Inexpensive Ways to Keep Kids Busy

It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to keep your child busy. All that is required is a little creativity on your part! If you are creative your child will learn to think outside of the box and learn to have fun with what they have.

Bubbles are so much fun for kids and adults. A large container of bubbles cost around $1. Making your own is possible but not recommended. Buy bubbles that are non-toxic and safe to play with. Use a paint tray to fill with bubble solution. Make your own bubble wands out of objects around the house. You can use wire coat hangers and twist ties. Have fun making different sized bubbles.

Sidewalk chalk is so much fun. There are many different types available for purchase. The multi-colored chalk is a favorite among kids! This activity will keep little ones busy for a while; or until they run out of space on the driveway! Make a Hop-Scotch course and play Tic-Tac-Toe. Incorporate game play with creative drawing!

The water hose is always a success. After you rinse down the driveway to clean away the sidewalk chalk, have fun spraying your little ones and let them spray you too! If you have a sprinkler, this is the perfect time to bring it out! This might be a good time to wash the car as well. Kids seem to love washing cars. Make a game out of it to see how clean you can get the car!

Build a fort using blankets and pillows. This is a fun activity for rainy days. Make a fort by covering furniture with blankets. Add pillows to the interior and read some books together. Pretend you are camping and talk about what sounds you might hear while camping.

Be creative and look for things around the house that can be used as toys. Coming up with fun activities sparks creativity within the child. It teaches them how to pretend and entertain themselves without phones, TV or the internet.

How to Remove Gravy Stains from Carpet

Solvent – A non-flammable spot removal solution, or dry cleaning type solvent, is preferred. Exercise caution when using a solvent. Never pour it directly onto the carpet or allow it to reach the backing, because it can damage the latex that holds the primary and secondary backings together. Acceptable solvents include Carbona®, Energine®, K2R®, Goof-Off®, etc.

Detergent Solution – Mix one fourth (1/4) teaspoon of a liquid dishwashing detergent per one (1) cup of lukewarm water. NEVER USE A STRONGER CONCENTRATION! Thorough rinsing is necessary to remove detergent residues that may cause rapid soiling. It may be necessary to rinse with warm water several times to completely remove residues. (See Residue Precautions.) Care should be used in selecting a detergent. Never use a laundry detergent of any type, because laundry detergents may contain optical brighteners (flourescent dyes) that dye the fiber. Do not select an automatic dishwashing detergent because many contain bleaching agents that destroy dyes and some fibers.

Vinegar Solution – Mix one (1) cup of white vinegar per two (2) cups of water. White vinegar is a 5% acetic acid solution. It is used most often to lower the alkalinity caused by detergent solutions or alkaline spills.

Warm Water – Lukewarm tap water should be used in most cases to rinse the cleaning solutions from the fiber. Failure to completely rinse the solutions from the fiber may cause accelerated soiling.

Ammonia Solution – Mix one (1) tablespoon of household ammonia per cup of water. Please note: Be aware that ammonia, if used improperly, can cause a color change. Be sure to test a hidden area.

When in doubt, call a professional – Professional cleaners have the ability and the equipment to use more aggressive cleaning solutions to remove stubborn spills. Always consider consulting a professional cleaner regarding any spot removal question. Carpet and Rug Institute – 1-800-882-8846.

A Cozy Family Room Décor

Photo: Arena Cove

Whether you are decorating a family room for a new house or redecorating the one you have; there are some certain things to consider. A Family Room is most often a mixed-use type room. Normally it’s a place for the family to unwind at the end of the day, it’s sometimes used for family game nights and occasionally used to entertain guests while watching “The Big Game” on TV. At least once a year this space is used to accommodate an overflow of family guests during the holidays. The reason this type of room is considered “mixed-use” is because it’s casual, comfortable, has the most seating, and the best TV to watch. When decorating this type of room, keep function and comfort as your top two priorities.
Wall color should be an inviting color in a warm tone, such as tan, gold, rust, or an earth tone green. The color of the walls has a way of setting the tone immediately. It provides a warm setting and compliments other warm furnishings in the room.

Occasional and accent furniture (coffee tables etc.) look best in this type of setting when they are made of wood and finished with a darker stain with light distressing. The sheen of the stain used should be more honed and less polished. This will ensure added warmth to the space as well as hide knicks and scratches.
Lighting in a family room is very important. Select lighting that puts out a warm glow. Overhead lighting should be able to dim. This is important because in one instance you may need more light while playing games, on the other hand having lighting with dimming capabilities is nice to have when watching a movie.

Accessories should include collections of books, family photos in frames on tables as well as on the walls. Take advantage of a family room by highlighting memories made by family members.
Keep in mind that all furnishings in a family room should be comfortable, durable, and functional. It is also nice to have plenty of storage for winter blankets, games, etc.!

Parmesan and Fig Grilled Cheese Sandwich

There is nothing quite like the grilled cheese sandwich. Pleasing to children and adults alike grilled cheese sandwiches are the surefire way to bring your family together for a satisfying meal.

