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Thanksgiving: 5 Tips to save you thousands of calories

Granted Thanksgiving is a time to really tear down on some really good food, but the Holiday is the start of a series of Holidays (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter) of non-stop eating that have the average person packing on pounds that they don’t shed later. 
A typical Thanksgiving dinner plate can be 2,900 or more.  People think it’s the turkey that makes them so sleepy and tired after Thanksgiving meal, but in reality, it is all the carbohydrates that are part of the average Thanksgiving meal: cornbread, stuffing, rice, macaroni pie, rolls, casseroles, pasta, etc.
There are simple ways to save some of those calories. Here are five tips:
1. Say no to the gravy. 
2.  Put only two portions of carbs on your plate instead of three.
3. Fill up with veggies, salads, cabbage, green beans. Have those items take up most of your plate. 
4. Drink a full glass of water before you eat to trick your body into getting fuller faster.
5. If there is a salad served, eat that first before eating the hot foods. This move will also help trick your body into getting fuller faster on less high calorie, high carbs foods.
The most important of which is portion control. If you must sample all the goodies, opt for one tablespoon of each verses a full portion size. 
Good luck and Bon Appetite!

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Thanksgiving Travel: Flying With an Infant: How to Avoid Disaster

With Thanksgiving around the corner and some people opting to fly to visit family during the holidays, our blogger Marc Courtiol, is sharing tips on dealing with flying with an infant:
Having a newborn can be stressful enough without leaving the house, so it is easy to understand why so many new parents are reluctant to travel. Babies need constant care, they are unpredictable, and their crying is sometimes difficult to stop. All of these things work against travel, which requires as much predictability as possible. The good news is that many infants fall right to sleep as soon as the plane starts moving, but you just cannot know beforehand. Plus, nobody wants to be those poor parents stuck on an airplane with a baby who refuses to be quiet. That is no one’s idea of a fun vacation.
But you do not have to be scared to travel with your infant. Sure, things may not go perfectly, but the trip does not have to be a disaster. Here are some ideas to keep in mind.
The right attitude
Start preparing by getting in the right mindset for traveling with an infant. Especially if this is your first child, this may require you to alter your view of the world to some extent. For starters, while it is important to be considerate of others, you simply cannot get hung up on what strangers think about you. There are always going to be curmudgeonly people who bellyache when a crying baby is in their vicinity, and there is nothing we can do about them. So just forget about them and focus on your family.
Also, try to approach the whole thing with a sense of calm. The best way to do this is to take it slow. Give yourself plenty of extra time for everything. If you usually leave for the airport two hours early, give yourself two and a half to three hours this time. Move slowly through the trip, and stop to attend to the baby whenever he or she needs anything. If you can cultivate this sort of attitude, your baby will pick up on it and will likely be more calm.
Plan early
Plan your trip as early as possible so you can reserve seats in an optimal row. Exit-row seats are great because they give you extra room to maneuver with the baby. Also, if you have never traveled with an infant before, you might want to call the airline and talk to a real person about their policies. Your baby should be able to fly for free, but many parents choose to buy a seat for their infant anyway for the extra room. Airplanes are generally a tight fit, but a full three-seater in an exit row can be a cozy little temporary home for mommy, daddy, and baby.
Knowing what to bring 
When flying with a newborn, the key is to bring as few things as possible while having everything you need to take care of your baby. It can be difficult to find this balance. Here are some things that you definitely need:

A few changes of clothes (bring a couple more than you reasonably expect you will need)
An item or two, especially a blanket or stuffed animal, that smells of home and reminds the baby of safe, comfortable places
Diaper-changing supplies, including a changing pad, sanitizing wipes, and multiple extra diapers
Pastic bags for storing soiled baby clothes
Cloths to wipe spit-up and other substances
If you are breastfeeding, bring a bottle with a little extra milk in case the baby needs to be fed at an inopportune time for breastfeeding.
Other than these crucial items, keep what you pack to a minimum. If your child is a newborn, then she is probably too young to need any books or toys to keep her occupied.
Be prepared to carry
If you have a baby carrier, make sure you have it ready, as maneuvering through the airport, especially the security section, is much easier if the baby is strapped to you rather than in a stroller. Of course, it is fine to bring the stroller on your trip, but treat it like a piece of luggage until you pick it up at your destination.

