Earn an A+

(Family Features) Back-to-school season means it’s time to get back to the business of learning. This year you can ace your back-to-school shopping excursion with these time- and money-saving steps that can make getting the whole family ready for a new school year a breeze.

Start with a list.
Walking into the store without a list is an open invitation for impulse buys and forgotten items that end up costing you more time and money with a return trip. Create a thorough list by categorizing all the items you’ll shop for, such as supplies, electronics and clothing. If you want to take an extra-organized approach, try color coding items by the section of the store where you would expect to find them.

Set a budget.
Knowing what you can afford to spend ahead of time can save regret and returns after you shop. Calculate how much you’ll need to cover all the items your students truly need, then tack on some room for wants. One must-have is a high-quality backpack, like the High Sierra Access Backpack, which includes a dedicated storage area for your child’s laptop, among other features. If your total budgeted expenses exceed your available funds, consider browsing weekly circulars to keep your budget in check.

Explore your inventory.
It may be buried under a summer’s worth of knick-knacks, but digging out the supplies your child cast aside at the end of the last school year may be worth the effort. Items like scissors, rulers and protractors may not need to be replaced every year if they’re still in working condition. Assess what items you have that can be reused and those that need to be replaced for the new school year.

Cut extra stops.
Dashing all over town to find all the items on your supply list is not only time-consuming, it’s unnecessary. At stores like Office Depot and OfficeMax, you can find all the academic tools and supplies your student needs to head back to the classroom. What’s more, a store that specializes in school supplies will have a broad selection and ample stock of the essentials.

Try online shopping.
When you know exactly what you need, shopping online is a great time-saving solution. Online shopping makes it incredibly simple to keep tabs on your budget before you make purchases and easily keep track of the items in your shopping cart. If you need to hand-select a few items in person, you can always take advantage of a “buy online, pick-up in store” option. This service lets you do your shopping from home with just a quick stop in-store to pick-up your purchases.

Buy in bulk.
It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re trying to trim your spending, but if you can swing it, go ahead and buy extra items that you’ll likely need to replace mid-year. The sale prices during the back-to-school season aren’t likely to repeat during the school year, so in the long run you’ll save money and avoid a last-minute shopping trip on a busy school night in the future. Items like Stellar fashion notebooks, which give note-taking a fashionable twist, are great to have on hand throughout the school year.

Research specials and promotions.
For many stores, the back-to-school shopping season is second only to the holidays. This means you can expect widespread sales, promotions and special deals, such as “deals as low as a penny.” Some states also offer tax-free holidays near the beginning of the school year, which are honored at multiple retailers and generally restricted to school-related purchases like clothing, supplies and some technology.

Weigh quality vs. quantity.
When you have a lengthy list of items to purchase for each child, it can be tempting to cut corners and skimp on spending. In some cases, being cost-efficient is smart, but do your research beforehand to avoid selecting items based solely on price. Value and quality don’t always go hand-in-hand and if you buy an item that falls apart or breaks down quickly, you may end up spending more to replace the items later. While it may be simpler for students to use printers and other machines at school, an all-in-one Epson Expression EcoTank Wireless Printer at home can be a convenient solution when late-night homework is bearing down.

Make dollars do double duty.
While most families expect to spend a sizable amount on back-to-school purchases (nearly $700, according to a 2016 survey by the National Retail Federation), making that money go a little further can soften the blow. You can help improve education in your community by shopping at stores that give a percentage of proceeds back to local schools. Programs vary; in some cases, you can even designate proceeds to the school district of your choice.

Take more notes on smart back-to-school shopping ideas and deals at officedepot.com.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
Office Depot

Fire Up the Fourth with Tasty Backyard Recipes

(Family Features) Fireworks, family and food are what the Fourth of July is all about. This year, add some spark to backyard staples like grilled chicken and potato salad with a little help from tangy condiments, smoky rubs and your cast-iron skillet.

For a main dish that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, smother grilled chicken with a white barbecue sauce – the South’s tangy little secret. It’s made with simple pantry ingredients like mayonnaise, cider vinegar and mustard.

Make a one-pan side dish next to the cooking chicken by placing your cast-iron skillet directly on the grates. Smash whole potatoes in the pan then top with bacon, cheese and a chipotle seasoning. Let it all melt together and then top with sour cream for a smoking side.

Round out the meal with a festive cake that looks as impressive as it tastes. Dye white cake mix batter red and blue using food color then assemble in a flag shape with whipped cream and berries.

Find more recipes and ideas to fire up your Fourth of July at McCormick.com.

