5 Ways to Serve Up Hollywood Magic at Your Awards Night Party

5 ways to serve up pure Hollywood magic at your Oscar party

What makes a great party on a big awards night so much fun? It probably has something to do with why we still go to packed movie theaters: We love a shared experience.

This March 4, make your red carpet viewing experience one to remember for you and your friends, and host a bash that celebrates our decades-long fascination with movie magic, celebrities and Hollywood mystique. To make it special, try some of these tips when planning your awards night viewing party. 

Set a dress code: Let your friends know they’re in for a special night, and make it a dress-up affair. Or for something both glam and comfy, invite everyone to come in their fanciest lounge wear. (Think slippers, smoking jackets, dressing gowns and satin pajamas.) 

Kick it off with red carpet glam: Build a red-carpet photo booth in your entryway, complete with red fabric, gold stars and topiaries and urge your guests to work it for the camera. To make it more fun, have photo-ready props handy, like oversized sunglasses, wigs and feather boas, and they’ll do the rest! 

Make it interesting: During the big event, bring the spirit of competition into your living room and hand out ballots, asking your guests to predict who’s taking home the gold statue. To enjoy the unpredictable fun of live TV, make up some bingo cards. Up the stakes and prepare a few swag bags for the winners. Some ideas: DVDs with winning movie titles of yore, movie theater passes, gourmet popcorn and locally made candies. 

Get bubbly: Champagne is always in style with the rich and famous. Popping open some chilled bottles of Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut will make your guests feel like A-listers, because this year, special edition bottles from the famed champagne maker will be also poured at the ceremony and after-party. To learn more, visit piper-heidsieck.com. 

Serve delicious, sophisticated bites: Serving up platters of tasty hors d’oeuvres is always a simple but classy way to feed your stylish guests because it lets everyone eat, mingle and watch the show. This year, let your menu be inspired by Wolfgang Puck, the creator of the luxurious, over-the-top feast served at the awards show after-party. Try his recipe for Gougères with gruyere, and your guests will give you a standing ovation. (Find the recipe below.) 

Gougères

Makes about 75 bite-sized puffs

Gougères are savory puffs flavored with cheese and served hot from the oven as a quick hors d’oeuvres. 

Gougères batter:

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 1/2 ounces bread flour

2 extra-large eggs

3 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated 

Gougères toppings:

1 extra-large egg

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Fleur de sel 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Set rack in the center of oven.

Insert paddle attachment in a stand mixer. In a heavy metal saucepot, combine the water, butter, cayenne and salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, add all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined to form a smooth paste. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer.

Put the paste in the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix at medium speed for 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed until each is fully incorporated and stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the 3 1/2 ounces of grated Gruyere and mix until incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe nickel-size mounds onto a non-stick baking sheet, or a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, 2 inches apart.

In a small bowl beat together the egg and egg yolk forming an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush each of the Gougères with the egg wash. Sprinkle with grated Gruyere cheese and a pinch of fleur de sel.

Bake the gougères on the center rack in the preheated oven until they are puffed and golden brown, about 18 minutes.

Serve immediately.(BPT)

Chef Jose Garces Focuses on Quality and Versatility at This Year’s Sold-out South Beach Wine and Food Festival

Pork to make a cameo at prestigious event

Smithfield Fresh Pork is proud to partner with the National Pork Board and 20 award-winning chefs at this year’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF). These chefs will create high-quality pork dishes for attendees featuring Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork, an all-natural premium line of fresh pork. Each recipe will showcase the superior quality and versatility of the Smithfield Prime collection and inspire consumers to cook with only the best ingredients at home. Event-goers will have the opportunity to experience these recipes at the following NPB-sponsored events: Tacos After Dark on Thursday, February 22; Burger Bash on Friday, February 23; Spanish Dinner on Saturday, February 23; Swine, Wine & Spirits and Coca-Cola Beachside BBQ, both on Sunday, February 25.

Chef Jose Garces, one of Smithfield’s Chef Partners, will host two pork-centric events at SOBEWFF. Garces, a James Beard award winner and Iron Chef, prefers to cook with Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork due its high quality and flavor.

