Spring is in full bloom! With some creativity and a little planning, these ideas for Springtime family fun will help your family really savor the season.
Plant an herb and/or vegetable garden
Spring is a great time to plant a variety of veggies and herbs. The Urban Farmer Seeds and Plants website is a great resource in terms of how to go about planting everything, what to expect, when to start, etc. Your kids will love getting their hands dirty (without getting in trouble!) and the whole family will get to enjoy the tasty benefits of having fresh herbs and vegetables once your seeds have grown. Another bonus: your harvest could be added to some of your Dream Dinners meals!
Paint rocks together
This creative craft project starts with getting your family outside. The next time you go on a walk together, have your kids collect small rocks to bring back home to paint. Then let the artistic energy flow! If you’re in need of some ideas, this Color Made Happy page has a ton of inspiration, from silly faces to unicorns and minions.
Check out a new park & take a picnic!
If your family has gotten into a routine of visiting the same neighborhood park all the time, challenge yourself to visit someplace new. Make it an occasion, by taking a picnic along. Many of our Spring menu items would make ideal picnic meals – check your local store to see the full menu and find the most picnic-friendly meals available. If you’re stumped in terms of which parks to try out, here’s a few links for some of our regions. If you don’t see your city below, try visiting your local Parks and Recreation website for a list of parks in your area.
- Seattle, WA: seattleschild.com/10-best-parks-kids-seattle
- Sacramento, CA: blog.sacramento4kids.com/best-parks-for-kids-in-sacramento
- Cincinnati, OH: cincinnatiparent.com/10-cincinnati-playgrounds-worth-the-drive
- Austin, TX: austintexas.gov/blog/make-austin-your-playground-these-family-friendly-parks
Make Spring cleaning fun
Last month we talked about self care Spring cleaning and there are plenty of ways to make Spring house cleaning fun and less of a chore for you and your family too.
- Have your kids help you gather any and all papers that you no longer need into a bin: old newspapers, magazines, mail, etc. Then use what you’ve gathered to make a campfire that night! Find a neighborhood park with a fire pit you can use, and bring s’mores for added incentive.
- Set up some friendly competition between your kids – who can clean their room the fastest, who can gather the most books/toys, who can find the most change in the couch cushions!
- Turn it into a dance party clean-up! Play some fun, upbeat music and dance with that broom (and your kids!) between sweeping, dusting, or whichever cleaning tasks you’re tackling.
When most of us hear “spring cleaning” we think it’s about opening the windows, letting fresh air in and then heading into the deepest darkest crevices of our closets and drawers. The pantry? Oh my. That’s a scary place.
We’re going to leave you to those nooks and crannies, and instead focus on some other spring cleaning tips. Sure, a clean, almost-dust-free house is the first step to clarity and stress relief, however we’re thinking it’s time to go deeper.
- Now’s the time for some self-care. Shed winter’s layer on your body by sloughing off dead skin with masks or exfoliants. When your skin is glowing and wonderful, apply a layer of light moisturizer.
- Enjoy the change of seasons and get outside as a family to enjoy nature. Pick an activity like walking, hiking or bicycling and simply move about in the fresh air. Enjoy some fun conversation, and take the time to plan some summer fun.
- Detox from social media by unplugging from your Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram for as long as it takes to simply feel better when you re-engage. Social media can wreak havoc on our sanity when we compare our lives to the escapades, dinners, children and adventures of all those people with whom we are connected. Unplugging quiets that urge to compare ourselves to others on a seemingly endless stream of images and stories.
- Start journaling to reflect and find gratitude. You can journal mornings or evenings, or both. Just take a few minutes to express how you feel and relax knowing this is probably one of the healthiest steps you can take to cleanse your soul.
- Try drinking tea instead of coffee, or at least sit down for a cup of tea in the afternoon. Tea has many health benefits, from the type of tea and herbs you use to the calming effect it has on your nervous system. One cup of chamomile, a good view and quiet is just what your busy body needs to calm itself.
