5 Tips for Taking the Stress out of Summer Vacations

Summerkids are off school, adults have vacation time, the weather is beautiful, and it’s the perfect time to take a much-deserved vacation. Yet, unfortunately, many people’s fantasy of a relaxing vacation (sitting on a white sand beach with a drink in hand) doesn’t always work out as planned.

That’s right.

Screaming kids, forgetting to pack your swimsuit, or not being able to find an affordable plane ticket are all things that can easily ruin a vacation. Yikes!

At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we know how important it is for you (and your family) to rest, relax, and recharge. Which is why we’ve put together 5 tips that we hope will help you take the stress out of your vacation this year.

Check them out now…

Create a Packing List

Every travel destination comes with different packing needs. This is why it’s so important to take time to create a packing list to ensure you pack the appropriate attire.

Trust us, you wouldn’t want to make it all the way to Alaska and realize that you forgot your winter coat—Yes! Even in the summer months!

And just as every travel destination has different packing needs, so does every member of your family if you’re traveling with your significant other and/or children.

Heaven forbid you forget to bring your 3-year-old’s teddy bear for nighttime, and he doesn’t sleep the entire vacation. That’s stressful and no fun for anyone!

Ensure you don’t forget the essentials, and create a packing list. Review the list with whomever you are traveling with, and then check off each item on the list as you put it into your suitcase.

Invite an Extra Set of Hands to Help You on Your Trip

Inviting a friend or family member to go on your vacation to help if you have small children is a wonderful idea for many reasons.

Reason 1: If you have multiple small children, you already know how challenging traveling can be. When you have a second set of hands, you’ll have someone to sit in the backseat with child #1 when he needs help starting a movie on his iPad so you can drive in peace.

Reason 2: Safety. Parking lots, large crowds, pools/beaches, etc., are all dangerous for children. And if you have more than one child, it can be hard to keep an eye on everything to ensure everyone is safe and sound. Having a second set of eyes is a good way to keep everyone safe and happy so you can enjoy your vacation.

Reason 3: It’s nice to have the company of another adult. If you’re a single parent or are just traveling alone with your children, you know how mind-numbing constant conversations about your child’s favorite cartoon show can be. Bringing someone along with you makes it easier to have enjoyable adult conversations, whether you’re driving in the car, on a plane, or sitting at the beach.

Plan Ahead

Some people say spontaneity is the spice of life. Yet, those who went to NYC to see Hamilton without purchasing tickets in advance and missed the show would probably disagree.

If you know for sure that you want to do a specific activity, see a certain show, or go out to a special dinner, be sure to book everything in advance.

This not only takes the stress out of having to book everything last minute while you’re trying to enjoy your vacation, but it also helps ensure that you get to do the things you want to do while on vacation.

Booking ahead is also a great idea for hotels and airlines. When you plan in advance, you can watch rates and will most likely get a better deal on the cost of lodging or transportation instead of waiting to the last minute.

Provide Adequate Sleep/Rest Time

On vacation, people tend to get thrown off their normal schedules. And while adults can get moody if they don’t get enough sleep, lack of rest can be extremely detrimental for kids. We all know how stressful crying, screaming kids can be!

The good news is that there’s a simple solution to this problem. All you’ve got to do is schedule rest breaks into your day to avoid crankiness or meltdowns.

A simple hour nap or quiet break in the middle of the day can do wonders for children. You may also find, that as an adult, you also this break to relax amidst the hustle and bustle of your vacation as well.

Go into Your Vacation with the Right Mindset

It’s so easy to fantasize about the perfect vacation. After all, you’ve work so hard all year, and you clearly deserve the best vacation ever.

While it’s ok to expect the best out of your next vacation, it’s also important to have the right mindset. Not every vacation will be perfect. It may rain on your beach day. Tickets might be sold out to the dinner show you want to see. You may get a tummy ache from eating too much ice cream and have to cancel your fancy dinner reservations.

Stuff happens…and some people let the minor hiccups in a vacation ruin their entire trip. Don’t let this happen to you.

Go into your vacation with the mindset that you’re going to make the best of whatever happens on your trip. If it rains on your beach day, maybe it’s a good day to learn something new at a museum. And if you get a stomach ache from eating too much ice cream, that stinks—but at least you got to eat dessert for lunch that day! Score!

The key is flexibility. If one plan doesn’t work, have a plan B and try something different. Who knows, you might end up trying a new activity or seeing a new sight that becomes the highlight of your trip!

