Friday The 13th And MLK Day

Two interesting and vastly different days are on the calendar.

Today is Friday the 13th, considered by many to be a very unlucky day. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, NC, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the U.S. are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date on the calendar.

I, for one, don’t have any issues with this day, but I do have a friend who refuses to leave her house all day. So I do want to wish you all a safe and pleasant day, just in case …

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, marking the birthday of the man who was a leading civil rights advocate. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15.

The idea to recognize his birthday as a federal holiday began soon after King’s assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later.

As with many other people, I have the day off. So my family and I will be doing some relaxing.

PSC Closed On Monday
Speaking of having the day off, I just wanted you to know that the Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday.

I hope you have a nice weekend.

Happy New Year!

I want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year! As you know, New Year’s is a time when many people make resolutions. (By the way, this year I want to lose a few pounds, get more sleep, and be less stressed!!!)

In fact, according to statisticsbrain.com,

  • 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions
  • 17% of Americans infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions
  • 42% of Americans absolutely never make New Year’s Resolutions

So even if you typically don’t make a New Year’s resolution, what would you like to work on/change? Let us know by taking the poll below!

Happy Anniversary To NCP!
This month is also the anniversary of when the National Consumer Panel was formed. So, happy 7th anniversary NCP!

I hope you have a great day.

Holiday Movies, Christmas Trees, And More!

Boy, it’s cold outside! At least in this part of the country. No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, who doesn’t enjoy snuggling up on the couch and watching a good holiday movie?

My favorite has always been “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But there are many other great holiday-themed movies; here is list of some of them:

  • A Christmas Carol/Scrooge/Scrooged
  • A Christmas Story
  • Elf
  • Holiday Inn
  • Home Alone
  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Jingle All The Way
  • March of the Wooden Soldiers
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • The Polar Express
  • The Santa Clause
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • White Christmas

What’s your favorite holiday movie(s)? Let me know (send your comments to info@ncppanel.com or leave a reply on this page).

Christmas Trees
For those who take part in Christmas celebrations, nearly 100 million households across the U.S. will display a Christmas tree, according to the sixth annual Christmas tree survey from the American Christmas Tree Association, conducted by Nielsen.

Of those Christmas trees displayed, 81 percent will be artificial trees and 19 percent will be real trees.

The survey also indicated that the number of years consumers will reuse their artificial trees has increased.

PSC Closings
I just wanted you to know that the Panel Support Center will be closing at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 24, and will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26.

Also, the PSC will be closed on Monday, Jan. 2. 2017. It seems so weird to write 2017!

On behalf of everyone here at NCP, I just want to wish you all a very happy holiday! See you in 2017!

Holiday Shopping

I don’t know about you, but I’m deep into my holiday shopping! The malls are always crazy, so I thought I’d do more cyber shopping this year. Obviously, a lot of other people had the same idea.

According to published reports, Cyber Monday 2016 was the largest e-commerce day in history, as consumers spent $3.45 billion online. That’s a 12.1% increase over Cyber Monday 2015.

Shoppers have gone mobile! According to Adobe Digital Insights, mobile sales on Cyber Monday totaled $1.07 billion, which was a 34% increase over the previous year. In fact, sales on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, were 31% of total online sales for the day!

How are you doing with your holiday shopping? Let me know (send your comments to info@ncppanel.com or leave a reply on this page).

Have a happy holiday shopping day!

Holiday Party Time!

Tonight is NCP’s holiday party, so I just wanted you to know that the Panel Support Center will be closing at 4 p.m. ET. We’ll be back tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. ET to help you with anything you need.

If your company is having a holiday party anytime soon, let me know all about it. I’m sure all our readers would love to hear what goes on!

Also, please remember to record all of your holiday purchases. Everything counts, no matter how big or how small!

Thanks, and have a great day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of everyone here at NCP, I just want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! Try not to eat too much! I know I’ll be using some of the recipes that some panelists were nice enough to send me.

