Take Back the Kitchen with Tater Tots!

tater-tots.jpgEureka! I have found the perfect alternative to french fries! I had a bunch of leftover potatoes from my vegetable coop and decided to mash them. I then had leftover mashed ones so I created this delectable accompaniment to my cornflake coated chicken . A HUGE hit! My nine year old came home from school today begging for the leftover tots as a snack.
Homemade Tater Tots:
Filling:
2 large White Potatoes, steamed until tender
2 medium sweet potatoes, steamed until tender
salt to taste
Mash separately in two bowls
Coating:
1 cup crushed organic cornflakes (dont want those nasty genetically modified corn products in my kids-can get for a bit more $$$ at Whole Foods)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp any other seasoning you like-black pepper, cayenne pepper, cajun seasoning, cumin, etc.
Olive oil spray or Pam for spraying before oven time
Combine all above coating ingredients
Form one-inch balls of mashed potatoes, roll in the cornflake mixture. Makes about two dozen white potatoe and about a dozen sweet potato balls.
Place the coated balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spray with oil spray.
In 400 degree oven in the middle rack, place the baking sheet. After about 15-20 minutes, when the balls start looking crispy, flip them all over so they brown on the other side and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the start getting crispy.
Serve with ketchup or a homemade aioli of two TBS Mayo with one medium sized clove of crushed garlic and a dash of salt (we grown ups ate them with the aioli). Deeeee-licious!
For more from Alma Schneider, visit her at her blog, Take Back the Kitchen.

Bonny’s Corner: Get that Summer Glow!

E381_l.jpgOne of the things I love about summer is the ‘glow’ you get after spending a day in the sun. There is a product out there that delivers almost the same thing … the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick. The compact comes in an array of colors (5 to be exact … I personally have the Rose). This will give you that sun-kissed look without damaging your skin! The pigment is not overwhelming so it doesn’t provide a full coverage of color, but if it’s shimmer and/or glow you want then this is for you! It’s great as a cheek highlighter over your foundation or bronzer. You can also combine it with your favorite eye palette to add some shimmer to the eye area or highlighter under the brow. There’s also a Shimmer Brick for the body!

Top Summer Family Vacations

Check out my latest post over at Lifetime Moms where I share my favorite picks for top summer family vacations. We’ve got something for every traveler so get ready to start taking notes and get ready to make reservations!

How to Throw an Outdoor Movie Party

FunFlicksParty-268.jpgSo I just got through planning my daughter’s tween birthday extravaganza and now it’s my son’s turn. While we trekked into Manhattan with 13 kids for a dinner at Planet Hollywood, my son’s birthday will be close to home. In fact, he’s decided that he wants us to host an outdoor movie under the stars.
And so, after the theme was selected, I hopped on my computer and started to do what I do best – googling. I googled Outdoor Movie projectors and screens and became pretty frustrated after scanning through dozens of AV rental stores and came up empty. I tried to get more specific with my choice – Outdoor Movie screen rentals in New York and Bam! I hit paydirt.
Bet you didn’t know this, but there’s a brand new franchise called Fun Flicks where you can actually arrange to have a technician come to your backyard, set up a screen, projector and sound system and while you’re busy giving the kids pizza, popcorn and cake, your movie technician takes care of your all your outdoor movie viewing needs!
Now if you’d like to try a cost cutting measure and potentially start a community outdoor movie initiative, then check out this deal from Costco where you can purchase a projector and movie screen for $600 and then, rent it out yourself whenever someone in your neighborhood wants to show a film. Or, pool your resources and chip in with your friends and then do a movie night once a week in the summer at someone else’s backyard! Something tells me I may be heading to Costco.
Either way, I am so psyched we’re going to be throwing an outdoor movie party and will report back soon on how it went. Now on to the goody bags…

Becky’s Corner: A Quick Upper Body Workout

Want to gain muscle, lose fat but have no time to spend hours at the gym! No problem! Push Ups are the answer! This exercise will sculpt your arms, back, chest, shoulders and core, help you gain strength, build muscle and burn fat! All you need is a few minutes a day, practice, patience and you will see changes within a few weeks! In addition, push-ups can be performed anywhere, anytime with no equipment and most important- no cost! It is a great form of exercise when traveling, or just trying to reach your goal of a healthy fit body!
This is a simple exercise to perform – and there are modifications if you don’t have the strength to perform one full rep (with legs out in plank formation) when you begin. Follow these simple instructions and set your goal for maximum reps!
How to perform a push-up:

