Décor

Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

(Family Features) Welcoming friends and family into your home, celebrating time-honored traditions with delicious food and enjoying quality time with loved ones are all sure signs that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. However, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by holiday preparations and pressure to make your guests feel comfortable while visiting.

 

From loading up on pumpkin-scented candles to leaving out clean towels and upgrading that old air mattress to a real bed, it’s important to help loved ones relax when they’re away from home. Make the most of this holiday season with these handy tips from the experts at Mattress Firm to get each room of the house ready for guests.

 

Entryway

The first step into a home away from home for the holidays can set the tone for the entire visit, so make sure that first impression is a welcoming one. Incorporate lively seasonal decor into the space to create a cheerful, festive atmosphere. Be sure the area is free of clutter and make space for your guests’ shoes, coats and other personal items to send a message from the start that you’re happy to be hosting them.

 

Guest Bedroom

After a long journey, guests are sure to appreciate a clean, fresh bedroom, with personal touches to make them feel special. Make sure the pillows are fluffed and bedrooms are stocked with fresh linens, along with a few magazines or a good book. Test all lights and fans to confirm they’re working properly, and be sure an alarm clock is available. A notecard featuring your Wi-Fi network name and password can help your guests feel right at home.

 

For elderly guests, you may consider adding an adjustable base to your guest bed. Adjustable bases, including those available at Mattress Firm, are solid metal structures that fit twin- to king-sized mattresses and act as a movable foundation with the power to adjust the mattress into a variety of positions from reclining to inclining. These bases can be suitable for sleepers with chronic pain, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or the average sleeper just looking for additional comfort.

 

Guest Bathroom

Although visitors are likely to carry their own toiletries, it can be awkward to discover a forgotten essential while in an unfamiliar home. Stock your guest bath with the basics to ensure guests have everything they need, such as extra toothpaste, shampoo, razors and deodorant. Also provide plenty of freshly laundered, fluffy towels and washcloths.

 

Living Room

Adding extra bodies to the household may put seating space at a premium, especially during the holidays when seasonal decorations take up extra room. Remove unnecessary items from the living area and add seating, if necessary, to ensure everyone can gather comfortably. It’s also a good idea to ensure there are ample flat surfaces and coasters available for beverages so you can comfortably visit well into the night.

 

Kitchen

For close friends or family, you’re likely to know their preferences and it’s easy to stock up on a few favorites ahead of time. If a new guest will be joining, be sure to ask about likes or dislikes as well as allergy or dietary needs ahead of time. Make a point to show first-time guests around the kitchen early in the stay so they can easily find anything they might need, such as a glass for water during the night.

 

For more tips and tricks on getting your home prepped for the busy holiday season, follow along with #SleepGiving or visit MattressFirm.com/blog.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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Family

Make Mealtime Meaningful for Families and Furry Friends

(Family Features) Coming together for a shared meal is a simple yet important way for families to bond and create memories with one another. There’s no better time than right now to bring everyone together around the dinner table – including your four-legged friends – for a delicious, healthy meal.

These tips can help make mealtime even more meaningful for everyone:

  • Have the family help with the meal prep. Pick a recipe everyone can help prepare, such as build-your-own pizzas, to make the dinner both a bonding activity and a rewarding experience when you get to eat your own creation.
  • Schedule mealtime for the whole family, including your pup. Your furry friend can enjoy sharing in the family experience, and with his own food bowl, he’ll be gobbling that up, making it less tempting to ask for human food.
  • Establish a no-devices-at-the-dinner-table policy to encourage kids and adults alike to talk, engage and bond with each other. This quality time spent in the company of family can build cherished memories for years to come.
  • Opt for healthy options to keep everyone’s energy levels up. This means working in plenty of fruits, veggies and quality proteins like chicken or salmon, sweet potatoes, lentils and more. These ingredients are also great for your pup and are included in many high-quality dog foods. In fact, the NUTRO™ brand has launched its NUTRO FEED CLEAN™ philosophy, which provides pets with dry recipes that are made with real, recognizable, non-GMO* ingredients and allows families to share their healthy eating lifestyle with their pets.