White Barbecue Sauce with Smoky Chicken

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6

White Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1          cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2       cup cider vinegar
  • 2          tablespoons Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
  • 1          teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2       teaspoon McCormick Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2       teaspoon McCormick Garlic Powder
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt

Smoky Chicken:

  • 1          cup hickory wood chips
  • 2          pounds bone-in chicken parts
  • 2          tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub
  1. To make sauce: In medium bowl, mix mayonnaise, vinegar, creole mustard, horseradish, black pepper, garlic and salt until well blended. Cover. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to blend flavors.
  2. To make chicken: Cover wood chips in water and soak 30 minutes. Season chicken with rub. Drain wood chips. Fill smoker box with wet wood chips. Place smoker box under grill rack on one side of grill before lighting. Close grill.
  3. Prepare grill for indirect medium heat (350-375° F). Heat grill by turning all burners to medium. Once cooking temperature is reached, turn off burner(s) on one side. Place chicken on unlit side of grill. Close grill cover.
  4. Grill, turning occasionally, 30-40 minutes, or until internal temperature of thickest part of chicken is 165 F. Move chicken to lit side of grill with skin side down. Turn lit side of grill to high.
  5. Grill, uncovered, 3-5 minutes longer, or until chicken is charred. Serve chicken with White Barbecue Sauce.

Test Kitchen Tip: Refrigerate any leftover sauce and use as salad dressing, condiment for burgers or dipping sauce for pretzels and vegetables.

Grilled and Loaded Smashed Potatoes

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12

  • 1 1/2    pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1          tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5          teaspoons McCormick Grill Mates Bacon Chipotle Seasoning, divided
  • 6          slices Applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1          cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2       cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2       cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2          tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4       cup sour cream
  1. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Place potatoes on microwavable plate. Pierce potatoes with fork several times. Microwave on high 5-6 minutes, or until fork-tender but still firm. Let stand until cool enough to handle. In large bowl, toss potatoes, oil and 3 teaspoons seasoning until well coated.
  3. Place potatoes on grill and cook, turning frequently, 4-5 minutes or until skin is crispy. In large cast-iron skillet on grill, cook and stir bacon 8-10 minutes, or until crisp. Add yellow onion and bell pepper; cook and stir 2-3 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
  4. Push bacon mixture to one side of skillet. Add potatoes to other side of skillet. Smash each potato with heavy spatula, bottom of small sturdy bowl or meat pounder. Sprinkle potatoes with remaining seasoning. Spoon bacon mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Cover pan or close grill. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. To serve, sprinkle with green onions and dollops of sour cream.

Test Kitchen Tip: Cooking potatoes before grilling reduces overall grill time.

Red, White and Blue Cake

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12

  • 1          package (2-layer size) white cake mix
  • 2          teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2       teaspoon Blue McCormick Assorted Neon Food Colors & Egg Dye
  • 2          tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2          teaspoons McCormick Red Food Color
  • nonstick spray
  • 1          container (16 ounces) white frosting
  • 1          cup raspberries
  • 1/2       cup blueberries
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding vanilla. Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to small bowl and tint with neon blue food color. Tint remaining batter red by adding cocoa powder and red food color. Pour each color batter into separate 9-by-5-inch loaf pans sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Bake blue-tinted cake 20-25 minutes; red-tinted cake 30-35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
  4. Trim cakes to remove rounded tops and edges. Slice red cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers. Place one layer on platter. Slice remaining red cake layer in half lengthwise. Slice blue cake in half lengthwise. (Blue and red cakes should be same dimensions.)
  5. Frost red cake layer on platter with 1/3 frosting. Top with lengthwise slices of red and blue cake side-by-side. Frost with 1/3 frosting. Repeat cake layer and frosting. Garnish with raspberries and blueberries to resemble flag.

SOURCE:
McCormick Spice

How Rural Women Can Make an Impact

(Family Features) For hundreds of years, women have been a key pillar of the agriculture industry, accounting for one-third of the country’s farmers according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

While not always thought of in a traditional “farmer” role, women make an impact in the industry and in helping feed the rapidly growing global population. These “farm moms” play vital and integral roles on the farm, with their families and in their communities.

Susan Brocksmith – named the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year, sponsored by Monsanto – has been involved in supporting Helping His Hands and both the North Knox and South Knox County FFA chapters for many years, and while she finds the experience incredibly rewarding, she also recognizes juggling these responsibilities on top of work and family can be difficult. She offers these tips to other women who are looking for simple ways to get involved in their communities:

  1. Start small. It’s easy to want to take on a lot of responsibilities to help nonprofit organizations in your community, but starting small can help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. Start by looking for small volunteer opportunities, such as volunteering to staff a local event, and then look for opportunities to take on a larger role.
  2. Involve the whole family. Volunteering should be a family affair. Bringing the kids along not only allows you to spend time with them, but also sets the example that giving back is an important responsibility for all.
  3. Find an impactful cause. Everyone brings a unique set of skills and perspectives to the table. Find an opportunity that fits you and values your contributions.

“I am humbled and blessed to be named the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of Year,” Brocksmith said. “I was raised on a family farm and was able to raise my daughters on our family farm. I have strived to instill the core values of faith, family and agriculture into my daughters, as well as my college students. Thanks to the support I received from family, friends and the community, I was able to receive this award. This outpouring of support proves anything is possible. Thank you Monsanto for providing this outreach opportunity.”

