Back in the day, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince rapped poetically about everyone’s favorite season. Summer, summer, summertime, a chance to kick back and unwind. Did the age 8 and under crew not get the message? Those little go-getters seem to become more energetic as the temperatures rise. Luckily we’ve got the perfect way to let them burn off some steam. Water-parks and splash pools, of course! They can swim, splash and slide until their heart is content. Read on for the coolest San Diego Water Parks and Splash Pools to visit this summer.
(StatePoint) Getting kids to be more active and motivated for outdoor adventure can be a challenge in today’s world of cool technology. With so many compelling reasons to stay indoors, like smartphones and streaming video, how do you convince your little ones that the great outdoors is, well, great?
Here are a few ideas to inspire outdoor play and even to use their love of technology to help lure them outdoors:
Plan a Scavenger Hunt
Turn a simple day outside into an exciting adventure. Create a thematic challenge that can be carried out in the yard or a nearby playground and set the kids loose for a mental and physical challenge.
Use your kids’ interests to get them motivated to participate, or help foster a new interest by having kids seek out specific items in nature.
Record the Action
Encourage outdoor activity with cameras and wearable devices designed with kids in mind. For example, the affordable VTech Kidizoom Action Cam features a robust, durable design and comes complete with mounts for attaching to a bike, skateboard or scooter. The waterproof case allows kids to take videos and pictures up to six feet underwater — perfect for snorkeling and splashing fun.
The camera, which was named the number one breakout hit on the TTPM Summer Play List, features a 1.4 inch color LCD screen and can take stop-motion videos and time-lapse photos in addition to regular videos and photos. It lets kids get creative with features, effects, frames and photo filters. It also includes three games and a micro USB cable to make it easy to upload photos and videos to a computer. More information can be found at www.VTechKids.com/ActionCam.
Mix Things Up
Your own backyard can be home to new and exciting adventures every day, especially for children with active imaginations. Nevertheless, kids will welcome an opportunity for a change of scenery. From the playground to the pool to the skate park, take kids on mini field trips whenever you get a chance.
For many, a lack of confidence may be a barrier to getting involved in neighborhood pick-up sports and other local activities outdoors. Bear this in mind and strive to build your child’s confidence.
Even if your home possesses a state of the art home theater and all the latest gadgets, with a few simple strategies, you’ll have kids off the couch and begging to play outside.
(StatePoint) Nothing beats the anticipation of your birthday when you are a child.
But once school’s out, it can be tough to gather all your child’s friends due to summer camps and family vacations.
To combat this perennial summer birthday concern, some parents throw a big party during the school year and another smaller family shindig on the actual date. Others make sure the day is full of surprises, including yummy, unforgettable treats.
Here are some great ideas to make the day extra delicious, from three lifestyle and entertaining experts:
Berry, Berry Good
“Every family has their special touches that turn children into excitement charged little bees buzzing around practically giddy with anticipation. For me, that was a can of whipped cream,” writes food and lifestyle expert Coryanne Ettiene, reflecting on her childhood in a recent posting on her “Kitchen Living with Coryanne” blog. “The moment I would open the fridge door and see that bright red top, my heart would nearly burst from happiness while I let dreams of whipped cream swirl in my head.”
With this in mind, a favorite easy recipe for birthday party strawberry shortcake gives the dessert a mini makeover with individual frozen shortcake bites, says Ettiene, whose nostalgia for her sweet childhood memories led her to partner with Reddi-wip on their summer #PartyReddi promotion, which challenges partiers to create recipes with the whipped topping.
You can make Ettiene’s frozen bites by slicing strawberries across the waist (so the hole appears in the center), cutting small squares of angel food cake, and stacking them together with colorful paper straws through the middle. Place them in the freezer for up to an hour and serve with a small bowl of Reddi-wip for dipping. Or for even quicker birthday treats, add a slice of berry and a slice of angel food cake to serving spoons and top with the whipped topping.
Sundae Tea Party
Inspired by the spirit of the tea parties most girls love so dearly, Dawn Sandomeno and Elizabeth Mascali, co-founders of The Party Bluprints Blog, are sharing tips for a tea party with an ice cream sundae twist. This birthday party idea is perfect for summer and can be hosted indoors or out.
Set a table with personal sundae stations for each guest. Each setting should have its own parfait glass with ice cream and three soup spoons or tasting spoons with toppings.
Choose traditional options like sprinkles, mini-marshmallows, and flavored syrups or try something new like fresh fruit, pretzels or popcorn. Then add some fun by placing several cans of Reddi-wip on the table so each child can spritz her sundae herself. Just beware: whipped topping with real cream can go fast, especially with sugared-up fingers on the button, so have enough on hand.
For a fun setting, build your tablescape on a coffee table and provide colorful pillows for seating. Polka dots and stripes can evoke the vibe of a retro sundae shop.
Above all, show your child how special he or she is by celebrating the big day together. These memories can be the biggest treat of all.
(StatePoint) Beat the heat this 4th of July and throughout summer with some delicious and refreshing celebration tips.
