1/28/20

Get Your Small One Going – Best Outdoor Activities for Kids


Are you searching for new and exciting ways to have fun with your kids outside? If so, you’ll be happy to learn there are more than a few ways you can enjoy some quality family time. If you are ready to get outside and have some fun, consider the activities listed here.


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Consider Going Geocaching

Have you ever heard of geocaching? This is a huge outdoor treasure hunt with millions of different prize-filled containers all hidden across the globe. This is a great way to get your entire family outside and find new sites right in your local area. You can even teach your child about navigation.

All you have to do to get started is to create a free account at geocaching.com and then scan the map for any geocaches close to you. Once you get started, you can find all sorts of amazing things.
Participate in a Family Ride, Walk, Run, or Cycling Experience
You can enter a 1K, 3K, or even a 5K with your entire family. With these events, you can choose to walk, run, or even ride your bike. If there is someone in your family looking for a new bike, be sure to check out a site like https://bikereviewed.com/.

An added bonus of this activity is if the event is for a charity or if it is a fundraising event. If you aren’t sure this is a good idea, just read about all the reasons why it is here.

Build a Bonfire in the Backyard

Regardless of if it is just with your kids or if you have invited several friends and neighbors to join in, having fun around a bonfire is a great way to spend a cool evening. You can tell scary stories, take out a guitar, eat smores, and just have fun. You can also use this activity to teach your kids how to build a fire safely.

Take Your Kids to a Local Dirt Track

There’s nothing quite as much fun as racing around a dirt track. Adults and children alike will enjoy this activity. If you need to find some of the best dirt bikes for smaller children, there are several options, including the ones available at https://www.starwalkkids.com.

You’ll find that this is an activity that everyone enjoys and something they want to do time and time again.


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Go Camping in the Backyard

There’s no question that there is something fun and exciting about camping. If you don’t want to go in the nearby woods, consider putting up a tent in the backyard. You can even go to a local state park. This is going to be something fun for everyone.

As you can see, there are more than a few outdoor activities that you can enjoy with your kids. Be sure to try one or all of these to see what you and your family enjoy most. This is going to ensure you all have fun together and that you get in family time.

1/27/20

Meatless Monday Recipe Idea: Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells with Tofu Marinara


What is on your Meatless Monday dinner menu tonight?  Cheesy stuffed shells are a family favorite—and with this tofu marinara sauce—these pack all of the flavors of stuffed shells and meat sauce for the "meat lovers" in your life.  My girls love them, my husband loves them—and I know that I’m serving a healthier, meatless Monday meal.  These also make a great "meatless" potluck dish--because the whole crowd will eat them and never miss the meat!
Meatless Monday Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells with Tofu Marinara on a White Seriving Plate
Meatless Monday Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells with Tofu Marinara

We updated this post from 2013 to show the ingredients and products that we currently use and recommend for this recipe.  

Many of our posts contain affiliate links to the products that we recommend in the post or recipe.  If you purchase a product via one of our links--we may receive slight compensation at no cost to you.

Ingredients for Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells with Tofu Marinara
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Butter
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 c. Fresh Portabella Mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 Pkg. Extra Firm Organic Tofu—completely drained and crumbled
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1/8 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/8 tsp. Salt
1 24 oz. Jar Marinara Sauce (Plain, Tomao Basil or a Garden Vegetable Style)

Cheese Filling
1 15 oz. Container Low Fat, Small Curd Cottage Cheese or Ricotta
2 c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (Reserve 1/4 c. to sprinkle over the filled shells during baking)
1/2 c. Shredded or Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg, Lightly Beaten
1/4 tsp. Italian Seasoning

24 Jumbo Pasta Shells, cooked and drained

Instructions for making Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells with Tofu Marinara

Saute the Vegetables. Heat butter and olive oil in large saute pan until hot. Add the tofu and onions and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Add the marinara sauce.  Stir and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling. In a blender or food processor, combine the cottage cheese, the parmesan cheese, the mozzarella cheese, and the egg. Pulse until the mixture is nearly smooth.  Stir in ½ tsp. Italian seasoning.

