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Your Guide to Thanksgiving from Whole Foods Market

 

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is almost here. I’m sure most people have their holiday plans all set and ready to go.

It’s always only me and my family for Thanksgiving (me, my husband and our two teenagers). My father goes to Indiana with my stepmother to have Thanksgiving with my stepsister’s family. The rest of the family (cousins) all have other plans or live out of state. I miss the days of big family get togethers for the holiday.

My kids are not big fans of Thanksgiving turkey. They rather eat the side dishes and dessert.

I know this sounds like a strange idea but we normally buy our Thanksgiving dinner pre-cooked. Our local grocery store offers a package that includes a full size, fully cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy and creamed spinach (we never eat the spinach). We buy that package and make a few extra side dishes and rolls, plus a dessert. It’s worked well for us for many years.

This year we received a really nice turkey from JENNI-O so we’re going to make our own dinner this year. It’s been about 17 years since I made a turkey for Thanksgiving, so it’s going to be interesting.

I know many people won’t have it any other way. They truly enjoy the entire process of preparing the food for their family to enjoy on Thanksgiving.

Our friends at Whole Foods Market has some great tips they wanted to share with readers to help you with your holiday meal.

Picking Your Poultry:

  • Start early: reserve your turkey ahead of time to make sure you get your pick of the flock.
  • Weigh your options and try to get fresh: Go for turkeys that allow at least one to one-and-a-half pounds per person. At Whole Foods Market, fresh turkeys are raised to reach the perfect size just before the holiday season, then processed and stored so you get the juiciest, most flavorful meat possible.
  • Consult your butcher: When it doubt, your butcher is your best friend. From organic to heritage turkeys, there are a lot of options to choose from. Your butcher can help you pick the perfect bird for your gathering.

Prepping:

  • Factor in defrosting time: For the best results, your turkey should be as close to room temperature as possible before roasting. Frozen turkeys take about 24 hours per five pounds of meat to thaw in the fridge. Extra tip — you can save on time with a fresh turkey!
  • Brining is the way to go: Brining makes for a tender, juicy bird. Whole Foods Market’s 365 Everyday Value brine kit and adaptable basic brine recipe are two great picks for first-timers.

Roasting:

  • Instructions: They are your friend – each bird tends to cook differently, so follow instructions carefully.
  • Check for doneness: Use a meat thermometer to test the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone. When it registers 165 °F, the turkey’s ready. If you stuff your turkey, plan for an extra 5 top 7 minutes cooking time per pound.

Post-Roast

  • Rest: A key thing to remember when your turkey is done is to let it sit for 30 minutes before carving so the juices can redistribute. This locks in moisture and makes for smooth slicing.

These are some really great tips.

I would love to hear from readers too. Since I am making dinner this year for my family (first time in almost two decades!) I can use some great tips and tricks to help make sure our meal is a success.

Feel free to share any additional tips, tricks or advice you might have. Thank you!

Thanksgiving Table

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. The opinions expressed are not necessarily my own. 

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The Middle’s Thanksgiving episode airs Wednesday, November 19, 2014

 

Photo Source: The Middle's Facebook page

Photo Source: The Middle’s Facebook page

I love The Middle. I have loved the series ever since I saw the first episode. In fact, I was sent a screener of the premier episode so I was fortunate to see the show before it ever aired. I loved it the very first episode. I love everything about the series and the characters. I was even lucky enough to visit the set of The Middle and meet all of the cast members, except Sue. I hope to one day meet Sue (Eden Sher).

Every year The Middle has a Thanksgiving episode. There was the episode where Frankie had to work at the car dealership and had to keep re-arranging her holiday plans to accommodate everyone and everything. There was another episodes where the Heck family went to spend Thanksgiving at Frankie’s parent’s house with her sister’s family. And there was another Thanksgiving episode where the Heck family offers to share their holiday meal with a couple of U.S. Marine’s and Frankie goes all out trying to impress them.

