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Family Matters: Thanksgiving Fun for the Kids


Thanksgiving Fun for the KidsGrowing up, Thanksgiving with my mom’s side of the family was a big, raucous affair.

We’d load into the three-seat station wagon (you know, the kind with the rear seat facing backward) early that Thursday morning and head north to my aunt and uncle’s home about two hours away, depending on traffic.

When we got there, we’d tumble out of the two-toned station wagon: ourselves, the bountiful side dishes we’d provided and usually a few boxes of hand-me downs for assorted cousins or gear promised to various relatives. “Do you want Amy’s box of old Nancy Drew books for Megan?” “Sure, just bring them at Thanksgiving.”

Then, the food preparation would ensue, and the kids would be left to their own devices, which usually involved messing with Uncle Jerry’s big-screen TV (the very first of its kind) in the basement, or knocking cans of soda off the soundproof wall onto the Beltway below. Neither were sanctioned activities.

The adults finally caught on to the fact that they needed to keep us busy in order to direct our energies into a productive manner, so they put us to work making fun foods for the holiday meal.

One year, we made Thanksgiving cornucopias.

We took ice cream sugar cones, dipped the openings in melted chocolate, let them dry, and then filled them with candy corns and candy pumpkins. We set them on top of each plate for decoration. They were a sweet treat and lovely table décor for that year’s feast.

One year, we made turkey cookies. You could use Brookshire’s bakery sugar cookies. Then, you simply need white piped icing from the bakery aisle to pipe on a half-moon, outlining the top of the cookie. Line about a dozen candy corns over the icing (the icing adheres the candy corn to the cookie) to make the turkey “feathers.” Pipe on an icing face and use as a fun dessert! You can also use M&M’s® chocolate candies for the eyes instead.

One of our favorites was the “acorns” that we made for dessert one year. We took doughnut holes from the bakery, dipped them in melted chocolate bark found on the baking aisle, and then rolled them in crushed pecans (or the nut of your choice). They were delicious!

You can also make a turkey appetizer platter using pepperoni, salami and assorted cheeses to make a “turkey” on a platter or cheese board. Start by cutting a round head from a slice of cheddar, and then cut an oval body from a slice of Colby-Jack. Under that, fan an arrangement of pepperoni to represent the first layer of feathers. Under that, lay squares of cheese in a fan arrangement for the next layer of feathers. Alternate cheese and meats until you have a full plate and a festive turkey. You might have to visualize this from the outer layer to the inner layer, though, to make it easier to execute.

There are so many fun ways to include your kids in the holidays, and we have so many options to make it easy at Brookshire’s.



Family Matters: Choosing Your Dog’s Food


Choosing Your Dog's FoodWhen Astro first bounded out of his foster mom’s car onto my driveway, I had two immediate thoughts.

The first was, “Oh my gosh, he’s huge.” The second was, “Oh my gosh, he’s so cute.”

I picked Astro off the SPCA Facebook page. My boys and I were ready to get another dog, and we (I) fell in love with Astro’s soulful eyes and his hound face. We adopted him sight unseen.

We found out later that the SPCA was overjoyed because dogs his size are difficult to adopt out. People tend to be frightened of them, but little do they know that our gentle giant is the kindest, most docile, most loving, most friendly dog in the history of dogs.

Back to the issue at hand though… When we got Astro, he was still a puppy, and he needed puppy food.

You wouldn’t feed your baby a steak, right? So, you don’t want to feed your puppy any food that’s formulated for an adult or senior dog.

Now, I’ll be honest. It probably won’t hurt a dog like a steak would hurt a baby. However, take care of your puppy like you would your baby, and you and your four-legged family member will have lots of good years together.

Puppy formulations are designed to give your dog the best nutrients for growth; to develop the building blocks he needs for a long, healthy life; and to sustain his playful energy.

Brookshire’s Paws Happy Life™ foods have Puppy Formula that will do exactly this for your growing pup.

