Swimming is the #FunnestSport

17 Jun

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Summer is finally here.  In two weeks my girls and I will head down south to spend the summer with my parents.  They live on a lake, are a short drive to the beach, have a  pool at their house and a wonderful neighborhood pool not far.  My girls enjoy spending countless hours in the pool, taking dips in the ocean, and fishing on the dock by the lake.  At a recent event with SwimToday and Momtrends, I started asking myself why haven’t I signed my girls up for regular swim lessons, not only for fun but for water safety especially now that we spend summers surrounded by water.

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I recently attended a Momtrends event with Olympic Swimmer, Dara Torres and the SwimToday organization.  At the event we talked about the reasons for not signing up.  Some reasons were time and cost.  I was talking with a few of the moms and it was mentioned when is a good age to get your child swimming.   Is there a right age? I started talking about my 5-year-old daughter. I wish I had started her at a much earlier age.   I took her to her first swim lesson when she was two.  I thought having her older sister who was anxious to learn would help ease her fear of getting into the pool.  It didn’t, she screamed and refused.  She hasn’t been interested in learning.  She has gotten too comfortable with her pink water wings.  This summer there is no question she has to learn.

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Image from Momtrends

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Image from Momtrends

SwimToday, is a campaign to showcase swimming as the Funnest Sport that can take kids from learning to swim and continuing on to join a competitive swim team.  I have been able to locate facilities nationwide that offer lessons and teams for kids. I even found a facility not far from my parents house.  It was reassuring to hear from Dana Torres, that although she learned to swim early she didn’t join a team until 7 or 8.   Listening to Dana and parents of children who swim brought back many fond childhood memories on the summer swim team and swimming on my high school team. Not only is the comradery incredible, the encouragement and cheers can fill a room. After learning nearly 80 percent of parents don’t consider swimming as a competitive sport for their kids after completing swim lessons, I would love to encourage my girls to join a team as they gain confidence in the water.

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Image from Momtrends

Not only is swimming “fun”, there are many benefits. The top ten benefits to swimming are:

· It’s closer than you think – 62 percent of families live within 10 minutes of a pool; 52 percent of households with combined income of $50,000 or less report they have access to a pool nearby.  
· Everyone participates – Swimming is inclusive, there are no benchwarmers (nor benches)
· Swimming is a team sport – Only 16 percent of non-swimming parents view swimming as a team sport but parents of swimmers associate the sport with teamwork more than any other sport
· Suit up and go – Only a swimsuit, cap and goggles are necessary to get started
· Life skills – Swimming increases self-confidence, self-esteem, time management, goal-setting and social development
· Easy to learn – 76 percent of parents said the ease of learning to swim was high
· Low risk of injury – No contact makes for a safer environment
· Swimming = total body fitness – Burn 650 calories in an hour – more than walking, biking or team sports
· Sport for life – Once you learn to swim, you can enjoy no matter your age
· Swimming is FUN – Parents confirm that swimming is the #FunnestSport

Learn more at http://www.swimtoday.org.  Check out this  Q&A with Dara Torres  about her journey.

Do your kids plan on taking lessons or joining a team this summer?  What do you think about swimming as a team sport?

Disclaimer: I received swim lessons and a starter kit for attending the event.  I can’t wait to share our experiences with SwimToday.  Thank you to everyone who made the event possible.  Information in italics is from http://www.swimtoday.org.

New York Baby Show and Momtrends Blogger Lounge

21 May
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Image from Momtrends

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When I found out I was pregnant I was pregnant with my first child, I was overwhelmed by the amount of baby products. I was later surprised to learn of all the other wonderful products out there I had never heard of.  Over the weekend, I attended the New York Baby Show for the first time. The New York Baby Show, sponsored by Canon, was a two-day event that connects families with the latest products and services.

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Image from momtrends

The morning began with a ribbon cutting ceremony with Erica Hill and Sheinelle Jones from the Today Show.  Brands in attendance included Quinny, Maxi-Cosi,Britax, Safety 1st, Hansel & Gretel diaper bags, Skip Hop, Primary kids clothing line, Pottery Barn Kids, Love to Dream, and many more.   I was excited to discover a breastfeeding app. showing locations near by where you can breastfeed, definitely something I wish was around when I was breastfeeding. I also found Music to Your Home, a NYC based company providing in-home music lessons. (MORE BELOW PHOTOS)

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Throughout the day, seminars were held for parents to learn more about shopping for a new baby, breastfeeding along with the challenges and solutions, and buying a car seat and installing it safely.   These were just a few topics discussed that I would have greatly benefited from as a first time mom.  Another great aspect was the stroller test-driving track, allowing you to get a feel for the strollers on the market and decide which would best fit your family.

