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Celebrating Harry Potter’s Birthday

I am a full believer in celebrating life. Small celebrations bring lasting memories. Every day our daily schedules and commitments keep us busy. Enjoying little moments is a necessity. For fans of the Harry Potter series, myself included, today, July 31st represents the fictional character, Harry Potter’s birthday. Along with Harry, J.K. Rowling celebrates her birthday today too.

In the book, Rubeus Hagrid provides Harry with a birthday cake on his 11th birthday. The simple scene from the Keeper of the Keys immediately ushers us into the magical world of Harry Potter. Why not incorporate his birthday into a family fun night? Or invite your friends for some magical fun.

  • Consider making a quick birthday cake as a special dessert treat.
  • Gather the family or friends around to watch the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
  • Make wands.
  • Eat chocolate frogs.
  • Create your own owl, cat, or toad.
  • Have special snacks or cook an entire meal based on the Wizarding World’s cuisine.
  • Make magical themed crafts.

    Melt pony beads on old pizza pans to create large Harry Potter inspired sun catchers.
  • Need a quieter activity, reread the Harry Potter series or listen to the audio versions.

In a couple weeks, school, homework, sports and enforced bedtime routines will be part of your already full schedule. Take a moment to enjoy the little things and celebrate “The Boy Who Lived”.

Reference:

Rowling, J. K., Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury Children’s, 1997.

Unplug: The Benefits of Being Outdoors

In today’s technological world, everyone spends time plugged in. Playing video games, working online, computer use, or checking mobile devices, the use of modern technology is the norm. In many cases, work or school requires the widespread use of devices to succeed.

Have you ever thought about the long term effects on your overall well-being? Sitting at the desk or being immobile for long periods of time has both physical and mental consequences. Consider taking the time each day to unplug and go outdoors.

Benefits of Being Outdoors

When the weather permits, spending time outdoors is essential to your health. Even a short 20-minute walk has numerous benefits for you and your loved ones. In order to get the most out of your walk, you should leave your devices to home. Don’t panic; always carry a cell phone for real emergencies. Consider placing the phone on vibrate for the duration of your walk.

  1. Increase Natural Vitamin D Intake

Short periods of time in the sun allows the natural intake of Vitamin D. Helping your body function properly, Vitamin D helps maintain a healthy, strong immune system.

  1. Improve Sleep

Being outdoors can actually help improve sleep patterns. Exposing your body to sunlight helps regulate your internal body clock. Allowing your body to welcome rest at night, you will be able to regulate your sleep patterns.

  1. Exercise

Being outdoors gets your body moving. A walk around the block, trip to your local park, walk through a public garden or hiking a nearby trail helps keep your body fit.

  1. Reduces Stress

Being outdoors allows your body to relax. At times, daily schedules are hectic. Little league, dance classes, business meetings, school and family commitments may quickly become overwhelming. Going outdoors helps restore your mental clarity. In nature, you will relax and enjoy your surroundings. Reducing your stress levels helps promote both physical and mental well-being.

  1. Learning Experience

Being outdoors is a great way to increase your knowledge about the natural world and your local environment. If you are walking or hiking with your children, introducing flowers, birds, insects and other natural wonders will increase curiosity for further learning. Children who are curious about nature will explore subjects further.

  • When walking with your children, use the time for quality interaction. Ask your children open ended questions.
  • Introduce your children to wildlife
  • Remind your children the importance of respecting nature. For example, picking up an insect may cause the creature to bite. Or being off the path may create a dangerous situation.
  • Create a photo journal of animals, flowers, and other forms of wildlife
  • Create a keepsake box for special finds. Remember to follow all rules for hiking in parks and other public areas.

Upon returning home, ask your child questions about the walk. Consider writing down the response for younger children. Older children may write or draw their own favorite park moment. Keep the responses for future memory keepsake. Simple walks may turn into a lifetime of memories.