Brocksmith’s America’s Farmers Mom of the Year award, which honors the significant contributions women make on their farms and in their families, communities and beyond, gifted  $4,000 to be divided among the three organizations she is involved with Helping His Hands is a disaster relief organization and local food pantry. Both North Knox FFA and South Knox FFA are long-standing chapters that make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

“Farm moms like Susan are not only respected leaders in the agriculture industry, but also a critical part of the ecosystem that supports rural communities across America,” said Jessica Lane Rommel, Monsanto business communications manager. “We’re excited to celebrate Susan and all of the women who play such a vital role in rural communities.”

Since the program began in 2010, America’s Farmers Mom of the Year program has recognized 40 individuals for their roles in American farms, families, rural communities and the agriculture industry. To learn more about the program, visit AmericasFarmers.com.

SOURCE:
Monsanto

Weather Through Unexpected Events

(Family Features) As temperatures heat up across the country, it’s a reminder that severe weather – thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes – can strike at any time.

When these unexpected situations occur, there are time-sensitive needs before and after them. A few simple steps and tips, such as tapping into local resources and businesses efficiently in an effort to regroup, can go a long way toward ensuring you and your family navigate these situations quickly, safely and deftly.

In preparation

  • Create an emergency plan. Talk through possible scenarios and how to respond with your entire family. For example, if a severe thunderstorm occurs, who is responsible for securing outdoor items like lawn chairs and who will grab flashlights in case the power fails? Or if there’s a tornado, where’s the safest place in the house to hunker down? Once you answer these important questions, practice and fine tune your plan.
  • Keep close tabs on emerging weather situations. This improves the likelihood that you are aware and able to take steps to protect your loved ones and possessions before a storm. There are numerous apps that provide emergency alerts, and adding these to your smartphone takes just a few minutes.
  • Consider special needs. If you have circumstances that would create an extreme hardship in a power outage or other storm-related incident, gather materials to minimize the impact. For example, a cooler may be necessary to keep medications chilled. Also remember to keep a supply of non-perishable food items available, and consider other necessities like access to toilets during an extended sheltering period.

Post-event checklist

  • Check for damage. Once the threat has passed, assessing the damage is a crucial next step. It’s important to know whether your home, vehicles or other property and belongings have been damaged or destroyed. Take photos and write down as much detail as possible, including when and how the damage occurred. It’s also a good idea to gather documentation related to damaged items, such as appraisals and insurance policies.
  • Contact friends and family. Don’t forget to let friends and family know you’re OK. If they’re local and may have also been impacted, it’s important to verify their safety once yours is ensured and work with them to clean up as best as you can.
  • Take advantage of local resources. Assessing the damage early allows you to quickly contact professionals who can help, whether it’s a roof repair company, water damage experts or anything in between. Knowing whom to trust and use as a service provider can be challenging, but to help consumers find businesses that meet their needs, YP, The Real Yellow Pages® works closely with local businesses to ensure their information is correct, complete and consistent online and in print. In addition, the information found in search results on yellowpages.com and via the YP app is tailored to help consumers find local businesses, saving precious time, which is critical following a storm.

To find more information about what local businesses are near you and ready to help, visit yellowpages.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
YP, The Real Yellow Pages

Add a Tex-Mex Favorite to Your Menu

(Family Features) A tortilla plus a tasty filling makes a household favorite – a taco. This simple, casual, versatile, fun food knows no boundaries. Tacos can be right for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks and dessert, depending on the filling.

For tacos with a unique, delicious twist on tradition, try these Chicken Soft Tacos with Pickled Beet Salsa that are ready in 30 minutes. The antioxidant-rich Aunt Nellie’s Pickled Beets lend color, as well as a refreshing sweet-tangy flavor that’s complementary to the lime juice, cilantro and red onion in the salsa. This sassy salsa is a perfect partner for rotisserie, roasted or grilled chicken, arugula and a dollop of jalapeno mustard-sour cream sauce nestled inside a soft flour tortilla.

For your taco fiesta, just set out the tortillas, salsa and other toppings and let everyone help themselves to a fun and delicious dinner.

For other versatile recipes, visit AuntNellies.com.

Chicken Soft Tacos with Pickled Beet Salsa

Prep time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Salsa:

  • 1          jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Baby Whole Pickled Beets
  • 2          tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2          tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1          tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 1/4       teaspoon ground black pepper

Tacos:

  • 1/3       cup sour cream
  • 1          tablespoon jalapeno mustard
  • 4          soft flour tortillas (6-inch diameter)
  • 2          cups fresh arugula
  • 2          cups chopped cooked rotisserie chicken (hot or cold)
  • 1/4       cup crumbled queso fresco
  1. To make salsa: drain beets and chop. In medium bowl, combine beets, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.
  2. To make tacos: In small bowl, stir together sour cream and mustard; set aside.
  3. On one half of each tortilla, place equal amounts of salsa, arugula, chicken and cheese. Top with dollops of mustard-sour cream. Fold over.

