Entertain Kids During the Super Bowl

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When you’re a football fan, and your team (or any team for that matter!) is in the Big Game, it’s hard to believe that there may be people at your party who are not as into the game as you are. Those people are most likely kids! Here are some tips for keep kids happy during the game.

Bring in a Babysitter for the Day
Hire a babysitter to watch and play with your kids and any guests’ kids. Make sure you are clear on your expectations – can kids hang out with adults? What games do you have for the kids? What snacks can they have?

Set Up a Craft Table – Football Themed, Valentine’s Day Themed, Just for Fun!
Kids of all ages have fun working with their hands. Bring out the construction paper, glue, child scissors, glitter, crepe paper and more. Whatever you can think of, kids can craft with. Invite them to make pom-poms, football helmets to wear and more. Or let them get a head start on their homemade Valentine’s for grandparents or siblings or friends. And if none of that inspires them, let them make anything they’d like.

Set Up a Jigsaw Puzzle and Coloring Table or a Board Game Table
Maybe you have kids who aren’t crafty at your party. A coloring book and crayon table and a jigsaw puzzle table may be just what they need to stay entertained. Or let them play board games. Sorry, Life, Chutes and Ladders – these are all great games for kids.

Remember, the more you put out for them to do, the more easily entertained they will be.

When Making the Food, Remember the Kids
Super Bowl parties are not usually the example of healthy food choices. Junk food often rules the menu. However, you want to make sure you have healthy snack options for your adult and child guests.

Popcorn is a healthy choice. Have a popcorn bar where they can add fun candy, raisins, granola or other snacks to their popcorn. Pop up a big bowl of plain popcorn and offer a variety of flavor shakers, such as cheddar cheese, barbecue, etc. You can find these at most grocery stores with the popcorn. Put out some plastic cups to put their popcorn and let them snack. Provide red plastic “keg” cups, a stack of small paper bags or small baskets lined with paper towels for guests to serve themselves.

Make sure to have enough cups for your adult guests who are sure to snack at the popcorn bar, too.

Host Your Own Super Bowl
If Super Bowl Sunday is a nice day, set up a miniature football field outside. Have two different colored flags and let the kids play touch football in the backyard. An opportunity to run around provides a great energy burn before the game and during half time.

Play Hot Football
This twist on the classic Hot Potato can be an energy burning alternative if you can’t get outside. Have the kids stand in a circle, turn on music, and have the kids start passing a miniature football. The kid who is holding the football when the music stops has to do a funny dance and have the others in the group copy it. Keep the game going until the game starts or half time is over.

Do Touchdown Dances
If the kids are watching the game, have them do a Touchdown Dance every time either of the teams scores a touchdown. You can also make it a Field Goal Dance, too. Even the adults who are most into the game will dance when their team scores a touchdown! It’s another way to keep moving.

You know Super Bowl Sunday is a blast for fans. Make sure it’s fun for the little ones, too,
by making having Super Bowl fun Super easy!

Keep Your Fresh Cut Flowers Fresh Longer

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We are smack dab in the middle of winter. That means you have to bring some spring and summer freshness into your home to feel a little warmer inside. Fresh cut flowers may be what you need to feel warm, cozy and spring, when it’s cold outside. Want to keep your blooms fresher longer? Try some of these tips.

Start by Snipping the Stems.
Flowers have a vascular system in their stems that draws up water and nutrients to feed the blooms. If you don’t cut them, air that has been drawn into the stems while they were out of water can block water absorption. Use sharp scissors or pruning shears, and snip 1/2 inch off the bottom of the stems at a 45-degree angle. Every three days trim about 1 inch. Why do you cut the stems at an angle? It allows the flower stem to take in more water.

Trim the Foliage.
Before putting the flowers in water, trim as much foliage as you can off the flowers, if the foliage will rest under the water line. This will decrease the bacteria in the water and keep your vase clear and prevent odors. It also will redistribute the flowers’ resources to the main blooms. There will probably be some foliage in the water, but try to remove some.

Select the Right Vase.
Make sure the opening of the vase is the right size: Not so narrow that it crowds the flowers; not so wide that the arrangement loses its shape. You can even choose a short vase and really cut the stems. Fill the vase about two thirds full with fresh, cool water. Don’t use warm water. Warm water may make the flowers open faster.

Place the Flowers in Water Quickly.
Don’t waste time getting your bouquets back into water. You can even cut the stems while holding the stems in water. No matter what, don’t let the flowers lay on the counter for long!

