Blog Fall Scene

Have Fun Creating a Fall Bucket List

Fall is upon us and for many people, it’s their favorite time of year. Pumpkin spice, cozy pajamas, leaves changing colors, and cool crisp nights are just a few of things we love about the season. This year, why not create a ‘bucket list’ of activities you’d like to partake in so that you can get the most out of fall.

We’ve got 9 fantastic ideas that are on our list this year to get you started on your own:

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Go to a corn maze. This fun family activity is one you can make a whole day of. Most places that offer corn mazes have a variety of other things you can do while you’re there like petting zoos, pumpkin picking, and hayrides. You’ll quickly get the whole family in the mood for fall!

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Paint a pumpkin. One of falls most loved activities is pumpkin carving. The Halloween tradition is said to have started in the 19th century in Ireland where they carved out pumpkins, turnips, or other root vegetables and used them as lanterns. More recently, painting pumpkins has become the latest craze and the design possibilities are endless. And if you still want to enjoy the pumpkin seeds, you can still cut open the top and scoop them out, although your creations may not last as long.

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Jump in a pile of leaves. Chances are as a child you did this many times but now as an adult, you may think it’s a silly thing to do. Sure you’ve probably seen a big pile-o-leaves and thought to yourself “I’d love to jump in that” but your grown-up voice told you not to.  Tell that voice to be quiet, and go for it! It will take you back to your childhood and a simpler time.

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Go canoeing or kayaking. Autumn is a perfect time to get into a canoe or kayak and tour the fall colors from the water. The air is still warm enough and you’d get a great workout at the same time. Just make sure you dress appropriately and mind the time as the days are getting shorter.

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Can fruits and vegetables. If you’ve never done this before you’ll want to do some reading first to ensure that you do things correctly and the food will be safe for consumption later. Whether the fall bounty you preserve comes from your own garden or from a local farmers market, you’ll love that you can have the taste of summer at your fingertips throughout the long winter.

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Plant bulbs for your spring garden. Anything that blooms in spring should be planted now. This includes Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinth, and Crocus. When the snow finally melts and spring arrives next year, these are some of the first flowers that will pop their heads through the soil and say “hello spring!” The Farmer’s Almanac provides some great tips for planting correctly HERE.

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Start a giant puzzle. Soon enough you’re going to be spending a lot more time indoors so why not dive in and start a puzzle that you can work on for the whole season. Make sure it’s at least 2000 pieces to really challenge you. It’s a nice way to wind down after a busy day or have some ‘me-time’ while the kids do their homework.

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Take a fall family photo for your Christmas cards. With all the vibrant colors of the season as your backdrop, you’ll have an amazing memory that you can share with friends and family during the holidays!

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Make caramel apples. Really what tastes better than a caramel apple? We say not much! The great part of creating these sweet treats is that it’s not just about caramel and apples anymore you can dress them up with just about anything. Of course chopped nuts are a great standby, but why not try other ingredients like cookie crumbles, chocolate chips, toffee bits, colorful sprinkles, or your favorite candy. These gourmet caramel apples will be a hit with the whole family!

Now that your wheels are turning and you’re list is getting started, we’d love to hear about what your fall bucket looks like. Tell us about them here or over on our Facebook page!

 

Happy fall!

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Take in Summer’s Last Call with these fun Labor Day Activities

Another summer is wrapping up, and more so this year than in the past it feels like it went way too fast. We’ll still have plenty of warm weather to enjoy, but as kids head back to school and the days get noticeably shorter, Labor Day weekend typically marks the end of summer as we usher in fall.Make the absolute most of it by fitting in all the activities you can during your 3-day weekend. This year, why not try something a little different from the usual backyard barbecue or trip to the beach. We have some great ideas that will inspire you to mix it up as you bid summer adieu.

Go apple picking.  It’s the time of year where orchards are full of delicious apples ready to be picked. Many of them will host kick-off events on Labor Day weekend complete with music, crafts, kids activities, and tastings of everything apple. Get the family together and visit your local farm. The best part is all the delicious treats you’ll be able to make when you get your harvest home!

