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Forget everything else, these are the 5 things moms want for Mother’s Day

Let’s not beat around the bush here. It’s Mother’s Day, but I don’t want flowers or crafts or a box of chocolates … all I really want is for someone to give me a break!

Show this to your husband. Show this to your kids. Show this to everyone … these things will help Mom even when it’s not her special day.

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What Mom really wants:

1. Do this one simple chore for her. (Hint: it’s laundry. Everyone hates laundry.)

2. Forget breakfast in bed, just make the bed. (But watch this video because you’re probably doing it wrong.)

3. Win your way to her heart through the kitchen … give her a night off and make this simple dinner surprise.

4. Leave her alone: Pack this spa basket and give her a nice morning of peace and quiet.

5. NO CRAFTS. Seriously, put down the paintbrush.

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Recipe: Breakfast casserole

In the Kitchen With ... Linda Roberts, Alpharetta From a special Atlanta Journal-Constitution feature in which readers nominate their favorite home cooks. Nominated by friend and co-worker Cindy Thompson: "Have you ever seen someone whose idea of relaxing is cooking a free breakfast for 100 or so friends? [Linda] learned at the knee of her grandmother and loves to share her down-home Southern cooking with everyone." See vegetarian option below.

Hands on time: 25 minutes  Total time: 1 hour  Serves: 12

    6 slices bread 1 pound breakfast sausage or 8 ounces of thawed and crumbled (uncooked) vegetarian breakfast patties 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 1/2 large sweet onion, diced 1 cup broccoli florets 1 (7-ounce) can mushrooms, drained 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese 12 eggs 1 1/2 cups half-and-half 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and line the bottom with the slices of bread. In a large skillet, cook the breakfast sausage. Transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl; drain the fat from the pan, and wipe it clean. Add the vegetable oil, and cook the onion until golden, about 5 minutes. Add it to the bowl with the sausage. In a small saucepan, cook the broccoli in a small amount of water until the broccoli turns bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the broccoli, and add it to the mixing bowl. To the sausage mixture, add the mushrooms, tomatoes and grated cheese. Stir to combine, and then spread the mixture evenly over the bread in the baking dish. Break the eggs into the mixing bowl, and beat well with the half-and-half, salt and pepper. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the sausage mixture. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until casserole is semi-firm and puffed in the center. 


Tester's note: To reduce the cholesterol and fat count, you can use reduced-fat cheese and leave out some or all of the egg yolks. You can also substitute 8 ounces of thawed and crumbled (uncooked) vegetarian breakfast patties for the cooked sausage. You can assemble this dish the night before and bake it in the morning, or you can cook it and store it in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat individual pieces in the microwave.


Per serving: 391 calories (percent of calories from fat, 20), 17 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 30 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 244 milligrams cholesterol, 669 milligrams sodium.

How to make an Easter basket cake

To make the Easter Basket Cake, first mask the cake with a thin layer of icing and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a basketweave tip, alternately pipe a short horizontal line, then a short vertical line, rotating around the entire bottom of the cake, until you reach the point where you started.

Continue with another row above these lines, alternating the vertical and horizontal stripes with what is on the bottom. Keep adding rows until you reach the top.

Create a border by weaving the tip around the top of the cake's perimeter.

Bend a forsythia branch over the top of the cake and tuck the tips into the side for a basket handle.

Fill the center of the "basket" with toasted coconut that has been tinted green.

Place chocolate eggs and other candies in the center of the basket.

Black History Month - how it began

Americans have recognized black history annually since 1926, first as "Negro History Week" and later as "Black History Month." What you might not know is that black history had barely begun to be studied-or even documented-when the tradition originated. Although blacks have been in America at least as far back as colonial times, it was not until the 20th century that they gained a respectable presence in the history books.

Blacks Absent from History Books

We owe the celebration of Black History Month, and more importantly, the study of black history, to Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Born to parents who were former slaves, he spent his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines and enrolled in high school at age twenty. He graduated within two years and later went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. The scholar was disturbed to find in his studies that history books largely ignored the black American population-and when blacks did figure into the picture, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time.

Established Journal of Negro History

Woodson, always one to act on his ambitions, decided to take on the challenge of writing black Americans into the nation's history. He established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) in 1915, and a year later founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History. In 1926, he launched Negro History Week as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history.

