Category Archives: Staying Home

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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.

Map

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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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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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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Throwing a Formal Family Pajama Dinner Party

Running out of ideas to keep your family entertained while we stay at home? We’ve got a great idea! Throw a dinner party – in pajamas!

Gone (for now anyway), are the days of eat-and-run, or the family fending for themselves at dinnertime. The great tradition of family mealtime is back in style. Families are bonding, learning more about one another, and communicating face-to-face.

Keeping things interesting however, may pose a bit of a challenge. Instead of just sitting down to supper, we suggest you mix it up a bit and create a full-blown event. Here are some ideas that you can use to pull together a formal family dinner in pajamas.

Invite

Plan it. To get started, just like any other party, you have to plan the event. Make invitations with date, time, and location (i.e.: cocktails in the living room at 6pm followed by dinner in the dining room at 7pm) and present them to the family members in your home. You could include RSVP cards that need to be returned by a certain day just to make it even more fun!

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Dress code. Just because this is a formal pajama dinner party, does not mean that your guests can arrive wearing just any old PJs. Make sure they slip on their very best pair for the occasion. Gals can do their hair and makeup (yes, even the little ones can participate) while guys should shave- if needed, splash on a little cologne, and even style their hair. Add accessories like jewelry, ties, and top hats to really take it up a notch!

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Set the mood. Candlelight, a pretty table cloth, creative folded napkins, mood music, and fresh-cut flowers on the table are all perfect for setting the right ambiance. Make the family feel like they are going out to a fancy meal at a special place.

Cooking

Create the perfect menu. Think about everything from the cocktail (or kiddie cocktail) hour with appetizers, to the dinner itself. Try to make a meal that isn’t part of your normal routine but will appeal to everyone. If you have picky eaters, then ‘dress up’ their favorites to give the food a fancy feel. Don’t forget an extra special dessert!

Dancing family

Dancing anyone? What’s a formal dinner party without a little dancing afterward? The best way to do this is to have a variety of music that everyone can relate to. Get cheek to cheek for a song or two, and then kick it into high gear and shake your booty. After-dinner dancing will also burn off some of those extra calories you may have consumed.

 

Take a family picture. As things slowly return to normal, you’ll definitely want a lasting memory of your evening. Get everyone posed, set the timer and say cheeeeeese.

Although the majority of us eagerly await the return to normalcy, the silver lining that has come from all of this is that families have been able to reconnect. We hope that after this is over, families will continue to plan, and set aside time to partake in unique bonding activities. It’s the best way to build close-knit relationships that can be passed down to the next generation.

Stay well, healthy, and safe

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