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Go rummaging. The old saying that ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’ is why millions of people visit yard/garage sales every year. You can find just about anything you need, and probably quite a few items you don’t. Labor Day weekend in many parts of the country is the last big weekend for treasure hunters so take advantage of the opportunity to pick up some goodies at deeply discounted prices. Many communities even hold neighborhood-wide sales over the weekend so check out social media or designated sites dedicated to rummage sales and plan your route. Just remember to bring a big car to transport all your hot finds home.

Yard Sale

Plan a scavenger hunt. This is a great way to get family and friends together for a full day of fun and adventure. You can make the search a full-on road trip if it’s an adults-only activity, or keep it within a smaller area if kids and families will be participating. A quick Google search will yield hundreds of ideas that you can use to customize your event.

Scavenger Hunt

Adventure trip. Print out a map of your state or particular area radius that you are willing to travel to, close your eyes, and point. This is your destination! Make a day – or a weekend of your trip and take in all the unique stops and attractions along the way. Many people don’t realize how much there is to see in your own backyard. The best approach is to map out one way of getting to your destination and an alternate way back so you get twice the sightseeing in.

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Go to a drive-in. Many kids today don’t even know what a drive-in theater is. With the current social distancing guidelines in place, the drive-in is making a resurgence and becoming the hip place to be. Check your area and surrounding areas to see if you have a theater nearby. If not, many ‘pop-up’ theaters are appearing all over the country. Put your pajamas on and show the kids how the old folks used to enjoy movies!

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Revive an old hobby. Most people have a hobby that they used to enjoy that just sort of fell by the wayside as life got in the way. Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to resurrect your old passion. This can be anything like playing an instrument, creating arts and crafts, cooking, collecting, or even building models. If you really want to be adventurous, take up a new hobby and find your next obsession.

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However you do Labor Day this year, make it count. Time flies way to fast these days so make every moment count.

Happy Labor Day!

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Back to the Dorms: Your 2020 College Checklist

It’s time to start sending your college students back to school. Whereas in most cases students will be returning to campus to restart their education, the college experience overall will be anything but normal. Despite uncertainties about campus life, one thing is sure; everything from classes to social events will be different and your student will have to make the necessary adjustments.

Their living space will be more important than ever before and you want to make it not only comfortable but also practical. To help you plan ahead, we’ve compiled a sort of “go-to checklist” of essentials you should be sending your student back to school with so they can be successful, and adjust to a hybrid academic year.

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Workspace and Supplies: Virtual classes are almost certain to be at least a portion of student learning this year. If the dorm room or apartment your child is living in doesn’t have a desk, you’ll want to make sure that bring one along. And because they will be spending more time than usual at this workspace, a comfortable and ergo-friendly chair will be necessary too. In addition to the furniture, supplies like a desk organizer, post-it notes, pens, a desk lamp, a power strip, and extra batteries are essential to a productive works space. Don’t forget a pair of noise-canceling headphones so they can focus on their studies without interruption.

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Kitchen and Cooking: Dining halls and local eating establishments will have capacity limits and can get crowded during mealtime, so your student will likely be making their own meals much more often. Although you will want to find out what the school allows, most will permit a microwave, a small fridge, a coffee maker, and even a single burner cooktop. Believe it or not, you can do a lot with just a microwave! Make sure they have the right cooking components (utensils, microwave-safe plates/bowls, and pots and pans) to create their culinary delights with as well.

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Sleep and Study Space: As we all know, dorm rooms are far from spacious. With libraries either closed or limiting occupancy, the bed in the room may now also double as a study space. A nice bedding set including a plush mattress topper with a throw blanket will cover the comfort part, but also consider a lap desk, an overhead light, and backrest pillow to make study time most productive.