  • Place your body in the plank position; toes tucked, heels pressed back, legs straight and activated, abs tight, hands placed on the floor, palms down, directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Be sure to keep your neck straight and look ahead of you while you bend your elbows and slowly lower your body to the ground; your goal should be to touch the floor with your chin.
  • Now, press out with your breath, exhale and push back up – making sure to maintain a straight back and proper form. You will have to flex your quads and abs to help assist you with the motion.
  • Repeat the movement to failure (as many reps as possible)

Video:

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  • If you are new to exercise or do not have the strength to perform full out push-ups – you can modify this exercise by dropping your knees to the floor. This will decrease the amount of your body weight that you are lifting.
  • Be sure not to be intimidated! Practice and patience will have you stronger than ever and doing more reps then you ever imagined possible! Try mixing it up with walks, jogging, biking or other exercise to get a full body blast in a quick amount of time!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below! Remember, the pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret! Eat, exercise and be happy! That is what life is all about!
Stay Focused Until the Miracle Happens!
To Your Success & Health,
Becky
www.BeckysFitnessCompany.com

Twitter Tuesday with The Good Wife!

goodwifepaley.jpgIf you’re a fan of The Good Wife, then we hope you’ll join us this Tuesday, April 27 for our second installment of Twitter Tuesday, where we chat about the show and introduce special surprise guests. We’ll be joined by our co-hosts for the night, Amy at www.selfishmom.com and Melissa Chapman who writes the WCBS-TV parenting blog. Plus, Jennifer at Connect With Your Teens will also share insights from the show and our special evening at the Paley Center which featured a screening of Tuesday’s episode and an in person interview session with the cast, hosted by veteran TV Guide critic Matt Roush.
Since we got the chance to catch a sneak peak of the episode, you’ll be happy to know it’ll have you on the edge of your seat. The episode is filled with intense courtroom scenes, plus, the firm is under siege by nemesis Sam Stern who attempts to poach their top attorneys and Alicia finally makes a major decision about her marriage. You’ll have to tune in to CBS at 10 PM, ET/PT to find out what happens!
In the meantime, the Paley Center event was amazing, with each actor sharing the motivation behind their characters while revealing juicy details about what’s going to unfold at the end of the season. What was so refreshing about the evening was how funny the actors were as they came up with punchlines and comebacks that had the entire audience rolling in the aisles. My personal favorite was when Julianna Margulies recalled that recently in a NYC park, a couple came up to her and confided they were on “Team Frollick” while another coupe threw their two cents into the conversation and said they were opting for “Team Gardner.” Actor Matt Czhuchry, who plays Cary Agos in the series then added that he was on “Team Gardner” as well (since he was siding with his employer) and then, feeding into the “Twilight” craze quipped that he had created “Team Gardner” and “Team Frollick” t-shirts and would be selling them on his blog.
At another point in the evening, when Christine Baranski arrived late (she had been shooting an episode and had just been released from production), she inadvertently let the cat out of the bag regarding a major plot line (sorry won’t be giving any spoilers away here) and Josh Charles followed up by adding he was going to be spilling the beans on “Lost” and “Mad Men” that night too.
Julianna Marguiles seemed incredibly open and honest about what it’s been like portraying a character loosely based on disgraced politician’s wives like Silda Spitzer and Elizabeth Edwards. In fact, she said that when the show first started, she had heard that Elizabeth Edwards had been in touch with CBS and gave her approval about how the character of Alicia Florrick was being portrayed.
Margulies added that while researching the role, she remembers seeing photographs of Silda Spitzer prior to her finding out about her husband’s infidelities and she looked incredibly young and vivacious. Fast forward to the day she had to stand by her man while he announced to the world that he had cheated on her many times over with prostitutes, and Margulies remarked that Silda appeared as if she had “aged 10 years.” She then noticed a photograph of her six months after her husband had resigned and Margulies said she looked fabulous. And that’s what she wanted to capture in her portrayal of Alicia Florrik – wearing little make-up with visible lines in her face on the day her husband is disgraced, until today, where she’s truly gaining ground in the courtroom as an associate lawyer and in her social life, as she contemplates whether or not to leave her husband for another man.
There’s lots more from the session and the moment the Paley Center posts the footage, we’ll share it with our readers. In the meantime, check out the most talked about scene of the season so far and then we hope you’ll join us for Twitter Tuesday on April 27 with #TheGoodWife at 10 pm ET. We’ll be featuring a surprise guest plus, if you have any special questions for actor Chris Noth, please tweet them during the session – the top tweet-able questions will be included in his video interview for “The Good Wife” DVD!
Please follow the following Twitter handles @rolemommy @selfishmom @madijack @jenwag57 @TheGoodWife_CBS @GoodWifeGuest @CBSTweet. Next, you can join the action by either logging onto www.tweetchat.com or tweet grid and enter the hashtag #TheGoodWife. And feel free to comment on this post to let us know you’ll be there! In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of Tuesday’s episode:

