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    • American Destinations That Feel Like Europe

      3 August 2021

      If you’re not yet ready to travel abroad, but a staycation doesn’t thrill you, consider a road trip to a cultural destination that may feel as though it is a world away, even though it’s not that far from your doorstep.

      • Holland, Michigan - You'll feel whisked away to the Netherlands in this charming city where windmills, tulips and Dutch-style downtown architecture preserve the culture of the Dutch settlers who arrived here in the 1800s. Explore the Windmill Island Gardens, ride a Dutch carousel and stop in at Wooden Shoe and Delftware Factory for traditional Dutch pottery and more.
      • Helen, Georgia - Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this tiny city with 500 residents has all the charm of Bavaria with its gabled, half-timbered buildings and Bavarian taverns offering rousing Octoberfest celebrations. There are also hiking trails through woodland and mountains, and Nacoochee Adventures, an adventure park with zip lines, high ropes and giant swings.
      • Solvang, California - Visiting Solvang is like stepping into a storybook. Enjoy a stroll through this captivating little village, munch on Danish pastry or aebleskiver (a delicious Danish pancake) and hop aboard for a quaint horse-drawn carriage ride. Take pictures at the Little Mermaid Fountain and the giant Red Clog Round Tower before shopping for an exquisite selection of Danish lace, china, home décor and, of course, books by Hans Christian Andersen. 
      • Lindsborg, Kansas - Lindsborg, known as ‘Little Sweden,’ was settled by Swedish immigrants who created this city rich in their culture. You’ll see that in the many churches, shops and in the Dalarna horses in the streets. In October, they recreate the traditional Sweden Heritage Celebration.
      • Montpelier, Vermont - Just two hours away from Montreal, Canada, founded in 1781, Montpelier blends quintessential New England with vibrant French culture. Enjoy quaint shops, French-inspired architecture and plenty of traditional French cuisine. 
      • Tarpon Springs, Florida - This little Florida city has the highest concentration of Greek-Americans in the nation, since Greek immigrants built the city's signature sponge industry. Many people speak Greek in their homes and the Greek restaurants lining the docks will make you feel like you're in Athens or Santorini.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Items to Replace for Outdoor Summer Hosting

      3 August 2021

      When summer comes, all the fun (and stress) of hosting comes along with it. Whether you’re hosting a laid-back BBQ or a semi-formal backyard dinner party, there is a lot to think about when it comes to planning. Ensure you’re ready to get the parties going in full swing by replacing or upgrading these essential summer items.

      Your Seating Area
      A lawn chair or two will get the job done in a pinch, but to truly turn your outdoor area into a space ready for summer hosting, an upgrade to your seating arrangements can have a big impact. Opt for cushioned bench seating along with traditional chairs to ensure that intimate groups of guests can stretch out comfortably. For larger parties, like children’s birthdays, multiple kids and adults can fit on a bench or outdoor couch seating in a pinch.

      The Lighting
      A utilitarian porch light will do nothing to enhance your space’s mood. Opt to light up the night while boosting the ambiance by installing more lighting options in your gathering areas. String lights are an excellent option to create a more intimate and fun gathering area in your yard. For pathways and walkways, consider lining the area with solar lights to keep costs low while providing additional visibility.

      Any Outdoor Toys
      You don’t have to choose between a sophisticated outdoor space or a play area for children, but a few modifications to your setup can heighten the aesthetic while still providing plenty of fun for any mini-backyard goers. Vet outdoor toys, discard broken toys and donate regularly unused items. For the rest, designate a specific spot in your yard to contain them, consider repainting some outdoor items, such as playhouses and sheds, to a neutral palette or your home’s exterior. Kids will love having a tiny version of your house and a matching aesthetic will prevent visual clutter.

      Backyard Games
      A great host ensures that guests have fun activities to enjoy, and now is a great time to update your backyard game collection. If your outdoor games only include toys for children, it’s time to upgrade to games that adults and kids alike can enjoy. Games like cornhole, ladder ball, croquet all make ideal activities for any outdoor gathering.

      Keeping your outdoor areas guest-ready means more than updating your curb appeal through yard work. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Minimize Stress for Everyone When Moving With a Toddler

      3 August 2021

      Moving is stressful for adults under the best of circumstances. For a toddler, it can be confusing and overwhelming. The reactions of a young child who doesn’t understand what’s going on can make the process of moving more difficult for the entire family. Anticipating how your toddler is likely to be feeling and taking steps to help your little one cope can make moving easier on everyone.

      Explain What’s Going to Happen in a Way Your Child Can Understand
      Tell your toddler where you’re going to live and what the new house is like. Talk about things that will be the same and things that will be different (i.e., new school, new friends, possibly different weather conditions, etc.). The more kids know what to expect, the less they tend to wonder and worry. Invite your child to ask questions and answer them to the best of your ability.

