Minggu, 25 Juni 2017

5 Tips For Planning an Affordable Family Vacation

Are you all set to start planning your family's summer holiday? In the past, this was an exciting period. However, the economy now has many Americans in a financial bind. If you are one of those Americans, planning your family vacation may no longer be as fun. In actuality, it is something you may dread. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be. Although you are on a budget, there are a multitude ways that you can plan a cheap, yet fun family vacation this summer. How?

1 - Stay Close to Home
When many of us think of summer holidays, plane rides and far-off destinations often come to mind. People like to getaway. A family from New York is likely to opt for Hawaii or Florida as their summer vacation destination. A family from Florida may opt for the Caribbean or New York City. These holidays are nice. After all, you get away and get to experience something fresh. Nevertheless, if you are on a budget this year, you should think closer to home. Plan a new activity each day and have a series of daylong vacations. For example, visit a state park with a natural pool and hiking trails on day one, travel to a nearby museum for day two, visit a semi-local amusement park on day three, and so forth.

2 - Let Your Kids Help decide on Activities
Remaining near to to your house is one of the finest ways to economize on a summer vacation. If you plan a series of daylong vacations for the week, start close to home. Your family can sleep in their own beds each night. As you get farther away from home, book a inn. Unfortunately, with this arrangement many parents feel like they are shortchanging their kids, especially if they were used to the previously mentioned faraway vacation destinations. Remember, you are operating with restricted monetary resources. Planning activities you can afford is more significant. However, you can reduce boredom by letting your children help plan. For example, your teenage daughter can arrange day two of your holiday, your ten-year-old son can help prepare day three, and so forth.

3 - Give Camping a whirl
If you don't mean to stay close to the house, you are apt to book your airline reservations and a hotel room. Rate compare to find the finest deals. However, you should on no account pay more than $100 a night for a hotel room. This just gets too expensive, especially if you are on a budget. A good and less costly alternative is to camp. All across the nation, you will find campground parks and state parks with camping accommodations. Camping rates vary greatly, but most charge no more than $25 a night!

4 - Wisely decide on Your Travel Dates
If you don't want to remain close to home, wisely select your travel dates. Since you are planning a summer vacation, you will notice increased rates, but look at the little things. It is cheaper to vacation at the beginning or end of the summer. The middle is the most expensive. You will find higher hotel rates and fewer unfilled rooms when there is a popular concert, sporting event, or convention in town.

5 - Don't hold out for for Last Minute Travel Deals
When it comes to finding travel bargains and discounts, many mistakenly believe you ought to hold your fire until the last minute. Yes, many hotels, airlines, and auto rental companies offer last minute travel deals and discounts, but they are usually rarer during the summer. The summer is a peak travel seasons and they rarely have trouble filling planes and hotel rooms. For most, it is too risky to wait. If you are one of those folks, plan your trip in advance, but continually be on the watch out for moneysaving deals and discounts. Fortunately, hotels, airlines, and car rental companies offer them all year round, not just at the last instant.

Minggu, 18 Juni 2017

Centerpieces for Family Style Wedding Receptions

Long tables with family style service have become very popular for wedding receptions. The idea behind this style of dinner is to create a relaxed convivial atmosphere that encourages conversation and good times. It is not enough to swap out long tables for round ones, though; you also need to set the table to encourage this friendly flow of conversation. These are some suggestions on centerpieces for family style wedding receptions.

The tall formal floral arrangements which are often seen on traditional round reception tables simply do not work for long family style tables. Not only are they too stuffy for the laid back atmosphere of a family style dinner, but their tall height blocks the view of the people across the table, hindering the flow of conversation. The number one rule of designing centerpieces for long tables is to keep them low. Your guests should be able to chat without craning their necks to see around the centerpieces.

If you opt for tall elements like candelabras, choose ones with narrow bases and open designs that will not create a wall between the two sides of the table, and set them in the spaces between place settings to keep the line of vision clear. You can then fill in the spaces between the candelabras with low floral arrangements. Rustic iron candelabras would be wonderful for a vineyard wedding with rectangular tables. For a more airy look, create groups of clear glass candle holders with very tall stems in several heights. Float ivory candles in them to add the soft romantic glow of candlelight to your family style reception, and will cast a flattering light on your guests in their lovely wedding attire and pearl earrings.

Flowers are very popular for centerpieces. A great effect for long family style tables is to use a series of small low centerpieces down the length of the table, rather than a few larger arrangements set far apart. It also makes it easier to pass dishes across the table, if need be. A mixture of flower colors and textures suits the relaxed character of family style service. Choose flowers based on the season, the location of your wedding, and of course your personal taste. If you are a bride who loves the timeless look of pearl earrings and lace, clusters of white garden roses, pink peonies, and yellow sweet peas tumbling over the sides of vintage white hobnail vases and bowls would be lovely. Loose arrangements will lend a "fresh from the garden" feeling to the centerpieces.