Last Minute 4th of July Outfit Ideas

Did you get a last minute invitation to a 4th of July event? Or perhaps, you have been procrastinating all weekend on finding the perfect, comfortable outfit to wear. Do not worry; you still have time for creating a last minute 4th of July outfit. Under most circumstances, you may already have the accessories in your closet. If not, with a little creativity, last minute deals or a quick trip to a local dollar store is all you may need.

Fun 4th of July Outfits

BBQ, an evening bonfire, fireworks or hanging out with friends, the 4th of July should be a memorable occasion. Worrying how you look should be the last thing on your mind. Pick out some comfortable clothing and have fun. Life is short. Celebrate it.

Can’t Go Wrong with Red, White, and Blue

Picking out red, white and blue clothing to mix and match is the perfect 4th of July outfit. For example, a red t-shirt, blue jean cut-off shorts, and a white bandana is the perfect, easy combination. Or you can simply get a little creative.

  • Paint a T-Shirt: Grab a white t-shirt. Using fabric paint, add patriotic sayings to the shirt. “God Bless the USA” or a simply “Happy 4th of July” instantly transforms your shirt. Get creative, along with sayings; add stars, the US flag and more.
  • Customize a T-Shirt: Many local department stores have 4th of July themed t-shirts for minimal costs. In order to stand out in the crowd, customize your shirt. For example, cutting fringe around the sleeves or bottom of the t-shirt will make yours stand out from others with the same one.
  • Add Beads: If you decide to add fringe to your t-shirt, consider adding beads too. Pony beads have a large opening to pass the fabric through with ease. Securely tying red, white or blue Pony beads to the end of the fringe is the perfect addition. Pony beads are an inexpensive accessory.
  • Grab the Sharpies: Coming in a broad spectrum of colors, permanent Sharpie Markers are fantastic. For added fun with your 4th of July t-shirt, grab a couple of your favorite colors. Ask friends or family members to sign your shirt. At the end of the evening, the shirt full of signatures instantly becomes a memorable keepsake.
  • More Beads: Pony beads make excellent necklaces, bracelets, and ankle bracelets. The large colors will stand out bold on a sunny 4th of July day.
  • Ribbon: Grab some red, white or blue ribbon out of your craft box. If you are wearing your hair up, consider a braid or two. Intertwine the patriotic colors through the braid for extra flare.
  • Scarves and Bandanas: Inexpensive scarves or bandanas from your local dollar store are the perfect accessories for your outfit. Wearing a patriotic scarf around your neck or pulling your hair back with a bandana, helps complete your outfit.

When creating your 4th of July outfit, have fun. The outfit is about you. Allow your individual personality to shine brightly on this patriotic holiday.

Tips for Hosting an Outdoor Party

Summer is the perfect time to host an outdoor party. Keep in mind, an outdoor party does not require an official event. Life is short; celebrate it. Yes, celebrating a birthday or special occasion outdoors would be the great way to spend a summer day. At the same time, gathering friends or family members over just to celebrate summer is another great way to spend an afternoon.

Tips to Host the Perfect Outdoor Party

1. Planning

Begin with preplanning to help reduce the stress of hosting a party. By taking the time to write down notes and ideas, you will find hosting an outdoor party an easier task. Consider purchasing a spiral bound notebook to hold all your party planning information. Notebooks are inexpensive. Keeping all the details in one location will be extremely helpful.

2. Guests

Planning the party should begin with a guest list. In your notebook, write down all the guests’ names. The number of people on your guest list will help determine the amount of food and beverages to purchase. The list will also provide you with a general idea of the size of your outdoor party.

3. Invites 

Sending out invitations is a vital component for hosting an outdoor party. In today’s technological era, you actually have options in sending out invites.

