25 Things for Kids to Do When They’re Bored!

By Serena Piper

How many times a week do you see the kids mope around the house complaining they’re bored? In case you’re running out of ideas for them, the next time it happens, toss one of these suggestions their way. They’ll keep busy enough that you can prepare dinner, get some office work done, etc!

1. Make crayon art.

2. Blow up a bunch of balloons and see how many you can keep in the air at one time.

3. Write a short story complete with pictures.

4. Make a card for a family member. Let them put the card in an envelope, write the address, and place the stamp on.

5. Make Play-doh with this easy-to-follow recipe.

playdoh

Photo by Mike Allyn

6. Lie on a blanket in the backyard and cloud-watch or stargaze.

7. Make a leaf rubbing for a refrigerator decoration.

8. Use shaving cream to finger paint on colored construction paper or paper bags.

9. Go outside, collect a bunch of rocks, and decorate them with paint, googly eyes, glitter, etc.

10. Design their own placemats.

11. Make a blanket fort.

12. Make sock puppets and have a puppet show.

13. Have a living room dance party. See who can dance the longest.

14. Create a treasure hunt. Pick a few objects and hide them around the house in hard-to-find places. Take turns being the treasure hunter.

15. Make an indoor clubhouse using big cardboard boxes. Decorate it with crayons, paint, glitter, feathers, etc.

16. Make animal masks.

haomemadetigeranimalmask

17. Use a video camera to make a movie starring action figures and stuffed animals, or even themselves.

18. Draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

19. Make a kaleidoscope.

20. Make a salted watercolor picture. This is cool for any age!

21. Help plan the week’s dinner menu.

22. Build a Lego castle.

23. Make jewelry or keychains.

24. Bake Christmas cookies using cookie cutters, frosting, and candy pieces.

25. Experiment with new ways to style your hair.

5 No-Fail New Years Resolutions

By Serena Piper

Every new year it’s the same resolutions. Lose weight, make more money, exercise more, eat better, etc. If those types of resolutions work for you, keep at it. But have you ever found yourself feeling a little defeated when, six months through the year, you realize you fell off the wagon a long time ago? You haven’t lost as much weight as you wanted, your hourly wage is still the same, and despite your best attempts at resisting those candy bars in the grocery store checkout aisles, you have given in to those Kit Kats, and have only been to the gym maybe twice a month to make up for it?

This year, make your resolutions something you’ll be able to check off easily. Here are five easy resolutions to get started with:

1. Volunteer
Volunteering is so easy to get started doing. There are so many organizations out there that need volunteers, including Big Brothers Big SistersHumane Societies, assisted living homes, beach cleanups, etc. To find volunteer opportunities in your area, check the Volunteers section of Craigslist, your local paper, or Volunteer Match.

2. Read
Admiring your friends whenever they talk about a great book they’ve just finished? Aim to read one book every one or two months. You’ll have something to talk about with friends and family, you’ll learn something new, and you’ll pick up a new hobby (if you aren’t already into reading).

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Photo credit Casey Fleser

3. Try Something New
Each month, try a new restaurant or cook a new dinner at home. If you choose to eat out, you may find parts of your city you never knew about. If you stay in, it’s a bonding opportunity and/or a great date idea.

4. Out With the Old
Go through your closet each month to see if there’s anything you could get rid of. Old blankets, CDs you can transfer to your computer, and other bulky items will free up a lot of space. Make sure to take those blankest to any animal shelters in your area, as they’re always in need.

5. Keep in Touch
Make it a point to write an email, make a phone call, or even write on the Facebook wall of a family member you haven’t caught up with in awhile. This year, make it a point to invest in family relationships.

20 Things To Do When You’re Bored

By Serena Piper

We’ve all been victims of boredom. We think there’s “nothing to do” and we’re not quite sure how to keep busy and entertained. The next time it strikes, take a look at the list below for some easy time killers.

1. Rearrange your bedroom or living room.

2. Arrange the clothes hanging in your closet by color. In the process you might find some you want to donate, freeing up more space.

3. Arrange your books by color. It’s a unique way to present your bookshelf – as a colorful work of art!

4. Start a scrapbook. Print off all those digital photos and put them in an album with funny captions.

5. Take your dog (or cat) for a walk.

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Photo by Ewen Roberts

6. Make a “thinking of you” card for someone. We all like getting something in the mail other than a bill once in awhile.

