Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer is here: Ditch the grill and take your gatherings to the next level

Summer%20is%20here%3A%20Ditch%20the%20grill Everything about summer should be fun, including the food. But if you always serve the same old burgers and potato salad, or hot dogs and coleslaw, your get-togethers could start to feel stale. Never fear: a few simple tips can really amp up your summer festivities. If you're looking to add some new flavor to your summer celebrations, consider these ideas:

Familiar food with a twist

Food for a summer get-together has to be fun, social, easy to make, and taste great. That's why so many people fall back on staples like hamburgers and hot dogs. Pizza is a great summer option with lots of possibilities to be the main attraction at your next party if you try something new like DiGiorno (R) Pizza Dipping Strips. Perfect for get-togethers, these 12 pull-apart strips are an exciting twist on the pizza experience. With minimal prep and cleanup required, they are easy to make, easy to eat and bring sharing one of your favorite foods to a whole new level. The strips come in three varieties: pepperoni, three-meat and four-cheese and include marinara and garlic dipping sauces in each pack. And, since you make them in your own oven, your guests won't be sitting around waiting for the delivery guy to arrive. You can learn more at http://www.facebook.com/digiorno.

The spirit of summer

Summer is the peak selling season for beer. If you and your friends enjoy a nice, cold brew on a hot summer day, why not really celebrate the spirit of summer with a beer tasting party? Get the crew together and host a beer tasting where everyone brings their favorite beer to share. For an added variation, try a blind tasting and ask the guests to name the different beer varieties. Or, visit your local spirits store for some advice and serve up a selection of local/regional beers along with favorite dishes from those areas. Your local grocery store may also have an interesting selection of beers from around the world if you want to add an international flair to your party. Remember to drink responsibly and have a safe transportation plan in place for all those who participate in the fun.

Salads with spice

Salads can be great complements to summertime foods like pizza, and are also a smart way to ensure you're not too full for on-the-go summer activities. Now is the perfect time to broaden your salad experience since plenty of fresh produce and interesting ingredients are in season and available in grocery stores or at farmers markets. Start by exploring greens other than the standard iceberg lettuce. Experiment with spinach, arugula, beet, watercress and fresh herbs. Switch up veggie staples beyond carrots, cucumber and tomato. Toss in a handful of nuts like pine, pecan or walnut for flavor and crunch, dried fruit like tart cherries and top off with an outside-the-box dressing choice like sweet chili, lemon poppy or apple mustard. The possibilities are endless and you can find ample ideas and suggestions online.

Stack the deck

Summer means spending time outdoors on your patio or deck enjoying good food and entertaining company, but do you really use your outdoor space as much as you could? Lots of other summer activities can take on new excitement when you take them outside to the deck or patio. Whether it's date night at home with someone special, the weekly card game with the guys or a hosting friends and family for an amazing meal, moving fun indoor activities out onto the deck or patio lets you spice things up with summer flair.

Courtesy of BPT

Is your home safe when you're not around?

Whether you have a young child who spends time at home with a babysitter, or a teen who comes home after school to an empty house, your home should be as accident- and injury-proof as possible. These precautionary measures will help ensure your children's safety when you're not home:

Children of all ages -

• Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors strategically; check their batteries regularly.

• Invest in a fire extinguisher; instruct your caregiver or older child in its use.

• Make sure your child or caregiver has emergency phone numbers and knows what to do if an emergency arises.

Young children -

• Make sure your caregiver understands the level of supervision your child requires and is CPR-certified.

• Childproof your cabinets, electrical outlets, stairways and toilets.

• Never leave poisons within reach. Safe Kids Canada reminds that poisons include medications, cleaning products, gardening/pest control products, car supplies, health and beauty products, art supplies and other toxic substances.

• Examine your home for potential choking or strangulation risks - toys with small parts, dangling drapery cords, etc.

Older children -

• Make sure your child understands the parameters for acceptable behaviour while you're gone. Include rules to ensure safety in and around your pool, on the balcony or deck, and in your yard.

• Set and enforce a strict policy about visitors, and make sure your child knows what to do in case a stranger comes to the door or into the yard.

• Keep matches, lighters, gasoline and other flammable materials locked away.

"Keeping our children safe is the most important responsibility parents face," says Jeff Burke, president & CEO at Western Financial Group, an organization providing services to protect families. "Strategic planning coupled with ongoing communication ensures their well-being."

Courtesy of Newscanada

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Three must-have conversations about online child safety

Three%20must-have%20conversations%20about%20online%20child%20safety Academic performance expectations, attendance at school functions, and balancing extra-curricular activities with time for homework - parents and children have a lot to talk about at the beginning of the school year. Few conversations, however, will be as important - or as fraught with tension - as discussing how children should, and should not, behave online.

While many kids look forward to reuniting with school friends from last year, they'll be meeting new people, too. Many of those interactions will take place, in part, in the digital world, bringing online child safety front-of-mind for parents as back-to-school season arrives.

