Creating Friendships…One Bench at a Time.

One person can really make a difference.

Christian Bucks, an 11 year old fifth grader from York, PA came up with a great idea for encouraging friendships on the playground.  After seeing kids on his playground sitting alone or having no one to play with during recess, he asked his principal if they could get a Buddy Bench. A place where a child could sit down and be joined by others looking for friendship.   The principal agreed and a bench was installed on the playground.

It was an instant hit.  A lot of new friendships were being made.  The bench also helped prevent bullying. Since the installation of that first Buddy Bench, the concept has taken off and there are now more than  2,000 Buddy Benches at schools in all 50  states and in 13 countries including Russia, Australia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.

When asked how he felt about his idea Christian said, “I like how the idea has spread.  It’s a little thing, but little things can be big.”

To find out more about the Buddy Bench visit: http://www.buddybench.org

Kim Pfennigwerth Returns to Give Something Away.

It’s almost here – Our Second National Give Something Away Day!

Last year I wrote that July 15th is National Give Something Away Day and Darlene and I thought it would be wonderful to celebrate it once again.

As a quick reminder National Give Something Away Day is exactly what is sounds like. Give something away. Give something small or something large to someone else. It can be an organization, a family member, a friend, or a total stranger. It will lift your heart and bring a smile because giving something away is a kindness that our world needs.  

What are your plans? Going to the beach? Take along some small bottles of sunscreen to give to others.  Live along a popular walkway? Leave out some fruit or bottles of water with a Free: Take One sign. Know someone stressed-out and frazzled? Surprise them.

Giving something away is a win-win moment. You are either giving away something you’ve purposefully thought about or you are cleaning / organizing shelf or drawer space for yourself while taking the time to give it away rather than adding to a local landfill.

Recently my sister and I walked 300+ miles of the Central Portuguese Camino Way to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We experienced kindness given away daily.

Conversations were struck up at tiny cafes and well wishes given. Dozens of times a day the phrase ‘Bon Camino’ (have a good journey) were given and shared.

Pilgrims resting at Roman Bridge, Santiago.

A house along one part of the trail had fresh water and fruit for ‘pilgrims’ like us to enjoy. Another provided a shady area with chairs to enjoy a rest with the added bonus of hot coffee or some water at no charge.

On one hot day, a woman in Spain gave cool, juicy peaches and cold water to two weary women who still had 8 miles left to walk.

Daily in tiny cafes, along trails, or while sharing a cold stream to cool hot feet, kindnesses were given away. Band-Aids, cookies, fruit, with no thought other than the enjoyment of sharing with someone else.

Give away a smile, some books, or delightful time and conversation. Wish someone a good journey. But do yourself a wonderful service and take delight in the magic of giving something away. Someone else will be glad you did, I guarantee it. If you need ideas links are included below.

What have I given away? Books to the library, toys for a toddler, clothes to Good Will.

WHAT HAVE YOU GIVEN AWAY?

Share your plans and how they made you feel and be in the running for our own give-away to two randomly chosen people.  One will receive a Barnes and Noble $15.00 gift card from me and another a handmade quilted cosmetic bag from Darlene.    WINNERS WILL BE DRAWN AT RANDOM AND ANNOUNCED HERE ON THURSDAY, JULY 27. 

And from Darlene and myself enjoy a Smile-Inducing, Happiness-Boosting National Give Something Away Day!

Kim Pfennigwerth

Helpful links:

Vietnam Veterans Of American: http://www.clothingdonations.org/about-us/

Dress For Success: https://www.dressforsuccess.org/

Books for Soldiers: http://booksforsoldiers.com/donate_to_the_soldiers/

Good Will: http://www.goodwill.org/

Volunteer Your Time: https://www.volunteermatch.org/

Give to Food Banks: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/

Find Your Public Library – donate books or give a monetary donation: http://www.publiclibraries.com/

BIO:   

Kim Pfennigwerth is a lover of books, animals, children, and kindness. She is often spotted in a bookstore or library reading piles of books while revising her own picture book manuscripts.

Darlene here:  Ever since Kim’s post last year, I have been making an effort to give away things large and small.  In January, I gave away my old – but in good working condition – car to a woman who was unable to find a job due to lack of transportation.  For Valentine’s Day, I gave chocolate candy to random people I saw throughout the day.  I try to give a smile to everyone I meet.  I’ve given away clothes, household goods, free copies of my book, and some hand-made cloth cosmetic bags.  The smiles on the recipient’s faces made my day.  Giving feels wonderful!

