Category Archives: holidays

Less Than a Week: How MagicKitchen.com Gift Certificates Saved my Derrière

Disclaimer: This is a tale of fiction.  Names, characters, places and businesses (except MagicKitchen.com, obviously), events and incidents are either products of the author’s (very limited) imagination or are used in a fictitious manner.  Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.  The author also apologizes for the unnecessary, unjustified and liberal use of hyphenated words.

There I was, on the 18th with under a week to go until that jolly old elf squeezes his fat arse down the chimney (don’t you hate those kids who ask how Santa delivers presents to houses without chimneys…He comes through the door…duh!).  As usual, I was in the home stretch running well behind the pack and was fading fast.  My procrastination knew no bounds and I was in serious trouble.  What the hell was I going to get my busy neighbor who always seemed to find the time to mow my front lawn or shovel the walk?…which wracked me with guilt…no, not really.  And what was I going to get my snowbird in-laws who were going to very temporarily migrate back to Hartford for a few days?

So I did what any self-respecting, Office Space-loving, cubicle-bound, under-paid, even more under-appreciated, over-worked, immensely-bored office worker would do.  I conducted some online shopping when I was supposed to be fixing code.  And what I discovered froze my heart, as it did at this exact time last year.  Apparently, unless I wanted to pay extra (and by “extra” I mean a crap-ton) for expedited shipping, my heart-felt purchases would not reach my recipients or myself in time to place in them in Big Red’s bag.  What’s a God-fearing procrastinator to do?

Fortuitously, my next-door cubicle prisoner heard me bang my head off the keyboard in frustration and resignation and did the office chair shuffle into my cubicle where we briefly played office chair bumper cars.  After our sophomoric behavior, Kevin informed me and extolled the virtues of a gourmet food delivery service called MagicKitchen.com.  We then visited their newly remodeled website and discovered, to our amazement, that they offered gift certificates that, once purchased, could be emailed to either the purchaser (me) or the grateful recipient (guilt-inducing neighbor and octogenarian snowbirds).  https://magickitchen.com/gift/gift-certificates.html

“Are you freaking kidding me?” Kevin and I exclaimed in cubicle-mate unison.  There was zero pressure to choose the proper meals as I had zero-idea what they would be.  I simply purchased a $100 gift certificate for Randy, Liz, little Randy and Paige next door (that should cover a year’s worth of mowing and shoveling, right?) and a $250 one for the in-laws (that should cover 15 years of making me feel inadequate, worthless and not good enough for their daughter, right?).  They could then visit MagicKitchen.com and choose from their impressive selection of entrees, sides, soups and desserts, to include dietary restrictions, and then wait, in eager anticipation, for the delicacies to arrive at their door.  Heck, MagicKitchen.com would even inform them of the balance remaining on their gift card.

Kevin and I also realized that I could have these gift certificates emailed as late as Christmas Eve and me, wanting to uphold my status as Crown Prince of Procrastinators, went back to playing Candy Crush until quitting time.

So that’s the story of how I discovered the perfect Christmas gift for both last-minute shoppers and foodies alike.  Thanks MagicKitchen.com!  And as I logged off with happy zeal, I exclaimed, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good meal…from MagicKitchen.com, that is.”

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MagicKitchen: The Perfect Gift for the Seniors in Your Life

Lemon Rosemary Pork

It’s really no secret that many seniors do not eat they way they should and there are many reasons for that.  Despite the fact that we become less active and our metabolism slows down as we age, seniors still have basic nutritional needs, as do we all.  That being the case, sometimes it’s up to us to make it as convenient as possible for seniors to meet their nutritional needs with food that’s as delicious as it is healthy.  Of course, this is the primary reason why MagicKitchen.com exists.

So let’s explore the reasons why many seniors do not eat properly in order to better understand how to solve the problem.  One reason is because our senses of smell, taste and sight diminish with age.  Like everything else on us, as we get old it breaks and our senses are no different.  Yes, one of the main reasons we eat is to provide energy for our bodies, but Imagine not being able to properly taste or smell the food you’re eating…it would be like eating unseasoned and unadorned gnocchi all the time.

We also like to see what we’re eating even if it’s not a piece of culinary art from an overpriced restaurant.  The ways to combat this issue are, I’m sure, readily apparent…colorful foods prepared with flavorful herbs and spices, such as our buffalo chicken artisan flatbread or fire roasted vegetables en croûte.