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Pajamas and Comfy clothes: Spending additional time in the dorm room means there will be more time for casual attire. Pajama sets, lounge pants, PJ pants, and short sets all fit the bill quite nicely. Make sure you have different styles for seasonal temperature changes and variety for at least 2 weeks because doing laundry is typically not a college student’s priority.

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Exercise Essentials: You won’t be able to bring a full gym to school, but a few small pieces of fitness equipment are something every college student should have this year. Because they won’t be walking to class as much and the public work-out areas will be capacity limited- or maybe even closed – students will likely not be as active as they should be. Encourage your student to stay active and provide them with tools to do so. Resistance bands, hand weights, yoga mats, and medicine balls are small and can be stored in a small space. You could also look up some online work-out videos or buy your student a subscription to a website that offers a variety of live online classes. Comfortable walking shoes should also be on the list so during downtimes, they can take a walk, get some fresh air and exercise.

Dorm Room

Room Décor: There’s no place like home never meant more than it does today. Your college student will likely be a bit more homesick this year due to less socializing and get-togethers. Make sure their living space at school is as warm and inviting as possible. A Himalayan salt lamp for example, gives off a warm glow and is also said to have stress-relieving properties and provide a better night’s sleep.  Wall décor, fun accessories, and even plants can really help make a dorm room feel like a second home. As a side note, a vacuum cleaner may be a good idea as well. 

Whether your child is just starting their college career, finishing up, or somewhere in the middle, preparing in advance for the current situation is very important to your student’s success. We wish all students the best of luck in 2020!

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Celebrate your Sister and Everything She Means to You

“Sisters make the best friends in the world.” —Marilyn Monroe

Sisters are our best friends, our confidants, and the ladies we can get downright crazy with. We depend on them and we cherish them. There’s even a national holiday which falls on the first Sunday in August known as National Sisters Day, specifically set aside to celebrate your relationship with your sister or sisters. To make the day fun and memorable, we’re sharing some ideas on how you can spend the day with your sis and let her know that she is appreciated and loved.

Have an old-fashioned sleepover– Fill the evening with all those fun activities you did when you were kids. You’ll of course need all your favorite snack foods & your favorite pajamas (even better get matching pj’s), but add an adult twist to the festivities with a nice bottle of wine, margaritas, or martinis. You can spend your special time together reminiscing, looking through old photos, listening to music, or watching movies you loved growing up.

Girl’s night special dinner– This special evening deserves a splurge, so choose a nice, upscale restaurant to treat yourselves at. Order whatever you want and don’t worry about calories or cost. Just enjoy an extra special dinner together and don’t forget to have dessert!

Have a makeover & photo shoot day – Do each other’s nails, hair and make-up and get all dressed up in your Sunday best. Take lots of pictures throughout the makeover to chronicle all the fun, and a final portrait that you can frame and cherish forever

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Take a real trip down memory lane – Hop in the car and take a drive to places you treasured when growing up. This could be the house you grew up in, past hang-outs, your favorite shopping spots, or even visit your old school. The great thing about happy memories is that they are all unique to the individual so the possibilities are endless.

Exchange special gifts – This may seem like an easy enough thing to do, but we suggest making it unique by making the gift something that will bring back memories. Was there a favorite candy that she enjoyed as a kid? How about a record or CD she wore out years ago? Put some thought into what may be a faded memory and bring it back to life with your thoughtful gift.

Just spend time together – It really doesn’t matter what activities are on the agenda on this special day. Even if’s it’s just a morning cup of coffee or a quick lunch, the most important thing is that you are together and celebrating the special bond you have

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Don’t live close to each other? We know that not all sisters live in the same town or city but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the day. Hop on a call or have a Zoom happy hour to spend time catching up. You can even send flowers, a gift, or even a thoughtful card to show your appreciation and love for your sister.

However you decide to spend National Sisters Day, we’re confident you’ll do it perfectly! To all you sisters out there… have a wonderful day!

