How To Start a Family Giving Back Tradition

After Thanksgiving is over, the holiday season kicks into full gear. We quickly start thinking about finding the perfect gifts. We often get so caught up in buying things, and making lists of what we want, that we forget about the true joy of giving. You can change this by starting a giving back tradition with your family. Use this holiday season to think about giving back to the community and helping those in need. By getting your children involved with this, you can teach them the importance of giving to others.

Make a plan to give to others in a way that works for you and what your family is comfortable with. You may be able start a new tradition for you and your family that will bring new meaning to the Season of Giving. Here's some ideas to get you started:

Is Doctor Strange Worth the Cost of the Ticket?

Okay, so, in general I always like a superhero movie because it's a chance to remove yourself from real life and just be entertained. I especially like the Marvel universe that Disney has created with the intertwining story lines. So, it was probably a given that I would like Doctor Strange. What I wasn't expecting is just how much I would like it!

Doctor Strange is a complex character that has to make a journey from arrogant rich selfish surgeon to a much deeper spiritual being. It's a Marvel movie, so it tells this story with fun and humor, and it certainly has it's share of action and excitement, but it's just a little deeper than some of the other Marvel movies we've seen. Doctor Strange becomes part of a group of spiritual defenders like they say where Avengers protect the physical world, they protect the spiritual.

They practice magic like sorcerers, and are able to change and bend reality in a mirror world which makes for a visually stunning film. I'm not a big fan of 3D, but Doctor Strange is worth putting on the glasses. And, it simply must be seen on the big screen to get the full visual effect of seeing the New York City skyline folded in on itself. Don't wait to rent Doctor Strange; go see it in the theater. It's worth the price of the ticket.
Tweet: I'm not a big fan of 3D, but Doctor Strange is worth putting on the glasses.

Much of the movie was filmed on location in Nepal, so you get a chance to see another part of the world. While on location, Benedict Cumberbatch said he was inspired to give back to the children there. You can help do that by taking a picture in your favorite hero pose. See the video below for more details or go to the Hero Acts website.

Vegetable Chili with Kale and Quinoa Recipe

Fall is here and the weather is turner cooler, even here in Florida. The cooler weather is perfect for a day outside, hiking, and exploring all your favorite local travel spots. After a day of adventure, it's nice to come home to a nice hot comfort meal, especially a healthier version that's quick and easy.

This recipe for Vegetable Chili with kale and quinoa is the perfect way to get the comfort of chili with a healthier twist.

Vegetable Chili with Kale and Quinoa
 Makes 8 to10 servings

·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         ½ medium onion, chopped
·         1 carrot, peeled and chopped
·         2 celery ribs, chopped
·         1 medium zucchini, chopped
·         1 small yellow squash, chopped
·         1 red bell pepper, chopped
·         4 ounces sliced mushrooms
·         3 (15-ounce) cans HORMEL® chili
·         ½ cup quinoa
·         2 cups chopped fresh kale

Directions: In large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-low heat. Sauté onion, carrot and celery 10 minutes. Stir in zucchini and next 3 ingredients and sauté 8 minutes.  Stir in chili, quinoa and kale and simmer 15 minutes.

What's your favorite twist on chili?

Queen of Katwe Provides a Positive Look at Life in East Africa

Life is a collection of small moments that like pixels combine together to create one beautiful image. If one pixel is placed differently, or one moments is changed the picture, the life, is completely altered. Disney's Queen of Katwe gives a glimpse at one girl's life and how it was forever changed with the moment that she discovered the game of Chess.

There are several words to describe Queen of Katwe: inspiring, heartwarming, entertaining, but the most important one to me is, real. The movie simply tells a good story. There aren't any Hollywood twists, or special effects, this is just Disney getting back to story telling that is good for the whole family. Queen of Katwe is simple and delightful. Queen of Katwe has so many interesting characters that show that even when times are hard, kindness and positivity can rise to the top.

It also gives us a real view at the colorful life in Kampala, Uganda. The director has lived in Kampala where the movie was filmed, for 27 years, and the cast is all African. This helps to give us a glimpse at a culture that is often twisted to only show the dark side of poverty and disease. Queen of Katwe shows that poverty, but it also shows the love, strength, and fun that fills their lives. The story is filled with positive role models from the coach that teaches the children to play chess and encourages them to chase their dreams, to the mother that will do anything to keep her family safe, to the leading character, Phiona, that demonstrates her strength and tenacity through difficult times.

I left the theater feeling all the warm and fuzzies,with the end credit song (#1 Spice) stuck in my head, and a giant grin on my face. With my daughter currently serving in the Peace Corps in East Africa, it was nice to get a glimpse at what the world around her is like. It has also further enforced my desire to travel to see the countries of Africa and experience the vibrant culture for myself. Wanderlust has hit me hard! Hopefully more to come on that trip, very soon.

Bottom line, this is a good heartfelt movie that is absolutely worth seeing, no matter what your age. Oh! and make sure to stick through the credits for some extra fun including the song below.

Disclosure: I attended a free screening of this movie for the purpose of completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Five Tips For Choosing Your Next Travel Destination

When I get back from a trip, I can't wait to start planning the next one. It's like I need to have the next destination planned so I have something to look forward to, something to work for. With so many wonderful places waiting to be explored, choosing what's next can be a challenge? Blakely Trettenero shares her tips for choosing your next destination.

Your Boston vacation was great, especially that side trip to Salem to learn all about witch trials.
The Grand Canyon lived up to its name and orca watching off the San Juan Islands was breathtaking.
That was all in the past, though. Now it’s time to plan the next big excursion.
But with so many places to visit, how do you choose the right one?

Blakely Trettenero, a world-traveling chef who has visited more than 30 countries, says her advice is to leave nothing to chance, which is the approach she takes for her own travels.
“It would be fun to say I just close my eyes and throw a dart at a map,” says Trettenero, host of the Hungry for Travels ( and Cooking for Bimbos ( websites. “But there’s a lot of planning and research that goes into every vacation.” When pondering where to go next, she recommends: