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Family Matters: Wacky Days of April

Wacky Days of AprilIt’s no joke! April showers not only bring in the rain, but they also bring in some pretty weird, wild and wacky holidays! April 1 gets the ball rolling with April Fools’ Day. This sets the agenda for a whole month full of fun, bizarre days to celebrate. Don’t worry about coming in late in the game of April’s wacky days; there is a day for just about everyone and everything!

April Fools’ Day 1
Whole-Grain Sampling Day 1
Peanut Butter & Jelly Day 2
Love Your Produce Manager Day 2
Chocolate Mousse Day 3
Cordon Bleu Day 4
Deep-Dish Pizza Day 5
Hostess Twinkie Day 6
Caramel Popcorn Day 6
National Beer Day 7
World Health Day 7
Pet Day 11
Cheese Fondue Day 11
Licorice Day 12
Peach Cobbler Day 13
Pecan Day 14
Eggs Benedict Day 16
Cheeseball Day 17
Garlic Day 19
Chocolate-Covered Cashew Day 21
Earth Day 22
Jelly Bean Day 22
Cherry Cheesecake Day 23
Picnic Day 23
Pig in a Blanket Day 24
Zucchini Bread Day 25
Pretzel Day 26
Babe Ruth Day 27
Prime Rib Day 27
Blueberry Pie Day 28
Shrimp Scampi Day 29
Oatmeal Cookie Day 30
Raisin Day 30

There are plenty of fun days here to get you and your kiddos in the kitchen cooking up a great time! So, no matter which days you choose to celebrate, you can be sure it will put a smile on the faces of those you love.

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Family Matters: Wild Birds

Wild BirdsOne of my favorite things, every spring, is to watch the birds come back to my yard.

Their migration always starts with the cardinals. I have two pairs who live in my big oak tree. Then, there are the robins, always the “first sign of spring,” but mine like living in Texas, I think, as I see them most of the year. The doves and the sparrows are next, then the mockingbirds (which drive my dog crazy), the finches and the hummingbirds.

Thomas Moore’s Texas Wild Bird Seed makes it easy to keep my feathered friends happy and well-fed.

The bird seed attracts cardinals, chickadees, blue jays and finches, adding color and variety to your backyard flock.

The seeds themselves come in many varieties, including black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, shell-free no-mess mix and a songbird mix. (I’m trying that one next!)

It’s easy to feed the birds. Thomas Moore recommends replacing seeds every one to two days, emptying old seeds before replenishing the feeders. During slower seasons, don’t fill the feeder as often to prevent waste. Available at Brookshire’s, the wild bird seeds are a great way to attract birds to your backyard, and it might be the start of a new hobby for you and your family as you watch them!

Family Matters: “Me Time” for Mommy

“Me Time” for MommyWhoooo weeeeee, those first six months of baby’s life are quite the ride.

You’re exhausted beyond all possible endurance, your body is doing all kinds of amazing – and weird – things that you weren’t expecting and another human is attached to you at almost all times.

You wouldn’t trade it for the world, but you still need a break.

“Me time” is good for new mothers. It makes you a better parent, gives you some respite from your rapidly changing world, and refreshes and rejuvenates you.

Getting “me time” in can be as simple as taking a long bath. Don’t just let it be a bath; make it a spa experience with scented body washes from the personal hygiene aisle at Brookshire’s. Treat yourself to your favorite scent and soak away. Or, add about 1/4 cup Epsom salts to your bath, sprinkle in your favorite essential oil and relax. Give yourself a facial at the same time by mixing oats with raw honey and placing slices of cucumbers over your eyes to help the bags (yes, you probably have them, we all did).

“Me time” can also come in the form of finding a quiet corner (let Dad be in charge of baby!) and reading your favorite book or magazine with a cup of Brookshire’s Best Coffee.

Make time for your favorite hobby. Mine, at the time my boys were little, was scrapbooking with actual paper, scissors and glue! I would spend any free time I had at my work table, happily creating new designs. Is your hobby sewing? Make time for 30 minutes a day for that. Do you love crossword puzzles or yoga? Make sure to schedule time for yourself.

