A Summer Meal Solution

Watch video to see how to make this recipe!

(Family Features) Sunshine and summer evenings often elicit a certain craving for warm-weather favorites, but many families don’t always have time to light a grill or wait for the charcoal to heat up. On those busy days when summer fare calls your name but time is of the essence, opt for a family-friendly recipe that offers seasonal taste from the cool comforts of the kitchen.

Hot dogs provide a versatile option that bring the kids running and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. These Corn Muffin Hot Dog Sliders, ready in just 30 minutes, offer a tasty twist on tradition by combining a summertime favorite with a comfort food classic.

In addition to the feel-good flavors, they’re made with all-beef Coleman Natural uncured hot dogs, sourced from American family farms that never use antibiotics or added hormones, meaning you can feel confident about the ingredients you’re feeding your family.

For more recipe ideas, visit ColemanNatural.com/Recipes.

Watch video to see how to make this recipe!

Corn Muffin Hot Dog Sliders

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 (2 sliders per serving)

  •             Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1          cup all-purpose flour
  • 1          cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2       teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 1          cup buttermilk
  • 1/2       cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3       cup sugar
  • 2          large eggs
  • 6          Coleman Natural Beef Hot Dogs, cut into coins or sliced on bias, 1/2-inch thick
  • 1          cup baby arugula
  • mustard, for garnish (optional)
  • ketchup, for garnish (optional)
  • relish, for garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly coat 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt. In separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, butter, sugar and eggs. Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir until moist.
  3. Scoop batter into each muffin tin cup until halfway full. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. Remove pan from oven and cool on wire rack 10-15 minutes before removing muffins from pan.
  5. In large skillet over medium heat, cook hotdog slices, turning occasionally with fork until slightly browned.
  6. Slice each muffin in half horizontally, add arugula and hot dog slices then garnish with mustard, ketchup and relish, if desired.

Substitution: Use store-bought corn muffin mix rather than making corn muffins from scratch, if desired.

SOURCE:
Coleman Natural Foods

BBB ALERT! “Prime Day” Shopping Scams

Better Business Bureau gives tips to protect yourself…..

This year, Amazon isn’t the only retailer rolling out discounts for Prime Day (June 21-22, 2021). Walmart, Target and Kohls, among others, are running competing sales. But more deals mean more chances for scammers to capitalize on the buzz and trick shoppers. BBB is warning that we will probably see phishing scams, misleading advertisements, and lookalike websites.

Here are some tricks to watch out for:

Phishing scams that appear to come from a popular retailer. Fake emailsphishing – during busy shopping times, such as Prime Day or Black Friday, are common. When you are making a lot of purchases, it’s easy to lose track of exactly what you bought and where you shopped. That makes you more likely to fall for a phishing scam posing as a big name store.

Look out for unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls. They may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery – all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information. One recent phishing scam we have seen in NW Ohio and SE Michigan starts with Amazon “calling to fix an issue with your account.” Nonsense!  This a trick meant to get your credit card information. Often the “Amazon” caller claims he needs remote access to your computer to correct a problem. Don’t let them in!

Beware of false advertising and phony websites. When searching online or browsing social media, watch out for ads that point to scam websites. Con artists often create lookalike websites that, at first glance, appear to belong to a trusted retailer. But look more closely at the URL and you’ll notice that the domain name is slightly different (i.e., Instead of Popularstore.com, the URL might be PopvlarStore.com or PopularStoreOnline.com). A store will not misspell its own name. Always make sure websites use the correct spelling of a business name and have legitimate contact information and customer service numbers. Also, if a company claims to be selling the hottest item of the year at a super low price, it’s probably a scam.

