Six Ways to Keep the Kids Active This Winter

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When cold weather hits, most of us envision playful days filled with snowball fights, sledding and building the perfect snowman. But what happens when the fluffy white snow turns into nasty slush? What if the snow never falls at all, but it’s too cold to go outside? Everyone in the house can go a little stir crazy. 

To keep the kids — and yourself — sane during the cold winter months, try a few of these indoor activities. 

1. Cook Together

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, bring the kids into the kitchen! Cooking is a learning and sensory experience — and it will help you tick off one of your daily to-dos. 

Let your littles stir, pour, measure and mix while you supervise and perform the riskier tasks like slicing, dicing and mincing. 

Cooking is a great way to spend uninterrupted time with the family and make some awesome memories (and snacks). 

2. Play a Game — No Purchase Necessary 

Board games are great, but their missing pieces and hefty price tags can be more of a burden than a blast. Instead, try playing games that cost nothing and only require people. 

Here’s a list of our favorites:

  • Charades
  • Mother May I
  • Hide and Seek
  • Simon Says
  • Red Light, Green Light
  • Marco Polo
  • Telephone

Create some kind of penalty for screen use to ensure everyone is focused and present. Or, find a game like Head’s Up with an app to leverage your phone for family fun.

3. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

This takes planning on your part but will be well worth the time! Lead scavengers around the house and eventually to where “X marks the spot” where the loot can be found. 

First, find some candy or knick-knacks to serve as your treasure and hide them where the hunt will end. Then, work backwards to come up with as many clues as you can to different areas around the house. Then give your kids the first clue and let the search begin! 

A few examples to spark your imagination:

  • “Where do you go when you’re in a hungry mood? I’m the place where you keep the cold food.” Answer: freezer.
  • “If it weren’t for me, you’d be quite smelly. Make sure to use soap while washing your belly.” Answer: shower or bathtub.
  • “I get rid of grime and dirt, you come to me when you need a clean shirt.” Answer: washing machine. 
  • “You’re getting close! You’re doing great! I’m where you’ll find a dish or plate.” Answer: cupboard.
  • “When it’s been a long day and your feet feel like lead, I’m where you go to rest your head.” Answer: pillow. 

4. Get Creative 

Let’s take it back to the old school days of coloring here. Break out the miscellaneous markers, colored pencils and crayons to turn your table into an artist’s corner. Lay out paper, scissors (if your kids are old enough) and any other creative items — like glue, glitter, old jewelry, dried pasta, construction paper, etc. — you have lying around the house. 

This also serves as the perfect time to make a few gifts. Grandma and Grandpa would love a homemade masterpiece from their favorite little tykes. 

5. Build an Obstacle Course 

This is not for the faint of heart, but a whole-house obstacle course can be more than a day’s worth of fun andgets everyone active. 

Using chairs, pillows, ottomans, coffee tables, blankets and couch cushions, create a course for your kids to climb, jump and race through. 

While building your course, keep the age and mobility of your kids in mind to avoid any accidental bonks. 

6. Put on a Fashion Show

Didn’t we all dream of wearing our mom’s heels when we were kids? Give your kids a chance to dig through your closet — after you remove anything you can’t risk — and let them try on anything they’d like. 

Play a little music, turn the hallway into a runway and watch as everyone puts on a show! 

Being stuck inside can be tough. So, to avoid cabin fever, spend quality time with your family trying out a few of these indoor activities. 

Stay warm!

Kitchen Fun for Kids

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Easy Dinners for Busy Days

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You know those days when your ducks run amok despite your best efforts to get them all in a nice, neat row? Errands, work, kids’ sport practice, chores — don’t you wish there were an “easy button” for dinner?

We’ve got some simple strategies and delicious recipes to help you conquer dinner on days with the toughest schedules.

