Summer is just around the corner. The kids are tugging on you and telling you they need an adventure. You realize that you, yourself need one too. You are stunned with all the planning involved and you think that you are not ready for the financial aspect of it. You really want to give the kids an awesome summer. What to do? Where to start? Don’t worry. Summer fun does not have to be costly. There are a number of things that you and your family can enjoy on a budget. The important thing is that you have each other, enjoying each other’s company. Besides, summer is to suppose to be a time to wash away your worries and frustrations. It’s a time to set a side everything else so don’t worry yourself too much. THE ADVENTURE FACTOR This is the first thing that you should consider. Kids tend to get excited to go to places that they’ve never been before. This is the best time to inject activities that are educational. Take them to a museum, a library or an aquatic center and have them point out all the things that seem interesting to them. Take the time to listen to their inquiries. Bring a map or a brochure of the place you are going to take them. Be sure that all directories are included in your pamphlet. This adds to their excitement. You could ask them where to go next and they’ll have loads of fun pointing it out on the guide. An extra point is to have a mini quiz after your trip. This will be great to measure what the kids have learned during your visit. Of course you have to have a prize on hand. Kids tend to respond to a reward system. This will boost their self confidence and willingness to learn new things. Don’t fret if your kids have already visited museums, libraries or aquatic centers in your area. Just take the extra effort to go to the next city and take them there. The idea is to take them somewhere new. THE FUN FACTOR This step is perfect especially if your kids are really young. This step will keep them energetic, active and at the same time occupied. Search the internet for a fun project idea. It can be a clay castle project or a painting and drawing project. It’s best if you could incorporate activities with the idea of the summer season coming. This way, your whole plan will be cohesive. Introduce the project to your kids and then set ground rules. You could set time limits and prizes. Again, implement the reward system. Your kids have worked hard in school. Summer will be the time for them to be kids again. Let them lay their guard down and have fun. Do the project with them. Your kids can sometimes surprise you. Hidden talents are sure to surface with this type of activity. THE FOOD FACTOR Who doesn’t like to eat in the summer? Arrange a pool party for your kids and their friends. You could also invite the parents of your kids’ friends. Let the kids help out in making the food. They will have a blast once you let them sprinkle some parsley on the chicken or grate some cheese over their Mac and cheese. The kids will be so proud of themselves in being involved in making their food. Just be sure to carry the “summer time” theme all through out your food and decorations. The kids will sure have load of fun with their friends and the food they help made. You could also arrange a picnic on the park or beach. The scenery will be beautiful there. The kids will have a chance to play games afterwards. THE NEW SKILL FACTOR Encourage your kids in acquiring a new skill. This is an activity that can be done at home. It is also economical because there could be no spending involved. If there are cases that there are, then the spending will be very minimal. Help them in choosing. There are a lot of things that you can help them out in learning this summer such as riding a bike, cooking, dancing, singing and painting. Let them choose. Let them voice their concerns regarding the activity they’ve chosen. Help them to start learning this new skill. Respond to their questions and suggest better ways to achieve a certain goal. They’ll be talking about it for months. They will even share this with their friends once they come back to school. THE VISUAL FACTOR Take the kids to see a new movie or a play. Your kids will surely deem you as their super mommy or daddy with this trick. You can surf online for postings of new plays or movies. Just be sure to pick one that your kids would love. In fact, include them in the decision making aspect of it. This will send them the idea that you give importance to what they think and say. Study what you’ve chosen carefully. It should not contain any form of vulgarity and inappropriate language. Celebrating summer doesn’t have to rob your pockets. With innovative ideas and activities, you’ll sure have super fun with your kids this season. Get creative and don’t worry. Plan ahead and get a dose of the summer fever fun.