Prepare the baking dish and the oven. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon ½ c. Tofu marinara sauce over the bottom of the baking dish and spread it out evenly.

Fill the cheesy stuffed shells. With a large tablespoon, add 1-2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese filling into each shell. Place the filled shells into the baking dish with the opening facing upward or tilted slightly to the side.

Top the filled pasta shells and bake. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top of the filled spinach stuffed shells. Sprinkle reserved mozzarella over the top. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

We almost always serve with garlic breadsticks and salad. 


Pin this meatless recipe for easy cheesy stuffed pasta shells with tofu marinara

5 Tips for Sticking to a Meat-Free Diet


Most of us grew up eating meat at every meal; however, meat-free diets are becoming more and more popular with the help of popular media campaigns and even strong celebrity backing. You've probably heard that keeping meat off your plate is good for your physical and mental health, the environment, and also the best way to reduce animal cruelty. And, maybe you've been inspired to give up meat for good. While it may be challenging, one thing is for certain, a meat-free diet is possible and is bound to be the best decision you could make for yourself and the environment. Here are a few tips to help you stick to a meatless diet:

Figure out Why You Want a Meat-free Diet

The decision to stop eating meat is a personal one. Some do it for their health, others are concerned about animal welfare, others want to reduce their environmental impact, and others are following the trend. Whatever your reason is, ensure you're passionate about it. As mentioned earlier, this isn't going to be an easy journey. It's much easier to stick to your goals when you really care about why you're making the change in the first place.

Get Friends and Family Members on Board

Inform the people around you about your decision. They might be more understanding of your food choices if they know the reason(s) why you made the change. It would also help if they made the change with you, even if it's just once in a while. That way, you have someone to help you stick to it and you wouldn't have to prepare multiples at home.

Find Meat Substitutes

You are bound to crave something traditionally meaty. The good news is there are plenty of delicious plant-based alternatives that can help make the switch easier. If you miss the texture and flavor of meat, try patties or crumbles made from textured vegetable protein. You're also probably not going to get enough protein, especially at the beginning. Luckily, there are also plenty of plant-based proteins to help with that, including beans, lentils, tofu, seitan, mushrooms, tempeh, almonds, and much more. Keep in mind that meat offers more than just proteins. You also get other nutrients like Vitamin B-12 and iron. Make sure you're getting these nutrients from your vegan diet as well.

Create Meal Plans

As mentioned earlier, you'll find yourself missing meat or at least thinking about it more often. Rather than giving in, try to create a meal plan to deal with cravings. Think of an alternative way to satisfy your cravings. For instance, you might be craving a savory umami flavor, in which case you should eat mushrooms or Parmesan cheese. If your body is craving proteins, have a peanut butter sandwich instead of chicken. Be sure to keep some savory snacks like smoked nuts or roasted chickpeas to help curb your cravings for meat. Don't wait until you're hungry to decide what to eat. Instead, plan healthy plant-based meals ahead of time so you don't have an excuse to grab a meaty dish.

Don't Give Up

Last but not least, this transition takes time. After years of eating meat, it's not going to be easy to give it up completely. Don't abandon your meat-free diet all together just because you relapsed. Remind yourself why you stopped eating meat in the first place and work towards achieving that goal again. Consider joining a support group where you can interact, seek advice, share your success and challenges, and even get inspiration from like-minded people.


How to Take Care of Your Parents When You Live Abroad


People leave their soil and family behind in pursuit of a better future, job prospects, and educational gains and become part of an unfamiliar land. For others, it might sound enticing and desirable, but only those who are daring and confident can leave behind their siblings and parents, and even they will tell you that it takes a whole lot of courage to move on.

