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Mary Mastroeni

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Cool Down with These Frosty Summer Treats

July 12, 2017 12:39 am

Smoothies, popsicles and chilled boozy beverages are often the go-to for an edible cool-down. Shake up your chilled staples with these frosty treats.

Frozen grapes. Wash a rack of grapes, remove them from the stems, and pop them in the freezer. Pull out a handful whenever you’re feeling overheated--or just want a refreshing snack.

Chilled watermelon. Watermelon is an iconic summer staple. Cube it and keep it in the fridge for even more ahhhh.

Fruity ice cubes. Looking to jazz up your summertime drinks? Fill an ice cube tray with water, and add a few raspberries or blueberries to each cube before freezing.

Chocolate covered bananas. These cool creamy treats are a bit more work, but completely worth it. Slide a popsicle stick into a ripe banana. Dip the banana in melted chocolate, place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and freeze for 4-8 hours or more.

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Splash: Water Safety Tips, Broken Down

July 12, 2017 12:39 am

Headed to the water this summer? We can’t blame you. But whether you’re going solo, with friends, or little ones, it’s important to keep safety front and center as you don your swimsuit.
Below are a handful of SPLASH tips for enjoying beaches, lakes and rivers this summer, from Georgia Power:

- Supervision Designate an adult to watch children at all times. Do not assume someone else is watching.
- Prevention – Wear personal flotation devices (PFD or life jacket), install fencing around pools, and use drain covers in hot tubs and pools.
- Look before you leap – Never jump into water without knowing how deep it is and what is below the surface.
- Arm's Length – Adults should be arm's length to children in water, and safety tools such as hooks should be nearby at all times.
- Swim Lessons – Knowing how to swim greatly reduces the chance of drowning. Classes are often available through the Red Cross or YMCA.
- Have a Water Safety Plan – Know what to do during an emergency.

Source: Georgia Power

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Simplify Your Lifestyle this Summer

July 12, 2017 12:39 am

(Family Features)--From backyard barbecues and trips to the beach to baseball games and swim meets, summer is all about family fun. It's also an ideal time to slow down and incorporate a more mindful routine at home.  

This season, prioritize a "less-is-more" lifestyle by making smart swaps, like using products with better ingredients, to simplify your life and create an even healthier home for your family. With these easy, helpful tips, you can arm yourself with the tools to spend more time focusing on family and fun.

Pick Produce, Not Processed. What you feed your family often fuels summer fun, but favorite treats like ice cream and hot dogs can be full of unwanted ingredients and added sugars. Skip prepackaged items and look for fresh, seasonal produce that can be incorporated into multiple meals throughout the day, which can also lead to a shorter grocery list and less waste.

Minimize Your Regimen. Take advantage of the seasonal climate to shorten your beauty routine and save time, energy and products. There's no need to blow dry hair with warm weather - sleep in two twisted braids for beachy waves, air-dry after the shower or throw on a wide-brimmed sun hat to hide bed head. Also focus on products that do double duty: replace sticky lipsticks and gloss with tinted chapsticks that include SPF or mix in a drop of sunscreen to liquid foundation.

Simplify Cleanup. It's easy to let the myriad rotating summer activities turn your space into an unexpected mess, so proactively prepare for the chaos by creating a cleanup kit. A clean towel, water bottle, sunscreen, change of clothes and snack in a small tote or plastic container can be left in the trunk of the car or in the garage to keep you from running around searching for supplies. This way, you're prepared for whatever summer brings, be it spilled ketchup, an unexpected shower or even a care-free run through the backyard sprinkler.

Source: allsulfatefree.com

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Gardening for Your Small Deck or Patio

July 11, 2017 12:39 am

Having limited outdoor space is no reason to curb your love of gardening or to settle for less than a thriving green space. From tasty fruits and veggies to flowering plants, trees and shrubs, container gardening is a great way to enhance your small deck or patio, say gardening editors at Home and Garden TV.

Test your green thumb with these:

Dwarf citrus trees – If your space provides a little sunlight, dwarf lemon or lime trees will typically do well when planted in terracotta pots.

Strawberries – Try planting them in a hanging basket that gets lots of sunlight and get a season’s worth of sweet, ripe berries.

Red, ripe tomatoes – Yes, you can grow smaller varieties in pots. Start with young plants or establish see plantings indoors first, then transfer them in pots to a sunny spot on your deck or patio.

Potted roses – If the area gets at least five hours of daily sun, planter pots of dwarf or mini-sized roses will produce colorful blooms all summer long. Prune them out of season as you would prune their larger cousins.

Mini herb garden – Group varying sizes of containers together and get ready to season your best dishes with mint, chives, and other herbs grown in a limited space.

Sunflowers – There is nothing as cheerful as these summer favorites. Choose colorful pots – or let the kids paint tin cans with enamel pain, then plant dwarf sunflower seeds in each.