Get ready for five brand new episodes of “The Good Wife” and hope to be tweeting with you this Tuesday!

The KaBOOM and KoolAid Playground Build

Mom Bloggers build a playground with Justine SimmonsThe one thing I really love about being a parenting blogger is getting the opportunity to showcase amazing people who are making the world a better place for communities in need. And last month, I got the chance to step away from the laptop, and roll up my sleeves with more than one dozen incredible moms as we helped build a playground for the community of Inglewood, California on behalf of KaBOOM! and Kool-Aid.  I was thrilled to have been an integral part of the event – reaching out to some of my favorite writers and blogging community leaders from across the country and meeting some incredible women on the west coast – including fabulous Lifetime Mom and Bizzie Mommy, Stephanie Elie, who joined me for an amazing day with Reverend Run (aka Joseph Simmons), his beautiful wife Justine and their kids, as well as the community of Inglewood, who came together to transform a barren lot into an amazing playground for kids!

KaBOOM! is a national non profit organization dedicated to bringing play back into the lives of children.  Since1995, the organization has built more than 1700 playgrounds in disadvantaged communities nationwide.  And this past week, with the help of Kool-Aid, the organization set out to change the lives of children and families living in Inglewood, CA.  Kool-Aid has been a proud sponsor of the organization for several years, having teamed up on 27 playground builds and counting! 

Wearing red smiley face Kool-Aid shirts and construction gloves, we were put to work as soon as we arrived. Our first mission was to assemble a slide and I was joined by Jennifer James, Mommy Niri and Bizzie Mommy as we attempted to fit the pieces together without it toppling on us.   Ironically, we were so busy tweeting about our experience, it was tough to hold onto the slide, while sharing photos and documenting our first task!  

Meanwhile, Kim at Traveling Mom and Carrie at Cruise Buzz joined a group of young firemen in training to assemble a bridge and ladder.   While it seemed as if they were making tremendous progress on their project, Niri, Jennifer and I moved on to another task when one of our screws became stuck and we had to find an expert to help us get our slide back on track!  

bench mural at KaBOOM! EventWhile our slide was being examined by Caleb, a KaBOOM! representative who bears a striking similarity to Ty Pennington, a KaBOOM! team member brought us over to a park bench that featured a beautiful sketch of a bridge, sea creatures and the ocean.  It was time to paint a mural…and within minutes, several of us gathered around the bench and began to bring it to life.  Incidentally, one of the most talented artists on our blogger team was Ciaran Blumenfeld with Momfluential!  Ciaran spent her time recreating an octopus, sea horses and even Nemo!  I, on the other hand had fun mixing paint colors and discovered that dark blue and white make a pretty shade of lavender!

By the time the bench was complete, I was tapped for a very important job…mixing concrete!  Together, with Liz at Los Angelista, Ana at Spanglish Baby and YvonneinLA, we grabbed shovels and began some serious hard work.  After mixing three loads of concrete, my forearms were aching!   Meanwhile, Tina and her daughter at Send Chocolate were busy shoveling mulch along with Traveling Mom, Cruise Buzz and Andrea at Hip Moms Who Work. Meanwhile, Jennifer at Mom Bloggers Club carried flowers over to the pergola and garden that was being built adjacent to the playground. The one thing I loved was that all of us got to do things we had never tried before and before we knew it, the entire place miraculously took shape in front of our eyes.