This year there is a new Thanksgiving episode which airs on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM (EST). Please check your local TV guide from air time and channel for your area. The Middle is on ABC.

This year Frankie decides it’s easier to go out to dinner rather than cook at home, especially when their house is falling apart. Mike is a bit reluctant but thinks Frankie might be on to something.

The Heck family have plans to have their holiday meal at a their favorite restaurant, King’s Feast Buffet (it has a Medieval look and feel to it). Mike is looking forward to enjoying a lot of turkey.

PHOTO SOURCE: The Middle's Facebook page

PHOTO SOURCE: The Middle’s Facebook page

Sue is worried that Mike has something against her boyfriend Darrin. So plans on using Thanksgiving dinner as a way to make Mike like her boyfriend.

Brick plans on bringing along his new girlfriend, the quirky Cindy along with the family.

Frankie asks Axel to pick up her hairdresser’s cousin’s niece who attends school near Axel. She’s asked Axel to meet up with the girl several times in the past but Axel always brushes it off. The girl, Devin Levin, is a lot like Axel when he first meets her but after spending the holiday meal with her he finds that he’s attracted to her.

This all sounds good but you have to keep one thing in mind – It’s the Heck family. You know their Thanksgiving is not going to go smoothly. Something always happens to mess things up. I don’t want to give anything away but let’s just say it involves an arcade game, turkey and an accidental birthday celebration.

This episode didn’t fail to make us laugh out loud. It’s just one crazy thing after another which is what we love about the Heck family. No matter what goes wrong they always find a way to see the positive in the situation.

If you are a fan of The Middle, or you are looking for some fun entertainment, tune in to the Thanksgiving episode of The Middle airing on ABC Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM (EST). Remember to check your local guide for air time and channel in your area.

To learn more about The Middle visit their official webpage on the ABC website. You can also check out The Middle on Facebook and Twitter. Their official hashtag is #TheMiddle.

The Middle on ABC

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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PBS Kids and Whole Foods Market partner to roll out assortment of sustainable toys in time for holiday season

 

PBS KIDS WHOLE FOODS MARKET TOYS

 

The holiday season is a crazy time of year. We’re always on the look out for the “perfect” gift for those on our holiday shopping list. This is also the time of year that people like to support charities.

Imagine if you could find wonderful gifts for the special people in your life – like your child or grandchild – and help out a wonderful charity at the same time? Now, through a partnership between PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Market you can.

PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Market have teamed up this holiday season to offer Whole Foods Market shoppers wonderful toys from PBS KIDS including soft plush animals and classic wooden toys. They will be available at all Whole Foods Markets nationwide in the Whole Body department.

PBS KIDS’ new line of products is designed to inspire creative curiosity, while supporting the development of healthy, happy kids. One-hundred percent of PBS KIDS’ net proceeds will benefit the media brand’s mission of empowering children through knowledge, critical thinking and imagination, while Whole Foods Market will donate one percent of total sales, up to $25,000, to Whole Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving children’s nutrition and wellness.

“We are excited to work with Whole Foods Market on a program that fosters our shared commitment to education and child development, while giving holiday shoppers an opportunity to give a more meaningful type of gift this holiday season,” said Lesli Rotenberg, general manager, children’s programming, PBS. “Open-ended play is an integral part of a young child’s development, and the new PBS KIDS toy line provides children with the opportunity to explore and learn in a safe and fun way.”

Panda Plush

The great things about the toys being offered is that they are made with safe, non-toxic inks and materials. Even the packaging is made from recycled materials. The plush animals are made with phthalate-free and PVC-free materials. The race cars are made from recycled milk bottles and all of the toys are made in the USA from sustainable materials, responsibly harvested from local communities.

“PBS KIDS is known for creating fun, educational content that encourages kids to learn by exploring the world around them,” said Jeanne Tamayo, Whole Foods Market’s global lifestyle buyer. “And that’s the exact goal behind this new line of toys — to help our shoppers find new, exciting ways to teach their children through play. Whole Foods Market is proud to offer these toys to families exclusively this holiday season.”