7. Write a letter (not an email) to a family member or friend.

8. Go through old high school yearbooks and look up long lost friends on Facebook.

9. Play Solitaire while listening to your favorite music.

10. Bake a delicious dessert or cook a healthy meal (Pinterest anyone?).

11. Start a 1,000-piece puzzle and see how much you can get done in just an hour.

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Photo by Brad Montgomery

12. If you’re job-hunting, revamp your resume. If you’re not job-hunting, get some work done early.

13. Write out a plan of where you would like to be in exactly one year and the steps you’ll take to get there.

14. Paint one wall (to be the “accent” wall) of your living room or bedroom.

15. Clean out your car.

16. Try a new restaurant for dinner. Go alone or with friends.

17. Take a long bubble bath with candles, music, the works! Don’t forget to lock the door!

18. Peruse the bookstore and buy the first book that grabs your attention.

19. Take a half hour to do some yoga exercises.

20. Take a nap!

Dessert Time: How to Make Peppermint Bark

By Serena Piper

Which desserts are popular with your family during the holidays? Chocolate pie, pumpkin pie, sugar cookies, fudge? No one ever said they didn’t taste good, but sometimes it’s good to mix up the traditional.

If you’ve never made peppermint bark for a Christmas dessert, you’re missing out. Make it for a party treat or wrap some up in a holiday tin to bring to work or give to a friend or family member.

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Photo by Lori L. Stalteri

Feeling brave? Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dark chocolate chips
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 8 peppermint candy canes

1. Place as many candy canes as you can fit into a plastic ziplock bag, seal it up tight, and use a rolling pin to crush them into the size you want.

2. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

3. Melt the dark chocolate. Once it’s melted, pour it onto the cookie sheet and spread it around as even as you can get it. Don’t worry if the chocolate doesn’t reach all sides of the sheet – it’ll be broken up later! Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator so it has a chance to harden up a bit.

4. Melt the white chocolate and stir in about ¾ of the crushed candy cane.

5. Take out the tray from the refrigerator and pour the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate. Then sprinkle the rest of the candy cane pieces on top. Place the tray back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

6. After the time is up, check the chocolate. It should be pretty firm by now so you can take it out and start breaking it up into bite-size pieces.

If you’re not a candy cane fan, there are some other variations you can try, including using crushed walnuts, sprinkles, cranberries, or even pretzels.

Happy holidays!

5 Things Under $20 To Make Your Home Happier

By Serena Piper

spider

After each work day, are you happy or sad to be home? If you’re sad, we have a problem. Your home should be a place you want to be, not a place where you’re depressed. A home is usually defined as not something physical, but where your family and the people you care about are. But if you can’t have that, there are some things you can do to create a space you love and feel comfortable in anyway.

1) Plants. Whether it’s flowers or an easy-to-care-for spider plant, place them next to your bed, on the dining table, or in the middle of your living room for a beautiful accent. Tip: skip the fake flowers and buy fresh $5 flowers from your local farmer’s market. Or try a DIY succulent windowsill garden.

2) Picture frames. I’ve long been a fan of the minimalist lifestyle (living with less), but that doesn’t mean your walls have to be completely empty. Instead of hanging up every picture you own, pick a few of your favorites and add character to them with new frames. I like West ElmSix Trees, and World Market.

3) Give your walls personality. If you have a lot of dark furniture, this is your chance to brighten things up. Choose light colors, such as beige, eggshell white, or even a Coos Bay blue. Landlord won’t give you permission? Buy a removable wall decal.

4) Play up your senses. Candles instantly change the mood of a room. They’re an inexpensive, easy, and evocative way to create a certain ambience. Check out Bed Bath & Beyond’s selection of holiday-themed candles.

5) Change the little things. Buy new drawer pulls for your kitchen cupboards, buy scented shelf liners, change the dining room table cloth, or change your shower curtain. Sometimes it’s the small things that make such a noticeable difference.

The key to getting that “I actually like my home” feeling is thinking of what makes you happy and incorporating that into your décor choices. You don’t have to make all of these changes at once, just pick one or two to start with and work your way up.

