A Thrilling Barbara Stanwyck Double Feature

Barbara Stanwyck

Studio portrait of American actor Barbara Stanwyck (1907 – 1990) leaning forward on an ottoman and wearing a fur coat and diamond necklace,1949. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

One of my favorite film actresses of all time is the inimitable Barbara Stanwyck. If you’re not a classic movie buff like I am, you may not remember that she was once more than just a television star. TV audiences likely recognize her for playing iconic roles like Constance Colby Patterson in The Colbys (a spinoff from the 1980s hit Dynasty with Joan Collins) and Victoria Barkley in the 1960s western series The Big Valley (with Linda Evans). But before she turned to television, Stanwyck led a very successful career as a movie star and was nominated for the Oscar four times. Read more of this post

Winter Magic and Mystery

Writing a letter with a pen

This December, discover the magic and mystery of the winter season.

December 2011

Dear Friends,

Last month faded silently into the past as we embraced December and started the final chapter of yet another year in our lives. Unfortunately, with the new month came a horrible cold and bronchial cough that takes nearly forever to shake. At last I’m on the mend though, and just in time too!

As for so many of you, December is a hectic but joyful month filled with plans to see friends and family. We were supposed to start this month with a visit to Arkansas to watch our dear friend Regenia exchange wedding vows with her new sweetie. But illness knocked me upside the head like a breadbox and rendered me immobile, so we were homebound and I slept the week away. Don’t you hate it when that happens? I guess we’ll just have to catch up with them during our next visit or hope that they head east and pop in on us.

Because I’ve been sick, we haven’t been doing a whole lot of cooking either. What’s the point when you don’t want anything more than broth and crackers? But Heather did whip up a few dishes when I was feeling up to eating, so you’ll see those in the days to come. Cranberry Zucchini Muffins, Macaroni and Cheese, and White Bean Chicken Chili are a few of the recipes you can look forward to.

We’ll be cooking up plenty of foods later this month, however, when we host our annual winter game day event. This is one of our most beloved gatherings, as our house is packed with good friends from morning till night. The event is very casual, we watch movies, play games, and laugh until our sides ache. We’re also incorporating a recipe exchange this year, so for every dish our guests bring, we ask them to provide the corresponding recipe so we can share them with everyone in attendance. We may even feature some of those yummy recipes here this year, so stay tuned.

One of the perks of being homebound with a cold is that I always have plenty of time to read. This month I’ve discovered new authors, rode a rollercoaster of suspense and solved a baffling mystery. In a few days, you’ll find out more about this thrilling novel when we announce our new book club selection. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Something I can share with you now, however, is great savings. We’ve been working hard to build our collection of retailers so we can feature our favorite products and brands with you at exceptionally low prices. Simply visit our Shopping page and you’ll discover great deals on everything from books to gourmet treats, stylish clothing to kitchen gadgets and vacation packages, all at rock-bottom prices!

Whether you’re shopping, diving into a good book, cooking up a storm or getting together with friends and family, we hope you have fun this December. Enjoy your time off, take in a movie or two (we can’t wait to see the new installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise and new Spielberg adventures TinTin and War Horse), and settle into the winter season. This is the perfect time of year to relax, recharge and indulge in a season filled with winter songbirds, snowball fights, snowmen, eggnog, snow angels or piping hot cocoa by a flame-filled hearth. Whatever you’re doing, make it memorable and enjoy the magic of the moment.

Love,
Jathan & Heather

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.

White Chocolate Crunch Bars

White Chocolate Crunch Bars

Combining sweet white chocolate, crunch peanut butter, crispy cereal and salty pretzels, our White Chocolate Crunch Bars are perfect for satisfying movie night cravings.