Another reason why seniors don’t eat the way they should are the side effects from medications and those side effects can be a straight loss of appetite or constipation.  Loss of appetite is self explanatory, but constipation can cause a feeling of fullness due to slower digestion.  Either way, the results are the same: reduced food intake.  For the loss of appetite side effect, a talk with a doctor might be required to either change the med or reduce the dosage.  As for constipation, increased fiber, fluids and physical activity usually provide the answer.  So try our chicken artichoke with spinach, fresh cut corn medley, or spinach and orzo with caponata sauce.

Soups

Yet another reason could be oral health issues related to gums, teeth or dentures.  The solution here is to provide seniors with this issue soft and moist food or food cut into small pieces.  Offer cooked veggies over raw or fish instead of steak.  Also, check out our “soup for the soul” soup bundle or meals like our salmon and vegetable linguini.

Lastly, and perhaps most common, seniors tend to reduce the proper type and amount of food they consume because they do not enjoy dining alone or are simply unwilling or unable to cook.  Dining, especially for the older generation, is meant to be a shared experience when the family gathers to discuss…well, family things.

However, if the family’s gone, for whatever reason, then that shared experience is gone as well.  For these reasons, MagicKitchen.com makes, by far, the most sense, especially if you live away from your senior parents or other family members.  Look, you know the deal…the food arrives fully cooked and just requires a few minutes in the nuclear microwave machine to create a healthy, hot, and delicious meal!  And as Forrest Gump said, “That’s one less thing [to worry about].”

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A Christmas Vacation Story

One of the reasons that we can commiserate with Clark W. Griswold in Christmas Vacation and the Parker family in A Christmas Story is that most of us have similar stories to tell regarding the holidays.  Maybe not as dramatic as electrocuting the cat or a squirrel running rampant through your house (Christmas Vacation) or dogs breaking into your house and stealing the Christmas turkey (A Christmas Story), but to you and your family, just as humorous (and they’re especially humorous if they did not seem so at the time, but you’re only able to laugh about it after the passage of time…you know, when a story starts with “Remember in 2004 when…”).  These stories that don’t involve “real” tragedy, but family drama, are the ones that make the holidays so special.

When I began to write this post, I thought I’d simply share a few funny holiday stories from the internet machine with you.  However, I decided to “spice” it up a bit by giving you a holiday version of three lies and one truth.  If you’re unfamiliar…many groups, meeting for the first time, conduct ice breaker activities to assist in getting to know your fellow group members.  This game involves telling the group three true facts about yourself and one lie and then seeing if the group can discern the lie.  In that vein, I give you one true Christmas story that I actually lived through and three, that while true in that they happened to someone else, I did not witness.  At the end of the post I reveal my “true” story.

What the Hell Stinks?

Back when I was in college (I think it was Christmas 1986) when I was young and stupid, but didn’t realize it, the “The Great Skunk Incident,” as it is referred to by my family, occurred.  My parents lived in (and still do) a very rural area of central Pennsylvania (if you’re familiar with central Pennsylvania you understand that all of it is “very rural”) and their home and yard were frequented by various forms of wildlife…deer, raccoons, opossums, the occasional weasel, and, the antagonist of this story, skunks.

Anyway, Christmas morning dawned as any other, with the smell of turkey, plenty of coffee, opening presents, and dad running up from the basement screaming “There’s a %$#* skunk down there!”  I, in my infinite humane wisdom, came up with the plan of cornering the beast, wrapping it in a thick moving blanket (to prevent the inevitable spray from funkifying the house) and then depositing it safely outside.  So down into the bowels of the house I went, armed with a whisk broom and a blanket and wearing oven mitts in case it tried to bite, and chemistry goggles (mom didn’t want me getting sprayed in the eyes).

I must admit, all went as planned…almost.  I used the broom to force it into a corner and then tossed it aside as I wrapped the monster in the thick packing blanket.  However (there’s always a “however”), my faith in the blanket to absorb the skunk’s pungent spray was ill placed.  It, me, the entire basement, back porch and thus, the whole house now smelled like skunk roadkill times 100 with the rest of the family set to arrive imminently.  Long story short…the skunk escaped unharmed, my 12-year old niece stepped out of her family’s car a promptly enquired, “What the hell stinks?”, mom packed up the dinner and moved the feast to my sister’s house, and I spent Christmas alone, scrubbing the basement, and myself, with every cleaning solution known to man.