Woodson chose the second week of February for Negro History Week because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. However, February has much more than Douglass and Lincoln to show for its significance in black American history. For example:

  • February 23, 1868:W. E. B. DuBois, important civil rights leader and co-founder of the NAACP, was born.
  • February 3, 1870:The 15th Amendment was passed, granting blacks the right to vote.
  • February 25, 1870:The first black U.S. senator, Hiram R. Revels (1822-1901), took his oath of office.
  • February 12, 1909:The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded by a group of concerned black and white citizens in New York City.
  • February 1, 1960:In what would become a civil-rights movement milestone, a group of black Greensboro, N.C., college students began a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter.
  • February 21, 1965:Malcolm X, the militant leader who promoted Black Nationalism, was shot to death by three Black Muslims.

How to carve a pumpkin for halloween

Just in time for Halloween, here are some great ideas for pumpkin carving and some tips for making your pumpkin last longer after it's carved, courtesy of Howdini guru of fun Bruce Littlefield.

Recipe: Halloween truffles with candied walnut brains

Hands on: 20 minutes Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutesMakes: 12No need for expensive white chocolate, white chocolate chips will work fine. Store the truffles in the refrigerator before your party and serve at room temperature.1 cup (about 6 ounces) white chocolate chips2 tablespoons unsalted butter1 tablespoon heavy creamPinch of salt1 tablespoon liqueur, optional2 tablespoons powdered sugarRed food coloring12 whole walnutsIn a medium saucepan over low heat, warm chocolate, butter, cream and salt until chocolate is just melted. Remove from heat and be sure everything is well mixed. If you're using liqueur, stir it in now. Set aside 1/2 cup.Transfer remaining chocolate mixture to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until firm enough to scoop, about 1 hour.While chocolate is firming, stir food coloring into reserved chocolate mixture until you have the desired color. Arrange walnuts on a wire rack over a piece of parchment paper. Spoon colored chocolate over walnuts to cover. Allow chocolate to set. Put walnuts aside until ready to make truffles.Use a teaspoon or small cookie scoop to make 1-inch truffles. Roll each truffle in powdered sugar, then top each with a walnut brain. Store truffles in refrigerator for up to 1 week.Per serving: 160 calories (percent of calories from fat, 72), 4 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 13 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 9 milligrams cholesterol, 20 milligrams sodium.

Spooky and kooky ideas for Halloween

There are plenty of ideas on the Internet for disgusting Halloween food. We prefer a classier spread. And you don't have to spend days getting ready for your party. In an hour's time you can make Herbed Pumpkin Seeds, Spider Web Eggs and Truffles With Candied Walnut Brains. The Devilish Eggs and Ladies' Fingers take more fiddling, so if you're in a hurry, try the Quicker Ladies' Fingers and Spider Web Eggs.Halloween is all about disguises and things that are not what they seem.If you're hosting a party on Halloween, your guests will be expecting food that is creepy, spooky and maybe a little odd.They're also expecting you to stick to the traditional Halloween color scheme of orange and black, with a splash of blood red.You're likely to spend a bit more time fussing over the food and cocktails than you might for a run-of-the-mill party.After all, for most of us, serving body parts isn't part of our everyday dinner rotation.There's no doubt that Halloween celebrations have changed and that Halloween has become big business. The National Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend almost $6.86 billion this year on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations.And instead of being just a holiday for kids, it's become an event for all ages. The federation says one in three people is going to throw a Halloween party.It wasn't that long ago that a Halloween party meant bowls of cheese puffs and cheese curls, black olives, nacho-flavored corn chips and maybe an orange punch of some sort.I think it was the folks at Martha Stewart Living who really upped the game. Surely no one has more fun with the holiday than the Stewart elves who dream up new ways to decorate pumpkins, homes, ourselves and our menus.Its first stand-alone Halloween magazine came out in 2000.You're not likely to see special issues on celebrating the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. The buzz is all around Halloween.Now every Food Network star and women's magazine has suggestions for creepy cakes and freaky party food.The beverage companies have gotten into the mix, and you can buy black vodka with which to make all kinds of dark and stormy cocktails.So throw that Halloween party. Invite your guests to enjoy your frightful but delicious finger food. Stock the bar and you're ready to enjoy this holiday that's not just for kids anymore.

Recipe: Devilish Eggs

Hands on: 10 minutes Total time: 30 minutesMakes: 24Adjust the "devilishness" of these eggs by adding more or less cayenne.12 hard-cooked eggs, see method above3 roasted red peppers, finely chopped1/2 cup mayonnaise2 teaspoons Dijon mustard1 teaspoon hot sauce1/2 teaspoon black pepper1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika1/4 teaspoon cayenne1 small red bell pepper, cut into small triangles, for garnish1 green onion, dark green portion cut into small triangles, for garnish2 chives, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, for garnishCarefully peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Place whites in a plastic food storage bag and refrigerate.For the filling: In a medium bowl, mix yolks with roasted peppers, mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce, black pepper, paprika and cayenne. Stir until smooth. Adjust for seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made up to 2 days in advance.When ready to serve, spoon filling into white halves. Use red bell pepper triangles to make horns, green onion triangle to make a goatee and chive pieces for mustache.Adapted from www.marthastewart.comPer half-egg: 74 calories (percent of calories from fat, 77), 3 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 108 milligrams cholesterol, 72 milligrams sodium.

