Keep Your Kids and their Friends Entertained All Winter!

iStock-637259716

Winter can be a snowy blast for kids, but when it’s too cold to play outside, kids need something that entertains them inside. Here are some winter games and activities for kids and the kid inside every adult. 

Indoor Snowball Fight

Whether there is snow on the ground or not, you can still have a snowball fight inside! Ball up some white paper or some white socks, give each kid a basket with their snowballs and let loose. Clear away furniture or anything that could be fallen over, tripped on or broken, but this is a great way to burn off some energy during the coldest days.

Pass the Antlers

Get a pair of inexpensive antlers and have them ready for a fun game of Pass the Antlers. It’s like Hot Potato, with a winter twist. Sit in a circle and start the music. Pass the antlers around the room as the music plays. Each player must put the antlers on their head when they receive them. When the music stops, the person with the antlers on their head or whose holding them is out.

Pin the Nose on the Snowman

This is a winter spin on Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Cut out a large snowman from some white paper and add some eyes and mouth, and even a hat if you’re creative. Cut several “carrots” from orange construction paper, add some tape, cover the kids’ eyes with a scarf, and let them try to get the nose where it goes on the snowman.

Reindeer Word Search

Write the word reindeer on a pieces of paper. Pass these out to the kids. They have three minutes to find and write down as many words that they find in “reindeer.”

Mitten Pictionary

Get out your classic Pictionary game and add a little winter fun. Put mittens and snow goggles on the child whose turn it is to draw the picture. This puts a fun, childlike spin on this classic game. Kids love it and cannot stop laughing while they play.

Hello to the Relatives

Grab your craft supplies and spread them out. Let the kids decorate cards with glitter, glue, paint, sequins, beads, whatever you have available. Then have them write thank you notes and messages inside the cards for all their relatives – grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins and even friends. They’ll have fun creating these and the recipients will have fun opening them.

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the fun has to stop inside! 

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling

Winter fun

The good news about shoveling snow is that you can burn some calories, about 250 in 30 minutes for a 170-pound person. And that may be all of the good news. As winter weather inevitably moves in, it’s good to keep in mind a few snow shoveling tips.

Prepare for shoveling.

  • Get ready before you get started.
  • Put on layers of clothing.
  • Stretch.
  • Wax your shovel blades by spraying them with cooking spray. By spraying your shovel blade with cooking spray, you make it slippery and make it easier for snow to slide off.

Once you head outside, maintain good physical health by doing the following:

  • Lift with your legs.
  • Push the snow across the walkway rather than lifting and carrying it. If you do lift, move your arms down close to the blade keep the blade close to you.
  • If the snow fall is deep, skim a layer off the top and make two passes in one area, so you aren’t pushing or lifting too much.
  • Take breaks and rest, and drink a lot of water. Shoveling snow is intense, and you need to treat the activity like you would any physical exercise, which means resting and drinking water.

Pay attention to paths.

  • Make sure you aren’t blocking any pathways or doorways with piles of snow. And push the snow far enough off the driveway or walkway that it doesn’t fall back to where you previously shoveled. By leaving room, you also are ensuring that you have room to shovel more snow if it continues to snow or snows again soon.

Care for your tree limbs.

  • If too much snow sticks to the trees, it can cause branches and limbs to break. Remember to knock snow off of branches, especially if it is heavy and wet snow. This will protect your trees and anything that is below.

Make your car safe to drive.

  • Knock all of the snow off your car’s windshield, roof, hood and trunk before driving anywhere. You need to be able to see and you don’t want it blowing back at you or blowing onto the cars in traffic.

Winter can be a snap (or a little easier, anyway) if you are careful in the snow.

Thanksgiving Activities the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Family Throwing Autumn Leaves In The Air

Are you looking for some fun family activities that you can enjoy on Thanksgiving? Sometimes it’s hard to find something for all ages, so we wanted to give you some ideas for ways you can make Thanksgiving and the long weekend fun for the whole family.

Make Thanksgiving Crafts.

No matter what your guests’ ages, everyone has fun making crafts. Set up a craft table with different items they can use – pine cones, construction paper, crayons, glitter, beads, holiday ornaments, scissors, glue and whatever your creative mind can thinks of. Guests can make holiday cards, wreaths, ornaments and more. And for a great Thanksgiving dinner treat, let everyone create their own Thanksgiving place mats or let the kids create them for themselves and adult family members.