Less usual natural elements like succulents, river rocks, and desert flowers (just no prickly cactus plants, please!) would be a fresh contemporary approach to decorating long reception tables. Set the table with white linens and place a runner in down the center to help unify the various decorative elements. The runner could be in a natural color like wheat, or contrast with the understated decorations by choosing a runner in a vivid hue such as hot pink or orange. This would be a fantastic tablescape for a reception in a field or a venue with clean lines like a city loft.

When decorating your family style reception tables, do not overlook the design possibilities of fruit and vegetables. For a classic autumnal celebration, set hollowed out gourds, mini pumpkins, and eggplants down the middle of rectangular tables. Fill them with seasonal flowers in shades of red, purple, orange, and cream. A fun idea for a summer reception would be to set low footed bowls filled with lemons and limes down the length of the tables. Between the bowls of fruit, layer in very low arrangements of hot pink gerbera daisies, lime green kermit mums, and a scattering of small white blossoms (to break up the intense color palette just a bit). The final effect of your centerpieces will be inviting, festive, and absolutely perfect for a fun family style wedding reception.

Minggu, 11 Juni 2017

Stocking the Kitchen For Convenient and Healthy Family Meals

A well-stocked kitchen can make the decision between cooking a healthy meal at home or running out for fast food or take-out. Here are some staples for the pantry that should always be on the grocery list and in your kitchen, so preparing snacks and planning meals is simple and convenient.

For the Refrigerator
Pre-cooked chicken and meats - already grilled or steamed. Ready to add to pasta, salads, stews, stir frys, and fajitas.

Pre-cut vegetables and fruits - found in the fresh produce section of supermarket. Veggies are perfect for stir frys and pastas. Fruits are ready for snacking, salads or smoothies.

Shredded cheeses - found in the cheese or deli section of supermarket. Great way to save time when making your favorite Italian and Mexican dishes.

Fresh dips and salsas - found in cheese and meat sections of supermarket. Can spice up sandwiches, raw vegetables, crackers, pasta, and baked potatoes. Store in freezer or refrigerator for last minute get-togethers, meals and snacks.

Pizza and bread dough - found in the freezer or refrigerator section of supermarket. Let each family member create their own meal with lots of healthy topping options.

Dairy Products
Choose pasteurized, whole milk and dairy products for those under 5 years old. Some pediatricians say to cut back on whole milk products as young as 3 years old, and introduce low and skim milk options. Be sure to check dates on packages to be sure you're getting the freshest and longest lasting.

Yogurt - particularly plain yogurt which you can add your own fruit and purees. For those under one year, be sure the yogurt is made from whole milk and active cultures. Soy yogurt is an option for those who are lactose intolerant. Plain yogurt is also a good base for salad dressings, smoothies, sauces and a healthy alternative to sour cream for topping baked potatoes, and Mexican foods.

Milk - you may have a few different types of milk (whole, low fat and non-fat) for family members based on age and diet. Soy and rice milk are also good alternatives, especially for those with allergies and lactose intolerance. Have on hand for drinking, making smoothies and baking.

Cheeses - soft cream cheese makes great dips and spreads for all ages. Adding calcium to your family's diet is as easy as sprinkling fresh parmesan over pastas and vegetables. Cheddar cheese is always welcome for sandwiches and homemade macaroni and cheese. Cottage, ricotta and goat cheeses can be part of a healthy meal or snack. Pre-shredded and grated cheeses are very convenient for Italian and Mexican favorites.

Eggs - eggs can make all kinds of quick meals by themselves - omelets, egg salad, frittatas and quiches. Some kids think "breakfast for dinner" is a fun family meal. Choose cage free and organic for the least exposure to harmful bacteria.

For the Freezer
Fresh is usually best for taste and nutrients, however frozen can be convenient stand-by. Frozen items such as peas and blueberries make convenient finger foods for older babies and toddlers. Frozen poultry, meats and fish will create all kinds of meals.

Don't forget to use the freezer for left-overs and storage to create your own convenient "frozen dinners". Your baby's purees, as well as sauces and broths store beautifully in ice cube trays and zip top bags.

For the Pantry
Dried Foods
Bread, grains and pastas are good sources of carbohydrates that can be the basis for a quick and healthy meal. Some dried beans and legumes require more cooking time and preparation but are economical and healthy.

Pasta - this can be any shape or size, so you're ready to make spaghetti, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, udon, and soups. Best choices are egg-less noodles for those under 12 months and wheat semolina for those over 12 months.

Dried Grains - these include couscous, quinoa, polenta and risotto. These make good side dishes to meats and fish dishes as well as appropriate main dish with steamed vegetables or stews. A good staple for Indian and Mediterranean dishes.

