Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Mindful Child: Simple Games That Teach Essential Life Lessons

Written by a contributing writer




As a parent, you want only the best for your child. This naturally involves looking after their health and their needs, but also ensuring that you can support their mental wellbeing. Indeed, the mental wellbeing of your child is essential to his or her development. Children who grow up feeling depressed, bullied, or rejected – whether it is at home or in the classroom – are more likely to carry the trauma into their adult years. So it is essential to make sure that your children can interact socially, think independently, and promote respectful interactions. These social skills are key to their development. Surprisingly enough, they can also be easy to learn. Most social skills can be taught through games and playful activities during childhood. Here are some tips to help your kids to become more caring, creative, and tolerant.


Teaching Love And Care


Children naturally grow up in an environment where they are cared for. But it isn’t always enough to teach them that it is important that they show care and love to others. One great idea is to introduce your child to games with dolls or stuffed toys. While you may have grown up thinking dolls are for girls, it is perfectly acceptable (and beneficial) for boys to play with dolls too.  There are many dolls and toy animals that are suited for both genders. SuperiorThan.com, for instance, is discussing Hatchimals, which are cute stuffed toys that are ideal for both boys and girls. The toy comes in an egg and only reveals its species once the egg has hatched. But for this to happen, your child needs to care for the egg by giving it attention and encouraging the Hatchimal to come out. The toy behaves like a newborn and needs to learn new skills with your child’s encouragement and attention.


Teaching Creativity And Imagination

Knowledge is essential but it is vain without imagination. Imagination is a skill that you need to encourage your child to develop. Reading is one of the best tools to support a child’s imagination, according to LiteracyWorks.org, it enables the reader to mentally visualize a fictional scene or word. Children who read a lot develop not only their imaginative power but also problem-solving skills. By learning to think outside of the box, they are in a better position to come up with creative solutions to problems. Additionally, imagination is tightly linked to innovation. A world that keeps evolving needs children to read and invent today so that they can become the creative adults of our future.
Reading


Teaching Tolerance And Respect

Tolerance and respect are social skills that are not evenly spread across the population. Many adults have grown up learning discriminatory behaviors. Therefore, it is essential to teach your child to respect everybody, even those who have a different faith, opinion, or language. Cooperative games are particularly good at emphasizing common goals and peace. While these are often played within a classroom, you can introduce some games at home, such as the silent line up where you encourage your children and their friends to line up in a particular order – date of birth, shoe size, etc. – without speaking to each other. Learning to work together to complete the game helps children to build respectful communication skills.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Discover Cosmopolitan Boston With The Family On A City-Wide Road Trip

Written by a contributing writer

Planning to go on a trip with your loved ones this season? Enrich yourself with one of the most overlooked cultures in the entire country by taking the family on a road trip to a city that was formed in 1630. Boston’s roots, admirably, are still celebrated to this day.The culture is bathed in Anglo-Saxon heritage since the waves of Irish immigrants made the city their home during the influx of manual labor in the 19th and 20th centuries. With them, the Irish brought their deeply held religious belief of Catholicism, and that’s still evident today with many churches and a predominantly Christian population. Although the immigrants may have settled for houses that were small, attached to one another, the ghettos have all but almost vanished as the city has seen much investment and wealth come to it. Now home to people of all backgrounds, Boston has entered the cosmopolitan city scene.

Source - Sebastien93430

The arts

Many metropolitans will boast that nothing can hold a candle to New York City and London when it comes to art and entertainment. Boston is no slouch, and the young seem to have caught onto this fact. There’s a museum for almost every performing discipline, such as the Museum of Fine Arts which displays paintings from Italy that were seen as outlandish during the 15th-century Renaissance in Florence because Sandro Botticelli dared to depict beautiful women as sacred. The museum also proudly exhibits the unique history of the Irish immigrants and has the documents of the first waves who came to the city. It proudly exhibits the massive contribution they made to the infrastructure, as they built the hospitals, dug the sewer tunnels and worked in the automobile industry as it was coming of age.

Music
Jazz and Blues are not for the old at heart in Boston; quite the opposite. Trendy bars where the youth come to congregate and socialize can’t get enough of freestyle jazz. Especially in the Beehive and Wally’s Cafe. The famous Saxophone and clarinet player by the name of Harry Carney was born in Massachusetts, and his memory and inspiration of 1960s jazz live on strong in the bars downtown. If you’re lucky enough to book a minibus with bostoncharterbuscompany.com as your vehicle, you can hit the family-friendly bars all night long, and you won’t hear the same melody twice. The hipsters in the area have brought back classical instrument playing and mixed it with electronics to play ‘chillwave’ tunes; a popular genre with teenagers nowadays.