      It may be helpful to read children’s books about moving. Stories can help your toddler better understand and prepare for the upcoming changes.

      Involve Your Child in the Moving Process
      Have your toddler help with packing, even if that just means putting a few items in a box or decorating boxes with stickers and scribbles. Including your child in the packing process can make the upcoming move seem more real and can also get your toddler emotionally invested.

      As you go through belongings, figure out what you can get rid of. Talk to your toddler about selling or donating some toys so other children can enjoy them. 

      Discuss how to decorate your toddler’s room in the new house. Your child may want to keep some things the same but may also welcome the opportunity to make the new room different. Talk about what color to paint the walls, where to place furniture and other plans to get your child excited about moving to the new house.

      Keep Your Toddler as Calm and Busy as Possible on Moving Day
      If you’re not moving far from your current home, it may be best to have your toddler spend the day with a family member or friend and come to the new house after you’ve had a chance to get a bit settled. If that’s not possible, make sure that your toddler has healthy snacks, books and games, as well as their own space, available at all times on moving day. 

      Stick to Your Old Routine as Much as Possible
      Toddlers need structure. If life is unpredictable, your child is likely to become irritable and throw temper tantrums. In the weeks leading up to the move, stick to the same bedtime and nap schedule. 

      Maintain your routine after you arrive at the new house. If you have a family ritual, such as a weekly game night, keep it going after you move. The consistency will make the transition to your new home easier on your toddler.    

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Ways to Save Money Like Grandma Did

      2 August 2021

      Grandma didn’t have access to the array of processed foods, online shopping venues or financing options available to most of us today. What she did have, in most cases, was limited income and a need to make money stretch.

      Working parents today have more demands on their time and more complex family schedules. But economists say many of Grandma’s ploys are as relevant today as they were then. If you’re looking to pare the fat from your monthly spend, try doing some things the way she did.

      Plan Ahead - Food budgeting is easier if you plan meals ahead of time and grocery shop from a list. While a kid’s late practice or a late night at the office may occasionally scuttle the plan in favor of take-out, you’ll finish the month with more in your pocket if you make a plan and try to stick with it—and that means eating in more than going out.    

      Skip Pre-Cut and Processed - It’s no big deal to chop veggies yourself or to simmer a batch of soup, stew or pasta sauce in the evening, cooking enough for two or three meals. You’ll save by finding a few easy recipes and skipping pre-cut and processed foods.

      Pack Lunches - Eating out is expensive. You’ll save a bundle and control the calories by packing daily lunches for the family. Save more by packing a picnic lunch for a day trip with friends or family. It’s far cheaper than restaurant dining and a good way to stop and enjoy the scenery.

      Pay With Cash - Grandma did not shop with credit cards. Period. Go to the ATM and shop with cash. It’s a good way to keep from spending more than you had intended.

      Start Saving - ...and not just in your 401K. Grandma had a piggy bank or a coffee can where she stashed emergency money. Save your change. Pay yourself first out of every paycheck, automatically stashing five or ten percent of every paycheck into a separate account. Put aside all of the singles or five-dollar bills that wind up in your wallet. However you decide to save, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it adds up. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Add-ins for Refreshing Summer Drinks

      2 August 2021

      The summer sun may invite tons of fun, but it can also bring uncomfortable heat and dehydration. If you’re ready to enjoy those golden rays, try out one of these delicious water add-ins to ensure the most refreshing drinks possible this summer.

      Grapefruit or Lime
      A classic add-in, lemon’s citrus kick is a refreshing take on plain water. If you love the zesty flavor of lemon but want something different, try adding grapefruit or lime to your water for a delicious hint of flavor.

      Mint and Blueberry
      Muddled mint and blueberries make a delicious addition to mixed drinks, but they can also serve as an invigorating addition to your iced water. For a truly special kick, use carbonated water and a pinch of fresh-squeezed lime to create a healthy and alcohol-free version of a summertime blueberry mojito.

      Strawberry and Basil
      This combo reminiscent of a light and refreshing summer salad can make an excellent addition to your water. To ensure that your drink truly takes on the flavor of this combination, be sure to let the items infuse for 10-15 minutes before you plan to drink it. If you want the flavor to truly pack a punch, let the add-ins infuse longer.

      Blood Orange and Ginger
      For a hydrating drink that no one can call boring, thinly slice a blood orange and ginger to add into your water. For a lighter infusion, add it in directly before drinking. Ginger can be a particularly strong flavor, so be sure to add only a little alongside your blood orange slices.

      If you’re in the mood for a classic and simple addition to your water, look no further than sliced cucumber. Cucumber water’s simplicity makes it ideal for serving guests or children who may not like the complex flavors of stronger infusions.

      Staying hydrated doesn’t have to be boring, these add-in options are perfect for sipping on your back porch or at an outdoor brunch. Whenever you choose to make them, you’ll be sure to enjoy quenching your thirst with these perfect additions for your summer drinks.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.