“As a chef, there is nothing more important to me than the quality of the ingredients I choose for my dishes,” said Garces. “That is why I love to work with Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork. They understand that quality leads to flavor and flavorful dishes create the best experiences and memories.”

The most discerning chefs, championship pitmasters and home cooks alike seek quality, flavorful fresh pork, and that is why they trust Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork. Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork is a line of premium, all-natural fresh pork that is certifiably 20 percent more tender than other leading brands of all-natural pork. The Smithfield Prime collection is hand-trimmed and sourced from America’s most trusted farms, using a specialty breed of Duroc hogs and some of the most stringent quality standards in the industry. Thus, Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork products naturally have exceptional color, increased marbling and enhanced flavor, creating an elevated eating experience.

You can catch Chef Garces in action at the Spanish Dinner event taking place Saturday, February 24; and at the Coca-Cola Beachside BBQ on Sunday, February 25. For those who want to take a page out of Chef Garces’ book and try their hand at cooking up one of his signature dishes, below is a recipe he crafted specially for Smithfield. 

Grilled pork chops with cognac butter, mustard aioli and mushrooms

For the pork chops:

4 Smithfield(R) Prime Bone-In Pork Chops (1-inch thick)

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh thyme

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic

Directions:

Mix oil, thyme, rosemary and garlic in large mixing bowl. Add pork chops and coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. Heat grill to medium using hickory wood charcoal. Remove chops from marinade and grill 7 to 9 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 145 F to 160 F. Remove from heat and immediately brush with cognac butter. Let stand 3 minutes before serving. 

For the cognac butter:

1 cup good-quality cognac

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots

1 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Combine cognac and shallots in a small saucepan. Simmer until cognac is reduced by two-thirds. Strain and let cool. Mix together with butter and parsley; let stand at room temperature until ready to use. 

For the mustard aioli:

3 eggs

1 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup whole grain mustard

3 cups vegetable oil

Directions:

Combine eggs, Dijon mustard and lemon juice in food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Slowly drizzle in vegetable oil, while food processor is running, until emulsified. Remove from processor and fold in whole grain mustard. Season to taste. 

For the mushrooms:

2 lbs. mixed fresh wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, hen of the woods, porcini and morel)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh thyme

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Toss together mushrooms and olive oil. Place in grill basket and grill until tender and cooked through, turning occasionally. Remove from heat and toss with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

This recipe yields four servings; total prep time is 25 minutes (plus two hours marinade time), and total cook time is expected at 35 minutes.

Visit SaborSmithfield.com for more of Chef Garces’ recipes and inspiration for your next meal and to learn more about Smithfield’s quality and freshness. And visit sobewff.org for more details on the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. For more information about National Pork Board, visit porkteinspira.com. (BPT)

Celebrate International Women’s Day with Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Making a positive difference in the community is a top priority for the team at Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach and this year, the hotel is saying thank you to the women in our lives and raising awareness on this global movement by offering a one-day-only special.

On March 8, all women dining at the hotel’s full-service beachfront restaurant, Bistro, will receive a complimentary drink and dessert with the purchase of an entrée. International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide in all types of ways and Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach welcomes locals and guests to toast to women at Bistro.

For more information visit https://www.Sonesta.com/FortLauderdale or call 1-800-SONESTA. 

About Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

The AAA Four Diamond-rated oceanfront Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach, features 240 guest rooms including 23 spectacular suites, all of which boast panoramic views of the seven-mile stretch of Fort Lauderdale Beach. This oceanfront hotel provides a new level of hospitality to the Fort Lauderdale market by offering travelers a sense of place, not just a place to stay. Catering to both business and leisure travelers, the hotel is centrally located on the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and A1A, only 8 miles from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and just minutes from the Las Olas Arts & Entertainment District and Port Everglades.  Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach offers an authentic, local experience to guests and locals alike, brought to life through the brand’s signature Food is Art, Liquid Art and Daily Delights programs.

Shake Up Your Dinner Routine

If you find yourself stuck in a rut with the same recipes, remember a little change can add a lot of flavor. By simply using fresh pork in dishes that usually consist of chicken or beef, there are countless ways to switch up your dinner routine.