Easy summer salads are the way to go, now that the winter blues are fading into the distance and salad days are here. The best salads are light, bright and easy to prepare. After all who wants to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen when friends are round for lunch, the garden is in bloom and the wine is chilled and ready to pour. But before you start to cook you save a lot of energy by buying the right ingredients for a simple salad. That way you don’t need the heavy bottled sauces and dressings to make a great flavor Do you really want to take a beautiful crisp summer salad and soak it in a mixture of fat, sugar, salt and chemicals? If you start off with great food and don’t do too much to it you don’t need all these strong tastes as you still have great food. All you need is to combine it well so that the flavors work together, have a nice crunchy texture and add a little light dressing to set it all off, and let the taste buds do the rest Freshness is, as in all cooking, the way to a good salad. Don’t take what the supermarkets give you. Although it’s easier to pick up the ready packed tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers etc. To make sure you get the best, take a minute or two and pick over the vegetables, choose what is firm ripe and ready to use. The same of course applies with meat and fish. There is a reason why supermarkets prepackage, and it’s not always convenience. So choose well, cook quickly and simply and your friends won’t have finished the wine by the time you get there! Enjoy a little bit of summer now with this easy poached chicken salad.
The Endless Summer hydrangea, H. macrophlla, has endless possibilities for your garden. That’s why it has become one of the most famous perennial shrubs to come along in a very long time. This collection, which now includes a white mophead called ‘Blushing Bride’, started with a single plant – Endless Summer The Original. This plant has been proven over the past few years to be an exceptional addition to any garden. They can be used as specimen plants in a perennial bed, or they can be great addition to a shady spot under a tree. They can be pink or blue depending on what type of soil you have them planted in. In order to get them to bloom blue the soil must be aluminum-based with a pH 5.0. For a pink color, the soil must be non-aluminum, neutral, or alkaline. This plant has been intensely researched at the University of Georgia. Their greenhouse, nursery, and field data all showed that it did indeed flower on new growth, has foliage flat medium green; moderate mildew susceptibility; estimating 3 to 5 feet height and as wide; have suffered cold damage in the trials but the new shoots develop flower buds and fully expressed inflorescences (blooms). It will bloom May and June with a second full flush in October and November. Studies have shown that when flowers are removed, it takes 10 – 12 weeks before new shoots develop full sized inflorescences. For continuous color, the gardener might remove one half the inflorescences (blooms), allowing the remainder to dry on the plant while the new shoots are producing flower buds for the later in the fall. The reason Endless Summer can bloom for so long is that the colorful heads aren’t really flowers at all. Rather, they are actually sepals that are sterile and grouped in clusters of 3 to 5. The fertile florets are in the center of the cluster and are very small. If you have these gorgeous plants in your yard, you will probably be tempted to bring some of the blooms inside for you and your family’s enjoyment. Hydrangeas make wonderful bouquets and the Endless Summer hydrangea is no exception. Many people make blue hydrangea wedding bouquets for their special day. The trick is to water the plants thoroughly the day before cutting them and plunge them immediately into a clean bucket of tepid water with a little bleach in it to kill bacteria. Remove lower leaves that will be under water. If wilting occurs, place stems in boiling water for a few seconds. If you prefer, the mopheads can even be dried quite easily if you wait until later in their blooming season, when they are practically drying on the bush. Endless Summer hydrangeas bloom on both old and new growth. That’s a good thing because so often if we get a late season frost, many varieties of hydrangeas that only grow on new growth, will not bloom that year. That’s why we love the Endless Summer hydrangea so much. With these beauties, you will get all summer pink or blue flowers depending on the variety you chose. Be sure and check with your local garden center or online catalogs to purchase yours today for a perennial that blooms all summer long.