Classroom Halloween party tips & tricks

Reprinted with permission from


Your child's Halloween class party is one of the most exciting days of the new school year. Whether you’re the room mom, teacher, or the parent who volunteered to help with the party, a little planning makes for a fun, memorable, and stress-free event.

3 Steps to Halloween Party Fun

1. Plan it

Organize the class party into 'stations' with small groups of kids rotating through activities to keep the pace moving for the kids and the group-size manageable for parent volunteers. Everyone comes together for the final station, story time.

Simple, fun crafts include cardboardtube mummiescrayon resist fall leaves, decorating mini pumpkins, thumb print witches and spiders, and face painting.  

Consider space limitations when choosing party games. Four Halloween favorites:

  • Mummy-wrapping races: teams of 3 wrap a ‘mummy’ (child) with toilet paper, first to finish their rolls, win.
  • Apple or mini-pumpkin relay: teams compete to pass an apple or mini pumpkin under their chins kid-to-kid without using any hands. If it drops, start over.
  • Pin the nose on the pumpkin 
  • Halloween BINGO

Tip: Check out our Classroom Party Guide with 10 fun craft and game ideas for Halloween and Fall celebrations.

Stories about pumpkins, spiders and witches are sure to please.  Ask your children's librarian to recommend spooky tales that are age-appropriate. 

For snacks, consider sliced apples dipped in caramel sauce, pumpkin muffins with cream cheese, popcorn monster hands, and warm apple cider.

Tip: Ask the teacher if any kids have food allergies and if the school has policies limiting sugary treats.

2. Get Help

Ask class parents (and grandparents) to pitch in and volunteer either during the party or by contributing supplies and food. Remember to plan for craft and game supplies, snacks,  paper ware, and simple decorations (think plastic table cloths and mini pumpkins).

Tip: Free online signup sheets from make it easy to coordinate parent helpers. With the click of a mouse or a tap on a smartphone, parents can quickly choose when to help and what to bring. Automated reminders keep everyone on track.

3. Have Fun!

Be ready for joyful chaos! When things don't go exactly as planned, don't stress. Instead, put on a big smile and know that the kids will have a great time no matter what. Be sure to take lots of pictures, party day is a very special day at school!

Tip: Bring a child's wagon to help carry supplies from your car to the classroom

Happy Halloween!


About the Author


Karen Bantuveris is the founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot -- free online signup sheets save time and make it easy to organize parents to help for just about anything: classroom helpers, snack schedules, carnivals, library volunteers, parent-teacher conferences and more. Karen lives in Austin, TX with her husband and daughter.

Atlanta Area July 4th Fireworks

Fireworks will light up the sky all over metro Atlanta on July 4th!  Below is your guide to some of the best shows and events around town, with something for everybody - and something near everybody. Most are free.

City of Atlanta:

4th of July at Centennial Olympic Park: Gates open at 6pm. July 4. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9pm. Free. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. NW, Atlanta, GA 30313.

Channel 2’s “Georgia Salutes America” program and fireworks from Centennial Olympic Park will air on WSB-TV.

There will be live music at the event, artist names to be released soon, and the finale of the evening is Centennial Olympic Park’s Fireworks Spectacular, fireworks synchronized to patriotic music.

A list of prohibited items in the park can be found on the Centennial website:

Atlanta Journal Constitution Peachtree Road Race: One of the premier Fourth of July traditions, this 6.2 mile race kicks off Independence Day celebrations with about 60,000 people running and walking through the streets. Even if you don’t have a race number, be one of the 150,000 spectators cheering on the participants from the sidelines.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies: Cheer on the Braves at Turner Field and then stay after for a firework celebration of Independence Day choreographed to patriotic music. 7:10. July 4th. Turner Field, 755 Hank Aaron Dr Atlanta, GA 30302. 800-745-3000,

Georgia Aquarium’s Red, White & Brew: Celebrate Fourth of July with dinner, drinks and a view of Centennial Olympic Park’s firework show atop the Georgia Aquarium’s roof. 7-10 pm, fireworks starting at approximately 9:40pm. $55 ($45 for members), 21 and older only. 225 Baker Street NW, Atlanta GA 30313. 404-581-4000.