Whether it’s once a week or every night, coming together for a shared meal is a simple gesture that can help bring families – and even furry family members – together. So grab a plate (or bowl) and enjoy your shared mealtime with the entire family.

For more information on sharing the NUTRO FEED CLEAN™ philosophy with your dog, visit Nutro.com or Facebook.com/NUTROBrand.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

*Trace amounts of genetically modified material may be present due to potential cross contact during manufacturing.

 

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Décor, Life/Living

Happy Holiday Gift-Giving

(Family Features) It’s nearly inevitable to go through holiday shopping season without that one person on your gift list who seems impossible to buy for. Rather than spending countless hours meandering through aisle after aisle, try this array of gift options to fit just about anybody on your list.

Find more gift ideas and tips for the holidays at eLivingToday.com.

 

A New Way of Notetaking

Save your hand-written notes, ideas and sketches digitally with Bamboo Folio, a smartpad that allows you to write naturally with a pen on any paper. Push the button to save your handwritten notes as digital files. With the Wacom Inkspace app, you can organize, edit and share your notes on your smartphone and tablet. Don’t worry if you’re not near your mobile devices – you can store up to 100 pages on the smartpad and sync later. Find more information at bamboo.wacom.com/smartpads.

 

A Stylish Stocking Stuffer

When searching for stocking stuffers or a practical present for a relative, friend or workplace gift exchange, consider a Zebra Pen option. With a wide variety of pen types, styles and ink colors, there’s a high-quality pen for nearly everyone on your list. From the Steel Series line perfect for the professionals in your life to Sarasa colored gel pens featuring rapid-drying ink technology that make planning and journaling a breeze. Find more budget-friendly gift ideas at zebrapen.com.

 

 

A Tasteful Gift

With the holidays just around the corner, give your loved ones a gift that keeps giving – the Omaha Steaks Tasteful Gift combo. This assortment of dishes has something for almost everyone, including tender Filet Mignons; juicy Top Sirloins; naturally lean, yet juicy Boneless Pork Chops; Potatoes au Gratin; and home-style Caramel Apple Tartlets. It’s a crave-worthy holiday gift, at a special, limited-time low price. Find more delicious holiday gift ideas at omahasteaks.com.

 

Cook with Innovation

Cook with ease and confidence this holiday season with the GE Cafe front control slide-in ranges with an industry-first six burners and a double oven. Make cooking less of a chore and add that “wow” factor to your kitchen with convenient Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to heat, set timers and even change temperatures through automated home gadgets. With the double oven and 50 percent more burners, you can maximize every inch of kitchen space. Learn more at geappliances.com.

 

The Gift of Gratitude

This holiday season, spread the gift of gratitude and say “thank you” to the people in your life with merci Chocolates, a thoughtful collection of European chocolates. Each slim, stylish box contains eight unique, individually wrapped flavors, making it the perfect gift for nearly everyone on your holiday list. Find more information at merci.us.

 

Serving Up Pancakes for Good

Make a morning meal that gives back. For every Pampered Chef Pancake Blender Bottle sold, the company will donate 11 meals to Feeding America®. As a bonus for the home chef, the recipe printed on the side of the container makes 6-12 pancakes or crepes. Simply add the ingredients with the cap that doubles as a measuring spoon and shake for an easy holiday breakfast – no extra dishes required. Find more information at pamperedchef.com/feedingamerica.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Holiday Ornament)

 

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Décor, Life/Living

5 Steps for a Home Remodel

(Family Features) As a homeowner, there is nearly always a laundry list of projects with time and budget constraints when it comes to a home remodel.

 

This step-by-step guide from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) can help ensure you get the maximum return on your investment and make the most of your remodel.

 

Step 1 – Identify Reasons for Remodeling

Deciding whether to undertake simple aesthetic changes or a full remodel can be difficult. One of the best ways to decide is to figure out why you are remodeling in the first place, whether it’s to make your new house feel more like home or to update a 1950s-era kitchen.

