Easy Summer Outdoor Games

We’re taking a twist on some classics. We’ve put together this collection of games you can add to your evening to liven things up. Great for all ages, these games have just gotten better! We’re using stuff you have around the house and everyday items. We want to save you that trip to the store! Check out the games below to get started!

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Spend some quality time with the family and try some of these games!
  1. Washer Toss
  • Place a thin wooden board on the grass in a level area, place two recycled coffee containers on the board. You can also use old cups or recycled glass jars. You may have to tape containers down if they move.
  • If you’ve got old washers lying around use those. You can also toss old keys or pennies for the same effect.
  • If you’d like to do something different than the board, you can dig two small holes in the ground to throw the washers into. If you’d like a border around the holes, cut two squares out of cardboard and place them around it. Simply try and toss washers, etc. in the containers.

2. Tic-Tac-Toe

  • Grab some flat rocks and paint x’s and o’s, or two different patterns, on them. Paint the lines on a piece of wood or cut some rope and lay them out in the tic-tac-toe grid.
  • You can also use soda bottle lids instead of rocks, or cut out paper shapes.

3. Quick Water

  • This is the simple water game you’ve played before. It’s great for kids or to combat some serious humidity. All you need is at least two buckets or bowls. Then you can use a large sponge, another bucket, or cup.
  • Put everyone in a line with either a bucket at the end or beginning, or buckets throughout. Have players pass the full bucket or sponge to the end of the line and empty in the bucket. Mark a line on the bucket at the end. The first person to reach it wins! [The object is to pass the bucket as fast as possible without spilling!]

 4. Pool noodle limbo

  • Yes, it’s that easy. We recommend taping two noodles side by side and holding them up. Great for kids, they can do it themselves.

5. Three-legged race

  • Tie a bandana around the two runner’s middle leg. Mark off a finish line and start the race!

6. Don’t Spill the Beans

  • Have two or more teams race each other with a bowl or cup of beans!
  • The catch is the cup or bowl must be placed in another bigger cup or bowl of water. You can spill all the water you want but not the beans! The one with the most beans in a bucket at the end of the race, wins!

Get More Family Activity Ideas!

How to Make Your Own American Flag Cake for 4th of July

When it comes to celebrations – we all love to eat! Yet, cooking can add stress to an already long to do list. So, we want to alleviate those concerns by sharing our process for this simple favorite that’s so easy even the kids can help! You may even want to gift a cake to a Veteran as a thank you for their service. Or perhaps you can bake one for a friend or neighbor that is unable to leave their house or accept visitors due social distancing guidelines. Please remember to use caution around others and follow all CDC guidelines as you celebrate, share, and interact this holiday.

To get started you need these things:

  • White boxed cake mix
  • Mix usually calls for: eggs, oil, or milk
  • Whipped Cream (a good amount of it)
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Rectangle shaped pan

Once you have the items you need – it’s time to get started. If you don’t want to do it all in one sitting, you can bake the cake, take a break and come back to the toppings later. Whatever is easiest for you – go with it!

Step 1: Follow the directions on your boxed cake mix and let it cool.

Step 2: Cover with whipped cream. You can make your own or use frosting if you prefer. You also can skip the icing if you’re wanting a little less sugar.

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Step 3: Wash and place blueberries on the cake.

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Step 4: Wash and slice strawberries in half vertically. Then place on cake!

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Serve or chill or later!

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We hope this is an easy, fun addition to your day. Happy 4th! Thank you to those who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Keep the party going with our firework safety tips below!

Firework Safety Tips

Kid Friendly Activities From Your Backyard

With springtime here, the weather is getting warmer and people are spending more time outside, especially kids. Here are a few activities that you can have your kids’ help with that will engage them in hands-on activities and encourage their curiosity.

Plant a Garden:

Teaching kids how to tend for a garden is a wonderful skill. It encourages responsibility, while also creates reward as a result from their hard work. You could choose a vegetable garden or flower garden. Either way, your kids will be proud to see what they grew from a small seed. These gardens can be low maintenance and you have a variety of options to choose from depending on your space. You could make a raised flowerbed or have a garden in buckets. You can even get creative with your containers with a little inspiration.

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Learning about gardening is super fun for kids – they are invited to get dirty!

