One of my absolute favorite froze treats has got to be an ice cream cookie sandwich. Every summer when I was a kid, we’d visit my nana at her lake house in upstate New York. There was this massive multi-restaurant building, called the Charcoal Corral, that also had a mini-golf course, stage and drive-in theater. The ice cream parlor had these massive ice cream cookie sandwiches as big as my head! I stand by those being the best, but these delish Ben & Jerry’s ones are a fantastic second place – especially when you consider the slightly more normal portion size.
While I’m not here to discuss the differences between sorbet and sherbet (yes, there’s only ONE “r”), I can kickstart you on a magical journey of fruity deliciousness! Dump some frozen fruit, simple syrup and a bit of lemon or lime juice into a blender and you’ve got a fresh, magnificent summer treat anyone can enjoy. Follow this handy guide from The Flavor Bender to make it scoopable after a long-term freeze or, better yet, pour any extras into Zipsicles and make your very own freeze pops everyone will love!
Pretty much everyone knows how to make popsicles. Pour juice into a popsicle mold or ice cube tray, add the sticks (and some sort of wrapping if you’ve gone the ice cube tray route) and voila, custom popsicles in just a few hours. Take it a step further with one of these scrumptious adult popsicle recipes.
Everyone loves a good slushie, just as everyone loves a glass of refreshing Kool-Aid, or at least they probably did as kiddos. So, why not combine the two? Just combine ice, sugar and your favorite flavor packet in a blender and you’ll soon have a Kool-Aid slushie that’s perfect for kids from age 2 to 82.
What’s your favorite frozen summer treat? Did it make our list?
If you’re like many of us who will be spending the 4th of July at home this year, we thought we’d share some of our favorite, easy-sneezy and inexpensive DIY ideas to help make your backyard bash a star-spangled success!
Break out the bunting and decorate the deck and patio with your own DIY decor, like these fun wooden firecrackers you can make in just 15 minutes!
Have Your Own Hot Dog Eating Contest
Challenge your friends and family on Zoom or FaceTime to see if someone can beat the competitors at the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Find some fun hotdog recipes online, or go with the basics and break out the buns for some gut-busting fun!
National Upcycling Day is the perfect time to grab anything slightly worn or used around the house and use your amazing DIY skills to revamp it into something new and wonderful. Here are some of our favorite new ideas for upcycling old window treatments!
Roller Shade → Retractable Chalkboard
Chalkboards are a staple of childhood, but they can take up a lot of space. The popular solution – chalkboard paint – is great for accent walls, but it can be very dark and is rather more permanent than most parents would like.
So, what’s the solution? Well, and hear me out now, how about a vinyl roller shade with chalkboard paint on one side so you can roll it up when your kids are done playing?
To make this lovely retractable chalkboard, I commandeered some old towels and spread them out on my patio. Then I pulled out the old roller shade and laid it out so I could get painting! After painting on three layers over the course of 6 hours (and letting it dry completely), my new retractable chalkboard was ready to be used! My only recommendation? Make sure your roller isn’t some sort of mesh. We ended up having to rip the old towels off the back because the paint bled through. Thank goodness it still looks amazing on the front side!
Wood Shutter → Picture Board
Picture boards – especially the big ones with real wooden frames – can get ridiculously pricey! But, if you’ve got an old shutter lying around (or happen to find one at your local hardware store or even a garage sale) you’ve got the makings of a great diy picture board!
For my DIY picture board, I decided to remove the slats and create a neutral backing out of a bit of old roman shade. To personalize it a bit more, I painted some cheap wooden letters and glued magnets to the back. Paired with a beautiful set of Harry Potter magnets (or any other magnets that suit your fancy), it’s ready for future pictures to be added! The best part? It took less than an hour to finish – including painting the letters!
Bamboo Shade → Placemats
Let’s all come clean together…we probably aren’t all fancy enough to have sets of placemats and table decorations for every season and holiday. So, why not make some out of those old bamboo shades? Actually, you could make these out of just about anything!
For this particular set, I used a bamboo shade and some pre-cut strips of ribbon-like fabric. The first step was to cut out a placemat-sized piece of the shade. Thank goodness I had my Cutco Super Shears to help cut through the thicker bits of wood! To create the border, I placed double-sided fabric tape around one side and folded the ends of the ribbon when attaching them so that no frayed edges would be available. If I were to do this again, I’d definitely stick with ribbon, but probably make sure it was the length of a whole side to avoid all the seams.