Protect yourself from Prime Day scams:

  • Beware of fake lookalike websites: Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, search for contact information, and read online reviews.
  • Professional photos do not mean it’s a real offer. Scammers often steal photos off other websites, so don’t believe what you see.
  • Make sure the website is secure. Look for the “https” in the URL (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website with only “http.” It is NOT secure.
  • Be careful purchasing sought-after products. If something is sold out everywhere, don’t be tempted by a seemingly great deal. Scammers often trick shoppers by offering the most popular products at too-good-to-be-true low prices.
  • Pay with a credit card. It’s always best to make online purchases with your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Be very wary of any retailer that asks you to pay by digital wallet apps, prepaid gift or money cards, wire pay (like Western Union or Money Gram) or other non-traditional payment methods. 

If in doubt, call BBB at (419) 531-3116 or 800-743-4222.

BBB ALERT! “Prime Day” Shopping Scams

This year, Amazon isn’t the only retailer rolling out discounts for Prime Day (June 21-22, 2021). Walmart, Target and Kohls, among others, are running competing sales. But more deals mean more chances for scammers to capitalize on the buzz and trick shoppers. BBB is warning that we will probably see phishing scams, misleading advertisements, and lookalike websites.

 

Here are some tricks to watch out for:

 

Phishing scams that appear to come from a popular retailer. Fake emailsphishing – during busy shopping times, such as Prime Day or Black Friday, are common. When you are making a lot of purchases, it’s easy to lose track of exactly what you bought and where you shopped. That makes you more likely to fall for a phishing scam posing as a big name store.

 

Look out for unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls. They may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery – all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information. One recent phishing scam we have seen in NW Ohio and SE Michigan starts with Amazon “calling to fix an issue with your account.” Nonsense!  This a trick meant to get your credit card information. Often the “Amazon” caller claims he needs remote access to your computer to correct a problem. Don’t let them in!

 

Beware of false advertising and phony websites. When searching online or browsing social media, watch out for ads that point to scam websites. Con artists often create lookalike websites that, at first glance, appear to belong to a trusted retailer. But look more closely at the URL and you’ll notice that the domain name is slightly different (i.e., Instead of Popularstore.com, the URL might be PopvlarStore.com or PopularStoreOnline.com). A store will not misspell its own name. Always make sure websites use the correct spelling of a business name and have legitimate contact information and customer service numbers. Also, if a company claims to be selling the hottest item of the year at a super low price, it’s probably a scam.

 

Protect yourself from Prime Day scams:

 

  • Beware of fake lookalike websites: Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, search for contact information, and read online reviews.
  • Professional photos do not mean it’s a real offer. Scammers often steal photos off other websites, so don’t believe what you see.
  • Make sure the website is secure. Look for the “https” in the URL (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website with only “http.” It is NOT secure.
  • Be careful purchasing sought-after products. If something is sold out everywhere, don’t be tempted by a seemingly great deal. Scammers often trick shoppers by offering the most popular products at too-good-to-be-true low prices.
  • Pay with a credit card. It’s always best to make online purchases with your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Be very wary of any retailer that asks you to pay by digital wallet apps, prepaid gift or money cards, wire pay (like Western Union or Money Gram) or other non-traditional payment methods. 

 

If in doubt, call BBB at (419) 531-3116 or 800-743-4222.

A Luscious Lime Smoothie for Hot Summer Days

Summer can be so much sweeter with a fresh and fruity drink in your hand…..

(Culinary.net) During summer months, it’s common for many people to want to spend as much time outside enjoying the weather as possible. From the minute they wake up to when the sun goes down (and beyond), nearly everyone wants to take advantage of the warm summer heat. Especially kids, who often want to enjoy their break from school for the year.

From beach towels and sunglasses to swimsuits and flip flops, almost everything you need to enjoy some fun in the sun is likely already on-hand. However, summer can be so much sweeter with a fresh and fruity drink in your hand. Made with fresh ingredients, this drink is a perfect addition to any poolside party.

Next time you are looking to relax outdoors all day, try this Tart Lime Smoothie, which is filled with fresh fruit and cool enough to wash away that summer warmth. This chilled, tart drink will have everyone in the family ready to go for round two down the water slide.

To make this smoothie, in a blender, blend two kiwis, two ripe bananas, some fresh mint, lime juice, orange juice and 2 cups of crushed ice until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Light, fresh and a little bit frothy, this smoothie has a unique texture that may leave you wishing for a second cup the moment you take your first sip. Find more fun summer recipes at Culinary.net.

