Going Green? Ten Easy Ways to Make a Difference.

With the recent news about efforts to haul away the mammoth pile of floating garbage in the Pacific Ocean, some of us may wonder how we can possibly make a difference and help keep our earth and environment healthy. So many things we might do seem feeble and often futile.

I’m here to say that EVERYONE can do something – no matter how small – to reduce the impact we have on planet earth. Today I begin a series of SIMPLE STEPS you can incorporate into your life to help keep our earth home healthy.

  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store and reduce use of disposable plastic bags.
  • Buy local to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and take shorter showers.
  •  Use a water filter pitcher or install one on your sink to refill water bottles.
  • Instead of driving, ride a bike for short distances. or take a train or bus to work.
  • Don’t let the sink faucet run when you wash dishes or brush your teeth.
  • Unplug electronics when you’re not using them.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. Today’s detergents clean just as well in cold water.
  • Line dry clothes if and when possible.

There are MANY more ways to go green.  I’ll share them in coming weeks. Got any favorite earth-friendly tips of your own you’d like to share?

 

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Fit Kids=Smart Kids.

A recent study of 70 kids aged 9-11, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that strong muscles in children correlates to better memory.  Other studies found that aerobically fit children have better thinking ability, attention, memory, and academic performance.

Bottom line: Getting kids moving with strength-building and aerobic activities during their school years will lead to an overall better school experience. Kids don’t have to join a gym.  Just make sure your child’s school has a playground with lots of equipment and that recess and gym classes are a regular part of the schedule.  Set an example by doing active things together as a family.  Taking after dinner walks, dancing to favorite songs, jumping rope, using a hula hoop, skipping and swimming.  Try crab walks, wheelbarrow races, pillow case races, and soup can arm curls to build muscles.

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Activity can be fun when parents set the tone and participate as well.  The rewards are better health and a smarter brain!

Host a Movie Night…Outdoors!

Even though summer is fading fast and kids are going back to school, there are still a lot of great evenings with pleasant weather for hosting an outdoor MOVIE NIGHT.  And you don’t have to make yourself crazy organizing one.  Here are a few simple ideas to keep in mind.

  • Be sure to select a good movie that appeals to everyone and doesn’t have a lot of quiet dialogue or dark scenes.  There are plenty of “family” films that appeal to kids of all ages as well as adults.  You might want to buy a few glow necklaces for the little ones – to keep track of them in the dark.
  • Have a test run of the equipment BEFORE the event to make sure it all runs smoothly.  This goes for sound as well as video.  Loud enough for guests to enjoy without disrupting the neighborhood.
  • Secure and cover any cords so folks don’t trip over them in the dark.
  • Have bug spray to ward off unwelcome guests.
  • Set up a table of drinks and snacks with a light on it so everyone can help themselves to treats during the show.
  • Have guests bring blankets.  As fall approaches, evenings can get cool. So much fun to snuggle under a blanket while watching the movie.

How simple is that?  Movie night doesn’t have to be complicated. And, as dusk arrives earlier in the fall, you can even enjoy a light supper of hotdogs or burgers while watching the latest blockbuster.  Happy Movie Watching!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Baseball season is here!  As fans know, there is a LOT more to the game than mere sport.  Each team has its own traditions and each ballpark its own atmosphere. Here are some of the wackiest:

Sausage Racers: At Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI, costumed cased meats take to the field during the sixth inning for a foot race.  check it out at: http://www.brewers.com

Disappearing Lighthouse: When the Seadogs hit a home run at Hadcock Field in Portland, ME, attention turns to center field.   A foghorn plays and a 16 foot retractable lighthouse emerges from behind the fence with a shower of roman candles.   http://www.seadogs.com

Giant Wheel: Modern Woodmen Park, Davenport, Iowa.  To get the best view for watching the Quad Cities River Bandits, ride the 120 ft. Ferris wheel that overlooks left field.  Plus, the ride’s LED lined spokes provide a laser-like show for those sitting in the grandstand.  http://www.riverbandits.com

Here are some other unique ballparks to check out:

http://www.ridersbaseball.com

http://www.padres.com

http://www.fightins.com

http://www.loons.com

http://www.biscuitsbaseball.com

To get the kids in the mood for a day at the ballpark, try reading some great baseball themed books chosen by kids:

http://www.readbrightly.com/10-baseball-books-kids-say-home-runs/?sid=302&mcg=29DBD02CB53302C9E0534FD66B0A0B59&ref=PRH0563577803&aid=randohouseinc13256-20&linkid=PRH0563577803&cdi=2AEB03AD52D94BE9E0534FD66B0A7FAD

Some FUN BASEBALL FACTS:

– Highest price ever paid for a modern day baseball card is $99,100.00 for a Derek Jeter rookie card  in May 2018.

Every baseball has 108 stitches. 88 inches of waxed thread is used to stitch each ball.

What’s your favorite ballpark tradition?