Whether you’re looking to increase your home’s curb appeal or you just need a change, improving the outside of your home is easy. Seriously! Just a few simple upgrades can give you a completely new look! You can have the curb appeal of your dreams by changing these simple things!
Up Your Landscaping Game
The right landscaping can take a lot of time and cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to. Just a few simple changes, like pulling weeds, planting a new tree, or setting out a few pots of seasonal flowers can make a big difference. You can even enlist the help of family and friends if you need to! Just a few hours of work and you can have a whole new front yard!
Shut Paint the Front Door!
Give your home an instant facelift by painting your front door. Go bold and vibrant or choose a more neutral color (especially if your HOA has restrictions on allowable paint colors). Whatever you choose, make sure it’s an outdoor paint that will stand against the elements. It should also complement the colors of your home, though it doesn’t necessarily have to match.
Statement Window Coverings
When you’re covering your windows, it’s easy to focus on how they’ll look inside your house and forget about the outside. But, if you happen to remember that curb appeal is just as important, you’ll want to make sure you choose blinds or shades that look great from both sides. To do this, either choose something like faux woods, shutters or rollers that look pretty much the same on both sides, Your other option is to choose a roman or woven wood with a neutral liner on the street side.
Other Front Door Accents
You don’t have to redo the whole front of your house to increase curb appeal. A few quick additions, like a new welcome mat or sign, can make a huge difference. Other fun front door accents like an entrance table, some sort of potted plant or even a fancy electronic doorknob can really enhance the look and function of your front door.
National Making Life Beautiful Day celebrates those who make life beautiful. From street artists, to podcast pundits, to volunteers, to teachers, to all those who work to help heal the wounded, ease the hearts of the weary and empower others to be the best person they can be. When you create beauty by building relationships and helping others, your actions create a ripple effect, making life beautiful not just for yourself, but for everyone around you, too.
The beautiful thing about National Making Life Beautiful Day? We can all do something simple to make life beautiful for ourselves and others. Not just on June 11 but every day. Here are just a few ways.
Spontaneous acts of simple human kindness are a beautiful thing. Hold a door open for someone. Offer to pick up groceries for an elderly or home bound neighbor. Give a caregiver a much needed break by enabling them some time to take care of themselves.
Express yourself and share your talent with the world. Take or paint a picture. Write a letter or a book. Send a card. Make music. Sing a song. Dance. Take a TikTok video of something you think is beautiful.
Pay someone a compliment. Give a stranger your smile.
Volunteer. Share your talents with a cause or organization you’re passionate about. Helping a community garden grow, donating to a local food bank, fostering or adopting an animal from the local shelter are all great ways to let your inner beauty shine through.
Tell the people you love you love them. Love is the most beautiful thing of all. So share and show it. Give those you love your time. Over a meal or watching a movie. With a call or a hug.
Get outside. Take time to appreciate the beauty in nature. Watch the sun rise or set. Walk on the beach or through the mountains. Play in the park. Watch the clouds shift shapes. Smell the flowers and arrange them in a beautiful bouquet to brighten a room.
Add things to your home that bring joy and beauty. Frame and display your favorite photos. Re-purpose a piece of old furniture. Change a room’s color scheme. Plant a garden or try out your green thumb by switching out your artificial plants with real ones.
Take a stand. Stand up for something you believe in and use your voice to advocate positive change.
How are you celebrating the beauty in your life? Share how you’re making life beautiful today by using #MakingLifeBeautifulDay on social media.
Summer is officially on its way! Are you prepared for the heat? If you’re not (or even if you are) below are some great tips for keeping yourself and your home cool this summer!
Cover Your Windows
An obvious way to keep cool in the summer is to block all that dratted sunshine and heat from coming in your windows. But, to get the best heat reduction, you can’t just cover your windows with any old thing. For optimal energy efficiency, cellular shades are easily your best bet. Their honeycomb shape traps heat to prevent it from invading your space and turning your home into a sauna. And if you’re worried about losing all that lovely light, you can always go with light-filtering cellulars instead of room-darkening or blackout.
Swap Out Your Bedding
Strip off those winter flannels and switch to nice, breathable cotton or bamboo for the summer months. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can even put your bedding in the freezer (in plastic bags, of course) for a bit before making your bed at night. Just imagine hopping into those perfectly chilled sheets after a hot day in the summer sun.