If you made this recipe at home, use #MyCulinaryConnection on your favorite social network to share your work.

Watch video to see how to make this recipe!

 

Tart Lime Smoothie

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

  • 2          kiwis, peeled and halved
  • 2          ripe bananas
  • 3          tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 2          limes, juice only
  • 1          cup orange juice
  • 2          cups ice, crushed
  1. In blender, blend kiwis, bananas, mint, lime juice, orange juice and ice until smooth.
  2. Pour into glasses to serve.

SOURCE:
Culinary.net

Kid-Friendly Summer Snacking

Make watermelon part of a balanced snack plate….

(Family Features) Summer sun means it’s time for warm-weather fun for kids of all ages, and all that activity and playing calls for snacks and hydration to recharge. Whether your children like to play poolside or take a bicycle adventure through the neighborhood, the right nutrient-dense foods can keep the fun going all day long.

For an option that quenches hunger (and thirst) without sacrificing nutrition, try an assortment of ways to enjoy watermelon. As a refreshing ingredient or standalone treat, watermelon includes just 80 calories and no fat while providing an excellent source of vitamin C (25%) and higher levels of lycopene (12.7 mg per 2-cup serving) – an antioxidant being studied for its role in sun protection – than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. Plus, it’s made of 92% water, meaning it’s a flavorful way to encourage kids to rehydrate during some fun in the sun.

Make watermelon part of a balanced snack plate with this Kids Charcuterie Snack Board including assorted watermelon, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sliced veggies, sliced fruits, crackers, pretzels and more. In addition to the nutritional benefits, the simplicity of this snack means children can help assemble it while showing off their creativity.

Visit watermelon.org to find more kid-friendly recipe ideas.

Watch video to see how to make this recipe!

Kids Charcuterie Snack Board

Recipe courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board

  • Cubed watermelon
  • watermelon balls, skewered
  • watermelon wedges
  • watermelon sticks
  • flower-shaped watermelon cutouts
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, halved
  • ham and cheese pinwheels
  • sliced veggies, such as cucumbers, carrots, sweet peppers and celery
  • sliced fruit
  • pretzels
  • crackers
  • small bowl of candy (optional)
  1. Prepare watermelon, sandwiches, pinwheels, veggies, fruit, pretzels, crackers and candy, if desired.
  2. On large board or platter, arrange all ingredients.

SOURCE:
National Watermelon Promotion Board

Attract More Birds to Your Backyard

Basic tips for feeding wild birds….

(Family Features) With all the constraints people lived through in 2020, many turned to their own backyards – nature, in particular – for hope, solace, wonder and even entertainment. Despite the worldwide crisis, nature’s normalcy remained intact; flowers continued to bloom, bees continued to pollinate and birds continued to fly and forage food.

Feeding birds can be enjoyable for any age group and provide stress relief for all who partake. A University of Exeter study, focused on nature’s impact on humans in suburban and urban areas, found lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people saw during afternoons at home. The benefits of birdwatching come from seeing lots of birds – quantity not “quality” – the study found.

People “felt relaxed and connected to nature when they watched birds in their gardens,” researchers said. These feelings increased with the level of bird feeding in the yard. For millions working and schooling from home, this stress reduction was an unintended bonus.

Data from 2020 shows sales of bird feed, feeders, nesting boxes and bird houses spiked as interest in backyard birds soared while people spent more time at home.

Interest in birding isn’t slowing down. If you haven’t tried attracting birds to your backyard, now is a perfect opportunity to start. The experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products Co. offer these bird feed and feeder basics to attract more birds to your backyard.

Feeders
A variety of bird feeder types placed at different heights attract more birds than one feeder featuring one seed type. Start with two feeder types that accommodate most feed options. Bowl feeders serve not only seeds but also dried mealworms, fruit and suet. An option like Cole’s Bountiful Bowl Feeder comes with an adjustable dome cover you can raise or lower to prevent larger birds and squirrels from getting to food and protect it from rain.

