Skype Helps Families Share

skype, contest, giveaway, family technology, keep in touch, family time

We’re using Skype software to share our summer memories and muddle through a renovation. This summer my husband is working  in the city and I am in the country. He’s working his normal job in Manhattan, I’m navigating swim meets and summer camp. He’s overseeing our apartment renovation and I’m overseeing the lunches and booboos and bugbites. That’s a lot to miss out on…or a lot to share.

We’ve scheduled weekly calls via Skype to stay together. While we do see each other on weekends, it’s not enough. Sure quick text messages can relay the nuts and bolts. But you can’t share the excitement of a 1st place swim ribbon via text message. So we Skype. The girls love seeing Daddy on screen and catching up up on their days. It makes the weeks go a heck of a lot faster!

skype, contest, giveaway, family technology, keep in touch, family time

And then there is the renovation. We’re overhauling our city apartment this summer. That means MANY decisions about light fixtures and plumbing placement and layouts. While I travel in for some meetings, I can’t make them all. Skype to the rescue. I can “meet” with my husband and the architect and see the options via my computer. This means my husband doesn’t have to make important decisions on his own.

Staying connected has gotten a little bit easier this summer thanks to Skype. Luckily Skype has us kept this family close even though we are often 100 miles apart.

Now it is your chance to share your Stay Together story for a chance to win a $10,000 travel voucher. Skype is looking for a variety of stories, with an interesting twist. Is there some reason your family is kept apart? The theme is “Stay Together.” The object is to best describe how you use Skype to stay in communication with faraway family and friends. Submitting your story makes you eligible for a chance to win a $10,000 United Airlines travel gift certificate, and the winner will be featured in a Skype Stay Together story (“Story”).” To learn more about how to enter, eligibility, winner determination and prizing please visit:

Entry Period: This Contest starts at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time (“PT”) on June 20, 2013 and ends at 11:59 pm PT on July 22, 2013 (“Entry Period”).

skype, contest, giveaway, family technology, keep in touch, family time

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Skype via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Skype.

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Summertime Grilling Recipes & Tips

Summer Grilling

WIth Memorial Day this upcoming weekend, we know a lot of you will be grilling and enjoying some relaxing time with the family. To help us out, Celebrity Chef & Food Network Star Ingrid Hoffmann shared her favorite grilled dishes for barbecues and pool parties. Check out her list of delicious recipes, and enjoy this special time with your family:

Ingrid Hoffman - Photo Credit Lynx

Cook even:
Bring food to room temperature 30-45 minutes prior to grilling. Food will cook evenly and you will avoid hot/cold spots.

Basics 101: Marinades:
Marinades should always have a ratio of 1 to 3 acidity to oil. Acids such as citruses or vinegars help tenderize proteins and oils add moisture and prevent sticking. For extra zing use zest of citrus as well.

Don’t cross-contaminate:
Do not use the marinade you marinated raw meat in for basting, could contaminate cooked food. Separate batches from the start.

Avoid the Burn:
ugary sauces when used too early in the grilling process can burn your food. Put them on your grilled meats towards the end of grilling.

Skewer prep ahead:
To keep wooden skewers from burning, soak them in water. For ready to go skewers: soak skewers, drain and freeze in ziplock bags, and keep in freezer until you’re ready for grilling.

Don’t flip flop:
Resist the urge to flip your food several times. Ideally, you should only flip once in order to avoid a flop – dry, uneven and overcooked food.

Give it a twist:
Use unexpected ingredients for your skewers such as olives, avocado, mango, and strawberries.

Meal on a stick:
For easy, pass around and all in one meals, make skewers with a protein, baby potatoes, vegetable and fruit.

Rest in the tent:
Let meat rest under a foil tent for a few minutes before slicing so juices redistribute evenly.

Grill Tips from Ingrid Hoffmann, On Behalf of Lynx

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Black Bean Salsa

Serves 4
For the marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 7 to 8-ounce mahi-mahi steaks, about 1-inch thick

For the salsa
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, (seeded and ribbed for less heat), finely chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
Canola or vegetable oil, for greasing the grill grates
Lime wedges, for serving

1. To make the marinade, place the soy sauce, orange juice, ketchup, honey, lime juice, garlic, basil, oregano, and some pepper in a small bowl and whisk until the honey is completely dissolved. Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag with the fish fillets and marinate in your refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.

2. To make the salsa, toss the tomatoes, scallions, black beans, cilantro, jalapeño, and lime juice in a medium bowl. Add some salt to taste and set aside to let the flavors develop.

3. Preheat your grill to high. Pour some oil into a small bowl. Using tongs, dip a wad of paper towels into the oil and use it to grease the grill grates. Grill the fish on each side without moving it until it is browned, firm and flaky, about 10 to 12 minutes total. Serve with the black bean salsa and lime wedges.