 

Three Cheers for Ice Cream!

Did you know that in 1984, President Ronald Regan declared July National Ice Cream Month?  Sunday, July 16 happens to be National Ice Cream Day. Americans have always loved ice cream, and each part of the US has its own favorite flavor.  Here are the top 5 selling flavors nationwide:

1. Mississippi – Chocolate     2.  New York – Vanilla       3.  Colorado – Mint Chocolate Chip

4.  Iowa – Pralines and Cream     5. Texas – OREO Cookies and Cream

 Does your state have a favorite flavor?

Now, all that talk of ice cream has made me hungry.  I think I’m going to have a bowl of butterscotch almond.  With a sprinkling of coconut.  On a recent trip to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in Boston i got a taste of STRAWBERRY BASIL.  Really yummy!  What’s your favorite flavor?

Here’s are instructions on how to make your own ice cream WITHOUT an ice cream maker:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/avocado-lime-ice-cream?utm_source=zergnet.com&utm_medium=referral&       utm_campaign=zergnet_202737&cid=partner_zergnet          

Why not try some ice cream on home-made waffles?  Delicious!    

Here’s a site that knows how to throw a great ice cream themed get-together!

https://ideas.evite.com/real-parties/ice-cream-party/?utm_medium=m_email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=july_2017&utm_content=2017_07_JulyNL&utm_term=ideas&tp=i-H43-Ax-1bc-kBVB4-1p-2EB28-1c-jYuL8-aO9JY

Marilyn Ostermiller Presents: Under the Radar Low Profile National Parks, Part 2

This is the second of a two-part series focused on 10 of America’s lesser known national parks. The first part was posted June 26.

Outdoor activities ranging from sedate to high adrenalin can be found at America’s National Parks.

Want to go canyoneering? Zion National Park has become one of the premier places in the country to participate in this exciting activity that combines route finding, rappelling, problem solving, swimming, and hiking.

Want to meet a dog sled team?  Alaska’s Denali National Park’s kennels are open year-round, hosting the only sled dogs in the country tasked with helping to protect and patrol a national park.

Looking for a “road less traveled” experience? The following five National Park are relatively undiscovered compared to the ones that attract millions of visitors annually.

American Alps

North Cascades National Park, located about three hours drive from Seattle, offers serious mountaineering. Beat generation author Jack Kerouac captured his impression of the park in the 1958 novel, “The Dharma Bums,” where he wrote, “I went out in my alpine yard and there it was … hundred of miles of pure snow-covered rocks and virgin lakes and high timber.”

The park also offers accessible trails and short, scenic strolls, and steep, grueling hikes. Mammals native to the park include mountain goats and wolverines.

Annual visitors: 20,677

Glaciers Abound

North Cascades National Park, Washington encompasses more than 300 mountain glaciers,  127 alpine lakes and cascading waterfalls. The Ross Lake National Recreation Area is a popular starting point for the 400 miles of trails that meander through the valleys and cut through the mountains with switchbacks and rocky terrain.

Annual visitors: 20,677

More Than Meets the Eye

Nevada’s Great Basin National Park boasts dense forests filled with 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines. Visitors who venture underground at Lehman Caves will find an ornate marble cave filled with stalactites, stalagmites and more than 300 rare shield formations The park’s Great Basin is one of the darker spots in the country at night, making it a place to marvel at the Milky Way and constellations, away from the light pollution encountered by city-dwellers.

Annual visitors: 116,123

Photo Credit: National Parks Service

At Great Basin National Park in Nevada, rimstone dams cover the cave floor in the Cypress Swamp.

 

 

Discovered by Fur Trappers and Gold Miners

Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park comprises 30 lakes and 900 islands that once were traversed by Native Americans, European explorers, fur trappers and gold miners who navigated the U.S.-Canada border in birch-bark canoes. Much of the park can be reached only by water. The Kettle Falls Hotel, built by a timber baron in 1910, is the only lodging within the park.

 Annual visitors: 238,313

Keep an Eye Out for Gators

Congaree National Park is in South Carolina, near Charleston and Colombia. Canoeing or kayaking Cedar Creek takes visitors past some of the tallest trees in eastern North America. Along the way, they are likely to see river otters, deer, turtles, wading birds and even an occasional alligator

Annual visitors: 87,513

Before you go to any of the 59 national parks, visit nps.gov to check for any current warnings about conditions at the park, such as trail closings.