Image by - Matt Dolloff

Comedy

Perhaps the hottest and most unashamedly raw comedian in the country right now (and has been for some time) is Bill Burr. He hails from Boston, and you might be able to tell by his fair complexion and red hair, that he is indeed a descendant of Irish immigrants. Although he has moved to New York, he regularly comes back to Boston because he feels that ‘Bostoners just don’t care about your feelings, they don’t sugarcoat anything.' When he’s not in town, you can go down to the Wilbur Theater to see who the next comedian will be just to tell it like it is when confronting social and political issues. Boston isn’t a town that will leave topics off the table, so if you’re fortunate to sit in the front row, be ready to take a hit to your ego, as comedians will be self-deprecating but will also challenge the audience to laugh at themselves.

Can't Afford A Personal Trainer? Get In Shape For Free


Written by a contributing writer


If you are looking for ways to get in better shape, but you don’t want to splurge, then there is good news. It is actually not all that difficult to find ways to workout without spending a lot of money in the process.  A lot of people think that you need a gym membership or a personal trainer in order to tackle fitness issues. But the truth is, if you know what you are doing, you can get into shape without spending much at all. In this post, we are going to look at some of the essential tips and tricks for doing just that. So that you can get into the shape you want - while still keeping the wallet you have.


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First: Learn What Works & What You Want To Do


There might be occasions when you will be paying a little something along the way. But that is not a problem in itself, so long as you know when to spend the money and why you are doing so. That’s why it is important, first of all, to figure out what it is that you really hope to achieve with your fitness regime. If you have a very clear goal set in your mind, you are much more likely to get there, and it means that you will spend less time doing exercises you don’t need to do. This saves you a lot of pain and hassle, but also a great deal of money in the long run too. Once you are very clear on what your goals are, you should then make sure to learn what it is that really works for achieving those goals. Different workouts work better for different purposes, so make sure you get it very clear what is best for you. Once you know this, you will find that you can exercise much more effectively (and cheaply) than ever before.

Don’t Be Afraid Of One-Off Classes

So you want to avoid buying an all-out gym membership, but you still want to get healthy. Well, as it happens there is an easy in-between which is worth looking at here. If you want to get in shape, you can easily boost whatever workouts you are doing at home and elsewhere by also buying the occasional one-off class. Because they are one-offs, you won’t be spending money on a gym membership, but you will still be getting some of the benefits of that membership. In a way, this is the best of both worlds, and it is possible that this will be enough for you to achieve whatever it is you are hoping to achieve, and hopefully within your time frame too.


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Learn How To Exercise Effectively At Home

A lot of people avoid home exercise primarily because they don’t actually believe that it would be that effective. But as long as you know what you are doing, you will find that it can be as effective as literally any other setting for exercising. Think again about your goals, and what kind of exercises you probably need to carry out. Now think about whether you could carry those out at home. For the vast majority of exercises, the answer to this is a resounding yes. It might be that you want to grab hold of a machine and install it in your home. This can be done relatively cheaply, definitely less money than a gym membership for a year. Or you might just be looking to tone up, in which case you might not need any gear at all, but could instead just carry out some simple yoga in the living room. As this guide about learning yoga at home will show you, it is actually extremely straightforward to get the results you want this way, so that is worth remembering when you are trying to get in shape and save money at the same time.


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Track Yourself With An App

One of the major roles that a personal trainer plays is that they encourage you to keep moving, often by signaling how far you have already come. There is no doubt that this encouragement is useful, but these days you can get much the same effect thanks to the increasingly useful world of technology. Now, you can download and install a smartphone app which monitors pretty much every aspect of your progress for you. It is worth giving this a go if you think you are going to miss that presence during your workouts. It really can make a world of difference - and many of the apps are completely free of charge.

*This post is not meant to give medical advice.  Please consult a health/medical professional before starting a new exercise routine. 

The Hostess With The Mostest: All You Need To Know About Hosting Your First Garden BBQ

Written by a contributing writer


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BBQs are undoubtedly one of the summer’s greatest highlights. They offer a chance to spend magical moments with friends and family without the hassle or cost of alternative entertainment. When the sun is shining too, life simply doesn’t get any better.

The first garden shindig is always the hardest to organize, as you’ll inevitably gain confidence with experience. In reality, you’re probably worrying more than you need to. Nevertheless, this checklist of key ingredients should ensure that your event is BBQtiful. What are you waiting for? Let’s get cookin’.


It All Starts With Good Food


The BBQ is about more than just food. Nevertheless, those tasty meats and treats are what leave guests salivating in anticipation. Choosing top products like smoked kielbasa will give you the best chance of delivering the goods.

You may want to provide a selection of vegan, gluten-free, or vegetarian options depending on your guests. Meanwhile, it’s equally imperative that those dishes are supported by great sauces and condiments. Get it right, and it will be compliments to the chef all round.