Lenox Square 4th of July: Shops & Restaurants open 10am-6pm. Musical Entertainment starts at 6pm. Fireworks scheduled to being at 9:40pm. July 4th. Free. 3393 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30326. 404-233-6767.

Whiskey Blue Fourth of July Extravaganza: Celebrate the fourth on the rooftop of the W Atlanta- Buckhead. Enjoy Whiskey Blue’s signature cocktails, gourmet bites, sounds of Dj Rimby and take in the Southeast’s largest fireworks display at Lenox Square. Tickets start at $25. July 4. W Atlanta Buckhead, 3377 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta GA 30326,

Other Area Events: 

Acworth’s Fourth of July Celebration: Live music starts at 4pm. Concerts begin at 5:30pm. Fireworks at dusk (9:30pm). Free.

Allatoona Yacht Club Fireworks Celebration: July 3rd at sunset. Boat access only in front of the Altoona Yacht clu, with fireworks visible from many coves adjacent to area. Free. Allatoona Yacht Club, 176 Websters Overlook Dr SE, Cartersville, GA 30121.

Alpharetta’s July 4th Festivities and Fireworks: Celebrate independence Day with family and friends at Wills Park. Free. Entertainment and children’s activities begin at 6pm, behind the Alpharetta Community Center. Fireworks begin at dusk. Wills Park, 1825 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta, 678-297-6130,

Athens Independence Day Celebration: July 4. 4-10pm, an evening of festivities with fireworks beginning at dusk at the Georgia Square Mall.

Auburn July 4 Festivities and Fireworks: 5-11pm. July 4. Downtown Auburn, 1369 4th Ave Auburn, Ga 30011,

Austell- Six Flags Over Georgia Coca-Cola July 4th Fest: July 3-5. Thrilling rides and attractions, fun games and a fireworks show. Guests, who arrive with a Coca-Cola can, will be admitted to the park an hour early. Fireworks begin at 9:30pm on all three nights.

Braselton Fourth of July Festival, Parade & 5K: Star Spangled 4th of July 5/ Fun Run at 8am (walk begins at 8:15am. Celebration continues with a Festival from 4-9pm, Parade at 6pm, and Fireworks at Dusk. Braselton Park –

Buford - Lake Lanier- Lanier World, July 3rd, 4th, and 5th from 3-7pm. Enjoy the day with rides, slides, and live entertainment. Fireworks will begin after dark at Sunset Cove. 7000 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford GA 30518,

Buford- Mall of Georgia’s 13th annual Star Spangled Fourth: Kids zone opens at 5pm July 4 for games, free concerts in the Village Amphitheater also begin at 5pm. Fireworks begin at dusk (approximately 9:35pm). Post- fireworks screening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1” (rated PG-13). Free.  Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Dr, Buford GA, 678-482-8788,

Canton Fireworks and Festival- 4-7pm July 4 live music, followed by a parade from 7-8pm. Fireworks at dusk behind Riverstone. Riverstone Blv, Canton GA 30114.

Cartersville- Stars, Stripes & Cartersville Fourth of July Celebration- July 4. Parade at 9am on Main Street. Concert from 8-9:30pm followed by fireworks at Dellinger Park. $2 per car parking fee. 100 Pine Grove Rd, Cartersville GA 30120,

Clayton County, 4th of July at the Beach- July 4, Event from 10am-7pm. Fireworks following at dusk. Admission is $9 for children, $11 for adults. The Beach at International Park, 2300 Highway 138, Jonesboro GA 30236,

Chamblee Fourth of July Celebration- 5-10pm, July 4. Free. Keswick Park, 3496 Keswick Dr, Chamblee GA 30341, 770-986-5016,

Covington- Independence in the Park, 6pm July 4. Downtown Covington Square, 770-385-2077,

Cumming’s July Fourth Celebration- Fireworks July 3rd at 9:30pm at the Cumming Fairgrounds, 235 Castleberry Road, Cumming GA 30040. Steam Engine Parade July 4th at 10:00 a.m. - downtown square.

Dahlonega- July 4. Independence Day Parade through historic square at 5pm, ending at drill field of University of North Georgia where fireworks show will be held at dusk.

Dalton- no information at this time

Decatur’s July 4th Pied piper Parade- decorate your wagon, ride your bike, skate or walk in this event. Begins at 6pm and ends at Community bandstand where a concert starts at 7pm. Fireworks begin at dark (approximately 9pm). Free. 404-371-8386,

Douglasville- July 4th Celebration -July 4th. Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. Fireworks will start at dusk. Fireworks can be viewed from Arbor Place mall front parking lot.