Let’s Go Camping!

Summer is a time of year where we usually enjoy spending more time outdoors. Hiking in parks and forests, visiting wildlife sanctuaries, swimming in lakes and beaches…so many great things to do on lazy summer days.  If the idea of CAMPING in the great outdoors sends a cold shiver down your spine, maybe you just haven’t found the right way to enjoy the camping experience.  Camping is WAY MORE than using port-o-potties, giving up showers and running water, and sleeping in a muggy, bug-infested tent in the middle of nowhere.

RV parks and campgrounds offer lots of amenities and are a budget friendly way for families to experience the natural world. Here are a few to consider when planning a family camping trip:

HERSHEY PARK CAMPING RESORT, HUMMELSTOWN, PA: Offers 300 campsites for RV hookups, log cabin rentals, pools, movie nights, and discounted admission to Hershey Park.  http://www.hersheyparkcampingresort.com

NORMANDY FARMS FAMILY CAMPING RESORT, FOXBORO, MA: If you don’t have your own RV, you can rent a YURT, pop-up trailer, or safari tent. Located between Boston and Cape Cod, this resort offers yoga classes, mountain bike tours, and a dog park.  http://www.normandyfarms.com

LAKESHORE RV RESORT & CAMPGROUND, OELWEIN, IA:  Located on the shores of Lake Oelwein, this resort offers swimming, canoeing, Frisbee golf, beach volleyball, and a day trip to the FIELD OF DREAMS movie site.  Every year some baseball legend emerges from the corn fields to have a game with fans.  http://www.lakeshoreiowa.com

AMERICAN HERITAGE RV PARK, WILLIAMSBURG, VA: For history fans you might want to try this resort where you can stay in a cabin or cottage as you enjoy nature trails, pool, volleyball and basketball courts and discounted tickets to COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG: http://www.americanheritagervpark.com

Be sure to check out state parks and campgrounds in your state for more opportunities to enjoy the camping experience this summer.

Celebrate July With the Flavors of Summer by Marilyn Ostermiller

If you need a reason to indulge in ice cream, here it is: July is National Ice Cream Month. It has been, since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation. Other flavors of summer celebrated this month as well, are baked beans, hot dogs and blueberries.

My favorite ice cream memory is a generous bowl of pistachio gelato my husband and I shared at the ancient town square in Taormina, Sicily, atop a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean, on a summer Sunday. Children played soccer nearby. Families strolled home from church. I savored the crunch of chopped nuts in every bite of that creamy green confection, served in a frosty, stemmed goblet.

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Ice cream has been enjoyed throughout history:

  • Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar (D. 54-86) is said to have frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
  • Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what we call sorbet.

It wasn’t until the 1800s, though, the invention of insulated ice houses and other commercial equipment made it possible for ice cream to be widely enjoyed around the world.

Vanilla is the popular flavor, according to a survey conducted last year by the International Dairy Foods Association. The next four most popular flavors, were chocolate, cookies ’n cream, mint chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough.

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The trend is toward unusual flavor couplings. For example, The Bent Spoon, in Princeton, N.J., specializes in small batch ice cream and sorbets using local and organic ingredients. Ricotta-pistachio, strawberries and elderflower, banana chunk, crème fraîche, school garden mint nib, pink rose, and lavender and mascarpone, were among the 28 flavors chilling in the display case on a recent day. https://www.facebook.com/pg/the-bent-spoon-132592140111950/reviews/?ref=page_internal

There are plenty of family friendly ways to churn a batch of ice cream at home, ranging from hand crank freezers to electric freezers that create ice cream in about 30 minutes.

Here are two books to get you started:

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker by Robin Donovan and published by Rockridge Press. It features such time-tested flavors as Cookies and Cream, Classic Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Red Velvet. The easy-to-follow recipes are all based on one classic base. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXY0ANB/ref=rdr_ext_sb_pi_hist_3  

  • The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker    

Marilyn will return later this month with PART 2 of the history of ICE CREAM.

 

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

Let’s Go Fishing!

As you and your family begin to enjoy some summer recreation, why not plan a few trips to the local fishing hole.  Even if you’ve never fished before, it isn’t too late to learn this enjoyable hobby.  You don’t even need to buy all the expensive gear to have a day of fun catching fish.  Many resorts and parks rent fishing gear for a day. You can also find reasonably priced starter kits for kids at your local sporting goods store. Not convinced?

Numerous research studies have found enormous benefits to a day of fishing.  Fly casting in particular is good for breast cancer survivors.  Other benefits include:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved self esteem
  • Better mood
  • Stronger bonds with family and friends
  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD                      fish

Also, many fishing spots are located in areas of natural beauty with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife other than fish. There are also opportunities to try boating and other water sports as well.  To find local fishing spots and information on regulations, maps, directions and camping information, visit:  http://www.fishintrips.net

So pack up a picnic or some snacks, plenty of water and try some fishing!