Substitution: Sliced pickled beets or three single-serve cups of Aunt Nellie’s Diced Pickled Beets may be substituted for baby whole pickled beets.

Nutritional information per serving: 380 calories; 20 g protein; 28 g carbohydrates;
20 g total fat; 650 mg sodium; 80 mg cholesterol; 1 g dietary fiber; 2 mg iron; 0.15 mg thiamin;
460 IU vitamin A; 4 mg vitamin C.

SOURCE:
Aunt Nellie’s

Mix Up Something Eclectic

(Family Features) For most homes, there’s one room that serves as the hub of all activity. From preparing mouthwatering meals to entertaining a house full of guests to grabbing a few minutes to relax with a mug of steaming coffee, the kitchen is the place where it all happens. That’s why such careful planning is necessary when you set out to redesign this essential living space.

Layout

Arguably the most important decision is the overall layout of the kitchen, defining which appliances will go where and what architectural details – such as windows and doors – need to be integrated into the plans. Determining how many and what kind of cabinets you need can be even more complex, and contemporary design can help open up plenty of options.

In the past, cabinetry was fairly straightforward. Lower cabinets were topped with a counter, then a backsplash and a matching set of cabinets above. These days, design is far less predictable, and introducing variety through the cabinetry is a savvy designer’s trick to grab attention. The comprehensive product lines from Wellborn Cabinet, Inc. make it easy to mix diverse finishes, door styles and wood species to blend different design techniques while achieving an eclectic but cohesive feel.

For example, you could pair complementary styles and colors for the upper and lower cabinets, or create some contrast between the perimeter and island to capture an on-trend, eye-catching look that is anything but boring. You can also rely on varying heights and sizes to create more visual variety.

Color

A more eclectic kitchen style brings plenty of character on its own, so a color palette that lets the architectural and structural details really shine is more appropriate than bold splashes of vibrant color. That said, there’s still plenty of room to create visual interest and integrate multiple hues to give the room extra depth and charm.

Subtle shades of gray may be just the ticket. Gray cabinetry has grown in popularity in recent years. In fact, more than two-thirds of designers believe gray is the fastest growing color trend in cabinetry, according to data from RICKI Research. The Nature Collection from Wellborn Cabinet is one way to achieve this look. The line of gray paints and stains is available in one stain option and two paint options, allowing for nearly endless possibilities, especially when you consider integrating a standout color to make a feature like an island countertop really pop.

Function

While the exterior of the cabinets is what you (and your guests) will appreciate when they first enter the room, it’s what lies hidden behind doors that makes a good kitchen truly great. After spending so much time creating the perfect look, your kitchen demands the right tools and enhancements to make it functional. The trick is to look for unexpected ways to add practical performance.

For example, a shallow drawer is an ideal location for kitchen knives so you can free up counter space from a bulky butcher block. A slotted wood knife drawer is the perfect solution to securely hold each of your knives and help prevent dull blades and cut fingers.

If you’re stuck with an awkward space, look for creative ways to make it work for you. For example, a narrow gap could be closed with a unique pull-out cabinet, such as Wellborn Cabinet’s Base Canister Organizer Pullout Cabinet, which holds three small, one medium and three large containers. The quart containers are included with this canister organizer when ordered direct from the company.

Storage

Keeping what’s inside your cabinets organized only adds to a newly redesigned kitchen’s enhanced function. One often-overlooked solution is using drawers for pots and pans. The ability to store each pot with its corresponding lid eliminates the jumbled stacks and hard-to-reach pieces common in many kitchens. Extra-deep drawers, paired with drawer storage options provide sectioned, adjustable options depending upon size of pots and pans. Another option: an adjustable wood board peg system that lets you customize the peg locations to fit your pots and pans just right.

Find more inspiration and planning tools to create the contemporary kitchen of your dreams at wellborn.com.

Going Gray

Gray may be neutral, but today’s designers know that the subtle hue is anything but dull. Follow these tips to help make the most of this versatile shade.

  1. Although a sleek and modern design may be the first look you envision with gray, you can also create warm, cozy spaces by using materials like wood and rich tones such as red, yellow and orange.
  2. Avoid overdoing bold accent colors, which can overpower the gray and make a room seem busy. Rely on lighting and white accents, such as countertops and backsplashes, to add some brightness to the room.
  3. If the idea of going all gray is overwhelming, opt instead to do a statement piece in gray, such as an island or other feature element you want to showcase.

SOURCE:
Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

Slide Into Summer Safety

(Family Features) Summer is a time for playground fun, camping, boating, swimming, biking and other outdoor activities. Longer days mean more time outside and more physical activity, which translates to increased potential for injuries. Playground falls, lawnmower accidents, campfire and fire pit burns are some common childhood injuries that can happen during summer months.