 

Step 2 – Set Your Budget

Every home is unique in structure, age, quality and craftsmanship, which all impact the price of a remodel. Since no one can see through walls before demolition, the quote you receive will likely not be 100 percent accurate. However, a qualified remodeling company will be open and honest about the issues and challenges it might face during the process. Account for these adjustments by planning for any “surprises” with a 10 percent cushion, just in case.

 

Step 3 – Hire the Right Team

To help ensure you find the right company for the job, you should do your research. Referrals from friends and family are one way to find a remodeler. National associations like NARI provide unbiased information and resources that can help you find qualified, certified remodelers in your area. With more than 6,000 members, the organization represents professional remodelers who adhere to a strict code of ethics. Many hold certifications in remodeling, kitchen and bath design and lead carpentry. Find more information and resources at NARI.org.

 

Step 4 – Understand the Plan 

Communication is key in a successful remodeling project. Keep the lines of communication open between you, the remodeling contractor and the work crew. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Let them know your family’s schedule and whether you have pets confined somewhere. Make sure to specify the best way to reach you, such as phone, in-person or e-mail, and how often you wish to communicate with your remodeling contractor about your project.

 

Step 5 – Complete the Project

While the dust is settling and the remodel is almost finished, take a moment to walk through your project and note any adjustments that need to be made while the contractor is still on site. Contractors often provide guarantees of workmanship, so find out what they cover and for how long then include this information in your work agreement. You should also take another look at the contract and confirm you have signed permits, receipts, change orders, lien waivers, warranties and manufacturers’ guides at your disposal.

 

Remodeling a space can be a major project, but with the right help, resources and information, you can make your dream home come to fruition.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family looking at paint swatches)

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Décor, Life/Living

3 Ways to Throwback Style

 

(Family Features) When it’s time for a bathroom or kitchen upgrade, some of the greatest inspiration may come from another time entirely. Some of the most on-trend styles of today are actually throwbacks to bygone eras.

 

Learn how to make your updated spaces pay tribute to re-emerging trends and add your own modern touches with these three new-again looks.

 

Retro-Modern

A retro-modern design is unique in every way, with elements transitioning from the historically unfitted 1920s to 1950s charm and eccentricity. The result is a space that represents many eras and design styles, and the kitchen is the perfect space to bring this look to life.

 

Start by establishing a focal point for your retro-modern design, such as a functional nod to the past. Long before modern refrigeration, iceboxes were used in many of the homes in the early 20th century to keep foods fresh. It’s possible to mimic this look with the Wellborn Cabinet Premier Series, to achieve an icebox look that actually functions as storage space.

 

Use contrasting finishes, colors and textures to uniquely define a small space. For example, a modern cabinet scheme in a dark stain or paint contrasts beautifully with stainless steel hardware and a pop of color to break up the cold nature of stainless steel.

 

Then bring some uniformity with an option like Shaker decorative legs, which adds to the multi-era design feel. Deriving from the Shaker lifestyle and tradition, the tapering effect offers a beautiful yet simple design feature. Integrate the look across multiple elements, such as a wooden-style tapered leg icebox, along with stainless steel tapered legs on wall and peninsula cabinets, which can pair nicely with stainless-steel hardware and a 1950s Malt Shop grooved countertop.

 

Accessories are an important part of kitchen design, which is why they should be kept top of mind when building or designing that dream space. Features such as removable under-sink baskets and a double wastebasket kit lend ultimate practicality.

 

No matter the era, lighting is a must for a functional kitchen space. A carefully crafted, multi-layered lighting design is an essential component of a dream kitchen. An option like Hafele lighting, now offered through a partnership with Wellborn Cabinet, makes it possible to illuminate cabinetry, delivering ambient, accent, task and decorative lighting to create the right mood for any space.