Grilled Romaine Salad

Serves 6
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
3 heads romaine lettuce, cut lengthwise in half
½ cup Parmesan curls, shaved from a block of cheese with a swivel vegetable peeler

1.?Build a medium-hot fire in an outdoor grill or heat a grill pan over high heat.
2.?To make the dressing, finely chop the garlic on a chopping board. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt, and smear the garlic on the chopping board to make a paste. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the vinegar, water, oregano, and sugar and whisk to combine. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3.?If using an outdoor grill, brush the cooking grate clean. Brush the romaine lettuce with some dressing on both sides. Place on the grill or grill pan, cut side down, and grill, turning once, until the lettuce is seared with grill marks, about 2 minutes.
4.?Place each romaine half on a dinner plate. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

Grilled Pineapple with Spiked Rum Crema

Serves 4
8 ¾-inch-thick rounds of pineapple, peeled and cored
butter-flavored cooking spray
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons silver rum
¼ cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted, for serving
fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

1.?Spray the pineapple slices with the cooking spray on both sides and rub with the dark brown sugar.
2.?Beat the heavy cream with an electric hand mixer on high speed in a chilled medium bowl until it thickens. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in the rum until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

3.?Heat a rimmed grill pan over high heat until very hot. In batches, add the pineapple to the pan and grill until seared with grill marks, turning once, about 3 minutes. (The pineapple can also be grilled on an outdoor grill over medium heat.) Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

4.?For each serving, place 2 pineapple slices on a dessert plate. Top with a dollop of the rum cream, sprinkle with a tablespoon of coconut, and garnish with a mint sprig. Serve immediately.

Grilled Pork & Pineapple Skewers with Achiote Sauce

Serves 4
For the sauce
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon achiote (annatto) seeds
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon seeded and finely chopped canned aji amarillo peppers (or 1 tablespoon finely chopped roasted red or yellow peppers plus 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt, plus extra for the skewers
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper, plus extra for the skewers

For the pork
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large red onion, quartered, then halved widthwise
1 head of butterhead lettuce (such as Bibb or Boston)
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the achiote seeds. Turn off the heat and let the seeds steep until the oil turns a vibrant orange-red, about 5 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the seeds. Place the achiote oil in a blender along with the vinegar, garlic, aji amarillo, cumin, salt, and pepper and purée the mixture.

2. Place the pork in a resealable gallon-sized plastic bag. Add the achiote marinade, turn the bag to coat the pork, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Preheat your grill to high heat. Thread the pork onto skewers alternately with the pineapple and red onion. Sprinkle the skewers with a little salt and pepper. Grill until browned on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes total; don’t overcook or the pork will be tough and dry. Serve the skewers on a bed of lettuce leaves with some lime wedges.

Photo credit: Lynx. Ingrid prepared these recipes for her role as grill master in partnership with Lynx.

Momtrends was not paid for this post.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Realizing Your Best Family

Realizing Your Best Family

There is no perfect family or a perfect life. But as parents we do our best and create a structure that works best for our family. Some families are able to do smoothly with open communication, strong values and effective time management.

These components are not easy to keep stable – especially when faced with the strong willed personality of our children. However, co-authors Barbara Fagan-Smith and Lesli Gee of the new book The Family ROI Experience: A Step-by-Step Guide to Realizing Your Best Family believe that business techniques can be applied to the home that can revitalize, focus and strengthen families

Modeled after their work with Family ROI, a nonprofit organization they founded, which hosts weekend retreats to teach guests how to use strategic planning tools, culture building practices, and communication strategies to realize and achieve the goals they have for their families, the book features a journey map where members of the family can create a shared vision of your life, make exciting plans for the future, strengthen your communications, discover ways to improve your day-to-day lives, and have fun together!

According to Fagan-Smith and Gee, the Family ROI Experience can work for any family regardless of the size, structure, culture or faith of your family. This includes a notion that family can be described as a tree whose roots starts with communication. Culture, mission and practices are the stems and the leaves are purposes, vision, appreciation, contributions, etc. I loved seeing the colorful family tree as I reflected on my own background and the goals I have for my daughters.

In the book and program, users employ a Journey Map en route to strengthening their family.

Steps include:

Communication: Families learn strategies to communicate clearly and compassionately with one another. Once they have developed these foundational tools, they can move on to other stops along the map.

Culture: Family members discover who they are collectively as a family — including their core values, traditions, and daily agreements.

Mission: Families explore where they are headed and the steps necessary to make their vision a reality.

Practices: Families examine and improve their day-to-day tasks.

“Our process encourages people to revitalize, refocus, and reinforce their bonds,” says Fagan-Smith.

Part step-by-step guide and part workbook, The Family ROI Experience includes activities family members can do together and stories from people who have completed the process at previous workshops.

Gee adds, “Regardless of a family’s size, structure, culture, or religious beliefs, The Family ROI Experience ensures a great return on a family’s investment of time, energy, and love.”

While there is no perfect family, the The Family ROI Experience is designed to help families create structure and balance, and ultimately strengthen the family unit. Our family thinks travel brings us together, what about you?

For more information, visit

Momtrends was not paid for this post. 

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