Make a Bird feeder:

A fun outdoor activity is to make an up-cycled birdfeeder. There are the traditional bird feeders that you can build or buy, but you can also make one out of every day objects you would typically throw out. Create one by decorating an old milk carton, bottles, or cans. Once you have it made, learn what kind of birds are in your area and find out what kind of seed they like. When filled and hung, you can sit and listen to their songs and help your kids identify the different species right in your own backyard.

Make Wind Chimes:

Adding a little music to your yard is another simple craft for you and your kids. With this activity you can up-cycle a variety of objects from old toys, to cans, to silverware. Check out this article for some ideas ! Test out the sounds together to here how they clink together to find the right sounds. This fun activity will allow your kids to be creative and be proud every time they hear the wind blow.

Decorate your Pathway:

If you have a front pathway or maybe just want to add a little flair to your garden, you can collect rocks with your kids and then paint them. You can pick a theme you want to stick to for the ideas or just go crazy with it! Let creativity be your guide. Once completed, you can line your walkway or make a rock garden with your newly decorated rocks. You can also decorate clay pots and arrange them on your front stoop or porch.

Get Even MORE Ideas!

Whichever craft you choose, remember it will encourage creativity while letting their personalities shine through and create life long memories that you’ll kids will take with them as they grow.

How to Maximize Your Free Time

Cleaning is a tasking chore. There is no doubt about that. For me, it felt like I was stuck in the same routine every Saturday. I worked hard all week and yet when the weekend came, I was still working. It was exhausting and I just wanted to take a break! So what is the solution? Hire a maid? Nice idea, but it wasn’t for me.

Here are some tips to make life a little easier when it comes to cleaning.

Make a schedule:

Who knew mom would have had genius ideas? As a child it seemed like the chore list was put in place to create torture. A rotating schedule that meant you had to do one of each thing as a child, yuck! And now as adults, it is all left up to us to complete.

Implementing a family chore list, or one even if you live alone can be a huge help. It’ll help you complete all the tasks throughout the week so when Saturday morning comes, you are free to relax without housework looming over your head.  Plus, if you have a family, you’ll have help around the house and won’t have to remind anyone what chore they have and on what day.

Feel free to take this with you to make your own chore list that works for you!

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One Extra Thing…

If you have too many horror flashbacks from implementing a chore schedule or it just doesn’t work for your lifestyle, try to do just one extra thing a day. This could be doing a load of laundry after you get off work, or going grocery shopping during the week. Doing just one thing extra a day will help for your house to be fresh all through out the week and maximize your weekend time.

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Keeping up with clutter keeps it from happening!

Put it away, right away:

Yet again, mom was right. How many times did you hear, “pick up your toys if you’re done with them?” A thousand times at least, right? This holds true with clutter. For me, the clutter is always the worst, especially junk mail. It just seems to creep up on me. But, if I take care of it right away it won’t be there later; simple enough concept.  The same holds true with putting away laundry, folding blankets, etc. If you do it right when you are done with whatever it is, it won’t be waiting for you to do later. The extra 3 seconds it takes to toss the junk mail out or fold the blanket you are done with will save you more in the future. It’ll be a moment here or there rather than all the moment compiled at once. Plus, you’ll continue to have your house tidy even if you haven’t had the time to sweep or vacuum.

Check out the Interactive Chore List!

Remember, any change of routine can take a little bit to truly set in and the more people in the household, the longer it probably is going to take. Try to be patient with yourself (and your family) with getting there. But once you are, you won’t regret the extra time you have!

Staying Connected: Making Mother’s Day Special During a Pandemic

Your mom has been there for you in certain and uncertain times of your life. She fed you, changed your diapers, taught you how to walk, talk, the list goes on and on for how far a mother’s love extends. So how can you show your appreciation for your mom during a global pandemic? Maybe she lives in a different state than you or in the same town, but it is still discouraged to visit anyone where it isn’t essential. Here are some suggestions for making your mom feel special even if you can’t spend some quality time with her the old-fashioned way:

Call Her:

Zoom, Facebook, Google, Facetime, Skype, the possibilities for a video call are ENDLESS. Take the extra time to see your mom while keeping her safe.

Drive By to See Her:

A lot of people are planning parades. Get your siblings together and find a good time where you can all drive by your mom’s house and honk the horn. You can make signs and decorate your cars for when you make your appearance.