We love movies! Whether we’re watching Hugh Jackman swing his fists with robot boxers in Real Steel, Daniel Craig kick alien butt in Cowboys & Aliens, or Chris Evans save the world from Nazi terror in Captain America, when we’re on the edge of our stadium seats at the cinema or relaxing on our overstuffed sofa at home, we’re usually craving something salty and sweet while we cheer for our favorite Hollywood heroes. While dumping our M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces into our popcorn may satisfy our cravings, we’ve also found that our homemade White Chocolate Crunch Bars do the trick too, and without the high price tag. A blend of white chocolate, crunchy peanut butter, Rice Krispies and salty pretzels delivers a treat your whole family will love to munch during even the most intense action flick. Just serve with your favorite soft drink and you’re ready for a night at the movies!

PREP: 2 minutes
COOK: 3 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 cups mini marshmallows
  • 12 ounces crunchy peanut butter
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 2 cups mini pretzels, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add marshmallows and peanut butter to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is melted and begins to bubble, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove pot from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients until well combined. Transfer to prepared baking dish and smooth top using a spatula. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Use parchment to lift bars from baking dish. Transfer to cutting board and cut into square to serve.

YIELDS: 12 bars

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Celebrate our planet this April

April 2011

Earth Day is in our hands 2011

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22, although it may be commemorated on other dates in your community.

Dear friends,

Despite tax season, April is a fun month. The weather is generally a little warmer, spring is officially in full swing, and people’s spirits are generally much better than they were during the chilly winter months. Plus there are several great events to look forward to!

As we’ve told you before, one of our favorite charities is the Nature Conservancy, whose motto is “Protecting nature. Preserving life.” This year in celebration of Earth Day (on April 22nd), they are encouraging all of us to get outside, have fun and explore nature as a family. They’re also urging people to “picnic for the planet,” by hosting picnic meetups in 199 cities around the globe.

The Earth Day Network is also urging people to pledge to live and act sustainably. You can find great resources about how to reduce your carbon footprint on their Website, find ways to get involved and can even make donations to the cause.

But Earth Day also means the release of a brand new film from Disneynature, African Cats! The film follows two feline families striving to make a home in the wildest place on earth. See African Cats during opening week, and Disneynature will make a donation in your honor to protect the savanna these cats call home. And before you watch the movie, be sure to visit the African Cats Website for educational information and downloads that can help you teach your children about the science and geography themes in the film.

And if you’re in Cincinnati, you can join us down at Sawyer Point at noon on Saturday, April 16th for the 41st Anniversary Celebration of Earth Day! There will be tons of stuff to see and do for the entire family, including animal presentations featuring an aquarium and petting zoo, a rock-climbing wall, great food and live music.

Then, on Friday, April 29th, head on down to Great American Ball Park for UC Night at the Reds! The Reds will take on the Florida Marlins and the park will be packed with UC alumni. Buy reduced rate tickets, then be sure to show up early for the pre-game activities and FREE giveaways in the Reds fan zone!

The reptile house at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms

Color explodes at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms throughout the April 2011.

Get out your garden gear and prepare to plant a tree, because the 29th is also Arbor Day. For those of you who aren’t sure what the Arbor Day Foundation is or how the day gained popularity across America, you can check out two articles Jathan wrote last year about the trees in our lives and the origins of Arbor Day on his philanthropy blog, Some People’s Lives.

April is also a great time to start planning your summer garden. You can visit the Cincinnati Zoo for ideas during the entire month of April as the park explodes with color during Zoo Blooms. This event always fuels our imaginations, particularly since spring makes us anxious to plant tons of herbs, veggies and flowers of our own. Because we plant the majority of these plants in containers, be sure to watch for a future blog post about that. We’ll give you some great tips on gardening, including inexpensive ways to make your yard look phenomenal!

And in case you missed them, be sure to explore our site for great food ideas, including everything from kitchen basics like heart-healthy Chicken Broth to our favorite Southern Fried and Southern Barbecued Chicken recipes. Then check out family favorites like Tomato Soup with Mozzarella Croutons, Classic Cinnamon Buns and No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Cookies. If you love Italian cuisine, try our authentic Italian Minestrone and Rigatoni with Rapid Ragu. For something spicy, kick up the heat with Hoppin’ John, a traditional Southern dish with just the right amount of heat. There’s something for everyone on Jathan & Heather!