Go into your vacation with a mindset that you’re going to enjoy yourself no matter what happens. Travel delays, bad weather, cranky kids, etc., can wreak havoc on your trip, unless you are willing to roll with the punches and resort to a plan B if necessary. Flexibility is key.

Do you have any tips for taking the stress out of summer vacations? Share them with us in the comments below!

 

National Ice Cream Day Celebration Recipes

One of our very favorite holidays is just around the corner…National Ice Cream Day! We can’t wait to celebrate with a scoop (or two, or three!) of our favorite ice cream flavors.

National Ice Cream Day falls on July 16 this year. If you had no idea that this delicious holiday was happening in a less than a week, not to worry!

To help ice cream lovers across the country prepare for the celebration, we’ve decided to put together a handful of our favorite ice cream recipes. Check them out, stock up on all the ingredients you need to make the recipes, and you’ll be prepared to celebrate this decadent holiday!

Salted Caramel Pretzel Milkshake Recipe

This sweet and salty recipe will make you wish National Ice Cream Day was every day! Give this recipe a try…

Ingredients:

Sea Salt Caramel Sauce

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Karo® Light Corn Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream OR canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Pretzel Milkshake

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup thoroughly chilled Sea Salt Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup salted caramel pretzel pieces
  • whipped cream, optional

Directions:

Caramel Sauce

  1. Combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in a 1-quart saucepan. Stirring frequently, bring to a full boil over medium heat and boil 1 minute.
  1. Remove from heat; immediately stir in cream, sea salt and vanilla.
  1. Refrigerate to store. Microwave 30 seconds and stir before serving.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Milkshake

  1. Combine ice cream, sea salt caramel sauce, milk, and salted caramel pretzel pieces in a blender.
  1. Blend until smooth.
  1. Pour into 2 glasses and, if desired, garnish with whipped cream, more caramel sauce and pretzel pieces.

Recipe Source: http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/salted-caramel-pretzel-milkshake/

Peanut Butter Ice Box Ice Cream Cake

It wouldn’t be a celebration without a cake—made of ice cream! Try your hand at making an ice cream cake with this recipe…

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup coffee, brewed strongly
  • 1 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch salt

Ice Cream Cake

  • 1 pint chocolate ice cream
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate cake

Directions:

1. Make the chocolate cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Choose between a 10 by 3-inch round or a rectangular shaped baking pan and spray it with baking grease or butter and then line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Combine the oil and the sugar in mixer until well blended. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract and continue to mix until well blended. Add the milk and the coffee.

3. Sift all of the dry ingredients and then add them to the wet ingredients in three batches allowing each batch to be thoroughly absorbed.

4. Pour the batter in prepared pans and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a skewer is clean when removed. Allow to cool before unmolding. Once chocolate cake has cooled, unmold, and refrigerate overnight to allow it to cool thoroughly.

5. Make the ice cream cake: Cut the chocolate cake horizontally to make 2 layers out of the 1 layer and slide 1 of the layers onto a plate or cake board attempting not to break the layers.

6. Line the same pan used to bake the chocolate cake in plastic wrap (the plastic will help you remove the ice cream cake from the pan once it is set, so make sure to use a large enough piece and slide 1 of the half layers of chocolate cake into the pan). Make sure that it rests firmly in the bottom of the pan and, if the plastic wrap has slipped in, adjust so that it spills over the sides of the pan.

7. Empty a pint of chocolate ice cream, or your favorite brand, into a mixer and soften until it is easily spread; do not let it become runny. Pour the ice cream into mold over chocolate layer and spread evenly with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Return to freezer until set, approximately 2 hours.

8. Soften 2 cups of creamy peanut butter in the microwave without letting it get runny, approximately 2 minutes. Then pour the peanut butter over the chocolate ice cream. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the peanut butter evenly over the chocolate ice cream. Place the second half of the chocolate cake layer over the peanut butter and pat down firmly. Return to freezer until set, approximately 2 hours.

9. Empty a pint of vanilla ice cream or your favorite brand, into a mixer and soften it until it can be easily spread. Pour into mold over chocolate layer and spread evenly with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Return to freezer and allow to set overnight.

10. To unmold, simply invert over cake board or plate, place a warm towel over the pan for a couple of minutes. The cake should slide out without any problems. Grab ahold of the ends of the plastic wrap, and give it a tug if it is stubborn. Invert back so that vanilla ice cream is on top. Decorate with melted chocolate or whipped cream.

11. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Recipe Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ice-box-cafe-peanut-butter-ice-cream-cake-recipe-2013443

Ice Cream Sundae

Last, but certainly not least, we recommend making one of the most timeless, ice cream-based desserts in the history of ice cream…a sundae!

Ingredients:

  • Ice cream (any flavor you love!)
  • Toppings of your choice

Here’s a list of our favorite toppings for inspiration:

  • Hot fudge
  • Sprinkles
  • Whipped cream
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas
  • Caramel sauce
  • Cookie crumbles
  • Cherries

Directions:

1. Scoop your favorite ice cream into a bowl.

2. Add your favorite topping.

3. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite ice cream-inspired dessert? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Help Keep Your Beaches Clean and Safe

Millions of people in the U.S. are lucky enough to live near a beach or a lake. And if you don’t personally live near a beach or lake, chances are you may take an occasional vacation to one during the summer months to go for a swim.

At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we are fortunate to live near some of the most beautiful beaches in the country—beaches that stay beautiful thanks to the hard work of the people who make an effort to keep them trash free and clean.

Protecting the water we live by is so important. We don’t know about you, but the last thing we want is to jump into the water and float around with a bunch of garbage. Gross!

Second, there are thousands of sea creatures (and lake creatures!) that depend on us to keep their habitats clean and safe. Sadly, every year animals die due to polluted waters.

There is good news though! It’s not hard to pitch in, do you part, and help keep the water safe for everyone to enjoy, whether you live near a beach or are just visiting.

This summer when you’re at the beach, we encourage you to lend a hand and help keep our beaches clean by doing the following things…

Pick Up Litter

It’s not uncommon to walk across a beach and find a food wrapper or a soda can. The next time you’re at the beach, bring a garbage bag with you. When you stumble upon a piece of litter, pick it up and throw it in your trash bag.

It may not seem like you’re making that big of an impact, but if everyone who visited a beach picked up just one piece of trash, it would make a world of difference to the animals that live in and near the water.

Use Reusable Containers

When you plan on spending an entire day on the water, it’s important to pack snacks and drinks to keep your energy up and keep your body hydrated. Unfortunately, many people pack their snacks and drinks in plastic bags and drink from disposable water bottles—items that can easily get left behind or blow away.

We know you’d never intentionally leave trash at the beach, but it’s really easy for lightweight plastics, water bottles, wrappers, etc., to get caught up in the wind and blow away without anyone noticing. To fix this problem, we encourage you to pack your snacks in reusable lunch boxes and fill up hard plastic, reusable water bottles to cut down on accidental litter.

Be Mindful of Using Water Toys/Floats

Rafts, water guns, and boogie boards all make playing in the water a lot of fun! And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying these water toys. It is a good idea, however, to be mindful and keep an eye on your beach toys—especially when you’re not playing with them.

It’s so easy for plastic squirt guns and floating toys to get swept away when a big wave crashes down on you. And during high tide, the sneaky water line creeps up and can wash away the toys and floats you thought were safely placed on the beach.

When you purchase rafts, boogie boards, surf boards, etc., look for the ones that have ankle or wrist straps so you don’t lose them if you get knocked over by a big wave.

Pick Up after Your Pets

If you’re a pet lover, you know how fun it can be for both you and your dog to spend a day at the beach together. What’s not fun is accidently stepping in a mess a dog left behind while you’re walking down the beach.

Out of respect for everyone on the beach, always be responsible for picking up after your pet.

Don’t Leave Cigarette Butts on the Beach

First and foremost, we strongly advise that you not smoke. Smoking leads to so many health problems such as asthma, respiratory diseases, and even cancer. It’s dangerous and harmful to your health.

For some tips on how to quit smoking, go here!

If you must smoke though, please be courteous and keep your cigarette butts off the beach. Not only is it disgusting for other beachgoers to have to walk over your cigarette butts, but it’s also dangerous for animals, like seagulls and sand crabs, that mistake the cigarette butts for food.

If your beach doesn’t provide a place for you to dispose of your cigarette butts, bring a plastic container to the beach with you to dispose of them.

Do you have any other tips about how to help keep our beaches clean? Please share them in the comments below!