Beans and legumes - these include lentils, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, and white beans. You're prepared for healthy dips such as hummus and black bean, as well as side dishes, soups and salads.

Breads - including pita, multi-grain, lavosh, bagels, and tortillas. Different breads allow for various stuffings. Create healthy pizzas, burritos, wraps, sandwiches and more.

Rice - infant rice for first meals and to mix in with vegetable and fruit purees. Brown rice makes a good and healthy companion for Asian stir fry, and Mexican dishes.

Dried fruits - these are great healthy snacks alone, as well as good mix-ins for yogurt, granola, oatmeal, and cottage cheese.

Breakfast cereals - these include muesli, granola, low sugar cereals, oat bran, wheat germ, and oatmeal. It's also easy to make your own cereal mix by simply combining your favorite grains such as rolled oats, toasted wheat germ, and oat bran with dried fruit.

Canned and Jarred Foods
Some canned foods are high in fat, sodium and sugar, but many are also high in nutritional value. Check the labels to identify those with the least additives. These include: light tuna in water, organic natural nut butters, all-fruit spread, beans, and tomatoes. Be sure to thoroughly rinse canned beans and vegetables to eliminate extra sodium and oils. Remember low sodium broths and stocks for poaching and boiling meats and vegetables, as well as creating your own soups.

Condiments and Spices
A good supply of bottled sauces, condiments, oils, herbs and spices will allow for lots of creativity. Ingredients such as naturally brewed soy sauce, mustards, ketchup, salad dressings, tomato paste, and Worcheshire give flavor to many dishes as well as create many dips and sandwich spread options.
Use healthy oils such as olive and canola for cooking and baking as well as preparing dressings and marinades. Vinegars such as balsamic are also a good way to add flavor. Remember to refrigerate after opening.

Herbs and spices are best when fresh, but even dried can wake-up a boring food. If possible buy whole herbs and grind them yourself (a clean coffee grinder works well) for maximum flavor.

Minggu, 04 Juni 2017

Malta Holidays - Tips And Fun Things To Do On Your Family Holiday

As far as destinations go, Malta Holidays in the middle of the Mediterranean is fast becoming one of the top travel spots in Europe. And Malta has virtually no crime, making it an ideal family holiday destination. Here are just a few fun family things to do on your Malta holiday.

Fun In The Sun -- Beautiful Mellieha Bay

It just wouldn't be a holiday in Malta without a few fun, relaxing days at the beach and Mellieha Bay is one of the most popular sandy beaches that is great for kids. There's nothing quite like fresh air, sunshine and a dip in the crystal clear blue waters of the Mediterranean to wear out the kids, and at Mellieha Bay the water is shallow and calm and you can hire umbrellas and deck chairs. The amenities are clean and there are a number of kiosks, cafes and beach bars.

Swim With The Dolphins

Most kids love dolphins and at the Mediterrano Marine Park kids over 8 can actually swim with the dolphins. There is also sea lion and parrot shows, as well as a reptile house.

Water Fun Park

For one of the best days out, guaranteed to have the kids squealing with delight you won't want to miss The Splash and Fun Water Park. There is a children's splash pool, family slides and a wave pool pumping 1.5 metre waves -- the largest wave pool in Europe. Or cool off under waterfalls as you ride the lazy river on a rubber tube.

Cruise The Mediterranean

There are a number of day cruises available to places like the Blue Lagoon, as well as harbour cruises, and day trips or tours to Sicily. Plus there are a number of cruise ships that depart from Malta.

Popeye Village or Sweethaven

Take the kids to meet Popeye and Olive Oyl at Popeye Village, Anchor Bay near Mellieha which is north of the island. They'll have an absolute ball exploring this fun park which was the original 1980's Popeye movie set. They'll also have the chance to dress up and be part of a film which everyone gets to see later. You may not be able to hear much over the laughter of the kids but you can buy copies of the film as a keepsake.

The summer months can be hot so the kids might like to go for a quick dip in the wading pool to cool off while Mum and Dad lounge on the deck chairs. There are also water trampolines, as well as boat rides in Anchor Bay during summer. And if you have smaller children, there's a small fun park with rides but the highlight for kids of all ages is Santa's toy exhibition which is guaranteed to keep them amused, at least for a while.

There is literally no shortage of great family things to do on your Malta holidays to keep you and the kids relaxed and happy, and sleeping like babies every night. It truly is an ideal family holiday destination.

I love to travel so when my husband was seconded to Malta where he was born for 12 months, it was the perfect opportunity for us to build a website on Malta Holidays.

It's been a great way to show other family members and friends, especially those who have Maltese roots a bit about this tiny Mediterranean Island, and hopefully inspire a few of them as well as others to visit Malta. It has so much to offer.

I also have a background in beauty therapy and energy medicine and a keen interest in holistic health and organics. And besides travelling, I love the beach and latin dancing.