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Top 5 Family-Friendly Fourth of July Activities

The Fourth of July is a wonderful time for families to get together and celebrate. There are a wide variety of things to do for this holiday and there are several that are great family friendly activities.

Picnic Time

One of the first things that comes to mind for many people when they think about Fourth of July would be having a family picnic. With this, there are many options depending on what the family is looking to do. This can be a simple family picnic at home or can be a large community gathering where multiple families get to together.

Grand Fireworks

In addition to the picnic, seeing a fireworks display is often on the agenda. Depending on the area, there may be different options for fireworks viewing. Some locations may be free public events, while others may be private and require an admission fee. With most events, having lawn chairs or blankets for the family to sit on are ideal.

Surf, Sun and Fun

Since many families will have vacations or holiday time around this date, getting away is a great idea. The beach is a wonderful family getaway for the Fourth of July. Whether this is renting a beach house for several days or simply going to the beach for a day, children and families will always have a great time.

Rides, Games and More

Depending on the age of the children and the family, a trip to the amusement park is a great family activity. Many parks will have special promotions and activities for this holiday. There may even be a fireworks celebration. When taking a family trip to an amusement park, there are two main considerations that will make it more enjoyable. The first would be to get group tickets or family bundled tickets. This will often be the easiest and most economical way to have family members enjoying all of the rides and attractions. Secondly, the park should be one that is appropriate for every family member. This includes the youngest child and the adults as well.

The Great Outdoors

If looking for something on the more rustic side of things, a family camping trip for the holiday is a great idea. This can be as simple as pitching a tent in the backyard or can include a trip to a National Park in a large RV. To ensure a great time for all family members, there should be activities and options for entertainment for all of the children.

The Fourth of July is a great for families to spend time together. No matter what activity is chosen, the family will hopefully have a wonderful and memorable time.

About the Author

This article was contributed by Jennifer Bell from Health Training Guide. Check out her site to learn more about medical billing and coding training and other exciting health careers.

*Image: Felixco, Inc. / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Seeking the best in beauty for summer skin? Check out these fabulous picks on SheKnows.com! “Mom’s” article on 10 Best Eco-Beauty Finds was featured this week! Visit SheKnows.com.

*Image provided by Avalon Organics.*

Car Trip Tips: 5 Ways to Entertain Your Children

Traveling the country by car is a time-honored tradition that has a place in many people’s memories. When children are passengers, planning entertaining past times is recommended. Where adults can sit for hours and look at the scenery, children’s attention span require more stimulation.

Having a theme for the trip may help in choosing some of the games. Choose an environmental theme and look for ways to incorporate recycle, reduce, and reuse ideas and actions throughout the trip.

Search for environmentally friendly games online that can be printed and put these into a binder for each child. Make up a game that brings attention to an environmental problem, like counting plastic bags seen alongside the road. Then talk about ways to fix the problem.

Whatever games are chosen, just make sure they are simple, easy to access and cover a variety of interests. Include group games and individual entertainment. Also, before leaving for your car trip make sure the car is safe to make the trip and has proper travel car insurance. Following are five ways that children can be entertained on a car trip.

5 Car Trip Tips for Children

1. Digital Distractions

Music and books are a good way to while away some time and get the children involved. To save some money, make a trip to the library.

Pick out one or two books on tape (or CD) that the whole family will enjoy.

Select music that is enjoyable to sing along to or just to listen. Have the kids compile their own mixes for the trip.

Don’t forget the movies if you have a computer or car with this capability.

2. Games Galore

Games are fun because they can entertain and educate. Mix it up and have a variety of games from which to choose.

License plates can be an ongoing game. Keep a list of how many different states or countries each person calls out first. The person who has the most at the end of a trip stage will get some type of prize.

Call out vanity plates and see who can interpret what they say the fastest.