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Great ways to celebrate Christmas in July

As we hit the halfway point of the summer, you may be looking for a fun alternative to your usual backyard barbecue or neighborhood get together.  Most festivals have been canceled and many other venues are still closed so creativity is essential in keeping the summer interesting.

It is believed that Christmas in July started in 1933 at an all-girls’ camp in Brevard, North Carolina called ‘Keystone Camp’. It was one of the camp co-founders, Fannie Holt who came up with the idea during a particularly hot summer as a way to bring cool thoughts to the campers. The festivities included carolers, gifts, a Christmas tree, and even snow made from cotton. 87 years later, it has become somewhat of a national holiday in many areas of the world. Especially in countries in the southern hemisphere where December 25th lands smack dab in the middle of their summer season.

Here in the U.S., it’s become a great way to add an extra celebration to the summer season, as well as put you in ‘chill mode’ during these hot steamy days. There are so many things you can do to celebrate Christmas in July, and we’re sharing some spectacular ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

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Put up a tree. If you have an artificial tree, you just need to bring it out and set it up. If your December Christmas includes a real Fir or Balsam, improvise with a wall tree or better yet, decorate a tree in your yard outside. Instead of your standard holiday bulbs and ornaments, use a fun summery motif like pink flamingos, palm trees, beach balls, Santa in swim trunks, and so on.

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Make Christmas Cookies. We found tons of great ideas for cute and tasty Christmas in July cookies that will bring your celebration to the next level. Sugar cookies decorated to look like flip flops, Hawaiian shirts, surfboards, and coconuts will make your holiday event super sweet!

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Have a snowball fight. It’s going to be pretty hard to find snow this time of year but there is a summer version of the snowball fight that can be just as, if not more fun. Tropical colors are great but if you want to get as close to the real thing as possible, white balloons can be purchased at many online retailers. Not only are you getting some exercise but you’ll also stay refreshed on a hot summer day. Fill them up, divide into teams, and start throwing.

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Have a Christmas movie night. Pop some corn, make some chocolate shakes (instead of hot chocolate), Put on your Christmas matching family pajamas, and settle in for your favorite holiday movies. All the popular titles are always available on Netflix or other streaming platforms and if you really want to get into that feel-good spirit, the Hallmark Channel is showing Christmas movies through the end of July. A great twist on this is to set up an outdoor theater with chaise lounges or lawn chairs so you can enjoy nature and the warm summer weather.

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Throw a holiday dinner party. Instead of the usual turkey with all the fixings, plan a dinner that revolves around summer fare. A watermelon snowman, reindeer sliders, and a Christmas tree cheese and fruit board are just a few ideas for your menu. And don’t forget the beverages… set up a North Pole drink station to keep everyone cool.

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Coordinate a gift exchange. Everyone loves presents, and the holidays are still several months away so a gift exchange is a great way to stay in the giving spirit. Especially this year when people may be feeling a bit down in the dumps, finding the perfect pick-me-up for someone can make all the difference in the world.

And these ideas are just to get you started! The sky’s the limit on what you can do for your mid-year cheer celebration.  From a neighborhood Christmas parade to an actual visit from Santa, how you deck the halls is all in what you imagine.

Ho-Ho-Ho!

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Dog hiding Fireworks

Keeping your dogs safe and calm during fireworks

The 4th of July is upon us. That means family, fun, and fireworks. If you have a dog however, the fireworks part of the holiday can be a very stressful time for both you and your fur baby.

Veterinarians will tell you that July 3rd is usually one of the heaviest traffic days in their offices, with people coming in to get drugs to help calm their dogs. This is also the busiest time of the year for animal shelters, as more dogs are found wandering loose and frightened on July 4th than any other day of the year.

So what can you do? Most of the time, there simply is no way to completely calm a dog that is afraid of the loud bangs and booms associated with fireworks.  But if you prepare a bit in advance, as well as follow some simple tips during the fireworks themselves,  you can make the holiday a lot less stressful for both of you.

dog-5236559_6401. Get your dog plenty of exercise early in the day. They will be worn out and feel much calmer than if they had been inactive all day.

