School is Out For Summer!!

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Summer break has finally arrived and now to figure out what to do with the little ones? Below are a few ideas that will cost little to no money:

  • The beach! You may have to purchase a few sand toys and pack a lunch, but for little to no money, it will fill up the days!
  • The local community pool. You can purchase summer passes or try a different one every week and decide which one you like best.
  • Water balloon fight
  • Water play with a water table, kiddie pools, and a slip and slide
  • Build forts and tents inside the house (you may want to save this one for rainy days)
  • Library! The library offers countless programs all summer, usually from preschool age to teens. Just search for your local library and look for any summer programs being offered.
  • Create smoothies, homemade ice cream, popsicles, and lemonade!
  • Visit your local craft store and find craft kits or random supplies to invent your own special thing (also might be great to save for rainy days or a super humid/no wind kind of day).
  • Check your local theater to see if they are offering summer movies. Most theaters will show movies on certain days in the morning; sometimes free or for just a few dollars.
  • Visit a museum, botanical garden, or a local historical site and learn more about your town!

There is so much more out there to fill the days and often the local newspaper will list activities and events to help stay busy. Happy summer!

 

Memorial Day Weekend Events

american-flag-1208660_960_720It’s Memorial Day weekend as well as the time to kick off the summer. It’s a weekend to commemorate those for their service and also a weekend when many will explore the beaches, go swimming, grill in the backyard, invite friends over, and check one of the many events happening around the Tampa Bay Area. From parades to the Backyard BBQ at Vinoy Park in St. Pete and “An Evening in Space” at Mosi in Tampa. There’s plenty to plan for and choose according to your liking! Check out the link below to see all the events:

Tampa Bay Times Memorial Day Weekend Events

 

Saving On The Energy Bill As The Heat Rises

The summer heat is here and so is turning down the thermostat. As much as we want it to be a cool 72 degrees in our home daily, that can quickly add up. Here are some ways to save this summer so you can enjoy the air conditioner without much worry!

1. Invest in shades or curtains that help to block heat from entering the room.

2. Make sure to set the thermostat so that when you are away during the day the air conditioner is not running. There are some great programmable thermostat options that can be set to start cooling your home an hour before you return. These thermostats also allow you to control the temperature from your Smart phone. So if you are taking a trip and notice your air is running, you can turn it off!

3. Raising your thermostat temperature and using a fan uses less energy and therefore less cost. There are even energy efficient ceiling fans that help reduce costs even more.

4. Replacing your lightbulbs with energy efficient lightbulbs will often produce less heat which helps to keep the room cool.

5. Turn your water heater to 120 degrees. This helps to save money and also prevent burns.

6. Vacuum the vents regularly and make sure there isn’t any furniture blocking the registers. Keep appliances and lamps away from the thermostat as the thermostat will sense heat and run longer than necessary.

7. Caulk around any windows, use weather stripping, and seal any other cracks in your home to keep hot air out and the cool air inside.

Which Countertop to Choose?

There are so many differences in countertops-from the look, feel, and maintenance. Below is a quick guide on the pros and cons of varying countertops:

Butcher Block

Butcher block can be an inexpensive way to update the look of your kitchen and with the right kind of maintenance, can look more and more beautiful through the years. The varying wood grains give a classy, warm, and cozy feel to any kitchen. The downsides are the need to oil to keep away bacteria and sanding every so often as it will get nicks and cuts easily.

Concrete Countertops

This is one of the newest trends and often any great DIYer can do on his or her own. If you want an expert to handle it, there are a variety of stains and shapes concrete can take. The cons are that it can get costly, may crack overtime, and it needs a strong support underneath.

Granite

Classic, formal, traditional, and unique. Granite has been a popular choice for many years now and there are so many options to choose what you really want for your kitchen. The only negative is that it needs to be resealed every so often (but that goes for most countertops) and it also needs a strong support underneath.

Laminate

The most affordable option that can now come in a variety of styles and almost look like granite. The negatives are that it can chip and scratch easily (without really being able to be repaired) and it is too light to hold an undermount sink.

Quartz

This comes in a variety of styles and has long lasting durability. Just don’t directly place a hot pot or cut on the countertop.

Marble

Elegant, beautiful, and timeless. However, it is very expensive, can chip easily, and stain even if sealed properly. If you want marble, it’s recommended to only install in one small part of the kitchen (such as where you will do your baking).

There are so many choices out there and every countertop comes with pros and cons. But no matter the choice, it’s important to choose the style and quality that best suits you.

 

Mother’s Day is This Sunday!

Looking for some ideas on how to celebrate the mother(s) in your life? Below are a few ideas, including events happening in the Tampa Bay Area:

  • Make an appointment for her to get a pedicure, manicure, and/or a massage
  • Give her the whole day to do whatever she wants! Be it coffee, hang out with friends, or go see a movie.
  • Take her to the store to pick out her own piece of jewelry (unless she told you specifically what she would like)
  • Bring her flowers and gift that you know she would really like!
  • Or go to any of these exciting events this weekend

Happy Mother’s Day!

