Showing posts with label Summer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Summer. Show all posts

Monday, July 25, 2016

Free Summer Activities to Do with Your Kids


 Everyone looks forward to the summer season – sunshine, warmer weather, and long, lazy days. But, keeping kids busy during the summer months can often be a challenge. Vacations and summer camps are expensive. Can you keep your family active and happy this summer without breaking the bank? You bet! Here’s how.

The first place to start is in your own backyard. There are plenty of free summer activities to do with your kids in your own backyard. For starters, set up the sprinkler for the kids to run through on hot summer days. Don’t forget backyard camping, scavenger hunts, or gardening, which are all great outdoor activities to do with kids. Simply utilize materials and supplies you already have and enjoy these activities at no cost.

Your kitchen is another great place to find free summer fun. Whether your family enjoys baking or cooking dinner together, the kitchen is a great place for summer activities and learning new skills, especially on rainy days. Other great activities for days you’re stuck indoors include: indoor camping; playing cards, board or online games; and watching classic summer movies.

Most local libraries offer a variety of free summer activities to do with kids, too. Take advantage of summer book clubs, family movie nights, crafts, and more, all in the comfort of your air-conditioned library. There are often also reading challenges that your kids can sign up for too!

Within your community, check out local parks for biking and hiking trails, free concerts, movies in the park, and firework displays. Some local parks even provide spray parks in the summer for some cool, free fun. In addition, many local museums offer free, kid-friendly art workshops during the summer months.

Don’t forget local retailers who offer free workshops for kids as well. Check out Home Depot and Lowe’s for a variety of hands-on workshops specifically for kids. Bookstores provide free reading times, author visits, book signings, and other activities to take advantage of during the summer months. Even grocery stores, such as Wegmans, now offer story and craft hour for kids.

Volunteer activities are often family-friendly and can serve as a valuable learning experience. Walk dogs currently staying at a local animal shelter or visit with the elderly in a nursing home, for instance.

It’s easy to keep your kids busy engaging in activities that are both fun-filled and free this summer. So, check out your local resources, enlist the input of your family, and recognize the endless possibilities.

Save more!


While you’re saving money on activities, make sure to save on any prescriptions you pick up this summer as well. With the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is free to all consumers, you will save an average of 43% on your prescriptions. Request a card or download the free app at FamilyWize.org, or call 800-222-2818. FamilyWize also provides a free Drug Lookup Tool, so you’ll always know the price you’ll pay before getting to the pharmacy counter. Try it today and start saving!

Enjoy your summer!



Monday, June 6, 2016

Summer Saving Tips for the Whole Family

With the summer season quickly approaching, everyone wants to find ways to relax, have fun, and enjoy the season with family and friends. But can you do that without breaking the bank? Of course! Check out these summer saving tips for the whole family.



Entertainment

  • Find ways to have fun locally. Parks and recreation centers offer no- or low-cost camps, activities, and events throughout the summer months. Check out your local event calendar for details.
  • Rather than plan a vacation, which probably includes the expense of travel, a hotel stay, entrance to attractions, and meals, allow each family member to choose a day trip or activity to enjoy. By having fun closer to home, at least part of the vacation expense can be eliminated.
  • Use your local library. Not only can you and family member stock up on books for summer reading, but most libraries now offer movies, music, games, and tickets to area museums that can be borrowed, too. In addition, check out your library’s calendar of events for fun activities to enjoy, usually at no cost.

Food


  • Plant a garden this summer. It’s a great activity for the entire family, plus it helps you save on produce costs, too. Do you have a small yard, or no yard at all? No problem! Container gardens are a great option for small spaces.
  • Grill at home rather than eating out. Enjoy the summer grilling season by trying new recipes that your family will enjoy. Incorporate the produce grown in your garden, when possible.
  • Host a block party or potluck dinner. Encourage a greater sense of community in your neighborhood by bringing neighbors together. It’s a great way to socialize and enjoy a range of foods, while keeping entertaining costs down.

More Ideas

 
  • Teach your kids how they can enjoy “new” clothing from thrift stores and even garage sales. Since the summer season is especially short and kids outgrow clothing so quickly, buying secondhand clothing is a great way to shop for some new-to-you clothing without overspending.
  • Bike or walk as much as possible. Leave the car at home when you can. Not only will you experience savings, but you’ll also benefit from the exercise. Check out more here.
  • Energy costs can be particularly high in the summer months. But, there are ways to save, enlisting the help of your family members. For instance, remind your kids to turn off lights, appliances, and electronic devices when not in use. Keep your air conditioning set to 78 degrees as a rule of thumb. You might consider not running the AC when no one is home to help with summer savings. Check out this site for more energy saving tips.
  • Save money at the pharmacy. While certain illnesses, including the flu, are common in winter, others, including allergies and ear infections are common in summer months.