“Sustaining a serious injury can be a life-altering event for a child,” said Chris Smith, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Shriners Hospitals for Children®. “We see patients every day with injuries caused by accidents and we are committed to raising awareness about how to stay safe.”

These tips from Shriners Hospitals for Children can help your family enjoy a fun, injury-free summer.

Go Outside and Play
Outdoor play provides physical and mental health benefits, including opportunities for exercise, creative expression, stress reduction and access to a free and natural source of vitamin D – sunlight. Before sending kids out to play, make sure they are wearing shoes to protect their feet from cuts, scrapes and splinters, and wearing sunscreen to protect against sunburns and harmful ultraviolet rays.

Playground 101
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger every year for playground-related injuries. Before your kids head to the playground, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Choose parks and playgrounds that are appropriate for their age and offer shock-absorbing surfaces.
  • Teach children that pushing and shoving on the playground can result in accidents and injuries.
  • Remind kids to go down the slide one at a time and to wait until the slide is completely clear before taking their turn. Teach them to always sit facing forward with their legs straight in front of them and to never slide down headfirst.
  • Remind children to swing sitting down. Encourage them to wait until the swing stops before getting off and to be careful when walking in front of moving swings.

Make a Safe Splash
While playing poolside may be a blast, Safe Kids Worldwide reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children ages 1-4 and the third-leading cause of injury-related deaths among those under 19. Additionally, the University of Michigan Health Systems estimate that about 6,000 kids under the age of 14 are hospitalized because of diving injuries each year, with 1 in 5 sustaining a spinal cord injury.

Prevent accidents and injuries with these tips to ensure your family’s safety around water:

  • Instruct children to never swim alone or go near water without an adult present.
  • Give children your undivided attention when they are swimming or near any body of water.
  • Always jump in feet first to check the depth before diving into any body of water.
  • Never dive in the shallow end of the pool or into above-ground pools.

Fun on the Water
Boating, tubing and other water sports can be great fun but can also be dangerous. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 71 percent of all boating fatalities are drownings, 85 percent of which are a result of not wearing a life jacket. Here is what you can do to enjoy the water safely:

  • Always have children wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted life jacket while on a boat, around an open body of water or when participating in water sports.
  • Educate yourself. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86 percent of boating accident deaths involve boaters who have not completed a safety course.
  • Always check water conditions and forecasts before going out on the water.

Fire Safety Simplified
According to the CDC, more than 300 children ages 19 and under are treated in emergency rooms for fire- and burn-related injuries each day. Use these tips to help keep children safe around fires, fireworks, grills and other heat sources:

  • Teach kids to never play with matches, gasoline, lighter fluid or lighters. Make a habit of placing these items out of the reach of young children.
  • Do not leave children unattended near grills, campfires, fire pits or bonfires. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby whenever there is an open flame.
  • Take your child to a doctor or hospital immediately if he or she is injured in a fire or by fireworks.
  • Leave fireworks to the professionals.

To see more tips, find activity pages and learn how to become a “Superhero of Summer Safety,” visit shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/safesummer.

When the Unexpected Happens
It was a beautiful, sunny day when Jordan Nerski headed to the playground with his mother, like millions of other kids on summer vacation. One minute Jordan was climbing on the jungle gym and the next he was on the ground with a broken elbow.

Accidents like these are why emergency room doctors and staff refer to the summer months as “trauma season.” During these warm, action-packed months, kids spend more hours active and outdoors, often without adult supervision, increasing the chance of injury. When these accidents occur, parents want the best care possible for their children.

Jordan’s mother Jackie received a recommendation from a friend who suggested that she bring her son to the Shriners Hospital for Children — Portland walk-in fracture clinic.

“The experience we had was truly amazing,” Jackie Nerski said. “It was a stressful time since he was in a lot of pain, but everyone from the greeter at check-in to the doctor made it the best experience.”

A simple and streamlined process, Jordan, equipped with an X-ray documenting his break, was checked-in at the fracture clinic, treated and casted in under 2 hours. Jordan returned with his mother for follow-up visits to ensure his elbow was healing properly and they found every visit to be stress-free and informative.

“At each visit, every care was taken for his comfort and to answer all my questions to appease my anxiety,” Jackie Nerski said. “It was an experience that was fantastic; though one I hope we don’t need again, but if we do, we know where to go.”

Including the Portland location, there are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children in the United States, Canada and Mexico that provide specialized care to children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate, regardless of the families’ ability to pay. Of these 22 hospitals, 13 also offer walk-in fracture clinics.

SOURCE:
Shriners Hospitals for Children

Honor Dads and Cheer Grads

(Family Features) With the end of the school year and summer fast approaching, gifting occasions are plentiful. Some events – graduations and Father’s Day, in particular – can be a challenge when it comes to finding the perfect present.

Resist the temptation to throw some cash or a gift card in an envelope and instead peruse these ideas for inspiration for gifts that your dad or new graduate will actually use and appreciate.

Find more gift ideas for dads and grads at officedepot.com.