Grandpa’s on Fire.

This Christmas story could have ended badly, but due to some quick thinking on the part of my otherwise useless Uncle Bob, the family can still laugh about it.  The background of this story is a bit fuzzy as it happened in either 1973 or ’74, so bear with me.  I was quite young.  Anyway, it’s a well-known fact in my extended family that mom is obsessed with candles, perhaps to the point of needing therapy, and the advent of Yankee Candle has not helped matters.  The holidays only served to exacerbate my mom’s psychosis.  Christmas candles seemed to metastasize exponentially as the big day approached, both lit and unlit.

I remember part of the Christmas tradition at our home was to pose for a family picture at the dining room table prior to gorging ourselves and the family patriarch was tasked with taking said picture which was my maternal grandfather until he passed back in 1990.  I can’t remember exactly what he was wearing that day, but my mom, when the story is retold, informs me that it was an oversized wool sweater which assisted in the pending near-tragedy.

Grandad, as was usually the case, had to retreat a bit in order to fit the entire family into the frame of his vintage top-down view camera (the top flipped open and you viewed the frame by looking down into the viewfinder).  However (there’s always a however), he, unbeknownst to him, retreated just a tad too far and the dozens of candles mom had lit on top of the buffet proceeded to ignite the stray fibers of that oversized wool sweater.  The one voice I clearly remember from the ensuing cacophony of noise was that of my older brother who simply looked up and nonchalantly stated, “Grandpa’s on fire.”  But it was my, here-to-for, shiftless Uncle Bob who saved the day by dosing my burning grandfather with two glasses of beer, containers of which were never too far from his reach…according to my mother.

Who Knew an Iguana Could Run so Fast?

This is another “return from college and create havoc Christmas tale.”  I returned home for Christmas break to discover that my younger brother was now the proud owner and caretaker of a rather obnoxious iguana…not the most cuddly of pets.  Andrew kept the green, three-foot long (mostly tail) reptile in a large glass aquarium complete with a heat lamp to keep the cute little fellow (not sure of its gender, btw) nice and toasty in my parent’s notoriously cold house…my penny-pinching mom never set the thermostat above 65 degrees.

As soon as I crossed the threshold, Andrew came running and asked if I’d like to see his iguana.  I wasn’t sure of what he meant by “iguana,” but I indulged him and hoped for the best.  Well, it turned out “iguana” actually meant a real iguana and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  First mistake: placing Iggy’s (yes, that was its name) heat lamp on the newly laid carpet in my brother’s room.  Result: a perfectly round six-inch circle of melted carpet which was discovered by my mother who tracked down the offending odor of said melting carpet.

But wait, it gets better.  This particular day was unseasonably warm for late-December.  Second mistake: taking Iggy out onto the back deck without his leash (yes, Iggy had a leash) to enjoy the warm sun.  However (there’s always a however), Andrew failed to inform me (yes, I’m shifting some of the blame his way) that iguanas use their long tails as whip-like weapons.  Result:  adorable Iggy unexpectedly whipped me in the face with his tail as I held him.  I promptly dropped him in shock and Iggy promptly jumped off the deck, hauled ass across the backyard and disappeared into the woods never to be seen again as Andrew looked on in dismay.  And all I could say in my own defense was “Who knew an iguana could run so fast?”

I Almost Killed You with Caramel on Christmas Eve.

My significant other and I were spending our first Christmas as husband and wife alone together.  I was in the Army and stationed in Germany when my wife joined me there soon after we were married in April of 1990.  We lived in military housing which consisted of a miniscule apartment with a miniscule kitchen in which my wife planned on cooking her first Christmas dinner for two.  She wanted to get a jump on the cooking by preparing my favorite dessert, bonafi, a sort of banana pie with caramel and a whipped topping, a day early.