    The FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card provides an average savings of 43% on medications! Anyone can request a card by printing one at www.FamilyWize.org/card or by calling 1-800-222-2818.

    FamilyWize also has a drug lookup tool. Before leaving your home to pick up your medication, taking a minute to look up the pharmacy with the best price can help you save significantly at the pharmacy.




    Both the savings card and the drug lookup took are available in the free FamilyWize app: Click here to download it to an Apple product or click here to download it for Android.  
 
Remember: the summer season is a great time to spend quality time with family and friends. At the same time, you can find plenty of ways to save! Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sunscreen or Sun Exposure–Which is Worse?

Is Sunscreen Bad for You?

We all know that too much sun is certainly bad for us, if not from the pain of sunburn then from the long-term consequences of sun exposure, such as the risk of deadly melanoma skin cancer.

Recently however, new studies and data indicate that our reliance on sunscreen lotions or sprays for protection could potentially be a big mistake.  Some reports indicate that certain ingredients in modern sunscreens present health risks.  As well,the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified two major problems regarding sunscreen usage, both related to human error: improper application and over-reliance on sunscreen.

Sunscreen danger #1: Improper application


Even when we take the precaution of applying sunscreen before going out, FDA research indicates that, too often, we do not properly apply sunscreen. Common errors in sunscreen application include:
  • Not applying enough sunscreen: According to research, the amount of sunscreen we apply is often insufficient for adequate protection.
  • Not applying sunscreen evenly:  Most often, people apply sun screen lotion on themselves. But it is very difficult to apply sunscreen evenly and thoroughly even on someone else – nearly impossible to do so on ourselves, especially on the back. Missing a single spot exposes the sunbather to harmful sunrays and potential burn.
  • Inhaling sunscreen spray vapor: Many of the chemical ingredients of sunscreen are only considered safe for external use. However, the increasing popularity of sunscreen sprays increases the need for caution when applying them, avoiding contact with the mouth or nose.
  • Not reapplying sunscreen often enough:  Most sunscreens recommend reapplying after a certain amount of time. The FDA warns that there is no such thing as a truly waterproof or sweat-proof sunscreen.  Water resistant, yes. Waterproof: no. This is why the FDA recommends re-applying sunscreen every two hours, or even more often if the sunscreen labeling recommends it and if you are going in and out of the water or are perspiring significantly.  New labeling standards from the FDA require manufacturers to identify the water resistance timeframe.

Sunscreen danger #2: Over-reliance on sunscreen


In the days before there was any such thing as sunscreen lotion, people still protected themselves from sunburn by using certain common sense practices, such as covering exposed skin with clothing, limiting the amount of time spent in the sun, or avoiding sun exposure during the hottest part of the day.
Too often these days, common sense practices have been replaced by a strong reliance on the protective properties of sunscreen lotions and sunscreen sprays. But, as noted above, all it takes is one missed area of skin exposure when applying sunscreen to leave you or your child vulnerable to sunburn and its potentially long-lasting dangers.

Sunscreen danger #3: dangerous sunscreen ingredients


Some of the ingredients found in certain sunscreen formulas may be best avoided:
  • Vitamin A.  While vitamin A is generally assumed to be good for us, a recent study showed that the form of vitamin A often used in lotions, retinyl palmitate, can actually accelerate the development of skin tumors and lesions if applied to your skin in sunlight.
  • Petroleum-based fragrances. Those tropical scents that you enjoy when applying sunscreen can be problematic. For some, allergic reactions are common. For all, the petroleum-based fragrances commonly used in sunscreen have been linked to skin tumors.
  • Nanoparticles. Many sunscreen lotions with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as ingredients contain nanoparticles – microscopic particles about the same width as a human hair.  Some research indicates that nanoparticles can present health risks, depending on their size and shape – something completely unregulated today.
  • Oxybenzone. - One of the most popular ingredients in modern sunscreens, oxybenzone is a chemical known to disrupt hormones, with the risk being highest for children.

Solutions for safe sun exposure


There are many ways you can safely enjoy your time in the sun.  Recommendations from the FDA and other sources include the following:
  • Follow the recommendations in the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide to avoid potentially harmful sunscreen ingredients.
  • Use sunscreens with broad spectrum SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed.
  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is when sunrays are most dangerous.
  • Cover skin exposed to the sun with clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, and broad-brimmed hats. And protect the eyes with sunglasses.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and even more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
  • When using spray sunscreens, avoid spraying anywhere near the mouth or nose. The safer solution: use the spray on your hands, and then use your hands to transfer the lotion carefully to the face.
Beyond the steps to protect yourself, the FDA continues to take steps to protect the public. The measures they have recently taken or are in the process of taking include the following:
  • Finalizing regulations to establish standards for testing the effectiveness of sunscreen products and require labeling that accurately reflects test results
  • Proposing a regulation to limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labeling to “SPF 50+” (According to FDA research, there is no advantage to going higher than SPF 50)
  • Performing a data request to have identified the relative safety and effectiveness for different kinds of sunscreen products (e.g., sprays vs. lotions, etc.)
  • Creating guidance for sunscreen manufacturers on how to test and label their products in light of these new measures.talk with
  • Requiring sunscreen manufacturers to meet certain minimum standards in order to use the labeling "broad-spectrum"
Following these guidelines, you should still be able to enjoy your time in the sun.
 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Feasts