At the event, I was also invited to attend the Momtrends Blogger Lounge.  The lounge gave bloggers the opportunity to connect and share their favorites from the show room.  In addition bloggers were introduced to sponsors including GlamSquad, Mabels Labels, The Nanny League, NetNet, New York Family, Hatch Thing, Happy Family, and EssentiaPhWater.  Lunch was provided and attendees had the opportunity to get glammed with hair styles, make-up, and nails by GLAMSQUAD.  Thank you to everyone for a wonderful day!

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Image from mom trends

Learn more about the New York Baby Show, Canon and Momtrends by clicking the links.

Disclaimer:  I was compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Get Caught Reading: Personalized Books Engage Young Readers (plus Discount Code)

19 May

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Did you know May is National Get Caught Reading Month?  In a digital age where kids are often seen holding iPads or their parent’s smart phone, it’s exciting when kids want to read and are engaged in their books.  I love seeing when my girls pick up a book and read.  Not because I made them or because it was homework but because they love what they are reading. Personalized books are a great way to engage kids and encourage them to “get caught reading”.

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I See Me offers personalized books for kids.  Include your child’s birthdate, gender, hair color, skin color, add a photo of your child, create a message/ dedication to them, choose your child’s favorite color, as well as add the name of their best friend and/ or sibling(s).  Each story will be unique and fun for your child to read.  They are able to relate and will want to read it over and over again.  The books make a wonderful gift for new babies or birthdays.

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My oldest received her first I See Me, My Very Own Fairy Tale  book as a gift when she was born, almost 7 years ago.   When  she was a toddler, I read it to her and she couldn’t believe that the story was about her.  She recognized her name.  Now that she is reading, she loves to go back and read her “very own fairy tale”.

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My youngest, 5, just received her first I See Me book.  She loves when I snuggle in bed with her and read at night.  I chose Sweet Dreams, Fairy for her first book.  The first time I read it to her she leaped out of bed surprised and excited that there were fairies named after her best friend and sister.  She loves it so much, I catch her “reading” all the time-not just at bed time.  She reads it to her dolls and our most recent visitor, my brother’s French Bulldog.  It’s a sweet story with beautiful illustrations.

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I See Me offers personalized products for everyone and every occasion.  In addition to books they offer personalized lunchboxes, puzzles, placemats, coloring books, stickers and growth charts.

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For more information visit: http://www.iseeme.com/. You can also find I See Me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Sweet Dreams Fairy to personalize for my daughter.  This did not alter my opinion.  All opinions and images are my own.

Travel Trends & Tips

14 May

With a little over a month of school left and Spring classes coming to an end, it marks one of our favorite times of year…SUMMER.  During the summer we plan lots of fun adventures and spend a lot of time exploring the South.  We hit the beaches, go to the parks, check out museums and take day trips. We also like to take time to explore the parks of NYC before we head back to school.

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Recently, I attended a Travel Event hosted by Momtrends.  The showcased many great tips and products for upcoming adventures near or far.

Adventure:

Eric Messinger from New York Family, reminded me that travel doesn’t have to be to an exotic place or for an extended period.  It could be an adventure somewhere local or a short drive away.  There are two new indoor water parks opening in the Poconos; Camelback’s Aquatopia and Kalahari Resorts.  One our our favorite local adventures is a simple walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (see an old post here).  Every time, regardless of how many times we do it, the girls ask if we are still in NY and there is always something new to discover.

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Picnics On the Beach or In The Park:

During the Spring and Summer months, we love to picnic.  When we are down south we head to the beach and when back in NYC we check out a new park.  Momtrends introduced me to Bark Thins; delicious non-gmo& fair-trade chocolate covered pretzels.  Unfortunately, my nut allergy daughter can’t have them but they are a great snack for mom and dad or to share with friends.  Xo, G wine  by Giuliana Rancic is perfect for your next picnic. It has a lid to make carrying it around easier.  If you don’t finish your glass, you can easily cover it and bring it home.

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Bugs can be a problem for my youngest daughter.  She is always getting bit by something and the bites always swell and get really red.  Since we spend so much time outdoors, I always have to carry bug repellent.  Guardian’s DEET- free will be my go-to this summer.

Image from Momtrends

Image from Momtrends

Fashion:

Miraclesuit is one of my favorite bathing suit companies, especially since I’ve become a mom and my body isn’t the same as it once was.  Not only are the suits gorgeous, they make you feel good about being in one.  There are so many wonderful styles of suits and cover ups for this Summer at the pool or beach.  Fashion Tip: The Suba Suit is in.