2. Keep your dog indoors during any fireworks, and if possible, with a human companion. You are your dogs best friend and the biggest source of comfort they have in life. Just the act of being there with them can dramatically lower the stress level.

snuggle-4717388_6403. Give your dogs a comfortable, secure place where they can feel safe. If they like a crate, make sure one is accessible and perhaps even cover it with a blanket. If they prefer to hide in a bathtub or under the bed, make sure the doors to those rooms are open. Remember, dogs are den dwellers and prefer small, enclosed areas.

4. Whenever possible, keep windows and blinds closed. Sometimes even the visual of the fireworks can disorient a dog.

5. Turn on the TV or some music for them. The sounds from what you are playing will help drown out the commotion that’s happening outside.

dog-610069_6406. Create a diversion. A frozen Kong or other long lasting treat is fun and will distract them from the activity outdoors as they focus on the special gift you gave them.

7. Act normal. Dogs can sense when something is off. Remain calm and happy even before the show so they don’t suspect that something is up.

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8. Keep them watered. When dogs are panicked, they pant a lot which is how they sweat. Make sure they have plenty of water to keep them cool and hydrated.

9Introduce a scent. Many natural and herbal retailers sell dog calming scents in a variety of forms. Read the reviews of the product you are considering before you purchase.

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10. Be understanding. The worst thing you can do is scold your dog for being afraid or force him/her from their secure spot. Let them ride it out their own way and things will return to normal much quicker.

The most important thing to remember is that during the 4th of July, dogs have a tendency to become escape artists. Make sure your dog has a collar with tags on, or better yet, have them micro-chipped. Should they pull a Houdini, your chances of getting them back dramatically increase.

Hopefully these tips will help the whole family avoid some unneeded stress and you can spend the holiday enjoying everything that comes along with it.

Happy 4th of July!

 

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4 Summer Cocktails You Need to Try

Summer is here in full force which means its patio and picnic time.  Sure you can have beer and wine on-hand for your fun summer activities and get togethers, but there’s something about an icy, fruity cocktail during the warm summer months that just makes the mood perfect! Refreshing and delicious, these cocktail recipes will be the perfect addition to any event you have planned.

  1. Rainbow Sangria. A beautiful and colorful cocktail that not only looks pretty and tastes great, but as a bonus, you also get a full serving of nutritious fruit in every glass. We found this recipe at Delish.com.

Ingredients

 

1 1/2 Bottles Moscato – chilled

1/2 c. Triple Sec

Juice of 3 limes

1/4 c. granulated sugar

3 c. each blackberries & blueberries

6 kiwis, peeled and sliced

2 c. each diced pineapple, diced mango & halved strawberries

Directions

  • In a large pitcher, stir together white wine, triple sec, lime juice, and sugar until combined.
  • In tall glasses, layer blackberries, blueberries, kiwis, pineapple, mango, and strawberries.
  • Pour wine mixture over fruit and serve.
  1. Kentucky Lemonade. Nothing says summer like a refreshing glass of lemonade. This recipe takes this favorite hot weather staple and gives it a new twist. This recipe courtesy of The Chunky Chef is simple to make and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Kentucky Lemonade

Ingredients

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (from approximately 6 lemons)

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

1/2-2/3 cup Bourbon (depending on your tastes)

6 cups ginger ale

additional lemon slices (for garnish)

 

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, combine granulated sugar and water and heat over MED heat.  Heat until sugar dissolves into water and mixture is clear.  Simmer 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat. Add lemon juice, mint leaves, and Bourbon, then let mixture cool.
  • Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a large pitcher to remove solid particles and mint leaves.  Add ginger ale and stir to combine.  Add ice and lemon slices and serve cold.
  • To serve as pictured:  Add a bit of water, lemon juice or light corn syrup to a shallow plate.  To another shallow plate, add coarse white sugar.  Dip the open end of glasses onto the liquid plate, then onto the sugar plate to create the sugar rim.  Serve drink over ice cubes, garnish with a lemon slice and sprig of mint.