Get the Temperature Right.
Keep fresh flowers from direct sun and other heat sources, including heat vents. To take it one step further put the arrangement in the fridge overnight. According to FTD, this strategy is the best way to preserve a bouquet.

Change the Water.
Fresh flowers need to drink fresh, clean water, every one to three days. Dump all the water out, swirl hot water in the vase to kill any bacteria and add fresh, cool water back to the vase. If the stems are ready to be cut, trim them. If there’s more foliage you can remove, remove that.

Remove Wilting Flowers.
Remove wilting flowers from the arrangement. They can get moldy and contaminate other flowers.

Place the Flowers in the Right Spot.
Flowers and fruit are not friends. Fruit and vegetables gives off ethylene gas, which causes flowers to wilt. One apple won’t make a difference, but keeping your flowers away from a large bowl of produce is a good idea.

It may not spring, but it can feel like spring in your house with some fresh blooms that stay fresh just a little longer.

Hosting New Year’s Eve in Your Own Home!

 

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Are you hosting your first New Year’s Eve party? Hosting your fifth? Whether it’s your first New Year’s Eve at home or you’re a seasoned couch potato during the holidays, trying something new may be the resolution you made for this New Year’s Eve. Here are some ideas for kids and adults to make ringing in 2019 at home a blast!

MAKE THE FOOD FABULOUS
People love to nosh on fun food for New Year’s. After all, the next day they start their new diet! You’ll want to have snacks and dinner for the early birds and for the late nighters. Here are some easy ways to make sure you have enough food for everyone, no matter when they come or when they plan to leave.

Make the Party BYOA: Bring Your Own Appetizer
Ask your guest to bring an appetizer. You’ll supply the beverages! Almost every party-goer has a favorite appetizer they like to make. And if someone isn’t sure what to bring, invite them to bring raw vegetables and humus or a fruit and nut platter. These will make an excellent complement to the other foods, which most likely will not be as healthful.

Host a Midnight Dinner (Or Keep the Spread Out All Night Long)
A midnight dinner is a great way to keep the party going after you ring in the New Year. It’s only once a year, so no one will complain that they “ate too late.” Try something like a salad and baked potato bar. It’s just enough and doesn’t take a lot of effort to set up. And, people can eat as much or as little as they like. This meal is fast and easy.

Prepare a big salad ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure you have different choices for dressing. The salad is your vegetable option. The main attraction is the potato bar.

Before the guests arrive, prepare different potato toppings: a bowl of sour cream, bacon pieces, chopped scallions, salsa, shredded cheese, butter, steamed brocolli, chili….anything you can think of that you may want to put on a potato will work. Remember that baked potatoes take a long time to cook so get them in the oven early.

If you use paper plates and bowls, clean up is easy, and you’ll be in bed before you know it.

DECORATE WITH STYLE
Of course you know you need party hats and noise makers, but you also have lots of choices for decorations. However, you may be ready to wrap up the holiday décor not get crazy by putting out more. Here are some easy decorations that don’t cost a lot of money that add a little New Year’s spice to your party.

Hang Paper Snowflakes from the Ceiling
Let your kids and their friends get in on the decorating fun. Before the party, have them cut paper snowflakes of all different sizes out of white paper. If you’re not worried about a little mess, let them sprinkle glitter on the snowflakes to add some sparkle. Then put a little ribbon of different lengths on the snowflakes and tape them to the ceiling. Test your tape first to make sure it won’t pull off your ceiling paint.

Scatter Curly Ribbon
Curl some ribbon with scissors and then scatter the ribbons in different places. Get the wider kind of ribbons – about 1/2 inch thick. Curl with scissors and put them on tables, light fixtures, mantles and even mirrors. You can hang some ribbons from the ceiling with the snowflakes and sprinkle on your tables and bar.

Add a Touch of Class with Shiny Christmas Ornaments
Add some sparkle and some class. Glittery Christmas ornaments look wonderful in a bowl as a centerpiece. You can also hang plain ornament balls from a light fixture over a table using varying lengths of ribbon in festive colors.

MAKE MINGLING EASY
Once your ready for your party, you need to have something to do! Here are a few ice breakers to get adults and kids mixing and mingling. You probably won’t want to play these games all night, but they can be good to get your party started.

Write Predictions for the New Year
Have your guests sign their predictions and place them into a bowl or a box. Then take turns reading the predictions while everyone guesses who wrote them. It can be surprising how difficult it is to guess your friends’ predictions – and it’s a great way to kick off the night or to wrap up the night!