Low-care succulents – Because they store water in their fleshy leaves and stems, these evergreen plants do well even when you don’t water regularly. They need a little sun, though, so group pots of succulents in a light, bright corner.

Flowering vines – Compact climbers, like jasmine and clematis, are great container plants. All they need to thrive is a pot with good drainage, a trellis or post for support, and regular watering and feeding.

Bonus tip: For an engaging change from store-bought pots, plant your favorites in colorful vintage tins scooped up at thrift stores or garage sales.  

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Must-Haves for Your Backyard Soiree

July 11, 2017 12:39 am

Getting ready to take your next shindig outdoors? Make sure you’re equipped with what your guests want the most.

According to a survey from Tiki brand, the top two essentials for a successful outdoor party are music and fire, whether in the form of a fire pit or a few strategically placed candles and torches.

To maximize music, connect three or four speakers to your iPod and place them throughout the party area - then keep the volume at a moderate level. This is a much better option than blasting music from one speaker in one location. Make sure your playlist includes a good mix of classic tunes and popular hits, avoiding anything too melancholy or too harsh.

Ambient light from candles and fire pits are one of the quickest ways to enhance the atmosphere of your yard. Dot the party area with tea lights and place hurricane lanterns on various tables. Hang string lights from your deck railings and in trees, and place solar lights in garden beds, borders and along pathways.

In addition to ambiance, nearly half of all respondents claim that decorative tableware is also key to a successful outdoor event. Choose colorful plastic or paper plates, arrange snacks in unusual baskets, and serve up drinks in melamine glasses or copper mugs.

Make sure you’re prepared with enough seating for your outdoor event. Take inventory of what’s available outside, including benches and beach chairs, then add in some of your indoor chairs. If you’re having a large crowd, look into renting a few folding chairs and tables. The cost is minimal and well worth it.

Keeping these basics in mind will ensure your backyard bash is a smashing success.

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Safety Tips for Traveling Abroad

July 11, 2017 12:39 am

Heading out of the country? You’ve likely got your passport prepped and bags packed, but how else can you assure a seamless trip? The Red Cross has the following tips to help your journey run as smooth as possible.

Know which natural disasters are possible. There's no reason to panic, but it's important to research whether your destination faces emergencies you've never experienced. 

Pack your International Certificate of Vaccination. Also referred to as the "yellow card," it lists your immunizations, allergies and blood type. The "yellow card" is available from your physician or local health department.

Keep your destination country's emergency numbers handy. You know to use 9-1-1 in the United States, but how will you reach the fire department, police or an ambulance abroad?

Download the Red Cross First Aid App. This app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Be sure to download the app at redcross.org/apps while you're still in the U.S., so you can access the content even if you don't have phone service. If you have a firm handle on a foreign language, search for the local Red Cross or Red Crescent's mobile apps while abroad.  

Bring bug repellant. If you're traveling somewhere with mosquito-borne illnesses—such as malaria, dengue or Zika—be sure to spray insect repellent containing DEET (for children, use only products that contain less than 10 percent DEET). Wear long sleeves at critical times of the day.  

Check for evacuation routes and emergency exits. The Red Cross has helped communities around the world install signs that indicate evacuation routes in case a tsunami, flooding or another natural disaster occurs. Be sure to identify evacuation routes at your destination and always pay attention to the location of emergency exits.  

Register your trip with the US State Department. Enter your travel details with the free online Red Cross Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency while traveling internationally. 

Make a plan. Just like at home, it's important to establish a time and place to meet family members in case you get separated. Mobile service isn't always dependable, so plan accordingly.    

Source: American Red Cross

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Container Gardening: The Quickest Way to a Green Thumb

July 7, 2017 12:39 am

There’s nothing quite like a beautiful garden, brimming with colorful flowers and lush green foliage. But not everyone has the time or talent to cultivate a successful garden, and paying for landscaping may not be within your budget. But don’t despair - try container gardening instead.

Container gardens are a quick, simple way to bring a burst of color, cool shades of green, and even a few herbs or tomatoes to your home’s landscape. They require minimal set-up and maintenance yet yield great results. Here are some tips to get your container garden off and running:

Choose your containers. Select pots of various sizes, colors and textures to add interest. Or go for a monochromatic look by using all terracotta. Consider other more unique options as well, such as wooden boxes, lined baskets, metal buckets, half barrels or sculpted stone planters. No matter what type of container you choose, make sure it has proper drainage.

Select your spots. The great benefit of container gardening is that you can place plants wherever your heart desires, such as the front stoop, porch, patio, deck or any conceivable spot in your yard. Also consider window boxes and hanging containers to add color higher on your home’s facade.

Decide what to plant. Add easy bursts of color with annuals like imaptiens, petunias, geraniums and daisies. Read the tag to determine whether the flowers you choose require sun or shade. You can also plant perennials in containers - either flowers or grasses - but keep in mind, they will need to be replanted within a year or two once they’ve gotten too big for their containers. Herbs are great for containers as well, along with tomatoes and strawberries.