 

5 Homemade Delicious and Nutritious Popsicle Recipes

There’s nothing better than a frosty sweet treat after a long day of playing or working in the hot sun. Unfortunately, a lot of us end up reaching into our freezers only to grab popsicles filled with sugars and preservatives.

Now that doesn’t sound refreshing or appetizing!

While there’s nothing wrong with eating a store-bought popsicle from time to time, we figured you might like the option to make your own popsicles, made with fresh fruit and natural ingredients.

Here are a few of our favorite delicious and nutritious popsicle recipes. Give them all a try!

Strawberry Buttermilk Pops

It’s the perfect season for fresh strawberries. Visit a local berry-picking farm and grab a bushel of berries for this delicious strawberry buttermilk popsicle recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Puree the strawberries, buttermilk, yogurt, honey, sugar, and salt in a blender until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

Recipe Source: https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/strawberry-buttermilk-pops

Cucumber, Agave, Mint Pops

Looking for a guilt-free desert to try? This recipe is it! Made with cucumbers and mint leaves—plants you can grow in your own summer garden—this refreshing pop is as nutritious as it is delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large English cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Puree the cucumber, mint, lime juice, agave, and salt in a blender until smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing with a spatula to remove as much liquid as possible.
  2. Pour the mixture into 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

Recipe Source: https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/cucumber-agave-mint-pops

Peaches and Cream Pops

If you have a sweet tooth, this peaches and cream popsicle recipe, made with peach nectar and brown sugar, is for you. This popsicle is so fresh and tasty, it’s like eating a peach from your local roadside famer’s stand.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups peach nectar (100% peach juice)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the peach nectar, cream, sugar, ginger, and salt in a large bowl until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

Recipe Source: https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/peaches-cream-pops

Dairy-Free Cherry Almond Pops

If you’re sensitive to dairy products, but are still looking for a creamy and delicious popsicle recipe to try, we highly recommend this dairy-free cherry almond pop recipe. This recipe, made with fresh cherries, almond milk, and lemon juice, is packed full of bright and tangy flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Puree the cherries, almond milk, sugar, lemon juice, almond extract, and salt in a blender until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

Recipe Source: https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/dairy-free-cherry-almond-pops

 Grape, Green Apple, Kale Pops

If you love tart and sour treats, this grape, green apple, and kale pop is perfect for you. The best part…the flavors of the grapes and green apples are so powerful you won’t even notice you’re getting a serving of antioxidant-rich kale in your dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white grape juice
  • 2 cups seedless green grapes
  • 2 cups stemmed kale
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 green apple, chopped
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Puree the grape juice, grapes, kale, bananas, apple, and salt in a blender until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing with a spatula to remove as much liquid as possible.
  3. Pour the mixture into 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

Recipe Source: https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/grape-green-apple-kale-pops

If you’re interested in adding additional healthy treat recipes to your recipe box, we suggest that you check out the Positive Health Wellness website.  This website contains tons of delicious recipes and gives great advice on how to live a healthier lifestyle.

 Do you have a favorite homemade popsicle recipe?

Share it with us in the comments below!

Summer Safety Tips for Kids and Adults

Between swimming, vacations, and being able to spend time enjoying outdoor activities, the summer months are fun for everyone! We certainly hope that you take some time this year to get out and enjoy them with your friends and family.

That being said, the summer months also come with certain risks–sunburns, dehydration, or suffering from an injury while enjoying an outdoor activity.

At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we want your family to stay safe, healthy, and happy. For that reason, we encourage you to check out some of our summer safety tips.

Water Safety

Family time at the pool, beach, lake, or water park should be fun.

Unfortunately, while water activities are a lot of fun, they can also be dangerous. Here are a few ways to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe around water.

Take swimming lessons—Swimming doesn’t come naturally to everyone and it’s certainly a skill that little ones should learn before diving headfirst into a pool, lake, or ocean. Community pools and places like the YMCA often offer swimming lessons. Join a class and brush up on your skills. And if you have kids, this is a great opportunity for them to learn water safety and how to swim.

Wear life jackets–Even the strongest swimmers should wear a life jacket when enjoying water activities such as boating, jet skiing, or tubing. Accidents can happen anytime. And, if for some reason, you ended up injured or exhausted and became unable to swim, a lifejacket would save your life.

Life jackets for small children are also a must…even if you’re just hanging out around the pool deck or dock at the lake. Drowning can occur in a blink of an eye. Protect your little one with a life jacket.

