National Taco Day – it’s a thing

I’ve heard many people frustrated with the election chatter saying they are  just going to vote for tacos, well, a month before Election Day, it’s National Taco Day, October 4, so enjoy tacos early and often.

 

Here’s some recipes from the fine olive oil folks at Gaea.

 

grilled-chile-lime-flank-steak-soft-tacos

Grilled Chile-Lime Flank Steak Soft Tacos with Charred Pineapple Salsa

Spoon up a juicy, colorful pineapple salsa next to these easy-to-grill soft tacos and you have a delicious dinner with some style and flair.

Chile powder and lime give an inexpensive cut of meat a lot of flavor. Then, when you spoon up a tangy, color pineapple salsa next to these soft tacos, you have a delicious dinner with style and flair. Every part of the meal can be done on the grill, but using a stovetop works just as well.

You can brown the pineapple slabs on the grill or leave the fruit on the grill until one side of the pineapple is truly black, 4 to 5 minutes. Some people prefer the charred look and love how it tastes in the salsa, but taste and see what you like. The pineapple needs a few minutes to cool when you take it off the grill, so you might want to grill the fruit first and use the time while it’s cooling to cut up the remaining vegetables for the salsa. This recipe makes a lot of salsa, but it’s good to have on hand in your fridge for a few days, ready to liven up simple quesadillas.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of Gaea’s Kalamata D.O.P. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Charred Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 small pineapple, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds
  • 1 small red onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Gaea’s Kalamata D.O.P. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper, scraped of seeds and minced

16 6-inch corn tortillas

For the Steak Marinade:

In a small bowl, mix all spices, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and blend well to make a paste. Place the meat in a shallow dish and rub the paste evenly over both sides. Cover the steak and let it marinate for 1 to 4 hours.

For the Charred Pineapple Salsa:

When the steak is done marinating, preheat the grill; you’ll cut and grill the pineapple first and then put the steaks on the grill when the salsa is ready.

To cut the pineapple, slice off the leafy top and just enough of the bottom of the fruit so it rests flat on a cutting board. Slice off all the skin with a sharp knife, cutting from top to bottom and taking off as little of the flesh as possible, rotating the pineapple as you go. Discard the skin. Cut out any “eyes” with a paring knife and discard. Slice the fruit away from the core in four or five grill-friendly slabs.

When the grill is hot, place the pineapple slabs on the hot grill and grill quickly until the fruit just begins to show some browning, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. (If you want one side to be truly charred or blackened, let it go for 4 to 5 minutes on one side only.)

Take the fruit off the grill when it’s as browned as you like. Set it aside to cool for a few minutes and then dice the pineapple for the salsa. In a medium bowl, mix the diced charred pineapple, red onion, cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, vinegar, remaining olive oil, salt, and minced hot pepper and blend well.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook the steak:

Place the steak on the grill and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side or slightly longer if you like it more well done. Remove the steak from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. While the grill is hot, place the tortillas on the grill and grill for 10 seconds on each side then wrap in a linen napkin for serving.

Slice the steak into 1/2-inch slices, place on a platter, and spoon over the charred pineapple salsa. Place the tortillas on the table and serve family style.

 

Advertisements

Doing Disney right – tips for planning your visit to the Magic Kingdom

Planning a trip to Disneyland or Disneyworld?  Disney resorts are known as the happiest places on earth, but it can turn into the most miserable place on earth if you do not plan your trip properly.  Make the most of your family’s Disney vacation with these tips to de-stress your visit and maximize your time at the resort.

 

Take Two, or More

 

It’s not just because Disney wants to sell more tickets that they tell you that you need at least two days at the park. While not every family can afford a week-long Disney vacation, at least two days is needed to experience even a short list of main attractions. If visiting Disneyland, park hopper tickets which allows visitors admission to both California Adventure and Disneyland resort over two days is the best deal. Look for online deals for discounted tickets at local grocery stores.

Disney night 2.JPG

It’s all About the Date

 

Choose your dates optimally with a crowd predicting site, like IsItPacked, to avoid the busiest days. You can also get a DVD with tips customized for your family’s visit and a personalized planning web page at disneylandvacations.com/parks.  Another great resource is The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, with tips on how to beat the longest lines and maximize your time at the park.

