Holiday Family Traditions

The holidays are a time to revel in the gratitude and love we feel for one another. Here are 14 meaningful ways to celebrate your togetherness this season.

1. Go for a family nature walk near your home to collect seasonal items that you can use in your holiday

décor. If you live near a forest, the obvious choices are pine boughs and pine cones, but long dried grasses

can look just as festive when tied with a holiday bow. You might be pleasantly surprised at the

decorations that kids come up with, too.

2. Make a few handmade holiday cards this year as a family.

3. Make appreciation cards. In your holiday greeting cards, replace the annual Christmas letter

with a brief letter of appreciation for the recipient.

4. Create or purchase new ornaments each year for the tree. Create or shop for an ornament that

reflects a defining event or sentiment for the year.

5. Enjoy a Family Night with special holiday crafts or games. Oriental trading.com has some fun

and inexpensive items that you can keep among your holiday decorations.

6. Start a Christmas-themed puzzle somewhere in your home. A puzzle table, placed in a quiet room,

is great for holiday visitors. Whenever your guests want to get away from the action, they can retreat

to work on the puzzle. This can be a great stress-reliever, and it’s wonderful for those guests who

always have to be busy doing something!

7. Play special music. What is everyone’s favorite holiday CD? Allow each family member to choose

and keep them in the CD changer so everyone’s musical taste is represented.

8. Take a photo of your children standing in a particular spot each year – in front of the tree,

by the front door…anyplace that will be consistent from year to year. Make a special holiday ornament

or scrapbook album that depicts the growth and change of your family each year.

9. Research the holiday traditions of your nationality. Adopt a few of these traditions into your annual

celebration each year to celebrate your heritage.

10. Ask each child to write a Dear Santa letter. (Small children can draw pictures.) Keep a special

record of these letters in an album or treasure box.

11. Create an evening tradition of taking a family walk or drive in your neighborhood to view the

holiday lights.

12. Cut snowflakes from wrapping paper, festive holiday advertisements, or last year’s holiday cards,

and string them together into a festive garland.

13. Adopt a special cause each year. The Heifer Project (http://www.heifer.org/) is wonderfully suited

for holiday traditions. This charity allows you to purchase a gift animal for a family in need (ranging

from heifers to rabbits and everything in between.) These gift animals then provide resources that these

families need live. When we purchase a Heifer Project gift for someone, the kids draw a picture of the

gifted animal, and we frame their artwork and wrap it.

14. Take your family to a performance of The Nutcracker. Performances of this ballet abound this time of

year – from professional companies to amateur dance studios. Purchase a CD to bring the memories home.

Sunflower Oil: Frying and Cooking Tips

Frying is an art in the cooking world. Yes, everyone knows how to pour frying oil in a pan and fry their chips to crisp delight but not everyone knows how to use the sunflower oil for other purposes. Here are some useful tips for using sunflower oil in the kitchen.

The first question you should ask is: why coat food with sunflower oil in the first place? Well, as we all know, oil and water do not mix at all. This can work for you in many ways with cakes and doughs to seal in the gasses that the growing agents release. Sunflower oil also keeps the moisture in your food as the water already inside the food creates a wall against it. This is nifty and useful to know.

When you fry food the sunflower oil has to be kept at a specific temperature throughout the cooking process. Professional chefs say that if the temperature is any higher you will notice because smoke will start rising from the pot or pan.

Don’t fill the deep fryer or the pan with a lot of food. You might want to get dinner ready as fast as possible but by doing this it may take longer. More items in the pan will lower the temperature at a dramatic pace. One or two food items, such as one or two steaks, at a time are ideal to keep that perfect heat.

If you are afraid of making your food too oily, all you have to do is it let the fresh-out-the-pan food rest on paper towels so that the excess frying oil can be absorbed. You will be surprised what paper towels can do for you whilst cooking because they are super absorbent.

Don’t reuse the sunflower oil. A lot of food loses water once cooked and that water and moisture ends up combined with the sunflower oil if you don’t have an impressive filtering tool. Also, don’t reuse it if a lot of other particles are in it.

Make sure that you use the correct oil for the kind of cooking you are going to do. Don’t use olive oil for the normal kind of frying. Olive oil tend to take longer to heat up because it is quite dense and its flavour is unique that shouldn’t be wasted on generic frying. Use the olive oil for special foods that are cooked in the oven and that mix well with different kinds of spices and herbs.

Chefs are lucky that sunflower oil is so diverse no matter what kind of meal you are cooking. The one part you have to remember is how much cooking oil to use to achieve the perfect meal.