And then the fun begins (or continues, for some people). What I mean is, it’s time for holiday shopping!

The mall near my house is almost always busy, but during the holiday season it gets really crazy. So I will try to venture out early on Saturday or Sunday.

I don’t know if you’re also going to be holiday shopping in the next few days, but, according to the National Retail Foundation, nearly six in 10 Americans — an estimated 137.4 million people — plan to or are considering shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend. (This covers Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, plus Sunday, and includes both in-store and online shopping.)

According to the NRF, 21% of shoppers plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day. Meanwhile, Black Friday will remain the busiest day of the holiday weekend with 74% planning to shop that day.

If you’re going to be doing any shopping, please make sure to record your purchases! We know you’re extra busy at this time of year, but this information is very important.

Finally, I want to remind everyone that we are closed on Thanksgiving Day and Friday. The Panel Support Center will be open on Saturday, Nov. 26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Have a very happy holiday!

It’s Turkey Time!

It’s really hard to believe, but next week is Thanksgiving. Where does the time go?!

Anyway, a few weeks ago I had asked for your help with some recipes. Well, we received a number of recipes, and I’d like to share a few with all of you!

Sweet Potato Soufflé

From Shirley Jordan:  My dessert recipe is normally a side dish, but because I serve it cold and it is sweet and taste like a crustless pie, we eat it as a “healthy” dessert. As a retired School Food Service Manager, we also served it as a dessert; however, we omitted the nuts and used less marshmallows. Lol The kids still loved it!

  • 4 large cans of whole sweet potatoes
  • 2 bags mini marshmallows
  • 6 bags roasted candied pecans
  • 1 stick of margarine, butter, or substitute melted
  • 4 tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons Pumpkin pie spice

In a large 6 – 8 quart bowl mash with a potato masher to desired pieces, add 1/2 bag of mini marshmallows, 2 bag of roasted candied pecans, stick of melted margarine, and spice.

Mix together well with a spoon. Pour into a greased 8 qt. casserole dish, bake covered in a pre-heated 350° oven for 45 min. check temp. of 135° (final temp will be 145°) if not at temp, recover continue baking. When it reaches 135° uncover add 4 bag roasted candied pecans evenly over the top, then add the remaining marshmallows across the top as well trying not to have any sweet potato filling showing. Place back into oven remaining at 350° start at 10 min, check to see if marshmallows are melted and tan. If not Close door and continue baking until marshmallows are to your desired roast color. Great served hot or cold. I prefer cold. Refrigerated good for 7 days. Can be left out in 72° environment for 3 days.

Apple And Sage Stuffing

From Monique Bailey:

  • 1 loaf of French or Italian bread
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more to coat the baking dish
  • 2 medium yellow onions, medium dice
  • 2 medium apples
  • 3 medium celery stalks
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper 
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter and set aside. Cut the bread into 3/4-inch cubes and place in a large, heatproof bowl; set aside.
  2. Melt the measured butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the apples, celery, thyme, and sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and can be easily pierced with a knife, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup of the stock or broth and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn off the heat and add the vegetable-apple mixture to the reserved bread cubes. Season with two or three large pinches of salt and two large pinches of pepper, then stir to evenly combine. If the mixture seems too dry, add more stock or broth 1/4 cup at a time (but make sure it doesn’t get mushy).
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake, uncovered, until the top of the stuffing just starts to get brown and crusty, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Green Bean Casserole

From Tom Leary

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 (14.5 ounce) cans French style green beans, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled buttery round crackers
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar, onion, and sour cream. Add green beans, and stir to coat.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread shredded cheese over the top. In a small bowl, toss together cracker crumbs and remaining butter, and sprinkle over the cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly.

I know these recipes will help me next week! I hope you find them useful.

Have a great day!

Time To Honor The Vets

Today is Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended World War I in 1918.

Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11 became a legal federal holiday in 1938. After World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.

Please make sure to honor our vets! They sacrificed so much for us.

