Alma’s Simple Tarragon Tuna Sandwich

P1070593.jpgSummer is here and light eating is a must for both our energy and waistline. Enjoy this healthy and tasty sandwich at home or at the beach.
Simple Tarragon Tuna Sandwich for Two:
2 cans tuna in water, drained
2 TBS light mayo
1 TBS chopped, fresh, washed Tarragon
1/8 tsp salt-more to taste
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper-more to taste
Dijon Mustard to taste
4 slices hearty whole grain bread
optional sliced tomato and lettuce
Drain the tuna and place in a large bowl. Add in the mayo, tarragon,salt and pepper. Stir until combined.
Spread desired amount of mustard on bread, lettuce and tomato if using and top with other slice of bread. Repeat with other sandwich.
alma072V4WEB-1 (1)-thumb-188x220-2703.jpgAlma Schneider, LCSW, is founder of Take Back the Kitchen. Like TBK, this blog is dedicated to helping people recognize and overcome the common and unique obstacles to being everything they hope to be in the kitchen. She writes for Womens Day on line magazine, she is a featured Kitchen Coach Expert on realsavvymoms.com and healthy food sponsor for BabyLovesdisco.com.

5 Things You Don’t Know About Kiele Sanchez

callie-medication.jpegI recently got the chance to interview Kiele Sanchez, who stars as Callie Cargill in the hit A&E Sunday night crime drama, “The Glades.” Now in its second season, Kiele plays a single mom with a 12 year old son who by day, works as a forensics nurse who helps easy on the eyes Matt Passmore solve murders in Palm Glades, Florida.
1. What job did you have before you got discovered?
Kiele: I have been working since I was nine – helping my stepmom’s dad – I used to take things to the flea market and I used to work every Saturday and would wake up really early. My dad was a jockey when I was growing up, sometimes I’d go to work with him and clean a barn or walk a horse. I worked at a Diesel store once and they almost fired me because I would tell the truth about whether people looked good in jeans. We worked on commission and my bossed asked me what are you not getting? I’m not gonna lie.
2. What are your favorite summer books?
Kiele: I’m a big reader. I just picked up Birds of America by Lorrie Moore and it’s a book of short stories on loneliness which is probably not the best book to pick up since I’m working in Miami and my boyfriend is in New York and I’m alone most of the time. Union Atlantic is the next book I’m going to read.
3. What’s your favorite summer movie?
Kiele: “Bridesmaids” was the best. I literally looked like one of those cartoons where the tears were spurting out of your eyes. It was hysterical!
4. What do you do love most about working in Miami
Kiele: I have to say I like the most the people here. We have an amazing crew and most of them are from Florida and are local hires, and they’re warm, awesome funny people.
5. Even though “The Glades” is a crime drama, are there every any laughs on set? What don’t we see behind the scenes?
Kiele: The thing you’re not seeing is that we laugh all the time. When Matt and I do a scene – the more serious the scene is, the more ridiculous we are between takes. We can go into it and turn it off – to stay that heightened and dramatic in any way is really hard and I think we would burn out. A lot of times, we play danger games. He’ll do something to make me laugh and break (my concentration). (If they showed a blooper reel) mine is going to be filled with obscenities and inappropriate gestures.
Make sure you watch Kiele on “The Glades” every Sunday at 10 PM, ET/9 PM CT on the A&E Television Network. And if you’d like to win an autographed DVD of the series’ first season, comment now with your name and email address and we’ll select one winner via random.org.