Traditional tube feeders are all-purpose options for bird feeding, especially for small birds that cling. For example, the Terrific Tube Feeder is made with state-of-the-art materials to prevent warping and discoloration and includes a quick-clean, removable base to make cleaning fast and easy. Just push a button and the bottom of the feeder pops off for easy access to the inside. Rinse the feeder with soapy water, dunk it into a water-bleach solution at a concentration of 9-to-1, rinse, dry and reattach the bottom. Regular cleaning of feeders is essential for preventing mold, germs and disease.

Popular Foods
Birdseed: Not all birdseed is created equal. Look for quality blends without cheap filler like red millet and oats. All-natural seed containing no chemicals or mineral oil is safe and more appealing to birds. Top seed picks include all-natural black oil sunflower and Cole’s “Hot Meats” (sunflower meats infused with habanero chili peppers that birds love and squirrels dislike). Or an option like Special Feeder blend, packed with favorites including black oil sunflower, sunflower meats and pecans, attracts the greatest number of wild birds. Offering a wide variety, Cole’s feed is researched and specifically formulated to attract certain bird species, the largest number of birds and the greatest variety of birds.

Insects and Worms: A healthy, lush lawn is one of the best ways to feed birds that prefer insects and worms. You can supplement birds’ diets by serving dried mealworms in a packaged variety that’s easier to feed and less messy than live mealworms. Mealworms are packed with energy and contain essential nutrients, fat and protein.

Fresh Fruit: Apples, orange halves and bananas are favored fruits.

Suet: Perfect for insect-eating birds, suet is a high-fat food that provides abundant calories, rich nutrition and is a high-energy treat.

Using the right feeders and high-quality feed can enhance your backyard and entice more birds, bringing stress relief and enjoyment. For more information on attracting birds to your backyard, visit coleswildbird.com.

SOURCE:
Cole’s Wild Bird

A Fruity Sprinkle Surprise

Watch the video to see how to make this recipe for Fruity Sprinkles Smoothie!….

(Culinary.net) To kids, birthday parties are a big deal and only happen once a year. From the decorations to their friends and all the sweet, delicious treats to devour, it can be an overwhelming amount of excitement and awe.

They receive gifts, get to have fun with their friends and family, and get to snack on treats they typically don’t have on a regular basis. This is part of what makes birthdays so fun.

It can be a lot of pressure for parents, though. You want everything to be perfect and fall in line with expectations, especially when it comes to the food and treats served to everyone that day.

At the next party you’re hosting, try this delightful Fruity Sprinkles Smoothie that fits the theme for nearly any colorful birthday bash.

It’s made with frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries and frozen mango for a healthier alternative to sugar-filled birthday cake. Topped with fluffy, fun whipped cream and mini sprinkles, it still provides a sweet, festive treat. Plus, this smoothie can be made in a matter of minutes using only one kitchen appliance for easy clean up.

To make it, blend frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, frozen mango, milk and yogurt until well combined.

Pour the mixture into four smoothie glasses and garnish each with whipped cream and sprinkles to add some extra color.
It’s that easy to make and even better to enjoy while watching your kid make wonderful memories with friends and family.
Find more fun celebration recipes at Culinary.net.

If you made this recipe at home, use #MyCulinaryConnection on your favorite social network to share your work.

Watch video to see how to make this recipe!

 

Fruity Sprinkles Smoothie

Servings: 4

  • 1          cup frozen blueberries
  • 2          cups frozen strawberries
  • 1          cup frozen mango
  • 1 1/2    cups milk
  • 1          carton (6 ounces) vanilla yogurt
  • whipped cream
  • sprinkles
  1. In blender, blend blueberries, strawberries, mango, milk and yogurt until combined.
  2. Pour smoothie into four glasses. Garnish with whipped cream and sprinkles.

SOURCE:
Culinary.net

Techniques Firefighters Use To Handle Fire Extinguishers

Learn how to handle an extinguisher properly….