- Tap into your creativity. Creativity can extend into so many different aspects of your life. From gardening to painting, building or playing music. Reach deep to find your creative passion and let your heart and mind sing.
This February, how about taking care of that special person in your life by celebrating the loving heart you share? It’s simply a great time to remind you to actually schedule those date nights at least once each month.
Ask someone to watch the kids and start planning. And planning a date can be shared or flip-flopped; one date night is yours and the next is his. Dream Dinners makes dinner easy, but sometimes you just need to head out to mix up dinner plans.
We’ve been scouring websites for date night ideas that are sure to be fun, interesting and sometimes over-the-top exciting.
Here are a few ideas we love:
- Plan to learn something. The Escape Adulthood website encourages taking a class together. It can be anything from painting to photography to glass blowing, just make sure it’s a skill that’s new to the both of you.
- Pretend it’s your first date and relearn things about your partner. Even reinvent your story. The Date Night Wingman website says to stay curious with someone you’re familiar with. By going out on first dates over and over, you get that first kiss again and again.
- Mini Road Trip to escape the norm. Your road trip shouldn’t be far, just far enough that you go someplace new or exciting. Lifehacks.io website that you can stay somewhat close to home and enjoy a small town or antiques market, or travel a little farther and enjoy the journey along the way.
- Staying home? Try sparking a little bit of competition either by playing board games, a few rounds of indoor golf using cups or cardboard boxes or video games. If you want to up the ante, have a water balloon battle or Nerf gun fight. Check out therealisticmama.com website for more ideas.
- Scavenger Hunt. Stylecaster.com offers up a fun date by presenting your loved one with date clues in a sealed envelope. Give subtle hints and directions if you’re the ultimate destination. If you’re going along for the ride, each stop along the way can get bigger and bigger in terms of intrigue or simple size if it’s food or beverages.
Whatever you choose to do, keep date nights fun and keep them on a regular basis.
If Jeff Bezos, the billionaire Amazon mogul, can find time to eat with his family, we’re thinking there’s really nothing holding us back from doing the same.
We are all making a pact here at Dream Dinners to slow down in 2019. Sure, it’s easy to pack granola bars for breakfast in the car or throw an extra pack of snacks in the kids’ soccer bag. Really, at the end of the day, we just need to carve out some time to reconnect.
There have been myriad studies about the importance of nightly – or as close to nightly as possible – family dinners. Not only are they a way to unwind, relax and share stories, they have some substantial effects on the social and emotional development of children and lasting positive effects on adult relationships, as well.
By Sherry Jennings, Dream Dinners
Not everyone has the opportunity to be raised with parents who love to cook, who know their way around the kitchen and enjoy sharing that passion with their families. Some of us had that opportunity and we’d be brought into the meal making process at various times to stir, chop, taste, or simply salivate during the wait.
I was raised in such a family. My mom was Italian and spent long Sunday afternoons stirring pots of sauce even in the summer. My dad, an Englishman, enjoyed cooking just as much, although he cooked things he truly had a passion for. His family baked daily so the muffins and breads were on a seemingly endless cycle. He also loved hot sauces and would grow his own peppers and spend hours canning his well-known and sought-after “hot source.”
From fish to pasta, vegetable bakes to anything grilled, my parents kept me involved and I grew up loving home cooked meals shared with my family and friends.
Sure, today’s family schedules are jammed packed and events are endless. That’s why Dream Dinners is the perfect partner to keep families connecting, sharing and bonding through the power of the dinner table. I’m pretty sure my mom would have appreciated the effortlessness dinners Dream Dinners could have provided when we spent our summers at the lake house in Pennsylvania.
It’s that time of year when we begin thinking of trips over Spring Break, Memorial Day and throughout the summer. The calendar fills up quickly, and so do mom anxieties when trying to make sure every detail is in place and the trips ahead are memory-worthy, not in the Griswold family sort of way.