  • Traditional Invites: Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is on social media. Traditional invites may be sent through postal mail to guarantee the potential guest receives the invitations.
  • Create an Event Page: On Facebook, you have the option to create an event. The process is simple. You will be able to send out invites to multiple guests at one time. As you get closer to the day of the party, you will be able to use the Facebook event page to determine the number of people attending your outdoor party.
  • Text or Email: Sending a text or email with all the details is quick, easy way to invite guests

4. Menu and More

Planning a detailed menu is essential for hosting an outdoor party. Menu planning ensures your outdoor party has a variety of food.

  • Type of Food: Consider a themed or potluck approach to the menu. Often, your guests will be more than happy to bring a dish to pass.
  • Grilling: If you are grilling, ask a friend or family member to be in charge of the grill. Use safety precautions in handling raw meat to eliminate the chances of cross contamination.
  • Beverages: As you plan the food, remember to add the beverages to the list. Provide the basics including tea, lemonade, and water. If you want to serve alcoholic beverages, designate a responsible person to serve.

Along with the menu, plan other aspects of the party.

  • Games: Outdoor games are a great way to entertain guests.
  • Children Area: If you have children on your list, you may want to design an area just for them. Games, outdoor chalk, bubbles, art area, and other activities will entertain children.
  • Photographer: Hiring a photographer allows you the chance to enjoy your party. A photographer will be able to capture the memories. Under some circumstances, an amateur photographer will photograph the party at a discount to gain the experience.

Along with the menu, the party set up area needs planning.

  • Location: Where will you host your outdoor party? The location is important. If you are hosting at a local park, you may need to rent the pavilion in advance. Or if you are using your own backyard, you will need to prepare to accommodate your guests.
  • Table and Chairs: Where will your guest sit? Rental pavilions usually come with picnic tables. For your backyard, you will need to consider the seating arrangements in advance. Borrowing or renting picnic tables, tables, and chairs will ensure every guest has a place to sit at your party.
  • Food Area: Where are you going to serve the food? Warmer summer months mean food risks spoilage or contamination. As the host, the last thing you want is your guests becoming ill. Consider using children’s pools or other food holding containers to place colder items in. Pack lots of ice around the cold items to ensure the proper temperatures. If you are grilling, handle raw meat with care.

6. Have Fun

Hosting an outdoor party is supposed to be fun. Do not allow the stress of hosting ruin your day. Consider delegating friends or family members to help. Allow yourself plenty of time to mingle and chat with guests.

7. Cleanup

After the outdoor party is over, cleaning up is the last step. For easy cleanup, provide trash and recycling containers in the party area. Most individuals will abide by the rules and throw items away in the proper area.

 

Summer Bucket List

When most people think about bucket lists, ideas of long exotic vacations usually come to mind. A bucket list can consist of anything. With the official kick-off of the summer season, why not create a bucket list to enjoy the warm months?

Now, school is out, the summer boredom’s probably are already setting in. Creating a summer bucket list can help discover new local sites and other fun activities. Allowing you to keep from hearing those words, “I am bored”.  In addition to chasing away the summer boredoms, you and loved ones will be given a chance to learn and explore.

Consider adding a variety of items to the list. Allow your children to help participate in creating the summer bucket list ideas may surprise you.

Outdoor Fun

Being a strong advocate of unplugging from electronic devices, being outdoors is a great way to spend a day or afternoon.

  • Go to the Park: Local and state parks can be an exciting getaway.
  • Go to the Splash Park: Many communities open splash parks. Playing in the water with peers is a great way to spend the afternoon.
  • Go Swimming or Take Swim Lessons: Being at the pool or at the beach is a perfect way to spend the day.
  • Go Hiking: Unplug for the day. Leave your electronic devices behind, well, except for a cell phone for emergencies.
  • Picnic: Go on a picnic. You do not need to pack a fancy picnic basket. Just go, peanut butter and jelly make a quick lunch. Enjoy the outdoors.
  • Stargazing: Spread out a blanket in the backyard at night to watch the stars. Popcorn and making up stories make a wonderful night out.
  • Attend Local Fairs and Festivals: Summertime is the perfect opportunity to attend local fairs and festivals. Many hold a theme, providing you with a chance to learn about different foods, culture or other interesting events.
  • Music in the Park: Local art councils generally host music in the park series. Attending the weekly concerts provide you and your family a chance to learn about new music genres.
  • Watch the Sunset: The beauty of a sunset or sunrise is a perfect memory.
  • Volunteer: Summertime generally brings numerous volunteer hours. Help clean up the environment. Volunteer your time at a local animal shelter, many need dog walkers. Volunteer your time at a nursing home. Even a couple hours a week allows you to try something new. For teens, volunteering looks good on college applications. You also get a chance to meet others outside of your normal group.

