Category: Paid Me

McDonald’s In The Kitchen, Fairsted Kitchen that is.

A Surprise From McDonald’s at Fairsted Kitchen

 

When I got the invitation to Fairsted Kitchen, it was a given that I would say yes. Every time I drive by it, I remind myself that we need to have dinner there, then I get home and life happens and I forget, again, at least until the next time I drive by.  And when I saw that McDonald’s was hosting and Executive Chef Stephanie Cmar (yes, foodie friends, of Bravo’s Top Chef and of Stacked Donuts fame), was going to cook only with McD’s ingredients, I was intrigued. How would this work? What would the menu look like? And most importantly…Would there be fries?!

Photo credit: Debbie Grubstein

 

And not only were there fries – there was a bar of fries!  Everyone talked, laughed and nibbled as we circled the table and there were lots of stories because…fries. And I was so excited that the charming and twinkle lighted exterior of Fairsted Kitchen was a perfect preview to the lovely space within –  warm wood tables, lovely vintage mismatched china, and a welcoming staff. What a wonderful antidote to a cold and rainy night.

Dinner was, as expected, fantastic. And made only from ingredients that would be used in a McDonald’s kitchen. The first up: chicken croquettes with cilantro lime sauce, cucumber, peanut salad, and wilted romaine puree and our hosts explained that the fresh produce was the same used in McDonald’s premium salads and McWraps.  I learned that McD’s sources from local distributors when possible.

Next up, gnocchi made with actual McDonald’s french fries that were put through a meat grinder. Wow, super clever Stephanie Cmar! The Bolognese made with sausage and 100% ground beef, was delicious! I also learned that McD’s uses 100% beef that is ground, then formed into patties and flash frozen, and made with no additives or preservatives. Good to know.

Dessert was seriously the biggest doughnut I have ever seen. It’s okay though, years of training had prepared me for the challenge and I was undaunted. Doughnuts with Cranberry and Salted Caramel made by Stephanie (McD’s uses USDA grade A fresh eggs and North American grown whole wheat flour).

 

Served with a perfect cup of coffee (from McCafe) and made with 100 percent Arabica coffee beans. I loved McDonald’s coffee when it was Newman’s Own and I love it now, too. A great price for great coffee.

Stephanie Cmar Fairsted Kitchen McDonald's In the Kitchen

Photos* were taken by Debbie Grubstein, friend, food blogger extraordinaire, and all around wonderful person. Thanks, Deb!

*except the coffee cup so you can see why Deb is good to have around!

This post was sponsored by McDonald’s. All opinions are, and always will be, my own. Thank you!

 

The Importance of Child’s Play

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This is a sponsored post and yet all opinions remain steadfastly my own. As always.

Long ago when all children were free range children, only we were just called children, unstructured play ruled the land. Granted, you could say it was an easier time, a gentler time, but was it, really? When I was young, we had to be in when the street lights went on, and that was when we were in elementary school. On those long, hazy summer nights we were covered in mosquito bites and a fine dusting of dirt from the street, or maybe some muck from the frog pond. We were always amazed when our mother knew we had been to the pond  (we weren’t supposed to go), and thought she was magic. Now I know that she could smell frog pond on us from 100 feet away. Anyone could, really, and that’s why it was off limits, not because we might fall in and drown, although I’m sure she considered that as a possibility.

Now, and I include myself in the ‘in control’ parent group, playtime is structured, scheduled and organized and supervised, but should it be? Classes are great, interests are wonderful, but where has the time for play gone? Here is a great article by Dr. Michael Patte, on the Genius of Play website.

Here is another article from The American Academy of Pediatrics, in case you like more data.

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds

And, yes, my children had their share of scheduled activities from play dates to lessons to organized sports.  While I was not for letting my children wander off in the vague direction of a frog pond, they did have plenty of unstructured play. The swing set in our back yard has the typical worn down dirt under each swing and these patches of dirt became a magnet for their play, especially after a rain. Small plastic animals lived there (some, I fear, are still buried there), Barbies swam in the puddles with Polly Pockets, lions and horses, mud pies and castles reigned, and it was just the right amount of mess for my girls, and for me. As it turns out, frog ponds are really stinky.

So, sign your children up for a class or two, but remember that your backyard, local park or school yard has plenty of opportunities for play and the benefits for the children are enormous, so take the pledge to play. Don’t just take my word for it either.

Click here to take the Pledge to Play.

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Need more info on the benefits of play? Here are some stats and facts. Need ideas? Here are some great ideas for games.
Find the Toy Industry Association on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube for more great tips about, basically, child’s play.
I received compensation for this post. 

A Highlight Reel with My Motorola Droid

Disclosure: As a Verizon #VZWBuzz #VZBoston Lifestyle Blogger I’m a member of a pretty cool team of influencers who share information about mobile living. I was provided a device (a Motorola Droid)  at no charge and compensation for my participation. There has been no editing by a third party, nor any promise of positive feedback. All opinions are my own.

 

Yes, I am making movies now – well, more like a photo slideshow but it’s cool, right? Maybe it’s watching my kids so easily create videos (okay, one is a film student so I do have in-house tech support if needed), maybe it’s because it’s fun to put music and images together, and maybe because it is now so easy to do!

