Best 1-Bowl Holiday Cookie Recipes
by Gail Belsky
There's the warm and fuzzy image of holiday baking with your kids, and then there's reality: smeared hands, gloppy spills and flour everywhere. You can't escape the mess altogether, but these one-bowl cookie recipes will help you minimize it -- while maximizing the fun. They're quick, easy and virtually stress-free. Try them:
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Tracking Down College Scholarships
We hear often from parents, "I'd love for my son/daughter to get accepted to their dream school...but I'm very nervous about how to pay for it."
Even if you're in a more comfortable income bracket, scholarships can go a long way to making the college-going years less of a financial burden. Here are our top tips on getting started:
Scholarpro.com and Zinch.com are both great resources for scholarships.
Look for college scholarships close to home. See if your company or any professional organizations you belong to offer scholarships.
Local businesses, civic groups and even wealthy people in your hometown may offer scholarships to local students.
Proactively sit down with your student's guidance counselor to discuss scholarships that are a personal fit for your student and your family's financial situation.
Most people don't know that universities earmark scholarship money for students studying specific majors or entering certain career fields. Once you have narrowed your college list, be sure to reach out to each university to see what is available.
The federal government offers certain scholarships and grants: studentaid2.ed.gov is a great resource.
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Courtesy of BrightGuide
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Kiva Celebrates International Women's Day
Of the almost three billion adults worldwide who are unbanked or under-banked, most are women. Without access to education and resources to start a business, their potential and dreams are far too often wasted. This affects us all.
In honor of International Women's Day, Kiva will launch Kiva.org/women on March 7 to spotlight the power of women to create sustainable change when everyday people lend their support. As part of the kick-off for Kiva Women - partner Dermalogica is funding a $100,000 Kiva Women free trial program that will enable new users of Kiva Women to direct a $25 loan to the woman borrower of their choice.
For as long as funds last, you can direct a $25 loan to a woman borrower of your choice without fronting a penny - Dermalogica is covering the free trials.
Help start the ripple effect of change that creates financial independence through entrepreneurship for women worldwide.
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More about Kiva: Kiva is the world's first and largest microlending website where anyone, anywhere can help alleviate global poverty and empower women through loans as small as $25. Since Kiva's launch in 2005, more than 80% of the loans funded through Kiva have been to women borrowers in 60 countries and the United States. Kiva has connected more than 600,000 women borrowers to nearly 650,000 lenders, crowdfunding more than $200 million in loans to women. Loans through Kiva have a 98.9% payback rate and have proven to be a significant resource for women worldwide.
Creative Kids in the Kitchen
Young chefs give PB&J a makeover
Everyone loves a classic PB&J sandwich. Now, with a little culinary creativity, your family can liven up lunch and win money for college.
Over the past 10 years, Jif(r) Peanut Butter has inspired thousands of kid chefs to reinvent the peanut butter sandwich for the chance of earning a fund for college. This year, in the 10th Annual Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest(tm), families can foster creativity in the kitchen for a chance to win a $25,000 college fund, plus $10,000 to purchase educational products.
-Sandwiches will be judged on creativity, taste, nutritional balance, appearance and ease of preparation.
-10 semi-finalists will be selected to compete in a national online vote in January.
-Five finalists will be selected to compete at a live judging event in New York City in March.
-Four runners up will each receive $2,500 college funds.
Visit www.jif.com and www.jifenespanol.com between July 28 and October 12 for Official Rules and the entry form. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., between 6 and 12 years of age by October 12, 2011. Contests void where prohibited. See Official Rules for complete details.
The 2011 winner was 8-year-old Margalit M. of Raleigh, N.C. for her Wushu Chicken Tacos, pairing Jif Creamy Peanut Butter with chicken, asparagus and squash, all wrapped in a tortilla. Check out these other winning recipes for inspiration.
Wushu Chicken Tacos - 2011 Winner
Margalit M., Raleigh, N.C.
1/2 cup diced rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup asparagus pieces, about 1 inch long
1/4 cup yellow squash pieces
2 fajita-size flour tortillas (6-inch)
2 lime wedges, optional
Fresh ginger slice, 1/8 inch thick, peeled and cut in half
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/8 teaspoon chili paste with garlic
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 1/4 teaspoons sesame oil
3 1/2 teaspoons water
Chop ginger and garlic in food processor as finely as possible. Add next seven ingredients and process until sauce is completely smooth. If sauce is too thick, add more water. If sauce is too thin, add more peanut butter.
Toss about half the sauce with chicken and put aside in a covered bowl.
Boil about 1 inch of water in a large skillet and add asparagus. Cover skillet and turn off heat. In 1 to 3 minutes, lift off cover and remove asparagus using tongs.
Cut off ends of squash and cut into half-moon pieces. Put 1/4 cup squash pieces into microwave-safe bowl and add a little water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave about 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly and carefully drain off water.
