Because I Said So! Holiday Survival Guide

bad santa

The holidays are not all candy canes and mistletoe; they can be rough on us moms. So here's my guide to (mostly) keeping your sanity during the holidays.


Plan. This is equivalent to telling your kids to eat their veggies, or take their vitamins. It's boring advice, but it's the only way to survive the holidays. I always start shopping early. I don't mean Black Friday early, I mean October early. Shopping early leads to more thoughtful gifts, less stress and spending less money.

Hide. While I'm an extroverted, social person, I have serious hermit-tendencies. So the frenetic pace of the holidays and constant needs of my family can take its toll. I just want to pee alone! So before I snap, and sometimes after I snap, I sneak in some alone time. Nothing fancy like a day at the spa, just lingering a little longer than necessary in the shower, or taking a detour through the coffee drive through during one of my countless trips to the store, or ordering my kids to play outside for an hour - I don't care how cold it is!


Say "No." I love a good party, and I'm often accused of over-scheduling our family's social calendar. But when I can resist accepting every invitation, the result is some unstructured family time for cookie making, games, holiday movies and more.


Forget. "Mommy brain" has its benefits. Most years, I usually forget where I put one or two storage bins of holiday decorations. I think it's my subconscious telling me to take it easy. Skipping a box or two means less time putting up and taking down decorations and when (if) we ever find those decorations next year, they'll seem like new.


But the best advice is to ignore the messy house, the dirty dishes and your annoying Uncle Fred and just take a snapshot in your mind of your kids enjoying the holidays this year. They will never be this age again. Savor it.

Why? Because I said so!


~ Angela Hibbard, Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief



Save time and cut down on food waste this holiday season with these tasty tips.


Great pie takes a lot of work, or at least it used to. Now with ready-to-cook Mom's Pies, you can end your holiday feast on a high note without spending hours slaving away in the kitchen. Pull it from the freezer, pop it in the oven, and an hour and a half later, you've got an amazing pie on the table. You can even tell them it's Mom's! Made in Eugene, each Mom's Pie contains just five ingredients: local berries or fruit, sugar, salt, vegetable shortening and flour.

First Alternative's bulk section allows shoppers to buy as much or as little of a product as they need. This comes in handy over the holidays when rarely-used recipes call for uncommon ingredients. Cinnamon, sugar, cloves, star anise, bay leaves, cardamom, nutmeg, and more-we've got 'em. Don't use old spices you found collecting dust in the back of the cupboard, come to the Co-op and get them fresh, and in exactly the quantity
you need.

Blueberry Goodness

Succulent blueberries are one of the many delights of summer. If you've picked more blueberries than you can pop in your mouth, here are some cool recipes (no need to heat up the oven) for these hot summer days.

No Bake Blueberry Pie

No bake blueberry pie


  • 10 graham cracker sheets
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch


  1. Place graham crackers, butter, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a food processor.
  2. Pulse until mixture is ground to fine crumbs and combined. Press evenly onto bottom and sides of a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Chill 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl beat cream cheese until smooth. Add condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla; beat until smooth. Pour all but ¾ cup of the filling into crust. Chill, covered, for 1 hour. Chill remaining filling in a small container until ready to serve pie.
  4. In a medium saucepan combine 2 cups of the blueberries, water, cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil, thickens, and blueberries burst.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 ½ cups of the remaining blueberries. Spread mixture over pie. Top with remaining ½ cup berries. Let chill 3 hours before serving.
  6. To serve, cut pie into wedges and top with dollops of the remaining filling.


Blueberry Sorbet



4      cups fresh or thawed, frozen blueberries
1      can (6 ounces) frozen apple juice concentrate


  1. In the container of a food processor or blender, combine blueberries and apple juice concentrate
  2. Whirl until liquefied
  3. Pour into a 11 X 7-inch baking pan
  4. Cover and freeze until firm around the edges, about 2 hours
  5. With a heavy spoon, break frozen mixture into pieces
  6. Place mixture in a processor or blender container
  7. Whirl until smooth but not completely melted
  8. Spoon into a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan
  9. Cover and freeze until firm
  10. Serve within a few days

For more blueberry recipes visit the Oregon Blueberry Commission.

The TCSBA Family


It's 4:30pm and I'm late, as usual.  I rush into the studio amongst a gaggle of adolescent band members who are also whooshing in from volleyball practice, drama practice, or some other event that filled their afternoon.  As the kids hustle into their weekly band practice, the music director gets them focused on the task at hand.

While the kids are downstairs in studio rehearsing their various pieces of music, a team of parents gather to go over the endless details for our association's biggest event, the annual Christmas concert. This event features not only two-hours of music, but also a bake sale and a silent auction, for an audience of 1200 people.  It takes weeks of planning, coordinating, and practicing to pull off a gig of this size.  All ninety families who are a part of Tri-Cities Steel Band Association (TCSBA) work to support this event in some way, from helping with advertising and promotion, to creating gifts for the auction and baking for the bake sale.

