A wedding present is given to congratulate the happy duo as they begin their journey as a married couple. Registries provide an idea of what the couple could use to complete their home–some fancy china or a blender–but the gifts that tend to mean the most are usually the ones that aren’t taken straight from the pages of the registry. Here are some of the most creative wedding gifts that will wow the newly married couple, particularly if they already have everything they need:
Your newlywed friends will love a scrapbook of their special relationship. Help them get a leg up on documenting their fun times from day one with a scrapbook highlighting pictures from their past up to their special day. A scrapbook also gives them the chance to add many more memories from their wedding day forward.
Spa items and gift cards.
After months of planning and stress, can you think of a better gift than a spa day? Think along the lines of a couple’s massage, shaving accessories, monogrammed soap or any other gifts that encourage relaxation. These gifts aren’t just for women; they’re men’s gifts too!
Instead of more laundry hampers, towels and pillows–think of gifts that couples don’t have to have, but maybe really want. How about getting the couple something fun, like a grill or grilling utensils? How about a patio table and chairs? They’d probably really love to be able to enjoy the serenity of their back yard but perhaps didn’t think to add that to a registry.
Find out where the couple is going to celebrate their honeymoon, and help ensure it’s one they’ll never forget. Pack a gift bag they can take with items such as sunscreen, bug spray, an underwater camera, or some cash or a gift card so they can enjoy an extra excursion in Jamaica or the Florida Keys. The average cost of a U.S. wedding is now $25,656. So it’s likely the new couple would love some help with funding their honeymoon.
New couples love personalized gifts. What’s better than an item that showcases the last name they now share? Think along the lines of wall art, monogrammed towels, or picture frames that highlight a special time for the happy couple. Personalized gifts are a favorite among newlyweds and perfect to display on the bookshelves or mantel of their new home.
When it comes to giving a meaningful and heartfelt gift, sometimes you need to think outside of the box. Registries can point you in the right direction when it comes to finding a great gift. But your own thoughtfulness and creativity can allow you to give an amazing present the new couple will truly love and appreciate.
The summer months bring an inherent spirit of adventure. Days are longer, the weather is warmer, and school is a distant memory. Though the demands placed on parents don’t change much from the rest of the year, carving out a few hours here and there for summer fun is good for the whole family.
- Watch fireworks. What is more memorable than sitting under a warm, starry sky and watching it erupt into a spectacular fireworks show? The Fourth of July is a popular fireworks holiday but many communities also schedule these outdoor celebrations throughout the summer. Bring popcorn and sodas and make it a complete family event.
- Join a summer reading program. It is true that kids need some down time in the summer, but it is also important to avoid the summer slide–a phenomenon that actually hurts children academically when classes start again in the fall. Stop by your local library and pick up a summer reading program brochure. To promote these reading initiatives, many libraries will also host free family events that correlate with the reading program theme.
- Go camping. Hook your car up to the back of the family RV with a car tow dolly, pack your cooler with s’mores supplies, and gear up for family fun outdoors. If your family is new to camping, you may want to start by renting a cabin and then going with more rugged accommodations down the road. Find a campsite that caters to your family preferences (hiking trails, bike trails, beach access) and enjoy the great outdoors!
- See a movie. Maybe this isn’t exactly an opportunity to bond with nature, but it is certainly a lot of fun. Every summer is packed with family-friendly movies, giving you the chance to do something special for your kids. Save this for a rainy day, or make it the headline event of your weekend.
- Visit the beach. You don’t necessarily have to drive to the ocean to enjoy the fun of the beach. Use dinghy towing to load up your motor home and your car with beach gear, like chairs, rafts, and a beach umbrella, and take a day trip to the closest lake or pond that allows swimming. Remember to pack a lunch and plenty of sunscreen to fully enjoy your day on the shore.
Summer family activities do not have to cost a lot of money. You will notice that I did not mention amusement or water parks on my list. Focus instead on creative ways to get away–whether you visit a campsite on a less-expensive weeknight or buy a used car dolly to haul your beach gear–and your memories will be much sweeter and stress-free.
Looking for ways to spruce up your home without breaking the bank? Whether you want to make a few changes yourself, or hire home remodelers, here are some tips and tricks to take your home from “so-so” to spiffy.
*Keep in mind costs vary based on the condition of your home and where you live. Remodeling in San Diego is different than remodeling in Honolulu or New York City.*
- Make your kitchen sizzle. The heart of your home is the kitchen. Your kitchen is the room that is the most obviously updated or outdated. No matter if it’s new or old, improve the look of the kitchen by keeping it tidy. Talk with home remodelers for tips on what ranks in the order of most to least important when it comes to your kitchen. Some inexpensive updates include changing out the kitchen faucet, light fixtures, and cabinet door pulls. Statistics say that renovated kitchens return 75 to 100 percent of the total renovation costs, although there’s no guarantee. So even though the initial investment may be hefty, you may earn your money back (when you sell your home), thanks to those stainless steels appliances and quartz countertops.
- Step up your storage. Homes with a lack of closet space can be a turn off to prospective buyers. If you have tight storage areas, add closet systems to bedrooms, pantries and hall closets to maximize the space. Closet systems are sold at many home improvement stores and can update your closet in no time, leaving you with a more functional space.
- Add a room. If you have a home with three bedrooms and a den, the reason the den isn’t called a bedroom is likely because it has no closet. If you add a closet, you suddenly have a much more valuable four-bedroom house. An architectural home design firm can help you draw out plans to add a closet to a den or make any other changes in your home to create an additional room. It will add a lot of value to a home, so it’s worth considering.
- Boost curb appeal. It’s obvious, but so many people neglect their lawn. Whether it’s due to lack of time or knowledge, there’s no excuse. Make it a priority to mow your lawn, plant some shrubs, and keep the sidewalk swept and free of weeds. This makes a great first impression to anyone walking or driving by your home. If you’re lacking in the green thumb department, a landscaper can help you plant low-maintenance, beautiful greenery to give your yard a mini makeover. These changes instantly alter people’s perception of your home. Not only will you love your lawn’s new look–your neighbors will too.
If you have limited funds, make a priority list for updates and remodeling. Within a few years, your home will better reflect your personality and your resale value will rise.
So you’ve signed up for your first 5K. You have a few monthsto prepare for the big race you’re anxiously awaiting. Each day that you lace up your running shoes and put on your sports clothing you have a rush of exhilaration–it means you’re one run closer to the much-anticipated 5K.
Maybe you don’t know how to prepare for the race, beyond just putting one foot in front of the other. Here are five running tips to help you get started and make sure you’re ready for your very first 5K.
Set a realistic goal.
If you’re a newbie to the running world, it’s probably not the best decision to sign up for the 5K that’s happening this weekend. It’s also not realistic to anticipate a finish time of 18 minutes–it may take walkers or joggers an hour to finish the 5K and that’s perfectly normal. After a month or two of training, take a look at your pace and set an attainable goal for yourself. The goal can even be as simple as complete the race!
Fuel your body.
Food is fuel, plain and simple. If you eat junk, your body doesn’t function optimally, especially for athletes who rely on fuel for performance. Aim to eat clean, whole foods (avoid anything processed) to provide your body with the best fuel to help you perform. Make sure you up your daily water intake too. As a side note, athletes generally need more sleep to fuel their bodies too. Aim for 9 hours a night for full muscle and mental recovery.
It’s essential to dress for the temperature. If it’s cooler outside, focus on sweat-wicking layers. Workout clothing for women comes in all styles and coverage options. Layer like this: supportive sports bra, tank top, and then a long-sleeve. Add a hoodie if necessary, depending on the weather. This way, you can strip layers off as you warm up. For the bottom, stock up on running shorts for women that allow full range of movement. Regardless of whether a garment is $10 or $100, make sure you’re as comfortable as possible while running.
Don’t worry about finding the most high-tech running shoes on the market. Just make sure your shoes fit comfortably for long periods of time–they really are the most important part of your gear.