It was Christmas Eve as I walked into that small apartment after attending a military ceremony that required me to wear my dress uniform with ribbons and medals (admittedly few in number) and dress shirt and epaulets and all the trimmings.  As soon as I walked in I was assailed by an odor that smelled like burnt metal and impending doom.  I quickly deduced that it was emanating from our tiny kitchen and moved to investigate.  I remember seeing a small pot sitting on our gas stove with a can, and by can, I mean not something dumped from a can into the pot.  Whatever was in the can was still in the can which was in a pot that was sitting atop a flame.  I was somewhat confused.  Where the hell was my angelic wife and why was there a can cooking in a pot unattended?

As I stood in our cramped kitchen pondering these existential questions, the can proceeded to explode.  It turns out that the can contained condensed milk that when heated, IN WATER, caramelizes and it is this caramelized condensed milk that is the key ingredient in bonafi.  The resulting explosion covered everything, me, the stove, fridge, walls, ceiling, floor, and the lone window, with semi-solid caramel.  So there I stood, in my dress uniform, covered in quickly solidifying liquid caramel, wondering, “What the hell just happened?”

It turns out the love of my life had, in fact, placed the can of condensed milk in a pot of water prior to being called into work and simply forgot her previous actions.  She was a legal assistant at the base’s JAG office and had been called in for some legal “emergency” on Christmas Eve.  Needless to say, the water quickly boiled off and the can continued to “cook” and I just happened to walk in when the contents of the can reached critical mass.  When she returned home she was greeted by a caramelized dress uniform hanging on the door and a husband, stripped to the waist, cleaning caramel off the kitchen ceiling.  Here delayed response: “Oh sh!t, I almost killed you with caramel on Christmas Eve.”  Two of the above stories are actually mine…numbers 3 and 4.

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Give the Gift of Flavor and Convenience this Holiday Season

Got a busy person or family on your Christmas list? Don’t know what to get them?  Well, since you’re reading this post, you certainly know that we here at MagicKitchen.com have the solution to your gift giving problem…snuggies!  You know, that fleece blanket/pajama thing that was popular a few years…oh wait, we don’t sell snuggies here, we sell flavorful and nutritious meals and that is, of course, the solution to your gift giving conundrum.

You know the type of mega-busy person or family on your list…they’re like the Tasmanian Devil, always in motion, spinning (hopefully without the slobbering or animal noises) from one thing to the next, whether it’s work, or the gym, or Tommy’s soccer practice, or Mary’s clarinet lesson, or a family function, or on an envious vaca, or yoga class, or shopping, or God knows where.  And on their way from one event to the next, they probably stop at a fast food joint for a fine dinner of greasy burgers, chicken-like nuggets, sodium drenched fries, and sugar-filled and caffeinated soda.  Help them stop the madness!  Give them the gift of delicious and nutrient dense meals (not snuggies) from MagicKitchen.com.

Most people feel juuuuuust a bit guilty either eating fast food themselves or feeding it to their children.  Its primary appeal isn’t its low cost or taste, but its convenience.  It’s food that’s prepared and presented extremely fast, hence the name, that can be consumed quickly, without the bothersome use of silverware.  However, its nutritional value leaves, shall we say, something to be desired.  Well, guess what?  Go ahead, guess.  Seriously, make a guess.  Yeah, I was never a fan of the “guess what?” question either.  I mean, what am I guessing?  At least give me some choices…but I digress.

The answer to my lame “guess what?” query is that MagicKitchen.com is just as convenient as fast food, perhaps even more so as we will deliver fully cooked, delectable and nutritious meals straight to your gift recipient’s door.  All that’s required of the recipient is to heat up the meals (instructions included) and serve, either in the recyclable containers provided or on grandma’s flatware…your choice.  What the **** could be more convenient than that?  And those pangs of guilt?…gone!

And if the busy person on your list has specific dietary needs, we’ve got that covered too…diabetic and dialysis friendly, low fat, low sodium, low carb, dairy free, gluten free…told you we’ve got it covered.   More examples of having everything covered: we also offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, meal packages, desserts, sides, soups, snacks, single-person meals, family meals, an a la carte menu, single gift certificates and group gift certificates to which others can contribute.

So, give the busy person or family in your life the gift of both flavor and convenience this holiday season, oh yeah, and the gift of guilt relief as well, with delicious and nutritious food delivered right to their door from MagicKitchen.com (save the snuggie for another occasion).

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It’s Here! The Last Day to Order Your Thanksgiving Dinner.