Want to light up your summer? It’s not too late: you can have the coolest tiki torches for your summer nights! Yes, really cool, really styling tiki torches. No more bamboo stakes, no more tacky lights . . . these tiki torches will do more than light up your nights. They’ll transform you yard and summer evenings. Not familiar with today’s tiki torches? Well, let’s introduce you! Here are some questions to get you started. What colors do you have in your yard? Let’s re-phrase that: besides green grass and flowers, what colors have you chosen to decorate your yard with? Think about the colors of: Your house siding Any fencing, patios and decks Walkways: concrete, treated wood, bricks, pavers, etc. Patio and deck furniture Flower pots, bird feeders, etc. Do you have a committed color scheme in your yard, or is it anything-goes coloring? Once you know you can begin selecting your new tiki torches. . . yes, they come in great colors now: cobalt blue, bronze, red, black, green, steel, amber, copper, smoked glass, honey brown, ocean blue, clear glass . . . . What kind of finish do you want? Great tiki torch colors in a variety of materials: glass, copper, and steel – even a selection of mosaic tiki torches! Do you have a copper roof or trim? That’s your answer: you’ve got to have matching copper torches! Lots of stained wood on your deck and porch? No problem – metal tiki torches come in caramel, honey brown, bronze, or an antiqued finish. For a traditional look you may want black finished tiki torches. For a little different look some black torches have clear glass fuel containers! Mosaic tiki torches? Yes – and in a variety of colors. Try a mirror mosaic to add sparkle to your night and day! And of course there are several tiki torches with the cool finishes of pewter, stainless steel and nickel plating. What size works best in your yard? Yes, let’s repeat that: what size tiki torch do you want? That means you’re not stuck with just the bamboo stick anymore. Have you heard about deck torches? At 36 inches tall they attach securely to your deck railing. That means you don’t need grass to set up a tiki torch anymore! How about a set of garden tiki torches? At 16 and 17 inches high you can light up the garden, all the paths and your yard! This size is perfect around your ponds too. And a favorite: the table torch. Twelve inches tall and more than big enough to light your gatherings, you can match any table setting with the style and color selections available. Okay, and yes, the traditional tall staked tiki torch. Because we still love them, and we can pair them with other sizes now. Between 60 and 72 inches tall, they still look fabulous in your yard! Well, that should give you an idea how far tiki torches have come . . . will they make it to your house this summer?
Summer literally means fun. It’s a time when the kids are out of school and the work load in the office lessens (just a little bit). It’s a time to spend quality time with your family and have an adventure. But what if you don’t want to go somewhere? You just want to stay in the comfort of your home and celebrate the summer season. Why not translate fun into planning your very own summer pool party? Pool parties are so much fun. It’s a great way to bring family, friends and neighbors altogether. You won’t have to leave your house. Everyone will come to you. But how will you go about planning your own pool party? Here’s how. SET THE DATE Choose a day of the week that is not hectic. Choose a weekend so that everyone will be able to attend your pool party. LIST IT DOWN Decide on who’s to be invited on your pool party. Just be sure that you won’t invite more than you can handle. Also, consider their age brackets. That way when you plan the activities you’ll know if you’ll include games into your program. THEME Decide on the theme of your party. Since its summer, a beach theme would be appropriate and fun. But you can also choose other themes like a pirates or a 60’s theme. It’s really up to you. INVITATIONS It’s the time to send out your invitations. Now your invitations have to go with your theme. For example, if your theme is a Hawaiian-beach party then a great idea would be to send out little deflated beach balls or miniature sand buckets and write the party information there. Have your guests bring them to your party as a party pass. Another great idea is to have your guests hang a string of flowers on their necks or put flowers on their hair upon arrival. It’s best to make sure that all the components concerning your party are cohesive. They should go as a whole. ACTIVITIES Plan activities for you’re your guests. For the kids you can bring out a sand box and have them play there. You can put shovels and pails so that the kids can play with them. You can also throw life buoys, plastic floating animals and beach balls on the pool so the kids can indulge. For the adults you can have a pool volleyball game or a sand castle building contest. There are a lot of activities that you can do to keep our gets having fun the whole day. THE FOOD Make sure that you have enough food for the party. Choose foods that are easily to cook and are mobile so that your guests can walk around while eating them. You can do rice in a box, barbeques, prawn on a stick, a grilled corn cob, hotdogs on a stick, burgers, fruits on a stick and potato salad in little colored containers. Be sure that you have enough food for your guests. If this comes to you as costly, tell your friends to have a potluck instead. This way everyone can chip and have fun boating about their specialties and such.
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