As the days stretch long and the temperatures sizzle, the temptation of grilling and fresh fruits are impossible to resist. So don’t! This is a great time of year to delve into new recipes, invite a few friends over for a delicious visit, and expand your palette.

Here’s a few recipes that I’ve been creating and enjoying as the weather turns warm! (And as a bonus, they’re vegetarian and gluten free!)


STRAWBERRY FETA SALAD

If you enjoy a little pizzazz for your taste buds, this recipe will hit the spot! It’s fresh, lightly sweet, and plenty tangy. It’s a delicious side, or you can add some protein and make it a meal!

Serves 2
5 minutes to prep

Using a large bowl with a lid, add 2-3 cups of fresh baby greens, ¼ cup crumbled feta, 2 tablespoons chopped almonds, 2-3 sliced strawberries, and drizzle pomegranate vinaigrette over everything. Then place the lid on the bowl and shake until well mixed. Serve immediately.

Alternatives: try using dried cranberries in place of the strawberries, or walnuts instead of almonds. You could also try a soft goat cheese or sharp cheddar.


PORTOBELLO AND EGGPLANT SANDWICH
We are meat eaters in my family, but when a vegetarian friend came to visit, I was up for the challenge. This is an amazing combination of flavors that is just as filling as sitting down to a hamburger!

Serves 2
20 minutes to prep
15 minutes to cook

Clean and remove the stems from 2 large portobello mushrooms. Set them upside-down (with the stem side facing up) in a bowl or baking pan. Combine 2/3 cup olive oil with ¼ cup balsamic vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon fresh garlic. Shake together until blended. Pour over the mushroom caps. Refrigerate for two hours.

Combine 1 cup of fresh basil, 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons pine nuts (best if toasted first in your oven). Blend in a food processor. Drizzle oil into the processor and combine, until the pesto reaches desired consistency.

Once mushrooms are marinated, place them on medium-hot grill for about 10 minutes.

Peel and slice 1 medium eggplant into medallions, about ½” thick per slice. Use butter or oil of your choice to coat each side of the eggplant. Salt, and add to the grill. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side.  

Toast 2-4 slices of gluten free bread.

Mushrooms are done when tender. The eggplant will soften significantly, so be careful not to overcook. Layer one slice of bread with two eggplant medallions, then top with pesto and add a mushroom cap. Serve sandwich open-faced.

Alternatives: Grill halloumi cheese and layer on top of the sandwich. Roasted red peppers make a lovely garnish. Add some mayonnaise to your pesto for a creamier topping.


HOMEMADE SODA
We do not drink soda…and this is why!

Pour 4 oz. of your favorite unsweetened juice – I’m enjoying pomegranate juice right now – into a glass. Add unflavored seltzer, some ice cubes, and slip a slice of lime onto the edge of the glass. Delicious!


GRILLED POTATOES
We have friends who request this every time they visit. It’s a simple side that is a people pleaser, especially if you have some picky eaters in your home!

Serves 2
10 minutes prep
30-40 minutes to cook

Gather two pieces of tin foil, about 24-30” in length. Spray both pieces of foil with nonstick coconut oil spray. Peel 3-4 russet or red potatoes and cut into 1” thick medallions. Place on one sheet of foil – they can touch, but don’t layer them. Roughly chop one medium yellow onion, and lay the pieces over the potatoes. Salt to taste, and add 3-4 tablespoons of butter in a zigzag across the potatoes. Use the second sheet of foil as a cover, and crimp the edges together, creating a sealed packet.
Cook for 30-40 minutes om a high-heat grill. If you have a second grate farther away from the heat, put the potatoes there. If you must place the potato packet right on the flames, flip them halfway through to avoid burning.

Potatoes are finished when they break apart easily with a fork.


Let us know if you enjoy any of these summer favorites – or if you have some new recipes of your own to share!

Contributing Writer

Friday, August 17, 2012

Plum Healthy

Plum nutritional benefits
Fresh plums from the local farm!
My personal motivation for knowing so much about what foods have to offer is based on my quest for health.   Good health is something that most people take for granted, but there are those of us that are more “health challenged”.   Therefore, getting the most from the foods we eat becomes imperative.  So for those who need, or would like, to take their health; energy level; and external beauty up a notch, I invite you to learn about the benefits of what you are putting into YOUR body.