Outdoor Space on a Budget

Summer time is approaching and so are barbecues, pool parties, and naps on the porch. If your outdoor space is needing an update, below are some ideas on a budget:

  • Garage sales: Garage sale season is beginning to slow down as the weather is warming up. Look for some garage sales this weekend and next and see what interesting items you can find. Get creative and think about how you can repurpose an old coffee table or some chairs with some sand paper, paint, outdoor and protective sealant.
  • Thrift Stores: All kinds of items are dropped off and you may find some pieces to use for outdoor lighting and furniture.
  • Sales: Research online before heading to the store to see which places are offering the best sales on outdoor rugs, pillows, cushions, and other items you want for your patio.

There are so many ideas out there to create the kind of living space that works for you. Have fun searching and being creative!

Updating Your Kitchen on a Budget

maxresdefaultThe kitchen is the center piece of the home, a space that every family member and friend spends time in. So why not treat your kitchen and yourself to a little update? If budget needs to be considered, below are some ideas to give a fresh look for only a few hundred dollars:

 

 

  • If you have wood or builder stock cabinets- some sand paper, elbow grease, and paint can really freshen up the look.
  • Change or add knobs and handles to the cabinets
  • Add a back splash. There are many peel and stick options that can be affordable, easy to install, and look great.
  • Change out the faucet
  • Update the lighting
  • Add under cabinet lighting. This not only helps to illuminate your workspace, but also adds warmth and coziness to the kitchen.
  • Update your dishes, cups, and maybe your spice rack too.
  • Paint the walls

These updates range from a two day to just a one hour project. Any or all can really help to update and freshen the look of your kitchen.

Maintaining Motivation to Keep Eating Healthy

It’s allergy season, spring time, summer is coming, tax season… it can be hard to stay motived to stick to a healthy diet. Below are some helpful ways to keep yourself motivated:541063_10100923709844911_1747183116_n

  1. Start small- perhaps you’ve been eating dessert every night on top of some other unhealthy choices throughout the day. Skip dessert and have some tea or one small piece of chocolate instead. It takes 40 days to build a habit and with small changes each day, it makes it easier to attain your goals.
  2. Remember that the average amount of pounds to lose is 1-2 per week. Set realistic goals such as losing 5 pounds by the end of May instead of 15 pounds.
  3. Setbacks will happen. The weight-loss plateau is real, but keep doing what you are doing and maybe walk an extra 20 minutes to help keep you focused on your goals.
  4. Have a friend join you. It’s much easier to stick to a healthy diet when you are doing it with someone.
  5. Be patient and have a plan. It’s hard to wait to see the results, but keep at it! All good things take time and write down a plan to help you stay motivated. For example, you will make sure to prep your lunches on Sunday and find something exciting and healthy to eat for said lunches on Saturday before grocery shopping.

And remember, you may have a day where you just eat unhealthy. But don’t give up! Tomorrow is another day to start anew!

April Showers Bring May Flowers

So what flowers to plant and grow for this coming summer? The best plants to add to your garden this month are vegetables! Most will be ready to harvest in the summer and now is a good time as the soil is just about warm enough. Below are list of vegetables to add to your garden:

  • Beans (there are certain types best for Florida)
  • Sweet Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Peppers
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes

Raised_bedThe weather has been nice and cool and should be cool the rest of this week. It’s a good time to add to the garden, trim back plants, pull weeds, and maybe add a decorative garden piece or two.  For more information on best ways to plant in Florida, visit the University of Florida’s Vegetable Gardening Guide and a blog post written last year with some other helpful tips on gardening

Surviving Allergy Season

allergy-18656_1920Allergy season has been upon us and it most likely has another month to go. Besides taking allergy medicine, what else can you do to help? Below are some tips to help survive the rest of allergy season:

  • Typically workout outdoors? You may want to consider doing your workouts indoors while the pollen is fresh.
  • As soon as you get home from work, take off your shoes and change your clothes. Allergens can be on your clothing without notice.
  • If you have a cat or dog that goes outside, wipe their paws before they come inside to take off pollen.
  • If you wear contacts and your eyes get super itchy during allergy season, you may want to consider wearing your glasses.
  • Vacuum and clean rugs, the couch, and any curtains at least once a month. Wash all sheets and pillowcases as well.
  • Clean out the drum, door, and rubber gasket of your washing machine. Mold and fungi can grow there and detergent is not enough to help. Use wipes with bleach to make it easier and keep the door open in between washes to help it air dry.
  • If your allergies are giving you an extra hard time this season, call your doctor and see if you need a prescription.