Paper and pencil games can consume some time. Put together a binder of different games for each child. Have some that require interaction with another person and some that can be done alone. Some suggestions are Hangman, it’s a great way to practice spelling and guessing, Tic Tac Toe is just a simple and fun past time, or print out crossword puzzles from an online source.

Miniature sized board games are easy to pack and may bring some lively competition to the back seat. Look for magnetic boards to keep small pieces from being lost. Old time favorites like Checkers or Backgammon are easy to set up and come in magnetized versions. There are other favorite games available, just search the Internet for your favorite ones.

Alphabet games are easy and can get the kids to enjoy some of the scenery. Decide what items will be used to complete the alphabet; some suggestions are license plates, town signs, or billboards.

3. Amazing Attractions

When planning the trip look for funny or interesting roadside attractions along the way. Not only is this a way to take a bathroom break and stretch, it can provide some laughs too. This will require veering off the highway to some less traveled roads, but it can be worth the time.

4. Candid Cameras

Have a picture contest. Using either cell phones or disposable cameras, have the kids take pictures of the trip. After the trip compile the pictures into a photo album and personalize the album for each child. This can become their personal travel log for years to come. The roadside attractions will always be remembered with this pictorial record.

5. Quality Quiet

Having pillows and blankets available will allow for some quiet time. Encourage taking a nap or doing something by oneself. Offer these quiet activities:

  • Listen to music on a personal player.
  • Read a book.
  • Play a game.

Most of these suggestions cost very little money but will require some time to plan and put together. By packing a game bag, everything can be contained and easily found when needed. For some of the individual activities make a bag for each child so they can access their personal items when they want.

Encourage each child to keep a travel diary. They can make entries about what they have seen, funny things that happened, and general thoughts about the trip. Put these together with the pictures they have taken and they will have their own personal travel keepsake. Another great travel trip would be to rent an RV. An RV allows for a different type of vacation and a special treat for the children. Just make sure your RV is properly covered under RV insurance.

Car trips really can be a lot of fun for the entire family. When planning games and places to visit get the children involved. Have them choose the theme and then let them find games that have something to teach about the topic. This way it really is a family trip from start to finish.

About the Author

Jennifer is a freelance writer for a website that is able to compare car insurance for free! She loves helping families find new ways to travel. She also makes sure that families are properly insured when traveling. When she isn’t helping people with traveling and insurance, you can see Jennifer running trails around her neighborhood.

*Image: Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Heading on the road with the family for the annual summer road trip? Don’t forget to stash these healthy, nutritious goodies for snacking while on-the-go! Tiny Green Mom has found the top five nibbles to keep those engines revved up for the entire trip!

Top 5 Healthy Road Trip Nibbles

EatStrong Trail Mix

A savory mix of all-natural favorites to keep your engine running! Walnuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, flax and sunflower seeds come together with organic chocolate drops to make a power-packed snack. Visit EatStrong.com

EatStrong Energy Bars

Pocket-sized fuel for a family on the road! Organic chocolate drops, finely crushed flax, sunflower and hemp seeds are all neatly packaged into a convenient bar that offers a medley of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will increase metabolic function, fortify muscles and promote lean body mass. Learn more at EatStrong.com.

Crunch Pak’s FOODLES™

Packaged in the shape of Mickey Mouse and featuring Mickey and friends characters, FOODLES™ feature an assortment of healthy snack food options including apples, grapes, cheese and pretzels. Fresh and fantastic, these are definite kid-pleasers! In addition to FOODLES™, Crunch Pak offers a family of nutritious fresh food items including Snackers™ apples, Just Grapes and Crunch Pak carrots.

SunRidge Farms Milk Chocolate Rainbow Drops

Craving something sweet? Long days spent riding in the car will bring out anyone’s sweet tooth! Satisfy your craving for candy (sans guilt!) by packing SunRidge Farms Milk Chocolate Rainbow Drops! These tantalizing little nibbles come in seven colors, each derived from vegetable juice, rather than food dye and titanium dioxide, which are artificial and potentially carcinogenic. Sweetened the way nature intended with pure cane sugar and vanilla, Rainbow Drops are Non-GMO, and free of preservatives, hydrogenated oils, artificial ingredients and artificial colorings.