As your dog grows, he needs more protein, more balance or other formulations to serve him well through his life. Paws Happy Life™ helps with that, offering Butcher’s Choice, Kibbles, Complete, Lamb Meal & Rice, and Nutritionally Complete formulas. Paws Happy Life™ also offers formulations in cans and pouches that your dog will love, including beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, filet mignon and more.

Now that Astro is a 4-year-old, 100 lb. adult, we give him a variety designed to meet his large-breed, adult needs. I can personally attest that he is healthy, happy, and loves his morning and evening meals.



Family Matters: Choosing Your Cat’s Litter


Choosing Your Cat's LitterDuring the years that my boys begged to get a cat and I denied them time and time again, the reason was always that I did not want to mess with a litter box.

Clearly, cat litter technology has changed since the last time I had a cat.

With Brookshire’s Paws Happy Life™ Cat Litter, it’s almost like not even having a cat litter box in the house. Now granted, we have one that is hooded, vented and sealed from almost every angle, but I also use Paws Happy Life™ Lightweight Clumping, Fragrance-Free Cat Litter. I also have a great textured mat by the exit of the box that catches any stray spills.

This cat litter traps all the odors of a cat box and holds them together, making it easy to scoop on a regular basis and keep the cat box clean for Carl, our cat, and also for me (not sure who is more important here).

It’s not messy for either of us. It’s easy to scoop, and it’s virtually odor-free. Lightweight technology means it doesn’t make a mess either in or out of the cat box. Whether you have one cat or more than one, Paws Happy Life™ offers a kind of cat litter that will work best in your home.



Terrible Twos


Last weekend, I watched my friend’s toddler have a meltdown at a birthday party.

No. No. No. He did NOT want to play the game. He did NOT want the green cupcake; he wanted the BLUE cupcake. He did NOT want to sing the appropriate song to the birthday boy.

It was terribly frustrating, and I’d dare say embarrassing for his parents, yet, at the same time, entirely developmentally appropriate. They certainly weren’t the only ones in that same position. (Sophie had to be taken to the car when there weren’t any PINK cupcakes.)

About the time your little wonder wall hits age 2, they begin to develop defiance, and that’s okay. He’s learning to test his limits, and he’s learning what he likes and does not like. He’s also learning how it’s appropriate to vocalize those likes and dislikes, and it’s up to you to teach him how to set those boundaries.

When your toddler screams with rage when it’s time to leave the playground because he doesn’t want to, it’s not your place to give in. It’s time to leave the playground. You might want to manage his expectations by giving him a countdown. “Joshua, we’re going to leave in 2 minutes.” (Toddlers don’t have a great concept of time, but a countdown can help prepare them). “Joshua, we’re going to leave in 1 minute.” Then, you leave. Don’t backtrack on what you say you’re going to do; be consistent.

If there’s not a pink cupcake, give Sophie options. “You can have the green cupcake, or you don’t get a cupcake. What do you choose?” Chances are, Sophie will pick the green cupcake. Remind Sophie that it’s Bryce’s special day, not hers. When it’s HER special day, SHE can pick the pink cupcake.

Also, keep in mind that your toddler needs to go into situations well-rested and well-fed. Keep him on his schedule. If you’re going to a birthday party, make sure he’s had his nap first and eaten his lunch. If you’re going to an unfamiliar house, pack his favorite foods just in case he needs a backup. (See Gerber’s Lil Entrees, below.)

TIP: Gerber’s Lil Entrees are great meals for your toddler to not only feed himself but also get great nutrition. Gerber’s recipes, with entrees like Chicken and Brown Rice with Peas and Corn, are designed specifically for toddlers, with a taste your little one will love, an easy-to-eat texture and the perfect size for easy self-feeding. If your little one doesn’t like his food touching, like my older son didn’t, Gerber made these entrees with two compartments that keep food separate.



The pincer grasp


The pincer grasp is a big deal for your baby to develop during the latter half of their first year.

The pincer grasp, or using their thumb and pointer finger to pick up objects, is a handy movement used for feeding and grabbing objects when playing.