As I have studied through the years and continue to do so, I am amazed at all the wonderful fruits, we have that can help us live better in so many ways.  This includes the many benefits of eating Plum Fruit.  The plum tree can produce many different colors of plums like:  yellow, green, purple - also known as red plum fruit.  The plum nutritional benefits really are worth knowing, so here is a quick rundown:
  1. Eating plums may reduce your chances of contracting heart disease… the number one killer in this country.   Plums have certain cleansing agents that keep the blood pure and prevent complications of the heart.  That one plum nutrition fact is a “biggy”. 
  2. Ladies, this next one is good for you to know, in particular, because we lose this mineral each month during our fertile years.  Consumption of plums, and prunes, helps in the production and absorption of iron in the body.  This also leads to improved blood circulation, which increases the growth of healthy tissues.  And for those of you who struggle with anemia, eating plums may be even more helpful. 
  3. Researchers have found that plums have anti-cancer agents that may help prevent the growth of cancerous cells and tumors in the body.  With cancer rates on the rise, eating “on purpose” becomes even more important. 
  4. Fresh plums are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.  Consumption of foods high in vitamin C help body in resisting infectious agents; decreasing inflammation; and in scavenging harmful free radicals.  The benefits of vitamin C are so extensive, I could dedicate the whole blog to the merits of eating foods rich in this nutrient. 
  5. A piece about plums, or prunes-the dried version of plum fruit, would be incomplete if we didn’t bring up the dreaded subject of “constipation.”  There are compounds in plum fruits, such as the fiber and sorbitol, that are known to help regulate the functioning of the digestive system.  So drink your prune juice “regularly”...and you’ll stay that way, too! 
  6. Plum juice concentrate has also been shown to be effective in preventing and reducing human influenza A, so drinking this during "flu season" may be a great first line of defense. 

Savory plum recipes

The plums nutritional benefits can be found in more than just the fresh fruit.   I would be remiss if I didn't wrap this up with a list of some of the wonderful plum recipes using this fabulous fruit:
Plums Fruit
These bit sized plums are a sweet snack!
  • Plum sauce
  • Plum Wine
  • Plum Pudding
  • Prune Juice
  • Plum Compote

Wash your fruits first

Please keep in mind, conventionally-grown stone fruits (ex: plums, apricots, pluots) are often coated with a petroleum-derived wax containing a fungicide to prolong their shelf life, a chemical substance that simply cannot be washed off!  And that is in addition to any pesticides that may have been sprayed during their cultivation.  Whenever possible, seek out organically-grown plums.  That way you ensure the farmers who grew plum trees and other fruit trees are dedicated to sustainability, your health and the quality of their product.  And you are supporting local farmers in your own community!

There are many more health benefits to eating the delicious, succulent Plum Fruit.  So the next time you take a bite into a fresh plum be sure and take the time to pat yourself on the back for making a wise and healthy choice.   Let’s add plums to our grocery list!

Here is a great recipe I found on the web because as we approach fall - any type of fruit crisp smells and tastes so good.

Raw Plum Crisp by Diane Stobo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF63ezSd-5g


Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise, and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Savings at the Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market Stand
Ma & Pa produce stand that gets the job done.
I have to be honest with you that I am not a big Farmer's Market shopper.  Mainly because I live in a small rural community and we don't have the big demand for it and we only have a Farmer's Market every weekend.  I know, CRAZY!!!  Not to mention Safeway is only a 30 second drive and when I am in the mood for some good veggies and fruit I don't want to wait for the weekend.  What we do have are the Ma and Pa farms with fruit stands that you can go to and purchase all the fresh produce you want and also plenty of flowers and some nuts.  You can even purchase homemade salsa that will please your taste buds.

fruit produce
Fresh wholesale fruits are a great find.
When I started on my 40 minute trip to the local Farmer's Market to see what kind of money saving tips I could tell everyone, I really didn't know what to expect.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when I got there and saw all the variety of home grown and wholesale products that was offered to me.  When I think of a Farmer's Market I think of fruits and vegetables with maybe some flowers.  To my pleasant surprise it had everything I could think of.  From the typical farm produce you see at market stands to wine, cooking oil, eggs, jams, chocolates, and seaweed.  You name it they had it.  As for the prices, their farm fresh produce wasn't much different from the grocery store prices.  There were some things that were cheaper like my favorite zucchini (3 for $1), plums (.99 per pound), nuts ($1.99 per bag, awesome) and  the flowers (.10 per flower).  I also bought some nectarines for $1.99 per pound which I thought was a good deal since that is what I usually get it for at the grocery store when they are on sale.  I actually went to the store that same day to pick up some things and saw them on sale for .99 per pound.  So that ended up not being better but the Farmer's Market nectarines were locally grown and fresher so it wasn't a complete bust.