Meal Planning and Prep

We all have those friends who post stunning photos of freezer bags full of freshly chopped ingredients they’ll turn into a hearty dinner just by tossing them into the slow cooker. They make it sound so easy. If you don’t have time for all that prep, even 10 minutes of planning (before you go grocery shopping!) can be a game-changer.

If you’re lucky enough to share cooking responsibilities, plan who will cook which nights. For your nights (even if it’s all of them), pick a recipe to prepare. (Bonus points if it makes leftovers.) On days with particularly busy schedules, plan a simple dish like pasta or use frozen leftovers. Update your shopping list with any ingredients you don’t already have on hand.

Simply having a plan can spare you a lot of stress. If you’re up for taking things one step further, leverage the food momentum you have from your grocery shopping and do your food prep right away as you unpack your bags. Who knows? You just might become one of those uber-organized people who posts drool-worthy photos to social media.

For instance, you can go ahead and roast those chicken breasts and thighs, then keep some in the fridge to use during the week in salads, pasta, tacos, whatever. Freeze the others, then when you need a great protein for a weeknight dinner, put them in the fridge to thaw in the morning. They’ll be ready to use as a main ingredient when you get home from work! 

One-Pot Dinners

For some reason, preparing two things so they’re ready at the same time is a skill I’ve never mastered. With one-pot dinners, timing isn’t a problem. Just throw everything into a pot (or skillet or sheet pan) and let heat and time work their magic. The best part? Fewer dishes to wash! Win-win.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Also check out this hearty Roasted Vegetable, Sausage and Tahini recipe, which has both sweet and savory flavors.

Make-Ahead Meals

Wish you could afford a chef to whip up a warm, hearty dinner for you each night? A slow cooker is the next best thing. Add your ingredients in the morning and — voila! — dinner is ready by the time you get home.

Here are some filling favorites from Kansas farms.

If you want to add a little zest, green chili enchilada soup is a favorite. Make it brothy or creamy depending on your taste. Dress it up with some chips and avocado.

Fast Crowd-Pleasers

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the pressure cooker. If you love your instant pot (which often doubles as a slow cooker), you know the joy of having a hearty dinner ready in 30 minutes or less.

If you’re not sure where to start, we have you covered with these tried-and-true recipes.

Want to go out on a limb? This Indian dish featuring salmon is a flavorful take on tikka masala.

Freezer Surprise

When life gets really busy, turn to your freezer. In my house, we don’t mark our leftovers, so I’ve come to call these dinners “freezer surprise.” (Sometimes I sniff them and try to guess the dish. I usually get it wrong.) Whenever you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, freeze them for a rainy day and enjoy a homecooked meal without having to cook.

If all else fails, there’s always takeout. Stay sane out there!

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Hudson Cream: The Flour Without Fault

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Gleaming elevators tower above the wheat fields at Stafford County Flour Mills. The silos are the same luxurious white color as the mill’s flour. The mill specializes in producing premium-quality flour for home bakers.

Located in the village of Hudson — population 100, counting dogs, cats and tumbleweeds — Stafford County Flour Mills may be the only remaining independently owned mill in the country.

Why Does a Flour Brand Have a Cow for a Logo?

Hudson Cream flour logo
It’s easy to spot the distinctive sack design of Hudson Cream Flour at the grocery. The logo features a golden Jersey cow standing in a green meadow by a bright blue stream. Why did they pick a cow?

As former president of the mill Al Brensing explained, “Many people believed the Jersey cow gave the richest milk and cream, so the Jersey cow was selected for the logo.”

The rich quality of the cow’s cream is symbolic of the rich quality of the mill’s flour. Hudson Cream is known as “the flour without a fault.”

Kansas Grown

The mill uses a minimum of 1.5 million bushels of wheat annually. More than 95 percent of the wheat milled there comes from approximately 80 farm families in Stafford County. Many of these same farm families have supplied Hudson Cream with wheat for generations.

In addition to the wheat suppliers, many of the employees at the mill live within a 12-mile radius. Like the early founders of the company, some of these employees have worked for the company for years and are proud of its rich milling heritage.