 

Elegant

A beautiful, ornate bathroom with plenty of traditional features can truly be an interpretation of elegance in design. Plan for an abundance of luxurious, spa-like elements to achieve this look. Incorporate features such as warm hickory covering every inch of the walls and built-in lighting to set the tone for a relaxing atmosphere. Then incorporate antique-styled mirrors and glass hardware to create contrasts amongst the rich tones and texture.

 

You can create a distinctive alcove effect by situating the sink vanities directly between matching cabinet ends and recessing two mirrors into the wall. A decorative arch valance can add beauty and function, as this is an ideal place to tuck away lighting that provides depth and visibility.

 

Let a large soaking tub take center stage between the sink vanity and a custom makeup area. While you can rely on cabinetry for functional features, it’s also a way to continue adding elegant touches, such as a beautifully crafted tub skirt and arch that complements the vanity area.

 

No luxury bathroom is complete without a stand-alone makeup alcove outfitted with unique features like drawer dividers (perfect for hair accessories) and countertop hideaway cabinets. Consider creating a focal point using rounded spindles to create depth and allow the custom makeup section to stand out in the design. Lastly, embellish the distinguished look with molding options that highlight the feature areas and create a defined line around the room.

 

An elegant, spacious master bathroom is luxurious and functional, proving that practicality can be used in a glorious way.

 

Retro

Going to the extreme with your aesthetic with a retro design is all about fun, with features such as pops of color in the tile behind the vanities or fun and whimsical wallpaper. A 1950s-style bathroom lets you play on your childlike senses. From bright colors to mixed metals and textures, this unique design style pays respect to the era of Car Hops, Airstream Travel Trailers and Lucille Ball.

 

The key to making a throwback-styled design work for your contemporary needs is all in the modern elements. Think along the lines of illuminated drawers and cabinets and base pull-out wire baskets. These fun twists of technology paired with retro-styled elements make for a winning solution.

 

When it comes to the vanities and cabinetry, remember that both style and color can bring your retro design together. Don’t be afraid to step outside more traditional wood tones, and use unexpected colors such as the pink hue available in Wellborn Cabinet’s ColorInspire program. For the woodwork, look for details such as conical-styled, slender legs that add to the 1950s feel.

 

Reminiscent of days past, a fabulous ’50s bathroom is the ultimate definition of an eccentric design.

 

There’s no time like now to begin planning your on-trend home upgrades. Explore the latest styles and home design options at wellborn.com.

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Décor, Life/Living

DIY Holiday Home Decor

(Family Features) The holiday season can get expensive, especially when purchasing thoughtful gifts for loved ones. The last thing you want to spend money on is generic holiday decorations that don’t make your home stand out from the rest.

 

Creating unique, do-it-yourself decorations is an activity that can help you bond with family and friends, but also give your home decor a fun, seasonal twist.

 

The experts at Krazy Glue suggest these festive DIY crafts that can get your home prepped for the holiday season without breaking the bank.

 

Statement Centerpiece: A staple of holiday home decor is selecting the perfect centerpiece for your table. Most people defer to flowers or generic baubles that can be overlooked, but you can make your table stand out with a festive tree made of common utensils. Grab some silver spoons, metallic spray paint, a plastic foam cone and an adhesive to create a DIY centerpiece.

 

Festive Front Door: When guests arrive at your home for the holidays, one of the first things they see is the front door. While it’s easy to go out and buy a pre-made wreath at the store, creating a unique, holiday-themed option is simple, budget-friendly and fun.

 

If you have clothespins lying around the house, repurpose them into something creative and beautiful this year. Create this one of a kind Metallic Clothespin Wreath with metallic spray paint, mini clothespins, a flat wooden wreath form and a strong adhesive. Simply spray-paint the clothespins different metallic shades and glue them to the wooden wreath frame in different layers once dry.

 

To help make the wreath and other DIY projects shine, it’s important to have a strong adhesive that can withstand the test of time. Just a single drop of Krazy Glue can hold up to 2,000 pounds and only takes 30 seconds to dry. It’s a perfect tool to have in your home for any holiday DIY projects or quick fixes that may arise.

