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Best Thanksgiving Meal for Small Families

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Thanksgiving Dinner for Smaller Gatherings As Thanksgiving approaches, various medias picture large families gathered around a table overflowing with festive foods, young kids at play, and grandpa sleeping in the living room recliner.  The incessant clamor of voices creates a beautiful kind of chaos. Everyone leaves with full bellies, a plate of leftovers, and the memory of another great Thanksgiving tucked away in their hearts. Maybe you're not from a large family, your kids can't make it home this year, or you're at a stage of life where too much commotion is unsettling.  You want a great Thanksgiving meal at home though and can't imagine going to a restaurant. Our family is small, too, and after years of experimenting, we have landed on a delicious menu that pleases everyone, doesn't create too many leftovers, and can be prepared in just a few hours.      Whether you're feeding your small family or inviting a few friends over to celebrate, here are recipes f

How to Dry Your Own Corn Stalks for Fall Decorating in 4 Easy Steps (with Pictures)

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Drying Corn Stalks Is Easier Than You Might Think Last year, I spied corn stalks for sale at our local Home Depot and Lowes stores and wanted to buy some for our Fall decorating, but sticker shock deterred me.  Each small bundle cost nearly $25!   Amazon, which typically offers better pricing, is selling bundles of 12 this year for $52.99.  Considering these bundles will either be composted or sent to the landfill at the end of the season, only people with money to burn would consider investing in such pricey lawn d├ęcor. The best solution is to dry your own corn stalks.  If you grew corn in your garden over the summer, it won't cost you a dime, and you'll be harvesting every bit of your crop. We tied our dried corn stalks to tomato stakes to help them stand in our display. Step One:  Harvest the Corn & Cut Each Stalk Once you have picked all the corn your garden has produced, waiting for stalks to dry out on their own will take too long.    You will need a tool to make a c

10 Ways to Reduce Stress During the Christmas Season

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! The Christmas season is the coziest and most magical time of the year.  Lights are twinkling, merry melodies are playing, cookies are baking, and our homes smell like cinnamon, peppermint, and pine.  Hearts are lighter, generosity abounds, and we set aside extra time to spend with the ones we love.  If you live in a colder climate, you might even wake up to a white Christmas--the best kind! For some, Christmas can be a time of undue stress.  Since many prefer holding back the holiday cheer until after Thanksgiving, pulling everything together in a month's time can be challenging.  Organization is the key to accomplishing your goals while still maintaining your peace of heart and mind and finding time to bask in all the warmth, beauty, and majesty the season has to offer. You can be a jolly Santa this season even without the help of elves! Here are several simple ways you can reduce your stress and still have time left to stop and smell the sugar

How to Build, Start, & Grow Your First Vegetable Garden in the Suburbs AND Keep Out the Pests

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Work with the Space You Have Growing up in a rural community, we never lacked space for an amazing garden.  Our one-acre plot was very fertile, boasting healthy soil beds that produced an abundant harvest of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  Our garden spanned nearly the full length of our property, and I can still imagine the sight of my dad wrestling his tiller between the rows.     I loved running to the garden to snap cucumbers, squash, green peppers, and tomatoes from their vines so my mom could include them in her plans for dinner.  I especially loved when she turned our tender lettuces into mouth-watering wilted lettuce .  What we couldn't eat was frozen or canned to sustain us through the winter months.  That garden saved our blue-collar family a lot of money back in the 1980's. I've never fully adjusted to life in the suburbs.  Everything we need is within a 5-10 minute jaunt, but the convenience will never compensate for being confined to such a tiny parcel of lan

What Age Should I Let My Kid Have a Cell Phone? Advice For Parents on Setting Rules & Boundaries for Kids & Teens with Cell Phones

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All of My Friends Have Cell Phones! Has your child been begging you to get her a cell phone?  Is she lamenting she's the only person in her peer group without one.  She may be right. A study by Common Sense Media , an organization that conducts original research to ensure the digital well-being of kids, reports these mind-blowing statistics: By age 11, more than half of U.S. kids possess a cell phone. By age 12, two-thirds of kids have a phone. By age 14, teens are as likely as adults to have a cell phone. About 20% of kids as young as eight have cell phones! What's a parent to do? Cell Phones Are an Artificial Form of Communication Buying your child a phone today isn't like it used to be when rotary and touchtone phones were the standard forms of communication.  If you grew up in the age when extension cords from a wall-mounted phone could stretch to nearly every room in your house, you remember spending hours on it talking to friends, family, and love interests. The big