Whatever it is, from a monthly Girls’ Night Out or Bunco game to quiet time to rest and recharge, make “Me Time” a priority!

Family Matters: Get More Dairy

Get More DairyOnce your baby is about six months old, they’re ready for more dairy in their diet.

Now remember, this does not include cow’s milk (save that until baby is one year old), but it can include things like yogurt, cheese or baked goods.

Yogurt is a great way for baby to get calcium and the “bacteria” in yogurt that is good for digestion. Yogurt is also a great way for babies to get the fat they need. Choose a Greek yogurt that is high in calcium and protein. Stay away from varieties with artificial sweeteners.

Cheese is another good way to get dairy into baby’s diet, starting at about 8 months. Small cubes of cheese that they can chew or gum on are a good way to snack and to practice fine motor skills. Mozzarella cheese sticks or string cheese is good, too. You can also make cheese toast with American cheese and whole-grain bread. Mac and cheese with whole-wheat elbow macaroni is a good choice, too.

Using cow’s milk in baked goods is just fine for baby. Banana bread, zucchini bread or biscuits are a great start.

Family Matters: Savvy Snacking on the Go

Savvy Snacking on the GoThere are lots of great ways to keep your toddler healthy and happy, and his belly full when you’re on the go. Savvy snacking doesn’t have to be complicated. Just pack a few of these essentials.

Dried fruit – Raisins, dried mangos, banana chips, prunes, dried apricots and dried cherries all make great snack choices.

Kale chips – What a great way to get your toddler to eat greens! Easy to make at home, these are a fabulous alternative to processed foods.

Granola bars – There are plenty of great recipes out there for homemade varieties, or buy something like KIND for your toddler’s nutritional needs.

Roasted chickpeas – My boys used to love these, and I couldn’t help but sneak a few from their baggie, too. Again, these are also easy to make at home, adding the seasonings your little one likes.

Sweet potato chips – Another great idea for a snacking powerhouse and super simple to make.

Homemade fruit leathers – Yummy, fun and highly portable (just stock a few wipes for sticky hands).

Homemade beef jerky – You control what goes in, so you know your little one is getting maximum nutrition and a ton of protein.

Cold grilled cheese – Why not?

Cereals – Look for a whole-grain variety that’s easy for your toddler to pick up.

Applesauce or fruit sauces – Homemade or from the store without added sugars.

Fruit – Sturdy fruits like bananas, apples and pears are easy to toss into the diaper bag.

String cheese – A great snack and a good way to get more dairy into your child’s diet.

Family Matters: Homemade Banana Bread

Homemade Banana BreadAbout a year ago, I found a recipe for banana bread made with buttermilk that is fantastic; it is so moist and has the best flavor. This is now our favorite bread recipe…it is delicious for breakfast (quick and easy for kids before school), snack time or a bedtime treat. You can heat a slice in the microwave and add a little butter – my husband’s favorite thing to do! It has been a family tradition to bake loaves of strawberry bread and give as gifts to close friends and teachers, and serve at family gatherings. Now, we have added this banana bread. If you enjoy bananas, this is a must-try recipe!

Homemade Banana Bread

1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup Brookshire’s Buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups  ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time using a mixer. Stir baking soda into buttermilk then add to the mixture. Sift flour and baking powder; add to the mixture. Add vanilla and mashed bananas next; mix in and stir in pecans as the last item. Pour in a greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan (or 4 mini loaf pans, less cooking time). Bake at 300° F for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until bread is done (check with toothpick). Let cool shortly before removing from pan, or cut immediately and enjoy fresh hot bread with a glass of milk. Note: Bake it in a bundt pan for a fancy look and sprinkle with powdered sugar; it is a great party item.

