Tag Archive | holiday celebrations

Roses are Red, Boys Don’t Want Flowers

By Jen Ashenfelter

I think guys have it easy on Valentine’s Day. I will gladly accept a wide variety of gifts–roses, jewelry, stuffed animals, sexy PJs, perfume…. I could go on. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe most gals would agree with me that those are acceptable gift choices. I’m easy to please–it’s the fun things, the simple things that really make this girl happy. (My hubby never disappoints.)

I remember several Valentine’s Days when my father walked through the door at the end of the day with a red foil-wrapped, heart-shaped box filled with chocolates…just for me. (My little sister received her own box.) I couldn’t even tell you what my mother got from Dad because I was just so over-the-moon about my own box of fancy chocolates.

Many years later, along came my sons Nick and Chris. I wasn’t used to thinking of Valentine’s Day gifts for boys. When they were younger it was much easier—stuffed animals were good. As the tween years approached, stuffed animals became unacceptable (and quite honestly, we were overrun by these fuzzy creatures).

Candy is universally accepted, except with one son having allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs. Look at the ingredients on those heart-shaped boxes—a box full of disappointment for my youngest. What’s a mother to do?

With that said, my husband and I didn’t want to set a precedent for giving gifts more appropriate for a birthday or Christmas. However, I wanted to give the boys something special.

Here are a few ideas—which don’t require a holiday spending account—for a fun gift to give your special boy.

Toy sets – Add a train or track set to a Thomas the Train collection. The small LEGO kits include a variety of vehicles and mini figures to go with any larger set. Celebrate your future car enthusiast by adding more Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars to the collection.

Books – It’s a day to celebrate love so why not instill a love of reading with a new book.

Movies – There’s always another Disney or Pixar movie to own, as well as adding to a series collection: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Iron Man, Batman…the list goes on depending on interest and age. If you don’t get out to the movie theaters often, consider a family dinner and movie date…or a gift card to the movie theater.

Music – A tween or teen can never have enough downloaded music and games so iTunes gift cards are perfect.

Art – Crayola, need I say more? Feed their love of art by adding a new piece to their creative supplies—stickers, colored pencils, stencils, finger paints or chalk. For older kids, sign them up for a photography class or spend an afternoon together at a local museum.

Exercise – An afternoon of rock climbing, hiking, biking, skiing, tubing, ice skating, bowling—you get the picture.chocolate covered strawberries

Food – What’s that saying: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? With two growing boys in this household, food is never turned away. I’ve never been a fan of going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, so I’m perfectly happy to make a favorite dinner we all enjoy, set a nice table and sit down together. To top it off, our dessert tradition has always been chocolate-covered strawberries!

I might stray from our tradition this year for something equally scrumptious: Oreo Truffles. I discovered these tasty gems when a coworker brought a batch into the office before Christmas. I can’t wait for Christmas 2013 so I’m making them now. (I could make them at any time but that would be too easy; it’s safer for my waistline if they are only made for special occasions.)

Something tells me I may be the last one in America to discover Oreo truffles but in case I’m not, here’s the recipe. Happy Valentine’s Day and show the little men in your life how much you love them with a special surprise. Enjoy…

Kraft Foods Oreo Truffles


Photo Credit: Kraft Foods

36 OREO Cookies, finely crushed, divided

1 pkg (8 oz) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

16 oz BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

Make It

  • RESERVE 1/4 cup cookie crumbs. Mix cream cheese and remaining cookie crumbs until blended.
  • SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
  • REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm.

Kraft Kitchens Tips

How to Melt Chocolate

Place unwrapped chocolate in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2-1/2 min. or until chocolate is completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.

How to Easily Dip Truffles

To easily coat truffles with the melted chocolate, add truffles, in batches, to bowl of melted chocolate. Use 2 forks to roll truffles in chocolate until evenly coated. Remove truffles with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Place truffles on prepared baking sheet; let stand until firm.

How to Store

Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Everything Goes Better with Peanut Butter

By Karen Hendricks

One of my favorite benefits to working from home and setting my own work schedule is the gift of time that I can give to my children.  The trend is for moms to go back to work, if they aren’t already working, when their children are teens because “teens can take care of themselves.”  I understand and appreciate this viewpoint, but personally I think it’s even more important to be around and available to your teens than perhaps when they were preschool or elementary aged.  Teens aren’t as physically draining as toddlers or primary-aged children, but they are definitely mentally draining!  There are so many decisions, issues, forms of peer pressure and other serious topics to talk about with your teens.  I wish all parents and teens had more time together during these critical years.

I especially enjoy being home when my kids come home from school and hearing about their day.  (Those topics could form another blog altogether!)  After-school snacks help to make the conversations flow. One of our favorite (and healthy) snacks is Peanut Butter Apple Dip with sliced apples.  My kids are WILD about anything that contains peanut butter.  (Apologies to those of you with allergies.)

We’ve been making this recipe since my oldest daughter Katie was a toddler and I honestly don’t remember where it came from.  I have passed it along to many friends and family members through the years.  It is so good and so easy that all of my kids know how to make it themselves (which I appreciate too).  My daughter Kelly just made some yesterday.  Not only is it a great dip to have on hand for everyday snacking, but it’s perfect for upcoming holiday celebrations too. 

PB Apple Dip

Peanut Butter Apple Dip

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 c peanut butter

3/4 c packed brown sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 full cup but I dial this back a bit)

1/4 c milk

Mix well with blender and enjoy!  Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups of dip.  Great with apples and graham crackers.

Tell us about your after-school snacks and rituals – just click on “leave a comment.”  We always read and appreciate your insights!