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Over packing is something I’m very good at.  Yamis & Dawni is such a wonderful concept. Eight pieces creates over 50 different styles.  Add some accessories and you are set to go.  Not to mention, it feels like it would be very comfortable to go from all day traveling to dinner at night.

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Beauty:

Glam Squad, an on-demand beauty service with the use of an App,  provided beauty tips and shared which beauty products to keep handy when traveling, especially after a long flight.

  1. Eyeliner: Apply on inner rim and over bottom lid.  When you close your eyes it will transfer to the upper lid.
  2. Cream Blush: This can be used for a nude lip as well.
  3. Dry Shampoo: Eliminates oils from hair.
  4. Texturizing Spray with a hold

For more information about the night, see the Momtrends write-up here.  Happy Traveling and I hope these tips and trends are as helpful for you as they were for me.

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  i received a gift bag for attending the event.

 

Creating Beautiful Books With Your Child’s Artwork & Plum Print (promo code included)

28 Apr

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When it comes to creativity, my girls have no limit.  I love that their creative minds are always hard at work whether they are using a pen and blank piece of paper, building “castles” with recycled materials, or painting whatever comes to mind on a blank canvas.  I enjoy watching them.  It’s beautiful but the artwork piles up in almost every corner, on the windowsills , and on the tables in our apartment.  Last year, I started going through it all and took a lot of photos of various projects telling myself I would create a book.  A year later, those photos are still on the memory disk.  Balancing busy schedules, makes finding the time to put them into a book challenging.

Sorting through all of the artwork!

Sorting through all of the artwork!

Last week, my daughter and I attended an event hosted by Plum Print. Plum Print offers an amazing service, creating beautiful books using your child’s wonderful creations.  Founders Carolyn and Meg, didn’t know what to do with the artwork that was taking over their apartments.  With small spaces in mind and trying to figure out how to preserve such precious creations, Plum Print was formed.  They take the pieces of artwork and format the book for you.  Example books here.

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At the event, amazing art students (@rloricarto & @sujiparks on Instagram) created sketches and watercolors of my girls. It was a lovely treat and I can’t wait to hang them in my girls room.

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My daughter was also busy working hard on creating more colorful pieces of artwork to add to her first Plum Print book. 

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How Plum Print works:

  • Order a Plum Print Package, delivered to your door for a $39.99 deposit
  • Send Plum Print your favorite pieces of art. You can include paintings, 3D sculptures,  journal entries, or anything else your child created and you would like to include.
  • Choose the size of the book you would like. Books start at $85 (pricing). You can customize it by adding your child’s picture and/ or captions to be displayed under the piece of art. Soon canvases and note cards will be available. 
  • Once the Plum Print team receives your artwork, they will create your book. Once it is finished, they will send a proof for you to approve. If you like it your book will be shipped. If you don’t, you can let Plum know what pieces you would like changed.
  • During the process you can decide if you would like to send your original artwork back to you or if you would like them to dispose of it.
  • Enjoy your beautiful book for a lifetime.

As the school year comes to an end, what a perfect way to say goodbye to the artwork.  Plum Print would make the perfect gift for your little graduate.  Surprise them or let them help you choose their favorite accomplishments.  To get started, I’m excited to share a discount code to use on your purchase.  Enter “tastefully” at checkout for 10% off!  Click the link to start your Plum Print book.

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Plum Print also offers a School Partnerships to help raise funds for your school.  Learn more here.

Disclaimer: I received a book for attending the event.

Little Me Shop Grand Opening At Lord & Taylor

17 Mar

Little Me creates unique clothing, since 1970, that celebrates those fleeting years when newborns transform into young toddlers.  They always have adorable styles to choose from and the material is so soft and cozy.  I loved dressing my girls in Little Me.  Now that my girls are no longer in Little Me sizes, I love shopping and finding beautiful gifts for expecting friends and family.DSC_0227 Over the weekend, my youngest daughter and I headed to Lord and Taylor to celebrate the grand opening of the Little Me Shop with Stroller in the City.  At the event we had a photo opportunity with the Easter Bunny, snacked on delicious cupcakes and cakepops by Fabipops and checked out the latest personalized books from ISeeMe Children’s Books.  Liquiteria was also serving samples of their juices.  The highlight for my daughter was having her make up done by a Bobbi Brown artist.  When the artists arrived, she ran over to be first in line.  Her first request, red lips please.  She danced with friends to DJ Fulamo and listened to Story Time with ISeeMe.  (more below photos) 20150317-224718-82038633.jpg DSC_0211 DSC_0213 DSC_0222 DSC_0232DSC_0242 DSC_0240 After enjoying all the fun activities, we walked around and checked out the latest Spring collection from Little Me.  Seeing all of the little clothing made me think of the days my girls wore Little Me.  My youngest is going to be 5 in a couple of weeks but I feel like it was yesterday she was that size.  Time flies when you’re having too much fun.  But I was excited to pick out gifts for all my expecting friends.  At the event, Little Me provided complimentary monograming for shoppers. (more below photos) DSC_0229 DSC_0230