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The BBQ Isn’t Your Only Option
Great tasting food is essential. However, your image of cooking up a storm on the BBQ is only one possible solution. With these simple hacks, your kitchen can become an even greater weapon as you look to feed the big crowd. In many cases, the best option is to try a combination of the two.

Ultimately, your guests won’t be overly fussed about how the food is cooked. Taste is everything. Besides, utilizing both the kitchen and the garden creates a far bigger space for guests to mingle. It also offers a chance to break off into smaller groups. If you want to be the BBQ Queen, simplicity is king.


Be Prepared For Weather Changes
Even if you’ve conducted your research in advance, you can never trust the weather. Ever. Situations can change quite quickly, and it’s imperative that you have the facilities to cope.

If it rains, there’s always the option to head inside. However, if you have a decking area, then a retractable canopy can work wonders. This option can additionally provide great comfort should it get too hot. Alternatively, a small gazebo may be a great way to keep the options open for guests of all ages.


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Think About The Entertainment
Most hosts will take the time to make guests comfortable with the right furniture, and great food. However, you also need to keep them entertained. Creating a Spotify playlist is very easy. Do this and hook your laptop up to the speakers for a great background sound throughout the event.

You should also try to source a variety of fun family games. Whether it’s garden bowls, trampolining, or playing with a bat and ball doesn’t matter. Those activities and laughter are the perfect partner to great food and can turn a good BBQ into a great one. Get it right, and it’ll be a day to remember.

Planning The Perfect Family Picnic In The Park

Written by a contributing writer



Summer is here and the warmer weather means there’s no better time to eat al fresco with your family and kids. A picnic is a perfect way to enjoy each other's company, soak up the sunshine, and eat some delicious treats. So grab your gingham blanket and have a look through the following ideas that will help inspire you to create a memorable picnic that the whole family will appreciate.


Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-celebration-cheers-congratulations-415318/

The Setting

You’ll need something comfortable and decorative (why not) to sit on and a picnic blanket is the perfect thing to cover the grass and any dirt that would otherwise get on your clothing and, potentially, the food. However, if you’re included every generation of your family, and inviting seniors to the picnic, you might want to invest in some fold-out chairs or camping stools to ensure that everyone is comfortable.

You could add a touch of luxury to your family get-together by adding some cushions and extra throws to the setting, which will provide added comfort and warmth if things get a little breezy. A parasol or large umbrella can provide much-needed shade from the sun, which is essential for babies, toddlers, and the elderly. A decent cooler and picnic basket should also be a priority, after all, the picnic food is the star of the show. The idea is not to spend a fortune, but invest in items that you can use again and again. For some more ideas on cheap days out with the kids, take a look here: http://www.floridamommydiaries.com/2017/04/cheap-days-out-with-kids.html.


The Food And Drinks

Picnics can be a great balance of delicious, healthy food, and some tasty sweet treats too; so try and write down a list of what you intend to make, to ensure that there’s enough of each. Sandwiches are an excellent place to start, or, if you’re going to have a portable BBQ on the go, just take the buns and relishes you’ll need for the chargrilled chicken and burgers that you’ll fill them with. Savory snack like potato chips, carrot sticks, and cheeses, will all be appreciated also.

For your little ones and infants, you’ll need to ensure that you have some delicious food for them, that you can transport with ease, like sachets of Happytot Organic Superfoods and any teething snacks. Keeping the smallest members of the family happy and well-fed will ensure that your day goes as smoothly (and peacefully) as possible. Older kids will adore the rest of the picnic food and you can involve them in the preparation of the homemade lemonade and strawberry cupcakes (yum).


The Fun And Games

If you’re already outside and in a park area on a sunny day, everyone will be happy enough to sit and enjoy the food, weather, and natural surroundings. However, to add a little more fun to the day, consider taking part in some outdoor games: take a bat and ball for a family game of baseball, or perhaps a frisbee so the kids can play catch with mom and dad.

Taking a kite to fly is another option, especially if you’re up on a hill, or it’s a breezy day. And, for the brave among you; water pistols and water balloons are a great way to cool down and have a good time in the sunshine, just don’t forget to take some towels and dry clothing for the journey home.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Meals in Minutes: Easy Microwavable Dinner Dishes

Written by a contributing writer

 

What is it that you least want to do when you come in from a long hard day at work? That’s right, switch the oven on and spend the next hour cooking a meal from scratch. Now I'm not saying that cooking food from scratch is bad. Actually, it's pretty good, but the time and effort it takes can beat the best of us after a busy day. Instead, why not save some time and some energy by a look at the options for microwave easy dinner dishes below.

A note on microwaves

Not all microwaves are created equal and it's important to know that before you start cooking your dishes.