Take Advantage of Evaporative Cooling
This might not be as big of a deal in other parts of the country, but out here in Arizona, we take evaporative cooling very seriously. Between outdoor misting systems, swamp coolers, refrigerated spray bottles (or water balloons) and cheeky bowls of ice water sitting in front of fans, there are so many ways to stay cool!
We all know how important staying hydrated is, especially during the summer. But, sometimes it can be hard to chug the recommended 64 to 80 oz water per day (more during the summer months). A fun, cheeky way to sneak a bit more hydration into your diet is to eat more water-rich foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables. As an added benefit, the University of Alabama found that an increase in vitamin C will also help your body tolerate the summer heat by delaying sweat gland fatigue.
Switch to Snacking
Forego big meals in favor of small snacks throughout the day. Digesting a huge meal takes energy, and energy means heat. Keep your body from overheating and working too hard with quick snacks all day long rather than two or three jumbo meals.
Capitalize on Shaded Areas
If you’re planning on spending any time outside this summer, you’d better have a map in your mind of all the best shady spots to hide out form the afternoon sun. Take full advantage of any umbrellas, overhangs and trees around your home (or wherever you’re hanging out this summer) to maximize your time outside without risking overheating.
Buy a Remote Car Starter
Remote car starters, like these ones from Avital, are NOT gadgets of the future – they are the here and now, so get one while you can truly appreciate their awesomeness. Sure, car starters are great for winter, but who says they can only be used to warm up your cars? Set your AC to max and turn on your car a few minutes before leaving the house or work and your car will be nice and cool when you hop in.
Utilize Your Downstairs Living Space
It’s common knowledge that heat rises, so make sure your summer hangout spot is on the ground floor. And if you have a finished basement, deck it out with all sorts of fun games or cozy hangout areas to create your very own summer escape.
Don’t be Scared to Use Your AC
Electric bills in the summer can be downright terrifying, but if you aren’t too scared, we definitely recommend running your AC. Keep in mind that ideal sleeping temperatures generally range from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you’re used to 115-degree weather, we doubt you’ll be comfortable at 65, so just stick with what feels comfortable for you and your family. And if you don’t have AC, take advantage of public areas like malls, libraries, movie theaters and even restaurants to keep yourselves cool.
As humans, we know that FREE=AWESOME! But, we also hate waiting longer than absolutely necessary to finish a project. The question is, how do you find that balance between finishing a project quickly vs finishing it right? Well, when it comes to window treatments, sampling is the secret to success.
Whether you’re painting the living room or ordering new shades, sampling is a key step in the process. It lets you test the waters and find that perfect fit without wasting excessive amounts of time or money, not to mention filling your head with endless possibilities of how the colors and textures in real life compare to those on your computer screen (or those handy paint samples from the hardware store).
Selecting Your Samples
So, what should you look for when picking out samples of blinds and shades? This quick guide should help 🙂
Focus on a single category
Narrow down your color options
Keep lighting in mind
Order up to 15 available samples
Pick your favorite!
Focus on a Single Category
First, why not narrow down your options by settling on which type of blind or shade you’re most interested in. For this, your selection could depend on which room you’re upgrading. Kitchen – try some minis or faux woods. Living room – how about room darkening rollers or romans? Bedroom – blackout honeycombs are a great choice.
Narrow Down Your Color Options
Second, keep your current or future color scheme in mind when finalizing color options. If you’re painting a wall navy blue, perhaps the window covering on that wall should be a more neutral tone. If your walls are a more neutral off-white, picking a blind or shade with a more vibrant color or pattern could be a fun way to accent your windows.
Keep Lighting in Mind
The third thing to consider when picking out window covering samples is lighting. Is your room already dark/light? What time of day does the sun attack your windows with the ferocity of a million-watt lightbulb? Are there street lights you need to block out at night? If darkness is a goal for your new room design, definitely consider room darkening fabrics and products with optional blackout liners.
Order Up to 15 Available Samples
What else is there to say? Pick out the colors and styles you think would work best in your room and order some samples! And if 15 isn’t enough, just wait 24 hours and order 15 more! You never know, they might even all show up in the same package (mine did). And no, you do not have to pay for shipping – the free samples are entirely free.
Pick Your Favorite!