There are many different ways to invent this classic meal and some might even say that there is no way to cook grilled cheese the wrong way. But there are ways to add a little spice and pizzazz to your take on it that can spice up the “old” grilled cheese.

In this recipe we use sourdough bread to give the wrappings more flavor and sturdiness with which to build on. Next we make sure to have grated or shaved Parmesan and white cheddar cheese to give a sharp and distinctive flavor that is sure to please. Use as much or as little as you like, it all depends on personal preference when building your perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

The twist comes with the fig jam that adds a punch of flavor and works to balance out the sharpness of the cheese. You could add a different flavored jam if you like here, it’s always fun to play around to see what works best for your family’s preferences. Finally add a handful of arugula to add freshness to the sandwich – balsamic vinegar is optional to top it all off.

This is a grilled cheese sandwich that is sure to please and with ingredients that can be played with to make sure that the recipe is always an original and crowd pleaser. Enjoy!

Total Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Parmesan and Fig Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • Sourdough bread slices (adjust for quantity needed)
  • Grated or shaved parmesan cheese (fresh)
  • Sliced white cheddar cheese (fresh)
  • Fig jam (or adjust with your favorite jam if desired)
  • A handful of arugula
  • Butter
  • Optional: balsamic vinegar

Directions: 

  1. Butter the bread on the sides that will be grilled. You can either grill these sandwiches in a frying pan or with a Panini press.
  2. Assemble the sandwiches with the desired amount of cheese, a light spread of the fig jam, arugula and balsamic vinegar if desired.
  3. Place the sandwiches in the pan and grill both sides until golden brown. Be sure to periodically check to ensure that they don’t overcook. If using a Panini press, close and let cook for 3-4 minutes on medium to high heat. Check the color after this and if needed continue to cook until golden brown.
  4. Once done, let sit for 2 minutes. Afterwards, slice in half and serve.

Decorating the Laundry Room

There are a few rooms in our home that we don’t really think about decorating. Hallways and powder rooms are two of them, but perhaps the most neglected room in our homes is the laundry room.  Despite spending hours every week in the laundry room, we rarely think to decorate this room. Maybe if we added some design style to the laundry room it might make doing laundry a little bit more enjoyable! Maybe? Probably not, but having a pretty laundry room might help us dread the task a little less.

If you have a laundry room on the second floor or main floor of your home, you probably already have finished flooring in the room. Basement laundry rooms tend to have cement floors. Adding laminate or tile to a basement laundry room floor would make the space feel more like a finished room.

Painting the walls of the laundry room a happy color you love could improve your mood when you are in the room.  This is especially true for basement laundry rooms. Cabinets can be painted or replaced with more stylish cabinet doors.  Open shelves can be put up to store laundry supplies in pretty glass jars.  A folding drawer or cabinet makes drying sweaters neater and keeps the room less cluttered.

Adding a chandelier or other fun hanging light can give an extra bit of style to the utilitarian room. If your laundry room has a window, put up decorative window treatments like cafe curtains or roman shades.

Pet Feeding Stations

Don’t worry, we aren’t about to suggest something like this…

Our pets are part of our families. Our dogs and cats are like children with all of their toys and accessories. Pets are big business in America. Billions of dollars are spent every year on pets, food, toys, beds and even clothing for our dogs.  This industry means you can find the perfect solution for almost every need your pet may have. The perfect water bowl and food dish are the start of a charming pet feeding station in your kitchen.

Creating a pet zone in your home can help control the clutter that comes with having a dog or cat. Designing a pet feeding station in the kitchen or mudroom will help organize all of your pets food needs into one place, saving you valuable floor and counter space. Floor space is at a premium in most kitchens. Finding a place for Fido’s or Fifi’s water bowl and food dish that isn’t in a major traffic pattern can be tricky.  Set up a food station that is out of the main foot traffic to avoid spilling water and kibble all over your kitchen floors.  A simple mat under the food and water can protect your floors from spills and messes.

If you have a walk-in pantry you might want to set up the feeding station in there. Keeping pet food in containers or bins can also make things neater and more organized on the shelf or in a cupboard. If you have the room next to the food dish, you might want to keep a pretty canister or bin there.

Choosing Art for the Bedroom

Bare, blank walls can make a room feel unfinished. Choosing what to hang where in the home can also be intimidating for some. Staring at a blank wall when decorating is kind of like a writer staring at a blank page when writing.  The blank stare can stifle us from making a decision. If you have blank walls in your bedroom, or anywhere in your home, we hope this article can help you take the first step to decorating your walls.

Bedrooms should be sanctuaries and calm places for us to restore our spirits as well as rest our bodies.  Comfortable textiles on the bed, soft flooring like carpet or area rugs on the floor, curtains that can block light all create the environment for good sleep.  You can add to the soothing and restorative qualities of your bedroom by what you hang on the walls.

Every wall in the room does not have to be filled with art. Empty spaces give the eye a place to rest. Art for the bedroom can be framed in frames that coordinate with the furniture, wall or floors. Metal frames can also add a little sparkle to the room. You can frame practically anything and it will look great on the wall. Framed art can include family photos, your wedding portrait or vacation photos. Fabric and paper can also be framed. Choose art that speaks to you. If you love it, you will love to see it as you fall asleep and wake up every day.

