and his wife, Katie Holmes, were spotted last week at with their daughter, Suri.
That's a great place to take your child any time of year, but is particularly fun to visit in the fall. When our children were younger, a trip to Soergel's was one of our favorite things to do as a family on the weekends.
We still go up at least once a year a week or so before Halloween to pick out our pumpkins for carving and drink apple cider. My daughter is in her early 20s now, but she still loves a family outing.
Lucky for us, there's no one following us around, taking pictures and making stuff up to go with those pictures.
I have to say, tabloids fascinate me. Not because I have any interest in celebrities, because I don't. I can barely keep up with my own life, much less someone else's.
They fascinate me because they feature about three or four running stories in every issue, and the people who buy them don't seem to realize that the things they are saying never really happen.
It's always Brad going back to Jen because he made a mistake with Angie who, by the way, is pregnant again, and yet month after month, Brad stays with Angie, she has no more children, Jen does whatever it is she does, and people keep buying the magazines. It boggles the mind.
I'll never understand the American reader. Just say "no" to gossip, people.
This seems to be part of a greater trend, though — sort of a culture of meanness. They say these things because they can get away with it, apparently without thinking that these celebrities also happen to be human beings.
How would the people who write these lies feel if they were standing in a supermarket checkout line with their own children and saw some nasty, untrue gossip about them splashed across the magazine rack?
It's not just tabloids either. Right here on our very own sites, quite a few of our local editors have had to make pleas for civil discourse. The anonymity of the Internet, or the ability to register under phony names or pseudonyms, makes it easy for people to release their inner snark.
Next time, before you post a nasty comment, ask yourself this question: Would I be happy if someone were to say this in this manner to my mother, or my sister or my daughter? If the answer is no, then put your hands up and slowly back away from the keyboard.
As for Tom and Katie and any other parents out there who just want a fun, relaxed day out with their children, here are a few more low-key favorites from my own family outings:
- Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve. Easy trails through meadows and woods, a pond, lots of birds and deer and wild turkey. Grab a few "helicopter" seeds and drop them from the overlook.
- Cranberry Community Park. I wasn't even sure if this park had a name or not. We have always called it "the castle park" and still do. The Playtime Palace playground is the greatest.
- Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Kid's Kingdom. Need I say more? We spent so many hours there that when my son was about 3 or 4 we wrote a book about visiting the zoo. Seriously. It was his idea. He dictated it, and I wrote down what he told me to say. I still have it, and it's beautiful. And everything it in is the truth.
Recipe: Chicken Noodle Soup
We are generally very healthy people, but we recently have had a couple of bouts of illness in our family. Not to fear, though, because I had already made my first batch of homemade chicken noodle soup and had it in the freezer ready to be deployed.
I make this in big batches and freeze it in smaller serving sizes so that I always have it on hand throughout the fall and winter. It's very comforting, whether you're ill or just need something warm after being outside playing and exploring on a cool fall day. Serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches for a quick, nourishing meal.
I've also put in an option for a quick version using store-bought chicken broth. It's still very good and much better than canned.
- 1 recipe chicken stock (see below) or 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth — not canned
- Meat from one chicken, or equivalent of cooked, leftover chicken
- 12 ounces egg noodles
- 12 ounces fresh spinach, washed, drained and chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the stock in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Add noodles and cook according to package directions.
- Remove pot from heat and stir in spinach. Stir until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.
- Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.
This makes a big batch. Freeze leftovers in resealable bags and thaw as needed.
Recipe: Chicken Stock
- 1 - 3 ½ to 4-pound chicken
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 3 ribs celery, sliced
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 6 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
- 1 gallon plus 2 cups cold water
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- Place all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer stock for four hours, skimming when needed.
- Remove chicken from pot. Cool, and remove meat from bones.
- Strain the stock into a large bowl. Use immediately, refrigerate or freeze in smaller portions.