To help protect your child while he or she is online, start the school year with three important conversations:

How to behave when connecting online

The anonymity of the Internet makes meeting strangers seem appealing and safe. But kids should use at least the same level of caution when meeting someone new online as they would in the real world. Explain to kids why they should never initiate or accept online contact from someone they haven't first met in person; given all the information we tend to give away in our online profiles, it's like walking up to a stranger on the street and inviting him or her into your home.

Employ tools like SafetyWeb to help keep kids safe online. The tool helps parents monitor online activity, and includes an active blog/forum that allows parents and pros to discuss the latest child-rearing challenges of the digital age. Review the privacy settings on your child's social media accounts so that your son or daughter understands what's visible to friends, and what is visible to everyone else (preferably, nothing). Create the social media accounts with your child so that you know what sites she uses and who her online friends are.

Establish designated times when children are allowed online for social media use and times when they can use the Internet for schoolwork. Never allow children to use the Internet behind closed doors. Yes, they'll probably say everyone else does it and that you're ruining their lives, but keeping Internet-enabled devices in a common area can help make it easier for you to protect your child.

How to behave when interacting online

As a parent, you have two concerns for your child's online life: first, that he or she experiences no harm from online interactions. Second, that he or she causes no harm to others.
The digital world makes communication fast and easy, yet its drawbacks are many: it's highly conducive to impulsive behavior, it's difficult to accurately convey tone and intention, and it's nearly impossible to erase something once it's posted online. Children need to understand the limitations of this form of communication, and that missteps online can have a long-term impact in the real world.

The anonymity of the Internet has made it easier for people to be mean to each other, and given rise to a whole new type of bullying: cyberbullying. A study by isafe.org found that 58 percent of fourth- through eighth-graders have had mean or hurtful things said to them online, and (even more disturbingly) 53 percent admitted to having said something mean or hurtful to another person online.

Help your child understand the type of behavior that constitutes cyberbullying so that she can both avoid cyberbullies and avoid engaging in acts of cyberbullying. In addition to monitoring your child's online behavior, encourage him to have a robust social life in the real world - the environment in which we really learn how to behave with others.

How to behave when interacting in person

While you're teaching about appropriate online behavior, it's important to reinforce lessons about being a good person in face-to-face interactions. Bullying has been around as long as people have; teach children how to recognize instances of in-person bullying, and help them learn techniques for coping with bullies.
Being a good citizen of the digital world starts with being a good person in the real world. Reinforce with kids the importance of good behavior both online and in person, and - most importantly - lead by example.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Easy ways to add digital fun to your outdoor living space

(BPT) - It's always been possible to watch the big game or your favorite movie from your deck or patio. But until the arrival of wireless technology, you would have needed a really long extension cord and a super-long cable connection (or rabbit ears) to do it. And rain would have ruined your fun in more ways than one.

Now, wireless technology and a host of advances in how digital devices are manufactured and function have made it much easier to enjoy electronic entertainment in the great outdoors. Versatile technology could be part of what's driving the growth in outdoor digital entertainment. Installations of outdoor entertainment systems doubled last year (the most recent numbers available), and the average project cost nearly $8,000, according to the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA).

Adding sound and audio systems is a great way to liven up outdoor kitchens and living spaces, patios and even screened porches. If you're looking to outfit your outdoor spaces with the latest in digital fun, here are a few ideas to get you started:

* Adding high quality sound to your deck or patio is as easy as upgrading your home audio system. Modern systems allow you to wirelessly transmit sound (either music or audio from the TV) throughout your home. Bringing that sound outside requires a wireless setup and incorporating outdoor-ready speakers into your existing sound system. Sensitive system parts, like the radio tuner or CD player reside safely indoors and the wireless function transmits the sound outside to weather-resistant speakers.

* No more super-long extension cords and wheeling the TV in and out of the house. Wireless technology allows you to mount a TV outdoors and access content from your digital cable, satellite TV feed, DVD player or even indoor game console. Be sure to safely mount your television using a mount made for outdoor use, like the Sanus HDpro Series VXF220. The all-weather wall mount can support TVs 42 to 84 inches, and features a rust-resistant coating and stainless steel hardware to stand up to the elements. A cable channel inside the mount conceals and protects power and connection cables, but never inhibits the movement of the mount so you can tilt it for the perfect viewing angle.

* When choosing a TV for outdoor use, keep in mind positioning and concerns like sun glare. If you want to go with a plasma TV, it will be important to protect the set from sun and rain, and you'll need to mount it in the shade. A weatherproof LCD can be a better option if you won't be able to avoid sun glare and exposure to the elements. LCD images are less likely to look washed out in the sun.

* Keep in mind that where you position electronics will affect your enjoyment of them. Just as you arrange seating indoors to provide the best view of your TV, you'll need to arrange outdoor furnishings to ensure your electronics are both visible and protected - and have easy access to an outdoor power source.

* Water and electronics are notoriously bad together, so even if your outdoor electronics are weather resistant, it pays to protect them from the elements as much as possible. Consider adding an awning to your outdoor living space and outfitting it with an automatic rain sensor. Motorized retractable awnings that have these sensors will open to shield your outdoor living space when it begins to rain - even if you're not home at the time.