Place tortillas in microwave and cook about 15 seconds, or until warm and bend easily.
Put chicken in tortillas, top with asparagus and squash and drizzle with additional peanut butter sauce. Serve with optional lime wedges.
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Little Book, Big Noise
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If you haven't heard about it yet, you will soon. Maybe you've even read a PDF version of it? We're dying to know what you think about Go the F&%* to Sleep! Here's one story from MomsToday, NBC.
Take a Winning Photo
You don't have to be a professional photographer to take beautiful pictures. With these expert tips from 20-year National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, you could take the ultimate photo - one that you'll love and that could win you a dream prize:
Work the Reflections - Reflections always add visual drama to pictures and can make an otherwise ordinary scene interesting. But reflections require calm waters, so get out early in the morning before the winds kick up. Also, get lower and closer to the surface of the water to get more reflections. Even a small puddle of water can produce large reflections if you are right down to the surface.
Collect the Details - Detail pictures do wonders for a set of travel pictures. Not only do they offer a welcome variety in the scale of the images (pictures get dull quickly when they are all shot from the same distance and viewpoint.) They can also reveal telling aspects of a place and its story.
Keep it Simple - Clutter kills too many pictures. Simplicity is powerful. Usually that means cleaning up the background, leaving out extraneous, unnecessary detail. So watch your framing carefully, and especially watch the edges of the frame.
Keep an Eye out for Shadows - It doesn't happen every day, but occasionally a great shadow will make a great picture. Often you'll need to get up higher to see the shadows well, and you'll need to tune your eye to see how dark they can be and what sorts of interesting shapes they may form.
Move Around to the Back - Trying different viewpoints is always a good idea, but too often we don't go far enough. Going clear around to the backside of the action can make images that offer a fresh perspective. Too often we follow old habits and shoot everything from the front.
Energizer is teaming up with the National Geographic Society for the fourth annual Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest, giving photographers the dream opportunity to see their photo appear in an ad in National Geographic magazine and winning their choice of three inspiring trips at different locations across the globe. The program is part of the new Energizer campaign called "now that's positivenergy."
Enter your best shots at www.nationalgeographic.com/lithium by June 30, 2011. Contest judge Jim Richardson will review all of the entries and select two finalists in each of 6 categories. From August 15 through September 15, the public will be asked to go online and vote for their favorites. Once the Category Winners are determined, Richardson will help choose a Grand Prize Winner, to be announced on or about November 8, 2011.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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Easy Ideas for Creating Custom, Memorable Holiday Cards
Even with the popularity of using e-mail, social media, and texting to communicate with friends and family, holiday cards continue to be a time-honored tradition. In fact, according to a survey from holiday cards and thank you cards retailer Cardstore.com, 43 percent of Americans prefer a greeting card from a loved one instead of $10, and 63 percent think sending a special occasion greeting through a social network is inappropriate.
While survey results show most people prefer to receive holiday cards, people mistakenly think that creating these custom cards is time consuming. Thanks to technology, new products, and online greeting card sites, this isn't necessarily the case. By following the tips below, creating custom, personalized holiday cards can be easy, fun, and inexpensive.
Picture Perfect - Getting a perfect holiday picture does not have to involve a three-hour photo shoot with an expensive photographer. Oftentimes the best holiday shots are the candid, everyday ones shot at home. For professional-looking DIY images, use natural light (if indoors, shoot near a window), get up close, and have the subjects involved in a favorite activity. Laugh, have fun, and shoot away. Even if the shots aren't perfect, use photo editing software - sometimes just simply changing the image to black and white or cropping out unwanted parts can transform the image.
Let Your Child Be the Artist - Instead of uploading a favorite photo for holiday cards, simply scan a child's favorite drawing and quickly upload to a photo greeting card site. This is an especially cute idea for classroom or grandparent holiday cards.
Collage Card - Instead of spending hours deciding which photo to feature for the holiday card, just choose several photos taken throughout the year that highlight favorite adventures and memories. Visit a favorite online card store and select one of the many templates available.
Keep It Simple - Scour the crafting and dollar stores where there are a variety of inexpensive products to make handmade cards. Use blank cards and embellish with just one or two items - any more and it can be daunting, especially if more than 50 cards need to be made. For instance, punch out polka dots in festive holiday papers using a circle punch and adhere them to the card front in a random, whimsical pattern. Or, run a piece of grosgrain ribbon across the front of card and adhere a glittered embellishment or button.
Use a Kit - For those who lack the creative bug or are really strapped for time, use pre-assembled DIY holiday card kits. Cardstore.com has embellished card kits that combine the time-saving elements of digital photo cards with the personal, hand-crafted touch of dimensional accents. Order the photo cards online. Once they arrive, decorate the cards with the provided coordinating stamps, gems, and glitter glue. Tips and creative inspiration included and no extra trip to the craft store needed!
By following these tips, you can create easy, thoughtful and meaningful holiday cards that share the festive joys of the season.
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