Make a Game Out of Thanksgiving.

You can tweak just about any favorite game to give it a Thanksgiving twist. Here are just a few.

  • Pin the Tail on the Turkey. Make several construction paper turkey tail pieces and create a construction paper turkey body. Tape the turkey body to a wall. Give all players a construction paper tail. Blindfold the players, spin them, and let them have a chance to pin the tail on the turkey. Whoever gets the tail closest to the right spot, wins.
  • Turkey Words: Give all of your adults and children who can spell a piece of paper and pen. Set a timer for three minutes and have everyone make as many words as they can out of the word turkey. Whoever has the most words in three minutes when the timer goes off wins the game. If you have adults, older kids and young kids competing, you can have prizes for different age groups.
  • Turkey Talk: Tell a “story in the round” by making a circle and starting with the first person who makes up the first line of a Thanksgiving story. An example might be, “Jerry didn’t want to go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving this year.” The next person adds a sentence to give the story another twist. The third person does the same. Go around the circle until the story ends and see what kind of turkey tale you come up with.

Take a Break Outside.

If the weather is nice, get outside. Take a walk around the neighborhood, go on a local hike or even start a game of football — the traditional Thanksgiving sport. Is there really a better way to burn calories after a big dinner or before you sit down to eat? Everyone can use a little movement on this holiday.

Make Memories. Share Memories.

After dinner is the perfect time to make some new memories by sharing some old ones. Pick a theme such as “the greatest day ever,” “my favorite memory,” or the funniest thing that ever happened to me.” Then share the stories with your family and friends. It’s a great way to relax and keep the evening going while sharing memories. Want to relive this? Make sure someone videotapes the stories on their camera or phone. You can share this after the evening for a fun memory you’ll always treasure.

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together and share quality time. We hope some of these activities can help your family keep the day special and make it memorable.

What Can You Do with a Pumpkin Besides Carve It?

pumpkin-2868748_640

Have you ever wondered what you can do with your pumpkin besides carve it, paint it or leave it on your porch until after Thanksgiving? Here are some fun uses for pumpkins that don’t require a lot of money or effort but do provide some unique fall decorations, healthy snacking choices and even beauty and wellness options.

Create clever fall decorations.

Carve the perfect fall vase. Cut off the top of your pumpkin, carve out the center and then place a container filled with water inside. You can choose a short pumpkin, tall pumpkin or something in between, based on the size of your glass container. Add your favorite bouquet. Or float fall candles.

Make pumpkin fries. Use a potato peeler to remove the pumpkin’s skin, then cut the squash into fry-like strips. Coat them with the spice of your choice, arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes. Serve with a spicy aioli or another dipping sauce.

Create a fall candle holder. Take a small or miniature pumpkin and remove the stem. You can snap it off or cut it off, but make sure that the top is smooth or evenly indented. Place a votive candle where the stem used to be. You can leave the display as is, or add a glass hurricane shade over it. Try grouping several together or spreading them across the center of your table to create the illusion of a glowing runner.

Let your pumpkin pack a punch by doubling as a punch bowl. Get a short, round/fat pumpkin. Cut off the top and remove the pumpkin pulp from the inside. Place a short glass bowl into the pumpkin and pour in your favorite punch. Add a ladle and you’re good to go with this fall party table decoration.

Make a pumpkin drink dispenser. This item may be used during Halloween, or for other fall-themed events, such as Thanksgiving. This project may be of interest to those who enjoy arts and crafts, entertaining, or even those who want to undertake a fun project with other family members. Click here for easy instructions for this family craft.

Get spicy and creative with the seeds.

Stay classic and bake the seeds. Bake the seeds with your favorite spices at 350 F until they are toasted, about 20-30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. Make sure you rinse the seeds and let them dry before bake them. Or use them in granola. Add the seeds to oats, dried cranberries or other favorite snacks for a great granola blend.

Spice up your guacamole. Use pumpkin seeds to liven up your favorite guacamole. Bake the seeds with chili powder and mix them into your
traditional snack for a little healthy fall fun.

Add pumpkin to your health and beauty regime.

Scrub away with your pumpkin with a pumpkin exfoliant. For a full body treatment, you can use purée pumpkin and brown sugar (oatmeal is another great exfoliant). Put the exfoliant on a damp loofah or cloth and scrub onto skin in circular motions. This helps to drain toxins from the body. Finish with a nice warm shower.