Once your samples come in, the only thing left to do is contrast, compare, pick your fave and order. Ok, so there might be a step in there that concerns taking measurements (see this page for help). But, since you took the time to order samples before deciding on your window covering, you can be confident that you truly are choosing the best blind or shade for your room.
May is National Home Remodeling Month, and with so many of us still stuck at home, it should come as no surprise that remodeling has taken off like a rocket ship to Mars. But how do you get started on a new remodeling project? And, for that matter, which rooms should you start with?
Start at the Heart
For most people, the heart of your home is the kitchen or living room. This is especially true now that we’re all endlessly snacking and binge-watching shows on Netflix. But, how do you decide between the two areas? Simple. Either go with the room that will add the most value to your home (kitchen), or go with the one you spend the most time in (living room). It really depends on whether or not you plan on sticking around for the long haul.
If you’ve already managed to update your kitchen and living space, how about moving on to something like flooring upgrades, bathrooms, bedrooms or anything else that tickles your remodeling fancy?
Create Your Master Plan
A great way to create a plan is to make a list of everything you want to do to your chosen room. We recommend splitting your list into 3 sections based on the level of difficulty of each project.
Things you can do with a bit of research or assistance
Adding a tiled backsplash
Putting your light switches on dimmers
Things that require a professional touch
Extending your counter into a breakfast bar
Rearranging your entire kitchen counter and built-in appliances
Once that’s done, go through your list again and cross off anything that seems out of reach or unrealistic. Whether it’s just plain expensive or you simply can’t do it because of the constraints of social distancing, get crossing!
Now that you’ve got your refined list, it’s time to, as Ms. Frizzle says, “take chances, make mistakes and get messy!” Though, maybe you should forego the mistakes part in an effort to prevent “re-remodeling.”
First things first, figure out which project on your list you’re going to tackle first. Obviously you won’t be installing a tiled backsplash before rearranging your counters, so let’s just pretend you’re redoing EVERYTHING and go from there.
If you’re hard-core remodeling your kitchen, the best place to start will likely be with a professional contractor. Get a recommendation from a friend or google a few and get a couple of quotes and designs to compare. If you need some inspiration, check out this article! Oh, and pro-tip – you’ll want to keep in mind that most remodels end up more expensive than quoted. There’s always something that gets uncovered.
From there, we suggest supervising the work occasionally to make sure everything is on track and course-correcting as appropriate. Once the professional work is done, the next step is to tackle other projects as you see fit. it might be a good idea to do the more difficult, research-intensive tasks first just in case you run into any issues.
So, if you skipped having the contractor add that subway tile backsplash you’ve always wanted, now’s the time to do it yourself! And even if you’ve done one before, we recommend checking out this video by Home RenoVision DIY. It covers the tools you’ll need and even how cut tiles to fit around outlets and make sure your whole project stays level.
Once you’ve gotten the harder, more time-consuming or labor-intensive projects out of the way, you can move on to the finishing touches. If you didn’t have brand new cabinets installed, now would be a great time to strip and paint/stain them, then add some adorable new handles or knobs.
To do so, you just need to remove the doors from the cabinets, sand them down and repaint or stain. If you plan on upgrading the handles or knobs, it might be a good idea to invest in matching or complementary hinges as well to complete the look. once everything is dry, simply reinstall the doors in the same place and screw in the new handles and BAM! NEW KITCHEN!
Wash, Rinse Repeat!
After that, just keep plugging away at your list until you tick all the boxes. Regardless of whether you start off with a contractor or stick to tasks you can DIY right away, the important thing is to keep the momentum going. Once your list is complete, you can happily move on to any other room.
So, now that a lot of us have been at home for a while, the charm is certainly starting to wear off. Walks around the neighborhood and weekly trips to the grocery store aside, we aren’t really being very active. And that’s a serious problem with the current situation.
Whether you prefer Zumba, Pilates, Jazzercise or old school Tae Bo, there’s a perfect YouTube channel for your lifestyle. From quick 15 minute workouts to hour-long sessions and anything in-between, YouTube’s got it all. And if you’re not sure about a style or don’t want to pigeon-hole yourself, why not try out some more generalized low-impact routines? You can even get the whole family involved!
Free Exercise Apps
Free apps like Zombies, Run, Yoga Studio and 200 Situps (other exercises available) can be a great way to dip your toes into the exercise game without committing a monthly allowance to your new hobby. Learn a bit about running and interval training or even take up yoga! You’ll be amazed what some of these simple apps can help you achieve!