Farmers market Flowers
Money saving finds in fresh flowers, produce.
I did notice that there were some big price differences with the flowers, nuts, jams, local wines, and homemade products.  I think I would just go every weekend to purchase those products.  I am not a big flower person but when I saw all the different types, I think I became one.  You can do so many different arrangements on your own and save big bucks.  I purchased a bundle of flowers for $2.00, YES $2.00.  That same bouquet at the flower or grocery store would have been at least $20.00.  Just on that savings alone you can pay a little extra for your fruit and vegetables and do all your shopping in one place.  As for the local wines we live just North of Napa Valley so we are still considered wine territory and there are always good deals on the local wines.

Wines, Vinegars, Farmers Market
Great sauces, wines, and oils were
throughout the Farmer's Market with great prices!
The bottom line on saving at the Farmer's Market is that it all depends on what you buy.  If you are going there solely to buy produce you may not save much. If you are going there to just check things out and browse around and see what kind of deals you can get you will save. I personally just liked the atmosphere of the Farmer's Market and I would go just for that alone.  As for the fresh fruits and vegetables I would purchase what I could get for a good deal since my family isn't too picky and whatever I brought home they would eat without any complaints.

The Farmer's Market was very lively but quaint at the same time and not to mention smelled great.  When I left I felt healthier and more peaceful for some reason.  Call it coincidence or maybe since I knew I was buying healthier and giving back to my community I felt better about myself.  Just that alone will get me back to the Farmer's Market next week.

Marci
Contributing Writer


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pool Savings - Healthy Solutions

Salt Water Pool
My Pool Oasis
We are in the thick of Summer and I am sure a lot of you are thinking it's time for some pool fun.  Some of you may have pools and some of you are thinking that you need to get one.  As for my family, we do have a pool and I don't know what we would do without it.  Our teenage girls are fishes and pretty much live in it all summer along with all their friends.

When we first decided to build a pool my husband Phil searched through a lot of information on regular chlorine pools and the new rave of salt water swimming pools.  As for me I just wanted something that didn't turn all our hair green or leave our skin feeling starchy and smelly.  So of course I said a salt water pool all the way.  I really didn't know if it was better for us, all I knew is that my hair wouldn't look like the Wicked Witch of the West by the end of summer.

pool for you
Who wants to go swimming?!
With all of Phil’s research we decided to go with the salt water pool mainly because he is a penny pincher and this was the cheaper route plus the benefit of lower swimming pool maintenance.  In addition to big savings, we also discovered this was a healthy pool solution for a family who swims all summer long.  Our choice of swimming pool water means my family has green free hair, soft skin, and every now and then we get a taste of salt that makes us feel like we are at the ocean.  Plus Phil doesn’t have to work too hard to keep it looking crisp and clean.

Salt Water Pool Information and Supplies
The original set up was about $400 (we have a 30,000 gallon pool), which paid for the salt water system and the 12 bags of salt which lasts all summer.  We built our pool six years ago and since then the cost of a salt water system has almost doubled, but it is still worth it since you are not always having to go buy chlorine.  The generator actually regulates the chlorine through the salt that you initially add in the beginning and keeps the pool’s chemicals balanced.  So instead of having to check the pools chemicals everyday and constantly maintain it; the generator does it for you.  The generator has its own little brain that thinks for you.  The salt level has to be between 1600-2400 parts per million and if it isn't, the generator will let you know if it is too high or too low.

healthy Pools
Marco....Polo....pool fun.

What's Lurking in Your Pool

I have to admit that I never checked into the health aspects of a salt water pool until after we built one. Then I started to wonder what the effect of chlorine in the water does to you and can chlorine cause any health issues?  I decided to look into the health benefits of salt over traditional chlorine pools.  I found out that both salt and chlorine pools disinfect and kill the germs that naturally occur.  The difference is that in a chlorine pool the levels of chlorine are harder to keep under control and this can cause germs and bacteria to form more quickly if the levels aren’t maintained correctly.  Traditional chlorinated pools also have a lot more chemicals then a salt water pool.  With a salt water pool you have the salt generator to maintain it at all times and you are less vulnerable to having unwanted germs in your pool.  The generator keeps a steady and continuous supply of chlorine flowing through the pool which keeps the chlorine levels at the recommended amount.  If they aren’t maintained you will definitely know.  Have you ever been in a pool and all of a sudden your eyes start stinging and then they become blurry or the odor of chlorine is so bad that you want out?  These are big signs that the pools chlorine levels are out of whack and chemicals are on overdrive. Studies at Southern Illinois University School showed that swimmers who have been in a poorly chlorinated pool have had asthma like symptoms, lung irritation, red irritated eyes, and skin rashes.  Once I read that, I knew we made the right decision on going with the salt water pool.  