 

  1. Island Breeze Cocktail. If your summer plans don’t involve heading to a tropical island, this cocktail form Crazy for Crust is the next best thing. With just a few ingredients you can make it either as a single drink or as a punch if you need a big batch for a picnic. Minus the palm trees, it’s just like you’re really there!

Island Breeze

Ingredients

To make one cocktail:

1-2 ounces vodka

6 ounces pineapple juice

Splash of cranberry juice

Pineapple and a maraschino cherry for garnish optional

To make as a punch:

36 ounces pineapple juice

12 ounces vodka more or less depending on how strong you want it

1/2 cup cranberry juice

Up to 1L Sparkling water or diet lemon-lime soda as a filler

 

Instructions

  • Pour all ingredients over ice, stir, and enjoy!

 

  1. Strawberry Mojito. With fresh Strawberries at peak flavor this time of year, you’ll get the feeling that you’re right there in the patch picking handfuls of juicy berries. Add a little rum, mint, and a few other ingredients and you’ll have the coolest, most refreshing beverage you could ever imagine. Thank you to the folks at Allrecipes for this one!

Strawberry Mojito

Ingredients

2 tablespoons white sugar, for rimming

2 large limes, quartered

½ bunch mint leaves

7 eaches strawberries, quartered

1 cup white sugar

1 cup white rum

2 cups club soda

8 cups ice cubes

 

Instructions

  • Pour 1/4 to 1/2 inch of sugar onto a small, shallow plate. Run one of the lime quarters around the rim of each cocktail glass, then dip the glasses into the sugar to rim; set aside.
  • Squeeze all of the lime quarters into a sturdy glass pitcher. Toss the juiced limes into the pitcher along with the mint, strawberries, and 1 cup of sugar. Crush the fruits together with a muddler to release the juices from the strawberries and the oil from the mint leaves. Stir in the rum and club soda until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into the sugared glasses over ice cubes to serve.

 

They say we’re in for a hot summer, but we know you’ll keep cool with these tasty concoctions. We sure will! If you have other cocktail recipes we need to know about, feel free to tell us about them here or share them with our community over on Facebook.

Cheers!

 

 

 

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Father's Day

Fun and Unique Ways to Celebrate Dad!

Father’s Day is just around the corner, but the 2020 version might not be quite the same for some families. With the country slowly emerging from quarantine, many usual Father’s Day hot spots may not be operating this year. Baseball games have been put on hold, and restaurants can’t serve the large crowds they are accustomed to.

None of this means however that you can’t have a fantastic day with the special dad in your life. With a little planning and some imagination, you can make this the best Father’s Day yet! We’ve got 5 unique ideas to help you get those creative juices flowing.

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Fuel for the day. Start the day with breakfast in bed. Let dad sleep in while you prepare a meal full of his favorite foods. He’ll need the extra energy for the exciting events you have planned for the day and he’ll appreciate a little extra time in his pajamas!Go Kart

Start your engines. Go Kart Racing is a super fun way for the whole family to get outside and let some of pent-up energy out. Go Kart racing is growing in popularity and tracks are opening up in many communities. Make sure before you go, that you call in advance to find out about age, height and weight restrictions, and other requirements. If you don’t have a track in your area, bumper cars are a fun alternative.

Mini Golf

Tee Up. Dad’s love to golf so give him what he wants – with a twist. Go mini-golfing so the whole family can enjoy one another’s company. You’ll find out how good dad really is on the course when he has to putt his way through castles, wild animals, and clowns! Make sure you let him win thought- after all, it is his day!