We don’t have a Whole Foods Market near where I live. For many years I have been hoping and wishing for a store to appear. Sigh… Hopefully one day we’ll FINALLY see a store in our area.

Whole Foods Market sent me one of the plush animals from the collection. They sent me a Panda. Oh my goodness! She is incredibly soft and plush. She’s also very realistic looking. She even comes with a baby Panda. I love it! The mama and baby Panda plush is sitting next to my desk on top of our love seat. Every now and then I’ll pick them up and give them a squeeze. They are so soft and snugly and exceptionally well made.

My plush Panda is pictured above.

Another one of the toys that they offer (I did NOT receive to review – I just love it) is a wooden truck/shape sorter toy. Not only does it look like a fun toy it also helps children identify shapes. It’s fun and educational.

Shape Sorter

In addition to finding the new line of PBS KIDS toys at Whole Foods Markets nationwide, consumers can purchase products online at shop.pbskids.com.

If you would like to learn more about PBS KIDS visit their website, PBSKIDS.org. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

To find a Whole Foods Market near you please visit WholeFoodsMarket.com. You can also find them on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

What do you think about the line of toys? Do you think you’ll stop by and pick up some gifts for those on your holiday shopping list?

PBS Kids

WFM

Kimberly

*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Enter to win fabulous prizes with Seasons to Celebrate

 

Celebrate the Seasons

Last week I posted information about a delightful sweepstakes that Teflon® brand and Farberware Cookware is hosting called Seasons to Celebrate.

This fun holiday themed sweepstakes promotes holiday themed content that focuses on quick and easy holiday entertaining with help from Farberware® and  the Teflon® brand. The holiday content will include entertaining and menu inspiration that will offer community members unique, family-friendly and easy ways to celebrate the holidays.

Each week there is a new theme.

  • Week 5 (Nov. 18-24) – Tried-and-True Thanksgiving
  • Week 6 (Nov. 26- Dec. 2)  – Last-Minute Holiday Side Dishes / Holiday Leftovers
  • Week 7 (Dec. 4-10)  – Feliz Navidad Fiesta
  • Week 8 (Dec. 12-18) – Seasonal Celebrating (Hanukkah & Christmas)

Throughout the campaign, consumers can visit Teflon® brand’s “Celebrate the Seasons” Facebook tab or go to Farberware®’s website to enter the sweepstakes. Farberware® will randomly draw giveaway winners 3 times – once for each of the featured holiday time periods. You can enter just once to be eligible for all three giveaways.

  • Halloween – October 30, 2014
  • Thanksgiving – November 30, 2014
  • Christmas – December 18, 2014

Each giveaway will award one grand prize winner and three bonus prize winners.

  • Grand Prize: Farberware Dishwasher Safe Nonstick 12-Piece Set coated with Teflon® nonstick coating (in winner’s color of preference)
  • Bonus Prize: Farberware Dishwasher Safe Nonstick Jumbo Cooker (in winner’s color of preference)

The Teflon® brand has also created awesome Pinterest boards. In addition they are also running bi-weekly themed Facebook and Twitter giveaways which has created a fun and interactive “mix and match” virtual Facebook application and hosting a Twitter party.

CCM-Scape-2

There is a lot of great content and fun activities happening on Teflon® brand’s and Farberware’s social media pages.

Here is the list of all of the brand’s links so you can check them out.

Teflon® brand

Farberware®

You can also join the conversation and share a pic of your holiday entertaining inspiration to our “Seasons to Celebrate” Gallery by using the hashtag #SeasonstoCelebrate on Twitter and Pinterest. View the gallery here: http://bit.ly/SeasonsToCelebrate. All gallery submissions are subject to the terms and conditions.