I hope this helps you choose the right pool for you.  If you are looking to save on pools, then salt water pools are for you.  You will also have a healthy pool and have huge chemical savings down the road.

For us, it is so nice to have a refreshing plunge in the heat of the day into a pool that is odorless, clear, and free of unwanted harsh chemicals and germs.  We definitely have a healthy and fun pool that everyone can enjoy. 
Pool Fun
Back dive or half twist, diving into a healthy pool is fun!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Park It--Summer Activities at State and National Parks

Whether you are six or 46 (or 23 like me!), I'm sure you have a soft spot for a good park. The merry go round, swings, and slides can make a child or an adult alike go weak at the knees!

Summer Park Activity
The girls swinging away at one the many parks we have been to!
During the summer when I was home from college, I would babysit two little girls who lived a town over.  The sun would always taunt us to come out and play, but there is only so much tag a girl can play!  I tried to brainstorm different ideas of where to take the girls without having to:
  1. Pack them up in the car, and;
  2. Spend a ton of money 
One day while towing them around town in their red wagon, I remembered there was a huge park down the road.  Oh, did I make a b-line for it!

Parks are awesome.  Whether you go to a community park, amusement park, state park or national park, they are fun places to go with little cost or no cost.  My motto is "If it's free, it's for me!"  I am also known to settle for almost free, too!

Typically community, town, and city parks are almost always free of cost and are extremely family-friendly.  Pack up a picnic basket full of goodies and maybe even some watermelon (check out some scrumptious watermelon recipes on our Pinterest)!  You can take advantage of the basketball and tennis courts most parks offer or even bring the bathing suits to go swimming in the pool.

If you want to put some amusement in your summer, many theme parks offer discounted rates for large groups.  They also offer season passes, one fixed price to visit as many times as you want during the season, which is great if your family goes often.  Also, keep an eye out for discount coupons.  Hershey Park, which is about an hour and a half drive from our corporate office, puts discount coupons on the back of Coke cans.  Once you're done drinking your Coke, take your can to the park and receive a discount on the price of your admission. (And they recycle the can for you!)


Parks - Know Where to Go

State parks are great because there are so many to choose from per state.  With so many choices, odds are there is one close enough to avoid the infamous, "ARE WE THERE YET" from the backseat.

park activities park recreation
Ohiopyle State Park in PA (iStock photos)
Niagara Falls State Park - I'm sure you've heard of Niagara Falls, but did you know that it's a state park, too?  Neither did I!  It's actually America's oldest state park. This park does have an admission fee for visitors, but it offers a Discovery Pass, which can help you save up to 35% on your visit.  There are many different activities at the park to give you a bang for your buck.  If you want an even bigger bang, beginning at 10 p.m. from late May to early September, every Friday, Sunday and on certain holidays the park puts on a spectacular fireworks show.

If you're not sure which of the many state parks to visit, you can visit America's State Parks and use the Find a Park Tool to find one that speaks to you.

National Parks 

With 397 national parks in the U.S. there are many gold mines of fun to uncover.  For money saving ideas - choose from one of the 264 that are FREE! The other 133 charge entrance fees.  Fun abounds with camping, hiking, canoeing, and more!

During spring, summer, and autumn at many of the parks, there are numerous programs offered for children which allow them to explore, discover, and learn about the park they are visiting.  If you think that's cool, kids between the ages of 5 -12 can become a junior ranger!  It's no wonder so many people visit American National Parks each year!  Two parks that stand out:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Named America's most visited national park, more than nine million visitors a year flock to this free park every year.  It extends from Tennessee to North Carolina with a diverse pallet of flora and fauna bustling in between.  Known for the blue haze that hangs over the mountains, this park is also known as the "wildflower" national park because plants bloom year-round. It also takes pride in the hundreds of miles of hiking and horse trails, as well as waterfalls that jut from almost every river and stream.
  • Wrangell- St. Elias National Park and Preserve - Grab your walking shoes! This free park in Alaska is the largest in the United States totaling 13.2 million acres which is bigger than Switzerland.  If you are thinking 13.2 million acres is a little much, start your visit off with a guided tour or a thrilling mountain bike ride on Alaska's wild terrain.

Want to visit a national park that's not free? Below is a list of dates when the admission fee is waived (2012):

  • January 14-16 - Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend
  • April 21-29 - National Park Week
  • June 9 - Get Outdoors Day
  • September 29 - National Public Lands Day
  • November 10-12 - Veterans Day

If you're not sure about which national park to go to, find a park by name, location, activity, or topic through the National Park Service.  Plan on going to any of these national parks or another cool park?  Take us with you!  We understand if you don't have room for ALL of us.  At the very least, you can comment or post a picture on our Facebook wall to let us know how fun it was! Or friend us on Foursquare and let us know where you are!

Krysta W.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Watermelon Recipe Contest Winner Is!