 

Pick Your Attractions

 

In advance of your trip go online and make it a fun family activity to pick out each family member’s number one attraction for each day. Do not set yourself up for failure and disappointment by planning too much. Plan on three major rides, defined by those that offer FASTPASSES, per day. Then choose a few second-tier attractions.  Check height requirements beforehand so there are no meltdowns after standing 45 minutes or longer in the line, only to find out your kid is too short to ride.

img_7404

Get Fast Passes

 

Take advantage of FASTPASS tickets that give you a return time so you can come back and wait in shorter lines for major attractions.  For efficiency sake, give all of your admission passes to a designated person in your party so that person can go get FASTPASSES for the next ride on your short list while the rest of the party waits in line for another attraction nearby.  Remember you can only get one FASTPASS at a time, so choose wisely.

Take Breaks

 

Take a Break

 

Don’t forget to build in lunch time and down time and nap time if you have little ones. Missed meals and grumpy kids can quickly turn the Magic Kingdom into the Haunted Mansion. While officially outside food is not allowed in the park usually the gate attendants look the other way when it comes to a small stash of Goldfish crackers and granola bars. Even a juice pouch or two will be overlooked so long as you do not bring any glass into the park. For tired little ones, consider taking in a show or a parade where kids get a break from walking and standing.

20121218_183824

Make a Budget

 

Decide how much money you and the kids are going to spend and then stick to it. Be realistic. Meals snacks souvenirs and games are expensive at any theme park. Budget for at least $15 per meal per child and $20 for adults. For families on a tight budget a good rule is to tell kids that besides lunch and dinner they get one snack, and one game and one souvenir per day. Set limits, like $20 per souvenir, so they don’t beg for the biggest stuffed character in the Disney store. Help kids set their own limits by loading the funds onto a Disney gift card that they can spend anywhere in the park or at Disney stores.

 

Chose a Leader

 

The more people in your party the harder it will be to decide what to do next.  As much as possible have a roadmap of attractions you will visit and in what order, but for those debates that come up, assign a designated tie-breaker, or give each kid a turn to be leader.

 

Stay Close

 

The family that sticks together…can get on each other’s nerves, so keep this in mind when booking accommodations.  Resist the urge to save money and pile everyone in one room.  Check out affordable hotels that are a short drive or shuttle ride from the park.  Many affordable budget hotels offer spacious suites with sofa sleepers in an adjoining sitting room so that parents and kids can spread out, watch their own TVs and have some apart time. Hotels like Embassy Suites also offers a buffet breakfast to get the kids out quickly in the morning and a shuttle service leaving every 30 minutes, which is a far better option than navigating and traversing the morass of parking lots at the park.  Another advantage to a close by accommodations is the option of a mid-day break at the hotel, where everyone rest and rejuvenate to get a second wind for fireworks and other night time attractions.

 

Stay in the Moment

 

Don’t forget you are at Disney park to have fun, not accomplish a mission. Enjoy the time with your family, even while waiting in line. Turn waiting time into an opportunity to nibble snacks, play games, relive the attractions you just experienced, talk to your kids about the fun you are having and know that every moment you are at Disney counts as family time.

 

Hurts so good: Nature’s Jeannie’s throat spray and gargle

img_2005

As the Nature’s Jeannie is all natural ingredients and intended for kids age 3 and up, I anticipated it being better and safer not only for my son if he got sick buyt myself as well.  The spray  contains nine natural healing ingredients to treat sore, itchy, scratchy, irritated throats. One primary ingredient is apple cider vinegar, which is currently en vouge in the natural health community, touted for health benefits ranging from weight loss to diabetes prevention.

I expected the throat spray to be similar to the other chemical numbing sprays I have used in the past, and so I was got a big surprise when I flushed my tonsils with the Yumberry flavor and immediately felt a sharp stinging sensation. I attempted to follow the instructions which said to let it sit in the throat for 20 seconds, but wimp that I am. I lasted about five seconds before I had to spit, partly due to the intense tingling and partly due to the sharp flavor.

The directions also said to repeat it this procedure up to five times per day as necessary, preferably after meals and before going to sleep. I thought I might get used to the flavor and sensation, and I tried again a few hours later, and again could not make it to 20 seconds.

The flavor reminded me a lot of the numbing agent that dentists apply with a Q-tip right before they give you a shot of Novacaine in the gum. The spray had a little of the same effect of numbing, but it was not as long lasting as Chloraseptic and similar sprays I have used in the past.

I gave a closer read of the ingredients, and it was obvious why I felt the stinging sensation when this formula hit my raw tonsils. It contains Himalayan salt, and cayenne pepper, among other purported healing ingredients, such as buckwheat honey, licorice root, cloves, origanum vulgare, cherry extract, and the aforementioned apple cider vinegar.