Indulge in the Ultimate Home Gym
While a home gym isn’t something everyone has the time, space and money to create, it can be an extremely rewarding project once completed. But just because you’re designing a home gym doesn’t mean you need every piece of equipment available. There are plenty of budget-friendly treadmills, stationary bikes, exercise balls and even weights and floor mats that you can easily use to deck out your new home gym.
Enjoy Long Walks in the Neighborhood
Ok, so long walks on a beach might sound better (and more romantic) but until beaches are truly back open at all hours, your best bet is walking in the neighborhood. They don’t even have to be long walks! Just unstick your butt from that old office chair and get moving! Just make sure you stay at least six feet away from others and maybe wear a mask if you can find one.
You heard right! Yoga for the face! With all these Zoom meetings happening, you could argue that working out your face is even more important than the rest of your body. Of course, this is totally false, but it might make you feel better about making funny faces at yourself (or your computer) every day! Learn some of the basics of this latest craze with the help of Marie Claire UK and Face Yoga expert Danielle Collins.
Virtual Classes from Your Local Gym
Ok, so your actual gym might be closed, but a lot of the more traditional brick and mortar facilities are expanding their offering with free online classes for members. Planet Fitness is one we know of that is offering free live streamed workouts daily. All you have to do is log in online or on their app. Check with your local gym to see what they’re offering and start enjoying virtual classes with your fellow members!
With little to no commute time and basically zero random weekend outings, there’s plenty of time for you to take on those little projects that have been adding up over the years. Here’s a list of some of our favorite quick projects you can do around the house now that you finally have the time.
1. Boost Your Bathroom’s Style
It’s easier than you think to upgrade your bathroom. forget ripping out tiles and putting in a new toilet. All you’ve really got to do is change up your style. Get a new shower curtain (or other accessories), a new rug or two and clear off unnecessary clutter from the top of your sink. As a finishing touch, get those new towels you’ve been wanting and toss the faded ones with holes. Just make sure everything matches and you’ll have a bathroom to die for in no time.
2. Join the Purge – Go Through Your Closet
Pull everything (and we mean everything) out of your closet, dump it on the bed and get your purge on! I did it this past weekend (no, this pic is not my closet) and it feels great to be able to find anything I want in seconds rather than minutes. And you wouldn’t believe how much stuff we got rid of! Sure, cleaning out your closet might take a few hours, but WOW! There’s nothing quite like that feeling when you free yourself of clutter.
3. Deck Your Windows with Blinds of Beauty
Adding new blinds or shades to your windows can completely change the atmosphere or a room. It can brighten or darken any space in an instant and even add a pop of fun color if you go that route. These simple 2″ American Hardwood Blinds in Super White are a great choice for brightening up any room, especially kitchens.
4. Personalize Your Glassware
Quarantine is the perfect time to break out the arts and crafts. And if you’re over the age of five, macaroni art just doesn’t cut it. Use clay to turn wine glasses into medieval goblets or use a Dremel to engrave names or funny phrases onto pint glasses. You can even use chalk paint to make your glasses personalized every time you use them!
5. Paint Your Cabinets a Fun Color
While monochrome is definitely in this year, so are pops of color. Blue is especially popular for 2020, so why not take your kitchen or bathroom a step further and add a little color to those old oak cabinets? You can even paint some cabinets one color and others a different color. It’s really whatever you want!
6. Upgrade Your Kitchen Hardware
Upgrading cabinet hardware might seem like a pain, but it’s super easy and is an easy way to enhance the look of your kitchen (or bathroom) without going for an all-out remodel. And if you’re already painting your cabinets, why not upgrade the hardware to match your new style?
7. Update Your Outlet & Switch Covers
If your house is anything like mine, the previous owner decided that painting over stair rails, switches, outlet covers and other hardware was the clear solution to modernizing a place before selling. My response? Outlet covers aren’t that expensive! Just upgrade! They come in so many different materials and colors that there’s guaranteed to be a style to suit any room in your home.
8. Hang Some Patio Lights
Just because you can’t have friends over in person doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy your outdoor space. And now that summer is on its way, you’ve got more cause than ever to get your patio ready for some nighttime hangout sessions, even if they are just video chats. String lights are a great way to set the mood or just take in the fresh air.