Thank you to everyone who posted a recipe and for those of you who voted!

We now have a winner for the Watermelon Recipe Contest - Gwendolyn's "Watermelon Green Smoothie"!  The Watermelon Summer Cocktail was a close second, but the healthy green smoothie won 51% of the votes!  Congratulations Gwendolyn!

healthy recipe Familywize
Winning healthy green smoothie made with watermelon.
Here is the winning watermelon recipe:

Watermelon Green Smoothie:

Fill blender 3/4 full with seedless Watermelon (you can include the seeds if you have a powerful blender like a Vita-mix).
Fill the blender the rest of the way with greens (spinach, romaine, or green leaf work great!).
Add a 1/4 slice of Avocado,(this gives the smoothie a nice texture and adds nutrients at the same time:)

Blend till liquefied, and ENJOY! A life giving, energy enhancing, fabulous tasting Green Smoothie.

If you have not checked out the green smoothie recipe or our other watermelon recipes, be sure to read our "Fruit-tastic Watermelon News for Your Summer Health" blog.  There are nine delicious recipes for children and adults!  This sweet, cool tasty fruit is an easy way to incorporate the nutritional properties of watermelon into every-day meals or drinks!

A little about our winning smoothie recipe.  Green smoothies are a growing trend!  You can find them in most grocery and health food stores today!  But... I am here to tell you - you can easily make your own and save money if you have a blender.  There are many healthy green smoothie recipes online, but why not start with our contest winning "Watermelon Green Smoothie" - just scroll down to the comments to see this recipe. With this healthy recipe you can combine the watermelon's nutritional benefits and the health benefits of green smoothies to make a refreshing drink any time of the day!

Be sure to come back for more fun ways to improve your health!  Our goal at FamilyWize.org is to provide you with information you need about health, health care, medicine, money savings, and overall how to live a healthy, happy life!  

Here's to a healthy green smoothie drink that will cool you off this summer - courtesy of Gwendolyn and FamilyWize!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager

Monday, June 25, 2012

How to Save Money This Summer at Your Local Movie Theater

It seems the cost of everything is going up these days!  From prescription medications to groceries to utilities, gasoline, and more!  As I chat with family members and friends, I continually hear how expensive it is to do much of anything beyond paying the bills.  The mere cost of living often prevents many people I know from taking a summer vacation or doing the relaxing activities we all need.  Cut backs aren't just an employment issue, they are a household issue.

So beyond our free prescription discount drug cards, part of what we aim to do at FamilyWize is to provide you with money saving ideas.  I love to share ways on how to save money while doing fun activities for kids, date night with your spouse, day trips with your family and friends!  Each week I will share some ideas I've found, or those you've shared, of simple ways to save money, cut your budget, and plan affordable fun activities - such as....

Summer Movie Theater Discounts and Coupons!
Looking for affordable options for movies in theaters?  Know where free movies at theaters are, as well as other summer movie coupons.
fun activities
Check with theaters for summer discounts and coupons.

Regal, United Artists, and Edward Theaters  - Summer Movie Express is a family fun special that runs for 9 weeks.  You can see G and PG rated movies for only a dollar at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This festival also benefits the Will Rogers Institute.

Marcus Movie Theaters - this movie theater provides $5 coupon deals on Spotlight movies on Wednesdays and Thursdays - who says date night needs to be on a weekend.  They also have a Young at Heart® program for those aged 60 and over. And for fun activities for kids check out their Kids Dream Summer Film Series on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10 a.m.

Carmike Cinemas - their 2012 Summer Kid Series, which started June 7th, offers 10 weeks of summer movie viewing every Thursday for only $2, which includes a drink and popcorn.

Rave Cinemas - has summer movie fun for the whole family!  Their Free Family Film Festival offers a variety of FREE G and PG movies twice a week for nine weeks at 10 a.m. Dates and times are available by state on their website.

Cinemark (Century Theatres) - has a Summer Movie Clubhouse. For only $5 you can see 10 movies (movie tickets must be purchased in advance; otherwise each movie is $1 at the door or $10).  For a list of participating movie theaters, dates and times, just click - Cinemark.

Second Run Theaters - all across the country are smaller mom and pop theaters that offer second run movies at discounted prices. These theaters don't just offer summer pricing - their discounted prices are year round.

Although I didn't list all of the summer movie theater discounts and coupons, there are many more summer movie specials for early birds, coupons for discounted food items, and group discount tickets.  Check out your local movie theaters for the best movie deals near you.

Be sure to check in and let us know what summer movies you are watching and where you are by liking us on FourSquare FamilyWize or twitter us about the movie when you follow us at Twitter FamilyWize.  Or just leave a comment about your favorite summer movie savings right here!


Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager at FamilyWize

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fruit-tastic - Watermelon News for Your Summer Health

BE SURE TO READ TO THE BOTTOM - THERE'S A CONTEST INVOLVED!