Don’t fight the pain.
Pain is not something you should push through, no matter what anyone says. You will experience challenges, you’ll struggle in the beginning and maybe even want to give up. That’s normal. But if you find yourself in pain or with an injury, listen to what your body is telling you. A small injury that’s ignored can lead to much larger injuries that may prevent you from completing your 5K altogether. Take a few days off if your body hurts, and don’t hesitate to call your doctor if the pain is intense or doesn’t subside.
Running becomes a way to escape. It’s good for your mind, body, and soul. It improves your health. It makes your body release endorphins, elevating your mood to the highest level. Enjoy your accomplishments, and be proud of all you do. Just remember, even if your pace is slower than you’d prefer, you’re progressing, and that’s always better than standing still.
Some styles come and go quickly, while others have lasting appeal. Vintage style, or vintage-inspired style, references those trends and specific motifs that never go out of fashion, but simply evolve to new versions. Take a look at these 5 vintage style categories:
- Pinup: Do a basic online search for pin-up girls from the World War II era, and you will find all the inspiration you need for this vintage style set. Traditionally, pinup girls are feminine and pretty–with a clean look, accented only by bright lipstick. A contemporary twist on the look juxtaposes girls with a harder edge–think tattoos and piercings–with the softer, girl-next-door look of the original pinup models.
- Nautical: Make everyday a trip to the sea with nautical accents like stripes in navy and red. More clothing is also channeling symbolic sea icons like anchors and actual sailboats too. A great way to accessorize a nautical ensemble is with gold-toned watches, bracelets, and necklaces that reference the treasure-hunting sailor’s spirit.
- Aviation: From pilot sunglasses to tailored leather flight jackets, aviation style has made a comeback in big ways. The popular social media site Pinterest has an entire page dedicated to Amelia Earhart & Aviation Style where you can get ideas. Add pilot watches, goggles, and of course, aviator sunglasses, to your accessory selection to give any outfit some high-flying flair.
- Jackie O: No one brought more fashion praise to the White House than First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Even after she left Washington D.C. she continued to set style trends throughout the rest of her life. Her A-line dresses and feminine suits may have been designer, but other women always felt they could attain the same look–and did. Think wide-leg trousers, silk scarves, and pillbox hats to make a genuine Jackie O style statement.
- Old Hollywood: Take your wardrobe back to the Golden Age of celebrities, when all red-carpet events were front-page news. You can take this style type literally and wear sequin-covered ball gowns, or make it more contemporary by incorporating all that glamour into everyday wear, like t-shirts or jeans. Just add a little bling, and maybe an up-do hairstyle to an otherwise mundane look, and you will look like a modern-day Grace Kelly or Veronica Lake.
Whether you shop for your vintage apparel in a thrift shop or online pilot store, adding a few select accessories can transform any look from boring to fashion forward. Take a look in your own closet–you may already have the right items to piece together any one of these looks, or a combination of a few.
Wearing glasses no longer means an automatic “geeky” classification. Even people who have had combo laser surgery and do not need to wear prescription glasses often buy frames as a fashion statement. Celebrities like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are known for their oversized, black-rimmed frames that often place them on “best dressed” lists. Style stars like Kate Beckinsale and Kaley Cuoco can also be found wearing designer frames to accent their high-priced handbags and shoes. Whether you have 20/20 vision or eyes that are candidates for corneal topography, you can pull off the look of glasses just like the stars.
Hard angles, or a “square” face: If you have facial features that are “hard” in nature, play against those with smooth curves. Try a curved pair of frames that has a rimless bottom. It will soften the strong features of your face, and accent your eyes instead.
Round face: If you have full cheeks, and a forehead that is roughly the same length as the bottom of your face, you want to avoid even more curves in your glasses. Go with a pair of rectangular frames instead that substitute the missing angles in your natural face shape. The narrowness of the frames is also good because it does battle with the fullness of the cheeks.