I went to a blogger lunch last week at the Tuscan Market (in Salem, NH – there’s one in Burlington, MA I’m going to visit next), and wanted to share the amazing food and atmosphere. Usually when I write a post, I make a photo gallery or post still images but I sort of accidentally stumbled upon this feature and was intrigued. And it was incredibly easy to do using my Motorola Droid. Really, I’ve always been a little shy to try making videos (high expectations here and all that), but I found the Android phone really intuitive to navigate on my own. Sure, it took a few tries to get the first video the way I wanted it (four attempts, to be exact but mostly because I was fussing with the length and the music), but I made the second video below in under two minutes and it was so much fun!

8 Easy Steps to a Video

1. Go to Camera Roll or Gallery

2. Select photos

3. Tap the box to create a Highlight Reel (next to the Google Mail box)

4. Add the Title

5. Choose Movie Length

6. Choose Quality (HD available)

7. Select a Song from available downloads (or check No Music)

8. Save and Share!

 

I’ve found lots of fun features on this phone but this is my new favorite. Get ready for more highlight reels! #VZWBuzz #VZBoston #sponsored

 

 

 

Getting Back On Track with Learnivore

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Some Much Needed Lifelong Learning with Learnivore

It was a long, cold winter – something I don’t have to tell those of you who stuck it out here (ahem, not you, Mom and Dad), and my daily routine of a good hour plus walk with our dog was disrupted. Okay, it stopped cold…if you’ll pardon the pun. The usual brisk walk became me in all my warmest gear as I begged, cried, and pleaded into the scarf that covered most of my face to my dog to just hurry up already so we could go back inside. It was not my finest hour, or hers, really.

Despite a few trips to the gym and some epic snow shoveling sessions, it was hard to stay on track, and I didn’t. At all. And with the nice weather upon us,  I have no more excuses, just a habit of less exercise. So when the local social network company, Learnivore, offered a class for me to sample and review (any class), I immediately chose yoga. It’s been a while since I practiced daily, and I knew some individual attention would help motivate me.

The super easy to navigate Learnivore site (you can log in with Facebook or an email address) lets you explore classes that are set up under the fantastic headings of Athletics, Arts or Academics. It’s easy to narrow your search by geographic area, too. And each instructor has a profile page so you can read all about them before you even book a class. There were several options for yoga within 10 miles of my home, too. After reading a few profiles, I booked a yoga class with Christie R. – it was easy to communicate through Learnivore to set a time and date.

The morning of the class, one of my nieces dropped by (she is out of school for the year), and I invited her to join me in my class. After checking in with Christie, we were off to my first yoga class in a while. My niece is quite a few years younger than I am, and a terrific athlete to boot, so I was hoping she would distract Christie from my ineptitude. Maybe a little. I needn’t have worried.

Christie Rosen - Yoga Instructor for Learnivore, Boston, MA, Capability Mom
Christie Rosen

Christie is warm and lovely with a wonderful manner, and was easily able to accommodate our two very different skill and ability levels, and somehow managed to keep us focused and on task (we lean to chatty, this niece and I). Christie’s home studio was equipped with blocks, bands and blankets to help with proper positioning, and I did so appreciate the care she takes to make sure each pose is thoughtfully and properly executed. Christie is an incredible instructor – kind, patient, caring and knowledgeable. What a great and gentle reintroduction to an activity I love and will definitely continue. I also noticed there are instructors for Track and Field – maybe now that I’m getting back in shape I’ll join a Master’s team, but first I might need a refresher class or two…

Are you a lifelong learner? Learnivore has classes for the whole family, too. Here’s a listing of the available classes: Screen shot 2015-05-27 at 4.36.35 PM

Athletics
All Air Sports Archery Baseball Basketball Bowling Boxing Camping & Hiking Caving & Canyoning Climbing Cricket CrossFit Cycle & Spin Dance – Athletic Diving Driving & Racing Equestrian Extreme Sports Fencing Field Hockey Fishing Fitness & Training Football Golf Gymnastics Hunting & Firearms Kayaking & Rafting Lacrosse Martial Arts Massage & Physical Therapy Nutrition Other – Athletics Paintball Parkour Pilates Poker & Cards Rowing Running & Endurance Sailing & Boating Self Defense Skateboarding Skating & Hockey Ski & Snow Sports Soccer Softball Surfing Survival & Orienteering Swimming Tennis & Racquet Sports Track & Field Triathlon Ultimate Frisbee Volleyball Water Sports Wrestling Yoga

Arts
All Beauty Brewing Circus Arts Craft Creative Writing Culinary Arts Dance Design Dramatic Arts Fashion Film Gardening Knitting Life Music – Brass Music – Composition & Arranging Music – General Music – Guitar Music – Low Strings Music – Other Music – Percussion Music – Piano Music – Viola & Violin Music – Voice Music – Woodwinds Other – Arts Photography Sewing Travel Visual Arts Wine & Spirits Woodworking

Academics
All Academic Writing Accounting Alternative Medicine Anthropology Archaeology Architecture Art History Astronomy Biological Sciences Business Chess Child Development Computer Science Economics Education Engineering Finance History Home School Journalism Languages – Chinese Languages – ESL Languages – French Languages – Other Languages – Spanish Law Literature Management & Leadership Marketing Mathematics Medicine Other – Academics Philosophy Physics & Chemistry Political Science Psychology Reading Mechanics Religion Social Sciences Speaking & Presentation Special Education Speech Sustainability Technology Test Prep

Check Learnivore out on your favorite social media platform.

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Learnivore Capability Mom Yoga Rugg Road Boston Christie Rosen

 

 Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are, as always, my own.