Mary Mastroeni
GoogleLinked InYoutubePinterest
 
Mary Mastroeni

Mary's Blog

When New Years Resolutions and Football Parties Collide

January 23, 2012 6:26 pm

Football season is upon us. And as the Super Bowl approaches, your diet may be taking the back-seat on game days. However, this doesn’t need to be the case.

An estimated 40 percent of Americans make new years resolutions—weight loss and exercise being among the top improvement goals. Of those, over 45 percent will have given up by the end of January. On the flip side, over 100 million people will watch NFL's championship game; many in a party setting with specially prepared food spreads. After all, the food that is served is as important to the party as the commercials are to the game. For dieters, the temptation to “cheat” will be great.

Here are a few tips for a healthier football function:

Go with Guac- Full of good-for-you fats, guacamole is a much better choice than a cheese or sour cream based dip, which are high in cholesterol.

Skip the Chips-  Serve sliced veggies alongside your dips instead of chips or crackers. This will add filling fiber, slash calories and help you get your recommended servings. If you do offer chips, make them whole grain!

Build Your Own- Offering build your own taco or sandwich bar allows guests to choose their own healthier options.

Source: www.eatwholly.com

Tags:

Word of the Day

January 23, 2012 6:26 pm

Townhouse. Usually a two- or three-story dwelling with shared walls, or a living unit operating under the condominium or townhouse form of ownership.

Tags:

Question of the Day

January 23, 2012 6:26 pm

Q : Is it possible to save on closing costs?

A: Certainly, once you get pass the sticker shock. Closing costs are expensive. They can average between 2 to 3 percent of the total home purchase price. But here are a few ways to save:
• Haggle with the seller. He may pay all or part of the closing costs.
• Nab a no-point loan. You may have to pay a higher interest rate, but if you are strapped for cash and can qualify for a higher interest rate, you may find this type of loan can significantly reduce your closing costs.
• Grab a no-fee loan. Although the fee is usually wrapped into a higher rate loan, it does offer one advantage – you get to save on the amount of cash you would need up-front.
• Secure seller financing. These loans typically avoid the traditional fees or charges imposed by lenders.
• Shop ‘til you drop for the best deal. Every lender has its own unique fee structure; you are bound to find one that works for you.

Tags:

Icy Road Woes? Tips for Winter Driving

January 20, 2012 6:14 pm

With winter weather a bit on the unpredictable side, icy roads can come at any time. The following tips, offered by specialists at Fremont Insurance, will help you arrive at your destination safely.

1. Start Clean –
Be sure to completely clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, hood and roof for maximum visibility and to avoid having ice and snow fly off your vehicle. Law enforcement officials are on the lookout for "peephole drivers."
2. Light It Up – Before starting out, turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
3. Slow Down – Remember, posted speed limits are for dry pavement. Decrease speed on icy, snow-covered roads and allow extra distance between you and other vehicles.
4. Look Ahead – Watch the traffic well ahead for extra reaction time. Always drive defensively and give yourself a cushion of time to deal with wintery conditions.
5. Stay Away – Stay well back of maintenance vehicles and snowplows - at least 200 feet (it's the law) - and don't pass on the right. Use extreme caution when passing in a passing lane.
6. Pick a Lane – Avoid abrupt lane changes. There may be a snow ridge between lanes. Also, the passing lane may be in worse shape than the driving lane.
7. Take a Brake – Brake early and gently to avoid skidding. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake. Do not pump anti-lock brakes. The right way is to stomp and steer.
8. Watch for Signs – Watch for signs alerting you to slippery bridge decks and other areas prone to becoming slick, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition.
9. Stay in Control – Don't use cruise control or overdrive in wintery conditions. Even a slight depression of your brakes to deactivate can cause loss of control on hidden slippery patches
10. Avoid Assumptions – Do not assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles encounter trouble on winter roads. The false sense of security these vehicles offer can leave you less prepared to deal with emergency situations.

Source: www.fmic.com.

Tags:

Indoor Kid-Friendly Activities to Keep Your Little One Busy

January 20, 2012 6:14 pm

Too much time indoors can often lead to cranky, stir-crazy kids. But you can keep your kiddo occupied with kid-friendly, educational activities that will appeal to their imagination. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Pitch a tent and build a campsite. If the weather has prevented you from a camping excursion, pitch a tent in your living room. If you don’t want to use an actual tent, use a table, chairs and a sheet to create a tent or fort in your dining room or living room. Then, set out a blanket in front of the tent and make a circle using potatoes in place of rocks and a flash light or lantern for a fire. Get the whole family involved and take turns telling one another funny stories.

Remember to pack some good campsite treats, such as popped popcorn and dried fruit.
Embark on an adventure. From your campsite, go exploring through the jungle of the living room. Encourage your child to use their imagination. What animals do they see? Do they hear any foreign sounds? How tall are the trees? Will they have to cross a river? If so, will they need to build a bridge? If a bridge is needed, let them use some throw pillows to use as crossing stones. Remember, if you're excited, they'll be excited too.