For the last 22 years, TCSBA has produced a spectacular Christmas concert featuring four bands (two steel drum and two marimba) playing a mix of cover tunes and Christmas music for the community.  Founded by a group of parents hoping their kids could continue to play steel drums introduced to them by their school music teacher (Ben Leggett), TCSBA continues to be run by parents who are devoted to maintaining the same environment: one where kids can come together to experience the magic of music while creating friendships that last a lifetime.  Each band's fun-filled culture is inspired by amazing music directors, Ben Leggett and Walt Hampton, who have devoted their lives to fostering a love of music.  The children thrive in this environment, and their performances are far more than just great music.

So, if you're looking for something special to do this holiday season with your family, please join our family for an amazing evening of entertainment that celebrates the joy of music during the most wonderful time of the year!  Our concert is Saturday, December 16th at Bethel Church, 600 Shockley Road, Richland.  Doors open at 5:30pm, show starts at 6:30pm. Tickets are $7.50 and can be purchased at  You can follow us on Facebook at -


Shannon Davis

Mother of Jakob and Meghan, and TCSBA family member since 2014.

USDA Nutrition Program – It’s not just the food

Most people think the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program only provides free food for low income families. But did you know that it is actually a nutrition program developed and sponsored by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)? And free food is only the beginning of what this life-changing program does.

A safe pregnancy

WIC begins before your baby is even born. With checkups, nutr

ition advice, and referrals to community resources, your local WIC office helps make your pregnancy safer and healthier.

Breastfeeding support

Breastfeeding makes a long-term difference in babies' lives, and WIC has breastfeeding experts and supplies to support both mothers and babies through this important time.

Farmers Market Nutrition Program

Did you know WIC also has a Farmers Market program?

GettyImages-494879590 (200x133)

It's a win-win-support for local farms, and families and low-income seniors get fresh, healthy, locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

Nutrition and exercise education

From helpful tips about snacks for toddlers to recipes and smart budgeting, WIC has resources to support great nutrition and exercise for the whole family.

Join the program

You might be surprised to learn that you qualify for this program. The size of your family helps determine your eligibility, and higher incomes than you might expect qualify. What does this mean for you? You can keep your family healthy, get tips and recipes for smart, healthy eating, and engage your kids in new ways.

Want more good news?

Oregon WIC now has benefits loaded onto handy cards that swipe just like a debit card. Getting healthy foods for your growing kids is now easier than ever.


It's about more than food. It's about healthy families and healthy communities.

Learn more about WIC and see if you qualify at

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. Oregon WIC does not discriminate.

Become a part of the MOM team

MOM team is growing

Click here for a detailed job description.

Tailgate favorites


Whether you're heading to the game, hosting a party or just in the mood for some fun food, you're guaranteed to score a win with these crowd-pleasing treats.

Maple Bacon Little Smokies

1 pound center-cut bacon

14 ounces little smokies

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup maple syrup

40 wooden picks or short skewers

Preheat oven to 360°F. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

Cut bacon into thirds. Arrange bacon on top of the foil. Bake the bacon for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour off the bacon grease.

Combine little smokies with 1 cup brown sugar. Stir well and set aside and marinate for 20 minutes.

Place one Little Smokie near the end of one piece of bacon. Roll bacon around the sausage and secure it with a toothpick. Place on a broiling pan and repeat with remaining sausages.

Bake in a 425°F oven for 9 to 10 minutes, or until bacon is crispy. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve immediately.

20150921_CraigVolpe_0273-XL (1)

Beer, cheese & Sausage Dip

19 ounces hot Italian sausage, casings removed

2 cups yellow onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup lager, Ninkasi's Helles Belles

3 cups cheddar-jack cheese blend

8 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons Worcestershire

2 teaspoons Tabasco pepper sauce

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup green onion, sliced

12 ounces Frito Scoops corn chips

In a large skillet, cook the onion for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add the sausage and garlic and cook over medium heat. Break up the sausage into small pieces as it cooks.

Add the cream cheese and stir until it has melted. Add beer, shredded cheese, Worcestershire, Tabasco and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and bring it to a simmer. Pour into a 13 x 9 oven safe baking dish. Top with the sliced green onions. Bake uncovered in a 375°F oven for 15 minutes.

Recipes courtesy of Chef Becky McConnell


Mom goes back to school online

Laura Kaspers, mom and iLearn online student, shares her experience of going back to school after years as a stay-at-home mom.
Returning to the workforce after a 15 year hiatus can be scary, especially if your skills need to be refreshed in order to compete for a job in the field you want. Ask Laura Kasper, she knows.

Laura graduated from OSU in 1991 with a bachelor's in Spanish and additional emphasis on International Business and Finance. After a few years in the workforce, she decided to raise her children as a stay-at-home mom. Her children are now teenagers and Laura is ready to go back to work.

But, times have changed and so have her interests; Laura now wants to be an Accounting Clerk. In order to get the training and credentials she needs, she began to look for schools and found LB iLearn Online.