Prep the soil. Be sure to get a high quality potting soil and add some fertilizer and weed preventative to the mix. The right nutrients will be critical for your container plants to thrive.

Water and deadhead. To keep your container gardens thriving all season, be sure to water them frequently as container plants dry out more quickly than those planted in the ground. Remove dead blooms and brown leaves frequently to help foster new growth and more flowers.

With a few well-placed container gardens, you’ll add beauty to your yard in no time, no matter what your level of gardening expertise may be.

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Facing Foreclosure? What You Should Know

July 7, 2017 12:39 am

For those of us who own our homes, foreclosure may seem like a nightmare. If you’re looking at a possible foreclosure, there are several things you should keep in mind.  

Three payment rule. Generally, foreclosure proceedings begin after the borrower has missed three consecutive mortgage payments. The lender will record a notice of default against the property. And unless the debt is satisfied, the lender will foreclose on the mortgage and proceed to set up a trustee sale, where the property is sold to the highest bidder.

You have options. If you’re facing foreclosure, you still have a few options. You may be able to refinance the debt or extend the term of your mortgage loan. If you have mortgage insurance, the insurer may also be interested in helping you. The company can temporarily pay the mortgage until you get back on your feet and are able to repay their “loan."

You CAN buy again. If your home was foreclosed on, it doesn’t mean you will never be a homeowner again. But a lot will depend on your circumstances and the mortgage interest rate you are willing to pay. “Generally, most lenders will consider your request for a home loan two to four years after your foreclosure. Predatory lenders will issue a home mortgage in less time.  But beware – they routinely charge high mortgage interest rates, fees, and penalties for this privilege. A quality lender will expect you to show that you have cleaned up your credit.  Providing a reasonable explanation about the circumstances that led to the foreclosure – such as exuberant medical expenses – is also helpful.

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How to Keep Your Pets Safe From Heat

July 7, 2017 12:39 am

Summertime may mean playtime with your furry family members. Trips to the beach or lake, long walks and zippy car rides can be hours of fun for your pet. But as temperatures rise, it’s important to pay mind to your pet’s health.

Below are four tips from Henry Schein Animal Health.

Heat stroke: Protect your pets from heat stroke, which occurs when your pet's body cannot maintain its temperature in a safe range. Pets can suffer heat stroke if left in a parked car or when exercising strenuously in hot weather.

Housing: Animals that are outdoors need shade and water at all times, though dog houses can become stifling in the heat.

Summer travel: Before bringing pets on a trip, be sure to pack, among other items, health and vaccination records, medications, veterinarian's information, and a first aid kit.

Water safety: When boating on open water, humans and pets should both wear life preservers should an accident occur. Pet parents should also be aware of dangerous currents when animals are playing in rivers and the ocean.

Source: Henry Schein Animal Health

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Secrets for Healthy Summer Grilling

July 7, 2017 12:39 am

Ready to fire up the grill this summer? You’re far from alone. Grilling is delicious, fun, and can save on your energy bills by keeping that cooking heat outdoors. If you’re looking to up your grill came, consider the following tips from Aramark and the American Heart Association (AHA).

Soak up the marinade
Start with a healthier marinade before you even light the grill. Healthier marinades contain herbs, spices & healthy oils. Reduce salt with wine vinegar, citrus-infused oil or a little mustard. Reduce added sugar with fruit purées. Try ripe mango or peach purée blended with dried cranberries or white raisins.

Rub on the spices
Spice rubs add flavor to meats, fish and chicken and have fewer calories than traditional BBQ sauces. Spice combinations are endless – from garlic, onion powder, dried basil, oregano, paprika, chili powder and cayenne to spicy Jerk chicken rub.                    

Burst of lemon everywhere
It's easy to cut the amount of salt you use on your grilled meats or seafood by 50 percent. Just replace with lemony goodness. Replace each ½ teaspoon of salt with 5 teaspoons of juice and 1 teaspoon of zest and drizzle flavor directly over foods as they cook. How you tend to food while it's on the grill can enhance and lock in flavor.

Start with veggies on the grill
Vegetables are great on the grill. Try them in Kabobs or grill them in slices to serve right next to fish, chicken or meat. Grilled veggies add excitement, freshness and flavor to any meal. Try grilling two or three for every main dish.

Pair fruits with entrées
Fruit is no longer just a snack or dessert. The sweet flavors of summer fruits help to enhance grilled seafood, chicken, or beef. Replacing other side dishes with fresh fruit is also a great way to add flavor with fewer calories. Add fruit to the plate and see the colors of summer in a whole new light.          

Baste on the flavor
Use a basting brush and pack on additional flavor over the flame. Baste green veggies with olive oil and herb mixes.                          

Top it all off
Not all flavor is added on the grill, some can be added afterward. Try toppings that add healthy flavors to the plate like a fresh fruit compote or salsa, or top with finely chopped grilled veggies.

Source:  Aramark, The American Heart Association

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