If you are planning to travel with children, the following books, suggested for 8 to 12 year olds, may be of interest:

  • National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA Centennial Edition: The Most Amazing Sights, Scenes, and Cool Activities from Coast to Coast!
  • National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas: Maps, Games, Activities, and More for Hours of Backseat Fun Paperback.

 

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

Roller Coasters: The Magnificent Seven.

Amusement Parks are often the go-to summer destination for families.  While my own taste – and constitution – are aligned with Ferris wheels and things that are high and slow, roller coasters are by far one of the most popular rides.  Here are SEVEN of the most unusual ones:

  1. Lightening Rod at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN: 73 MPH makes it the fastest wooden coaster.
  2. The New Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA: The first steel coaster to  include a major inverting loop, now has a virtual reality experience.
  3. The Joker at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, CA: With three inversions, this Batman themed ride includes loads of out-of-seat airtime.
  4. Valravn at Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH: One of 18 coasters at the park, this one is the tallest and fastest DIVE coaster. Loads of inversions and loops, so ride it BEFORE you eat lunch.
  5. The Joker at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ: With independently spinning seats on the outside of the track,  this coaster is like a Ferris wheel gone crazy.
  6. Mako at Seaworld, Orlando, FL: This hypercoaster is visible on the Orlando skyline and ties the record for Florida’s tallest coaster, as well as its fastest at 73 MPH.
  7. Cobra’s Curse at Busch Gardens, Tampa, FL: No inversions and a top speed of only 40 MPH, this might be perfect for everyone…including those afraid of the faster coasters. Plus, you get  to see live snakes and other animal exhibits while you wait to ride.

May all your coaster rides be thrilling!  Which roller coaster is YOUR FAVORITE?

Frozen Treats For a Cool 4th of July.

During these dog days of summer when the heat is too much and you don’t even feel like loading the kids into the car to get an ice cream, take heart.  There are all kinds of FROZEN TREATS you can make at home. Not only will you save gasoline and money by making your own frozen Popsicles and Slushies, you have the added bonus of knowing exactly what’s in them!

All you need is fruit juice, ripened fruit, milk or yogurt, a blender, some craft sticks and paper cups or muffin tins and you can make your own.  Here are some tasty suggestions to get started.

1.  Puree chunks of your favorite fruit in  a blender and add a splash of juice or yogurt. Strawberry and kiwi go well together.   Orange and pineapple is another tasty combo. Try throwing in some shredded coconut or coconut milk for a frozen, alcohol-free  Pina colada.  Peach and banana or mango are tasty. (banana goes with just about ANY thing and adds a nice, creamy texture when frozen). Watermelon and kiwi work well, too.

2. Make a batch of INSTANT PUDDING using low fat milk or soy milk and freeze in cups for a fudge pop taste. Any yogurt can be frozen to make pops or ice cubes to use in drinks.

3.  If you don’t have time to make pops, just freeze some fruit chunks and snack on them when you want a refreshing treat that is also healthy and delicious.  Grapes, berries and kiwi taste great frozen.

The possibilities are endless.  I’m sure you can think of some delicious combinations I have yet to try.  I’d love to taste some of your favorite frozen concoctions, so feel free to send your recipes and I’ll post some of them here.  Check out more winning recipes at: allrecipes.com.

Keep Cool and Happy Summer!

No Cook Father’s Day Supper

If You’re looking for something nutritious and delicious that children can prepare for dinner, here is a no-cook salad that is perfect for a hot summer day.  If you make it for Father’s Day, add some make your own sundaes for dessert, and Dad will feel pampered and satisfied.

MIXED GREENS SALAD:  1. Wash and pat dry a mix of salad greens such as romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, or any combination you like. Now the tasty fun begins.

Add any or all of the following to make a plain salad a satisfying main dish: sliced cucumbers, olives, shredded carrots, dried cherries or cranberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or grapes. Add toasted, slivered almonds or walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and grated Parmesan cheese (or any cheese of your choice). If you’re a vegetarian, you can stop here.

The photo version has a packet of salmon on top. I’ve eaten it with shredded chicken or tuna as well. ANY leftover meat works well.

Sprinkle with your favorite dressing – I used a raspberry balsamic with olive oil – and serve with breadsticks or garlic toast and you will get rave reviews.  HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!