Send a Meal:

Maybe you want to treat your mom to a meal or a dessert of some sort. You can either make it yourself and drop it off at her doorstep or you can call a local restaurant and see if they offer delivery. If they don’t offer delivery, but offer curbside pickup, let your mom know about the surprise and plan a good time for her to go get her special dinner.

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Make mom something sweet!

Give a Gift:

A lot of pampering places are currently not opening and may not be opening for a little while yet until we know how this virus will shake out. Give her a gift card or gift certificate to her favorite nail salon, hair salon, or a massage. If she’d rather go to the movies, give her a gift card to the movie theater in her town that way when they open back up, she can enjoy it then.

Send Flowers:

If there are any local florists open near you, send her flowers if that is her thing to let her know you are thinking of her.

Make this Mother’s Day extra memorable by thinking outside of the box to show her how much you care. After all, she deserves a little extra sunshine and love.

Get More Ideas!

5 Ways to Get Moving Without the Gym

Now is a great time to focus on fitness. Not only does it relieve stress, but it also helps shift focus and get the body moving. With a lot of us being home and not having our routine to depend on – it’s the best time to start or nurture a healthy habit in a unique way. Whether you’re missing the gym, or wanting a break from the couch – let’s get started with some creative ways to work out.

Dance. There are so many forms of dance exercises. From high-intensity, to just getting you moving – the variety within this type of workout is so fun. I’m partial to this type because I’m not athletic, so you will not find me running. However, dance doesn’t even feel like working out – it’s easy to get lost in the music. Plus, it’s such a great way to get cardio in. This is a perfect workout if you have kids too, they can join in on the fun and expend some energy. Get started with something like ZUMBA!

Yoga. This is a good option for those looking to build up strength and muscles. Yoga is well suited for everyone. You can find tons of video instruction for free. There are all kinds of intensities and focuses you can choose from. You can do something simple to help you think clearly and relax, or you can find something that creates heat in your muscles. I enjoy this option for how it helps me gain flexibility. Check out a personal yoga favorite of mine!

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Find some low-cost equipment online to help your workout. 

Shaping focused workouts. Maybe you like to pinpoint your workouts, or you’re used to lifting or toning individual parts of your body. Find a workout set that breaks things down. Want to work on shoulders – you got it! These quick and easy tailored workouts are a great way to give attention to a place you want to show some love. I haven’t tried these myself, so let me know what you think!

Step aerobics. I know what you’re thinking, it’s not the 80s, but they did get so much right then! You don’t even really need a step to do these workouts. You can do most of it by kicking up into the air to mimic the step. If you feel comfortable you could use the last step outside your home in the front or the back or you could find a safe, stable item to step up on. The main idea is to keep those steps going, and those knees high.

Walking. If you’re wanting to be outside and you’ve got some space to roam, walking could be a great choice. You can manage your intensity by how fast and focused you’re walk is. If you’re wanting to let your mind wonder, let the dog stretch it’s legs or simply get some sun – then this option is just right for you!

Keep Moving Outside With the Kids!

I hope that this encourages you to move – regardless of your ability level or if working out is your thing. This is a great way to create some space to have fun and let loose. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Guide to Being at Home

Given the fact that you may be spending more time at home – I’ve compiled a list of things that will help you stay productive and healthy. From my family to yours, all the best!

Deep Cleaning/ Green Cleaning Guide for Your Kitchen

Let’s start with those gritty places we forget!

  • Sink and shower drains
  • Washer/dryer interiors
  • Shower curtains/ liners
  • Baseboards
  • Coffee pot
  • Microwave interior/plate
  • Oven/ detachable heating elements
  • Fridge
  • Rugs
  • Comforters
  • Tablecloths
  • Window Panes
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Get started where it counts – in the kitchen!

Now, let’s talk cleaners. I understand wanting that fresh-knock-you-over scent, but it may be harming you and your family. Simply consider making your own cleaners or purchasing a safer alternative. It’s always better to know the ingredients behind what you use and how they affect you and your skin. Making your own cleaners may not smell the same, but it certainly costs a lot less and won’t leave you feeling lightheaded after a deep clean.

There are three things in every green-product maker’s toolbelt:

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon juice

With these things you can rule the deep cleaning world and not get a headache!