It is not only the fear of facing the unexpected that stops their heart, but longing for their loved ones also keeps them in a state of sadness. When you are not feeling well or need trusted advice, there is no one to ask you: Hey, my boy, are you okay? And thoughts of the wellbeing of your family so far away can cause worry throughout the day. This situation becomes more miserable if your parents are elderly and need your attention. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue your dream of a better future. We are here to tell you how to take care of your parents back at home despite living in a far off land.

Here are some tips to make your ex-pat life easier and your parents happier:

Sort Out Basic Matters

Don’t leave before sorting out basic matters of your parents' current life. If you currently handle certain things for them like taking out the trash or driving them to appointments, make sure you have someone to take your place. Be ready to answer the important questions, like Who will take care of them? How will they receive money? Would they be able to take care of the house? What about the asset management system? These are basic things that might sound trivial but can be a big headache for your aging parents. You should ask other relatives and neighbors to keep an eye on your parents and help them out when needed. Or you can also arrange a caregiver to make things easier for them. Moreover, you should also look for an easy money delivery method so that your parents can receive money in person without any hurdles and trouble.

Keep Connected

Keeping a connection with your parents living back home while you are all alone in another country is not a big deal in today’s technology-driven world. You just need a digital gadget and internet to see the face of your parents, and say ‘hello.’ The best thing is that you don’t have to take out special time to call your mom, you can say her hello while taking a subway to campus or during your break time in the office. In this world where technology is ruling our lives, not staying connected is simply not an option. So, utilize technology and stay connected with your parents despite having a busy and hectic schedule.

Surprise Them Often

Little surprises always excite us, significantly when they are from someone so dear to us. Just imagine how excited your parents will be when they answer a knock at the door, and a courier is waiting with flowers and cake on their anniversary. Take it a step further and surprise them with an unplanned visit back at home on Christmas Eve. But if it is not possible, make sure to plan out some other surprise elements so that their holidays can turn into happy days.

Visit Them When Possible

Visiting them often might not be an option if you live too far away, but never miss the deal whenever you get the opportunity to visit them. You might be thinking of visiting another country during your spring day to have some fun with your friends. But remember that your parents are waiting for you, and there isn’t anyone and anything important than them.

1/23/20

Hernia: Symptoms to Watch Out For



If you are eager to know about the several hernia symptoms, chances are either you have developed such a condition, or maybe one of your friends or family members have it. Now, before we further discuss the complexities of hernia and its symptoms, it’s important that we clearly understand what exactly is a hernia.
The human body is a complex subject that often remains a mystery for non-physicians. But thankfully, medical science has gone far enough to help people determine whether they are suffering from any ailment that otherwise is invisible to normal eyes. A hernia is one of those conditions that develop inside of a human body. So, what is a hernia?
Hernia: An overview
A hernia generally occurs whenever an organ pushes through an opening inside the muscle or the tissue that holds the former in its position. For instance, the intestines might break through a weakened area on the abdominal wall. Most hernias occur in the abdomen area between your chest and hips. However, they might also appear in your upper thigh region and groin areas.
One of the common mistakes that people make is that they think hernia is a life-threatening condition, which isn’t true always; they are not immediately life-threatening. However, you must understand that hernias never go away on their own. You must proactively figure out the best treatment options to eradicate the issue from your body. If left alone, hernias can lead to dangerous complications. However, you can avoid it, and most of the time, the only option left is surgery.
Symptoms of a hernia
Whenever you are on a quest to eradicate a disease, the first aim should be to detect it. To detect any particular disease, in its initial stage, we recommend that you pay attention to the accompanying symptoms. In the case of a hernia, there are quite a few symptoms that you should be aware of.
The most common type of hernia symptoms is the appearance of a bulge or lump in the affected area. In case you have developed an inguinal hernia, you are most likely to notice a lump on any side of your pubic bone, the place where your thigh and your groin meet.
You might notice that whenever you lie down, the lump tends to disappear. In most cases, you can feel the hernia if you touch the affected area while standing up or bending down, or even while coughing. In some cases, the affected person might even feel some discomfort or pain in the hernia affected area.
Depending on the type of hernia you have developed, some more specific symptoms might arise. Such is the case for Hiatal hernias. When someone has a hiatal hernia, the person may experience heartburn, and chest pain; they can even have trouble swallowing food or water.
In case your hernia condition has become more severe, the following symptoms might come to your notice:
  •        Shooting pain
  •        Vomiting
  •        Constipation.
Hernias may lead to infected, blocked, or strangled organs or tissues. Now, here’s the catch! Not all hernias have symptoms. Some of the patients can’t even feel any of the symptoms discussed above. In such cases, it gets tough for the affected person to figure out whether they have been affected or not. Hence, we recommend that you opt for a routine physical or medical check-up, every month.
Recovery from hernia
Once you have figured out the hernia symptoms, now it's important to visit your doctor in case you suspect that you have developed one. As mentioned earlier, hernia never goes away by itself, and if it's left untreated, further complications can arise, which can be life-threatening. Once you get in contact with a doctor, you are assured that the hernia will be treated soon.
Generally, surgery is the lone remedy to get rid of a hernia. Several types of surgeries are available for treating hernias, and the best way to decide which technique to use is to consult your surgeon.
There are multiple factors that determine which type of surgery would suit you the best. In that regard, your doctor will assess your present condition, health status, etc. to advise you on the perfect remedy. The two types of surgical treatments available for hernia treatment are Laparoscopic surgery and Open Repair surgery. Early medical help and several lifestyle changes go a long way in minimizing the above-mentioned symptoms.