If you were sitting on the fence, trying to decide whether or not to have MagicKitchen.com prepare and ship a hearty Thanksgiving dinner to your door, then today is D-day…decision day.  If you plan on using our standard, 3-business day delivery service, you must order your meal by 3 PM, Eastern Standard Time, today to ensure you receive it prior to Thanksgiving.  We highly recommend you place your order today to ensure a timely delivery as there are things outside our control, such as weather, out there.  And who wouldn’t want a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixins delivered to their front door?  Just askin’.

However, if you wish to use our expedited (and more expensive), one or two-day shipping, then you can push off your decision for another day or so.  In that case, you can order AFTER 3 PM EST on the 14th and BEFORE 3:00 PM EST on Wednesday the 15th, use 2-day shipping, and receive your meal on Thursday the 16th or Friday the 17th.

Or order after 3 PM on the 15th and before 3PM on the 16th, use 1-day shipping, and receive your delicious food on Friday the 17th.  We recommend receiving your food on Friday the 17th in order to allow for the unexpected and to allow you to inspect your food to ensure you have everything you require and that it fully meets with your satisfaction.

If, however, you’re the ultimate procrastinator like your esteemed author (I’m neither “esteemed,” nor an “author,” btw) then Monday the 20th and Tuesday the 21st are the ultimate, last, drop dead days to order and you’ll be forced to pay for 1-day shipping.

If you order after 3 PM EST on Tuesday, the 21st, your food WILL arrive AFTER Thanksgiving even if you use 1-day shipping.  Remember our previous posts regarding the extra stress that arrives with the holidays?  Well please do not cause yourself even more stress by waiting until the last minute to order your Thanksgiving food/meal.

Order Today, that’s an order!  Don’t worry, I was in the U.S. Army for four years, I’m allowed to give orders (except to my wife).

We have meals for 2-4, and meals for 6-8, with choices of Turkey or Ham!  Happy Thanksgiving from MagicKitchen.com!

For more information regarding our delivery schedule, please visit these sites:

http://www.magickitchen.com/delivery.html

http://www.fedex.com/us/service-guide/holiday-schedule.html

Or look at the diagram below:

 

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MagicKitchen.com: The Ultimate Holiday Stress Reliever.

Let’s begin this post by discussing the primary causes of stress for most people during the upcoming holiday season.  After researching these causes on numerous and varied sites on the internet machine, from women’s magazines (apparently, men do not suffer from holiday induced stress as none of the articles I read were located on men’s magazine sites) to health sites, I think I can sum them up in one word…”too.”  That one short word that is often confused with its even shorter homophonic buddy, “to,” was the most common word I encountered during my virtual travels.

When Americans are asked why they feel increased levels of stress during the period from Halloween through New Year’s Day, invariably, the word “too” is used multiple times in their responses.  Too much shopping to do, too much travel, I spend too much money, too many parties, too much entertaining, too much cooking, too much work, too much time with family, stores are too crowded, I eat and drink too much, I’m too exhausted, I’m too hungover, I gain too much weight, my expectations are too high…you get the point.  Well, we here at MagicKitchen.com have a way to keep your stress at a manageable level.

For those of you out there who claim the holidays involve too much shopping, too much entertaining and too much cooking, let us take the all those “toos” out of your world (for some reason, spell check wanted to change “toos” into “toes” and that would totally change the meaning, don’t you think?).  MagicKitchen.com allows you to shop for your holiday meals from the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas while enjoying your favorite latte (and avoid those crowds at the mall and grocery store that are way too big.) Simply peruse our special Thanksgiving meal section or visit our a la carte or complete meal menus and make your selections for whatever holiday shindig (how, exactly, is “shindig” a synonym for “party?” The English language is weird.) you’re hosting or attending.

Our certified chefs will then do all the cooking for you using the freshest ingredients…so much for too much cooking.  Next, your meal will be flash frozen to lock in freshness and taste, packed in dry ice and then delivered right to your door.  Imagine, an entire meal of a whole turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, rolls, veggies and desert delivered to your front door…one less thing to be stressed out about.