There are tons of ideas that can help you get started! As you transition to green cleaner – invest in some strong sponges and steel wool. You’ll have to add a little more elbow grease since you’re not using harmful chemicals, but with a little effort you’ll get a better, safer clean.

Now, let’s freshen our home!!

  • Open windows each evening to air out stale smells
  • Wash the window treatments and hang them up to dry, then press them if needed
  • Rinse out trash can
  • Make homemade fresheners
  • Change the air filters

See Our Pinterest For More Tips!

 

Small Closet Organization Checklist

Is your closet out of control? Come on, I’m talking you can barely shut it, you wear the same jeans every day because you can’t find anything else, and you’ve got shoes from middle school. It’s okay – I’m talking from experience – my closet has been messy, too. But a small closet doesn’t have to equal small organization. Need a plan? Let’s get started!

The checklist below is in order – tackle one, then on to the next! Go over this list every season to ensure you’re keeping up with your organization.

  • Try it on! Have a little fashion show and figure out what still fits. You can also plan some outfits during this time and get ideas of what you want to keep.
  • Donate it! If it doesn’t fit or you’re not into it anymore – donate it or give it to a friend or family member.
  • Door Start with the back of your door – add a hanging rack or an over the door organizer. You can use both sides of the door if needed. This is a great bit of space that most people forget.
  • Floor Stack shoes and place out of season shoes in the back. You can also put them in a bin somewhere else if you have the extra storage. Add a shoe rack if you’ve got a lot of shoes!
  • Hanging space Do you need to add an extra rod or dowel for storage? Doubling your hanging space is a great way to organize clothes better. Don’t forget accessories – special hangers or closet squares add space!
  • Height Check the height of your closet – are you using it? If not, you may want to consider putting in a shelf. This is a great place for out of season clothes or accessories.

I hope this has helped you transform your closet and discover space you didn’t know you had! Go ahead – wear those shoes you forgot you had through the house and reward yourself! I would!

 

Six Ways to Enjoy the Best of Spring

Spring is here and I am actually super excited about it this season! There has been so much illness across the country and bitter cold that makes us me thankful for the turning of the seasons. Spring feels like the most obvious and shifting season because the earth splits from frozen to growth. It’s also rather quick and not gradual like the other seasons can feel. So, with my very best: I welcome spring!

Below I’ve compiled a list of ways to celebrate the sunshine and growth all around!

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Try making your own floral arrangements!

Spring clean!: Cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore – pull up the blinds, open the windows, and listen to your favorite album! Pay careful attention to areas that don’t get much attention, like the inside of appliances: ovens, refrigerators, microwaves, etc. Wipe off interior and exterior of windows. Dust fan blades, wash curtains or blankets that you’ve used all winter, and sweep in hard to reach places. Check out our Pinterest board for cleaning tips and tricks!

Seasonal Separation: It’s time to go through your home – particularly your closet and get rid of some things. I try to make it a practice at the turn of each season to evaluate what I have and if I use it or if it just sits there. So for clothes that you don’t wear or that don’t fit – donate them. If you haven’t worn it in a year you won’t miss it.

Plant something!: There’s something rewarding about taking care of a plant and watching it grow or even sometimes yielding from it. You can easily make an indoor herb garden by getting a large pot and placing three or four different herbs in it. They often do well indoor or outdoor with partial shade. Plus, they really add to your cooking.

Start walking: I can’t tell you how much better my day is when I just take a fifteen-minute walk. Just walk a little bit on your breaks from work, walk with your family when you get home from work and put little ones in the stroller, or do it as fitness and speed walk. It’s easy and every little bit can help you feel good.

Go fishing: As a kid my favorite thing I got to do with my dad was go fishing. Most of those times were only in a local pond or standing on the edge of a small river. You don’t have to go to a lake or have boat to enjoy fishing. It’s a great hobby that teaches kids and adults alike to be patient and wait for a good thing. Licenses required in each state will vary. Get started!