 

Deck the Walls: There’s no need to stop the holiday decorations at your table and front door. Keep your walls festive by hanging some holiday themed decorations such as homemade snowflakes. All you need is plywood molding and pieces of thin balsa wood, a circular medallion, spray paint in your colors of choice and a strong adhesive.

 

Find more holiday DIY projects at krazyglue.com.

 

Metallic Clothespin Wreath

 

Supplies and Tools:

350-375 mini clothespins

Gold spray paint

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Family, Life/Living

Tips for Family Safety

How to keep your busy, adventurous family safe?

(Family Features) Families are seemingly always on the go. From soccer games and school trips to excursions with friends and vacations with the family, people are constantly on the move, exploring new places and experiencing new things.

In fact, a study by Sfara shows that kids today are using public transportation, going on field trips and taking long-distance road trips at much younger ages compared to 30 years ago. As exciting as these new opportunities can be, it’s equally as important to make sure families – and kids – stay safe and protected at home and on the go.

 

AROUND THE HOUSE

 

Know your neighbors

Whether you live in an apartment building, cul-de-sac or the countryside, make it a point to get to know your neighbors. Building these relationships isn’t only neighborly, but can help keep you safe. Not only can you have a stronger community of people to lean on for small crises, like borrowing forgotten ingredients, and larger emergencies, such as weather-related disasters, but you’ll also have a better understanding of your surroundings.

 

Help in an instant

While security systems deliver some peace of mind, they’re not always fool-proof, and they also aren’t transferable to the office, school or your summer getaway. Always on and always available, an app such as Sfara Guardian can help keep you and your family safe, no matter where you are. By just triple-tapping your phone, even while it’s in your pocket, the app connects you to a live emergency manager who can provide the help you need. If you’re unable to respond, it will dispatch local responders to your exact location immediately.

 

Accessibility

While baby-proofing starts in your children’s earliest years, limiting their access to certain areas or items is important throughout their childhoods. When you have a young child, locks on cabinets and gates across steps may be your focus when it comes to home safety. As kids get older, ensure they do not have unsupervised access to dangerous items like cleaning supplies, prescription medicine or kitchen knives. Make sure to also have open conversations with kids about the dangers of seemingly safe home products so they are equipped to make appropriate choices outside the home.

 

Fire safety

Take the time to ensure your home is properly equipped in case of fire. Check that you have working fire extinguishers and that windows and fire escapes are not blocked by heavy furniture or other objects. Be sure everyone in your family knows the plan in case of a fire or similar emergency at home, and is aware of how to contact help, if needed.

 

AWAY FROM HOME

 

Tools to take on the road

In the past, families brought the essentials with them when on the go – a first aid kit, snacks and water bottles. Now, in addition to the basics, make sure you add modern essentials to your packing list when you’re away from home, whether you’re going on a day trip or a long vacation. Carry a portable phone charger in your bag or in your car to ensure you can always connect to family, call for help if needed or just use your phone’s flashlight in case of a blackout.

 

Help on-the-go

Today, virtually everything is available at your fingertips, right through a smartphone. Now, safety is that accessible, too. Apps, like Sfara Guardian, can connect you to live experts who can help you in virtually any kind of situation. For example, if you’ve been in an accident, the app can detect you need help and send local responders even if you can’t speak. Learn more at sfara.com.

 

Stranger danger

When in public, be hyper-aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Talk with your kids about how they should respond if they are approached by a stranger. It’s a good idea to practice at home so your child feels comfortable giving an emphatic “no” if the need arises. If you’ll be at a crowded location where you may become separated, use your phone to take a photo of your child so you have a current photo and clothing description ready if the unthinkable happens.

 

Driving Safely

 

Most families spend an ample part of every day in their vehicles, between transport to school, activities, work and various errands. Keeping everyone safe is easier than ever with a slew of safety features that are increasingly available, either straight from the factory or as add-ons to your in-car experience.

 

Advanced Navigation: While built-in navigation systems in cars may just seem like an added convenience, they are also a key safety feature. Navigation systems offer easy access to directions and points of interest on the road, which can help eliminate distractions and reduce the possibility of accidents. Features like voice control can make navigation hands-free and allow you to concentrate on the road.