Whether grilled, roasted, slow-cooked or sautéed, Smithfield Fresh Pork is available in a wide variety of cuts as well as pre-marinated flavors, making it versatile and convenient for any night of the week. Try out these recipes for Smoked Bacon Pork Alfredo and Grilled Pork Loin Fajitas to shake up your next meal.

Find more recipe ideas at Smithfield.com/ShakeItUp.

Smoked Bacon Pork Alfredo

Prep time: 8 minutes

Cook time: 22 minutes

Servings: 6-8

  • 1          Smithfield Applewood Smoked Bacon Marinated Fresh Pork Loin Filet
  • 3          tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1          pound penne pasta
  • 1          package (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
  • salt, to taste
  • 2          jars (15 ounces each) Alfredo sauce
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/4       cup finely chopped green onion (optional)
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Cut pork loin into 1/2-inch thick slices then into 1/4-inch wide strips. In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Stir-fry half the pork loin 7-8 minutes until well browned. Set aside on separate plate and repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining pork.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. In skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining oil; add mushrooms and sprinkle with salt, to taste. Cook 3 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Drain pasta and return to pot; stir in pork, mushrooms and Alfredo sauce. Stir over medium heat about 4 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle with green onions and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Grilled Pork Loin Fajitas

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes marinade time

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4-6

  • 1          Smithfield Prime Boneless Fresh Pork Loin, cut into 1-inch thick steaks
  • 1 1/2    cups water, divided
  • 1          cup soy sauce
  • 1          can (6 ounces) pineapple juice
  • 6          cloves garlic
  • 1/4       cup white wine
  • 1          teaspoon salt
  • 1          cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2          large onions, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
  • 1          tablespoon corn oil
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 12        tortillas
  • guacamole (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • pico de gallo (optional)
  • shredded cheese (optional)
  1. Using meat mallet, pound pork steaks until 1/2-inch thick; place in 1-gallon re-sealable plastic bag. Pour 1 cup water, soy sauce and pineapple juice over pork; seal bag and lay flat in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  2. In blender, pulse garlic, white wine and salt until thoroughly blended. Whisk butter and slowly incorporate garlic and wine mixture. Reserve at room temperature.
  3. In large skillet over high heat, saute onions in corn oil 2 minutes until they turn deep brown. Add remaining water to skillet and lower heat to medium-low. Cook and stir, scraping bits from bottom of pan, 15 minutes until water has evaporated and onions are caramelized. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat grill to 300 F for indirect cooking. Lightly grease grates.
  5. Remove pork from marinade and place on grill over indirect heat 4-6 minutes per side, until internal temperature reaches 145 F. Remove pork and brush garlic butter on both sides. Let stand 5 minutes; slice into 3-inch long, thin strips.
  6. While grill is hot, grill tortillas individually. Wrap four tortillas at a time in aluminum foil with a little garlic butter.
  7. In skillet, reheat caramelized onions and serve with fajitas. Top with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and shredded cheese, if desired. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Smithfield

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

  • 1/2 cup Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 4 teaspoons Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine mayonnaise with cheese in medium bowl. Arrange chicken on baking sheet. Evenly top with mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  3. Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

SOURCE:
Culinary.net

Beat Winter Blues with a Little Help From Vitamin D

Wholesome ingredients can help up your intake during the dark days of winter

Staying indoors and wrapping up in a blanket is one way to avoid winter’s frigid weather, but less exposure to the sun can also put you at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Milk is the primary source of vitamin D in the American diet, according to research published in the FASEB Journal, making it a great choice on dark winter days.

An 8-ounce glass of milk provides 30 percent of the daily value of vitamin D, so just three cups of milk each day will provide 90 percent of your body’s recommended daily requirements. Milk is also an easy way to get other essential nutrients like B vitamins for energy, high-quality protein for lean muscle and vitamin A for a healthy immune system.

When you need a quick way to warm up on a cold day, try this creamy chicken corn chowder recipe that can be made with a pressure cooker. Cooked with wholesome ingredients like milk, chicken and potatoes and topped with bacon and green onions, it’s an easy and delicious addition to your weekly meal rotation. For more recipes to warm up your winter, visit milklife.com.

Pressure Cooker Corn Chowder

Servings: 12

  • 6          slices (6 ounces each) thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1          small yellow onion, diced
  • 3          cloves garlic, minced
  • 1          pound boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 1          bag (16 ounces, about 3 1/3 cups) frozen corn kernels
  • 4          cups chicken broth
  • 1          pound unpeeled or peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/4-1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2       teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional, to taste
  • 1/2       teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus additional, to taste
  • 2          tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2    cups fat-free milk
  • 2-3       green onions, sliced (optional)
  • 1          tablespoon heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)
  1. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped bacon and cook until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat.
  2. Return skillet to stove. Add onion and garlic; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add diced chicken and frozen corn; saute for an additional 3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Remove skillet from heat and transfer contents to pressure cooker. Add chicken broth, potatoes, salt and pepper. Close and seal pressure cooker, making sure the vent is in the sealed position. Cook on high 8 minutes.
  4. While the chowder cooks, make a slurry by whisking cornstarch (or flour) into milk. Set aside.
  5. When done, remove pressure cooker from heat. Allow pressure to release on its own or carefully quick-release pressure after a few minutes. Stir in the cornstarch-milk slurry. Cover and allow chowder to thicken for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  6. Portion soup into bowls and generously top with bacon. Garnish with green onion and cream or half-and-half, if desired. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Nutritional information per serving: 190 calories; 5 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 35 mg cholesterol; 14 g protein; 20 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 530 mg sodium; 52 mg calcium (6% of daily value). Nutrition figures based on using fat-free milk. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
MilkPEP

School of ROCK The Musical is Going to Rock You

Written by Scott Rigtrup, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

Lexus Broadway in Austin brought the proverbial house down again this Wednesday night with the opening of the musical “School of Rock”!  Warning, if you have a knack for the mundane, this performance will knock it clean out of you.  All the better, if the word, “rebellion” rolls easily off your tongue, then race for the ticket line, because the spirit of Rock and Roll will never be so hysterically thrown in your lap!

Rob Colletti and Phoenix Schuman in the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy

Rob Colletti and Phoenix Schuman in the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy

The high energy pace of the whole show rolls right over the top of you from the get go with the standard announcement about audience conduct.  Just when silencing your cell phone is mentioned, the screeching vocals of Dewey and the Heavy Metal playing of his big hair band thrusting out of their Marshall amps physically sets you back in your seat.  Sadly we quickly learn that Dewey, in all his zeal, has no idea that his fellow band members have decided to kick him out of the band and replace him with a stronger recruit in preparation for the upcoming and much anticipated annual Battle of The Bands contest.

The cast of the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy.

The cast of the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy.

Things go from bad to worse when Dewey’s crash pad is jeopardized when his friend’s wife demands that Dewey start paying rent or get out after years of mooching off his generous friends.  Desperation grows and in a flash of deviant genius, Dewey gets the hair brained idea to impersonate his friend as a substitute teacher at the prestigious Horace Green private school to make some quick cash for rent.

The cast of the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy

The cast of the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy

Quite unavoidably, Dewey bumbles and fumbles his way in to the teaching gig and  squarely sets himself in the cross hairs of the school principal and fellow faculty members with his uncouth behavior and slovenly  appearance which only heightens the fact that Dewey has absolutely no earthly idea of how he’s going to pull of acting like a teacher, let alone trying to act like a grown adult.  Yet amongst all the classroom follies, Dewey makes the most unexpected discovery when one day his students start pulling out instruments for music class and he realizes that these kids can ROCK!!!!

Rob Colletti and Lexie Dorsett Sharp in the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy

Rob Colletti and Lexie Dorsett Sharp in the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy

Now at last, class is truly in session for Dewey and he’s headed for stardom with his new dream band that he enthusiastically names “School of Rock”!  And folks, just in case you’re wondering, all of the cast memebers on stage are really playing their own instruments and these kids are insanely talented!

Tensions grow as we learn of the individual student’s home lives and the intense pressures placed upon them by their parents to achieve scholastically.  All the while the Battle of The Bands contest is fast approaching and it almost seems like Dewey’s delusions of grandeur may actually come true!

Emotions erupt when the parents and the principal find out about Dewey’s plans to enter his young band in the contest and in a blink of the eye, Dewey’s Rock and Roll world unravels before him when they pull the proverbial plug on his plans.  Beleaguered, Dewey makes his way back to his soon to be lost crash pad, beat down and hopeless of ever achieving Rock greatness.

Theo Mitchell-Penner in the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy

Theo Mitchell-Penner in the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy

Thankfully, his student’s rebel determination pulls Dewey from his emotional abyss and on to the contest stage of the Battle of The Bands to learn yet another unexpected life lesson and redemption reigns when Dewey is offered a new full-time position at Horace Green teaching music and almost magically joy returns to Dewey’s Rock and Roll world!

“School of Rock” is the most energetic and enthusiastic stage performance that I have ever seen!  When the elderly audience members are dancing their way out of the auditorium after the performance as much as, if not more than the teenagers, you know that you have been a part of Rock and Roll history!

Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts

School of Rock  – The Musical

February 13 – 18, 2018

Tuesday – Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Bass Concert Hall | 2350 Robert Dedman Drive | Austin, TX 78712

Start at $30.Tickets are available at BroadwayinAustin.com, texasperformingarts.org, the Bass Concert Hall ticket office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060.  For groups of 10 or more, call (877) 275-3804 or email Austin.groups@broadwayacrossamerica.com

Transform Your Bathroom into the Ultimate Paradise

Many people spend a lot of time in the bathroom. It’s a functional space where you can bathe, get ready for the day and take care of business. However, the bathroom can be so much more than that: it can offer a place to destress, relax and recharge before taking on the morning or after conquering a long day.

Now you can escape to your own paradise without leaving home. These simple tips and tricks from lifestyle and parenting expert Jordan Reid of Ramshackle Glam can help you transform your bathroom into a spa-like oasis without undergoing a major renovation.

  • Don’t be scared to play with lighting, as it helps create a room’s atmosphere. Use multi-bulb lighting fixtures paired with warm LEDs. For a sunset-on-the-beach vibe, try pink bulbs in the bathroom with your regular lighting; together they can create a rosy-glow that’s the perfect aesthetic for a relaxing time.
  • To immerse yourself in the sand and sun, use collections of gold-framed mirrors. Adding mirrors is a simple way to bounce additional light around the room, and the gold can add a warm hue, so they’re both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Bathrooms can have greenery in them, too. Plants such as philodendrons and bromeliads can add an element of airiness and life, and both can be found in super-realistic faux styles if your bathroom is not conducive to the real thing.
  • Don’t be afraid to accessorize your bathroom with items that fit your style and personality. For your paradise getaway, a bamboo bathmat can create a beachy vibe that’s also chic and modern and Turkish towels can add texture and color. Even smaller items, such as jewelry stands, towel hooks and toilet paper holders, can show off your unique aesthetic and make your escape truly your own.
  • Keep your bathroom sparklingly and stunningly clean – and smelling great. Don’t forget to clean frequently overlooked places like the back of the toilet, inside the shower and along the edges of fixtures. Scented cleaning products such as those from the Clorox Scentiva Pacific Breeze & Coconut line, including bathroom foamer, toilet cleaning gel, multi-surface spray and disinfecting wipes, not only deliver a refreshing clean, but can also help transport you to a relaxing paradise with aromas of coconut, pineapples and warm sandalwood. For more information, visit Clorox.com. (Family Features)

Photo courtesy of Sue Hudelson

SOURCE:
Clorox

Find Out the Truth About Tap Water

While the tap water you drink may look clean, it may contain harmful contaminants like lead, pesticides and industrial pollutants. These and others may be picked up on the journey from your water treatment plant through miles of pipes to your home.

To help clear up any misconceptions about what’s really in your water, the experts at PUR offer this myth-busting advice:

Myth: Living close to a fresh water source makes tap water safer to drink.

Truth: Even if you live close to a fresh water source, your water goes on a long journey through an often aging infrastructure before it reaches your tap. According to Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc., up to 10 million lead service lines are still in use in the country today, potentially allowing lead particles to enter into your water.

Myth: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates all contaminants.

Truth: There are about 100,000 potential contaminants in drinking water. According to the EPA, its Safe Drinking Water Act only regulates 103. That means water that meets the government’s safe drinking standards may not meet yours.

Myth: All water filters are created equal.

Truth: While both pitcher and faucet filters remove unwanted contaminants, a faucet filter is usually a step up from a pitcher because it has a longer life and can remove even more contaminants, including lead.  As every brand is different, it’s important to check the types of contaminants each filter removes and confirm it is certified by NSF and the Water Quality Association for contamination reduction. Doing so can help you get the healthiest, cleanest tasting water possible.

Myth: You can determine if tap water is safe to drink by how it looks, smells and tastes.

Truth: While your water might look, smell and taste clean, it could contain contaminants that are potentially harmful to your health, like lead, which is colorless, odorless and has no taste.

“Knowing what’s in the water you drink and cook with is important, but determining the quality of your local water supply can seem daunting,” said Keri Glassman, registered dietitian, nutritionist and PUR spokesperson. “Fortunately, there’s a free online resource called KnowYourWater.com that allows users to type in any address to easily learn about lead and other possible contaminants in their water.”

Myth: Boiling water removes lead.

Truth: Boiling water may reduce bacteria found in the water, but will not remove lead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead concentration of water can actually increase slightly when water is boiled because some of the water evaporates during the boiling process.

Myth: Drinking filtered water is expensive.

Truth: Using a faucet filtration system for one year is comparable in cost to purchasing enough bottled water to last only two months. An option like the PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration System is an on-demand solution for filtered water right from the tap and is certified to reduce over 70 contaminants, including 99 percent of lead, 96 percent of mercury and 92 percent of certain pesticides.

Get your individual water quality report and learn more at KnowYourWater.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
PUR

5 Ways to Make an Impact on Children

When looking for opportunities to make an impact on the lives of others, selecting a cause to support can be an overwhelming task with so many options to choose from. However, considering opportunities that can change the lives of kids is one way to make a lasting impact for generations to come.

Helping children early on can change the trajectory of their lives, set them up for success and empower them to achieve their dreams. This is especially important for kids living in poverty who are not guaranteed access to things like medical care and quality educations. According to global humanitarian organization Children International, nearly half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day and 1 in 5 kids in the United States lives in poverty.

Consider these ideas to make an impact on children in need now and well into the future:

Become a mentor or coach. A positive role model can make a life-changing difference for a child from disadvantaged circumstances. As a mentor or a coach, you can help children explore and nurture their unique talents and guide them toward a successful future.

Volunteer at a local school. Families increasingly rely on two incomes to support their households, which means parents are less available to lend their time to their children’s classrooms or schools. At the same time, public school funding is shrinking. As a volunteer, you can help fill these gaps and contribute to bettering the learning opportunities for children in your community.

Sponsor a child. You may be surprised to learn how far a monetary donation can go. For example, Children International supporters can join a monthly giving program and sponsor a child in poverty for $32 per month. Your donation establishes a connection with an individual child who receives access to life-changing benefits like medical care, educational support and life-skills training. The institution is a CharityWatch top-rated organization that serves 250,000 children in 10 countries. If a reoccurring donation is not right for you, the organization also accepts one-time donations. Learn more at children.org.

Host a foreign exchange student. Education is an important tool that can set kids up for success and help shape available opportunities in the future. Through a foreign exchange program, you can provide opportunities to youths who are working to better themselves through learning. As an added bonus, you and your family can have the chance to learn more about another culture and part of the world you may not be exposed to otherwise.

Donate new or used items. Service organizations such as shelters generally operate on tight budgets and rely on contributions from the community. Gently used items in good condition such as children’s clothing of all sizes and warm bedding are generally welcome. Other options include watching for sales to stock up on new items to donate or assembling kid-friendly packages of travel-size toiletries.

No matter how you approach it, putting kids front and center as you look for opportunities to give back can make a difference not only in the short term, but potentially for a lifetime. You can also feel good knowing your gift can have a positive impact on a child’s life. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Children International