Sun-Maid Tart Cherries

Tart & tangy! This dried fruit is not only delicious, but it can also offer your body benefits of pain relieving antioxidants. Easy to stash in the car, in a backpack, or purse – the bag is resealable for a snack attack any time while on-the-go! Visit SunMaid.com.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article.*

CoolJuice is, well….just plain cool and refreshing! This all-natural, 100% real fruit juice is available in tasty blends such as Mango Groove, Tropical Blue, Tropical Rhythms, and Fruit Punch. Go ahead – turn up the Bob Marley or Jimmy Buffett poolside when sipping your favorite flavor over ice. What “Mom” loves about CoolJuice is that the blends contain no high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives! In other words, Tropical Blue is the color blue because of the blueberries and not due to Blue 1 food dye.

Not just a delightful beverage, CoolJuice flavors can be used in various recipes, such as Fruit Punch Scallops! Visit the Cool Kitchen for some exciting recipe ideas. “Mom” also made popsicles – simply pour in a popsicle mold and freeze for instant refreshment on a sweltering summer day!

All 4 CoolJuice flavors are available online, or you can visit their website to locate a retailer near you at CoolJuice.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

Hosting a Quality and Memorable Outdoor Party this Summer

Your party is always a reflection of you – your preferences, tastes and lifestyle. It is also a reflection of your guests, their preferences, special needs, and how important they are to you – their host.

Hosting a quality event is about being thoughtful. It will not be measured by how much money and time you spend, the famous brand names you use, or by mimicking the “Joneses” up the block — but by how welcomed, comfortable and special each guest is made to feel.

Dawn Bryan, lifestyle expert, best-selling author, and founder of Qualipedia™ – the definitive source for making choices daily that count, offers the following tips:

PREPARATION BASICS:
 Be prepared! You need to feel relaxed and welcoming; be a guest at your own party
 Plan a party you would enjoy attending; express your own individuality/creativity
 Do not underestimate the time and resources required or overestimate your capabilities
 Use your freezer to prepare dishes ahead of time; write things down and make lists
 Set out all serving platters, dishes, utensils the day before; have enough ice, food, and drink
 Plan to be ready 30 minutes before the invited time; greet guests as they arrive

OUTDOOR BASICS:
 Have an alternate plan in case of bad weather; have sunscreen available if it’s a day party
 If grilling, make sure you have grill, charcoal or fuel, and all tools clean and ready
 Keep the house cool for guests to escape the heat
 If it is a pool party, add fun water toys and floats
 Give guests comfortable places to relax, meet, and mingle by arranging seating into small groups.

BUFFET BASICS:
 Always prepare extra portions!
 To avoid the growth of bacteria keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
 To avoid traffic jams, set bar/drink table away from the buffet table
 If children are invited, plan to have some foods/drinks they will especially enjoy
 Place containers around for disposing of olive pits, toothpicks, shells, etc
 If you expect leftovers, have take-away containers ready for your guests

ENTERTAINMENT BASICS:
 Music sets the mood and paces the flow of the party
 Do you want live music, dancing, or just soft background music? Use your imagination!
 Consider celebrity look-alikes, stilt walkers, ventriloquists, caricaturists, face painters, mimes, fire eaters, dancers, jugglers, balloon makers, or fortune tellers

BEYOND BASICS:
 Select a special date and make it your own: could be a Flag Day (June 14) party or “every June 18” party; commemorate an anniversary or special event
 Create a signature theme: a recipe, a season, a color, secret desire costumes or masks, jazz, salsa dancing, ping-pong tournament – all give imaginative impetus to your party, beginning with the invitation
 Send guests home with a gift bag or small memento related to your theme
 If party is on a Friday or Saturday evening, send guests home with fresh bagels, croissant, or danish for their breakfast – perhaps along with the next morning’s newspaper

About Qualipedia™
Qualipedia ™ is the definitive source for making choices daily that count. Qualipedia™ educates consumers on their choices, helping them achieve independence from product hype, providing transparency about everyday items and gives people the information they can use to determine quality for themselves, enhancing their lifestyles in a way that works for them.