Many restaurants offer free or discounted meals for vets. Check this out: http://militarybenefits.info/veterans-day-discounts-sales-deals-free-meals/

Do You Have A Recipe You’d Like To Share?
If you have any favorite Thanksgiving Day-related recipes, send them my way! (send them to info@ncppanel.com). We’ll post as many as possible so that other NCP panelists can also try out your recipes.

Have a great day!

Send Us Your Thanksgiving Recipes!

This is such a crazy time of year, with so much going on. Halloween just ended, next week is the election, and before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here.

Speaking of Halloween, boy did I buy a lot of Halloween candy. But it turns out we didn’t have too many trick or treaters (perhaps because it was a school night?).

Anyway, I didn’t want to have the kids — and frankly my husband and me — eating bags and bags of candy for days and days!

So, I’m going to be donating the extra candy to the troops. If you’re interested in doing the same, there are at least two organizations collecting candy for our military: Operation Gratitude and Soldiers’ Angels.

Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas
I can’t believe it, but Thanksgiving Day is less than three weeks away. I want to make something a little different this year for our dinner/dessert. Could you guys help me out? Please send me your favorite Thanksgiving recipes (send them to info@ncppanel.com).

I’ll try to post as many as possible so that other NCP panelists can also try out your recipes!

Get Out And Vote!
One last thing: Next Tuesday is Election Day. Let’s be honest, many people are not thrilled with the choices for President. But the thing is, we are so fortunate to be able to vote. So, please exercise that right and pick whomever you believe will do the best job for the country.

Thank you, and have a great weekend!

Dressing Up For Halloween

Next Monday is Halloween. I hope you’re ready! We finally had time to get costumes: My daughter will be Elsa from Frozen, and my son is going as Darth Vader. (I’m dressing up, too. I’m going as a pirate. My husband will be handling the Trick or Treaters that come to our house while we’re out collecting treats.)

Halloween costumes are a big business. According to the National Retail Foundation, the amount spent on Halloween costumes this year is expected to reach $3.1 billion!

The NRF recently conducted a survey and found these to be the most popular costumes per age group:

Children’s Costumes

  1. Action/Superhero
  2. Princess
  3. Animal (Cat, Dog, Lion, Monkey, etc.)
  4. Batman Character
  5. Star Wars Character
  6. Tie: Witch AND DC Superhero (Wonder Woman, Superman)
  7. Frozen Character (Anna, Elsa, Olaf)
  8. Marvel Superhero
  9. Zombie
  10. Spiderman

Adults 18-34 years old

  1. Batman Character (Batman, Harley Quinn, The Joker, etc.)
  2. Witch
  3. Animal (Cat, Dog, Bunny, etc.)
  4. Tie: Marvel Superhero (Deadpool, Spiderman, etc.) AND DC Superhero (Wonder Woman, Superman)
  5. Vampire
  6. Video Game Character
  7. Slasher Movie Villain (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, etc.)
  8. Pirate
  9. Star Wars Character
  10. Zombie

Adults 35+

  1. Witch
  2. Pirate
  3. Political (Trump, Clinton, etc.)
  4. Vampire
  5. Batman Character (Batman, Catwoman, etc.)
  6. Animal (Cat, Dog, Bunny, etc.)
  7. Tie: DC Superhero (Superman, Wonder Woman) and Star Wars Character
  8. Tie: Ghost and Zombie
  9. Scary Costume/Mask
  10. Marvel Superhero (Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, etc.)

As you can see, Halloween is not just for kids!

What are you or the kids in your life going to be for Halloween? Let me know!

And here are the results from last week’s poll, which asked “What are you planning to give out for Halloween?”

  • Candy: 68.29%
  • Small toys/gifts: 13.41%
  • Snacks (chips/pretzels): 9.76%
  • Money: 2.44%
  • Fruit: 2.44%
  • Nothing: 23.17%

Have a happy, safe, and fun Halloween.