By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
There’s a fascinating, whimsical world awaiting guests just a car or train ride away at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the Bronx! The Holiday Train Show has become “a must-see tradition where G-scale model trains hum alongside of more than 150 iconic replicas of New York landmarks.” The 26th annual show opened on November 22 and runs through January 15, 2018, which is perfect for visitors looking for places to go to celebrate the holidays or school recess.
Our family has made it an annual tradition to visit this amazing display of buildings all created from natural materials such as bark, twigs, seeds and pine cones, done by designer Paul Busse’s team at Applied Imagination. Starting with a huge replica of Macy’s 34th street at the fully decorated tented access, each building mesmerizes as viewers look closely at what materials are used in the duplication of such buildings as Grand Central Terminal, the Brooklyn Bridge, original Yankee stadium and the NYBG’s breathtaking crystal conservatory where the Train Show is held.
Included this year are new renditions of the Empire State Building, now with changing internal lighting schemes, the Chrysler Building, and the General Electric Building, in addition to a replica of St. Bartholomew’s Church. While walking through the exhibit and warm interior of the palm forest and exotic plants, visitors will see model trains zipping in and out of the displays on nearly a half-mile of track. While any time of day is lovely for a tour, after dusk is the most enchanting for viewing the twinkling lights and glow of this miniature world that beckons both adults and children to its charm.
In addition to the Train Show, the NYBG has scores of events that coincide with the holiday theme. Programs such as All Aboard with Thomas & Friends, Evergreen Express, Nutcracker presentations, holiday film screenings, Holiday A Cappella, bar car nights (an adult only event), poetry readings and more, run through January. Food is available at The Gingerbread Café for a snack or meal.
For tickets or information visit www.nybg.org
The NYBG is an iconic living museum, a major educational institution, and a renowned plant research and conservation organization. Founded in 1891 and now a national historic landmark, it is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world and the largest in any city in the United States, distinguished by the beauty of its diverse landscape and extensive collections and gardens, as well as by the scope and excellence of its multidisciplinary exhibitions and programs.
(Family Features) When it comes to entertaining, it’s not always about three-course meals or hours upon hours of preparation. Sometimes, the best hosts look toward simple snacks and small plates to please guests with an array of palates.
Herbs, onions, artichokes and olives create a medley of flavors atop this savory flatbread that makes it easy to give guests a fresh bite without spending too much time in the kitchen. Or you can enjoy a berry and beet chutney as a topping for crostini that is spread with goat or cream cheese, or topped with a thin slice of Gouda or a runny slice of Brie. It’s also a welcome addition to an open-face sandwich.
The secret is using convenient ingredients like Aunt Nellie’s Harvard Beets and Holland-Style Onions that contribute great flavors to recipes and also help streamline preparation as guests settle in for an evening of fun and relaxation.
Explore more ideas to make your entertaining skills shine at AuntNellies.com
Herbed Mediterranean Flatbread
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes
1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Holland-Style Onions
1 jar (7 1/2 ounces) quartered, marinated artichoke hearts
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped or sliced Kalamata olives
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 whole-grain round or square flatbreads (about 6-7 inches diameter)
fresh basil (optional)
Heat oven to 400 F. Drain onions. Pat dry. Discard liquid. Drain artichokes well. Discard liquid.
Press onions with spatula to crush lightly. Pat dry again. Place in large bowl. Coarsely chop artichokes. Add to bowl with onions. Stir in bell pepper, parsley, olives, red pepper flakes, black pepper and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese; set aside.
In small bowl, stir together olive oil, thyme and garlic. Brush over one side of flatbreads. Place on baking sheet; bake 2 minutes. Remove from oven.
Top each flatbread with onion mixture. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Return to oven. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until heated through and flatbread is crisp.
Cut each flatbread in half. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired.
Beet and Berry Chutney
Prep time: 20 minutes
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 jar (15 1/2 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Harvard Beets, not drained
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger (optional)
1 1/2 cups berries (fresh or frozen unsweetened cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, cut in half or quartered, if large)
In medium saucepan over medium heat, stir marmalade until melted. Stir in beets and red pepper. Cook 3-5 minutes until liquid is reduced by about half, stirring frequently. Add ginger, if desired.
If using only cranberries, add to pan with beet mixture and cook until they just begin to pop. If also using other berries, add to beet-cranberry mixture; stir and heat through. If using only blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, add to beet mixture after reducing liquid. Stir and heat through.