It seems these are all great ingredients used for anti-inflammatory, germ-fighting, irritation-soothing and antioxidant properties. The Yumberry also has a soothing effect and adds a berry-like pleasing flavor, especially appealing to children. While all of these ingredients seem fantastic on paper, when they hit my throat, any beneficial effect they might have had was offset by my immediate reaction because of the stinging and pungent taste and my instinct to quickly spit it out.

The same company that makes the throat spray also makes Gargle Away, an “advanced throat care” product to soothe sore throats, which contains seven natural healing ingredients, many of which are the same ingredients as in the spray. Once again, when I introduced to this product to my sore throat, the immediate effect was a stinging and burning sensation. The only time I can recall a similar feeling is when I eat food seasoned with Old Bay spice. I thought it ironic that my mouth and lips feeling like they were on fire did indeed distract me from the pain in my throat!

img_2007

Despite my initial reaction to these products, I’m going to keep trying it for the duration of my sore throat, because while the sensations are very unexpected from a product made to treat a sensitive, irritated throat, it might just be the course of treatment my throat needs to kill the germs and help speed up my recovery and healing.

For anyone looking for a product that is different than all the others, and that does not contain a list of unpronounceable ingredients, this may be a good alternative. If nothing else, it is nothing like anything else you have tried before, and since nothing else I am aware of has ever cured a cold or done anything but temporarily relieve symptoms anyway, this certainly can’t hurt, well maybe for a few seconds it will.

A note from Nature’s Jeannie:  

Thanks for giving Gargle Away a try (sorry about the sore throat, of course!), but remember, this is an all-natural remedy, so the sensation you’re describing isn’t due to toxic chemicals — our ingredients (*specifically, the oregano and cayenne) are reducing bacteria and loosening mucus. They’re doing the job!

Certainly, our fans have described the “kick” you experienced — but many, many Gargle Away users rave about its effectiveness. Professional singers, announcers, voice actors, and just plain folks have found Gargle Away a terrific alternative to other throat care products made with alcohol and chemicals.

(We’re also confident our new Throat Spray for Children also will win over many parents who find it works as advertised: to relieve inflammation and mucus, and reduce the bacteria that causes sore throats.)

We suggest you continue treatment by giving that sore throat the treatment — with Gargle Away!

 

 

 

Spa Week – Your choice of treatments for $50

2016-09-25It’s that time again.  S P A  W E E K.  It’s when we who work at home and outside the home get some guilt-free me time and an opportunity to experience spa treatments that usually cost much more for only $50 during the event from October 17 to 23.   It’s a great time to try out a spa — or spas — that you have never visited, to check out the facilities and the staff at an affordable rate.  From hot stone massages to acupuncture, the choice is up to you.

Spas are like hair stylists, sometimes you stick with one for a while, and then sometimes you want a change.   This is a great way to try out a spa and get a high value service that won’t break the bank.

To find out which spas are participating, to to http://www.spaweek.com. Book as soon as possible, while there are appointments available.  In fact, book for you and a few friends and make it a girls spa day out!

Also, check out SpaWeek’s $1,000 gift card giveaway (see below) , open until 10/31/16 at 11:59PM EST.

Black.png

Here’s a bit more background on SpaWeek:

Spa Week Media Group, Ltd. (www.spaweek.com) is the largest and most respected spa and wellness marketing company in North America. Since its inception in 2004, Spa Week Media has continued to revolutionize the industry with the success of its biannual Spring and Fall Events’ signature $50 spa services, life-changing promotions, influential social media platforms, and dynamic gift card program. The Spa & Wellness Gift Card provides access to spa and wellness services throughout the country (from massages to yoga classes and more), making it the perfect way to put yourself and your loved ones on the path to wellness. Redeemable at more than 8,000 spa and wellness locations throughout the country, the Spa & Wellness Gift Card is the ideal gift card for any occasion and never expires. Give the Gift of Wellness to anyone, anytime.

spaweek

#20forHope Social Campaign to Raise Awareness of Neuroblastoma on September 20

Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation invites people to post dance videos that day on social media to help raise $700,000 by year’s end to fight aggressive childhood cancer

CHICAGO, AUGUST 30, 2016 – During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer, will be the focus of the #20forhope social media campaign created to raise research dollars and awareness of a disease more common in infants than leukemia but sorely lacking in funding.

childhoodcancer

On September 20, people everywhere – best buddies, neighbors, co-workers, dance troupes and cast members – are being asked to spread the word about neuroblastoma by posting dance videos of 20 seconds or more that day to social media using #20forHope, tag @cncfhope and their followers, and invite them to donate online at cncfhope.org and share their own dance videos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Proceeds will benefit the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation (CNCF), a nonprofit founded by the parents of a neuroblastoma victim that funds research and educational programs for families.