All that’s required of you is to then place our (now your) delicious food in your freezer until the big day and then simply heat it up and serve it to your guests…no mess, no stress.  You have now freed up time in your busy holiday schedule to spend as you desire.  We would suggest you use that time to relax, binge watch your favorite show (Stranger Things seems to be the series du jour right now), spend time with family, learn a new language (ok, that might be a stretch), get outside, grab a movie, tell your friends about MagicKitchen.com (see how I slipped that in there?), read, or engage in your favorite stress reliever.  So there you go, we’ve just removed a couple “toos” from your holidays.

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Look! New Menu Items…Just in Time for Thanksgiving

Quality restaurants do it on a regular basis (add things to or alter their menu) and since we are a quality restaurant that delivers to your home rather than your table, we decided to do the same thing.  But don’t freak out…we’ve kept our popular favorites and still offer specialized menu items for our patrons with special dietary needs.  So why did we make the decision to expand our menu?  We did so in order to provide you with more options and greater variety for yourself and your sometimes hard to please family.

We are especially pleased with our expanded Thanksgiving menu that now includes a whole, fully cooked turkey or ham as the entree in our complete meal packages which include seven sides, a desert and serves up to six people.  Our deluxe herb-roasted bird weighs between ten and twelve pounds and arrives with apple sage stuffing, buttered mashed potatoes, green beans in herb butter, cranberry-orange relish, turkey gravy, smashed maple-butter yams, nine grain dinner rolls and a nine-inch pumpkin pie.  You say some of your guests prefer ham rather than turkey…then tell them to get stuffed…wait, don’t do that, simply add a hickory smoked, spiral sliced honey ham to your order and everyone’s happy.

We also fully understand that some of you would rather cook your own bird (turkey or goose) or ham, but you would rather have root canal than prepare all the sides and dessert.  Not a problem, just order as many sides as you need from our a la carte menu and add buttered carrots, creamy spinach, Dutch apple pie and raspberry-rhubarb pie to your selection process from our sides and desserts menu.  Or maybe your guests are bringing the sides and desserts and all you’re responsible for is the turkey and/or ham.  Then just visit our special Thanksgiving page  and order a succulent turkey, ham or both.  Like I said at the beginning, we’ve provided more options, so you can make more people happy…yourself included.

Now that we’ve got Thanksgiving covered, let’s talk about our additional new menu items.  We hate to brag, but with our expanded menu, we’ve now got the beef!  And here’s the proof…we will soon offer a family-sized beef Pot Roast, BeefTeriyaki, Beef with Bordelaise Sauce and California Beef Stew.  We also have new items coming to our complete meals menu to include, but not limited to: chicken alfredo and penne pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach; creamy mac and cheese with grilled chicken, garden peas and carrots; and tangerine orange chicken breast with stir fry vegetables and brown rice.

So why not make your Thanksgiving and/or upcoming holidays a bit less stressful by letting us remove all the meal preparation items from your to-do list.  Heck, we here at MagicKitchen.com can alleviate the stress from any busy time in your life by delivering delicious, fully cooked meals right to your door.  So enjoy the upcoming holiday season and let us do the cooking.  After all, it’s what we do best.

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A Tale of Two (Thanksgiving) Dinners

It was the best of dinners, it was the worst of dinners, it was the age of entertaining, it was the age of cooking, it was the epoch of presentation, it was the epoch of preparation, it was the season of isolation, it was the season of socialization, it was the autumn of family, it was the autumn of folly.

A man, let’s call him Tim, realized that it was late October and thus, was time to begin the laborious process of planning to host his family for Thanksgiving dinner and he began to despair.  He loathed the hours he was about to spend planning, shopping for, preparing and, most of all, cooking the family feast.  For it was the cooking that relegated him to the loneliness of the kitchen while his family conversed, laughed, reminisced, and reveled in each other’s company.  Yes, Tim despaired mightily.

Another man, let’s call him Roger, also noticed that the porch pumpkins had arrived in his neighborhood which meant the time of giving thanks was not too far behind.  However, he did not despair, instead, he rejoiced.  He rejoiced because it meant his far-flung family would soon converge upon his home and he would be immersed in the warmth that is his family, if only for a short time.  Roger would spend little time planning, shopping for, preparing or, best of all, cooking his dinner of thanks.  For you see, Roger, years ago, had discovered a way to host his large family for Thanksgiving while spending every precious moment in their company.