Create a journal. Ask your child to describe their adventure—or just their day—by writing, painting or drawing on a series of pages. Have them start from the beginning by describing what they had for breakfast, what they found in the jungle, etc. You can use a hole punch and yarn or string to put together a journal to help them recall their exciting day.

Head out on the town. What better excuse to head out—even in less than favorable weather—than to take a trip to the library? Keeping your child's book collection well-stocked and diverse are great ways to encourage their hobby, and help them to continue to develop a larger vocabulary.

Find out if your local library has a reading program and get your child signed up, and don't forget to check to see if they have story time as well.

Set up a book nook. There are few things better on a dreary weather day than to curl up in a cozy corner in warm pajamas with a good book and a trusted teddy bear. And after a long day of pitching tent and trudging through the jungle and the library, both you and your child are likely to need some quiet time. Designate one corner of your home as the book nook with lots of comfy blankets, pillows and a reading light. Then snuggle up and read some stories together.

Source: www.kidsvillenews.com.

Tags:

Word of the Day

January 20, 2012 6:14 pm

Title search. A professional examination of public records to determine the chain of ownership of a particular piece of property and to note any liens, encumbrances, easements, restrictions, or other factors that might affect the title.

Tags:

Question of the Day

January 20, 2012 6:14 pm

Q: What are closing costs?

A: Closing, or settlement, costs are expenses over and above the price of the property. Both the buyer and seller incur some of these expenses when transferring ownership of a property. Who actually pays, however, often depends on local custom and what the buyer or seller negotiates. Closing costs normally include title insurance, loan points, escrow or closing day charges, property taxes, and document fees. The lender provides an estimate of closing costs for prospective homebuyers.

Tags:

Top 3 Most Common Home Defects to Check For

January 20, 2012 6:14 pm

There is no such thing as a perfect home; most homes—both new and old—have a few problem areas. However, some home flaws are more frequent than others. Below are the top three home defects that every buyer and seller should check for before making an offer, or putting a home on the market.

Wood

Any wood that is exposed to air will naturally contain a small percentage of water, and rotted wood is one of the most frequently occurring maintenance issues. In fact, the repairs for rotted wood constitutes for 10 percent of wood production sales. The flooring and walls in places like kitchens and bathrooms are often exposed to moisture, and over time this can lead to rot. Buyers should also check basements and garages for rot, as well as the exterior of a house including any decks, overhangs or eaves.

Water and Drainage

According findings from the 2009 NCHH survey that polled Americans (18 and older) to determine their level of awareness for common home health and safety risks, only 41 percent of homeowners surveyed repaired water damage or plumbing leaks. This can lead to serious expenses down the line. Water damage is one of the most expensive problems a homeowner can be faced with. Water intrusion in basements and garages can create a rotting foundation which is pricey to repair, and mold which is difficult to get rid of. Be sure the foundation of your home is properly graded for maximum drainage, and check that the gutters are in working order.

Roof

The roof is your home’s strongest shield against the elements. Keeping your roof in top shape can help you avoid some pretty big disasters, including major leaks and even a total collapse. If you find yourself patching and re-patching sections of your roof annually, it might be time to replace it completely. Maintaining your roof by replacing shingles and patching any leaks can extend the life of your roof, but it is a good idea to have it inspected every five years, and replaced every 20 years.

Tags:

Trust Your Children; Kidnap Survivor Shares His Story & Tips for Protecting Kids

January 20, 2012 6:14 pm

Each new generation of parents keeps its children closer to home, supervises them more carefully, and guards them from both neighbors and strangers alike. With the rise of the Internet, they’re even running background checks on babysitters and troop leaders.

And still, children go missing.

Every day in the United States, 2,000 youngsters are reported missing, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Each year, 58,000 are taken by people unrelated to them and 200,000 are snatched by members of their own families. Sadly, there’s no relief in knowing the child may be with family.

George Molho knows that only too well. As a 7-year-old in 1978, he was taken to Greece from his home in Houston by his father, a man with a brutal temper, an obsessive need for control, Molho writes in his new memoir, Scarred.

Now a passionate advocate for child kidnapping and abuse victims, Molho says awareness of the problem and efforts to develop solutions that protect children should be a top national priority.

“One thing every parent can do to protect their children comes right from my own experience—and I don’t think parents know how very important it is,” Molho says.

When young children express fear or concern about even a close friend or family member, adults tend to chalk it up to shyness, a ploy for attention, or fantasy, Molho says.

“Trust your child's instincts,” he says. “If they act uncomfortable around someone because they can’t verbalize their feelings, or if they tell you they’re uncomfortable, trust them. No matter who it is, if they tell you a person scares them, protect them.”