I also have a giveaway for a beautiful Farberware Dishwasher-safe 12 piece set currently going on. The giveaway ends on November 22, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). If you would like to enter you can entering on the giveaway page – Celebrate the Seasons Sweepstakes plus win a beautiful Faberware Cookware set. The giveaway set is pictured (below).

Do you plan on entering the sweepstakes? Why or why not? How do you celebrate the seasons?

631899218063.MAIN

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

 

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Farewell to Frosty…

 

My childhood home at Christmas time. Notice Santa (by the stairs) and Frosty over by the farm corner.

My childhood home at Christmas time. Notice Santa (by the stairs) and Frosty by the front of the stairs.

I had a wonderful childhood. My mom and dad made a wonderful life for me. Because of that I have very fond memories of when I was little.

FYI… My mom and dad were my paternal grandparents. I was raised by them. Even though they were not biologically my parents I they raised me from when I was a toddler. They always have been – and always will be – mom and dad to me.

The holiday season has always been my most favorite time of year. I loved everything about it.

One day I looked forward to every year was when my dad would drag down the holiday decorations from the attic. Mind you he didn’t do it willingly. My dad hated hauling down all the boxes and decorations from the attic. Our attic was not easy to get into. You had to climb up a latter and squeeze your body through a very narrow opening. Once in the attic you had t walk bent over so as not to hit your head on one of the nails sticking out (my husband found that out the hard way).

I would anxiously wait downstairs for mom my to bring down the boxes that my dad handed her from the attic. No sooner did she plop the boxes in front of me I was opening them up and taking everything out.

Our holiday decorations were like my long lost friends. I was delighted to see them again. I missed them throughout the year.

Two of my favorite decorations was our 5′ light up Santa Claus and our light up Frosty. They were my dear friends. I would actually hug them when they were finally retrieved from their attic prison. I would actually talk to them as if they were alive (no… I’m not crazy. :-)).

When it comes to my childhood memories many things have great sentimental value to me. Santa and Frosty are two such items. Even when I was little I would ask my mom if I could have them when I got older so that they would always be a part of my Christmas.

Years went by, I grew up and moved away and Santa and Frosty left their attic home less often. Eventually my dad never set them free anymore. My parents were not into decorating anymore once the kids were grown and on their own.

After my mom passed away (sadly just a few days after Christmas) I had asked my dad about Santa and Frosty. I asked if I could have them and let them be enjoyed once again. Dad would tell me that he’d have to ask my sister (my biological aunt)  if she wanted them before letting me have them. For years I would ask and for years he would never ask her about them. Finally my father took things into his own hands. Since he was the oldest child he had first dibs at Santa and Frosty and he opted to give them to me and my family.

I still remember the day my father brought them to us. Mere words could not expressed how over joyed I was. My Christmas friends were back with me.

Every year for the past 10 years (give or take) Santa and Frosty have been proudly displayed on our balcony for all to see. Our neighbors also appreciate seeing their smiling faces light up the night (not too many people decorate their balconies in our condo complex).

298827_10150439191853973_1830211454_n

One year is snowed just before Halloween. My husband, being the crazy person that he is (in a good way) went into our basement storage area and retrieved Santa and set him up on our balcony – surrounded by Halloween decorations. We even turned him on that night for all to see. Our neighbors thought it was hysterical and appreciated my husband’s sense of humor.

In a couple of weeks we’ll wake up Santa and Frosty from their year long slumber in the basement and set them up on our balcony so that they can light up the night and spread holiday joy.

Sadly Frosty is not doing so well. The years have not been kind to my dear old friend. When we was still locked away in the attic his head cracked. That crack led to another crack, then another. We’ve tried to mend Frosty with glue and clear packaging tape, but it’s not holding up. Each year Frosty’s condition worsens (thankfully Santa is holding up well). I’m afraid the end is near for Frosty – the same holiday decoration that has brought me such great joy all through the years ever since my childhood.

Is it “wrong” that I can’t part with him? Frosty has ALWAYS been a part of the holiday season. Things will not be the same without him. Even Santa won’t be the same without his trusty sidekick.

