Tag Archives: summer

Lazy Summer Afternoons

We have to be honest— after an amazing weekend on the mountain, our minds and hearts are still in Floyd. Whether you are missing FloydFest like us or you just need a little relaxation and reprieve from Monday, here are a few great products to enjoy from the comfort of your hammock:

unnamed-6Recharge your body with a nutritious smoothie as you relax. Daily Harvest’s ready-to-blend ingredient packs work with any blender. Add water or milk and enjoy the beauty of no prepping, no mess, and no leftovers! Also, because they are frozen, you won’t need to add any ice and can enjoy their blends whenever you want. These ingredient packs are also free from sweeteners or preservatives— so you can be sure you are putting only the best nutrients into your body. Visit their website, www.daily-harvest.com, to choose a few blends and start a subscription today.

Protect your skin with Vi Derm SPF 50+ Sun Protection. It provides broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection with 10% Zinc Oxide and 7.5% Octioxate, Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Pueraria Lobata Root extract and Chamomille to soothe your skin. The included Green Tea extract protects from UV damage and inflammation. This lightweight formula dries weightless on the skin. For more information, go to www.vipeel.com.

51mlX8WegtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Take a trip back in time with Behind Every Great Man: The Forgotten Women Behind the World’s Famous and Infamous by Marlene Wagman-Geller. This book tells the remarkable stories of forty captivating females who stood behind their legendary partners, often at the cost of their own careers, reputations, and happiness. The untold stories include spouses of Alfred Hitchcock, Salvador Dali, Nelson Mandela, Ian Fleming, Bernie Madoff and more. Through fame and its attendant ills— alcoholism, infidelity, mental illness, divorce, and even attempted murder— these powerful women quietly propelled their men to the top and changed the course of history.

And, if you’d rather spend your afternoon listening to music while reading— check out some of our favorite bands from the weekend:
Annabelle’s Curse
First Aid Kit
Skribe
Chamomile and Whiskey

So relax and enjoy your summer afternoon– we won’t judge you if you pretend you are on the mountain too!

It’s OK to Be Bitter

Summer and cocktails go hand in hand. Whether you are relaxing at home or enjoying an evening on the town with your friends, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you are drinking classic cocktails like the Manhattan or the Old Fashioned without bitters.
We are still experimenting to determine our favorite brand, but we do have a couple that we prefer so far:

The first is Bittermilk. Founded by husband and wife team Joe and MariElena Raya, it is a line of cocktail mixers made for cocktail enthusiasts by bartenders with real ingredients. Our personal favorite is Bittermilk No. 2, Tom Collins with Elderflowers & Hops. The bright and refreshing taste feels perfect for a relaxing by the pool on a Saturday afternoon. They are crafted and bottled by human hands in Charleston, South Carolina. You can purchase them online at www.bittermilk.com.
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We also love Crude Bitters. Don’t be fooled by the name— it is a reference to the rudimentary origins of bitters that included exotic roots, herbs, and spices aged in various liquids with beneficial (and unverified) claims attached to them.

In truth, they are very careful to make sure their methods are not crude and that their ingredients are all natural. Their selection, preparation, maceration, bottling and labeling is done by hand in Raleigh, North Carolina. Our personal favorite selection from Crude Bitters is “Sycophant” Bitters. This flavor starts as a sweet, citrus taste and finishes with earth tones and vanilla bean. It pairs well with gin or bourbon. For more information on purchasing Crude Bitters and trying them out for yourself, visit www.crudebitters.com.

Pick up our July issue (while you still can!) for more information on the history and uses of bitters. Visit our Facebook page to win samples of a variety of bitters from the above mentioned companies! Good luck!

Common Good: From the Cover

We chose to feature peaches on our cover for the month of July— not only because they are in season, but also because there are so many delicious ways to enjoy them in the summer. Before you can choose the right peach to fit your needs, you should know a few important facts about them.

Peaches are a member of the rose family— a group that includes apricots, cherries, nectarines, plums, and almonds. They are categorized in three different varieties: clingstone, freestone, and semi-freestone.

Clingstone peaches are often found in the northern hemisphere and are most often identified as those with bright yellow flesh streaked with red as you get closer to its core. This kind is most commonly used in desserts, jellies and jams, and for canning. They are the most flavorful of the three varieties.

Though flavorful, clingstone peaches can become difficult on the go. Freestone peaches are more convenient for carrying in lunch boxes or for mid-morning snacks. Though this variety is firmer and less juicy, they’re still delicious. They are also much easier to find in a grocery store.

Semi-freestone peaches are a combination of the two and can be used in many different dishes.

For a great summer recipe using peaches, visit Everyday Occasions.

 

Written by Lani Maddox

Backyard Fun!

backyardWhen summer arrives do you see even less of your kids than you did during the school year? Too many American children, tweens and teens spend those extra hours of free time indoors playing with technology, rather than engaging in healthy outdoor activities. Even when you know where your kids are, you may not understand what they’re doing with all those devices and game controllers.