So what are you waiting for? Get outside, commune with nature, plant a tree, take a picnic, watch a game, or plan your garden. It’s spring, and there is no better time to enjoy the great outdoors!

Love,
Jathan & Heather

p.s. Watch the preview to African Cats below!

Five feel-good, fun family films

When we were children, we created some of our favorite memories on Sunday nights when the family gathered around the television with steaming cups of cocoa and big bowls of popcorn to watch movies on the Wonderful World of Disney and later on the Disney Sunday Movie series in the mid-80s. (Click here for a Wonderful World of Disney trivia quiz.)

Times have changed a bit since then, and family films have become big business with many studios besides Disney making big-budget movies like the Harry Potter and Shrek franchises. In fact, there are so many of these movies now, that many of them seem to get lost in the shuffle. So here are some of our favorites, ones that you may have missed.

Finally, we hope you’ll write and tell us about some of your family favorites too. We’ll post some of your comments in a future article.

Love,
Jathan & Heather

Jathan & Heather’s Family Film Favorites

Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons on Blu-ray disc

Rated: G

Lewis is a brilliant young inventor who sets off on a time-traveling quest to save the future and find the family he never knew. With the help of the wonderfully wacky Robinson family, Lewis learns to keep moving forward and never stop believing in himself.

Critics praised this Disney “masterpiece” (John Anderson, Newsday) as “a dazzling vision of the future” (Leah Rozen, People). We loved it because it is both hilarious and touching. But more importantly, it teaches us all a lesson about the importance of perseverance.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Rated: G

Kit Kittridge: An American Girl now on DVD

When the Great Depression strikes, nine-year-old Kit Kittredge (played by Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin) has to say goodbye to her father when he leaves to find work. In order to save her family home, she and her mother must take in boarders. When one of the guests is accused of stealing her mother’s lockbox, Kit must sniff out the real story to exonerate her new friend.

Rex Reed (The New York Observer) called this movie “enchanting” and said that it “spells entertainment with a capital E.” We loved the superior cast, which includes Julia Ormond, Chris O’Donnell, Jane Krakowski, Joan Cusack and Stanley Tucci. Together, they weave a story about the importance of family, friendship and truth.

Radio

Rated: PG

Radio: Inspired By A True Story

Based on an amazing real life story, Radio shows how Robert ‘Radio’ Kennedy, the man no one understood, became the coach no one could live without. Academy Award Winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. (1997, Best Supporting Actor, Jerry Maguire) and the phenomenal Ed Harris (Pollock) play two coaches who inspire a football team to become champions and a town to open their hearts in this heartwarming, heroic film.

Critics called Radio “a triumph” (Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazine), “a treasure” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times), and “a definite must for the entire family” (Bonnie Laufer, Tribute TV). We loved this film because it is filled with both comic and touching moments, but above all because it teaches us a powerful lesson about the potential within us all.

August Rush

Rated: PG

August Rush is now available on DVD and Blu-ray

There’s music in the wind and sky. And there’s hope. A young boy named August Rush can hear it, and you will too as you join him on a journey to New York City to find the parents he was separated from years earlier. And along the way, he will also discover the musical genius hidden within him. Starring Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrance Howard and Robin Williams, August Rush will make you “believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales.”

Mark S. Allen (CBS-TV) says, “Your heart will be singing and your spirit will soar!” We say that you will laugh, cry, and cheer with this young boy who never stops believing in himself and the dream within his heart.

Robots

Rated: PG

Robots is now available on DVD

With the help of his misfit mechanical friends, a small town robot named Rodney embarks on the adventure of a lifetime as he heads for the big city to pursue his dreams—and ultimately prove that anyone can shine no matter what they’re made of. Featuring the voice talents of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks, Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey, Jim Broadbent and Robin Williams, Robots is a dazzling, fun-filled feast for the eyes and a riveting good time for all ages!

Critics hailed the film as “Thrilling! Funny! Terrific!” (Larry King) and “fun and imaginative” (New York Daily News). We love this offbeat animated comedy because it is hilarious, irreverent and filled with great music and real Hollywood magic.

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