It has taken me years to consider finding a replacement Frosty. But these days you cannot find the same plastic Frosty from yesteryear. They don’t make them anymore. The Frosty we have was made in the 60’s and they stopped making them in the 70’s.

They don’t even make plastic Frosty decorations anymore. These days they are all blow up decorations.

I believe he’s known as a Poloron Frosty the Snowman and/or a “blow mold.”

I know I might not ever find a perfect match, but even a cute and friendly look Frosty would be nice.

Our daughter (who is now 17) enjoying our friend Frosty - long before he started to fall apart - literally.

Our daughter (who is now 17) enjoying our friend Frosty – long before he started to fall apart – literally.

Every chance I get I check out yard sales in hopes of finding another Frosty to bring into our lives and let my beloved Frosty go. I have never had any luck finding one.

I have searched the Internet to find a new friend. I have found him on places like Ebay. Last year we found a dealer who had a warehouse full of Frosty friends, but they wanted A LOT of money for shipping.

Even on Ebay Frosty is too expensive for us. I would bid or buy one in a heartbeat if we could afford it. I have several auctions bookmarked but I am unable to make a bid.

I even told my husband that when it comes time to let Frosty go I wanted to keep a piece of him so that I’ll always have something to remember him by. My husband completely agrees with me because he knows how much Frosty means to me and Frosty has been a part of his life too.

How do you let go of a beloved friend like Frosty? Our balcony will be dim without his warm, friendly glow.

I’m an adult, so why does the idea of throwing away a piece of my childhood upset me so much?

Even if there was a Christmas miracle and we found a similar Frosty, I would have a hard time throwing him away. I know that eventually I’ll have no choice. The poor little guy is literally falling apart. It’s time to let him go to the “North Pole in the sky”.

Sigh…

If anyone has ever seen a similar Frosty to my dear friend Frosty, online or elsewhere, PLEASE keep me in mind. Christmas will never be the same without Frosty.

Frosty the Snowman

Kimberly

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Celebrating the Season with adorable recipes from Women’s Day magazine

 

WD Dec '14 Cover

It’s that time of year again. Time to plan out whose house it hosting the holiday gathering, who is bring what dish the family table and what cookies to bake for family and friends this year.

I LOVE HOMEMADE COOKIES! Well, to be honest, I love cookies in general.

It’s on my “Bucket List” to attend a cookie swap. The sad thing is that my friends mostly all life upstate AND I can’t really bake. I’m a decent cook but baking is something I haven’t mastered yet. I wish I was a talented baker.

The other day I was at the grocery store picking up a couple of things when I saw the December issue of Women’s Day on display (pictured above). My eyes were instantly drawn to the adorable snowman cupcake predominantly featured on the front cover. How cute!

I thought to myself that the snowman cupcake would make an adorable treat for a holiday get together. I think it would be fun to put them all on a large tray and sprinkle shredded coconut around them to make it resemble snowmen in the yards. Maybe even adorn the tray with other holiday themed candies. It would make for an adorable centerpiece AND dessert all in one.

Our friends at Women’s Day magazine were kind enough to provide the recipe for these darling snowman so you can make them yourselves. They also provided other adorable cookie recipes.

Get ready for the most delicious time of year – the December issue of Woman’s Day magazine features 25 festive sweets that the whole family is sure to enjoy. Go ahead, indulge! Featuring goodies like merry snowman cupcakes, cheerful Oreo penguins and decorative elf cookies, these confections will spread the holiday joy among everyone on your list.