While we took a much deserved In and Out Burger and Kool-Aid fun fizz break – Reverend Run and his family arrived and began contributing their time and hard work to the build too!   While Rev Run, his wife Justine and their kids settled in, they began painting a bench nearby and shoveling more mulch to add to the build.  Several of us then got the chance to meet the family and chat with Justine Simmons, who is a passionate mom who talked about the importance of giving back to communities in need.  Plus, when she and Rev Run said they had never heard of a mommy blog before, we convinced her that she should start a blog of her own! Incidentally, Rev Run announced “Mommy bloggers are going to take over the world!” Take a look at my interview with Justine Simmons and hear how her family first became involved with KaBOOM! and Kool-Aid:

Beth Interviews Rev Runs Wife from Joseph Litzinger on Vimeo.

 

Ribbon Cutting at KaBOOM! PlaygroundAs the anticipation continued building the children of Inglewood were escorted into the playground area and stood nearby for the exciting ribbon cutting ceremony.  As the Kool-Aid man burst through a paper brick wall, cheers erupted through the crowd as they viewed the spectacular playground that had been built by hardworking members of their own community. Within seconds, Rev Run cut the ribbon, the kids were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to play!  And that is what happiness is all about!

For more information about KaBOOM! and how they are transforming playground spaces nationwide and encouraging families to host their own play days in their community, visit their site for details.

For a photo montage of our day, check out the photos below!

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Becky’s Corner: The 3 C’s of Weight Loss

feet_on_scale1236718586.jpgEveryone wants to know the secret to weight loss; I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no secret. I always tell my clients, there are several factors that must be present in order for a person to make a lasting life change, lose weight and get healthy. I want to take this opportunity- to chat- about three very important factors in ANY health and wellness plan- that MUST be present in order for you to be successful. 
COMMITMENT: In order to be successful at anything in this world- you must be COMMITTED. You must make a decision on a given day that you are going to change your life, decide how you are going to change your life, understand why you want to embark on this change and go ahead and be committed to the change.
In order to remain committed- on occasion, without reason or rationale- you will have to make decisions- to stay on your life path. This means you will occasionally endure sacrifice that others who are not embarking on your life plan or change will not understand. You must be steadfast in your commitment- and reaffirm the reasons for your commitment. Let others know about your commitment and command respect for yourself by respecting yourself and remaining committed. Others will follow and respect your decisions as well once you respect yourself. Without respecting yourself and your commitment- others will not have respect for you or your attempts to lose weight and change your life.
Know and understand that your COMMITMENT to a healthy lifestyle- is 80% MENTAL. While you are changing your body, becoming more fit, exercising, changing the food you eat- KNOW these are all MENTAL changes- as your MIND CONTROLS your BODY. Without MENTAL strength and COMMITMENT- your life change will not last.

In making your commitment- I want you to think of others that are committed to something in their life……use them as an example, as a role model- and know that one day you will be a role model for others. If they can do it- YOU CAN DO IT.
CONSISTENCY: After you have made your commitment to your new life change- the next element that naturally follows is CONSISTENCY. You must be consistent with the changes you make in your life. You MUST BE CONSISTENT with your healthy lifestyle to see and feel improvement. Without CONSISTENCY – you are failing in your COMMITMENT. This means you must follow a healthy lifestyle for a long period of time- even if you are frustrated, tired, cranky- whatever. Forge ahead, push on, you will feel better for it soon thereafter.
CONTROL: Finally- know this- without CONTROL you will not be successful in your life change. When I refer to CONTROL – I am talking about CONTROL to ensure you eat good fresh foods, lean proteins, fresh fruits, fresh veggies, and whole grains. When I talk about CONTROL I am talking about the ability to say NO. I am talking about the need to CONTROL the forces in your life to ensure you have time to sleep, rest, exercise and enjoy the basic human rights of eating, resting and exercising. Take CONTROL of yourself, your life and you will be well on your way to a new you!!!
If you have any questions or just want to talk – you can reach me at www.BeckysFitnessCompany.com
Stay Focused Until the Miracle Happens!
To Your Success & Health,
Becky
aboutbecky.jpgBecky Wenner has been a fitness enthusiast all her life. She began participating in competitive sports as a young child and has competed in sporting events all her life. Becky is a practicing attorney who rediscovered her love sports as an adult while trying to better her health and well-being. Becky Wenner is a highly qualified multi-level certified fitness instructor. She is certified as an Adventure Boot Camp Instructor and Fitness Nutrition Coach by the National Exercise and Sports Training Association (NESTA). Rebecca also holds other training certificates including Personal Training Certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and Group Fitness Instruction from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). She also holds her certification in kickboxing from AFAA and she is CPR and AED certified. Most recently, Becky became a Certified Personal Fitness Chef from NESTA! Becky is dedicated to helping others pursue and achieve their goals for improved health and fitness and a more active lifestyle. Becky’s Fitness Company was designed to take her love of food, fitness and fun and bring it to others to enjoy!!