Remove pan from heat; cool to room temperature before serving.
Note: Chutney can also be served chilled. Store, covered, in a refrigerator up to 1 week.
(Family Features) Staying healthy can be a challenge, especially for those living with diabetes. Everyone can have conflicts finding the right balance of partaking in healthy habits, such as exercise, eating well and even keeping your teeth and gums clean. From stress to self-care, life can be up and down when you’re living with diabetes.
These seven tips from Dr. Natalie Strand, the winner of season 17 of “The Amazing Race” who lives with diabetes herself, can help you stay healthy and lead a balanced life while managing your diabetes.
Communicate with your care team. Make sure you connect with your nurse educator, endocrinologist and dietician. Reach out to them with your questions as they can often help you implement subtle changes to avoid completely overhauling your lifestyle and routine because of diabetes.
Get involved. Get a local group together to fundraise, vent or just understand each other. Groups such as Diabetes Sisters, JDRF, TuDiabetes and BeyondType1 offer ways to connect with others living with diabetes in person or on social media. Connecting with the diabetes community can be a powerful way to help ease the burden of living with diabetes.
Keep doing what you love. Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you have to give up doing what you love. Make efforts to continue sports, travel and other hobbies, even if there is a learning curve to adapting with diabetes at first.
Maintain good oral health. People living with diabetes are two times more likely to develop gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Colgate Total toothpaste is FDA-approved to help reverse and prevent gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.
Get into a routine. Find a routine that works and stick with it. This way you don’t have to make new decisions each day. Anything that can ease the mental burden of diabetes can help. For example, pick a time each year for your annual visits: eye doctor, endocrinologist, renew prescriptions, etc. Picking the same time of year every year can help ensure you don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Make self-care a priority. It can be hard to keep diabetes care in the forefront. It can be boring, exhausting and also fade into the background. Remind yourself that one of the best things you can do for yourself, and for your loved ones, is stay healthy. Use your family as motivation to exercise daily, eat better-for-you foods and maintain a healthy weight.
Manage stress. Diabetes can be a big stressor. Add jobs, kids, relationships and it can become overwhelming. Find an easy and effective tool for stress relief and do it often. Even 5-10 minutes of guided meditation daily can have a big impact on stress management.
For more information and ways to lead a balanced life with diabetes, visit OralHealthandDiabetes.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
By Frank J. Rich
Every day most of us go to work. We do so with the expectation that what awaits us is familiar and within our ability to accomplish. The usual preparation notwithstanding, some of us keep a schedule of “continuing education” (CE) to ensure the competency we might otherwise take for granted. Apart from professionals, most of us find our own path to CE, either by personal study, structured programs, or by the hand of a coach. Common among all approaches is that we see opportunity in the exercise. I regularly read books, view CDs, and attend online seminars to achieve the same result.
Recently, I took such an opportunity at an association meeting my wife and I attended. The main purpose of the 2-day session was to prepare a strategic plan of sorts, and for this the association hired a professional management consultant to facilitate the process. I met him the night before the planning session was to begin. The more we spoke the clearer it became (at least in my humble view) that Andy had all of the right principles firmly in place, and that the collaborative results of the ensuing sessions would bear fruit. Andy Hoh was doing it right, and I was encouraged that my wife would be in good hands over the next two days.
A strategic plan is usually not something you can accomplish in just a couple of days. Few of us are capable of pulling together the thoughts that inform a realistic view of the future in the short span of a day or two. The competition, internal and market initiatives, resource development, and technology forecasting, to name a few, can be complex issues to plan. Consensus, which must follow, is not always a given under the circumstances.
I took the opportunity to join the group for a short segment of the sessions, having already reviewed what had gone before it with my wife. It was a good learning experience. Not only was Andy a capable facilitator, he was equipped with the knowledge of best practices, and a style that transferred it easily. Taking the opportunity to “check” the competition proved to be as valuable as I had hoped it would be.
Andy began by asking board members to visualize their future. It’s no surprise to discover the opportunity in our future when we take the time to consider it. You’ll see the same advice from Jack & Suzy Welch in their weekly column: “Start with a clear purpose and vision in mind.” A mission statement resulted. Next, he asked the most fundamental of all questions, “What do we want to accomplish more than anything else?” It’s the right stuff. It’s hard to know how to get somewhere if we don’t know where we’re going. As Andy listened to responses, he wrote them down on a flip chart and organized them on the walls of the room for easy reference. Why? Because “what’s not on paper turns to vapor.”