WDY120114_134

Snowman Cupcakes:

  • Total time – 2 hours and 10 minutes
  • Make 8 snowmen
  • Cost per snowman – .41 cents

Instructions

  1. Make 1 batch basic gingerbread cupcakes (see below) as directed.
  2. Line 8 holes of the muffin pan with red paper liners and lightly coat the remaining holes with cooking spray.
  3. Make 1 batch vanilla buttercream (see below) as directed.
  4. When the baked cupcakes have cooled completely, in a food processor, pulse the 4 unwrapped cupcakes into fine crumbs.
  5. In a bowl, mix together the crumbs and 6 Tbsp buttercream, then roll into 8 balls (1. in. each; about 1. Tbsp).
  6. Frost the remaining cupcakes with buttercream (about 2 Tbsp each) and coat with finely shredded coconut (about 1 tsp each).
  7. Use toothpicks to secure the cake balls to the cupcakes, then frost each ball with ½ Tbsp buttercream and coat with finely shredded coconut (about 1 tsp each).
  8. Decorate using mini chocolate chips for eyes and buttons, orange Tic Tacs for noses, sour candy strips for scarves and melted chocolate for the mouth.
  9. Make hats using chocolate jelly rings, buttercream and mini chocolate chips.

Gingerbread Cupcake:

  • Total time – 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Makes 12 cupcakes
  • Cost per cupcake – .36 cents

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1½ cups all-purpose flour, 1½ tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg and ¼ tsp kosher salt.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the ½ cup vegetable oil, ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, 2 large eggs, ¼ cup unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap), ¼ cup water and ½ tsp pure vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and mix until fully incorporated (the batter will be thin).
  6. Divide the batter among the lined muffin cups (about 3 Tbsp each) and bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream:

  • Total time – 10 minutes
  • Make 3 1/4 cups
  • Cost $4.15

Instructions

  1. Sift 1 lb confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce the mixer to low and gradually add the sugar, alternating with the 2 Tbsp heavy cream.
  4. Mix in 2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
  5. Increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

WDY120114_080

Oreo Penguins:

  • Total time – 1 hour
  • Makes 12 cookies
  • Cost per cookie – .12 cents

Instructions

  1. Separate 12 standard Oreos.
  2. Press ½ tsp shredded coconut onto each cream piece (discard plain pieces).
  3. Separate 12 mini Oreos; scrape off and discard the cream.
  4. Cut 12 of the mini pieces in half.
  5. Using royal icing (see below), stick candy eyes and the cut side of half a banana Runt on one mini piece (for the face).
  6. Attach 2 half pieces to the body (for the wings).
  7. Stick the cut sides of 2 banana Runt halves into the cream for the feet.
  8. Repeat to create 12 penguins.

Royal Icing:

  • Total time – 12 minutes
  • Makes 2 cups
  • Cost – $1.40

Instructions

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat 3 large egg whites and ½ tsp cream of tartar on medium-high speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add 1 lb confectioners’ sugar, beating until just incorporated.
  3. Increase the speed to high and beat until medium-stiff glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.

WDY120114_133_133

Elf Cookies:

  • Total Time – 2 hours
  • Cost per cookie – .26 cents

Instructions

  1. Make 1 batch royal icing (see above) as directed and tint using gel food color as desired.
  2. Transfer 1/3 of each color to a separate pastry bag fitted with a fine tip.
  3. Use a few drops of water to thing the icing remaining in the bowls; place in separate pastry bags fitted with small round tips.
  4. Using the thicker icing, outline the hats, clothes, beards and faces of the elves on 24 Nutter Butter cookies.
  5. Fill the hats and clothes using the thinner icing.
  6. Let dry between colors.
  7. Use finely shredded coconut for Santa’s beard (while icing is wet) and use icing to attach sliced almonds for the elves’ ears.

These are adorable! Whether you are a talented baker or someone like me who is not a great baker but could certainly decorate some cookies with icing, these recipes are a “must have” for your holiday cookbooks.

Look for the December issue of Women’s Day where ever magazines are sold. You can also visit WomensDay.com to subscribe or to learn more about the publication. The magazine is also found on all the social media sites (the links are found on their home page).

WDY120114_079_079

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted these recipes and photos with permission for the enjoyment of my site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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