To encourage use of the pincer grasp, give baby small bites of food, like Cheerios if your baby is ready for that kind of food or soft bits of fruits or veggies otherwise, and let him pick them up off of his high chair tray or plate and eat them. Food is always a good incentive!

Board books with peekaboo flaps are also good for using the pincer grasp as baby has to open the flaps to see what’s inside. Activity boards with slider windows, buttons or other knobs also help develop this skill.

TIP: Organics Happy Baby Clearly Crafted Stage 2 pouches are perfect foods for your little one to enjoy. Thick and smooth, these are specially formulated for the child aged 6 months and up exploring the world of solid foods. These foods are all certified USDA organic, non-GMO project verified, gluten-free and kosher without artificial flavors. They do have delicious flavors like Bananas, Sweet Potato and Papaya; Pears, Squash and Blackberries; Apples, Kale and Avocados; Apples, Guava and Beets; Pears, Pumpkin and Passion Fruit; and Pears, Zucchini and Peas.



Cradle cap


One of the most common ailments for newborns is cradle cap. It kind of looks like dandruff for your baby, which might strike you as kind of weird to see your precious, perfect newborn with a scaly scalp. Don’t worry; it’s totally normal.

Cradle cap looks like scaly or yellow crusty patches on your baby’s head. It doesn’t imply illness or that your baby is dirty. It just happens.

It’s not harmful, and it will resolve itself, usually by six months but almost always by baby’s first birthday.

To help healing along, all you need to do is treat cradle cap at home, with products you can find at Brookshire’s.

About an hour before baby’s bath, rub his scalp with Top Care Baby Oil, mineral oil or petroleum jelly to help loosen the scales or crusty parts.

Then, when you’re ready to shampoo with Top Care Baby Shampoo, get his scalp wet, and then gently scrub the scalp with a soft bristle brush (a soft toothbrush actually works really well!) for a few minutes to remove the scales. Wash with baby shampoo. Rinse well, and towel dry.

TIP: OXO On-The-Go Wipes Dispensers are a must-have for your diaper bag, your car, your stroller, your travel tote, your beach bag, your briefcase or anywhere else baby might be. These sleek, streamlined, waterproof and leak-proof cases are perfect for carrying extra baby wipes for when you need them most. They fit into your purse or portable pack, and they are essential for carrying wipes for cleaning emergencies. The best part? You really don’t even need a baby to need baby wipes.



Family Matters: Caramel Popcorn


When I was growing up, my mom would make popcorn every night after we went to bed. I suppose it was her treat after surviving the day with five kids.

When I was old enough to be aware of the popping sound coming from the stove downstairs, the sound of the Revere™ Ware pan shaking across the electric elements and, of course, the delicious aroma wafting up the staircase, I vowed that as soon as I was old enough, I’d make popcorn every night, too.

It turns out that I don’t, but that’s okay because my mom will still make it for me every time I go home. I’m pretty sure she even still uses the same pan.

When I was a teenager, I’d stay up with her, and she’d make us each a bowl. We’d talk every evening over our bowl of popcorn. I think some evenings, it was the only time I’d emerge from my room after a busy day of school, field hockey practice and homework. I think some days, it probably served as my main meal of the day, if whatever she left me on a plate under a piece of waxed paper got carefully packaged back up and put in the refrigerator for leftovers if I got home way too tired to heat it up.

It’s funny how I was never too tired for popcorn, though, and for stories about how mean the coach was at practice that day, or how Tina J. had said something rude about Kimberly D’s double-layered socks in the hallway at school, or how frustrating it was to have a bottom locker, or how difficult it was to make it all the way to the math hallway in only 3 minutes after fourth period English class. Mom listened, and munched.

In the fall, she’d make double batches of popcorn at night. The next day, we’d use the cool bowls to make caramel corn. Then, we’d have huge batches of sweet stuff that she’d store in a big, white Tupperware® container that also doubled as a cake plate if you flipped it over and used the lid as the base of the cake plate. This was my brother, Jim’s, favorite way to eat popcorn and what he most often requested for his birthday treat to bring to school for his class, which happened to fall the day after Halloween. We’d package up baggies full of caramel popcorn to send in instead of cupcakes. If my memory serves me correctly, we also packaged up bags of caramel popcorn to send home with guests after his wedding 15 years ago, too.

Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients:
10 cups popped popcorn
salt
1 cup salted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions:
Pop popcorn on stove according to package directions. If using microwave popcorn (use plain, not buttered), pop in package. Salt and let cool.

Melt 1 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, and stir until thoroughly combined. Stirring continuously, bring the butter and sugar mixture to a boil.

Boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Add the vanilla; stir to mix. Boil for 1 more minute, and add the baking soda.

Remove from heat. Spread the popcorn on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper, parchment paper or aluminum foil. Drizzle the caramel over the popcorn. Stir, coating all the kernels. Let cool.

Chef Tip: Store this in an airtight container, or it will get sticky and messy.

If you’d like to make this into popcorn balls, form them into a ball shape right after pouring the caramel over the popcorn. You might want to wear food-grade gloves to protect your hands.

Add Ins: Mix in nuts, marshmallows, chocolate candies or other treats to make a fun, festive snack mix.

Serves 10

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 251, Fat: 19 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 49 mg, Sodium: 664 mg, Carbohydrates: 21 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 14 g, Protein: 1 g.



Family Matters: Castor & Pollux® Dog Cookies


In the lore of Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux were twin brothers with different fathers. They became the constellation Gemini and associated with horsemanship.

Today, we’re talking about the amazing products of Castor & Pollux® that you can feed your pup from Brookshire’s pet aisle.

Personally, I went for the Castor & Pollux® Organix™ Dog Cookies, Cheddar Cheese Flavor, to be exact.

Astro loves them.

Tell him that he has a “T.R.E.A.T” (shhhhh…don’t say it out loud….), and he’ll run to the corner of the carpet and sit patiently to wait for it….

If Astro wasn’t already pretty well-trained, these cookies would be ideal for training and rewarding good behavior, or my sweet pup has THAT look about him. These all-natural treats feature 95-percent organic ingredients, including organic free-range chicken as the No. 1 ingredient in all varieties. They’re easy to break, yet nice and crunchy. Each 1 1/2-inch long cookie contains only 8 calories and delivers a robust taste that dogs like Astro crave. They are also USDA certified-organic and all-natural with no corn, wheat or soy, and they are available in a 12-ounce size. Most of all, they’re made with love.



Family Matters: Purely Fancy Feast®


My cat, Carl, wakes up every morning begging for a good meal.

Let’s just be straight: Carl begs for a good meal pretty much every time he sees me, whether it be when  I wake up in the morning, when I come in the door in the evening, if I happen to stop by during the lunch hour, or really any time my eyes are open.

Carl gets his good meals in the form of a high-quality dry cat food.

Once a week, he also gets Purely Fancy Feast® from Purina®, on the pet food aisle at Brookshire’s. Purely Fancy Feast® entrées are made with pure seafood, chicken or beef, and no by-products or fillers for a wholesome, complete and balanced meal for mature felines.

He loves his Thursday treats, and I know he’s getting good nutrition to boot!



Family Matters: Utensils


During these years, your toddler will stop picking up his food with his fingers and learn to use utensils.

You’re going to want to encourage this new-found skill by providing him with easy-to-use, toddler-friendly starter forks and spoons.

Whether you choose plastic or a coated metal, find kid-friendly products in the baby aisle at Brookshire’s.

Toddler utensils are shorter, making it easier for your little one to navigate his food into his mouth.

They’re plastic or coated metal, so in case he misses, he can’t hurt himself (or you.)

Often, they’re curved to help him negotiate the space between his arm and the angle to get the food into his mouth.

Having contoured handles or grips also helps your toddler hold on to his fork and spoon more easily.

Generally speaking, your toddler might start out “dipping” his utensil into his food before he starts scooping or spearing his food, but that’s developmentally appropriate. He’ll work up to the finer points of eating with utensils. Just keep providing them for him, modeling the correct way to use them, and he’ll be a pro before you know it.



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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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