Posts

6 Awesome Gifts of Summer to Make Now for Christmas

Even if you didn’t have an abundant garden this year, don’t worry. You can still make these wonderful gifts of summer to hold onto for Christmas. You can find everything you need at a local farmer’s market.

How wonderful it will be when you welcome the holiday season knowing your gifts are ready to go.

070516image

Photo credit: AFamilyFeast.com

Freezer jam

Mix 2 cups crushed fresh strawberries with 4 cups sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir one package dry pectin into 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers. Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Freeze and store frozen until ready to give. Makes 5 pints.

Isn’t that a cute label for “Christmas Jam?” It’s a free printable HERE from AFamilyFeast.com

MORE: Peach Freezer Jam

Read more

12 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas

Faithful readers know that we pull out all the stops around here to celebrate Christmas in July. Or at least start thinking about the holidays, just five months down the road. If you are or have ever been plagued by credit-card debt, I can nearly guarantee that revolving expenses related to Christmas have contributed greatly to that miserable situation. The problem? Procrastination.

 

Santa's hat next to the pool suggesting it's Christmas in July!

 

Face it, when it comes to Christmas, the longer you wait, the more you’ll spend. The opposite is also true: The sooner you get started the less you’ll spend.

Read more

9 Super Cool Summer Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

Whatever end-of-summer adventures you have planned for the last month of summer—the beach, pool, or even your own backyard—these cool summer tips, tricks, hacks, and DIYs will bring a smile to your face and perhaps even a sigh of relief. There’s still plenty of time to get out there and do summer like a champ!

Child going on summer vacation. Car travel and beach concept

Sand-free Electronics

Stick your smartphone, notebook, CD player or other electronic inside a zip-type plastic and zip it up. You can operate item without ever opening the bag. It will stay sand-free and totally dry.

Pack a Fitted Sheet

Take a fitted bed sheet with you to the beach. Do this first thing once you locate you spot. Spread out the sheet and turn up the corners up and place something heavy in each one (the cooler, food basket, etc.) This will keep it spread out and all of your gear (and you, too) free of sand without having to make sure you’re lying on a small towel.

Read more

How to Make Perfect Iced Tea

The only thing more comforting than a big, tall glass of iced tea on a hot summer day is knowing how to make that perfect iced tea yourself. With confidence and for just pennies per serving.

 

Two jars of perfect, refreshing ice tea sitting on a wood table

Proper Iced Tea

My dear mother-in-law, a very proper Canadian, taught me the difference between proper iced tea and the “swill” most restaurants pour, which in her opinion was, at best, a very poor facsimile. And trust me, she knew her stuff—including the six rules for proper iced tea:

Rule 1

Use plenty of tea. The flavor of tea served cold is not as intense as when served hot. That means it must be brewed stronger, so use more tea bags. Use two tea bags for every 3 cups of water.

Rule 2

Do not oversteep. Allowing tea to oversteep releases the tannins in the tea, which can make it bitter. If you want it weaker, reduce the steeping time, not the number of tea bags.

Rule 3

Cool first. Once you remove the tea bags, allow to cool before you pour it over ice but do not put it in the refrigerator to cool. Doing so will make your tea cloudy.

Read more

Plan a Staycation Now!

This summer, a cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn time off work into an amazing vacation experience, without leaving town.

The idea here is to take a stay-at-home vacation or a “staycation.”

staycation famiy camping in the backyard.

Make a plan

Determine the dates of your staycation. Create a schedule and itinerary that includes activities and meals. Make a big colorful chart and allow the kids to participate in the planning.

The point of a staycation is to make it feel as much like a real family getaway as possible, without leaving home. So, to make sure the whole family is on the same page, it is good to establish ground rules that everyone can agree on. 

Save the date

Start with deciding exactly when your vacation at home starts and ends. Make sure these are dates you clear of all regular life, just as if you and the family were leaving town for a period of time.

Establish guidelines

Set a few guidelines for what your family may and may not do during this time. These could include all or some of the following: Read more

Free Stuff to Do With Kids This Summer

Got more time than money for family entertainment this summer? No problem. There are lots of things you can do with the kids that are completely (or nearly) free. No kidding! Check out these ideas:

Using a smartphone to find a treasure in an activity known as geocaching

GO GEOCACHING

Geocaching (pronounced gee-o-cashing) is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use GPS to hide and seek containers (caches). A typical cache is a small waterproof container concealing a logbook or “treasure,” usually toys or trinkets of little value. More than 750,000 geocaches are registered on various websites devoted to this pastime. If you have a handheld GPS or a GPS-enabled cell smartphone, you’re ready to get started.

First,  go to Geocaching 101 to get a great overview and then watch this 75-second video, What is Geocaching?

To get started, you’ll need to register, but it’s free. Once you’re ready to start treasure-hunting, just type in your zip code and start exploring! Geocaching is the ultimate treasure hunt and kids love it! Be sure to learn simple geocaching protocol and etiquette before you head out on your first adventure.

SUMMER READING PROGRAMS

Public libraries and retail booksellers across the nation are offering wonderful free reading programs for kids this summer. What a great way to encourage your child to read over the summer months while at the same time having so much fun! Many of these programs offer the kids freebies—free books, coupons for free ice cream or other goodies. Summer Reading Programs 2018 offers a list of Summer Reading Programs for Kids that give free books, money and more.

VISIT A MUSEUM

Many museums and galleries throughout the U.S. offer free admission on special days or weekends.

For example, The California Science Center, new home to Space Shuttle Endeavor, is always free. Chicago Children’s Museum offers Free Family Night on Thursday evenings, 5 to 8 pm. The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Contact the museums in your area to see when they offer free admission.

Read more

7 Ways to Turn a Boring Side Salad into a Main Dish Summer Salad

If there’s one food that signals the arrival of summer, it’s gotta’ be salad. Backyard gardens everywhere are bursting with beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and basil.

But the same warm sun that nudges produce to perfection can also zap all the energy from the average cook. That’s why we love big, lovely summer salads. We can step away from the hot stove to eat well any night of the week.

big main dish vegetable salad with grilled chicken

And now the problem: How? Where’s the recipe? Truth be told, there really aren’t a lot of specific recipes for entree worthy salads. What we need is a formula of easy-to-remember yet specific steps that will let us use what we have already to create hearty summer meals that even our pickiest eaters will enjoy.

Start with a big bowl

Depending on how many you’ll be serving this may need to be really big. Because salad ingredients are generally low-energy density and high water content, you’re going to lean on volume to fill and satisfy even the hungriest member of the family.  Read more