Don’t swim alone—Always enjoy water sports or a dip in the pool, lake, or ocean with a buddy. It’s important to have someone around in case you suddenly need help in the water.

Sun Safety

While the hot sun may feel good on our skin, it unfortunately has the potential to damage skin and even cause cancer.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your skin safe

Apply sunscreen—Anytime you go outside for an extended period of time, be sure to lather up with some sunscreen. If you’re sweaty or have been submersed in water, apply sunscreen more frequently as it can easily wash off—yes, even the waterproof sunscreens!

Wear a hat–Wearing a hat is an easy way to keep your face, scalp, and neck from burning. The skin on your face is particularly delicate, so it’s important to keep it safe and out of direct sunlight.

Limit your time outside—It’s important to take breaks during the day to get out of the sun. Keep watch of how much time you’re spending outside, and be sure to come in for cooldown breaks throughout the day.

Play Safety

There’s nothing better than a day of bike riding, hiking, or playing in the yard. But there are precautions you should take, even in the safety of your own neighborhood to ensure your kids stay safe while at play.

Wear helmets/safety gear—Every year people fall off bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, etc., and end up with broken bones, head injuries, and bumps and bruises. To prevent serious injuries, always hear helmets and other safety gear like knee pads.

Stay hydrated—An intense game of basketball or tag in the hot summer sun is enough to dehydrate you. Make sure you and your kids drink a glass of water every hour or so to stay hydrated and healthy.

Avoid heat stroke—Heat exhaustion can be very serious. Before you end up getting sick or passing out, make sure you take rest breaks in the shade, cool off inside, and drink plenty of water.

Do you have any summer safety tips? Share them in the comments below!

3 Delicious Picnic Recipes for a Great Memorial Day Picnic

Every Memorial Day, we celebrate the courageous men and women who have died serving our country. If you’re a retired or active member of any of our armed forces, we thank you for your service!

On this special holiday, many people get their friends and families together and host a delicious picnic or BBQ. And while traditional burgers, potato salad, and watermelon slices are always good picnic staples, we thought you might like a few new ideas for your picnic menu this year.

If you’re hosting—or attending—a Memorial Day picnic, we recommend adding the following recipes to your menu to mix things up. We hope you love them!

Crisp Cucumber Salad

If you’re attending a picnic feast, chances are someone is already bringing your standard potato or green leaf salad. In an effort to not double up on the same menu item, we recommend giving this recipe for a crisp cucumber salad a try.

Not only is this a unique salad option, but it’s a cool and refreshing menu option for a hot day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers, scallions, and red pepper.

2. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients; pour over cucumber mixture.

3. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before tossing and serving.

Recipe Source: https://www.mrfood.com/Deli-Salad/Crisp-Cucumber-Salad

Shrimp Burgers

A burger is a classic summertime picnic staple. Yet, as tasty as they are, you’re bound to get bored of the traditional ground beef burger—especially if you cook out a lot or are attending more than one picnic over the weekend.

This year, impress your seafood-loving friends with a new twist on a classic menu item and make them a shrimp burger.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Old Bay Mayo Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

Directions:

1. Coarsely chop half of the shrimp.

2. Put the remaining shrimp in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Then, combine both shrimp in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, pepper, scallions, and egg, and mix.

3. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, and then form into 4 patties. Refrigerate 10 more minutes.

4. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers, about 3 minutes per side.

5. Make the mayo by combining the mayonnaise and Old Bay to taste in a small bowl.

Recipe Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/katie-lee/shrimp-burgers-with-old-bay-mayo

Lime Margarita Bars

No picnic is complete without a tasty dessert.

These lime margarita bars are sweet, tangy, and salty and will be sure to please any palate. And don’t worry, despite the name, there is absolutely no alcohol in this dessert so they are 100% kid friendly!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed pretzels
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons grated lime peel

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine pretzels, sugar, and butter. Press firmly into bottom of prepared baking dish.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until crust is firm; remove from oven and cool slightly, leaving oven on.

4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour into cooled crust.

5. Bake 25 to 30 additional minutes, or until center is firm. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars and serve, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe source: https://www.mrfood.com/Bar-Cookies/Lime-Margarita-Bars-1550

What’s your favorite picnic recipe? Share it in the comments below!

5 Fun Ways to Keep Cool This Summer

What’s not to love about summer? Bright sunshine, weekend trips to the beach, and indulging in cool treats like ice cream make this season by far one of the best.