Tim, days after the trick or treaters rang his doorbell and accepting of his fate, began preparations for the fourth Thursday of November.  He counted the confirmations, planned the menu, and then trudged to the local, oversized supermarket to play grocery cart bumper cars with soccer moms, octogenarians, and other work-from-home dads.  He, as always, purchased the staples: a frozen bird, potatoes, rolls, corn, green beans, pumpkin and apples pies, and canned, gelatinous cranberry jelly.

Roger, days after moving all the time-keeping devices in his home back an hour, began his preparations for turkey day by turning on college football, grabbing his laptop and logging on to MagicKitchen.com.  He then browsed their extensive Thanksgiving menu, located and purchased everything his family requested, from appetizers to apple pie.  This simple process took him a total of 30 minutes, but 15 of those minutes was spent yelling at the TV as his alma mater was losing once again.

When the Pilgrim’s favorite holiday finally arrived, Tim just wanted to get it over with, rather than enjoy it.  He got up at 6:00 AM, after imbibing a bit too much the night before, to baste and shove the bird in the oven and then began to prepare the sides, to include mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.  By the time the guests arrived, he was exhausted, still slightly hung-over and began to resent the very kitchen he had so loved after it was remodeled.  That resentment stemmed from the fact that he was trapped in that kitchen along with the new granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and Italian tile floor, cooking for the family whose company he so enjoyed.

A few days prior to Thanksgiving, Roger’s entire meal from MagicKitchen.com arrived at his door, fully cooked and flash frozen.  He then placed it in his freezer until just prior to feast time.  Next, he simply heated it to the necessary temperature and then served it, buffet style, to his guests.  Prior to that, he spent his day conversing with his siblings and parents, playing board games with his nieces and nephews and watching football with his dad and father-in-law, and a grand time was had by all.

The moral of the story: ‘tis better to spend time with family and friends on Thanksgiving then to spend time with kitchen appliances.

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Mid-October, the Perfect Time to Start Your Christmas Shopping

When I was a much younger man, a kid actually, I used to poke fun at my mother for beginning her Christmas plans around this time of year.  She would (and still does) make a list of all the people she planned to purchase or make gifts for and then agonize over what to get them.  She would also plan out her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and develop her guest list for each family gathering.  And there I was, the prince of procrastination, telling her to begin planning for the Fourth of July while she was at it in the most sarcastic voice I could muster.

Well, it turns out she was correct (as EVERY mother is about everything) in her October planning for a late December event.  She was always the “Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?” type of mom and it’s a shame that if that philosophy came in apple form it fell very far from the tree in my instance.  Anyway, it wasn’t until I was a fully (ahem)mature adult that it dawned on me why mom was fully justified in her autumnal holiday planning and the reasons why she was correct are as follows:

She was the master of the spacing out of holiday spending.  For mom, the worst part of Christmas was when the credit card bills arrived in January.  To avoid that single, massively depressing January credit card bill that took damn near the rest of the year to pay off, she spread those bills out over November and December as well.  Needless to say, mom didn’t need to read last week’s blog about financial planning.  She was, and still is, the princess of pecuniary policies.

When she went shopping (the physical form of shopping which involved a car, walking from store to store in the mall, hauling the presents home, etc.) in October there was always a wide selection of “stuff” to choose from.  No matter who she was buying for, kids, dad, grandkids, co-workers, friends, relatives back in Ireland, she shopped from fully stocked shelves.

She always managed to find great deals prior to December in the form of Colombus Day, Halloween, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving Day or “just for the hell of it” day sales.  She would scour the newspaper inserts in search of sales and deals that would keep her gift buying budget as low as possible and she was amazingly successful at it.  Now, you can just scour the internet machine looking for great October and November deals.

She would spend a great deal of time planning for Christmas dinner and the earlier she started this process, the smoother it would go on December 25th (unless my drunken uncle caused “issues”).  Of course, today MagicKitchen.com can eliminate a lot of that planning, prep work, and actual cooking by delivering a savory holiday dinner right to your door.  Our prepared foods also make a great gift for not just yourself, but for any busy family or senior during the holiday season.  Why not give someone the gift of time in the form of a pre-cooked Christmas dinner delivered right to their door?