Whether you’re employing a fire extinguisher yourself or teaching the public how to use it, firefighters should always stay informed on how to use a fire extinguisher correctly. Firefighters and civilians can use several different types of extinguishers to combat small fires. With ample knowledge and the right assortment of firefighting equipment on hand, firefighters help diminish many types of fires.

First responders often refer to the acronym PASS to remember the techniques firefighters use to handle fire extinguishers. These techniques help firefighters and laypeople alike employ a fire extinguisher safely and effectively.

P

“P” stands for “pull the pin.” You can find the pin at the top of the extinguisher. It keeps the handle from activating the extinguisher when in place. Once you pull the pin, the seal breaks and the extinguisher can release its agent. Make sure the nozzle faces away from you when pulling the pin.

A

“A,” stands for “aim.” Direct the nozzle toward the base of the fire. Suffocating the fuel source is the most effective way to put out a blaze. Always stay a safe distance away from the fire.

S

The first “S” is a reminder to “squeeze” the handles together. Squeezing the levers slowly and evenly ensures a steady release of the extinguishing agent. Once you let go of the handles, the extinguisher will stop its discharge.

S

The second “S” directs the extinguisher uses to “sweep” the nozzle while approaching the fire. If tackling a Class A fire, always check for hot spots that might reignite some flames.

Additional Maintenance Tips

In addition to having a comprehensive understanding of the PASS technique that firefighters use to handle fire extinguishers, firefighters must familiarize themselves with proper fire extinguisher maintenance. A few best practices include the following:

  • The extinguisher should always be easily accessible.
  • It should have a working gauge to indicate when extinguishing pressure is too high or too low.
  • Firefighters should check parts regularly to confirm they’re in good condition.
  • Double-check the manual to assess whether you need to shake it monthly or do anything specific to preserve its efficiency over time.

Take Salad Season to the Next Level

A salad is a quick and easy way to up your veggie intake….

(Family Features) Warmer months typically call for lighter bites, and one of the first things that comes to mind for many is a fresh and flavorful salad. While a salad is a quick and easy way to up your veggie intake and get food on the table in next to no time, the same formula over and over again can make mealtimes feel mundane.

To take your salads to the next level, think of those greens as a blank slate for creativity and look beyond the bowl for elements that can help create new, satisfying meals. For example, Fresh Express Chopped Salad Kits are tasty and versatile salad mixtures with premium ingredients that can also be eaten as sides with your favorite protein or used as toppers for favorites like pizza and tostadas to help kick mealtime up a notch. The salads are thoroughly washed, rinsed and gently dried then sealed in keep-crisp bags for long-lasting freshness.

These easy Kickin’ Chicken Tostadas are made using the Kickin’ Bacon Ranch Chopped Kit, which includes garden fresh cabbage, green leaf lettuces, carrots, green onions, tortilla strips, uncured bacon bits and some heat from jalapeno ranch dressing. Just add the mixture to tostada shells topped with salsa verde chicken and avocado for a flavorful combination.

Or for a tasty twist on traditional favorites like pizza and burgers, try this Thousand Island Burger Pizza using the Bacon Thousand Island Chopped Kit – a combination of iceberg and green leaf lettuces, uncured bacon bits, Parmesan cheese crisps, honey butter cornbread crisps and creamy Thousand Island dressing – to bring sweet and savory flavors together with beef and cheese on top of a homemade pizza crust.

Find more ideas to elevate salad season at freshexpress.com.

Thousand Island Burger Pizza

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 1          can (11 ounces) refrigerated thin pizza crust
  • 12        ounces lean ground beef
  • 1          cup pizza sauce
  • 2          cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1          package (9.4 ounces) Fresh Express Bacon Thousand Island Chopped Kit
  • 1/3       cup dill pickle slices
  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Unroll dough and spread on 13-by-9-inch nonstick baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes; remove from oven.
  3. In small skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef, stirring frequently, 8-10 minutes, or until no longer pink; drain. Spread sauce evenly on baked dough to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top with beef and cheese.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Top with lettuce, bacon and salad toppings from kit and pickle slices. Drizzle with Thousand Island dressing from kit. Cut into 12 (3-by-3-inch) pieces.