DSC_0236DSC_0235 Thank you to all the sponsors and Stroller in the City for a wonderful morning!  Learn me about Little Me here.  Find Little Me on Facebook, twitter and Instagram. Headed to Lord and Taylor, check out the Little Me Shop on the 7th Floor.

Kids, Technology, and The YouTube Kids Launch Party

14 Mar

It’s common to see a toddler sitting in his/her high chair at dinner or in the stroller fiddling with his/her parents mobile device or tablet.  I know I’ve done my fair share of passing off my phone to my kids.  It’s a great way to keep them entertained.  And when I have to get things done at home, it’s easy to tell my daughter to go grab her iPad and watch a show or play a game.  It’s no wonder that this younger generation excels at using Technology.  They are learning to use devices earlier and earlier.

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For the past couple of months, I have been taking classes to keep my teaching license current.  The most recent class I took was about Technology in the Classroom.  The use off devices and Apps are being used more and more in the classroom, as early as pre-school, so kids can acquire skills to use technology safely and effectively.  I see my own girls intrigued by the Internet and the wealth of information that is out there.  My oldest daughter LOVES to search for topics of interest, most recently wildlife. Since she is still learning to read and spell, many google searches bring up inappropriate videos for her age.   I usually have to sit with her to see which videos are ok for her to watch.

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The other week, my youngest daughter and I went to the YouTube Kids launch party at Milk Studios.  The afternoon was filled with Mary Mary Quite Contrary cupcakes, photos with Oscar the Grouch, coloring with Thomas and Friends, playing in a ball pit and exploring the new and wonderful YouTube Kids App.  The App is geared towards younger children showcasing Sesame Street and Thomas.  However, I was very excited about the search option for my six-year-old. I am now able to let my daughter search for topics freely because it will only pull up material appropriate material.  It’s a safe, family friendly place to explore.  As soon as I downloaded it, she started exploring and searching for animals in the rainforest.  Her search brought her to a video giving her a “virtual” tour of the amazon and teaching her about the many types of species that live there.  So COOL! Another feature for searching is the Voice Search, perfect for younger toddlers or children who might not be comfortable typing in a search.

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In addition to being safe for kids to use, parents can control certain settings.  A timer can be set, up to 30 minutes, so kids don’t overload on videos.  At the end of the time limit, the YouTube Mascot gets sleepy and shuts down so parents don’t have to fight with kids to put it down or turn it off.  Or you can set it to block the search feature.

Learning about the App from our favorite characters!

Learning about the App from our favorite characters!

YouTube Kids is an exciting new App that would be great to use in the classroom as well as at home. Download the FREE App on Google Play or iTunes to use on mobile devices (click links).

*I will be keeping my fingers crossed that YouTube creates an App for older students, since YouTube is blocked in most schools.  A safe app to use in schools would provide great educational value for students.

More photos from our fun afternoon:

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Disclaimer: I received a gift bag for attending the event.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Sur La Table Offers American Girl Cooking Classes In Honor of Girl Of The Year, Grace

20 Feb
Image from AmericanGirl.com

Image from American Girl

Meet Grace, the 2015 American Girl of the Year.  She loves to bake with her friends and create new recipes.  Her dream is to start a french bakery after taking a trip to Paris.

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Image from Sur La Table

 

Inspired by Grace’s passion for baking, a new series “American Girl at Sur La Table: Make and Bake French Treats” will be offered at Sur La Table culinary locations nationwide for girls aged 8-12.    Chef instructors will first teach young bakers the fundamentals: following recipes, measuring, mixing and working safely in the kitchen. Then, girls will get a hands-on experience in the kitchen, learning the chefs’ secrets.  Recipes featured in the class include Chocolate-Glazed Eclairs, Pate a Choux, Apple Tartlets for girls and dolls, and Eiffel Tower Sugar Cookies. At the end each girl gets to take home an American Girl goodie bag, including an American Girl apron and a cookie cutter from Sur La Table.  The classes are 2 hours long and will be available on March 22, April 19, and May 17. The cost for each class is $39.  Find a location near you or reserve by phone 800-243-0852.