Play “Guess the Resolution”
Before the party starts, write general New Year’s resolution ideas, such as “lose weight” or “eat better” on notecards. Place them in a bowl, and then to start the game have guests pick one. They are not allowed to look at their card. They can either hold it to their forehead or have someone tape it to their back. Then, only asking yes or no questions, and only asking one question per person, they must figure out what their resolution is. Say they ask one person, “Does my resolution involve physical exercise?” That person would say yes, and then they’d move on to the next person. The first three people to guess their own resolution correctly, win a prize.

Play “Fact or Fiction”
Give guests a tally sheet with all the players names and a fill-in-the-blank line. Gather the players for a round of introductions. When it’s their turn to talk, each guest will share three “facts” about the best New Year’s Eve Party they ever attended. Two of these things should be true and one should be fiction. Players keep score by writing down which story they think is fake. The player who identifies the most fake facts wins.

Or Play “Two Resolutions and One Lie”
Have everyone tell the group two of their real resolutions and one fake resolution. Everyone has to guess which is the fake resolution.

Remember, these games just get the party started! Don’t make people play all night long.

ARE KIDS INVITED?
Do you have kids coming to the party? If it’s not enough that they get to stay up past their bedtime, here are some ways to make the party more fun for them, too. They also can play the adult party games above or be paired with a grown up partner, if the games are a little to “old” for them.

Encourage kids to dress up
Gussy up your kids. Your night will feel special and fun if they dress for it — plus it will make for excellent pictures. Let kids be over the top: White gloves, pearls, bow ties and tiaras are easily found in your local party store, in your kids’ dress-up trunk or in grandma’s closet. Paint everyone’s nails. Wear hats. Break out the glitter and get fancy!

Dance
Make a playlist that includes favorite grown-up and kids’ songs. Roll up the rug and dance with wild abandon. When you get tired, sit down and check out your kids’ moves. Have a dance contest and be sure to take pictures.

Make it Glow
Kids like their lights! Light up your house with kids and glow sticks and glow necklaces. You can even stick glow sticks in balloons for awesome lighted balloons!

No matter what you choose to do this New Year’s Eve, we hope your 2019 is all you dream of! And if your dream for 2019 includes a new home, let us help with your mortgage questions.

Clear Out the Clutter Before You Put Away Your Holiday Decorations

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The best way to stay organized in the new year is to head into the year ready to go! Cleaning up holiday clutter (and clutter from the rest of the year) can be easy and fun. Here are some tips to cut clutter and get organized.

For every one new item you bring in, get rid of two. If you get a new holiday ornament, pick two that have no sentimental value that you really don’t love to get rid of. If you get a new DVD as a gift, find two that you never watch and get rid or them. Did kids get new clothes? It’s a sure bet that they have clothing they don’t wear or have outgrown. The same is true for toys. In with the new, out with the old. Many of these items will be welcome at Goodwill or another recycling store, and you can get a tax write off to boot.

Fill boxes that packages came in with items to discard. Instead of recycling or throwing away shipping boxes, pack them with items you can recycle or discard. It’s a fun game and a challenge for the family. How many toys, outgrown clothes, old decorations or things you just don’t love, can you fit into a box? You’re not using these items anymore but they still have a lot of life left in them. You have the boxes, now it’s time to fill them.

Celebrate a Japanese tradition. Who knew that when you de-clutter, you could also be teaching about a different culture? In Japan, clearing clutter and cleaning at the end of the year is a big part of the Japanese New Year tradition. Because each year is separate and distinct, the Japanese observe Ousouji by cleaning the home from top to bottom to ring the new year in with a clean state of mind and to invite prosperity.

Do you really want the white elephant gift? By definition, the white elephant gift is one that you have no use for and would never pick for yourself. The gift exchanges are worth a laugh, but decide now if you are going to be glad you kept that moose paper towel holder or the dribble coffee mug in May.

Take an extra step when storing holiday decorations. Don’t just toss holiday decorations in crates and shove them in the closet with the intention of going through them next year. Now is the time to get rid of the lights that don’t work and the snowman whose corncob pipe and button nose fell off years ago. Keep the decorations that mean a lot to you and that still work when you plug them in. Get rid of the items that are broken, missing parts, or just squished. Get more holiday storage tips by clicking here.

There are lots of fun, creative and easy ways to de-clutter at the end of the year to start off the new year in style.

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling

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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.