Kickin’ Chicken Tostadas

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 1          pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1          jar (16 ounces) salsa verde, any heat level
  • 2          packages (10.2 ounces each) Fresh Express Kickin’ Bacon Ranch Chopped Kit
  • 12        tostada shells
  • 1          avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  1. In large, covered skillet over medium heat, cook chicken in salsa verde 20 minutes, turning once, until internal temperature reaches 165 F.
  2. Remove chicken, reserving 1/2 cup salsa verde; shred with two forks. Toss with reserved salsa verde.
  3. Place salad from kit in large bowl; toss with half the salad dressing from kit. Add toppings from kit; toss to combine.
  4. Divide salad evenly among tostada shells. Top each salad with chicken and avocado; drizzle with remaining dressing.

SOURCE:
Fresh Express

Chowline: Not sure what to do with fresh, harvested radishes?

Pickle them…..

I’ve got a fresh harvest of spring radishes in my garden, but other than adding them to my salad, I’m not sure what to do with them. Got any ideas?

First, congratulations on your harvest! Radishes are an easy-to-grow vegetable because they can be planted directly from seed in the early spring and are typically among the first plants ready to harvest.

Additionally, radishes are low in calories and are a source of potassium; calcium; sodium; and vitamins A, B, C, and K. Radishes are a cruciferous vegetable in the same plant family as kale, turnips, and broccoli. They can also help lower blood pressure and can be associated with a lower risk of heart disease, research shows. 

Radishes have a peppery flavor and a crisp, crunchy texture. Several varieties exist, including the most common variety, which is small and round with a red skin and white flesh. You can also grow black, white, yellow, pink, or purple radishes, which can grow long and narrow, shaped similarly to a carrot or parsnip.

When planting spring radishes, place the seedlings in a row of three-inch spacing, which will allow them to fully develop, said Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“If you want to be able to harvest the radishes for several months, you can plant a few every two weeks,” he said. “They are ready to harvest when they are about the size of a ping pong ball.”

McDermott, who runs the Growing Franklin food production blog, recently posted a video that he and fellow OSU Extension educator Jenny Lobb produced on how to grow radishes and how to make them into a crunchy, spicy, pickled treat that both kids and adults can enjoy.

The video demonstrates harvesting freshly grown radishes; slicing them into thin pieces; and adding them in a glass jar with fresh parsley, chives, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes. To that mixture, add a brine consisting of simmered apple cider vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. 

“After adding brine to prepared vegetables for refrigerator pickles, refrigerate them for at least 4 hours to allow flavor to develop, although 24 to 48 hours is even better,” Lobb said. “It’s best to eat the refrigerated pickles within two weeks.

“Quick-pickled vegetables like radishes are great topping additions to salads, bowls, soups, and tacos, and are even a great simple snack. They even taste great raw with cream cheese or hummus.”

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line writer Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Creative Summer Moments

Family-friendly ideas for summer fun….

(Family Features) Warm, sunny days are the perfect setting for making family memories, but they’re also ideal opportunities to encourage kids to get creative and let their imaginations soar.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

These ideas for summertime activities encourage family interaction, and the more kids get to help plan and organize the details, the more engaged you can expect them to be.

Visit Your Local Park

Pack all the kids’ favorite snacks and beverages to keep cool and hydrated. Choose your spot under a big shady tree and spread out for an impromptu picnic. Be sure to bring along outdoor toys for a game of catch or lighten the load and create a nature scavenger hunt with different types of leaves, rocks and flowers for kids to discover. If they come across an unfamiliar plant or animal, snap a picture with your phone so you can do some research on it when you get home. Encourage the kids to draw or design a piece of art reflecting the things they saw.