 

Gifts for Dads

Upgrade the Man Cave
Keep dad’s space cool with smart home technology that can control features such as temperature, lighting and music volume. Many devices and apps allow for themed settings, so dad can instantaneously turn up the lights and sound to catch the game on his big screen, or relax while taking a leisurely weekend nap.

Gadgets Galore
If dad still works on a desktop, help him upgrade his outdated tech toys. Go in on a big present with your siblings and splurge on dad with a top-selling 2-in-1 laptop, such as a Dell Inspiron 13, which is available at Office Depot and OfficeMax locations. The stores offer a broad assortment of tablets and laptops to get him going with the latest in portable technology.

Out of This World
If you love playing video games with your dad, take it to the next level this Father’s Day with a virtual reality headset that gives new meaning to getting into the game. These devices allow for 360 degree immersive viewing of more than 400 virtual reality apps available for Android and iOS devices, as well as many popular video content providers.

Tech for Every Day
So much of people’s lives revolve around technology, and dads are no exception. Help him stay up-to-date with simple yet convenient and effective options for his smartphone like rechargeable power banks, cellphone cases, screen protectors and charging accessories. For a less tech-savvy dad, start small with an option like Bluetooth headphones.

Share Memories
A new digital camera is the perfect way to let dad capture every moment together with the family. If he as an ample photo library just waiting to be shared, create a work of art with a personalized canvas print he can proudly display in his office or favorite room in the house.

 

Goodies for Grads

Show Some Spirit
Graduating doesn’t have to mean leaving everything about college behind. Let your grad proudly represent his or her alma mater with university-branded items for their desk at the office or at home. With an assortment of spirited options, Office Depot offers everything from USB drives and mouse pads to planners and notebooks.

Planning Ahead
Starting a new job means taking on new responsibilities and learning the ropes at a new company. Help your graduate stay ahead of the learning curve and on top of important meetings with a smart, new planner that makes organizing that extra-busy schedule a cinch.

Photos on the Go
If your grad is an avid photographer or even just enjoys the occasional commemorative photo with the family, consider a gift that gives him or her the ability to immediately enjoy personal artwork. While looking at photography on a phone can be fun, a device like the HP Sprocket Wireless Photo Printer, which can fit in a pocket, gives the option to print a 2-by-3-inch photo in as little as 40 seconds so favorite photos don’t get lost in cyberspace.

Sign Up for Success
Today’s students probably spent most of their college years tapping keys to take notes and complete important tasks. While those habits will transition well to the corporate world, there are still plenty of reasons to have some quality pens available. Whether jotting quick notes while on a call or signing important documents, the job is more enjoyable with a high-quality pen in hand.

Take Initiative
When starting a new job, a newbie needs to show just how much he or she is engaged in the work. Give them the opportunity to showcase value by documenting brainstorms, meeting notes and important deadlines in a discbound leather notebook, such as the TUL Note-taking system. Bonus: you can even pick out the paper inserts that best fit his or her personal style.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (father and son on graduation day)

SOURCE:
Office Depot

Enhance Your Easter with Ham

(Family Features) From the breakfast nook to the dinner table, an Easter meal isn’t complete without a delicious ham for guests to enjoy and share. Whether you’re serving up a casual brunch, an early dinner or a formal holiday feast, an easy-to-prepare spiral ham is the perfect centerpiece for any meal occasion.

Perfectly cooked and hand trimmed, Smithfield spiral sliced hams make holiday entertaining quick and effortless, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with family and friends.

For an added twist that will truly impress your guests, try any of Smithfield’s exceptional flavor offerings, like the Baked Apple Spice Spiral Sliced Ham, part of the premium Smokehouse Reserve line. You’ll also delight family and friends with flavors like Salted Caramel, Pecan Praline, Brown Sugar and Crunchy Glaze.

Serve up any leftovers as-is or easily incorporate them into an array of tasty dishes for brunch, lunch or dinner the next day. Try this Leftover Ham and Bacon Hash for a quick at-home brunch dish or use in an easy appetizer like Ham and Brie Crostini.

With flavor this easy, this could be your most delicious Easter yet. For more Easter recipe inspiration, visit Smithfield.com.

Leftover Ham and Bacon Hash

  • 1          tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2          tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4       teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1          teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2          pounds yellow potatoes, diced
  • 8          ounces button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/2    cups Smithfield Anytime Favorites Cubed Ham or Smithfield Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham, cooked
  • 4          slices Smithfield Hometown Original Bacon, cooked and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2/3       cup jarred roasted red pepper, drained and roughly chopped
  • 3/4       cup fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 2-3       eggs, fried or poached to preference (optional)
  • 1/3       cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  1. Heat oven to 425° F. In large bowl, whisk together mustard, oil, salt and pepper until combined. Add potatoes and mushrooms, and toss to coat.
  2. Spread potato mixture evenly onto two lightly oiled or nonstick, rimmed baking pans and roast in oven 35-40 minutes, or until potatoes and mushrooms have started to brown, stirring halfway through cooking. Add any leftover bacon or ham to mixture and stir.
  3. Add in roasted peppers to oven-safe serving casserole (if desired) and top with cheese. Bake additional 10-15 minutes, or until cheese has softened and begun to melt. Top hash with eggs, if desired, and sliced basil.