1/22/20

3 Tips to Follow When You're Moving with Kids


Most of the time families move because one or both of the parents took a job in another city or state. Pursuing your career in a different location, far from your current home means a new start for the whole family. Once you've made the decision, the hardest part is still to come: planning the move and discussing the whole situation with your children.

Moving with a family comes with many responsibilities and extra tasks. Telling your children, especially teenagers that they have to say goodbye to their school and friends won't make them as thrilled as you are about your new job. However, this doesn't mean that they will hate the idea of it. We want to give you certain tips that will surely make the whole transition a lot easier.

1. Have a family meeting to discuss the details
Calling a meeting with your partner or spouse and your children is the first and also the most important thing to do after you've made up your mind about the move. If you have to tell the news to young kids or teenagers, the best thing to do is to be honest and straightforward. Tell them how you're really excited about it, that this is a new opportunity for you and it will give a boost to your career.

Explain your kids that even though this change might seem scary at first, but it will impact the whole family in a lot of good ways. Once you've finished your little monologue, encourage others to share their feelings about the move. Don't forget to let your children know that they can count on you regardless of the situation, you're there for them and are eager to help in anything.

2. Moving can be difficult, so go with professionals
Once you've discussed all the details about the move with your family, it's your job to make the relocation as smooth and as stress-free as possible. If you don't want to burden yourself and others with the daunting task of preparing everything from A to Z, you can pick a professional moving company that will take care of things without breaking a sweat.

You won't regret your decision if you pick the Empire Movers. With dozens of moves under their belt, you can be sure that they will make a remarkable job, helping you with everything that is related to moving: organizing, packing, and transporting your belongings, and also unpacking and putting all the items to their new places. With the help of pros, children won't see the whole moving process as a chore, but as an easy and fun way to start a new life.

3. Let your kids help you pick out your new home

One of the first steps to get your kids on track with the move is to involve them in the selection process of the new apartment or house. Of course, it's your job to pick out those homes that match your expectations. But when you're done narrowing down the options to a few houses, make sure to get some feedback for your kids.

This works really well with teenagers, as they will really feel like they are part of a team that is moving forward together. The responsibility of picking out a new home will help them accommodate to the new situation a lot easier. When they've shared their opinions, let them know that your happy for their comments and you will keep them posted about the whole house-buying process. Once everything is settled, it's a great idea to throw a little party that involves things that your kids love.