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Recipes For The Family: Healthy Hearty Meals To Warm Up The Family on a Cool Night

Cooler weather makes you crave hearty meals. This is one time you won’t find what you’re looking for in a fast food restaurant. Instead, you need to spend a few minutes in the kitchen. You don’t have to slave over a stove to prepare a hearty meal. Best of all, you don’t have to slip into those elastic waistband pants to enjoy a hearty meal. There are several hearty meals that are actually good for you.

20 Minute Beef and Vegetable Soup
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound 93-percent lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
4 cans of reduced-sodium condensed tomato soup
4 cans of water (use the soup cans)
2 to 3 cups of frozen mixed vegetables, depending on the thickness you prefer

1. Brown ground beef with onions until the ground beef is cooked through and onions are translucent.
2. Stir in the tomato soup, water, and frozen vegetables.
3. Cook until heated through.
4. Serve with side salad and whole wheat rolls.

Cheesy Chicken with Broccoli
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1/3 can of milk (use soup can)
4 ounces of 2-percent shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
2 cups of frozen broccoli, thawed
4 cups of cooked brown rice

1. Bake chicken in a deep pan at 425 degrees until cooked through, about 30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, combine the soup, milk, cheese and pepper in a large bowl.
3. Add the broccoli to the soup mixture and pour over the cooked chicken.
4. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
5. Serve over top brown rice.

Tip: Microwavable rice saves time and dirty dishes.

Hearty meals don’t have to be loaded with fat and calories. They also don’t have to take hours to cook. Even on a Monday night, you can have a hearty meal that you can feel good about serving to your children. Best of all, you didn’t have to grab your wallet and head for the drive thru.

Best Marathon: Slow and Steady Does Not Win This Race!

Runner’s World magazine has deemed the Albert Bartlett Edinburgh Marathon the fastest marathon in the UK. Why? The race is located in Scotland, and runners, on average, complete the race with faster running times than the ten most popular races in the area. Of course, this fact brings up a lot of questions. The main one being, “Why do the people in the Albert Bartlett Edinburgh Marathon run so fast?” I think I have a few plausible answers:

Answer #1: The Loch Ness Monster is chasing them throughout the race.

Answer #2: Little leprechauns carry them quickly over the finish line.

Answer #3: The ghost of St. Patty spooks them at the starting line.

Answer #4: They can’t wait to drink a pint of ale at the after party.

Answer #5: J.K. Rowling promises to name a character after the winner in the next Harry Potter book.

Answer #6: Britney Spears threatens to become a legal citizen of Edinburgh, Scotland if they slow down.

Answer #7: Brownies have created special shoes for the runners in order to speed up their times.

Answer #8: These kilt-clad runners are more aerodynamic.

These are just a few of the things that I think make runners of the Albert Bartlett Edinburgh Marathon run like the wind. However, there are other less important ones that motivate a few runners. Runners who participate in this race get to associate with athletic manufacturers like Asics, support charities like the Macmillan Cancer Support organization, participate in team relays and trek through a beautiful terrain. These things are what some Scottish folks say make Albert Bartlett Edinburgh Marathon a great race.

If you are interested in running a marathon filled with spirit, fun people and few worthy causes, you should sign up for this race. You can get more details about it at This Web site will gives even more reasons to participate in this race.

Vacations for the Outdoorsy Type: The Gulf Shores of Alabama

When you think about taking a beach vacation with the family, a number of destinations probably pop into your head: Palm Springs, Destin, Miami, Myrtle Beach, and the list goes on. The problem, of course, is that these well-known tourist magnets are as expensive as they are popular, which can really ruin a vacation if you’re looking to have some fun.

A few years ago, my wife and I decided to take our first vacation in about ten years, and instead of running toward one of these famous beach vacation spots, we opted instead for the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Most people don’t think of the Yellowhammer State for its white sand and clear blue waters, but that is exactly what we found.

One of the most exciting things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is snorkeling. The water is so clear that you can see all the way to the bottom if you’re anywhere near the shore, and you’ll find that the best shells are actually in the water rather than on the beach.

You can also go kayaking, whale-watching, hiking, beach walking and participate in tons of other adventures that you’d find in any other beach-front community. Best of all, however, Gulf Shores is much cheaper than Palm Springs or Miami, and you get the same glorious views with about a quarter of the tourists. Just make sure you bring plenty of sun block and treat yourself to a new pair of Crocs for the occasion.

The best time to visit Gulf Shores is in the late summer when the meager tourist season dies out almost completely. You can score a beautiful condo on the beach for less than $900 for an entire week.

Since this local isn’t as populated or popular as some of the other beach destinations in the U.S., there are fewer restaurants and businesses. However, if you rent a condo or beach house for your stay, you can use the full kitchen provided and cook your own meals to eat on the beach.

Gulf Shores, Alabama might not seem as exciting or exotic as some of the other beach vacation spots, but it’s certainly just as much fun. And, if you find you can’t keep busy enough, Florida is literally a few miles away, so you can always escape to more populated areas.

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Coolest Skate Parks: Northern CA, Yuba City Skate Park

If you are a Northern California skateboarder looking for a great park to try out, you need to get to the Yuba City Skate Park. With 14,000 square feet of terrain to explore on your board, you will have plenty of room to stretch your skills and develop sick tricks. To find this park, you will need to go to the Sam Brannon Park in Yuba City, California.