It’s all about keeping your cool when preparing and enjoying fun meals.
Cool, Crisp Wine
Stick with fresh and crisp white wines that complement lighter, warm weather fare. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are classic white wine varietals easily found at grocery stores.
Chardonnay, a medium bodied wine with notes of fresh melon and pineapple, makes an excellent pairing with BBQ chicken or richer seafood dishes, such as crab or salmon. A wine to try is St. Francis Sonoma County Chardonnay 2013, made from grapes handpicked in the cool of night to create a wine with delicate aromas, crisp acidity, and a rich, lingering finish.
For a lighter bodied wine, Sauvignon Blanc, with a highly aromatic fruit profile, is perfect for salads, sushi and fresh, young cheeses such as goat cheese. For your 4th of July picnic, consider grabbing a bottle of St. Francis Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2014 that features crisp flavors and aromas of citrus, kiwi, and mango with a touch of lime.
In summer, the last place you want to be is in a hot, humid kitchen. The perfect solution is to make classic chilled dishes like fruit sorbets, tomato salsas, fresh green salads and seafood carpaccio.
For summer’s most refreshing meal, St. Francis Winery Chef Bryan Jones shares his recipe for Chilled Potato-Leek Soup with White Truffle Oil and Lemon. Pair with St. Francis Sonoma County 2013 Chardonnay or 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and serve with a light green salad and a baguette with goat cheese.
• 2 russet potatoes, diced
• 3 leeks
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 4 cups water
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 2 teaspoons salt
• White truffle oil
• 1 lemon
• 4 chive strands
• Salt and white pepper to taste
• Trim off the green end of leeks, slice in half lengthwise and rinse. Dice leeks. Heat 3 tbsp of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic and 2 tsp salt. Cook until leeks are soft but not brown, stirring occasionally.
• Add diced potatoes to leeks and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes fall apart.
• Add cream, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let cool to almost room temperature. Purée in a blender until texture is creamy.
• Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Adjust seasoning and place in refrigerator to chill.
• Divide soup into bowls. Drizzle with a small amount of white truffle oil. Zest a small amount of lemon and sprinkle with chopped fresh chives. Enjoy.
For more wine paired recipes from Chef Bryan Jones, visit www.StFrancisWinery.com/culinary/recipes.
Celebrate the 4th this year with cool vibes, chilled food and crisp wines.
(StatePoint) Hosting warm weather gatherings is a perfect way to spend time with friends and family in summer. Reduce stress by following these four simple
tips for a great summer soiree that both you and your guests will enjoy.
Pick a Theme
Get started by choosing a theme for your summer celebration. A defined focus will allow you to quickly narrow down menu and décor selections. Easy ideas include seasonally inspired concepts, like Christmas in July; location-specific parties, such as a Hawaiian luau or Parisian café; and era themes, like the Roaring Twenties.
Streamline Your Menu
Looking for recipes that require little prep work but are sure to please? Consider whipping up a large batch of seasonal appetizers, such as guacamole, a yogurt-based vegetable dip or a cold soup.
Make a style statement by serving them in glass shooters with chips, veggies or pita bread for perfectly sized servings. Slow-cook a few chicken breasts ahead of time that can be shredded and quickly tossed with a delicious sauce for healthy sliders.
When selecting desserts, use seasonal ingredients. A mixture of sliced fruits pairs well with pieces of shortcake on skewers that can be assembled ahead of time. Sorbets are also simple to make in a blender and only require a few ingredients — fruit, ice and a sweetener. By choosing recipes that allow you to prep some elements ahead of time, you’ll find yourself with more time to mix and mingle.
Select a Useful Kitchen Sidekick
When fixing your menu, a must-have kitchen partner is a high-performance blender that does all the hard work for you. One versatile option, the Vitamix Professional Series 750, features five pre-programmed settings, including programs for smoothies and frozen desserts, helping reduce prep time and cleanup, and allowing you to create a variety of delicious party recipes.
With a Vitamix you can much more easily chop ingredients for gazpachos, salsas and coleslaws; achieve a silky smooth texture for hummus and spreads; emulsify vinaigrettes and marinades; quickly prepare seasonal sorbets; and even blend frothy frozen beverages.
Make Beverages a Breeze
Ensure your guests have easy access to drinks and will avoid running for refills, by setting up a station with pre-mixed, thirst-quenching beverages housed in large glass or plastic dispensers. This station will help you create a central beverage zone and get imaginative with drink concoctions.
Mixtures of lemonades or flavor-infused waters are the perfect combination for keeping everyone cool on a warm day. For a more unique approach, let guests personalize drinks with flavored simple syrups, frozen fruits and — for added flair — frozen herb ice cubes, which are a great way to add refreshing flavors. Complete the beverage station by labeling the drink options with small chalkboard signs and display a collection of seasonal cups and colorful straws.
With just a bit of creative planning and pre-event prep work, you’ll be ready to host stress-free parties and enjoy more time with your guests this summer.