About Dawn Bryan
Dawn is the founder of Qualipedia ™ and best-selling author of “The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving.” Dawn’s impressive career includes being selected as a consultant and advisor for many global brands including Gucci, American Express, Business Week Magazine, Citicorps/Diners Club, Swarovski Crystal, and others. Most recently, she advised Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment on etiquette and protocol. She has authored many columns and books on etiquette, gift-giving and the quality of things for Business Week, Town & Country, Modern Bride, Vogue and Glamour among others. Dawn has taught international protocol to globalizing businesses and industries, as well as to Chinese journalists and diplomats in Beijing and Shanghai.

*Image provided by MYDrap.*

Nothing says summertime better than a grilled pizza! With slightly smoky flavor to the crust, it seems you can’t go wrong with any topping combinations you may create!

Grilled Veggie Pizza

Ingredients

Crust

Two Vidalia onions, peeled and thickly sliced

Red peppers, cut into large strips

Two ripe tomatoes halved and sliced

Provolone cheese (thinly sliced)

Fontina cheese (freshly grated)

Good quality parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

Fresh basil

Sliced portabella mushrooms

Pizza Sauce Ingredients

One eight ounce can tomato sauce with basil, garlic and oregano

One small can tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano

Four ounces red wine

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat and stir until combined.

Preparation

Grill onions and peppers until nicely charred.

Let cool and give them a rough chop. Spread sauce generously over pizza, then layer with the cheeses and the chopped onions and peppers.

Then lay down the fresh basil leaves, sliced mushrooms, and top with another thin layer of freshly grated Parmesan.

Now onto the grill! Place pizza on pizza stone, and grill for roughly 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until the pizza is done with a delicious, crispy crust!

*Recipe and image courtesy of GrillinFools.com.*

Outdoor Family Fun in the Sun

These long, warm afternoons are perfect for quality time with your family. These tips will help you make the most of outdoor family fun in the sun all summer long!

Special Toys for Outdoors Only

Playing outside is messy, which is why it takes place outside of your tidy house. Make outdoor family fun more special by providing a variety of outdoor-only toys for your kids to use. Although fun, outdoor-only toys go beyond skateboards, bikes and scooters, and can include any combination of the following:

*Sidewalk Chalk
*Water Balloons
*Squirt Guns
*Hippety-Hops
*Pogo Sticks
*Jump Ropes
*Basketball Hoop
*Trampoline with Enclosure
*Bubbles
*Ping Pong

And last but not least, don’t forget the green hose coiled up on the side of your house. It might sound simple, but there’s really no end to the fun kids can have with a simple garden hose.

Outdoor Water Games

A summer afternoon with your kids might require more organized games, especially during hot, sweaty afternoons. These are two favorite games to cool everyone down and provide outdoor family fun in the sun.

• Bucket and Sponge – Make two even teams, and supply each with two buckets and a sponge. Fill one bucket about halfway with water for each team, leaving the second bucket empty. In relay-race style, each team must use the sponge to empty the full bucket into the empty one using only the sponge. The first team finished wins.
• Toss Across – Fill water balloons and provide one to each set of partners playing the game. Have each person face their partners with about three feet of distance between them. One player throws a water balloon to his or her partner. Once the water balloon is caught, both players take a step back. The water balloon is tossed again – once caught, each person takes a step back. Repeat until the water balloon breaks, soaking one of the players.