The Ultimate Tween Birthday Party

IMG_0449.jpgWhen it comes to kids birthdays, I’ve pretty much covered all the themes – facepainting, magic shows, guitar players, ball pit parties, bowling, amusement parks, ice skating, barbecues, costume parties, the list is endless! But what I can say is that every year, I manage to figure out a way to keep my kids and their friends entertained beyond their wildest expectations.
IMG_0459.JPGThis year was no exception when my daughter decided that she wanted to take 13 kids to Manhattan (we live in the burbs) so that we could celebrate her 11th birthday at Planet Hollywood. It seemed simple enough – I booked a table, arranged for her to have the “Emmy” package – complete with entree, drinks, cake, balloons and ice cream and then had to figure out how we’d get them all to our destination.
Since our minivan only has room for seven, we decided to make it a Metronorth adventure and advised the kids to stick together as we navigated our way to our final destination. And so, 13 kids and 3 adults took over a train car and managed to keep the decibel levels low enough so as not to offend the other passengers. 40 minutes later, we arrived at Grand Central Terminal and as we explained to the kids we’d be heading to the subway to take the shuttle across to Time Square, the train engineer pulled me aside to make sure I took the kids back to try out Grand Central’s “Whispering Walls” when we returned…more on that later!
As we went to hit the shuttle, I managed to swipe everyone through and we entered the subway along with a sea of rush hour commuters. For a split second, I lost track of our entire group, but instructed them that the moment we arrived, we’d form a human chain out of the train so that no one became separated from the group. It was a little tense for a few minutes, but luckily, we managed to get out of the subway intact and then walked along Broadway, battling more crowds as we made our way to Planet Hollywood.
IMG_0482.JPGThe party itself was a blast – the kids sang along and danced to the music videos played throughout the night, we gave them a tour of all the “Twilight” memorabilia and they loved hanging out with each other in the city as full fledged tweens. When the cake arrived, the waiters and waitresses (who all seem to be aspiring actors) sang and entertained our group and even posed for pictures. We then made our way back to Grand Central Terminal with 15 minutes to spare before our train ride home. And that’s where we hit the whispering walls.
If you’ve never been to Grand Central Terminal, then you don’t know what you’ve been missing! Aside from dozens of great shops – from clothing, make-up, jewelry, restaurants and much more, there are plenty of great things to learn too including a museum and a spot on the lower level where two tunnels meet where you can whisper in one corner and hear someone on the other side. While adults might not think that’s a really cool trick, kids eat it up and considering we had 15 minutes to spare before our train left the station, the whispering walls entertained the kids for a good 10 minutes.
With a few minutes left before it was time to leave Manhattan, we made a break for our train and managed to once again take over an entire car – which made it a great ride for the kids who laughed, played with Mad Libs (the goody bag gift) and talked about what an awesome time they had.
And there you have it. When everyone else zigs, I prefer to zag – transporting myself into the mind of an 11 year old so I can conjure up all the things I’d love to do if I were my daughter’s age. Now it’s time to plan my son’s party – a much tougher task since he’s a Michael Jackson fanatic who plays baseball, the guitar and can’t decide what he wants to do for his birthday and it’s only three weeks away. If anyone has suggestions, I am all ears!

Jennifer James Featured on Blog Talk Radio

Listen in to our recent interview with Jennifer James, founder of Mom Blog Magazine and the Mom Bloggers Club, which now boasts over 9000 members! We caught up with Jennifer who shared how she got her start in blogging and how she’s managed to turn her passion into a paycheck!
Plus, we share everything you need to know about traveling with your family in New York City and Charlotte, North Carolina!