Little Airplane Studio

Thumbnail image for littleplane.jpg We all know that familiar tune “Wonder pets, wonder pets, we’re on our way, to help the baby animal and save the day. We’re not too big and we’re not too tough but when we work together we’ve got the right stuff. Go wonder pets, yay!” If your kids are like mine, they love the wonder pets, which was created by the brilliant Josh Selig. Recently, I had the opportunity to take my kids on a tour of Little Airplane Studios, located at South Street Seaport; a studio company founded by Josh Selig in 1999. We were very lucky to have Producer Tone Thyne as our tour guide. He did an amazing job taking us to each department and explaining how and what they do in a super kid-friendly, interactive way. Little Airplane has opened up their studio for tours; so now you can bring your family for an inside look at this amazing world!
During the tour, we were introduced to writers, animators and designers who walked us through how they are involved in creating the shows. The kids were absolutely riveted the entire time. They loved seeing the computers that they use for creating all the characters. The highlight of the tour was getting to go into the recording booth and record their voices and then watch the animated characters with their voices! The whole thing was amazing and my kids couldn’t stop talking about it and telling everyone how cool the tour was. Here they are in the recording booth…
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I had the pleasure of meeting Josh Selig, Creator and Executive Producer for the Emmy Award-winning series “The Wonder Pets!” (Winner of the 2009 Japan Prize for Best Television Series) on Nick Jr., “3rd & Bird!” for the BBC’s CBeebies and “Oobi!” also on Nick Jr. Mr. Selig has received 10 Emmy Awards for his work as a Writer on “Sesame Street” and a Humanitas Award for his work as Head Writer of “Little Bill.” He was incredibly warm and welcoming. My seven year old daughter asked him where he comes up with the ideas for shows and he explained that he sees real kids all around and gets ideas from them. They work with educators to figure out the best way to teach lessons through the programming.
Here we are with Josh Selig!
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littleair.jpg I also want to tell you about something very special that Little Airplane has created… “The Olive Branch,” is a series of 26 one-minute short films, produced by Little Airplane’s recently established non-profit Little Light Foundation. It is written and directed by Josh Selig. The series features traditional hand-drawn animation by Pablo Smith (“The Wonder Pets!”, “3rd & Bird”) and is made entirely in Little Airplane’s New York studio. The music is composed by Emmy Award-winning composer, J. Walter Hawkes. To ensure that children in all countries – rich and poor, developed and developing – will have an equal opportunity to see “The Olive Branch,” Little Airplane has taken the extraordinary step of offering the program to broadcasters for one unit of their own currency per episode. To view the “Olive Branch” premiere episode please click this link: www.littlelightfoundation.org
We were even able to get a sneak peek at some of the new shows coming out soon. One of them is called “Small Potatoes”, which my kids can not wait to see! They even made me into a small potato!
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I highly recommend taking your family to South Street Seaport to tour Little Airplane Studios in their wonderful historic building and check out all the fun things to do at the seaport while you are there! If you live in the tri-state area or you are coming to New York for a visit, this is a fabulous activity. In my opinion the tour is ideal for kids ages three to eight.
*Their tours run on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. They also offer one Saturday tour per month. Reservations are required and can be made by calling us at 212-965-8999. The tours are limited to groups of ten and the cost for the tours is $10 per person. This fee is used to support Little Airplane Productions’ mission, “To create and produce the finest educational preschool programming in the world.” The tours are held at our production studio at 207 Front Street in New York’s historic South Street Seaport. For more information, visit the Little Airplane studio website.

Summer Time Guilty Pleasures

iStock_000013450354XSmall.jpgI don’t know about you, but once summer arrives on our doorstep, there are a few things that I love to do all by myself. And trust me when I tell you, I am not alone. Here’s my fave five list…see if you can relate.
1. Escape with a great summer book. Once my daughter heads off to sleepaway camp and my husband has taken my son to the amusement park for a few hours of roller coaster and log flume fun, I retreat to our sunroom where I crack open a good book…just finished Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews and it was fabulous.
2. Cycling. There is nothing that quite compares to hopping on a bike and riding all over your neighborhood as you salivate over houses you’ll probably never be able to afford to live in. Good times.
3. Barbecue. We just purchased a brand spankin’ new Weber grill and I have to say, summer time grilling has now become my favorite past time. When you can grill a hot dog in less than five minutes, I say, Life is Good.
4. Shop for Sundresses. Another favorite thing on my weekend to-do list. Now is the time to pick up really adorable dresses at a fraction of the price from some of my favorite stores like Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lord & Taylor and White House Black Market. Keep shopping at these locations and you will reap the benefits with tons of money saving coupons.
5. Outdoor dining. Typically, this activity takes place with another person or with a group, but I’d be hard pressed not to share what I love about summer without including the places where I can spend hours staring out at the water just as the sun is setting in the west. In Westchester, my top picks are Harvest on the Hudson and Half Moon – both have bustling outdoor bar areas. There are plenty more places to choose from but my big requirement in the summer is that our outdoor experience has to come complete with a view of the water.
Do you have five guilty pleasures you’d like to share?