Recipes To Try With Your Kids

Cooking with kids is a great way to get them involved and interested in a variety of different foods. If you’re interested in doing some cooking with your kids this summer, consider trying one of these easy and fun options to get you started.

Oven Roasted Corn

This simple recipe makes incredibly flavorful corn that kids are sure to love.

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 12-inch sheets of aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. If you do not plan on eating the corn the same day you buy it, wrap the ears still in their leaves in wet paper towels to help them retain moistness and flavor.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (alternatively, you can also make this corn on the grill)
  3. Peel the corn and discard the leaves and silk
  4. Have the kids rub each ear of corn with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  5. Wrap each one of the finished ears of corn in the aluminum foil to make a package.
  6. Place the wrapped ears of corn in a hot oven or grill for 40 to 45 minutes.
  7. Unwrap and allow to cool slightly before eating

Grilled Pizza

Grilling your pizza is a fun way to change things up in the summer and avoid heating up your kitchen with a hot oven.

Ingredients

  • Pizza dough
  • Olive oil
  • Summer squash
  • Fresh bell peppers
  • Large tomato
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Roll out the pizza dough to about ¼-inch in thickness
  2. Place the dough on a hot grill until the surface begins to bubble slightly, then remove from the grill and turn over so the grilled surface is up.
  3. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the grilled dough and rub it in with the back of a spoon.
  4. Slice up summer squash, peppers and tomato thinly and arrange on top of the dough.
  5. Place small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese on top of the vegetables, or slice larger pieces to 1/8-inch thick and arrange on top of the pizza.
  6. Top with fresh basil leaves.
  7. Return the pizza back to the grill and continue grilling until the vegetables are slightly blackened and the cheese melted.

You will love the memories you make with your kids along with the food.  Don’t mind the kitchen mess!  Your whole family will thank you later on.

Encapsulating Autumn with Decor

Seasonal decorating is a tradition many families will integrate into their homes.  When winter comes, the Christmas tree and lights go up, and when spring comes, flowers are planted around your house.  Autumn is a great season filled with holidays, festivities, and seasonal amenities which are fantastic to include in your home design.   

It’s also a great time to spice up your space with new floors and countertops. In fact, flooring and countertops can set the stage for your design. From hand-scraped to wire-brushed trends to marble looks, the design possibilities are endless in 2020. Plus, with innovations in the industry, you do not have to settle for only one type of flooring in your home.

We put together a list of five Autumn décor ideas you will want to include in your home to express your festive-side:

Plaid

Fall has a sense of being cozy when you are indoors and a sense of adventure when out and about.  Adding plaid blankets or a new area rug to your floors will give your house a nice warm and cozy feel.  You can try adding plaid designs outside through welcome mats, outdoor pillows, and blankets. 

Fall Plantation

Including fall harvest inside your home is another excellent way to make a statement.  Outside your home, you can add straw, autumn flowers, or corn stalks. Inside your home you can take these same elements and create an arrangement for your countertop to set the mood for fall.  Add pumpkins as a centerpiece on your table or you can even have a basket filled with fall foods like corn, squash, and baby pumpkins.  Including faux wheat is another excellent decor piece to add to vases or pitchers around your home.  Go a step further and add fall scents. You can incorporate things like cinnamon soaps or cider scented candles to help capture the fall feel.

However, if you notice that your countertops are not as pristine as they once were, you can have your countertops replaced. Currently homeowners love the natural, one-of-a-kind beauty of marble and quartz countertops. Marble countertops feature an authentic, beautiful veining that is unmatched by any other countertop. However, if you are looking for a more durable & low maintenance countertop, quartz is a great option, you can opt for beautiful quartz countertops. Quartz is composed of natural crystals, which makes it an insanely gorgeous countertop option. Plus, quartz countertops are perfect for homeowners who love to cook because they are scratch-, stain-, and heat-resistant.

Wood

Adding pictures with wood or incorporating wood into your home design can add to the overall warmth of a room.  You can start using your fireplace more and decorate your mantle with festive fall décor.  Put fallen leaves into picture frames and display the beautiful countryside colors of fall for an added touch.

Think Rustic

Rustic colors will make a substantial impact on your home’s decor and what you are trying to convey.  Adding rustic display items and antiques will help fully encapsulate the fall spirit.  Woven baskets are great to use in your home and can hold your plaid blankets.  Adding warm reds to your home through curtains, throw rugs, area rugs and floral arrangements can give a rural influenced aesthetic in the fall season. Try adding rustic display items as a centerpiece to your kitchen island!

Pillows and Pictures

A simple, cost-effective task you can add is swapping out your current pictures and pillows.  This is an easy tradition you can do for every season.  Plaids and stripes with autumn hues can help bring your room full circle, but you do not have to commit to the look year-round fully.

Autumn can have so many fun decorations to add to your home.  Try including some of these tricks and tips this fall season to your home.