Duluth Celebrates America- July 3rd Celebration, Duluth Town Green, 6-9pm,

East Point Hometown Celebration- July 4, 3-11pm Carnival, fireworks at 9:30pm. 2757 Main Street, East Point GA 30344 across from East Point MARTA station. 404-270-7059,

Ellijay, 4th of July Star Spangled Beach Party- Celebration on July 4. Parade at 6pm, fireworks at dusk.

Flowery Branch- Sterling on the Lake- July 5 celebration, 4pm with food, drinks and a live 80s band. Fireworks display at dusk. $20 per car for non-residents. 7005 Lake Sterling Blvd, (770) 965-3980,

Gwinnett County- Gwinnett Braves v Charlotte Knights- Saturday July 4. Fireworks extravaganza immediately after game.

Hampton- Friday Night Drags & Show-n-Shine Fireworks Night at AMS- Event from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1500 N. U.S. 41, Hampton. 770-946-4211,

Heard County- A Chattahoochee Independence Day Celebration- July 4, 5pm- 12am. Food, Fun, Music, and fireworks at dusk. Court Square, Franklin GA.

Helen-Fireworks planned for Friday July 4th 9:30 p.m., behind the Alpine Village Shoppes.

Henry County Fireworks Extravaganza- festivities begin at 2pm with live music, car shows, raffles, food, and more. Fireworks display after dark at 9:30pm. 100 Babbs Mill Rd, Hampton GA, 678-432-4399,

Kennesaw’s pre-Independence Day Salute to America- July 3rd, concert at 6pm, fireworks at 9:30pm. Free. Downtown Kennesaw, 2828 Cherokee St, Kennesaw GA 30144. 770-422-9714,

Lawrenceville- Prelude to the Fourth- July 3rd, 7-10pm. Lawrenceville’s renowned Aurora Theatre will perform a Broadway Musical, followed by a dazzling fireworks display after dark. 210 Luckie St, Lawrenceville Ga 30046,

Lilburn-Sparkle in the Park- City park will be lit up with fireworks and have live music, GLOW the Show band. 5:30-10pm, July 4. 76 Main St, Lilburn Ga 30047,

Marietta- Fourth in the Park- Day-long celebration, July 4th 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Glover Park on the Marietta Square,

Monroe- Freedom Fest- July 4th. Event begins at 5:00 p.m. at Athens Tech Campus, 121 Blaine Street. Fireworks after dark.

Newnan- Fourth of July Parade and Rotary Celebration- 4th of July parade at 9am at Main Street. Fireworks celebration- Drake Stadium, gates open at 5:30.

Norcross- Red, White & Boom! Pre-Fourth Celebration- 3p.m. block party. Live music at 6 p.m. Fireworks at dusk. July 3rd. Free. Lillian Webb Park, 5 College St., Norcross GA 30071. 678-421-2000,  

Peachtree City- July 4th Parade, begins at 9am on Peachtree Parkway at Braelinn Golf Course. 4th Fest 5 pm- 9 pm at City Hall Plaza. Fireworks 9 pm-10pm Drake Field.

Roswell- Fourth in the Park Celebration- 10am Freedom Parade, followed by a festival in Marietta Square (10am-9pm). Fireworks after dark. Free. Marietta Square, 4 Depot St Ne, Marietta GA 30060.

Sandy Springs- Independence Day Parade & Fireworks Display- Parade on July 4, 9am. Fireworks on July 5, festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. with the fireworks beginning at 9:45 p.m. The spectator area is located at the Concourse Corporate Center Lawn.

Snellville- Star-Spangled Snellville- Independence Day Celebration on the Towne Green. July 4th starting at 3 pm. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Stone Mountain- Fantastic Fourth Celebration- Enjoy the Lasershow Spectacular, followed by a fireworks July 3-5 on the lawn. Begins at dusk. $10 daily parking pass or $35 for annual parking permit, U.S. 78 E., Stone Mountain.

Sugar Hill- Sparks in the Park- July 3, music performances beginning at 6pm. Fireworks starting at 9pm. E.E. Robinson Park.

Tallapoosa- Fourth of July Celebration- Parade downtown starting at Veterans Memorial Park. Food entertainment and fireworks at Helton Howland Park.

Villa Rica Fireworks Extravaganza- July 3, 5pm, Free. The Villa Rica Civic Center and Sports Complex, 1605 Highway 61, Villa Rica GA 30180.

Woodstock’s Stars and Strikes July 4th Spectacular- 7:30 am Freedom Run. Parade at 10am starting at Woodstock Elementary School. Festival at 3pm in the Park at City Center. Fireworks after dusk behind the Target shopping center (HWY 92 and I-575).

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