Add shine to your hair. Restore shine and moisture to dry and damaged strands with a homemade pumpkin hair mask. Combine one cup of pumpkin (you can purée chunks in a food processor or use the canned version), a half cup of plain yogurt and two tablespoons of honey into a bowl. Mix well, and then apply to hair from root to tip. Cover head with a plastic shower cap and sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash treatment out and
follow up with a thorough cleansing using a shampoo and conditioner.

We’ve answered some questions about pumpkins. We’d be glad to answer questions about home mortgages, too.

Tread Carefully Colorado – Haunted Hikes and Haunted Places

foggy-545838_1280 (1)

Getting scared is shockingly good for your health. The excitement can help alleviate depression by increasing your adrenaline, which increases energy. Also, it’s just fun. Don’t miss a beat this fall. Take advantage of the cooler days and the early evenings to check out some of Colorado’s haunted hikes and haunted places. 

Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs
The hike to Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs is short and scenic but don’t be fooled. It just may be haunted! Hikers report hearing strange voices in the surrounding area at night. Years ago, a woman named Helen Hunt died at this set of waterfalls. Visitors report hearing voices all around the waterfalls at night, even though no one is there.

Fort Morgan Nature Trail, Fort Morgan 
An hour north of Denver, Fort Morgan remains haunted by the ghost of the River Witch, a woman who killed herself in the area after becoming an outcast in society. Hikers report sightings of the witch.

Woodglenn Park, Thornton
Near Adams in Colorado, you can go on a spooky walk through Woodglenn Park. In the 1980s, some friends all came to this park together and played pranks on each other. One of these pranks went horribly wrong, and two of the friends died in a raging fire. According to visitors in the park, you can hear a boy screaming on windy days, asking for help. Sometimes it feels as though someone is following you.

Carter Lake, Berthoud
Hundreds of years ago, a settler named Mr. Bennet lived in this area. He was shot and killed by a rival settler on Bennet Road, over a land dispute. Sometimes visitors can see a man dressed in old fashioned clothes walking down this road and carrying a bag.
When they get closer, he disappears from view and does not reply.

Horse Thief Canyon, Fruita/Grand Junction
West of Grand Junction and near the Colorado National Monument, you can see a woman in a white dress wandering between the canyon walls. In the 1800s, this passage was popular for horse smugglers, who would bring their stolen horses through this canyon before making a tidy profit. One night they were riding through this canyon, when one of them accidentally trampled a young woman. Her ghost still wanders around on the canyon floor.

Grand Lake
The hikes in Colorado around Grand Lake are always haunted, so be careful if you choose to visit there. Years ago, there was a huge battle between the Ute and Cheyenne Native Americans. The Ute sent their women and children across the lake in rafts to keep them safe, but a huge storm rose up and the rafts all capsized. Now the spirits of these women and children still walk around the lake at night and look for their family.

Sand Creek, Eads
Make sure to stop by Sand Creek in Kiowa County. The terrible story of the Sand Creek Massacre is true, and people still see ghosts from the battle to this day. In the 1800s, more than two hundred Native Americans were killed in an ambush, mostly women and children, even though they tried to escape. Their bodies were treated disrespectfully and left unburied, so their spirits haunt the area around Sand Creek.

Brown Palace Hotel, Denver
This century old luxury hotel is said to host a number of spirits in its historic rooms and hallways. The ghost of an old railroad ticket manager walks directly into a wall, a baby is heard crying in the basement, an ethereal waiter rides the service elevator, and a long dead string quartet has been known to practice their music here.

Capitol Hill, Denver
Once the neighborhood of Denver’s wealthiest citizens, Capitol Hill continues to wear its decadent image with honor, blending the past with the present, as ancient Victorian mansions and contemporary condos and apartment complexes dot the neighborhood. Also here in this historic neighborhood, are a bevy of ghosts. Ghost tours of the area tell of numerous entities who continue to inhabit this historic neighborhood. At the old Governor’s Mansion, ghosts are said to walk the halls, at the State Capitol buildings, a phantom woman in a long dress is often known to appear.