The Dream Dinners team is always looking for ways to simplify planning, and road tripping is no different. Most of us have raised our kids and some are still juggling high school and middle school schedules, while a few are still changing their kids’ diapers. We are always talking trip hacks to make everything so much easier on the entire family. Adventures should focus on the journeys and destinations, and that’s possible when a few tried-and-true planning steps are handled right from the get-go.
One way to get the kids psyched about the trip, not just the days out of school, is to bring them in on the planning right from the dream stage. When they are excited, the anticipation well outweighs a last-minute food stop.
There are ways to get the kids involved. Start with a list of destinations, break out the maps and research at the library, or online, all the details about where you hope to land. If you use a paper map, which is so much more fun to mark up Ken Jennings-style, take time to point out some fun spots along the way. Are there scenic vistas? Giant trees? Historic markers? Hikes? Places to play?
Football fans can find their emotions in a knot this time of year. As the sport’s ultimate game preparations head into the final plays, fans are both elated at the prospect of a dynamic matchup on the field, or flattened, knowing that once the Super Bowl credits are running and the confetti is floating to the ground, that’s it: game over for a year.
For some fan supporters, the last game is welcomed with Sunday honey-do lists piling up. There will be no more excuses not to clean the gutters.
Dream Dinners loves football, its fans and its party hosts. Our dinners are the perfect start to an MVP award-worthy appetizer spread. The best part is you already have the ingredients in your freezer and can spend less time in the grocery store with the other party hosts a few days ahead of February 4.
The January menu has loads of great recipes that can be remixed into appetizers. You can always serve bowls of the Down Home Texas Ranch Chili with Cheddar Corn Cakes, easily prepared on the stovetop or in a crock pot. Then there is the Garlic and Balsamic Marinated Flank Steak you can slice thinly and weave onto skewers. How about cutting the Crispy Coconut Chicken into chunks and serving them with toothpicks? Or serving the Crunchy Oven Fried Chicken Tenders with Sweet Potato Puffs on toothpicks? Easy peasy!
Meatball Marinara Stuffed French Bread is also another easy way to turn a Dream Dinner meal into an appetizer.
In 2018, our Sides & Sweets Freezers at the stores are packed to the gills with appetizer favorites.
Dinners with family have been our company’s focus for 15 years now; however, entertaining was a focus for our company’s founder for many years before 2002, during Stephanie Allen’s pre-Dream Dinners life as a caterer. Even today, Stephanie is the “the hostess with the mostest.” She invites groups to enjoy at her home and before people know it, there is a spread of food that could feed an army.
The mystery is that you never see her leave the gathering. She spends so little time in the kitchen and so much time with her guests, you have to ask yourself where she hides the elves. Surely, she has a merry band of chefs working with her behind the scenes. No, she doesn’t. She’s Stephanie. She’s learned through the years that it’s absolutely possible to focus on her guests because she’s taken the time before her gathering to prep and pre-cook what she can.
She once wrote that guests can pick up on a host’s mood quickly. If a host is stressed, the guests can’t really relax. Stephanie exudes a sense of relaxation that can only be emulated by pages in a lifestyle mag, where everyone is smiling and every plate and glass is filled: Cheers! Always laughing and with an ear to listen to the many stories, Stephanie quietly goes about the final touches. She is eating with her guests, laughing around a fire pit and cracking crabs at the beach because she’s taken steps ahead of time to make sure she’s not stressing and is focused on her guests.
From weeknight dinner to holiday appetizer in a flash.
We’ve learned a few tricks to turn Dream Dinners into dream appetizers during the busy holiday season. Founder Stephanie Allen loves to entertain, so she is always looking for fun ways to remix our recipes into appetizers when the holidays roll around.
One recipe on our November menu is Grilled Bruschetta Chicken Skewers. The skewers are perfect for dinner over rice, but when guests come knocking at the door, you can easily create a tasty appetizer when you bake the chicken, cut it, then place them on garlic crostini instead. Drizzle the chicken-topped crostini with the sauce.
Here are our instructions for this quick dinner, which of course, can be served as an appetizer, as well.
Simply delicious, tender shrimp coated with a sweet coconut crust served a Tropical Chili sauce.