Plan an afternoon and try this banana bread recipe – time in the kitchen with your family is an opportunity to bond and grow relationships. It may become a favorite family recipe that you can pass on for generations to come. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

Family Matters: Lucky Ice Cream Floats

Lucky Ice Cream Floats St. Patrick’s Day may be over, but you can still have some “green” fun in the kitchen this weekend. Your kiddos can still feel lucky with delicious – and decidedly green – ice cream floats that are simple for kids of all ages to make.

Start out by chilling the glass you will be using in advance, so the ingredients stay nice and cold. With an ice cream scoop, dip 2 to 3 scoops of Goldenbrook Farms Lime Sherbet into the glass. With a steady hand, carefully and slowly pour in the Brookshire’s BLAST! Lemon Lime. The combination will begin to foam. Stop pouring before the foam reaches the top of the glass. Add a fun straw to the drink and enjoy every sip!

For more kid-friendly recipes, pick up a free copy of Celebrate Cooking Magazine available online or at your local Brookshire’s.

Family Matters: Bathtime for Your Pets

Bathtime for Your PetsLast weekend, we gave my 95-pound rescue dog, Astro, his first bath. Well, at least the first time we’d bathed him since we got him in July.

Yes, it was long overdue.

The most difficult part was getting Astro into the bathtub. He didn’t like it, at all. He dodged and ran into my closet, which is an adventure in and of itself. (In the summer, we’ll bathe him outside, but it was too cold last weekend for an outside bath.) Then, he slipped through our grasps and got into the bedroom. He tried to hide under the bed, but a dog that stands hip height can’t quite make it. We finally got him into the bathroom and got the door closed, and two of us lifted him into the tub. Once in the tub, he didn’t mind at all, and I think he kind of enjoyed the warm spray from the shower head and the lather. (It took three times of lather, rinse and repeat to get him clean!)

According to the ASPCA, what we should have done was spend a few days slowly introducing him to the concept of bath time by bringing him into the bathroom, teaching him to step in and out of the tub by himself, using treats and rewards, and letting him hear the running water and get accustomed to it.

That would have helped.

Another way to give your pooch a good bath time memory is to give him treats AFTER the bath and to play with him. Trust me. I’ve filed all this information away for next time.

Family Matters: Splish, Splash, Baby was Taking a Bath

Splish, Splash, Baby was Taking a BathI think babies come in two categories when it comes to bath time: they either love it or they hate it.

I had two lovers, but my nephew was a hater of epic proportions. Getting him into the bath was akin to dunking him in a tub of scalding water.

There are lots of things you can try to make bath time a fun and relaxing experience for all involved.

First, you might want to try to experiment with different temperatures of water. Baby might like it warmer or cooler than what you expect.

Secondly, play some music in the bathroom. Classical is relaxing, but anything he’s accustomed to hearing will help him relax.

Fill the tub with fun toys! Floating animals, soap crayons, small cups, sieves or water wheels are all entertaining in the tub. A stick-on mirror could make for hours of fun in the tub if you put it at baby’s eye level. Sponges, washcloths and anything tactile could distract baby while you wash her hair and body.

Try lavender-scented baby wash. Lavender is supposed to have a calming effect, and the scent might just work on baby, too.

Family Matters: Bottoms Up!

Keep Baby’s Diaper Area Clean and DryThere is nothing more miserable than a baby with a bad case of diaper rash – for the parents or for the little one!

Luckily, with products and techniques available today, diaper rash is both preventable and treatable.

Diaper rash is usually caused by leaving a wet or dirty diaper on too long, rubbing or chafing against the diaper itself, a yeast infection, allergic reaction to the diaper or something the baby ate that comes out the other end and causes a reaction.

Babies get diaper rashes more often when they get older, sleep in a dirty diaper, have diarrhea, start eating solid foods or take antibiotics.

To prevent diaper rash, make sure baby is changed frequently. If they don’t tend to wake up at night when they’re dirty, a thin layer of diaper rash ointment or petroleum jelly can protect their bottom for several hours.

To treat diaper rash, let baby “air” out between diaper changes for a few minutes. Treat the rash areas with a diaper rash ointment. If diaper rash persists, you might have to eliminate certain things from his diet that cause severe irritation or change diaper brands.

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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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