Ham and Brie Crostini with Fig Jam

  • 1          French baguette (10-12 ounces), sliced on bias, 1/4-inch thick (about 24 pieces)
  • 1/2       cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4       pound Smithfield Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham, cut into 24 pieces
  • 9          ounces Brie cheese, sliced and cut into 24 pieces
  • 1/4       cup fig jam
  1. Heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Lightly brush both sides of baguette slices with oil and place slightly spaced on rimmed baking pans. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp.
  3. Top each slice with ham and Brie; bake additional 5-8 minutes, or until Brie has just started to melt.
  4. Top each crostini with fig jam and serve warm.

SOURCE:
Smithfield

Room-by-Room Refresh

(Family Features) Spring is a sensible time to refresh and restore your home after heavy indoor use during winter. It’s also an opportunity to conduct overdue home maintenance and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Tackle the project room by room with these tips from the experts at Office Depot to make the work feel more manageable and ensure you complete a thoroughly satisfying job.
Entryway
The main entrance, whether it’s the front door or a mudroom entrance off the garage, tends to become a dumping ground where items are shed with each trip through the door. You may have to wade through some clutter to make headway, but after a thorough cleaning of the furniture, floors and walls in this space, your next challenge is making sense of all the mess.

One solution is assigning designated storage spaces for each family member. A series of plastic storage boxes or cubby-style organizers can help contain possessions like shoes, backpacks, handbags and more. Rely on stylish hooks or a coat tree for extra storage. Put your finishing touch on the freshly cleaned entryway with some pops of color and personality, such as cheerful wall art and a welcoming rug.

Home Office
If there’s any room that comes close to the clutter of the entryway, it’s the home office. A major difference is that generally, office messes come in the form of paperwork, and paper can actually be organized quite easily.

Sorting is the best first step, so you know exactly what you’re up against. Create piles for all the different types of paper you’re likely to encounter, from bills and to-do lists to the kids’ school work. Separate other items by category, such medical records and financial documents or art supplies and books, into piles of their own. An option such as the 3M Weighted Desktop Dispenser and Organizer can help keep supplies like pens, tape, paper clips and sticky notes neat and tidy.

There are dozens of options when it comes to home filing systems. Consider keeping current documents in a location you can access at your fingertips, such as a hanging file drawer or a desktop filer. Labeled tabs and color-coded folders can help make frequently used documents more easily accessible.

For archival materials, such as tax returns and insurance policies that you’re likely to consult infrequently, a secure but separate storage solution makes more sense. Drawer labels and colored hanging file pockets paired with a categorical or alphabetical organization system can make it easy to dispose of unwanted clutter without tossing important papers.

Once you’ve dealt with all the paperwork, don’t overlook important details like dusting the computer desk and screen to make your freshly cleaned office extra inviting. Adding a stylish, functional centerpiece like the See Jane Work Kate Writing Desk can also help you stay organized now and in the future.

Kitchen
Because it’s likely the most used room in the house, the kitchen sees a fair bit of cleaning year-round. However, in any busy household it’s easy to let deeper cleaning slide. While you’re tackling the rest of the house, take time to give the kitchen its due. Mop the floors, disinfect all surfaces and remove clutter that has accumulated, including old and out-of-date food from the refrigerator and pantry.

Because consumables are such an integral part of this space, it’s a good idea to use green cleaning products that won’t leave harmful residues on your cooking surfaces or distribute contaminants into the air.

Bedrooms
When warm spring weather arrives, throwing open the windows to circulate fresh air can be one of the most welcoming ways to wake up the bedroom after long winter months. Freshly washed linens and a flipped or rotated mattress can also give the room a freshness you can see and feel.

Beyond the typical chores like vacuuming and dusting, don’t forget dusty baseboards and make sure to wipe down any glass or mirrored surfaces for extra shine. Another way to make a big difference is organizing items that exceed the storage capacity of your furniture. In the bedroom itself, a trunk at the foot of the bed or a wardrobe organizer that complements your other furnishings is a smart bet.

In the closet, you can repurpose common office supplies and organizers to make the most of limited space. For example, adhesive hooks are perfect for handbags, necklaces and scarves. Lightweight shelving or cubbies make it easy to confine shoes, and for an assortment of accessories and knick-knacks, try stacking plastic bins. Another idea to maximize drawer space in your dresser: move undergarments and socks into a portable storage cart with trays or drawers that fits neatly in the closet.