Read more
Legends of America, Colorado
7 Haunted Hikes in Colorado
10 Most Haunted Hikes in Colorado

It’s Time: Prepare Your Garden for Autumn

iStock-672828274 (1).jpg

The kids are back in school, the nights are getting darker earlier, and the cool morning air reminds you that summer is coming to an end. It’s time to plan for a day in the garden soon, so you can prepare it for the fall. Taking a little time earlier in autumn will save you precious time in the spring when you’re ready to bring your flowers and vegetables to life again. Here are a few simple tips for making the most of a weekend in the yard and garden at the end of summer.

Prepare your lawn. Your lawn may be the most resilient part of your yard, and a little fall fertilizing will help it come back even better in the spring. Fertilize your lawn while it is still green, and as long as it remains green, continue to mow it to about a 3-inch height. Never cut your lawn too short while it’s green. Continue to water your lawn while it is green and then water it once a month in the winter if there is little snow or rain.

Pull up old vines and vegetable plants. Insects often feed on these plants in the summer and then lay eggs in the fall. Raking and pulling up old vines and leaves will prevent the insects from surviving the winter and hatching in the spring. Insect pests that feed on these plants during summer and fall often lay eggs on the old plants. If the vines are left on the soil surface, insect eggs will survive the winter and hatch in the spring.

Add some organic material to the soil of your vegetables. You can add manure, compost, peat and/or leaves in the fall and then mix this into the soil really well.

Leave some vegetables alone. Your vegetables – carrots, beets, parsnips – will do well after the ground has cooled. Put a straw mulch cover over these vegetables and let them live on. Parsnips turn even sweeter in the cooler ground.

Harvest the fall vegetables with the first light frost. Bring in your winter squash and pumpkins before the first heavy frost damages them. Cut them from the vines, leaving 3 to 4 inches of stem on the vegetable.

Pull your annuals. Fall means it’s time to say goodbye to the summer annuals. Pull your annuals and compost them if you choose. If your plants are diseased in any way, discard them in the trash so they don’t ruin your soil.

Do one more round of weed pulling. Pull your weeds in the fall or spot-spray on some of the green perennial weeds. Perennial weeds, such as dandelion or thistle are easier killed by fall spraying than summer spraying.

Keep watering trees and shrubs. Water your trees and shrubs into the winter. If there is little moisture during the winter water them every few weeks. Dry soil can kill the roots and stress the trees and shrubs. Water early in the day so the water can be absorbed before it freezes at night.

Cut back your perennials to within 1 to 2 inches of the ground and dispose of the cuttings. They may carry diseases that will survive the winter. When the weather gets colder add mulch to the soil of the perennials to keep them warmer and to ensure they don’t get stressed in thawing and cooling weather.

Anticipating our summer gardens is something a lot of us do in the winter. Make sure your ready to go when the weather warms up by taking a few steps as the weather cools down.

Things to Do with Your Family before Summer Ends

Stock 1

Back-to-School time is coming soon. Don’t let summer slip by without taking part in a few summertime favorites with your kids. Some of these may even harken back to your own summer memories. Share those memories with your kids, while creating new ones.

Spend the day at a sandy beach near you. You don’t have to take a trip to Florida to get the most out of sun and sand. There are a lot of state parks, national parks and local parks that have fun beaches. Grab a pail, a shovel, some chairs, your sunscreen and a picnic lunch and make memories by the water for one last summer splash.

Play mini golf. This is the perfect after-supper activity. It’s relaxing and challenging at the same time. Kids and adults alike have fun trying to get past the windmill, down the right slope and into a hole in one!

Be a tourist for the day. Let’s face it, there are towns and historical sites that we never go to and hikes we never take because they are for the tourists. But these places provide a lot of new information about your local community and your state. And there’s a reason tourists go there – they are fun to visit. Don’t miss out on the reasons out-of-towners hit the towns!

Find a festival. Summer is about festivals and there’s a festival for everyone. Whether your family is into art, culture or funnel cakes, there’s a festival somewhere. Grab the kids, head to the Ferris wheel with cotton candy and just have some summer fun.

Camp in the backyard. Set up the tent, grill hot dogs and make s’mores – all without leaving home. There are memories to be made in your own backyard. Telling ghost stories and giggling past dark is a part of many family traditions. It could be a part of yours!

Get ice cream from the ice cream truck. Few things sound like summer as much as the songs from the ice cream truck. Don’t let it pass by this summer without stopping for a rocket pop!

Whatever you do, make the last breath of summer a memorable one for you and your family.