For Rainy Days

  • Museums: Look up local art, science and history museums. When was the last time you visited your hometown museum? Many museums have special kid days to try to get youth interested in specific genres.
  • Attend Workshops: Learning a new skill at any age is a benefit.
  • Host a Movie Marathon: Order pizza and spend an afternoon watching the Harry Potter series or other movie franchises.
  • Art Day: Spend a day creating art. Painting, sculpt, or drawing enhances the imagination.
  • Go to the Library: Local libraries usually host summer reading programs. Allowing your children to participate with others in the community.

A summer bucket list is only limited by your imagination. Life is short. Try something new. Spend the summer having fun.

 

 

 

20 Years Of Harry Potter

I cannot believe the Harry Potter series started 20 years. Yes, I am a fan, a proud Hufflepuff, a Potterhead, of J.K. Rowling’s beloved franchise. I listen to the soundtracks. Smile every time I hear Hedwig’s theme begins to play. Engage in trivia. Participate in Pottermore. I am truly a geek. (But trust me that did not start with Harry Potter. I think I was throwing into the world of geekdom at the age of 7. When I first watched Star Wars at the drive in, I knew I loved fantasy and science fiction).

I even run an Adult Fans of Harry Potter group on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/AdultFansofHarryPotter). We have a lot of fun in my little group.

I love the discussions, the art, the photos, the fan fiction and more. I love to hear everyone’s different viewpoint and experiences related to the series. But under all the differences, we have the book series to bring us together. So this week, I plan to discuss and share some of my Harry Potter related ventures.

I would love to hear any of your stories too.

 

Ice Cream Soda Day

Today, June 20, 2017, is Ice Cream Soda Day. Celebrating small unofficial holidays is a chance to enjoy every single day with a special twist. Let’s face it, the start of summer is always a fun and exciting time. Unfortunately, after being out of school for as little as a week, you may already hear those words, “I’m bored.” Taking advantage of the various unofficial holidays helps in chasing away the summer boredom and creates lasting memories.

Ice cream floats is a wholesome party idea. Consider hosting an impromptu ice cream soda party with friends and family. Or simply make ice cream sodas as a special treat for a warm evening. Regardless of the reason, enjoy the day.

Ice Cream Soda Ideas

The beauty of ice cream sodas is the endless mixtures. Providing a variety of flavors is a perfect way to host a successful ice cream soda party. Using cans of soda is ideal for eliminating wastes and saving money. Picking up different flavors enables your guests to mix with no limits. Larger bottles are great for bigger parties.

Consider these combinations to help create the perfect ice cream soda party.

  • Root Beer Float: Vanilla ice cream and root beer
  • Orange Dream: Vanilla ice cream and orange soda
  • Cherry Vanilla Fun: Cherry ice cream and crème soda
  • Chocolate Vanilla: Chocolate ice cream and crème soda

Along with ice cream, you may want to offer sherbet as an option to replace the ice cream. Some people may not be able to eat ice cream. Finding alternatives allows everyone to have fun.

In addition to ice cream and soda, offer toppings for extra fun.

  • Sprinkles
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Whip cream topping
  • Cherries

Adding toppings is half of the fun in building the perfect ice cream soda. Have fun creating.