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Up, up and away. One of the most unique ways to spend quality time with dad is by taking a hot air balloon ride. This activity isn’t for everyone, but for those that want to walk a little on the wild side, it’s something no one in your group will ever forget. There’s nothing like seeing the land below you from a bird’s eye view as you slowly drift through the sky. Keep in mind, this is a “weather permitting” activity, so make sure you have a plan-B ready to go in case Mother Nature decides not to cooperate.

Horseback Riding

Giddy-Up. For people who would rather keep both feet on the ground, a trail ride on horseback is a fun, relaxing way to spend the day. Many stables offer hour-long or half-day excursions through the countryside with either larger groups or private groups. Dad will love the experience, and it also allows kids to experience horses up close and personal, which they may otherwise not have the chance to do.

Fishing

Reel ‘em in. Fishing is a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors as well as teach kids something new which could become a life-long passion. There’s nothing more exciting than casting your bait into a body of water and hooking your first fish. After you get some pictures for posterity, the release can be just as fun as you watch your new friend swim away. If you don’t have fishing rods and you don’t have anyone you can borrow some from, check into local trout farms. They have everything! Poles, bait, and even ponds full of fish!

 

Once your fun, activity day is over you can go home, fire up the grill and finish the day with a delicious family meal. Dad will always remember your amazing day together, and it will give you memories for years to come!

 

Tell us how you’re spending Father’s Day right here or on our Facebook page.

 

Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

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Memorial Day Weekend Staycation Ideas

Memorial Day, first and foremost, is the time we remember the heroes that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It’s also an extra-long weekend where we spend quality time with family and friends to celebrate the official start of summer. Typically this holiday weekend is spent enjoying cookouts, parades, beach parties, and other celebrations that involve large gatherings. This year however, things will look dramatically different due to social distancing practices.

Although all our states are now open to one degree or another, everyone is still being encouraged to stay home whenever possible and limit the number of people we come in contact with. Because of this, folks are looking for ways to still enjoy the holiday weekend in a toned-down way.  We have some fabulous ideas, sure to keep the spirit of the weekend alive and well.

1. Sleep in. To make sure you are refreshed and ready to enjoy all your planned activities, you’ll need to be well-rested. Sleeping in – even an extra hour will assure that you are re-energized for all the fun.

2. Have a down-sized cookout: Memorial Day weekend just isn’t complete until you fire up the grill. You can set up yard games like cornhole or lawn Jenga and spend the day playing games, enjoying terrific food, and getting fresh air.

3. Go to a concert – virtually. The National Memorial Day Concert is being broadcast on PBS on Sunday night at 8pm EDT. The concert will stream from various locations around the country and feature performances and tributes honoring our veterans and troops. It features performances from artists such as Trace Adkins, CeCe Winans, Kelli O-Hara, and more.

 4. Build a campfire: Roast hot dogs and marshmallows, tell stories, and play campfire games for a good old fashioned summer tradition.

5. Do nothing. You read that right. Use the weekend to just relax, gather your thoughts, and enjoy the beautiful weather. There’s nothing we enjoy more than unplugging and taking as early afternoon nap in our favorite lawn chair or hammock.

6.Make your own paper poppies: After World War I, the red field poppy was one of the first plants to flourish in the battlefields of France & Belgium. The color also symbolized the bloodshed of the battles, after the publication of the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D. while serving on the front lines. Today, paper poppies, which are all handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation, are distributed on Memorial Day weekend as a symbol of remembrance. This simple tutorial outlines how you can make your own poppies right at home. We love the idea of crafting them yourselves then donating money to your local VFW to continue supporting their mission.

7. Have a neighborhood parade: Get the neighbors together and plan a parade for your street or block. Kids can decorate floats and show their handiwork while everyone watches from their respective driveways or yards. It’s a great way to lift people’s spirits and get outside for some fun.

8. Make care packages for soldiers: While you are enjoying your uber long holiday weekend, soldiers are on the front line protecting our country. Organizations such as Operation Gratitude hold several events during Memorial Day weekend and are ready and waiting to collect your donations to send to our men and women serving in the armed forces. You can also check with your local chapter of veteran’s affiliations to find out what items they need and how you can get your care package to an appreciative soldier.