Create Watercolor Paintings

Away from the school setting, kids sometimes have fewer opportunities to practice expressing their ideas and getting creative. Fun tools can make an artistic session more exciting, so look for unique methods like blending Zebra Pen Mildliner Brush Pens with water and a paint brush to create fun, pastel watercolor paintings with minimal mess. The pens are conveniently double-ended with a paint brush-like tip on one end and fine marker tip on the other so you can precisely draw a design then create softer swirls of color using water and a brush.

Water Sponge Challenge

Cool off with a fun and refreshing water fight with a few creative twists. First grab sponges, or water sponge balls, and a full bucket of water. The sponges are reusable so you can use them all summer long. Make it extra fun by organizing teams with kids against adults or everyone fending for themselves. Encourage kids to devise their own blockades and targets or adapt a classic game like baseball or dodgeball using water sponges in place of the usual balls. You could also do a sponge scavenger hunt to load up everyone’s buckets before the dousing begins.

Find the Animals

Visit your local Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo or aquarium and have your kids find as many animals as they can from the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction species list. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the concept of extinction and why these animals are on the list. Follow up the visit with an activity that reinforces how everyone has a role in conservation and look for ways to help protect each family member’s favorite animal.

Make Oven S’mores

On a rainy night (or any night) make a s’more by putting it in the oven. They turn out just as melty and gooey as the campfire version but with easier prep and cleanup. This is a tasty way to get those creative juices flowing. Experiment with different candies, such as peanut butter cups in place of chocolate bars. Or add different ingredients and have other family members guess the flavors.

Recycled Animal Crafts

Combining a creative activity with an important message such as conservation can help kids grasp big concepts about keeping animals and the earth safe and happy. Use recycled materials such as cardstock and “junk” from the recycling bin as well as hot glue and colored pens or pencils to have your kids create an art project featuring a favorite animal or one they’ve seen at a park or zoo. Simply piece items together to look like the animal as well as its habitat like trees, grass or the dessert. Then hot glue the items to the cardboard base and use pens or pencils to add details.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Mess-Free Watercolor Art

Learn how to make a faux watercolor masterpiece using Zebra Pen Mildliner Brush Pens.

  1. Sketch your design using a pencil.
  2. Trace over your pencil design with a bleed-proof technical drawing pen. Be sure to erase any pencil lines still showing.
  3. Use brush pens to add blocks of color to each area, but don’t worry about thoroughly covering each line. Use more colors to add more visual interest and depth.
  4. Focus on one section of the design at a time.
  5. Dip a clean paint brush into a cup of water. The brush should be well saturated but not so wet that it’s dripping.
  6. Move the wet paint brush over the color blocks, spreading color to cover white spaces and blend.
  7. Once the design is dry, use brush pens to add details and accent colors then trace over original design lines to add bolder borders.

Homemade Cards

Keeping in touch with loved ones is fun any time of the year. Pick an overcast or way-too-hot day to spend creating homemade cards to send to family and friends.

Materials:

  • Cardstock or construction paper
  • Zebra Pen Zensations Colored Pencils
  • Stickers
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue sticks and guns

Encourage kids to think about their intended recipients to create a card that is unique to an experience or memory they have shared together using favorite colors or recreating the memory.

On a cardstock or construction paper base, use colored pencils to write a message and draw pictures.

Add stickers or use scissors and additional construction paper or ribbon to add decorations and details. With a grown-up’s help, hot glue items to the base card, if necessary.

Find more ideas for creative inspiration this summer at ZebraPen.com.

SOURCE:
Zebra Pen

Summer Tips to Help Early Learners Thrive

After Pandemic Disruption…

At the close of another year of learning disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the stakes for preschoolers and their caregivers are particularly high. The years from birth to age 5 are essential to lifelong success and well being: social and emotional skills develop rapidly as infants and young children learn to communicate, express emotions and engage with the world around them. As the upended routines and forced isolation of the pandemic wind down and life begins to return to normal, caregivers can help ensure their child’s social and emotional learning stays on track. To build learning into each day, the experts at the University of Florida’s College of Education focus on what they call the “3R’s of Early Learning: Relationships, Repetition, Routines.”