CNCF officially launched the #20forhope promotion today with a video featuring neuroblastoma survivors and kids still in treatment or dealing with the after effects, which can be severe and last a lifetime. The objective of #20forhope is to move CNCF closer to its goal of raising $700,000 by year’s end on behalf of the estimated 700 children diagnosed in the United States with neuroblastoma every year. Funds will be used to support research grants, like the $35,000 CNCF recently awarded to a neuroblastoma researcher at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to conduct a stem cell cancer study, as well as education programs aimed at raising awareness about neuroblastoma and potentially life-saving treatment options and clinical trials.

Neuroblastoma has been called “the great masquerader” because it mimics common childhood illnesses. It originates from immature nerve cells and manifests as a solid tumor most commonly in the adrenal glands above the kidney and in nerve tissues in the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis. Its primary victims are under age 5. Survival rates for patients in advanced stages of disease is 40 percent, and there is a high rate of relapse.

Since 2005, CNCF has contributed nearly $2.5 million to fund neuroblastoma research, helping to fill funding gaps that, unfortunately, are typical for lesser-known childhood cancers. In the U.S., the majority of cancer research dollars go to fight cancers most commonly found in adults. Less than 3 percent of the American Cancer Society’s funding is designated for childhood cancer research.

nueoblastoma

“It comes down to this: We can do more with more. But the reality is the way cancer research is funded, our children are largely being left out,” said Pat Tallungan, president of CNCF. “There are neuroblastoma researchers on the cusp of major breakthroughs that would give the youngest cancer victims a real chance at survival and a better quality of life. On September 20, we’re asking the public to care enough to give a few dollars and hope to children and families suffering with this terrible disease.”

When Tallungan’s son Nicholas was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 1995, there was very little information available on the disease. Tallungan co-founded CNCF in 2000, one year after Nicholas died at age 10. In 2002, CNCF held its first Parent Education and Medical Symposium to connect families with the leading neuroblastoma researchers to learn about the latest treatment therapies and clinical trials.

“CNCF’s motto is hope unites us,” Tallungan said. “On September 20, we hope that people who care about children’s health and well-being everywhere will dance with us to give children with neuroblastoma a fighting chance.”

For more information on CNCF and neuroblastoma visit cncfhope.org. Follow CNCF on Twitter and Facebook.

###

Another donut day, for real

OMD, (Oh My Donut!), it’s another donut day!  Not to be confused with National Donut Day in June, September 14 is National Cream-Filled Donut Day.  Okay, does anyone else have the feeling that the donut people are behind this?

Putting aside the blatant commercialism of the observance driving us to think about and crave donuts, the reality is everyone loves a donut, and so here are some fun products, besides the delicious doughy ones, to celebrate, brought to you by BigMouth Inc., available nationwide at Nordstrom and online at AlwaysFits.com. Forget that most of these products have donuts with holes, versus those that are cream-filled, and that most are for summer activities for this early fall celebration.  Just go with it!

Finish off summer easing down a lazy river on top of a giant strawberry or chocolate frosted donut float. Or play beach volleyball with a giant donut hole beach ball!

The Donut Mug

Mmmm donuts… The cutest little donut shaped mug for any donut coffee lover ever!

81optk9vmwl-_sl1500_

Price: $14.99

Pass The Donut Flying Food

It’s a bird, it’s a plane it’s- A DONUT! This flying food Frisbee is a great asset to any party! Let the food fight commence.

81ktoiqyihl-_sl1500_

Price: $10.99

Giant Donut Hole Beach Ball

This donut hole will bring fun to any beach or pool party, because the only thing better than small sweet donut holes are the big ones you can throw at the people you love… or hate.

71whni07qml-_sl1500_

Price: $10.99

Gigantic Donut Pool Float

Take a moment and relax on this 4-foot donut. Take a dunk in the pool with this huge strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate frosted delicacy.

81ch1rcalgl-_sl1500_

Price: $19.99

 

Inflatable Pool Party Drink Floats

The only way to keep cool during those upcoming hot Summer days is to drink up! Have your drinks float right beside you in the mini donut drink float holders! Great for games and great for hydration!

61o9jpox-il-_sl1200_

Price: $10.99

 

Gigantic Donut Beach Blanket

Lay down on the tastiest looking towel around! This durable lightweight 5ft X 5ft is cozy and comfortable weather it be at the pool or at the beach!

91mokratml-_sl1500_

Price: $43.99

 

Donut Hole Mug

Keep your donut hidden and super cozy with this super convenient mug! Donuts and coffee go together forever and ever.

810asjhledl-_sl1500_

Price: $14.99