Ask Single Mom Walking

Dear Single Mom Walking:
My boyfriend and I just broke up after eight months together. I told my daughter but need I also tell my ex husband?
Signed,
Yes, No or Maybe?
Dear Yes, No or Maybe:
I’ve been divorced over six years now and I prefer to keep my life very separate from of my ex husband’s to the point where I will go out of my way to not share any personal information with him.
As an example, the other day he asked me what time did it say on my cell phone. I turned around and asked him what time it said on his cell phone. He then told me he didn’t have his with him. I then asked him if there were any clocks close by or other people with a cell phone handy. He got angry and yelled, “fine, I’ll ask someone else!: then called me a f**ing lunatic and hung up the phone.
Okay, I’ll admit that perhaps I went a bit too far on that one but I recently went from getting laid a lot to barely at all to potentially never, ever again and I’m just not myself.
Your life is your life. Your ex’s life is his life. However, if you are anything like me, 1. You think everything should come covered in chocolate and 2. you don’t have much of a life so ultimately it makes things a lot easier when it comes to the “share” part. Nevertheless, the little that you do do, the people or persons, or in my case, dog, that you spend a majority of your time with are your business not his.
Another thing to consider is you might not have to tell your ex anything because you’ve got your seven year old daughter to do it for you…like it or not.
I am very careful what I say around her now, even in Spanish because as I mentioned in an earlier column, my daughter has now begun to study it in school and I’m too lazy to learn Mandarin.
One thing I will say is don’t ever ask your kid not to say anything about you to her father because the right after you tell her not to that will be exactly the thing she will feel compelled to do more than anything else in the world.
You can’t blame her. It’s human nature. Don’t’ believe me? Okay. Remember the last time you told yourself you were going to stop drinking? Exactly.
My ex has been with the same woman for many years now. If he were to come to me and ask me straight out, “Are you still dating so and so?”, I’d be adult about it and just tell him the truth, “no because he was kidnapped by pirates,” and then just leave it at that.
It’s up to you how to deal with this to be sure, but honestly really is the best policy…..when it serves you.
jessica bern 724 (1).JPGJessica Bern is a single mother to a 7yr old girl, a money sucking dog named Teddy and the ex wife of a man who left her for his mother. She writes at bernthis.com, where you she blogs all about it and where you can watch the Bernthis web series she created about a neurotic woman’s journey through her weekly visits to her therapist’s office. She also spends some of her time giving out sex/dating advice over at rolemommy.com and has worked her vlogging magic with aiminglow.com, Kodak and Seventh Generation.
For more from Jessica Bern, visit her blog, Bern This.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

P1070244.jpgHere is a simple, healthy, inexpensive and delicious recipe from my friend Kara Wesley. Perfect for a last minute dinner.
Kara’s Polenta With Garlicky Greens:
For the Polenta:
4 cup of boiling water, broth or combination of both
1 cup of fine, medium or coarse cornmeal
3 Tablespoons of butter
½ cup of cheese: parmesan, mascarpone, chevre, cream cheese, Romano or combination
2 teaspoons of salt
Bring water to a boil, slowly add in cornmeal and stir over medium heat. Stir for about 10 minutes on and off. Look for a smooth batter that will eventually pull away from the sides of the pot. After 15 minutes take off heat add butter, cheese and salt. Stir for an additional 2 minutes to combine well. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately for a creamy polenta or put in a wax covered baking dish and cool for hard polenta – to fry later.
For the Garlicky Greens:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ Vidalia onion, diced
1 head of Swiss chard, dice stems and rough chop leaves – keep separate
2 cups of baby spinach
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter
Add olive oil to cold sauté pan and heat over medium-low heat. Add onions and Swiss chard stems to pan, cover with a lid and gently cook till vegetables are softened, about 10-15 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook for an additional 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Add Swiss chard leaves with ½ of the chopped garlic and cook on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until leaves have fallen. Then add baby spinach and remaining garlic, butter, salt, and nutmeg. Toss greens and let cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the greens get a little darker (just slightly do not want to burn greens). Place greens over polenta. Enjoy!
alma072V4WEB-1 (1)-thumb-188x220-2703.jpgAlma Schneider, LCSW, is founder of Take Back the Kitchen. Like TBK, this blog is dedicated to helping people recognize and overcome the common and unique obstacles to being everything they hope to be in the kitchen. She writes for Womens Day on line magazine, she is a featured Kitchen Coach Expert on realsavvymoms.com and healthy food sponsor for BabyLovesdisco.com.