Multi-Purpose Rooms
Sometimes space dictates that each room in the house cannot be dedicated to just one purpose, but combining multiple spaces – such as a home office and craft room, den or storage area – can often lead to clutter accumulating. Start by organizing things into piles based on which part of the space is best suited for each item. An option like a Realspace Mezza Mobile File cabinet can help you file away documents and by aligning multiple cabinets together, serves as a versatile workspace, craft area or television stand.

Also, take time to check for broken items or ones you haven’t used in a while and determine what can be repaired, donated or discarded. Once everything has been properly sorted, store any items that didn’t previously have a home. Hanging items that are used often for crafting is one way to make creative use of your space and free up space for additional furniture or storage, such as shelving or attractive totes.

Find more storage and organization solutions at Office Depot and OfficeMax stores or online at OfficeDepot.com.

SOURCE:
Office Depot

A Spring-Inspired Easter Brunch

(Family Features) Spring is blooming on your Easter table. From yellow chick cupcakes to blueberry French-toast casseroles, there are plenty of ways to wow your brunch guests with simple seasonal recipes.

"Between hiding eggs and preparing baskets, you may be tempted to fall back on brunch basics like pancakes and scrambled eggs, but that's no fun," McCormick Executive Chef Kevan Vetter said. "With simple pantry staples – like food color – and a little planning the night before, you can enjoy a fun and tasty holiday brunch."

These simple tips from Vetter can help you transform a boring brunch into a colorful Easter feast.

  • Waffle art is a fun way to get kids (and adults) involved during breakfast time. Try tinting the waffle batter orange by using McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors. Cut them into wedges hot out of the iron and pipe green frosting for the stems to create these Carrot-Shaped Waffles.
     
  • Making French toast for a crowd can be a hassle. Instead, make a sweet breakfast casserole the night before to pop in the oven Easter morning. Add fresh, sweet-tart blueberries to celebrate spring.
     
  • Rather than splurging on designer cupcakes, just pipe yellow marshmallow creme on mini cupcakes for a baby chick then decorate with sprinkles for the nose and cut up wafers to look like a hatching egg.

For more recipes and tips, check out McCormick.com and visit McCormick Spice on Facebook and Pinterest.


Baby Chick Cupcakes

Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24

  • 1 package (12 ounces) white confectionary coating wafers
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 box (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
  • 1 teaspoon Sunflower color from McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus additional (optional)
  • 48 unfrosted mini yellow cupcakes, baked in white paper liners
  • sprinkles (optional)
  • additional McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors (optional)
  1. To make broken egg shell pieces: melt coating wafers as directed on package. Spread on large foil-lined baking sheet to 1/4-inch thickness. Refrigerate about 10 minutes, or until firm. Break into small, irregular pieces. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, beating until well blended after each addition, frequently scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in marshmallow creme until well blended. In small bowl, stir food color into milk until dissolved. Add colored milk to frosting; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in additional milk, as needed, to reach desired consistency.
  3. To decorate cupcakes: spoon frosting into large pastry bag fitted with large round tip. Pipe two dollops of frosting on top of each other to form baby chick. If desired, insert sprinkles into face for eyes and beak. Or tint any remaining frosting with food colors to pipe out eyes and beak.
  4. Place coating wafer pieces around bottom of baby chick to resemble broken egg shell.


Carrot-Shaped Waffles

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose waffle and baking mix
  • 1 1/3cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Sunflower color from McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Berry color from McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sky Blue color from McCormick Color from Nature Food Colors
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  1. Heat round waffle iron. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix together waffle mix, milk, egg, oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1 teaspoon each sunflower and berry colors until blended. Let batter stand 5 minutes to allow color to fully develop.
  2. Pour about 1/3 cup batter onto center of waffle iron. Close lid. Cook about 3 minutes, or until no longer steaming. Carefully remove waffle. Repeat with remaining batter. Cut each waffle into 8 triangles. Set aside.
  3. In another medium bowl, stir sky blue color and remaining sunflower color into cream. Add confectioners' sugar and remaining vanilla; beat with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon into re-sealable plastic bag. Cut piece off one bottom corner.
  4. To decorate and serve waffles, place waffle triangles onto serving plates and pipe green colored cream on wide side of each triangle to resemble carrot tops.


Overnight Lemon Blueberry Muffin Casserole

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Cinnamon, Ground
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into chunks

Casserole:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Cinnamon, Ground
  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon McCormick Pure Lemon Extract
  • 2 cups blueberries, divided
  1. To make Streusel Topping: In medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cover. Set aside until ready to assemble in the morning.
  2. To make Casserole: In large bowl, mix together eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon with wire whisk until well blended. Add bread cubes; toss gently to coat. Pour evenly into 13-by-9-inch baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, remaining milk and sugar, and lemon extract until well blended. Gently stir in 1 cup blueberries. Spread evenly on top of bread cubes. Top with remaining blueberries. Cover. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 350° F.
  5. Remove casserole from refrigerator. Let stand 10-15 minutes.
  6. Cut butter into Streusel Topping mixture with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

SOURCE:
McCormick