This summer, why not help your children get excited about a healthy and fun time outdoors? You can make your backyard the neighborhood hotspot that no kid can resist by providing three key ingredients to a great summer: fun, food and friendship.

Fun in the sun

To compete with smartphones, PCs, tablets and other digital devices, you need outdoor excitement – the kind that only water can provide. Installing a backyard pool may not be practical for everyone, but a backyard water slide is a great substitute.

Easy to set up and use, a water slide is a cost-effective way to create outdoor fun this summer. For example, we love H2OGO! backyard water slides for their modern but comfortable products. They feature the Speed Ramp, an inflatable launch pad that creates a smooth belly-flop landing at the start of the superfast 18-foot slide. A Splash Lagoon funnels water throughout the entire slide, reducing friction and increasing speed. Learn more at www.bestway-global.com.

Food for fun

All that water sliding and other fun activity is going to make kids work up an appetite. They’ll need fuel so they can keep having fun. Look for fare that is easy, kid-friendly and nutritious. For example, instead of serving high-fat, high-sugar ice cream, consider frozen fruit or fruit pops. Replace sugary, calorie-laden sodas with flavored water. For kids who crave crunch, replace chips with fresh-cut crisp fruits like apples and kid-friendly veggies such as carrots or cherry tomatoes. You can serve them with a variety of delicious, yogurt-based dips. Whip up a nacho platter that incorporates low-fat shredded cheese, fresh salsa and lean protein like beans or grilled chicken.

Friendship and fun

With your backyard gaining the reputation of the neighborhood hot spot for great food and fun, you may notice some new faces showing up. Encourage children to engage in games that can help them get to know each other and create new friendships with others in the neighborhood.

Some of the simplest games are great ice-breakers. One game that’s great for getting to know each other is to have kids stand in a circle and toss around a bean bag or small ball. The child who throws asks a question – such as “What’s your name?” or “What’s your favorite sport?” – and the child who catches has to answer.

Another fun idea for older children is a biography building circle. Kids sit in a circle and start with one child making a simple statement about himself, such as “I like to play baseball with my dad.” The next child in line adds his or her own information by building off something the first child said, such as “My dad is an airline pilot.” The play continues with children each saying something new that is somehow linked to what the last child said.

Each of these activities will help keep your child healthy and happy this summer. Inspire them to grow and make good choices by fostering outdoor play in your own backyard!

Top Ten Kid-Friendly Apps

It’s unavoidable, we live in an age of technology. Our children seem almost glued to anything with a screen. There are many ways that you can use your child’s love of smartphones and tablets to your advantage. One way is to foster continuous learning, even during summer break. There are an abundance of apps designed specifically for learning.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Unknown-2Duolingo is a free language learning app. You can choose from ten different languages to learn. It is a great app for all ages, so you can learn alongside your child.

Lumosity is a fun brain-training website that helps you increase your attention span and increase memory retention. The app is free and was designed for all ages.

Star Chart by Escapist Games Limited allows kids to learn all about the universe. You can hold it up to the sky and find out exactly what stars or planets you are looking at. The app is free, but there are some in-app purchases.

THE aMAZEing Labyrinth has puzzles and mazes that will challenge your kids to think and problem solve. It costs $3.99.

toca lab logoToca Lab allows your children to learn about chemistry, magnetism, and electricity in a safe and fun way. The app costs $2.99.

Kids Numbers and Math by Intellijoy focuses on helping pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade children learn numbers and early math skills. There is a free version, but the full package costs $2.99.

Unknown-1Endless Alphabet by Originator Inc. teaches youngsters the alphabet and basic vocabulary with fun and engaging games. A smaller version of the app is free, but the full package must be unlocked by an in-app purchase.

Dr. Panda & Toto’s Treehouse is a fun app where kids can play with and take care of Toto the Turtle. The app includes many activities, so there’s endless replay value. The app costs $2.99.

UnknownFarFaria Free Children’s Books includes hundreds of choices so your child isn’t stuck reading the same story over and over again. It is best for ages 1-9. The app is free, but there are some in-app purchases.

The NASA App allows you to view video hundreds of photos and videos to learn more about different ongoing projects. It is free and is a great resource for young rocket scientists and astronauts.

 

Written by Krista Knauer

Adventure Awaits!

Summer and fun – while these words aren’t technically synonyms, they probably should be. School is out for the children, you have summer vacation time from work stocked up, and the nice weather across the country is beckoning.

Are you in search of some fun ideas for your summer activities? Check out these family-friendly ideas everyone will love!

Camp – Sleeping under the stars is just the first great benefit of going on a camping adventure. You can plan plenty of fun and kid-friendly activities to keep you busy all summer long. Hiking, cooking over the campfire, fishing, swimming, catching fireflies, telling ghost stories and toasting marshmallows all add to the fun. Just remember to pack plenty of bug spray and sunblock so your fun doesn’t get interrupted by painful or itchy skin.