 

Smartphone Crash Detection: Today, the technology in your pocket is often more advanced than the cars you drive or ride in. Apps like Sfara Guardian can detect a car crash or incident and dispatch help. Because the technology is on the phone, it works whether you are the driver or passenger and in your car or someone else’s. Roadside assistance has a modern twist, too. If you need help with a flat or a tow, you can request service on your app and map the driver in real-time as he or she heads your way.

 

Lock Controls: In some vehicles, an adjustable setting allows you to control which car doors unlock depending on which door you open first or how many times you press the unlock button. This feature can allow a driver to safely enter the car on the driver’s side without unlocking other doors and potentially giving access to an intruder. Similar controls can keep mischievous kids from pushing buttons in the back and unlocking or opening rear doors or windows without your knowledge.

 

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

 

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Family, Life/Living

Simple Solutions to Combat Winter Skin Sensitivity

(Family Features) The winter season is here, and it’s important to get in the habit of taking care of your skin. Cold weather brings low humidity levels and dry air, which can suck the moisture from your skin, and without proper care, skin can become dry, cracked and irritated, causing discomfort.

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FOOD, Life/Living

A Wholesome, Hearty Dish to Take the Chill Off Winter Days

(Family Features) As winter chills settle in, one way to warm up from the inside-out is with family meals centered around a delicious bowl of comfort food like pasta, soups and stews.

 

By planning your weeknight menu to include wholesome, organic foods made with no artificial flavors, artificial colors or high-fructose corn syrup, you can create hearty and flavorful dishes in the New Year that will have everyone in the family eager to dig in.

 

With a high quality, organic sauce in your pantry like one of the Bertolli USDA-certified Organic Pasta Sauces, available in red- and white-sauce varieties, you can quickly whip up a warming and indulgent winter dish while still keeping your resolutions to cook with more quality ingredients. For example, this recipe for Campanelle with Prosciutto and Peas uses Creamy Alfredo Sauce, made with organic cream, aged parmesan cheese and spices, is sure to become a cold-weather family favorite!

 

Find more recipes to kick-start taste-tempting family mealtimes through every season at Bertolli.com.

 

Campanelle with Prosciutto and Peas

Cook time: 10 minutes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: 6

 

12        ounces uncooked campanelle pasta

1          tablespoon Bertolli Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1          large shallot, finely chopped

1/2       cup dry white  wine

1/2       cup frozen peas

3          ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

1          jar (15 ounces) Bertolli Organic Creamy Alfredo Sauce

4          ounces Fontina cheese, shredded

6          eggs

1          teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

In pot of salted water, cook pasta 2 minutes less than directed on package. Drain pasta.

 

In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and shallots. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add wine; cook 3-4 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated. Stir in peas, prosciutto, Alfredo sauce and cheese. Add pasta; toss gently. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes to coat pasta with sauce.

 

In saucepan, bring water to boil and add eggs. Cook 6 minutes. Transfer eggs to ice water and cool before peeling.

 

Top each serving with soft-set egg and black pepper.

 

Notes: Gouda or Gruyere can be substituted for Fontina. Unpeeled, cooked eggs can be stored in refrigerator up to one week.

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FOOD, Life/Living

A Heaping Handheld

A Heaping Handheld

 

Prep time: 5 minutes

 

Bruschetta:

2          cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes

1          clove garlic, minced

10        fresh basil leaves, chopped

1          tablespoon olive oil, plus additional (optional)

salt, to taste

 

  • container Sabra Classic Hummus (10 ounces)

 

To make bruschetta: Cut cherry tomatoes into quarters or eighths, if large. Place in small mixing bowl. Stir in garlic, basil and olive oil, and season with salt, to taste.

 

Scoop hummus out of container and swirl onto serving plate. Top with bruschetta and drizzle with touch of olive oil, if desired. Serve with fresh vegetables or pita chips.

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The 2 Week Diet