I must confess that this year I’m happy to be going to my daughter ‘s home for Thanksgiving for the first time. I’ll contribute the carrot souffle, a family favorite, to the buffet. Also,  I hope she, and you, can use these microwave shortcuts for Thanksgiving dinner. Shortcuts for Thanksgiving Dinner and Beyond Some things work in the microwave, and some don’t. I wouldn’t recommend trying to defrost your turkey in the microwave, for example. But I haven’t cooked popcorn on the stovetop since they invented microwave popcorn. (I sprinkle it with truffle salt.) And I love steaming all kinds of vegetables in a special microwave-safe dish I bought for that purpose. When doing the research for this article I found lots of microwave shortcut tips. But “10 Ways to Use Your Microwave for Thanksgiving,” by The Food Network, was the most timely and useful. Unusual Uses for Your Microwave While looking for microwave shortcuts for Thanksgiving dinner, I found  “20 Uses for a Microwave that Will Surprise You,” from Lifehack.org.  There are lots of interesting uses in the article. And don’t […]

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Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday, 2AM

daylight saving time ends Sunday

Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 7, 2021, in most of the U.S.. Yay! An extra hour of sleep, unless circumstances are beyond your control. A new baby couldn’t care less that you changed the clocks! Just for the record, Daylight Saving Time starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.  Here are a few timely tips (pun intended) to help you make the transition from Daylight Saving to Standard Time. Clocks “fall back” one hour Sunday at 2 AM. Change the clocks before you go to bed Saturday night. Don’t forget your watches…including the ones you keep in the dresser drawer. Remember to change the clock on your car dashboard. If needed, reset the timers on automatic systems such as sprinklers and lighting. While you’re at it, change the smoke alarm batteries. Replace the batteries in hard wired smoke alarms, too. The batteries in hard wired alarms provide backup in case of a power outage caused by things like fire or natural disasters. Check the year your smoke alarm was manufactured. It should be shown on the unit. If it’s close to ten years old, it’s time to replace it. Make […]

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