Andy moved quickly through the process, ever sensitive to the need to do “real work” and in the time allotted. Another honored principle was revealed—to do what you can, with what you’ve got, in the time you have—and gave needed perspective to the process. Right again! When Andy moved the discussion to goals he was careful to encourage specificity, measurability, attainability, realism, and targeted output. Few goals without these guidelines end in the desired results.
Organizational strengths and weaknesses were next; the stuff of opportunity. Without problem identity there can be no solution. We cannot solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Root cause analysis followed in an effort to avoid a cursory view of the opportunities for the association. Symptomatic failure is the number one reason for not achieving one’s goals. When we see blue lips on a friend, it’s fair to conclude that he is oxygen deprived. The same holds true for organizations. Without a careful analysis of the symptom (problem) we often throw good money after bad. Too many organizations are starving for oxygen.
After the strategies were in place it was time to put together an outline of the action plans for each of the strategic initiatives put forth by the team, a critical element of which is team building. This was a loosely constructed group of volunteers, not people with clear ties to an accountability system. It was necessary for Andy to do two things at this point: emphasize ownership of the goals and their outcomes, and encourage a spirit of teamwork that positioned team members’ success above their own. This may be the most significant accomplishment of any group effort because the yoking of determinant minds is like going against the goads.
Responsibility for tasks within each of the strategic initiatives was assigned, and the group concluded with an enthusiasm for the desired outcomes that I thought might not be impossible to achieve under the circumstances. They agreed to keep short accounts of progress in each area of development, and established a review and reporting mechanism to do so. On the way home my wife continued the discussions of the two days, reviewing for me the process and excitement in the opportunity to realize the mission of the association—unity and prosperity for all members.
Andy had done his job well. He had prepared the group to do the thinking and the doing of strategic planning. What an interesting idea—think about the future by looking at how we got to the present, then project a better future. I think we can all take a lesson from this story of planning for achievement.
(Family Features) Declining temperatures can bring fun, cool-weather activities, but they also mean cold and flu season is lurking. While everyone hopes to stay healthy, it can be difficult to completely avoid viruses and bugs.
Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a board-certified family physician and Braun spokesperson, offers some simple suggestions to help your family plan for cold and flu season.
Dispose of Expired Medicine
Spend some time checking the medications you already have at home. Review the expiration dates and if any need to be thrown out, research how to properly dispose of them according to local government guidelines.
Before cold and flu season, make sure to stockpile must-haves like ginger ale, ice pops and recommended cough suppressants. Thinking ahead means you won’t have to rush out when you or a family member comes down with something.
Practice Healthy Habits
Encourage the entire family to maintain healthy habits such as regular hand washing, following a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue to help minimize the spread of cold and flu viruses.
Use a Reliable Thermometer
Reading the temperature of a person who feels ill can help provide confidence and peace of mind. Make sure you have a reliable thermometer like the Braun ThermoScan 5 Ear thermometer, which takes professionally accurate temperature readings via the ear canal and, based on a survey, is the number 1 brand recommended by pediatricians who recommend a brand of thermometers.
“It’s important to carefully monitor potential illnesses to make sure children get and stay well, and taking an accurate temperature reading is a necessary part of this process, which is why I trust my Braun thermometer,” Gilboa said. “As a doctor and a mom to four boys, it gives me the confidence to know that I’m accurately taking my child’s temperature before I take any next steps, like administering medication.”
Have Important Information on Hand
To save time when your child is ill, keep a reference of your child’s allergies, prescribed medications, dosage amounts and current weight handy. Health care providers typically need this information to correctly prescribe and dose most medications. Other items to keep on-hand include school sick day policies, operating manuals for medical devices and a reference of temperature readings that classify a fever.
Manage Humidity Levels
Control your home’s humidity levels with a humidifier to help prevent the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air.
Keep Contact Information Accessible
Keep a list of important phone numbers and addresses inside your medicine cabinet door or on the fridge so they’re easily accessible to family members, babysitters and caretakers. Include your family doctor or local clinic, schools, pharmacists and anyone else you may need to reach in an emergency.
If cold or flu reach your household this winter, it’s always important to consult a doctor if you have any questions regarding the health of your family members. For more information, visit braunthermometers.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Mother and daughter)