On the flight, it is fine to keep the baby with you if you have not reserved an extra seat. If you do have an extra seat for the baby, you of course cannot have her sitting on it when the craft is in motion. That is why the airlines recommend bringing your infant car seat and strapping it in if you are not going to be holding the baby through the entire flight. If you do not have too much other luggage, brining that seat is a good idea.

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Thanksgiving: 5 Healthy Snacks to make with the kids

Thanksgiving is synonymous with family, friends and an overload of food. So, when it comes to dessert this holiday, skip the pie and substitute with these 5 healthier alternatives. Jenna Fernandes, CEO of CareBooker.com, the only FREE “Open Table” of family and pet care services, offers lighter desserts that are sure to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth without any guilt this Thanksgiving.
From holiday staples to fall favorites with creative twists, here are five great recipes to try with your family:
1.       The Caramel Apple Bar: This is an activity the whole family can participate in making. Start an assembly line by cutting apples into slices and inserting a candy stick for easier decorating. Once the prep is complete, dip the apples in chocolate or caramel and arrange the family’s favorite toppings such as sprinkles, coconut or crushed candy pieces to top this sweet treat.
2.       Turkey Muffin: Another great dessert to get kids creative with this fun treat for Thanksgiving. First, bake your favorite pumpkin muffin recipe and prep the decorating ingredients. Create the turkey feathers with sliced red and green apples, cut a small beak from a thin slice of carrot and finish off with squeezable icing for eyes. This simple recipe will turn this dessert into an art project.
3.       Yogurt-dipped strawberries: Yogurt-dipped strawberries are a favorite, guilt free dessert that includes healthy Greek yogurt and strawberries. Greek yogurt is high in protein and offers a thicker consistency perfect for dipping. Dip the strawberries in Greek yogurt, set on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and allow them to set in the freezer for one hour before enjoying with friends and family.
4.       Baked Apples: Apples are always a fall favorite and this baked apple recipe will become an instant hit on any family dinner table or dessert party tray this season. After preheating the oven to 350 degrees, slice apples and place in a baking dish. Finish off with a dusting of brown sugar and cinnamon for added fall flavor and bake for 15 minutes.
5.       “Cocoa-Nut” Bananas: This healthy treat is a perfect alternative to the traditional fall flavors. Start with slicing bananas down the middle. Roll each slice in cocoa powder and shake off the excess. Finish these healthy treats by rolling the slices in unsweetened coconut flakes and arrange on a fun tray.

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10 Thanksgiving-themed nails to rock this Holiday

You have to love that with every holiday, you can rock signature holiday nails. 
Check out 10 awesome Thanksgiving nail to rock, whether you  do-it-yourself (DIY) or go to your favorite nail technician, we will love to see your holiday nails.
– PoshtheSocialite 

40 Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom

There are all these and more thoughtful and sentimental gift ideas for daughters to give their mom (ahem, those yummy meals she made when you were growing up and the fact that she’s still letting you piggyback off the family phone plan).

A your girl kissing her mom on the cheek next to a christmas tree holding a gift

Okay, yes, it is a tad early to start holiday shopping right now—but mama didn’t raise no procrastinator. Not to mention, shipping delays are gonna make the season a bit of a mess, so the earlier the better!

Iin general, getting a jumpstart before all the Post-Thanksgiving shopping madness ensues is a really smart move if ya asked me, which is why we’re here with a ton of gift ideas your mom would love.

Now, I don’t know anyone who will say no to some shiny new jewels or a life-changing book or even a luxe skincare kit that she can treat herself to for an at-home spa experience. (Of course, it’s extra special if you join her. I don’t make the rules!)

There’s all these and more thoughtful and sentimental gift ideas for daughters to give their moms, below.