Summer is probably my most favorite time of year!  Not only because it is hot and sunny, but oh - the food!  Creativity on the barbecue is key!  I grab fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans from the garden; visit the local farms and pick fresh fruit.

This turns in to fresh strawberries over homemade short cake, grilled zucchini and peaches on the grill.   Soooo many choices of healthy, juicy, luscious foods to add into my diet that makes me feel good and improves my health.

I agree with Krysta's blog on Monday about watermelon becoming a food group (nutrition.gov) in the summer.  It has to be my favorite - I can eat a half of one every day!  I eat it, juice it, add it to other recipes - the options are endless.  But this fruit isn't just a good tasting treat on a hot day.  The nutritional properties of watermelon can improve your health.  For beginners, a one cup serving size of watermelon has:
  • Only 46 Calories; 0 grams Fat and Cholesterol; 11 grams Carbohydrates; 1 gram Dietary Fiber; 1   gram Protein; 2 mg Sodium; 865 IU Vitamin A; Less 1 mg of Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin and Vitamin B6; 12 mg Vitamin C; 11 mg Calcium; 170 mg Potassium; 7,481 micrograms Carotenoids
So how does this amazing fruit improve health?

Because it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids (proteins) such as L-Citruline, which creates L-arginine, and Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. (You may be saying "HUH?" on the last few - but read below and I will share.)

Watermelon is full of nutritional benefits.

Like what you ask?  It is good for:
  • Arthritis, kidney and bladder issues - because it is 92% water it is a natural diuretic thus reducing inflammation. This is also great for pregnant women and water retention.
  • Cholesterol - A University of Kentucky (Oct. 2011) study showed that watermelon in mice reduced fat mass and cholesterol.  Watermelon also provides good HDL cholesterol. 
  • Asthma and overall healing - the antioxidants, Vitamin C, A, and Carotenoids by combating free radicals.
  • Blood pressure, prehypertension, and atherosclerosis - According to the American Journal of Hypertension, Dr. Arturo Figueroa, lead food scientist, from Florida State University conducted a study which indicated that eating watermelon can help reduce these risks aiding in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Cancer (prostate cancer) - the pink middle (in most watermelons) or meat of the melon is high in lycopene and carotenoids reduces the risk of cancer especially prostate cancer.
  • It is even good for skin care - just rub it on your face and leave the juice on for 10 minutes before washing to help control blemishes.
Watermelon minerals vitamins
Watermelon a great summer snack and Lycopene rich food.
The list of health benefits goes on.  The bottom line is - watermelon isn't just my favorite sweet, refreshing, fiber filled treat.  It is a really HEALTHY treat!  And there about 100 varieties to choose from.

CONTEST STARTS HERE!
There are hundreds of recipes on the Web, but please share with me some of your favorite recipes using watermelon!!  Then we will have everyone vote on the recipes. (Voting link forthcoming.)  The recipe with the most votes will be posted on the FamilyWize Facebook page and will receive a $25 Gift Card from Barnes & Noble!

Contest begins today and ends June 30th!  We will share the winner in time for your July 4th picnic!

Be sure to subscribe to our blog.  We will be sharing great topics as we grow our blog!

Donna
Online Marketing Manager

*Please note:  even though watermelon is a great source of nutrients, it is not a replacement for your prescription medications, so do not give those up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Vacation - Don't Forget to Pack!

Ah, summer --  the time of year when kids are off from school, The Beach Boys never grow old, watermelon becomes a food group, and bathing suits are considered clothing. 

Summer is also the prime season to vacation.  But when leaving for vacation, have you ever had that feeling of "I'm forgetting something" cloud your mind?

You can tie a string around your finger, leave Post-its all over the place, but there is always that one item (or five) that forgets to make the trip. 

Before you venture out for summer vacation, here is a list of of commonly forgotten items.  (Our helpful way of making sure they ARE in your suitcase.)
  • Shampoo, Conditioner
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor 
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen, Lip Balm
  • Bug Spray
  • Glasses/Contacts
  • Cooler
  • Chair
  • Shoes
  • Clothing 
  • A Great Book  
  • Phone Charger
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Snacks 
  • Prescription Medications
  • And last, but not least...your FamilyWize Card
Medications summer vacation pharmacies
FamilyWize prescription drug card saves on medications nationwide.
Just in case you lose or run out of your medicine, the FamilyWize card can be used at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide.  Whether you are traveling from Concord, New Hampshire to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina or Helena, Montana to Honolulu, Hawaii, the FamilyWize prescription drug card can accompany you on your travels and still help you receive a discount on your medication- even when you are hundreds of miles from home sweet home.

When tying a string around your finger doesn't work, what is the most common item you forget on vacation? Let us KNOW!

Krysta W.