“Regardless of the disruption caused by the pandemic, caregivers can continue to support their children’s social and emotional wellbeing throughout changes that occur in their everyday activities and routines,” said Patricia Snyder, Ph.D., director of UF’s Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies.

Experts from the center offer these tips, backed by the science of early childhood development and learning:

RELATIONSHIPS

  • Encourage children to recognize, understand and manage their emotions

Talking about children’s feelings or expressing your feelings in age-appropriate ways helps them learn to recognize, understand, and express their own feelings and emotions, the Anita Zucker Center experts say. To support these expressions and help them learn how to identify positive and negative feelings in themselves or others, you can model appropriate responses by sharing your own. If you are frustrated at the end of the day, you can share, “It was a hard day!  I’m feeling frustrated. I’m going to take a deep breath.” Back and forth exchanges between you and your child are the beginning of social and emotional development and learning.

  • Help children learn to cooperate and get along with others

Playtime is a great opportunity for children to learn and practice social and emotional skills in a familiar context. A caregiver’s involvement in playtime helps build a positive, nurturing relationship and provides an opportunity to recognize learning opportunities. For example, if a preschooler is having trouble sharing with a sibling, act out what it looks like to play together using two dolls. You may act out your doll saying, “It’s my turn to play with the ball.” Let them know if what they did was helpful and ask them to show how they will play together with their sibling next time.

 REPETITION

  • Provide multiple opportunities to learn

Repeated positive exchanges during everyday routines can help children develop the foundational skills needed for future healthy relationships with peers, caregivers and other adults. For example, hearing a caregiver use a word repeatedly or having many opportunities to crawl toward a favorite toy or person helps children learn new skills or master ones they have learned.

ROUTINES

  • Share what to expect during daily routines and activities

Sharing what to expect provides children with learning opportunities and prepares them to positively engage and experience these activities. For example, when taking a preschooler to story time at the library, say, “We are going to the library to listen to a story. We will sit with all the other children and their parents and use our listening ears and quiet voices. Can you show me what that looks like?”

With positive and nurturing relationships, opportunities for positive repetition, and predictable routines, caregivers can encourage young children’s social and emotional development and set them up for success in school and beyond.

How to Wash Your Car by Hand

Taking the time and effort to handwash your car is the key to preserving its appearance…..

While washing your car may seem straightforward, there are a lot of aspects you can improve upon. Here’s how to wash your car by hand most effectively.

Whether you consider your car as an investment or as precious to you as one of your children, everyone knows that taking the time and effort to handwash your car is the key to preserving its appearance by keeping the paint looking glossy and fresh. While washing your car seems like a simple task, typical car owners tend to make a few mistakes when washing their vehicles. To protect your baby to the best of your ability, let us teach you how to wash your car by hand.

The Right Tools

When washing your car, you’ve probably opted to simply use a hose, soap bucket, and rag. While this isn’t a terrible way to go about it, per se, there are much better tools you should use. For instance, a common but misguided piece of advice is that you can use dish soap to wash your car. You should really endeavor to use soap tailored toward cars, as dish soap will remove protective coatings like wax and other detailing from your vehicle’s paint. Furthermore, to ensure that the rag or towel you’re using isn’t abrasive or dirty, you should invest in a wash mitt that treats your car with the utmost care—preventing you from accidentally scratching its exterior.

Focus On the Wheels

Wheels are often major problem spots. They have plenty of nooks and crannies for dirt and debris to build up in and potentially cause complications, such as rust and corrosion. Remember that your wheels often experience the most wear and tear as they endure road conditions. Giving your wheels adequate attention will extend their lifespan and ensure no costly complications arise from decay.

Avoiding Water Spots

When you’re learning how to wash your car by hand, one of the most common mistakes you can make is to wash your car in the sun and then let it air-dry. If your car is resting under the beating sun while you wash it, you’ll notice that the water and soap dry up quickly and leave behind stains and marks that ruin its appearance. This is the same reason you don’t want your car to air-dry. Instead, dry your car by hand in the shade with a towel or cloth—preferably one made from the same materials as the wash mitt you used to wash your car.