3 Tarot Trio for mom

The Tarot Trio


Nope, these aren’t your regular candles. Each votive represents the user’s past, present, and future. And inside each is a different tarot card charm. When the wax melts down, Mom can pluck out the charm with a pair of tweezers (included in the kit!) and interpret the meaning of the assigned tarot via the little booklet (also included in the kit!). Perfect for anyone who’s down for a spot of self-reflection and spiritual work, this candle trio would make for a sweet gift.
The Always pan as a gift for moms

The Always Pan for Mom


Nope, these aren’t your regular candles. Each votive represents the user’s past, present, and future. And inside each is a different tarot card charm. When the wax melts down, Mom can pluck out the charm with a pair of tweezers (included in the kit!) and interpret the meaning of the assigned tarot via the little booklet (also included in the kit!). Perfect for anyone who’s down for a spot of self-reflection and spiritual work, this candle trio would make for a sweet gift.
Terracotta 252 Piece Custom Puzzle gift for moms

Terracotta 252 Piece Custom Puzzle for Mom


For a lasting keepsake, transform her favorite photo into a custom jigsaw puzzle. You can choose from 12-, 60-, and 252-piece sets and tons of cute designs for a gift that’s totally her.

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Trend: Painting Pumpkins In; Pumpkin Carving Out {DESIGN IDEAS}

A recent survey of households about Halloween Plans reveal that a lot of families who have elected to skip door-to-door trick-or-treating this year because of the global pandemic will opt for other ways of celebrating this holiday.

One popular way of reignin in the first Holiday of the end of the year Fall/Winter season is via pumpkin painting. This way of decorating a autumn gord is a trending option and alternative to gutting a pumpking and doing a full out carving.


The beauty of pumpking painting is that it allows your final project to be desplayed well into Thanksgiving and after. The paint job does not have to be specific to Halloween or scary. It can be pretty and light and not dark.




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How to Pain Pumpkins:

Step 1:  Start with clean pumpkin or small squashes. Brush off any loose debris.

Step 2: Coat the pumpkin with hodge podge waterbase sealer, glue and finish and let it dry for at least an offer.

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Step 3: Paint and decorate your pumpkin using acrylic paint, glitter, stickers, stencils, words and more.

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Step 4: Snap for Insta and set you in front of your home, on the balcolny or your windowsill:









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A collection of these tiny gords made with chalk paint would make a great fall table centerpiece.


I really love these designer pumpkins .




Finally, because we need humor, these faces on these pumpkins are wonderful and I love the native vibe of them.



The 3 Things to Do to Prep Your Home for Holiday Guests

One of the best things about hosting dinners, parties, get togthers and out-of-town family guests during the holidays is the fact that you are forced to get your home in order.

That is precisely what happened when I accepted the task of hosting my extended family for Thanksgiving last week.

Step 1: Declutter

The first order of business was to de-clutter all of our non-liveable spaces which for us included the basement. It had been the dumping ground for baskets of laundry that needed to be washed, for piles of newspaper, mail and other papers that needed to be sorted and for any and everything that my Type A/OCD’esque brain could not stand to see occupy space upstairs in our main living quarters.

It took me one sleepless overnight adventure, but I did it! I bagged up the junk, and managed to push, lift and carte all the various crates of stuff into the laundry room, our utility room or behind the wet bar that we do not use.

Step 2: Invest in Home Goods and Accent Pieces

Then, I headed out to my local thrift stores, home discount outlets and home improvement stores and invested in pillows, games, a dart board, throws, sheets for a couple of unused mattresses I decided I’d turn into a lounge centerpiece and a few other decorative knick knacks.

You can create a color scheme for creating a cohesive look my purchasing colorful pillows from Amazon starting around $7 each delivered to your home for free if you have Amazon Prime. { Sign up for PRIME HERE if you don’t}

Step 3: Hire a Cleaning Service to finish the job

If  you have your go-to cleaning service, call them to help you do the professional level polishing, mopping and cleaning. If you don’t, there are lots of apps now that will give you the options to pick. I have used HANDY (and am an affiliate for it). ‘

With Handy, you enter what task you want to have done, or in the case of home cleaning, how many bedrooms, bathrooms and floors are in your home. Then you can either schedule a weekly, bi weekly, monthly cleaning plan or just select one time to try out the person or service you will ultimately pick!

Our cleaners took 4 and a half hour to give our home a super deep cleaning it needed. I had planned to save money by washing the base boards and crown molding myself before they arrived but I ran out of time to complete that task. They handled it superbly and did a masterful job cleaning the dust off the fans in each room, washing down stained walls, mopping, scrubbing filthy bathtub, and leaving our home spotless. I could not have asked for anything more. They went above and beyond and did an excellent job. Masterful and thorough. I could breathe easier figuratively, knowing my guests would be coming to a very clean home and literally, that all the dust and grime had been scrubbed away!