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We got a sneak peek of the class the other day and it’s AWESOME.  Although, my girls are younger than the age for the class, they had a wonderful time.  They love to bake just like Grace.  During our class the girls learned how to make Eiffel Tower Cookies.  They learned about which ingredients go into making the vanilla cookie mix.  They also learned how to make Royal Icing using confectioners sugar, meringue powder, and water.  A couple of secrets they took home with them included using flour on their cookie cutters and using a ketchup bottle for piping.  After the class they asked to come home and make more with the Eiffel Tower cookie cutters and apron that came in their gift bag.  Thank you Sur La Table W 57st and American Girl for such a fun afternoon.

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Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Information about the class came from Sur La Table.  Information about Grace came from AmericanGirl.com.  I attended the event on behalf of ThirtyMommy.

Celebrating The Chinese New Year With The China Institute’s We All Live In The Forbidden City ( BOOK GIVEAWAY)

18 Feb

Tomorrow, February 19 is the start to the Chinese New Year.  The year of the Horse has come and gone and we are moving into the year of the Sheep.  The China Institute’s We All Live in the Forbidden City program includes children’s books and educational workshops that celebrate Chinese cultural history and fun for kids, a great resource for at home or in a classroom. 

Image from The China Institute

Image from The China Institute

Living in NYC, a city rich in culture, my girls are always asking about different cultures.  To celebrate the Chinese New Year, we received two books from the China Institute to teach them about the culture and history of China’s Forbidden City (mentioned below).

Image from The China Institute

Image from The China Institute

This is the Greatest Place!, published by The China Institute, is an adorable book for children ages four to eight (which happened to be the age range my girls fall into).

Rabbit is eating breakfast with his friends Baby Squirrel, Young Porcupine, and Little Brother Panda when an unexpected visitor arrives. He is a master builder, searching for inspiration to design a great palace for the Emperor of China. Together, Uncle Builder and the little animals explore how nature supplies us
with the wonders that enrich our lives. Created by internationally renowned children’s book artists Brian Tse and Alice Mak, this book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture the majesty of both the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps. -http://www.walfc.org

My girls loved the illustrations and the characters.  They loved the flip pages that describe how nature inspired the Forbidden City.  It’s an educational book in which engaged my daughters.    It is available here for $12.95.
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In the Forbidden City, also published by The China Institue, is a book for children ages nine and up.  This was a little above my girls but I think they would gain good knowledge when they are older.   It’s more in-depth with the history of the Forbidden Palace.  The drawings and details are incredible.

This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous foldout spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes.  Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the  drawings more closely. -http://www.walfc.org

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Image from The China Institure

Find activities, lessons, crafts and more at http://www.walfc.org/play/activities/ 

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Or why not make your own dumplings to celebrate The New Year! Recipe from China Institute

Image from The China Institute

Image from The China Institute

Ingredients:  Dumpling (jiaozi) Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Pork & Chive Filling:

  • 1 cup ground pork (can also use beef)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 green onion, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
  • 4 Tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots
  • 2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

 Directions:

Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to create a smooth dough. Don’t add more water than is necessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine, and white pepper to the meat, stirring in one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well. Now, prepare the dough for the dumplings. First knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter to create the dumpling wrappers. Place a portion (about 1 Tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumpling wrappers. To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don’t stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If you want, they can be pan-fried at this point. Repeat this process for the second half of dumplings.
GIVEAWAY:  A lucky winner will receive a copy of This is the Greatest Place! OR In the Forbidden City.   Leave a comment below with your Zodiac Sign and/ or your favorite Chinese dish/ recipe.  Contest ends February 28, 2015 at 11:59 pm.
Image from Calendar777.com

Image from Calendar777.com

To learn more or find out about events to celebrate the Year of the Sheep, visit: http://www.chinainstitute.org/
Disclaimer:  I received copies of the books for review.  Information in italics as well as the recipe are from the China Institute.  All other opinions expressed are my own.

A Valentine’s Giveaway!

5 Feb

I recently posted about some of our favorite gifts for Valentine’s Day! One lucky winner will win a Teleflora Sweet Embrace Bouquet and $20 in Driscoll’s coupons so you can make your someone special something sweet (find out more here)!  The giveaway begins now and ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday, February 8,2015 so ENTER NOW by clicking the link so you don’t miss your chance to win these wonderful prizes.

Sweet Embrace Bouquet, Image from Teleflora

Sweet Embrace Bouquet, Image from Teleflora

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Homemade Driscoll’s Raspberry Jam! Find recipe here! Image my own

Thank you to Teleflora and Driscoll’s for providing the products for the giveaway!

 

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