Is Your Daughter Ready for Summer?

authorShot2.jpegGuest contributor and Bonding over Beauty Author Erika Katz shares tips all moms should know to prepare their tween daughters for summer…
With the summer months approaching us, it is time to clean the closets and pull out those great summer dresses, shorts, and swimsuits. But, with all those cute outfits come new beauty issues for you and your tween to tackle. This could be her first year with unwanted hair around the bikini line, on the legs, and the underarms. If she has just recently gotten her period, she might not know then to use pads and when to use tampons. Perspiration is now an issue. And the list goes on. So how do you get her ready for summer so she feels self confident and secure? Here are a few suggestions:
Hair Removal
If your daughter is showing signs of puberty, you might have to talk to her about being bathing suit ready. Her legs and underarms should be smooth, if she has any hair sticking out from her underwear, now is the time to address it, and if her forearms are excessively hairy it is no longer taboo to remove it. Her options are shave, depilatory, or wax. Laser is an option but only after the onset of menstruation. So here is a good summer guide to hair removal.
Shaving
The night before a trip to the beach, spread a thick layer of shaving cream on the underarms, legs, forearms and any hair that falls outside of her underwear. Carefully shave the area for her or show her how to do it using a razor with a pivoting head such as the Gillette Venus. Be sure to rinse the blade after each stroke.
Depilatory
Depilatory is a great option if your daughter’s skin is not too sensitive. Find a depilatory specifically designed for the area she is depilating. Spread the cream on the unwanted hair and leave it on for 8 minutes or as directed. Then remove with a wet washcloth.
Wax
I suggest taking her to a good salon to wax unwanted hair. If you want to do it at home, I like the Completely Bare line of products available at www.completelybare.com. It is the identical wax used in the salon so you are not getting a watered down version of anything.
Laser
If your daughter has started menstruation, you can consider laser if she is light skinned with dark hair. It is costly but the results are great. However, laser needs to be done at least 2 weeks before she goes in the sun. When she arrives, the technician shaves the hair she would like removed. Then, she will go over the shaved area with cooling gel and then the laser. The hair will fall out in 2 weeks.
Tampon or Pads?
It is so important to teach your daughter to use both pads and tampons. Girls tend to have a heavy flow on the second and third day even if they are using tampons. I suggest she use a pantyliner like Kotex Tween to catch any leaks. It might take her a few periods to figure out what absorbency to use when. I also like Kotex Overnight with Wings for the night especially if she tends to sleep more than 8 hours. For daytime, especially during the summer months, I encourage you to teach your daughter to use a tampon if you have not already done so. This way she can participate in all summer sports every day. All girls can use a tampon as soon as they get their first period.
Keep reading…

Flavor over Fizz Challenge with Hungry Girl!