I’m so happy that I considered scheduling routine maintenance every two weeks.  You can also book them for handyman, plumbing, minor furniture assembly and more. We had someone come fix a hallway light that had been out for over a year, and hired yet another handyman to change the door knobs on all of our closet, bedroom and bathroom doors. They were all wonky and a lot of them stopped locking altogether.

Overall, the quality of work was superb because

That’s it! I highly recommend you follow the aforementioned steps to getting your home Holiday ready and to really check out HANDY and at least sign up for FREE to see if it is something you can fit into the family budget at least once!

Another option is to consider Amazon Home Services.

It works a similar way in that after you input all the detail about your home, the service hand selects a few service providers local to you to get it done.

Amazon Home also offers additional services like Treadmill, Elliptical and Exercise Equipment set up, Carpet Cleaning, iPhone Repair, TV Wall mounting, Framed Photo or Picture mounting, Home Theater set up and Furniture Assembly


Good luck and take time to enjoy your family, friends and the Holiday Season, in general!

#GivingTuesday: How the Entire Family Can Participate

As Cyber Monday sunsets and people are wrapping up or enjoying their Black Friday deals or the great things they got from local merchants on Small Business Saturday, non profits nationwide are hoping to fundraise today,  Giving Tuesday.

The global event is in its fifth year and is celebrated each year the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It is the brainchild of 92nd Street Y, a cultural center in New York City and the United Nations Foundation.

Giving Tuesday is intended to be the launch pad for the charitable giving season. While the time period around the holidays is often about celebrating Christmas, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays that involve getting gifts, it is also a season for sharing and giving.

Thus the name #GivingTuesday is  appropriate and is observed each year by giving to nonprofits, charities and other organizations that are raising funds, including schools, churches and other charitable groups.

Beyond just collecting monetary donations, a lot of local orgs organize food and coat drives and many individuals celebrate it by committing random acts of kindness such as paying for the drink of the person behind them in the coffee line at work.

In 2015, 700,000 people from 71 countries came together to donate $116.7 USD million in cash. An additional $1.08 million USD was spent on gifts.

Children can give by  volunteering at their local shelter or food bank or doing something nice for elderly neighbors like mowing their lawn, shoveling snow from their driveway or helping them with groceries.

At home, younger kids can acknowledge the day by helping out with a chore like folding laundry, helping to cook dinner, or even reading to a younger sibling.

To help spread the message, snap a photo of your kids doing something good and use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to spread awareness and encourage others to get into the spirit as well!

Parents can use the day to donate to their area school, youth camp or other organization that works with familie

Cyber Monday: Best Time to Nab Huge Discounts Off High Cost Items Will be Left On Your Baby Registry

Cyber Monday is a great time to get those things for the baby on the way. Although you can expect to get a lot of items for your bundle of joy on the way from the baby shower, if you plan to have one, the larger and more expensive ticket items will usually be un-bought and left on  your registry.

The parents usually end up having to pick up the cost of these more pricey baby items.

So for you guys, if that’s you, or for grandparents, doting aunts or God parents or office co-workers that are planning on going in on one of the larger items, Cyber Monday is great for getting a deal that can be shipped directly to the soon-to-be new parents.

Here are the best deals we could find on 7 high ticket items that we curated for you expecting parents out there:

The best deal around is the $111 you will save when you purchase the highly valued and reviewed Maxi Cosi 5 in 1 modular travel system. This all-in-one system that included an infant chair and stroller that can be used a  carriage when baby is young through their toddler years regularly comes at a price of close to $400! It’s down to $288.00 over at Amazon.com where you can get a sense of how well this may work with your family from the reviews.


The Maxi Cosi 5 in 1 modular travel system includes the lightest infant car seat in the Maxi Cosi class and comes complete with the stay in car base and a STYLISH, easy to maneuver stroller

Save $100 on Graco® Grows4Me™ 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat. It is only $149.00, down from $249.00 at Buy Buy Baby. This seat can be used from the time you bring home the baby from the hospital until they are a toddler and are ready to convert to booster seat around age 4 or so.