Thanks to new technologies, it's easier than ever to enjoy the great outdoors and your favorite digital entertainment at the same time.

Courtesy of BPT

Four fast fixes for a fabulous shower

shower%20scene For many people, the shower is an escape from reality ... perhaps the only 'me time' in an otherwise hectic day. But if your current shower isn't living up to your relaxing expectations, it may be time for a facelift.- Don't think you have the time or money? Don't throw in the towel just yet - an improved shower is within your reach. Simply follow these four quick and easy fixes that will make an amazing improvement to the everyday enjoyment of your shower.

Curves ahead

Shower curtains may keep water where it should be, but they also have a tendency to make a shower feel smaller, dark and cramped. An easy solution to this problem is to install a curved shower rod. These unique rods add an elegant and luxurious look to the room while also moving the curtain away from your body, creating a more comfortable experience and adding up to 7 inches of elbow room. --Moen offers a variety of styles, including a double curved shower rod that can be used to separate the decorative curtain from the liner - or to provide an additional bar to hang towels. Whatever curved shower rod you choose, be sure to coordinate the finish to match the rest of your bath fixtures.

Downsize and organize

Fewer people are living alone these days, reports the National Association of Home Builders, which means you likely share your shower with others. A shower shelf is an ideal solution to provide adequate storage and keep everyone's everyday essentials neat and easily within reach. The Moen Home Care Designer Grab Bar with Shelf adds the storage capabilities of a straight or corner shelf with the safety of a grab bar - all with a stylish design in the latest finishes.

Chance of showers

A simple showerhead update can dramatically improve your showering experience. With several styles available, the only difficult part is figuring out which one will suit your needs the best.

Rainshowers - If you're looking for relaxing, full-body coverage, a rainshower is the right choice for you. These showerheads are often larger than their standard counterparts, allowing the user to receive all-over coverage rather than a concentrated spray.

Handheld showers - With a handheld shower you're able to bring the water flow directly to you. This type of shower allows for any family member - no matter the size or age - to safely and easily shower.

Standard showerheads - Standard showerheads are far from basic. With many collections offering multi-function spray settings, it's easy to create a personalized showering experience.

Hang it up

The final step to a fabulous shower experience is to ensure you have a place nearby to hang a warm robe and towel. Adding a robe hook or towel bar just outside the shower is a simple solution that can also add a stylish accent to your bathroom. If you currently have a Moen faucet, be sure to select the matching Moen accessories to ensure complete coordination throughout your bath. Moen also offers several non-matching collections, such as the Parlor Collection, which coordinate with a variety of bath faucet styles.- The Moen Parlor Collection features a unique pullout robe hook, which allows each hook to be used traditionally, or extended to hang multiple items. And, once you've added new accessories, finish off the renovated space with a plush robe and matching towel set.

By following these simple and inexpensive fixes, your shower can become an everyday retreat for relaxation and enjoyment. For more information visit www.moen.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Surviving summer vacation: 5 tips for an enjoyable season with family

(BPT) - With summer ahead, parents are busy making plans for camps, sports and vacations. This time of year can be challenging, but there are ways to make it more enjoyable.

Learn to love this summer with your family using these five easy tips:

1. Eat foods that keep you going

Nutrition has a way of impacting almost everything we do. Not getting enough water? Expect to feel a little off. Not eating enough or eating the wrong kinds of foods can impact your energy levels. This summer, take advantage of the season's offerings; focus on meals featuring nutritious foods like fresh vegetables, fruits and protein to keep everyone active throughout the day.

Keep convenient snacks on hand

When traveling or for busy days when there's little time between activities, pack convenient, portion-controlled snacks like ZonePerfect nutrition bars. Featuring protein, and a variety of great tasting flavors to choose from - such as Chocolate Peanut Butter, Perfectly Simple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and the newest additions Kidz ZonePerfect Yellow Cupcake and Greek Yogurt Vanilla Berry - these bars are a nutritious snack to keep the family fueled.

2. Communication is key

Keep a schedule on a large calendar that everyone can access. Write down all activities, times and locations. By organizing activities at the start of the week, you'll save time and reduce misunderstandings.

3. Get everyone involved in housework

Summer activities are plentiful, which usually means that housework takes a backseat. Get the kids involved by having a designated space for each child to put their things and charge them with keeping it tidy and taking necessary items to their bedroom. This will eliminate clutter around the house and lessen your cleanup responsibilities.

4. Plan activities

While it may seem counterproductive to put more events on the schedule, it will help keep kids focused and entertained. Schedule activities that allow you to enjoy the season and provide an outlet for kids to release energy. Good options include a day at the pool or a trip to a local park or zoo.

5. Never turn down help

Take advantage of car pools and play dates, and make sure to return the favor. This could be the perfect time for you to enjoy a night out or start on that important project.

For more information on the full line of ZonePerfect Nutrition Bars, visit zoneperfect.com.

Courtesy of BPT