9. Decorate in Red, White & Blue. Nothing shows patriotism more than displaying our national colors. Fly the American flag, make ‘Thank you’ signs  for your front yard, decorate your driveway in red, white & blue in chalk art, and deck your home out with other arts and crafts to show your support for the good old U.S.A. This weekend is a good time to thank our first responders, care givers, doctors and nurses.

10. Bake festive treats. Baking can bring families together and the results are always delicious. Whip up some yummy treats for the family and decorate them in red, white & blue for the theme of the weekend.

Your Memorial Day weekend may be a bit more low-key than what you are used to but that doesn’t mean you can’t make everlasting memories, have fun, and spend time remembering what the day is all about.

We’d love to hear about your plans for the holiday. Share them below or visit our page on Facebook and share them with our community.

 

Happy Memorial Day!

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Gardening: The Hottest Hobby Around

As many continue to follow stay at home orders, nurseries and greenhouses are reporting a huge uptick in sales. It seems that gardening has become a very popular hobby.

Aside from enjoying beautiful blooms, or the satisfaction that comes from growing your own veggies and fruits, gardening also has both physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages.

The process of planning, creating, and planting gardens gives your brain stimulation and helps you forget about the stress you may have in your life. Gardening connects us to nature and allows us to focus on the entire process. Your finished product then continues to give back two-fold: It provides an ongoing outlet for stress relief as you maintain it, and the end result is a soothing environment that you can enjoy and decompress in for the entire season.

The physical aspects you gain from gardening have tremendous health benefits. To begin with, gardening releases serotonin and dopamine in our brains, otherwise known as the “feel good” chemicals.  A 2007 study showed that working with soil just makes us happier. A bacterium in soil called Mycobacterium vaccae triggers serotonin release, which in turn lifts mood and reduces anxiety. The human body also benefits from the vitamin D we get from the sun and the fresh air we inhale. These elements give you energy, build immunity, cleanse your senses, and help you sleep better.  Plus… you’ll find that you eat more fruits and vegetables because you have them right on hand. It’s surprising how much more delicious they really are when picked fresh!

The best thing about gardening is that you can have one regardless of where you live. Here are some popular methods for creating your very own garden getaway.

Apartment or Condo Living: You don’t have to have a huge back yard or acres of farmland to surround yourself with nature. Urban patio gardens, for instance, come to life with hanging planters, raised beds, and oversized pots. You can grow just about anything from flowers to vegetables in these receptacles so don’t be afraid to experiment

Small City Lots: If space is an issue, consider a leveled garden and using window boxes to maximize your growing area. You’d be surprised at how many varieties of botanicals, vegetables, and herbs don’t need a lot of room to flourish. Did you know you can turn an old dresser into a beautiful vertical garden? It’s the perfect way to repurpose an unwanted piece of furniture.

Subdivision Spaces: If you live in a subdivision, there is a good chance you have a Home Owners Association that has some guidelines you’ll have to follow. Find out what those are before you start planting because it’s common for HOA’s to limit gardening spaces to side or back yards only. With a little creativity however, that’s plenty of room to grow your garden paradise.

Wide Open Spaces: If you’re fortunate enough to have a larger property where the sky’s the limit you’ve got yourself a gardener’s paradise. Containers, levels, flower beds, hanging baskets, and more can all be worked into your creation. The possibilities are endless so use your imagination. Let both ideas you find online and your local garden center provide inspiration and don’t be afraid to try different things.

The weather is getting warmer so get out your gloves, shovels, and fertilizer and join the growing population of home gardeners. Your new space will be the perfect place to have your morning coffee or evening cocktail, spend family time, and eventually start entertaining again! It’s also the ideal place to just lounge in your pajamas!

 

Happy gardening!

 

We want to see your garden creations! Post your pictures here or visit our Facebook page and let’s see how you enjoy paradise!

 

 

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