Ride the Trails – Taking the family for an ATV ride is an adventure all in itself. You get to see the country in a new way, plus you’ll have fun trekking across the countryside. However, we recommend riding with an experienced driver and ALWAYS follow all safety precautions, including wearing a helmet.

Develop a Family Project – It’s always fun to spend time together as a family working on a project. Let your imagination run wild and see where it takes you. If you want to explore your creative talents, consider producing a short play or movie. Everyone can get involved in writing the script, the acting, set creation and finding the perfect costumes. Or consider participating in a community service project. Maybe you have an organization close to your heart you could raise money to help support. Ask the organization if there is something your family can help with this summer.

Road Trip – A themed road trip can create a lot of excitement for your family members. For example, maybe you want to create a theme of seeing all the odd tourist attractions like the world’s largest ball of twine or the country’s biggest collection of autographed baseballs. Perhaps you want to visit as many national parks as you can. Have your children help with the planning and you’ll have a very interesting road trip adventure.

Museums – Make it an educational summer by planning visits to all the museums in the nearest city. Include the local zoos and planted gardens on the list, and you’ll be sure to pique the interest of every member of your family. Plan for one family museum visit a month or every other week, and combine it with a family dinner out or a picnic in the park.

You can combine several of these ideas together for even more fun this summer. So whether you go camping, road tripping, or tour museums, you know every member of the family will enjoy the summer activities!

Let’s Go for a Ride!

When I was a kid in Southern California, “let’s go for a ride” usually meant a long family drive through the mountains or skirting the desert basins far outside of the city. Sometimes, we would take curving cliffside roads that afforded a view of the Pacific. The vistas were incredible, though generally relegated to the opposite side of a window, and came at the cost of a few gallons of gas and the risk of motion sickness.

Now, “let’s go for a ride” has a different meaning. Once spring finally muscles winter out of the way and everyone is eager to get outside, my daughter and I strap on our helmets and hit the Roanoke River Greenway on our bicycles. Each year, there’s more of the greenway to explore. It is as if small, secret parts of our city are constantly being revealed, opening themselves up for adventure.

jeremyPenelope loves the freedom and speed of the bicycle. She loves moving under her own power, and she loves the real sense of growing stronger she gets each year as she’s able to ride faster, for longer distances, and up steeper hills. I, of course, simply enjoy being along for the ride and sharing these experiences with her.

Some of the best parts of the trip, though, having nothing to do with riding, but come from the spontaneous moments of discovery that being on a bicycle allows:

  • Coming across a bridge and deciding, all of a sudden, that what we really want to do is hop off the bikes and explore the banks along the stream that runs underneath it.
  • Stopping to watch a heron stalk a stretch of low water, dipping its head under the surface as it hunts for fish.
  • Making friends with a tailless stray cat who has taken up ownership of nearby playground.
  • Drowsing in the grass, helmets still on, watching the clouds drift past the tree branches high above.

What you can do on a bicycle that you can’t do in a car is stop, right where you are, and explore. You never have to worry about your kids spotting something fascinating, only to have them struggle to describe it long after you have driven past. You can take a moment to appreciate the small and sudden. Best of all, you can let your child take the lead, and their curiosity take the wheel.

Visit http://www.ridesolutions.org to see how you can get out and ride this summer!

Written by Jeremy Holmes

Favorite Summer Reads (June Edition)

Ok, so we would be lying if we told you we didn’t start our summer reading list in May. We LOVE a good book (or three) and we want to share a few of our favorites from this summer with you:

510K4Y1r7LL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Center of Gravity

by Laura McNeill

Ava Carson is a newlywed with a baby and a stepson when she realizes that her new life is not what it seems to be. Her husband, Mitchell, becomes more controlling every day. His behavior becomes recklessly erratic, and when she begins to question his past he files for divorce and custody of their boys. The story follows her fight to defeat Mitchell at his own game and save her children.

Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things-and people-are not always what they seem.


51p+GbfjSoL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Imaginary Things

by Andrea Lochen

Burned-out and broke, twenty-two-year-old single mother Anna Jennings moves to her grandparents’ rural home for the summer with her four-year-old son, David. The sudden appearance of shadowy dinosaurs forces Anna to admit that either she’s lost her mind or she can see her son’s active imagination. Frightened for David’s safety, Anna struggles to learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon, but what she uncovers is completely unexpected– revelations about what these creatures truly represent and dark secrets about her own childhood. As David’s visions become more persistent and threatening, Anna must learn to differentiate between which danger re real and which are imagined, and who she can truly trust.

 

23014603Those Girls

by Chevy Stevens

Three sisters live on a remote ranch in western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s temper. One night, a fight gets out of hand, and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives. Eighteen years later, one of the sisters goes missing, followed closely by her niece, and they are pulled back into the past. This time, there is no where left to run. Those Girls is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil. A story of survival… and revenge.

 

Stay tuned because we are giving away a copy of each of these over on our Facebook page soon!