Molho offers these other lesser-known tips for protecting children from kidnappers, whether they’re friends or family:
• Teach children how to fib on the phone. If they’re home alone, for instance, and someone calls asking to speak to their mother or father, they might say, “My mother’s busy in the kitchen right now and asked me to answer the phone and take a message.” Put them to the test by having someone they don’t know, one of your friends or co-workers, call.

• Make approved lists of people who will deliver any important news to them. If Mom or Dad is in trouble or hurt, only these people will know and will tell the child. Even if Uncle Bob tells them Mom is in the hospital and the child needs to go with Uncle Bob, if he’s not on the approved list, the child should not go. This is a common ploy.

• Teach them, train them and give them permission to defend themselves.
This is very important and it saves lives. Most children are taught to be polite and respect adults; it’s far safer to risk offending an adult—even if it turns out the adult meant no harm. Screaming, kicking and running away are perfectly acceptable if a stranger grabs your arm—even if the stranger is smiling sweetly.

George Molho worked as a health-care consultant for 15 years before becoming a writer and public speaker, addressing domestic abuse, child abduction, and recovering from trauma through self-reflection.

Tags:

Vegetables Leap to Culinary Forefront

January 20, 2012 6:14 pm

Add increased selection and tasty preparations to the good nutrition and overall wholesomeness long associated with vegetables, and you have a food group that's claiming an ever bigger portion of the dinner plate. Farmers are growing new, colorful varieties, creative chefs are whipping up flavorful vegetable dishes in restaurants and prepared food counters, and glossy magazines feature tempting vegetable recipes that exploit seasonal bounty.

Vegetables and the side dishes they grace have moved into the culinary forefront, according to the Vegetables & Sides: Culinary Trend Mapping Report recently released by leading market research publisher Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development (CCD).

"This explosion of farmers' markets with new and different varieties of vegetables has raised American consumers' vegetable IQs and influenced their lifestyles by encouraging them to add new vegetable-centric products to their diets," says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD. "And not just as sides, but as green breakfast smoothies, meatless entrées and even desserts made with vegetables that all extend vegetables into new dayparts."

Many consumers can now identify several types of heirloom tomatoes, which have opened the door for more exotic vegetables from watermelon radishes to kabocha squash to sea vegetables.
Simultaneously, consumers are showing a renewed interest in growing their own produce and are either turning their yards into garden plots or are making a weekly trip to the farmers market their main and most enjoyable food shopping event. Supermarkets are responding both by retooling produce sections and by purveying a wider range of convenience and value-added products such as pre-chopped mirepoix for soup making or peeled butternut squash cubes for easy roasting or stir-frying.

Vegetables & Sides: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, designed to help participants in the food industry seize a leading position in new product development, profiles several hot trends using CCD's proprietary Trend Mapping® methodology:

Stage 1: Fried Brussels Sprouts - Brussels sprouts are now taking a dive into the deep-fryer as restaurants and food trucks feature fried Brussels sprouts as a snack or side dish. What chefs have taken to doing to Brussels sprouts might seem to cancel out their health benefits, but that isn't deterring diners.
Stage 1: Savory Baked Goods -Creative and whimsical pastry chefs are now raiding the savory pantry and adding vegetables to their sweet creations resulting in delicacies such as Smoked White Chocolate Parfaits with Fennel Mousse and Beet Cake with Fromage Blanc Frosting. By highlighting the unique flavors and mild sweetness of vegetables in desserts, these chefs are ranging far beyond standards such as carrot cake and zucchini bread as well renouncing the old trick of hiding vegetable content to get more veggies into kids' diets.
Stage 1: Sea Vegetables - Long appreciated in several cultures across the globe, sea vegetables such as nori, dulse and kelp are washing up on menus and even on grocery shelves as more Americans learn to appreciate their distinctive flavors and nutritional powers. The salty, briny taste of sea vegetables can provide umami flavor to dishes and be used as a seasoning, ground and added to spice rubs, spice blends, vegetable coating batters, rice dishes and stir fries.
Stage 2: Kale - With its soul food resonance, superfood profile, and health foodie advocates, this leafy green could very well follow the path that baby spinach and bagged greens have taken in the past decade and become a mainstream addition to the weekly shopping list.
Stage 2: Vegetable Juices Redux - As consumers (particularly Millennials) look for ways to work in their five-a-day servings of fruits and vegetables, they are turning to hip fresh veggie juice bars and carts and a range of trendy veggie juice detox cleansing programs.
Stage 3: Farro - Carb lovers are opening their minds to alternative grains such as farro (or emmer wheat) that pack more nutritional punch. Fine dining currently is taking cues from the farro-based pasta, bread, croissants, flatbreads, cookies, crackers and soup mixes enjoyed in Italy.
Stage 5: Sweet Potatoes - Never a hard sell, sweet potatoes have long been featured in classic American holiday dishes. But new uses for sweet potatoes are being seen across all stages of the Trend Map®, including at Stage 5 sweet potato fries in quick-service restaurants.

Tags: