Grandma Knows Best: CranMa’s Thanksgiving Hostess Tips & a Trip to Ocean Spray’s Cranberry Bog

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Sponsorship provided by Ocean Spray. Thanks for reading! Content and opinions, as always, are my own.

There’s nothing like ushering in November with a trip to Rockefeller Center® to wade and dine in 1500 sq. ft. fresh cranberry bog, while getting whipped into Thanksgiving-hostess-extraordinaire shape by a team of Ocean Spray Grandmas, AKA CranMas.   As part of Ocean Spray‘s #ASKCRANMA event, a team of Thanksgiving-feast valedictorians (yup! The Cranmas who happen to be multi-generational Ocean Spray farmers) schooled me alongside other writers with hands-on instructions and no-nonsense first-time Thanksgiving hostess advice – to ensure that our holiday goes off without a hitch.  This is the 13th year that Ocean Spray has brought their iconic 2,000-pound fresh-cranberry bog to Rockefeller Center®, and it was a true treat to attend again (this time solo!) – catch last year’s fun with my kiddos here

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As someone who knows that I’ll never match the level of Thanksgivings dinners produced by my mom and mother-in-law – I nod my head in understanding over common fears discovered in a recent Ocean Spray survey. 

First Time Hosting Fears

  • Not cooking the Turkey properly (under-cooking or burning).
  • Not timing things properly.
  • Not being able to live up to their parents or grandparents Thanksgivings (hello, yes!).
  • Forgetting something (important ingredient, etc.).
  • Disappointing guests and not having them enjoy the meal.

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The team of CranMas is helping to squash these fears with their tried-and-true advice. Best of all? They’re dedicated to helping you! Now through Thanksgiving Day, first-time hosts (and others who want advice!) can access Facebook Chat to talk to Ocean Spray’s virtual CranMa AKA the Cranbot in real-time! I was all ears amongst CranMa Sue, Mary Ann, and Diane, as they dished out expert advice. I’m hanging on to CranMa Mary Ann’s simple yet wise words, “Thanksgiving is a time to be together and you should never lose sight of that”.

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First Time Hosting Tips

  • Do as much as you can ahead of time (cooking and setting the table)!
  • Set the scene with beautiful and simple holiday hacks including a napkin ring made out of Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries. 
  • Welcome guests with a themed-cocktail (try Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail, Vodka, and Cassis.  And delight the kids with a glass of Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail).  
  • Consider timing when going with a frozen vs. fresh turkey (frozen takes multiple days to thaw – 1 day for every 5lbs of turkey!)
  • Most importantly, remember to focus on the togetherness and meaning of the day. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect!
  • Ocean Spray cranberry products can help to set the scene and are a healthy and delicious component of Thanksgiving meals, sides and drinks. 

You better believe that I plopped myself right into the cranberry bog -waders and all – to indulge in a pre-Thanksgiving feast! Everything was beyond delicious from the meal to the stunning decor.

 

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First -time Thanksgiving host?  Have questions on how to make your dinner perfect? Don’t forget to ask CranMa your pressing questions and chat with “her” anytime! Happy hosting friends!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ocean Spray®. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Halloween Harvest at Coney Island’s Luna Park

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The Halloween Harvest officially kicked off this weekend at Coney Island’s Luna Park, and we had a behind the scenes look at all the fun activities and experiences they have to offer.

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In addition to the thrilling rides and amusement park fun that Luna Park is known for – the Halloween Harvest includes face painting, pony rides and the best pumpkin patch we’ve ever seen in NYC! The experience is included with the purchase of an all-day wristband and runs until October 29th!

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Check out Luna Park to get all the details on their upcoming annual Halloween Harvest Dog Parade & Costume Contest, the carving of their giant pumpkin and more!

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’90s Nostalgia: Limited Too Pop Up Shop Comes to NYC

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Tweens of the ’90s rejoice! Your favorite store to hit up at the mall with your friends is back – and it’s touring New York City.  There’s still time to catch the Limited Too mobile pop-up shop packed with fashion and accessories nostalgic of your own childhood years (but perhaps, way cooler).


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All the necessities for back-to-school are here – and at reasonable prices too, with everything under $100.  From glittery sneakers, two-way sequin notebooks, bomber jackets, backpacks, locker-gear, and of course fabulous fashion and apparel for girls sizes 2T-16.

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The rain didn’t stop us from checking out their Herald Square location – a totally fun experience for today’s mom/daughter outing.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to leave my local mall with a Limited shopping bag in hand back in the day – and middle-school me would definitely envy all the cool duds and goodies that my daughter picked out.

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There’s still time to get in on the fun (don’t forget to get in on the photo op too!)

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Catch the Pop-Up from 12pm-7pm at the dates/addresses below:

August 8th: Herald Square/6th Avenue between 35th and 36th

August 9th: Union Square/17th Street between Park Avenue South & Broadway

August 10th: Flatiron/5th Avenue between 22nd & 23rd Street

This is a sponsored post.  Thanks for reading! 

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Shopkins Macaron Café Pop-Up Comes to NYC + SKECHERS Giveaway!

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Did you hear about the Shopkins Macaron Café Pop-Up experience that came to New York City?  In celebration of their newest collection, season eight, World Vacation – parents scrambled to get a coveted spot at the TriBeCa location during its duration in June.  We heard that tickets went within minutes of the free online sign-up opening – and team Shopkins even ended up adding extra slots for those on the wait list.

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We were lucky enough to attend their press day event prior to the pop-ups opening, and my big girl willingly obliged to take part in the press day fashion show where she wore head to toe Shopkins themed clothing and kicks – and beamed alongside real life Shoppies.  The kids in attendance enjoyed treats, indulged in Shopkins-themed manicures and of course checked out all of the latest merchandise from Moose Toys Skopkins collection.  We were even lucky enough to get sneak peek of the Shopkins Live on Tour!

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In addition to a cool bomber jacket, my tween was most excited about wearing sneakers from SKECHERS new back-to-school collection featuring the iconic Shopkins characters. And we’re so excited to partner with Shopkins and SKECHERS to send two lucky kids off to a new school year in their choice of the below sneakers from the new Shopkins-themed back-to-school line (sizes 8-3)!

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WIN IT:  To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  For another entry, visit our facebook fan page and leave a comment on the corresponding post.  The two randomly selected winners will be announced on facebook on Thursday evening, August 3rd.

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The Citizen STEM Initiative Award

It’s always wonderful to see brands that we partner with investing in our youth.  Recently, The Citizen STEM Initiative Award competition challenged grade nine students throughout the state of New Jersey to create 90-second videos highlighting their favorite aspect of physics.

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It’s certainly impressive that the winner’s submission, created by Gabrielle Grupenhof from Oradell, New Jersey, outlined ways to calculate the acceleration of a car speeding down the highway.   Gabrielle, along with the three runners-up (announced and sponsored by the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning) were treated to a pretty amazing day at New York City’s Good Housekeeping Research Institute, including a personal tour of the space. The students also received awards of CTO watches from the Citizen Watch Drive Collection, and a celebratory lunch alongside their teachers and parents in New York City.

It’s wonderful to see the encouragement of students excelling in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) – which in many ways, is our future.

This post is in partnership with Citizen. 

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Protect Like a Mother Installation Comes to Brooklyn

This post sharing details on the Protect Like a Mother exhibit in Brooklyn is sponsored by Lysol. Thank you for reading.

When my children were toddlers and had difficulty separating from me, a little storytelling ritual began.  I’d form the shape of a heart with my hands, and recite a made up story reminding them that our hearts and souls are connected forever.  The consistency seemed to calm all of our nerves, and years later I still find myself including that story in my parenting toolkit.  Motherhood continues to show me the absolute truth in that metaphorical heart.  Motherhood is hardwired to the very core of my being in the most profound and powerful ways.  I’m inextricably connected to my children and have learned to trust my gut, motivated by being my babies greatest protector and nurturer.

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I was so excited to venture over to Brooklyn Bridge Park today with my family to check out Lysol’s “Protect Like a Mother” exhibit featuring a larger-than-life art installation of a trio of animals, honoring both human and animal mothers alike. On the heels of mother’s day weekend, it felt fitting to work with Lysol in celebration of a mother’s innate protective instinct.  After all, they help moms like me protect against germs in my home, in ways that mirror how animals defend their own babies.

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The cool interactive installation features gargantuan sculptures of a golden eagle, a 24-foot-tall orangutan, and an octopus.  Amidst bubbles, kids are allowed to play on the large animals, and a fantastic photo booth captures great quality family photos.  There’s also a cool educational component with several facts about the animal mothers and ways in which they protect their offspring from predators. The protective instinct is a universal truth of motherhood – in both the animal kingdom and in our own. Different species demonstrate amazing feats to protect their young, including us human mothers, right?!

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No one protects quite like a mom, and nothing helps mothers protect against germs like Lysol, a leader in germ killing for over 100 years, with products that kill 99.9% of germs to help moms protect their kids from passing germs and getting sick.  Lysol has created a fun analogy and expereince that families can certainly relate to and enjoy together during the weekend.  Best of all this free exhibit is still open to the public.  Check it out tomorrow, Sunday, May 21st from 9 am to 6 pm.  You may even leave feeling a bit more loved than ever:

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“My mom protects me like a unicorn because she is magic.” – L.P – age nine. 

 

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