 

Enjoying the Weekend at Home Ideas

  • Go hiking: If you need an all-day event, or your looking to spend some energy with your older kids or your pets this option is made for you! You can stay active and enjoy the scenery – talk about the best of both worlds!
  • Exercise: Clear some space and build those muscles at home.
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Yoga is a great option that helps you clear your mind and strengthen your body.
  • Take lunch to the park: Instead of staying inside, take lunch outside! Heck, it can be your own backyard!
  • Have a candlelit story time: Put the phones and electronics away. Light some candles and turn the lights off. Read the kids a book by candle light. You’ll feel like your back in the day and get to focus on one thing at a time for change!
  • Volunteer: Easy, free, and it helps someone else! This is the best one on the list. It’s never too early to teach your kids to put others’ and their needs first.
  • Break out the board games: Work together or enjoy a little friendly competition playing some games. This is great for those kiddos that need a little break from technology.
  • Go outside and draw what you see: Take another look at your backyard or your front yard. Draw your best rendition! Be sure to include all the color you see!
  • Look for your next home: Check out vmfhomes.com! Find your dream home!

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Tips on How to Keep Your 2020 Resolutions and Goals

Okay, so you took the time and set yourself up to grow for the new year! Great job! Yet, now so soon into the new year you might be feeling a bit discouraged, realize the true impact of your goal, or you may just not know how to go about making the change. We understand all of these situations. We also love to meet goals and do better, so as you work on you – we’re on your team! Here are some simple tips that can hopefully help you in sticking to your resolution.

Find accountability. A lot of people suggest sharing your resolutions with friends or a support group working towards for similar goals. This can feel a little scary because speaking it means you are responsible for it. Yet, friends and support should be ready to cheer you on – so there’s little to fear. Having someone to check in with you weekly or monthly can help you process what you’re doing, and perhaps what you could do more of, or better. Find the right folks to help you get motivated and encourage you.

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Spending more time with family is a great resolution. 

Try to have tunnel vision. It’s usually best to focus on one goal, but if you’re like me you’ve got plenty you want to do. So, if you made more than one resolution that doesn’t mean your off the hook for this one. It means you need to plan out some events/ support groups that will help you in each goal: perhaps divide your resolutions up into sets of months (one resolution gets two months, then you start with another), or simply spend time reflecting on your progress on each one individually.

Track progress/ success. One of the biggest downfalls for trying to change or create new habits is that people don’t realize how difficult it is to do what they want to do. Beyond that, when we don’t achieve what we thought we would – it’s all the more discouraging. A great way to combat this is to write down your small wins and progress. Journaling isn’t the only way though. You can reward yourself with a treat when you reach a milestone or have friends celebrate with you!

Be okay with stumbling. You will falter. That’s okay. Accept that as learning, lean into what it can teach you. Give yourself some time, evaluate where you slipped, and then try again. There’s no shame in that. The most thorough successes are met with a tried and true path. Learning looks a lot like missing the mark but that way it sticks with you and you understand truly earning it.

Ask for help. Trying to make a fitness goal? Ask a friend to register with you for a 5K. Add people to your goal. It’s so much better when you aren’t alone. Perhaps you have a friend that really excels in a direction you are trying to go – ask them for their tips and tricks. You probably have more resources and support available than you realize.

Change is hard, but 100 percent worth it. You can make those resolutions a reality. Take small steps, accept when you trip, and enjoy the ride. It’s going to be quite the year!

Make This Year Sustainable

 

4 Simple Holiday Decor Ideas that Bring All the Cheer

Holidays are a spectacle of tradition. Families across the world celebrate a number of different ways this season. From Kwanzaa to Hanukkah each one has a unique style, foods, and culture that showcase the holiday. When it comes to Christmas, we love seeing this variety of displays. Whether you’re starting your own decorating or just looking to make a few changes – these ideas are sure to make you fall in love!

  1. This pastel party is such a sweet rendition. If you’re looking for something a little more unique than the classic color scheme – this one’s for you! This candy-colored pallet will give you a hint of brighter days and inspire your inner child.
  2. Ahh a classic Christmas! A touch of gingham and pine cones makes this style warm and inviting. You can buy these items, but you also can find a lot of them in your yard! We love the simplicity of this style! Don’t forget that pop of red!
  3. This minimal white theme is a dream. It’s a modern twist on the classic and we love how wintry it feels!This soft white vibe is so comforting.
  4. This red and silver theme is so festive! We love those glass tree accents – can you say timeless! This shiny and sleek style has all the magic of the season.

Which of these makes you feel inspired? We hope these get you ready to design your own home for the season!

Try Making One of These Ornaments!

 

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