At first, she wasn't sure about enrolling in an online program, but she knew juggling parental duties and student duties would be a challenge with traditional on-campus classes. LB iLearn allowed her to enroll when she was ready, any Wednesday of the year, and allowed her to work at her own pace. She found with a little planning she could arrange her days to allow time for both family and coursework.

"Some days I am able to get a lot of studying in and others, not so much," she said. "I try and set aside blocks of time each day to study and take the weekends off for family time."

With the support of her family, Laura completed her Accounting Clerk Certificate in May 2017. She is now a believer in the distance learning format.

"I've never experienced online education, but I must say, I love the iLearn program," she said. "I have told many of my friends about it."

To find out how you can start earning a certificate or degree online, visit or call 541-917-4887.

Fire up the Grill

Nothing says summer like barbecue. So fire up the grill and try these mouth-watering recipes for a perfect summer evening.

World's best garlic bread


15 garlic cloves

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

Rustic bread, sliced ½ inch thick

1 cup Flat Italian parsley, washed and minced

Kosher salt

Finely mince the garlic. Place in a medium skillet with two sticks of butter. Melt butter and stir well. Cook on low for 30 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes. Butter should not get overheated or it will burn. Low and slow, with tiny bubbles, is key to getting the butter and garlic cooked perfectly.

While butter is cooking, pick the leaves off of the parsley. Rinse well. Dry thoroughly. Chop finely.

Once the 30 minutes are up, move the pan off the heat. Let cool for a few minutes, then add the chopped parsley to the garlic butter.

Use a silicone brush and brush the garlic butter onto the slices of bread. Lay the bread onto a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

You can freeze the bread at this point if you wish. Bread can be baked or grilled (recommended). To grill, preheat grill to medium to medium-high. Once grill is hot, place bread, sliced side down on the grates. Bread burns VERY easily, so you must stay close to the grill. Do not leave it unattended. Grill bread for 1 minute or so and then turn over. Repeat on the other side.

To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reassemble slices to form a loaf. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread is hot and crisped.

Summer corn salad


6 large ears of corn

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

½ cup yellow onion, chopped fine

1 cup fresh basil, chopped small

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoons black pepper

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook corn in boiling water for 10 minutes or until desired tenderness. Drain, cool, and cut kernels off the cob with a sharp knife.

In a small glass dish, combine the sugar and the rice vinegar. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to dissolve the sugar. Add the mayonnaise and olive oil. Whisk well.

In a large bowl, toss together the corn, tomatoes, onion and basil. Pour the dressing over it and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and refrigerate until serving.


Santa Maria tri-tip


1 tri-tip roast (2 to 2 ½ pounds)

Oak wood chips, large piece of heavy duty foil

Dry rub:
2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika

1 ½ teaspoon onion powder

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

Basting sauce:
1/3  cup red wine vinegar

1/3  cup canola oil

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Start this recipe the night before you plan on grilling the tri-tip for the best flavor.

Prepare the dry rub by combining kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder and rosemary in a small bowl. Pat spices all over the tri-tip and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Drain wood chips. Prepare a large piece of heavy-duty foil. Fold in half to double the thickness. Place wood chips in the center and fold foil over the ends to create a foil packet. Pierce the foil several times with the tines of a fork.

Make the basting sauce by combining the red wine vinegar, canola oil, garlic cloves and Dijon mustard in a bowl.

Preheat grill to high. Place the foil smoker packet under the grates, right on top one of the burners. When you start seeing smoke, turn the heat down to medium-high.

Oil the grates with an oil soaked paper towel. Place the tri-tip on the grill and brush with basting sauce. Close lid and set timer for 4 minutes.

Turn tri-tip over, brush with basting sauce, and close lid. Set timer for 4 minutes.

Repeat these steps one or two more times, depending on the thickness of your steak. Use a meat thermometer and check. The temperature should read 130 degrees.


Personal chef, caterer and television personality, Chef Becky McConnell is a regular contributor to MOM Magazine. When not in the kitchen, Becky enjoys spending time with her daughter Ellie. Visit

Photos by Craig Volpe Photography



Make Patriotic Parade Wands

Your kids will be the hit of the parade this Fourth of July with these simple-to-make parade wands.

front jar

Items needed:

Dowels cut to 12" (any size)

Eye hooks

Acrylic or spray paint

Foam brushes (if using acrylics)

Frills (ribbon, yarn and lace scraps)

supplies 3 full wand red 1

Three simple steps:

Paint your dowels

Attach the eye hooks into the end of the dowels

Attach frills by using a thin ribbon to tie them all to the eye hook

Now just head to the parade route and show your Fourth of July spirit.

For a simple table decoration after the parade, simply paint a mason jar and fill with your wands.


Photos and craft instruction courtesy of Jenn Sheffler, an incredibly crafty and organized mother of three. Check out more of her great craft, DIY and organizing tips at her blog,, or attend one of her DIY workshops at the Craft House,