World Environment Day: 10 Ways to Help Preserve the Environment

Today, June 5, 2017, is World Environment Day. From politics to worldwide news, climate change and environmental issues are hot topics right now. Taking steps to save the planet Earth sounds like an overwhelming, hopeless task. Pushing for leaders to make informative changes is an integral part of a long lasting solution. Encouraging people to implement small changes in daily living will also provide a large impact for caring for the environment.

Simple Ways to Help Preserve the Environment

Everyone knows change takes time. Practice implementing informative choices requires practice and discipline.

  1. Recycle

Locate your local recycling facility to learn about recycling everyday items. In some area, recyclable products may be set out to the curbside for weekly pickup. Under most circumstances, the following items may be part of your local recycling program.

  • Glass
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Plastic
  • Tin cans
  • Cardboard

Other areas may host collection sites for used batteries, car oil, electronics, and printer cartridges. Reuse items, if possible. Glass containers perfect for storing other materials.

  1. Skip the Water Bottles

Consider investing in travel mugs or reusable water containers. Prefilling the containers prior to leaving home is also an easy way to save money.

  1. Use Matches or Refillable Lighters

Using matches or refillable lighters help keep throw away lighters from filling up local landfills.

  1. Implement Energy Saving Techniques
  • Switch Your Light Bulbs: Over the past few years, the decrease in the price of energy saving light bulbs allows home and business owners to use at a fraction of the cost.
  • Turn Off Appliances: Computers, appliances, radios, and other forms of electrical equipment still draw power even in sleep mode. Turning off unused household items will save energy and money.
  • Turn Off Lights: When leaving a room, turn off the light as you go. The simple concept is a great way to save energy.
  • Replace Old Appliances: Investing in energy efficient appliances help reduce the amount of electricity in use on a daily basis.
  • Use a Clothes Line or Dryer Rack: Hanging out clothes to dry provides a fresh scent and saves energy.
  • Conserve Water: Skip the bath for a shower or turn the water off while brushing your teeth are both energy saving techniques.
  1. Use Reusable Bags

Invest in reusable bags. Consider placing a couple of the bags in your vehicle for easy access. When you shop, forego the plastic bags and use your own.

During annual holidays or birthdays, reusable bags or small fabric totes are perfect for gifts. The receiver of the gift will be able to use the bag in the future.

  1. Go to the Farmer’s Market & Buy Local

Buying from farmer’s markets or other local establishments allow you to save money on transportation. Allowing you to simply take your selection and leave, most of the fresh vegetables come without any form of wrapping materials.

  1. Grow a Garden and More

Small gardens or container gardening may yield large amounts of fresh vegetables. If you have a large outdoor space, a quality garden may provide you with a winter’s worth of vegetables.

  • Create a compost pile with leftover coffee grinds, grass clippings, food and other natural items. The compost will be a welcome addition to your garden.
  • Set up bee hives to harvest honey
  • Use garden boxes to simplify your garden and reduce weeds
  1. Plant Fruit Trees

Along with a garden, plant fruit trees. Along with yielding fresh fruit, the spring time flower buds provide a perfect opportunity to feed the bees.

  1. Skip the Pesticides

Pesticides to control bugs or weeds have a harmful effect on the environment. Consider implementing natural or organic options to help reduce the environmental impact.

  1. Invest in Home Improvements

If you are a homeowner, consider investing in energy saving options.

  • Add extra insulation
  • Replace outdated windows
  • Put on a new roof or siding to help decrease drafts
  • Schedule regular maintenance on your furnace or air conditioning unit to ensure a high-level performance at minimal energy usage.
  • Use an energy efficient thermostat to manage the temperature in your home
  • Use heavy curtains to help keep heat from escaping
  • Consider investing in high-quality solar panels to reduce your energy usage.

Every small effort may help contribute to a larger movement. Do not be afraid to contact your local chamber or town council on recycling issues. Working together is the first step in preserving the environment.