The only downside…extreme heat.

We’ll take hot weather over cooler temperatures any day. But, after weeks of scorching heat, we’re ready for a cooldown.

Good thing there are a lot ways to keep cool when the temperatures are just too hot. If you find yourself stuck inside due to the heat this year, give our following favorite activities a try.

Go for a Swim

Swimming is a classic summertime activity.

Living in Charleston, we are lucky to have access to beautiful beaches that are perfect for swimming. If you live in Charleston, or plan on visiting, we recommend you go for a dip at the following beaches…

  • Folly Beach
  • Isle of Palms
  • Sullivan’s Island

If you don’t live near a beach, grab a summer membership to a local pool or gym that has a pool. Places like the YMCA are typically very affordable and even offer swim classes for kids and adults that want to fine-tune their swimming skills.

Whether you’re at the beach or pool, don’t forget to pack lots of sunscreen to keep your skin protected! It’s possible to get sunburn even when you’re in the water swimming, so be careful and always apply sunscreen!

Create a Cool Body Mist

Regardless of how hot it is outside, chores like mowing the lawn, gardening, and walking the dog still have to get done.

If you’re about to head outdoors for a few hours in the heat, we recommend bringing a cooling body mist spray with you. The following recipe is safe and chemical-free, and will help keep your body temperature cool.

Peppermint Body Mist Spray

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 peppermint tea bags

Directions:

1. Boil 2 cups of water.

2. Steep 2 peppermint tea bags in the boiling water for 10 minutes.

3. Pour peppermint tea into a spray bottle and set in fridge. Do NOT add any sweetener or sugar.

4. Let peppermint tea sit in fridge for at least 1 hour.

5. Mist on body while you are outside to keep you feeling fresh and cool.

Go to a Movie

Movie theaters are notorious for cranking up the AC. That makes them the perfect place to cool down and get out of the hot sun.

Get your friends or family together, and make time to finally go to that movie you’ve been dying to see.

Treat your family to popcorn for dinner. (It’s ok to have some fun and have a treat for dinner every one in a while!) Not only will the kids love it, but you’ll be able to avoid turning your oven on to cook dinner when you get home so you can keep your house cool.

Set Up a Sprinkler

Call us old-fashioned, but there’s nothing better than running through a sprinkler on a hot summer day. And yes, adults, this activity is for you too!

If you don’t have a sprinkler, take a trip to your local garden center or home store. You can pick up a decent sprinkler for under $20 that can be used all summer long.

When you get home, simply change into a swimsuit, attach a garden hose to the sprinkler, and enjoy!

Indulge in an Icy Treat

Last, but certainly not least, is our very favorite way to stay cool—indulging in a tasty, ice-cold, refreshing treat.

If you’re an ice cream lover, head down to your local ice cream parlor. Love slushies? Take a trip to your nearest gas station. Or if you’re more of a smoothie connoisseur, grab your favorite fruits, juices, and yogurt, and whip up a refreshing smoothie.

Delish!

What’s your favorite way to cool down in the summer? Let us know in the comments below!

 

5 Fun Late Spring Activities to Enjoy This Year

Here in Charleston, it’s beginning to feel a lot like summer.

But for many in the USA, spring is in full swing, which means it’s time to get outside and enjoying the warm weather, fresh air, and beautiful budding trees and flowers.

Need some inspiration on how to get out and enjoy this beautiful season before it comes to an end?

Not to worry. We, at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, have a few ideas we think you might enjoy. Check them out…

Do Some Spring Cleaning

At first thought, spring cleaning may not sound like such a fun activity. But, you can make it fun when you get your family…and even your neighborhood…involved!

Spring is a great time to finally clean out your home and garage and host a neighborhood yard sale.

Start by finding gently used clothing, toys, and other household items that you don’t use or want anymore, and assign price tags to them.

Then talk to your neighbors and see if they want you join you. Pick a date for a neighborhood yard sale, and before you know it, you’ll be clearing unused item out of your home while earning a little extra cash to spend on something you enjoy doing!

Bring Out the Bikes

Biking is a fun activity…especially when you can get a group of friends or family members to go biking with you.

This time of year is one of the best times to bring out the bikes and go for a ride. Not only is the weather nice, but the flowers and trees are all in bloom. This makes for a beautiful ride!