Rain Boots for Everyone: Styles Under $50 for Men, Women, and Kids

By Serena Piper

Being fashionable doesn’t have to cost you a pretty penny. Below are three pairs of rain boots under $50 for men, women, and children, so you can save your feet, and save your money.As we move into the winter months, we are finding ourselves caught in the rain a lot more often, and probably more often than we would like. Often we choose to wear the wrong pair of shoes on a day when the rain just won’t let up. When it looks like a drizzle will appear while you’re out and about, grab one of the pairs of rain boots below so you don’t end up with wet socks!

For the women

Sporty Zebra Rain Boots at target.com

Short Zebra Sporty Rain Boots / Target ($24.99)
For the zebra print lovers of the world, you can now wear the pattern on your feet! Not an up-to-your-knees boot person? No problem, these boots come up to mid-calf. They also have a nice splash of hot pink color inside.

Baffin Prime Rain Boots / R.E.I. ($34.95)
If you like getting dirty, consider picking up these shiny black booties from outdoor specialist R.E.I., featuring a bit of a heel with extra cushioning.

NOMAD Artist Bon jour / 6pm.com ($42.99)
Ever tried wearing art on your feet? No matter which of the three scenes you choose, you’ll definitely stand out!

For the men

Kamik Erickson Rain Boots at 6pm.com

Kamik Emerson Black Boots / 6pm.com ($38.70)
Not all rain boots come up to your calf, just look at these slip-ons from 6pm.com. Comfy, cushioned, and waterproof!

Isotoner Geometric Loafers / Kohls ($26.60)
At first glance, these classy black shoes don’t look like rain boots, but that’s exactly why they’re perfect for wearing to work or even an interview. They’re made well and just look how super comfortable they look!

Tingley Executive Black Boots / Overstock.com ($41.45)
Completely waterproof from rain, mud, and snow, these black boots would look great with skinny jeans.

For the kids

Kids Uda Frog Rain Boots from Target.com

Kids Uda Frog Rain Boots / Target.com ($18.39 – $22.99)
Fun puddle stompers for the young set. Kids can’t wait for the rain to start!

Girl’s Molly Rain Boot / Target.com ($15.99 – $19.99)
Stylish rain boots for the young fashionista; beautiful and waterproof.

Youth Solid Rainboot – Black / Target.com ($18.39)
Classic mud boots for kids who love to get out in the rain.

No matter which style you choose, rain boots are a great way to liven up your wardrobe when the rainy season sets in. Which style will you be wearing?

Top 5 Ways to Decorate for Thanksgiving

By Serena Piper

It was just last May that we were waiting for summer to get here. Now that summer has come and gone, we’re saying the same thing about Halloween… it’s only inevitable that once Halloween has passed us, we’ll be looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Have you ever felt like even though it’s a holiday, you’re not really in the holiday mood? It should feel special but it seems like just another day. Decorating is one way to get in that holiday mood and there are many easy ways to decorate your home for Thanksgiving. Here are the top 5!

Top 5 Tip - Decorate for Thanksgiving with Gourds
Gourds are great for Thanksgiving decorations, photo copyright a2gemma

Top 5 Decorating Tips for Thanksgiving

  1. Fill a wicker basket with pumpkins, gourds, apples, and other vegetables. You can use it as a centerpiece on the dining room table or put it outside by your front door.
  2. Pick up a bag of colorful fall leaves from the craft store, or go pick up your own in the backyard. Clothespin them to a clothesline around your living room or across the front of the fireplace for a warm touch of color.
  3. Fill a couple clear candle holders or vases with popcorn kernels (or acorns, dried fruit, etc.). Use a piece of twine string to tie a dried leaf to your candle. Plop your candle in the holder and set it alight for a festive tabletop accent found on Pinterest.
  4. Place mats and/or tablecloths are an easy and affordable way to punch up the dining room for the holidays. Think deep purples, reds, golds and oranges. To dress it up even more, fill a glass vase with twigs or sparse tree branches.
  5. I love this trimmed leaf art from Better Homes & Gardens’ website. Colorful maple leaves are the best way to incorporate Fall’s natural accents into your home for a cheerful burst of decor.

A great way to get the kids involved: Use this tree template to create a fun “countdown” for the kids. Let them take turns picking a leaf off the tree and writing down what they’re thankful for on the leaf.

The best source for decor ideas are not only home and lifestyle magazines, but decor blogs and websites like Pinterest. Take a look around and see what you find! Then send us a picture or post a comment below with the tip you tried!

Colorful fall leaves for Thanksgiving Decoration
Colorful fall leaves are perfect for decorating, photo copyright Robert Turney