Finally, and most importantly to mom, she always said that the more Christmas chores she could take care of prior to December, the more time she could spend with family and friends once the holidays arrived.  To that end, having all her shopping done prior to the start of December gave her many advantages, but the most significant to her was the time it granted her which she used to spend with the people most important to her, her family.

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Parental Summer Survival Tips

Well, by now, if you have school-aged children, your family should be well into its summer vacation and all the chaos and boredom that comes with it.  The “get up, get ready for school, go to school, attend after-school activities, then eat dinner routine”, as Alice Cooper so eloquently put it, “has been blown to pieces.”  Now, your kids can stay up till 3:00 AM playing video games and getting into God knows what on social media, sleep in till noon and then start the whole process all over again.  It’s enough to drive a parent to turn to, as the Rolling Stones so eloquently put it, “Mother’s Little Helper.”

I’m guessing, by now, you’re more than ready to re-assert your parental authority before the inmates are running the asylum.  If that’s the case, then here are a few tips to restore that God-given parental authority (without constantly screaming “Respect my au-thor-e-tie!” ala Cartman from South Park) that has disappeared from your household during June and a few to simply make your and your children’s lives, less stressful.

  • Re-establish some sort of routine – with reasonable bed and wake up times. A household chore list can really help here, preferably on a white board where the kids can check off each chore as it’s completed.  You know, stuff like putting on a new roof, adding walk-in closets, and/or landscaping of the front and back yards…I jest, of course.  How about sweeping (with or without a vacuum), loading/unloading the dishwasher, tending to pets, folding clothes, dusting, taking out the garbage, etc.  In order to ensure these chores get completed you might want to incorporate a combination of the carrot and the stick…obviously I do not condone rewarding your kids with carrots, unless they place a great deal of value on them, or punishing them with a stick.  After all, the saying has to do with the best way to get a mule to haul a plow.  How about an allowance and the threat of losing devices for a period of time?  Yeah, those sound better than carrots and sticks.
  • Don’t over-schedule yourself or your kids – We all have limits, and running from clarinet lessons, to gymnastics, to the pool, to girl scouts, to a sleep over can wear out parent and child alike. In your and your kid’s busy schedules, be sure to schedule in some downtime on a daily basis.  Sit on the couch and eat Bon Bons while watching Judge Judy for a half hour every day while your kids play Minecraft if you have to. Play board games, or watch the kids playing outside with friends.
  • Day camps of any kind – Baseball, parkour (Google it), Webelos/Camp Fire Girls, swimming, Barbie/G.I. Joe, math…whatever. Any camp that gets the kids out of the house and doing something constructive is, well, constructive.  Consult with your children or simply drive to the camp location, get the kids out of the car, and then drive away at an unreasonable speed…it’s up to you.  You’ll be amazed how they’ll enjoy getting out of the house and how much you’ll enjoy having them out of the same house while you remain.
  • Have a freezer well-stocked with delicious, easy to prepare meals – from MagicKitchen.com, of course! It’s so nice, during those over-scheduled days, to pop a nutritious and great tasting meal from MagicKitchen.com into the microwave, serving it to your kids, and then laying the guilt trip on them about how you worked for hours preparing and cooking said meal.  Seriously, having frozen meals on-hand lessen stress levels by 76%…Ok, I just made that stat up, but even if it only reduces your stress level by 1.7%, isn’t that enough?
  • Have them create an “I’m bored” jar – with your assistance, if required. If you had a dollar for every time one of your kids whined, “I’m booooooored” you’d have several parental stand-ins to care for your kids.  Solution:  flush Swimmy McSwim the goldfish and use his former home to place slips of paper that have “I’m bored” ideas written on them and then have the kids pull one every time they utter that noxious phrase.

    Some ideas: various games (20 questions, board games for when they’re bored), compose your own comic strip, write a song that expresses your love for your siblings and parents (tongue-in-cheek, obviously), card games, make a time capsule and bury in the backyard, build a fort, bake cookies, have an OUTDOOR water fight, build a puzzle, plan your ideal (and realistic) vacation…the ideas are endless.

Summer can be, at times, even more stressful than the school year, but it doesn’t have to be if you do a bit of pre-planning…you know, just like your kids do.  Just remember to get creative and include them in developing the ideas that have such an impact on their lives.  Do this and you’ll find, as The Who so eloquently put it, “The Kids are Alright.”

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