Obviously, there are different brands with different features that you can read about at sites like https://senseireviews.com/best-over-the-range-microwave/. But you also need to know that different microwaves have different wattages. That means that they can have anything from 700W to 1100W.

Just remember that the higher the microwave wattage, the shorter time it takes to cook the food through. So adjust your cooking time accordingly.

Risotto

Everyone loves a creamy risotto, especially if you combine it with delicious vegetables and even a little pancetta. But who has the time to stand over a pot stirring it constantly until it's done? Not me!

Instead, why not have a go at making this divine primavera risotto complete with asparagus, and mint.

The ingredients you will need are:


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Solids:
Rice (Arborio 350g or 2.5 cups),
Frozen peas,
Fresh asparagus,
Fresh chopped mint leaves,
Grated Parmesan or soft cheese.

Liquids:

17 ml (or 1 tbs) of white wine,
Stock, vegetable 850ml (or 3.5 cups)

Combine the rice, and the liquids together and cover. Then microwave on high for 6-7 minutes. After that allow the dish to rest for 1 minute. Remember it will still keep cooking during this time. Then add the vegetables and cook again for 6-7mins.

At this point, the risotto should be ready to serve, so mix in the grated or soft cheese end garnish with mint leaves.

It makes a delicious light dish, perfect when served with chicken and you can even follow it up with these super easy cookies for dessert.


Quesadillas

Something else that you can make so easily in the microwave is delicious Mexican quesadillas.

To start, lay of out a single tortilla on a safe microwave plate. Then add your fillings such as cooked mince beef or lamb, chicken, fresh chopped tomatoes, and grated cheese to melt. You can get some more idea of what to include at http://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/cinco-de-mayo/g2553/quesadilla-recipes/.

At this point, you can also add in guacamole, or you can leave it out as use it as a dip once the dish is cooked.

Then top with the another tortilla and lightly brush with oil to get that crispy finish. Microwave on medium for 2-3 minutes, or until the filling is piping hot and the cheese is melted. Just watch out that the tortilla doesn't burn.

These are so easy and delicious and work well as part of a larger dinner, or as a lunchtime snack.

Under The Sea: The Health Benefits of Seafood (and How To Get More Into Your Diet!)

Written by a contributing writer


Source: Pexels

Not only is it delicious, but seafood is incredibly healthy and one of the best protein sources you can include in your diet. Plus at this time of year, there are few things nicer than a light, fresh fish dish for lunch or dinner. If you’re looking to give your dinner menu a shake-up and improve your health, adding more seafood is a great way to go about it. Here are some of the health benefits and easy ways you can add more to your diet.

Health Benefits

Seafood is low in both fat and cholesterol and is high in protein, vitamins and healthy fatty acids such as omega 3. This is so important in our diet since it’s essential for many of the body’s processes, but we cannot produce it ourselves. Most people in the western world don’t get enough of it so making the effort to eat more seafood is a smart move. If you currently eat a very meat heavy diet, especially with a lot of red and processed meats, switching to seafood is a great option.


Health Concerns

Most healthy people can eat fish every day with no problem at all, in fact doing so is highly beneficial! However, there are some limitations that you need to bear in mind. It’s recommended that you eat oily fish no more than four times per week. This is because it can contain low-level pollutants than can build up in the body. While you can eat as much white fish as you want, limit the amount of sea bream, sea bass, turbot, and halibut as, again, these can contain pollutants. Children, pregnant women, or those looking to conceive should avoid shark, marlin, and swordfish due to it’s higher mercury content- healthy adults can enjoy one portion a week. So while there are some limitations, you still have an enormous range of different fish to work with. Getting plenty into your diet shouldn’t be an issue at all.


Mix it Up

Eating the same foods over and over is always going to get a bit boring. Trying out lots of different recipes and finding new ways to incorporate seafood will keep it fresh and interesting. You could eat smoked salmon, cream cheese, and spinach on a bagel as a tasty weekend breakfast or weekday lunch. You could enjoy different types of sushi, you could stir fry shrimp with vegetables, or enjoy the British classic ‘fish and chips.' While this is usually deeply fried, it’s easy to make your own healthier version by breadcrumbing the white fish and cooking fries or wedges in the oven with a touch of cooking spray and some seasoning. Tons of restaurants offer fantastic seafood dishes, just looking at the Red Lobster menu shows you what kinds of tasty options you could go for.


Source: Pexels

Write a Menu

Writing a menu and shopping list for the week is beneficial for a few reasons. First, it allows you to be organized, it doesn’t get to 6pm mid way through the week, and you think ‘what on earth am I going to cook?!’ It also means you can plan out a shopping list, meaning you shop smarter and save money by not buying unneeded things. You don’t have to eat seafood every day (unless you want to!) but having a few different fish meals planned each week will do wonders for your health.


*This post is not meant to give medical advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting a new diet.