Oval face: Rather than choosing frames that are also elongated, go for a pair that is narrow. Try glasses with an oval shape that is horizontal, instead of vertical–mirroring the “horn-rimmed” look. This gives more attention to your cheekbones and slims the rest of the face too.
Inverted triangle, or “heart shaped,” face: If your face is top-heavy and then angles down to a point at your chin, you want barely-there frames. Try butterfly lenses that are a little bit wider at the bottom and offset a narrow chin. This allows the best parts of your face to shine through.
More and more people are looking to glasses to wear for fun and fashion–even if they have had low vision therapy or other corrective eye surgeries. Take the time to research the right glasses for your facial structure, and you can look like a celebrity every time you put on the frames.
This summer millions of families will hit the road in the U.S. Road trips remain the most popular form of travel in America, with 76 percent of people saying they prefer auto travel to air, trains, or boat travel. For families, road trips provide more than an end destination. Take a look at these other reasons your family needs to hit the road this summer:
- Forced conversation. It is so easy to escape from each other in daily routines, but a road trip makes that impossible. Even if you opt for a larger vehicle through a RV sales retailer, space is limited–making a road trip the perfect opportunity for reconnection.
- Scenery. There is something to be said of the view from an airplane, but seeing the U.S. from the road is an experience unmatched by other forms of travel. The climate and landscapes change so dramatically from one state to the next, and even within states, keeping road travel interesting and full of new opportunities.
- Memory making. When you travel by auto or RV, there are multiple chances for making memories every day. Whether you stop to snap a picture at the Grand Canyon, or a sign with family significance, your options for new experiences are limitless.
- Multiple destinations. Instead of just one final location, a road trip affords many mini-vacations along the way. Stop at hotels along the way or rent Fleetwood Motorhomes and stay at developed campgrounds along your route. Plan activities for each stop, or look for spontaneous opportunities instead. When their classmates ask your kids where they went on summer vacation, they will have more than one answer.
- Real-life history lessons. How can you really explain the Rocky Mountains with a text book? Or the rolling hills of Virginia? Or the sparkling aqua water of the Florida Keys? When you drive across America, there is a sense of pride and patriotism at every turn. Consider a themed road trip that focuses on a particular part of American history, like the Civil War or pioneer days, and then plan your itinerary accordingly.
Plan a summer trip that your family will always cherish by choosing to hit the road. Brave the confines of your family car or visit a Phoenix, Indianapolis, or Orlando RV dealer to upgrade your road trip plans. Taking a family road trip is a way to have an adventure together–and see the best attractions, scenery, and history the country has to offer in the process.
Retirement ushers in an whole new exciting chapter of life. The years that you spent in the rat race become a distant memory as you enjoy a more leisurely approach to life. For many retired people, that includes travel. It is estimated that 80 percent of all leisure travel in the U.S. is funded by baby boomers. With a higher life expectancy, however, many retirees are hesitant to spend too much of their nest egg on luxuries like travel.
If you have always dreamed about travel in your retirement, but want to be conservative in your spending, consider these simple ways to do both:
Buy an RV. If you plan to be on the road a lot, save yourself the hotel and airfare costs over time by purchasing your own recreational vehicle. If the price tag on a new one is too high for you, consider buying a used RV instead. There could be people in your own area that are selling a Heartland motor home, or a used Winnebago. Look for reduced prices before you pay full price for one.
Join travel clubs. You may be able to score discounts through organizations like the AARP or AAA. If you are retired military, you may have access to even more cost-saving options. If there is a particular hotel chain you prefer, check for loyalty programs that help you earn free nights over time. Even small savings add up in the long run, especially if you plan to travel often.
Be flexible. With retirement comes more wiggle room in your schedule. Check travel sites frequently to scope out deals on places you want to travel. If you are interested in international trips, do some research into “off” season times when airfare and travel costs will be lower.
Ask around. Reach out to family and friends who live in areas you would like to visit and see if they are willing to host you for a few nights, or at least give you local recommendations. For example, friends living in Orlando may know local spots to purchase discount theme-park tickets or nice condo rental options that are cheaper than hotels.
