Dining at home has many advantages, from saving money to affording family members more time together. But it's easy for those at-home meals to become routine and boring - unless you take some simple steps to make dinnertime a special time for everyone. Do you have any suggestions? Please share!

Tip of the Week


Dining at home has many advantages, from saving money to affording family members more time together. But it's easy for those at-home meals to become routine and boring - unless you take some simple steps to make dinnertime a special time for everyone.


- Make it restaurant style: One of the reasons people love dining out is the chance to eat something they normally wouldn't make at home. Making some of those restaurant favorites in your own kitchen isn't as difficult as you might think. By adding a delicious, easy-to-make dining-out treat to your at-home menu, you can give your meal restaurant quality flair. One restaurant staple is the bread basket. You can create your own version with take-and-bake options.


- Tune out the outside world: You wouldn't be so rude as to take a cellphone call at the table in a quiet restaurant, so why allow such disruptions during your meal at home? Have everyone turn off their phones, switch off the TV and radio, leave all handheld digital devices in another room, and encourage a dinner conversation that truly focuses on each other.


- Wear your "Sunday best": Even if you wear a suit to work every day, there's still something special about dressing up for an unforgettable meal. If you'd prefer, you can leave the heels, jewelry or cufflinks behind - just skip the jeans and sweatshirts in favor of a skirt or a nice button-down and a pair of slacks.


- Cook together: Cooking together increases the amount of quality time you spend with loved ones. Whether it's a date night or just a friendly get-together, involving everyone in meal preparation makes the evening memorable and special. Using easy-to-make and delicious products will ensure your meal will have that homemade taste that's sure to please.


- ARA


Family Movie Night


What were you favorite family movies of 2011? We have our own list below – do you disagree with any of the picks? Please let us know your thoughts!


- Best family movies of 2011, in alphabetical order




“The Adventures of Tintin”

“Arthur Christmas”

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules”

“Gnomeo and Juliet”

“Hugo”

“Kung Fu Panda 2”

“The Muppets”

“Puss in Boots”

“Rango”

“Winnie the Pooh”

Book Report


“Peak,” by Roland Smith


Ages: Young adult


Pages: 256


Synopsis: When 14-year-old Peak Marcello's long-lost father presents the opportunity for them to summit Everest together, Peak doesn't even consider saying no--even though he suspects there are a few strings attached. And if he makes it to the top before his birthday, he'll be the youngest person ever to stand above 29,000 feet. It's not a bad turn of events for a guy who's been stuck in New York City with only skyscrapers to (illegally) scale. Here, in Peak's own words, is the exhilarating, gut-wrenching story of what happened on that climb to the top of the world - a climb that changed everything. Welcome to Mount Everest. - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Did You Know


Doctors advise that pregnant women should take as little cold and flu medications as possible during pregnancy.


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