Yuba City Skate Park – The Basics

The Yuba City Skate Park has a great vert park and a great street course. The crown jewel of this skate park is the interconnecting bowl feature. This is a three bowl configuration that includes three-foot, five-foot and seven-foot deep bowls. Outside the bowls you will find a pyramid, steps, boxes, a quarter pipe, ledges and spines. There is a lot of space at this park to practice in, and the crowds are minimal. This park is open year round and even offers lighting for night skating.

Yuba City Skate Park – The Rules

To use this skate park you will need to follow the rules. Fortunately, this park has very few rules to deal with. Like most public skate parks in the United States, you are required to wear the appropriate skateboarding gear like helmets and padding. While you don’t have to sign a waiver, this is still a skate-at-your-own-risk park, so be smart about your skating behavior. Now for the no’s. There are no bikes, pets, bottles or alcohol allowed. Beyond these basic rules, you are free to skateboard and inline skate in your own style.

Getting the Most From Your Yuba City Skate Park Experience

Yuba City Skate Park is one of the parks found on the Northern California-Oregon skate park circuit. This means that you will inevitably run into skaters from both California and Oregon. Take advantage of this skater diversity by learning what skills and tricks that California skaters bring to the game and what skills and tricks Oregon skaters bring to the game. Also, don’t be afraid to show off what makes you a unique skater. Above all, have fun and enjoy the air under your wheels.

Evolution of Clothing: Out of the Trenches

Like many other fall and winter weather choices, today’s fashionable trench coat is military in origin. Lightweight and rain-resistant, it was created as an alternative for officers and other ranked personnel during World War I, which was, of course, dominated by trench warfare. The coat is somewhat common; however, it is often easy to forget its origin, even though many of the details we consider hallmarks of the trench coat’s style actually originated as military practicalities for the display of insignia and the carrying of equipment and weapons.

Military clothes have always had a presence in civilian fashion, usually because they are retained after war both for durability and as an indicator of status as a veteran or survivor. The trench coat was no different, and because its use had been restricted to those of rank, it quickly morphed into an indicator of wealth and sophistication. Civilian versions of the trench coat for both men and women began to be produced between the two world wars, and the military version of the coat remained in use during World War II, although in more variants as more countries added similar garments to their uniform options.

After WWII, the trench coat’s trendiness really took off, and the coat became a staple of fashion in both books and films, particularly the detective genre. Perhaps most surprising, though, is the way the trench coat has been embraced by various alternative youth fashion movements for decades.

The trench coat was popular with the mods in the 1960s and is often seen in both the goth and heavy metal scenes (although usually in longer, black versions more accurately known as dusters). In more mainstream fashion, Sex in the City’s Carrie also popularized the trench coat for women by making it sexy and flirty. For a coat that started in battle, the trench coat has had a surprising fashion history that is only likely to continue.


We here at Couture often give our viewpoints on fashion and trends as part of our ongoing reporting duties, but this time around we want you dear reader, to tell us what you think about certain fashion and trends. Share with us your favorite shoe style and tell us why?

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Blog World Expo '08 Twitter Party Viral Interviews (Finale)

We would have kept the interviews going all night, but lets face it, drinking and socializing is a lot more fun!

Thank you all who attended this event! Keep on keeping on, and I’m sure we’ll cross paths again soon. Oh and remember, follow our CEO @Zappos on Twitter for more announcements and inside scoops on

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Shopping Tips for New Parents: Decorating the Baby Room

When it’s time to bring the new addition to the family home, a fun and inviting place to sleep and play is sure to give the newborn a grand welcome. You’ve probably spent weeks, even months decorating before baby’s arrival, but you can still freshen up the baby room regularly to keep your newborn happy as a clam. Whether you pick up a set of Uglydolls to make them giggle or fill up the room with creative toys to nurture a future genius, you have dozens of option for creating a fun and inviting place for your little one.

Dolls and stuffed character toys will easily become your baby’s new best friends, so choose wisely; most of these will carry them through their toddler years. Uglydolls are ready to share their story and will make great companions for bedtime stories. Pick up Ice Bat, Uglydog or Abima as a set to get started. Newborns might also find comfort in an oversized stuffed animal; pick up a friendly Chimpanzee or Giant Sea Turtle for some extra TLC during those days of growing pains.

Decorate the room with some vintage ABC blocks , and you’ll be creating a nostalgic baby or toddler room. Oversized cushions and pillows emblazoned with the alphabet are a few ideas for building a classic toy room. As your newborn gets older, you can make learning the ABCs fun. Wooden blocks are large enough for kids as young as two years of age, and the blocks sit neatly in a tray when it’s time to clean up. Some oversized puzzles and games are another way to encourage a little early learning. The Melissa & Doug Jumbo ABC/Numbers sets are great for decorating a room and playing with when your baby gets older. Decorate the room with a few sets of these blocks scattered on shelves or baby furniture – a surefire way to get your little one on the fast track to learning!

Themed blankets and bedding accessories can also help you create a unique and attractive spot for your little one. Pick up a plush pink blanket for your little princess or a simple reversible jersey cotton blanket for the little prince.