It doesn’t matter where you bike. Do a lap around your neighborhood, go to a local park, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try some biking trails at a local state park.

Here in Charleston, there are a variety of locations to enjoy biking. Here are some of our favorites…

Francis Marion National Forest

Mountain biking in the no-mountain Lowcountry is a blast. We recommend you try the trails in the Francis Marion National Forest, which is located on nearly 259,000 acres in the coastal forest north of Charleston.

Sullivan’s Island

This three-mile-long island has low traffic roadways, which makes it the perfect place for riding bikes. If you bike down to the Charleston Harbor end of the island, you can climb on former military grounds of Fort Moultrie.

Downtown Charleston

Want to get a good view of downtown Charleston, a 300+ year-old city, and take in all the history? If your answer was “yes,” we suggest you bike the city! Sunday morning is the best time to avoid heavy car traffic downtown, so plan your ride accordingly.

Plant a Veggie Garden

Why go to the grocery store when you can grow your own delicious and nutritious vegetables right in your backyard?

All you need to grow your own garden is a garden plot or raised garden bed (we recommend at least 4 foot by 4 foot), garden soil, a shovel, a hose, and some seeds.

Everything mentioned here can be purchased at your local home gardening center or home improvement store.

Then all you have to do is till the soil, plant your seeds, and water your garden every couple of days, and as summer arrives, you’ll have your very own homegrown veggies to eat.

Not sure what to plant? Check out our recommendations for spring veggies.

Visit a Botanical Garden

If you’re not a fan of gardening, but still enjoy the sight and smell of flowers, we recommend you visit a botanical garden.

Botanical gardens are filled with trees, shrubs, and flowers that are native to the area where the botanical garden is located. And because these gardens are planted and maintained by professional gardeners, they are stunning to go see.

Most botanical gardens charge a small entrance fee, so be sure to do some research on the garden you’re going to visit so you’re aware of costs and other important information.

Tip: A trip to a botanical garden makes a fun ladies’ day out! Get your girlfriends together to enjoy this activity.

Visit a Local Farm

If you love animals, springtime is the very best time tovisit your local farm.

The reason: it’s the time of the year when new baby farm animals start to make their grand entrance into the world. And boy, are they adorable!

Local farms that allow visitors also tend to have little shops where you can buy fresh produce, milk, and eggs. Not to mention, many places also make homemade ice cream with milk from their cows! Delish!

Note: Before you visit a farm, always make sure that they allow visitors. It’s a good idea to give a courtesy call before you visit, unless the farm you’re going to has established public visiting hours.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the spring? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Spring Gardening: Beautiful Flowers to Grow This Year

 

You know what they say…April showers bring May flowers. And at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we think there’s nothing better than taking a stroll through a garden full of fresh, beautiful, fragrant flowers.

Aside from adding beauty, planting a flower garden at your house has a lot of benefits.

First, gardening is great exercise!

Digging holes, planting, watering, and weeding your garden are all activities that require you to get up and moving. And, as an added bonus, caring for your garden gets you outside and into the fresh air.

Second, gardening is always a great hobby and social activity. Across the country, there are numerous gardening clubs and societies you can join if flowers are your passion. Attending garden society meetings and flower shows is a great way to make friends and learn new things.

And last, but certainly not least, planting a flower garden helps the bees. While you may not care for these flying critters, they are extremely important for pollination. Without their help, many of the foods we love would not be able to grow.

Whatever your reason for wanting to garden, the best part is that as long as you have access to flower seeds, gardening tools, a patch of soil, and live in a climate zone that’s suitable, you can easily grow your very own garden—no green thumb needed!

Ready to start your own garden this spring? Let’s take a look at the different climate zones so you can determine what flowers grow best in your area.

Zones 3 and 4 – Carnations, Hyacinths, and Black-Eyed Susans

In the United States, zones 3 and 4 sit in the large area of land between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes north of Nebraska.

This region has cold winters and short summers, yet despite the cool temperatures, a few flower varieties thrive in these areas.

If you live in zonez 3 or 4, try your hand at planting carnations, hyacinths, and black-eyed Susans.

Zones 5 and 6 – Marigolds, Roses, and Hydrangeas

Zones 5 and 6 are located in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio. These states tend to have dry summers, which means drought-tolerant flowers are key for this area.

Flowers like marigolds, roses, and hydrangeas will do best here. If you want to plant non-drought-tolerant flowers, be sure to water them often during the hot summer months.