Outdoor Chores = Summer Family Activities

Being outdoors during the summer can be a combination of fun and chores – instead of calling them “chores,” tell your kids that you’d like them to join you in one or more of these “Summer Activities.” Doing these activities together will provide many hours of outdoor summer fun for your family.

• Designate a section of your garden plot “For Kids Only.” Give them the responsibility and freedom to decide what to plant, then teach them how to get started and maintain their garden all summer long. Offer fun suggestions, like sunflowers or a pumpkin patch of their very own.
• Assign your kids to wash different sections of your car, then hand out prizes or offer extra allowance money for a job well done.
• Give each child a bucket, then have a contest regarding who can pick the most weeds in an area of your yard that needs it.

Make the most of these long, warm summer days for extra fun with your family!

About the Author

Kelly Wilson is a busy mom and freelance writer. For a refreshing meal after outdoor summer fun with your family, head to kid-friendly BJ Willy’s, a restaurant in West Linn, Oregon.

*Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

You may have seen this at restaurants, but grilling your own romaine lettuce is extremely simple and the results are almost sinful. Yes, it is a must-try!

Grilled Romaine Lettuce

Ingredients

1 head of Romaine lettuce
Enough olive oil to slather both sides
1/2 cup of fresh grated Romano (Parmesan or Asiago could also be used, just nothing from a green can)
Pinch of salt
Couple turns of black pepper
A dusting of granulated garlic

Preparation

Start off with a head of Romaine lettuce rinsed and dried.

Slice the Romaine in two lengthwise and pull away the few leaves that will separate when you slice it.

Drizzle liberally with olive oil and put a little coarse salt, fresh cracked black pepper and dust with granulated garlic. Repeat on the other side.

Grate about a half cup of a hard cheese like Asiago, Parmesian, or Romano.

Place the Romaine right over the hot side of the grill. This doesn’t need to be high heat for say, searing a steak. Medium hot is about all it needs.

This only takes a couple of minutes so keep checking the underside. Look for the lettuce to blacken a bit. A nice char is the desired result without having the lettuce wilt too much under the heat.

After about 2-3 minutes on each side, place on a platter, sprinkle the cheese on and eat.

*Recipe and image courtesy of GrillinFools.com.*

This delicious and amazing dessert can be made right on your own grill this summer! Courtesy of GrillinFools.com, the recipe can also be made with pears instead of apples, and the guys recommmend leaving off the Butter Pecan Topping if you go with pears.

Grilled Apple Tart

Ingredients

4 Apples, cored and sliced thinly (Granny Smith is recommended)
1/2 Cup dates (pits removed and quartered)
3/4 Cup Marsala wine
3 TBSP Brown sugar
1/2 Cup Mascarpone cheese
2 Tsp Sugar
One prepared pie crust
1 Egg

Butter Pecan Topping Ingredients

2 TBSP Butter
1 TBS Brown sugar
1/4 Cup Chopped pecans

***You will also need a baking stone for this recipe.

Preparation

Place the dates and 1/2 cup of the Marsala wine and the brown sugar into a sauce pan and simmer until dates are tender and the wine has reduced and thickened (approx 20 minutes). Add apples and remaining 1/4 cup wine to the date mixture and cook another 5 minutes until apples start to become slightly tender. Remove from heat.

Combine Mascarpone cheese and white sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the pie crust on the baking stone. Spread apple mixture over crust leaving approximately 1″ to 1.5″ border. Drop cheese mixture by the teaspoon over the apples.

Melt the butter and combine with brown sugar and pecans. Scatter over the top of the tart.

Fold the crust up and partially over the apples, crimping the crust as you go.

Beat the egg with a fork and brush over the crust.

Place baking stone directly on medium high grill (approx 350 degrees) and close lid. Cook approximately 45 minutes until crust is brown and apples are bubbly (if unsure of the grill tempurature, begin checking for doneness after 30 minutes).

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!

*Recipe and image courtesy of GrillinFools.com.*