Thumbnail image for mocktail.jpg Recently I had the pleasure of being on a video call with the fabulous Hungry Girl, Lisa Lillien, from HGTV and The Food Network. She is helping get the word out about Crystal Light’s new contest – Flavor over Fizz Challenge! They are asking you to give up diet soda for the summer and drink Crystal Light instead… you will end up drinking more water and with all the amazing flavors they offer, you may never go back. You have the chance to win amazing prizes every day, like an iPod nano, a bike, Michael Kors watch and so much more. All you need to do is go to the Crystal Light Facebook page and click flavor over fizz on the left side to enter the contest.
Crystal Light even has limited edition mocktail flavors that are perfect on a hot summer day! You can try the mojito, appletini, margarita flavor, or mix it up. Here’s a great idea – add some ice and a little water and you have a delicious, refreshing slushy! Or put them in the freezer and make ice pops. It’s only 5 calories per serving! Perfect to serve at a BBQ or relaxing with your friends. These flavors won’t be available for long so get them while you can. If you are like me and are trying to stay away from artificial sweetners (my headaches are so much better since I cut that out of my diet- and i was a huge diet soda drinker) you can try the Crystal Light Pure line. My favorite flavor is the lemonade.
What are you waiting for? A healthier you and a chance to win cool prizes every day? Grab some friends and enjoy your mocktails without the guilt! And check out Hungry Girl on The Cooking Channel and The Food Network all summer long.
Disclosure: I received a sample of Crystal Light’s new Mojito flavor packets prior to this video conference call.

Ask Single Mom Walking

Dear Single Mom Walking:
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a couple of months. The other day he asked me to babysit for his three year old twins because his regular sitter cancelled at the last second. I’m unemployed at the moment and I think he should have paid me because he was planning on paying someone anyway. He says his love for me is payment.
What say you?
Signed:
At a Total Loss
Dear At a Total Loss:
I tried that whole “you were going to have to pay somebody anyway” reasoning on my ex husband and got absolutely nowhere but that is because all I did was birth his child, pay for the entire divorce, (his part and mine) and give him several thousand dollars as a “going away” present so who am I to ask?
You’ve got an interesting point here. After all, you are jobless and yes, he was going to pay someone anyway but then again, he does love you. Unfortunately, love doesn’t pay your cell phone bill and I’m pretty sure the local gas company could give a crap what he thinks about you. You could try it his way and see if by getting him to admit he is absolutely crazy, wild, unbelievably head over heels for you, your cable company will also toss in HBO and Showtime. I mean after all, it’s not like everyday they walk into work and hear such proclamations of love and judging from the customer service, I’m going to guess they never hear at home either.
I must also tip my hat to you for being willing to baby-sit three year old twins. I’m guessing you’ve never had kids of your own or you’ve never spent time in the company of twins or three year olds or any one under the age of five, for more than a couple of seconds. Otherwise, I’m going to have to guess that you are really hurting for cash, or you actually have a true affinity for spending your days shouting things like, “hey, no hitting!”, “who needs to go pee pee?!” or if the kid is being raised in Los Angeles, “yes, mine are real.”
I’m going to also guess that you are so tired of being hounded by creditors that you believe working with people who are completely unwilling to compromise, will never give you a straight answer and constantly cry over spilt milk, literally, is worth the money.
That being said, the going rate for babysitters in Los Angeles is on par if not better than what most temporary employees earn, especially if they work in the entertainment industry.
Seems wrong to me since there are many people in positions of power in Hollywood who are much more difficult to work with than a pre schooler. If you don’t believe me, then answer me this, when was the last time a four year old threw his size 12 penny loafer in the direction of your forehead while screaming, “Get the f**k out of my office!”?
I rest my case.
Lastly, you could always tell your boyfriend “no.” Last I checked, that was a viable answer, one I wished I’d optioned to use right after the guy asked me, “do you take this man….”
jessica bern 724 (1).JPGJessica Bern is a single mother to a 7yr old girl, a money sucking dog named Teddy and the ex wife of a man who left her for his mother. She writes at bernthis.com, where you she blogs all about it and where you can watch the Bernthis web series she created about a neurotic woman’s journey through her weekly visits to her therapist’s office. She also spends some of her time giving out sex/dating advice over at rolemommy.com and has worked her vlogging magic with aiminglow.com, Kodak and Seventh Generation.
For more from Jessica Bern, visit her blog, Bern This.