"The strength of the company remains its people," says Reuel Foote, the company’s current general manager and president. "From the beginning, everyone who's worked here believes in Hudson Cream Flour."

To make their signature flour, the mill typically uses a heavy-test-weight wheat — 60 pounds or more. The protein level must also test high — at least 12.5 percent. They use a “short-patent” milling process, which results in a more refined flour, with all of the lower quality flour removed in the milling process. What’s left is the very finest flour that comes from the wheat berry.

“The result is a flour that is smoother in texture and produces cookies, breads, pie crusts and other baked products that are consistently light and fluffy,” Reuel says.

Focus on Customers

Creating a quality product and selling it at a fair price has been the not-so-secret to the mill’s success for more than a century.

To address the trend toward healthier diets, Stafford County Flour Mills added whole-wheat flour to their product line more than 20 years ago. This line was added to fill a niche market of customers who wanted more fiber in their diets. A certified organic product is also available in grocery stores.

The mill is also unveiling two-pound bags to better serve home bakers around the country. Today’s hectic schedules — shuttling children everywhere, balancing work, and tending to numerous details — leaves little for baking from scratch. Having the two-pound bags will be more convenient.

“We’re banking on shoppers buying smaller quantities knowing they don’t bake as often, but when they do, they may use less flour and have less left over,” Reuel says. “And they can buy fresh product as needed.”

Environmentally Friendly

Two years ago, Stafford County Flour Mills erected an 850-kilowatt wind turbine south of the site in Hudson.

“As far as we know, we’re the only flour mill that has the physical capability to run on 100 percent sustainable energy,” Reuel says. “We strive to be good stewards of our resources just like the farmers who supply us and the customers who buy our flour.”

Hudson Cream flour turbine
As Stafford County Flour Mills continues to evolve and grow, this privately owned company remains committed to customers, employees and producing high-quality flour.

“We take no one for granted,” Reuel says. Every customer is important and every sack of Hudson Cream Flour is the same as the next.”

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Summer Fun for Kids

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Ah, summer. Backpacks and books make way for swimsuits and summer camp. It’s a great time of year. Unless you’re trying to figure out how to keep the kiddos entertained and their brains (at least somewhat) engaged. After all, we want them to relax and have fun, but we don’t want their minds to turn to mush. (Sheesh! When did I become my mother?!) 

With harvests in full swing, summer can be a great time to introduce kids to agriculture. There are some really fun ways to get them involved and teach them healthy habits, without turning it into a character-building chore. (Not that there’s anything wrong with character. We approve.) 

How? Enter My American Farm. 

This initiative from American Farm Bureau has great ideas for families to bond over hands-on activities, as well as games to keep the information fresh and fun. 

Here are just a few of their family-friendly activities: 

  • Make a flower pen: Great for younger kids, this activity teaches them the parts of the flower while they make a festive pen in the process. (How about a sunflower?) 
  • Create a rubber glove window box: This simple activity will give your little offshoots a front-row seat to watching seeds start their own shoots. Unlike planting in soil, this unique project will let them see the actual seed as it sprouts. 
  • Make a necklace with a live plant inside: Geared toward older kids, this activity uses the same principle as the window box, only kids can wear their sprouting seeds as jewelry—so cool! 

The website also features recipes the whole family can make—and enjoy—together.   

Bonus—there’s a technology element. Sure, we’ve all felt a little guilty handing our kiddos a tablet to try to keep them engaged (or at least quiet!). We’re not bad parents—we swear! But if they’re playing educational games for a little while? See ya, techno-guilt. 

From a farmer’s market challenge to a STEM-related game focused on farm equipment, there’s plenty to keep your kids occupied and learning. Best of all, when used with the hands-on activities, the games really help the information sink in. You can play online, or on their tablet app, available on the App store, Google Play and Amazon. 

Get the App

 

MY AMERICAN FARM

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