Zones 7 and 8 – Hibiscus, Freckled Geisha Japanese Iris, and the Climbing Tea Rose

Texas, California, the Carolinas, and the southern half of Oregon are classified as zones 7 and 8. These zones are known for mild winters and warm, dry summers.

The cool thing about this zone is that flowers can be grown year-round due to temperate climates.

Beautiful flowers like the hibiscus, Freckled Geisha Japanese iris, and the climbing tea rose do well in this environment.  If you live in zones 7 or 8, give those flower varieties a try!

If you’re a South Carolina native, you might know that South Carolina’s state flower is the Gelsemium sempervirens—a vibrant yellow, trumpet-shaped blossom.

These flowers grow very well in the Charleston area. If you’re local to the area, try planting this flower variety in your garden this year!

Zones 9 and 10 – Fanfare Gaillardia, Summer Breeze Agastache, and the Casablanca Lily

Zones 9 and 10 include California, Florida, and Hawaii.

These regions are known for stable, hot temperatures throughout the year. In the winter months, these zones experience high humidity and rain.

Because of the heat and humidity, flowers like the Fanfare Gaillardia, Summer Breeze Agastache, and the Casablanca lily grow best in this zone.

Best of luck in your new spring flower garden!

Do you have a favorite spring flower you plant every year?

Share that with us in the comments below!

3 Decadent Dessert Recipes for a Treat Yourself Day

Every day people go to work, run a business, care of their children, take care of their pets, volunteer, and do many other tiring jobs.

It’s possible you do at least one, or even more, of the things we just mentioned above.

The bottom line is that we know you work hard every day to make ends meet, care for your family, and help those in need. And most of the time, you probably even do it without getting one “thank-you” in return.

Well, we believe it’s time to thank yourself. And one of the best ways to do that is to set aside a time to indulge in a decadent “treat yourself” dessert.

We, at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, love to indulge in a sweet treat from time to time ourselves. So, we thought we’d share 3 delicious recipes that we think you’ll enjoy.

Ready for a much-needed treat yourself day? Give one of the following recipes a try!

Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe

There’s nothing more decadent than a warm, gooey piece of cake filled with rich, molten chocolate lava. If you’re a chocolate lover, this recipe is for you.

The best part, it’s super simple to make. Check it out…

Ingredients:

  • Baking spray, for spraying custard cups
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray four custard cups with baking spray and place on a baking sheet.

2. Microwave the butter, bittersweet chocolate and semisweet chocolate in a large bowl on high until the butter is melted, about 1 minute. Whisk until the chocolate is also melted. Stir in the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, then add the vanilla. Stir in the flour. Divide the mixture among the custard cups.

3. Bake until the sides are firm and the centers are soft, about 13 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Invert on individual plates while warm and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/chocolate-lava-cakes

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

If you prefer a dessert made from fresh, sweet, and juicy berries, you’re going to want to give this strawberry shortcake recipe a try.

This light, yet decadent dessert, topped with a sweet homemade whipped cream, is so easy to make even a novice chef can do it. Give it a try.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pints fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups whipped heavy cream

Directions:

1. Slice the strawberries and toss them with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease and flour one 8-inch round cake pan.

3. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons white sugar and the salt. With a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and milk. Stir until just combined.

4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool partially in pan on wire rack.

5. Slice partially cooled cake in half, making two layers. Place half of the strawberries on one layer and top with the other layer. Top with remaining strawberries and cover with the whipped cream.

Recipe Source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/8201/strawberry-shortcake/

Vanilla Bean Mousse Recipe

Vanilla lovers, rejoice!

This 4-ingredient recipe is simple and delicious, and leaves you wanting to come back for seconds. And we say, go ahead and grab that extra serving—today is a day to indulge, right? The next time you have a vanilla craving, whip this recipe up…

Ingredients:

  • One vanilla bean, seeds scraped from the pod
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

1. Whip heavy cream with vanilla bean seeds and 1/3 cup sugar until soft peaks form (err on the side of slightly overwhipped). Set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

3. Fold together the whipped cream mixture and the egg mixture (I folded the eggs into the whipped cream).

4. Gently pour into individual serving dishes and refrigerate at least six hours, or overnight.

5. Serve!

Recipe Source: http://www.sugarlaws.com/vanilla-bean-mousse

Do you have a favorite decadent dessert recipe? Share it with us in the comments below!