Save $66 on 4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth enabled high-tech baby swing, down to $153.00 from $219. It was the “it”baby swing from a few years ago, can be hooked up to a remote music player, different recline positions and is Bluetooth enabled. The price stops a lot of people from investing in it but you can knock close to $70 off thru Cyber Monday at Target!

Also save up to $60 or more on Dressers for the baby’s nursing and get free shipping from Buy Buy Baby. This Storkcraft combo dresser, for example, was originally priced at $199 and is now just $139 thru Monday! We still have our baby dresser and our kids are 11, 14 and 17!  Getting a decent quality dresser is essential because it lasts years!!

Get up to 60% off the entire site at Carter’s, the place you go to stock up on all the baby essentials from nb to 24 months. You can purchase lots on a budget that will grow with baby. And now is the best time to stock up for the next two years when your money will be going towards other things like childcare! oy!

Save $40 on JOOVY Nook High Chair which is $79.99 down from $119 at Amazon.com 

I love the Joovy brand and this foldable high chair is great for families that live in apartments or small town houses or homes or simply want a chair they can travel with or fold down flat and store away. It has  a large tray that easily swings open to get baby in and out and the tray is safe to put in the dishwasher.

I recliner, rocking chair or glider for the nursery will be an investment because it needs to be comfy for mom and stand the test of time so this will be one of the most expensive items to get for that baby.  You Take $69 off Abbyson Living® Ashlyn Nursery Swivel Glider Recliner is $359.99 at BuyBuy.com down from $464.00. Bonus! Thru Monday, BuyBuyBaby will give you $100 for every $300 you spend online and you can use that coupon to purchase other items for baby.

How to Host a Friendsgiving Right

In the past five or so years, hosting a Thanksgiving meal among friends a week before the actual holiday has become a standard part of the celebration for many young adults, an Atlantic article proudly boasts.

Friendsgiving is a mashup of the word “friend” and “thanksgiving” that refers to a large meal among friends eaten during the Thanksgiving season. The level of formality is dependent on the participants, but the word first appeared around 2007 as an informal replacement for the holiday typically spent with family.

While the trend is credited to the GenY/Millennial generation, personally, my friends from college and I  who are GenXers have been gathering during the Thanksgiving season to gather, reconnect and have a great time. I guess thanks to our young friends, we now have a fancy name for it. (Add Friendsgiving to Bingewatching, Bromance,)

As  the Atlantic notes, “slapping a catchy name onto an existing concept can, after all, make it seem trendy or suddenly ubiquitous, even if the thing itself has been around for decades.”

True !

A blogger over at CHOWHOUND has ideas of how to host your own based on her experience:

Potluck – Designate a dish and create some competitions amongst your friends. Even the worst cooks can bust out a family standby dish that will impress! We send out a Google Sheet so people can sign up for dishes. You can see our list this year to the right. We expect between 18-26 people, so we broke down dish categories asking people to make enough food for 10. This not only takes care of all the staples, but it also allows some creativity and inevitably tasty food.

Booze – Depending on your crowd, you will probably do some drinking. Supplying wine and beer for the entire crowd can get expensive. We have a line item on our food spreadsheet so friends can also sign up to bring wine in 2 bottle increments (we learned a lesson last year, more wine!).

Table/Settings – This next section is a serious tip, not just for Friendsgiving, but for any time you are hosting a party. Get your house and table ready way in advance. If you can do it the night before, do so! It will save so much stress and time if you get all of the gritty details done the day before. Clean your house, set the table (or at least plan out your settings), and separate glassware, flatware and dinnerware so you aren’t furiously cleaning the day of the party.

Large Parties – Our table got big last year. We sat 27 in our tiny apartment. Outside of the logistics to get seats and table space for everyone, the one thing that helped the most was getting disposable (compostable) plates and larger serving plates. We wanted all the food on the table, so we had the turkey and all the side dishes separated on smaller multiple serving dishes places throughout the table.

Fun Tips – Since all our friends don’t know each other, we made everyone pick a # out of a bowl and numbered all the seats so everyone was randomly seated next to each other which was a big hit!

Enjoy! Go Big or not at all. If you have a Friendsgiving, please tag us in the photos at @Bellyitch on all social!

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