By thinking creatively, you can stretch your retirement dollars to fund more travel excursions. Visit RV buyers and online travel sites to track down the best deals based on where you want to travel, and when. There is really no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the fruits of your many years of labor and have financial peace of mind at the same time.
Family road trips are a staple of the summer months. AAA reports that a record number of travelers, 34.9 million, hit the road alone on Memorial Day weekend. If that is any indication of what this summer will bring, Americans will be taking advantage of the warm months to escape routine for awhile.
Whether taking a weekend trip or heading out for several months on the road, RV dealers are a good place to start your planning. Here are five road trip destinations that are best enjoyed in an recreational vehicle:
The Grand Canyon. Is there really any other way to experience this wonder of nature than by camping out for a few days? Make a reservation at a developed campground maintained by the National Park Service for access to the best natural attractions. While you are there, take a scenic hike or go whitewater rafting.
South Padre Island, Texas: Many people only know South Padre because of its party-all-night reputation, but beyond the nightlight scene, the area offers a National Seashore with fantastic fishing options. The location is a short RV drive to Corpus Christi–home of the Texas State Aquarium and other cultural attractions.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts: It seems that every town on the Cape has its own laid-back charm to offer tourists. Take advantage of delicious lobster as you wheel through scenic seascapes and visit the beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
The Florida Keys: There really is no better way to enjoy the breathtaking blues and greens of the ocean in America’s Southernmost region than in a Winnebago RV. There was a reason why Ernest Hemingway called the sleepy area home for many years. Spend a few days snorkeling the corral reefs of Big Pine Key before enjoying the nightlife of Key West.
Olympic National Park, Washington: The Pacific Northwest offers scenic views unheard of in other areas of the country that include expansive coastlines, redwood forests, and mountain peaks. Olympic National Park offers RV visitors the change to hike through forests and reel in a few at salmon fisheries. This is an especially good place to begin a coastal road trip that extends into Northern California.
When it comes time to plan your summer getaway, consider renting or buying a traveling comfort vehicle from a Phoenix RV dealer. There really is no better way to see the country than by road–and an RV provides you the luxury and space to really enjoy the time away from home.
Growing up, we always had a piano in our home. Like many other parents, mine believed that learning about music would broaden my intellectual pursuits and give me a boost in other academic areas.
For awhile, it was an old upright and then we progressed to used Steinways through the years. My mother knew how to play the piano–and my brothers and I took lessons too. I never made it to the point of becoming a professional pianist, but what I learned through plunking out tunes at home for years is still with me today. Some of the most valuable lessons I learned about life through playing the piano include:
Hard work really does pay off. I can still remember sitting on that wooden bench and staring at a new, difficult piece of music with angst. How would I ever learn to play it? But with enough practice and determination, I always made it to the next performance or recital.
The appeal of music is universal. I took a mission trip in high school with my church youth group to help build an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. My Spanish was sketchy, at best. I struggled to communicate with the lovely people working alongside me, but when the hard work of the day had ended, and the music began, it was like all the barriers between us came down. I always got that same feeling when I was playing a Mozart classic to a room of strangers or a Christmas carol at a nursing home. People who may not understand each other through other forms of communication connect through music.
Music brings joy. To this day, my dad will buy a plane ticket to be at any piano or vocal performance concert I am in–even if I am in the chorus. Listening to me struggle through pieces on the piano for years, and then learn to accompany myself as I got more interested in the singing side, has brought so much joy to his life. I know how he feels because now when my own kids are humming a new song from school, I ask them to hum it louder or add in the words so I can hear it. They don’t always cooperate, but when they do, it makes my heart so very happy.
If you are looking for a way to enhance your children’s lives, give them the lifelong gift of music. Whether you seek out used Steinway pianos like Model B, or just scour the classifieds for a good deal on one, searching for a piano for your home is a smart investment. If you wait long enough, I might just have a Steinway Model O for sale–unless my kids decide they want it in their homes someday.