Trail Running Shoes

Trail running has grown in popularity and is enjoyed through the United States. Trail running takes place along paths that are often inaccessible by road, except at the trailheads. A typical trail traverses through rough terrain, mountains, hills and forests. Common distances in races are between 10 km and 50 km. Participants often ascend and descend thousands of feet through steep grades. People in the Mountain States, the Western US and California are avid trail runners.

Trail runners use specially designed shoes, which have stiffer soles and are more rigid and protective than normal shoes used for road running. Shoe manufacturers in the US like North Face, Nike, Salomon and Vasque specialize in trail running shoes.

Trail running shoes are geared towards keeping the feet dry in wet conditions and comfortable on slick terrain. They are also designed to grip on ice and stablize the feet. All running shoes are designed to provide biomechanical protection from injuries. Road-running shoes are built to provide cushioning and motion control to prevent repetitive movement or overuse injuries such as over-exertion, shin splints and knee pain. Trail-shoe design generally emphasizes on stability, a feature that protects against acute ankle sprain, which is the chief cause of injury in trail running. Trail shoes are tested on a wide variety of surfaces, including single-track, fire roads, jagged technical trails, gravel paths and even pavements.

The industry standard for the lifespan of a running shoe is between 350 and 500 miles. Different models offer varying results. A runner averaging 20 miles per week could expect a pair of shoes to last from 16 to 25 weeks, or about 4 to 6 months. Many factors affect how long a shoe would last, including the runner's weight, the runner's style and the surfaces run on. A trail shoe is required to be sturdier than normal shoe because of the greater wear and tear involved in trail running. Therefore, it is recommended that trail runners wear shoes that are especially designed for trail running.

Alaska Ski Vacations – Is Alaska The Best Skiing Spot In The World?

The word Alaska brings to mind a sense of wealth and sheer open spaces, while being recognizing as a natural source of awe and mystery – plus being one of the best skiing spots in the world. Considered by some as one of the finest four season resorts, the Alyeska Prince Hotel and Ski Resort – located 35 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska – has a top elevation of 2,751 feet with a 2,501 vertical drop. Alaska has some of the best skiing in the world, yet at the Alyeska Resort we do not find overly crowded slopes with long lift lines. To accommodate the large number of skiers, there are nine lifts, which includes six chair lifts, two surface lifts, and one cable car line. There are 68 trails for beginners, intermediates, and experts, with the major of the trails designed for intermediate skiers.

Nighttime skiing is allowed, which helps to make the ski experience more adventurous and thrilling. Exciting views such as the snow-capped mountains, hanging glaciers, and of course, the famous Northern Lights can be seen during this time. Skiing Magazine rankings this resort number nine of the top 25 killer ski trips. Every year, this skiing winter wonderland receives about 631 inches of snow, warm the hearts of the world's skiers who enjoy traveling to Alaska. Once a person stays at the Alyeska Prince Hotel, there never will be a doubt this is the place to stay for the utmost Alaska ski vacations!

The ultimate enjoyment of their elegant rooms and exquisite dining, combined with popular nightly entertainment, shows the Alaska ski resorts are the perfect places to vacation, where you can not only ski but also enjoy the last of our country's great frontiers. At the Alyeska Resort, the perfect winter vacation can be experienced when spirited outdoor skiers brave the elements, then return to the Alyeska Hotel for some old-fashioned, home-style pampering. Get a taste of what Alaska is really about and what serious skiing is! There are enjoyable activities for the entire family, from grandma and grandpa on down to tiny toots, with many area sights and attractions to be seen. If you decide to "go out on the town" while touring the area, several nightlife spots are just as fun and enjoyable, but are not associated with the Alyeska Price Hotel.

Mid-November is when the skiing season begins at the Alyeska Resort, running until mid-April. This area encompasses the longest daytime hours in the United States, having sixteen hours of daylight each day in the month of April. During December, however, there is only seven hours of daylight, which means there is more time for night skiing. If skiing is something that does not interest you, then tubing may. The Glacier Tubing Park features two lanes of terrain, with a surface lift – everyone in the family will enjoy spending time here. Also is the Alyeska Terrain Park, an absolute must for snowboarding enthusiasts.

Other winter activities that can be enjoyed in and around the Alyeska Resort include flight seeing, helisking, ocean cruising tours, dog sledding, ice climbing, back country skiing, mountaineering, and polar bear viewing. If none of these winter activities appeal to you, sit back and relax at the Alyeska Resort, and enjoy the peace and quiet while everyone is out doing winter activities!