It’s Summer finally! How many parents are so glad to be done with homework, sports, recitals, concerts and all school activities for 3 months? I know we are! While we are all happy to be out of school, sometimes finding things to do with the kids for 3 months can be really difficult. The “we’ve done it all” feeling comes around, but really there are still tons of easy activities that can be done with the kiddos. We have compiled a list for you, that is half the battle.
Visit a nearby museum that you have never been to before or one that you have been to a few times. Museums around Richmond.
Play outside in the rain or make your own rain by using a sprinkler or any old hose!
Invite friends over for a game day or even a game night if you are super brave.
For John Lewis and his father, John Lewis, Sr., barbecue is a family affair. The pair have been working for years to perfect the wood-fired barbecue pits that Lewis uses at his restaurants. Here, Lewis shares seven secrets for pulling off a perfect summer barbecue at home.
For John Lewis and his father, John Lewis, Sr., barbecue is a family affair. The pair have been working for years to perfect the wood-fired barbecue pits that Lewis uses at his restaurants, including the forthcoming Lewis Barbecue in Charleston, slated for later this year. Their company, Austin Smoke Works, now sells the hand-built smoker to barbecue-obsessed home cooks. Here, Lewis shares seven secrets for pulling off a perfect summer barbecue at home.
1. Pick pork. Start barbecuing with pork butt, the most forgiving cut of meat, for slow cooking. The meat almost always turns out juicy and is a lower price per pound than other cuts, so it’s perfect for honing your barbecue skills and feeding a crowd inexpensively.
2.Invest in a good thermometer. Keeping a steady temperature is paramount for meats that take hours to cook, but unfortunately, the typical store-bought offset smoker is equipped with a cheap and unreliable temperature gauge. To ensure a controlled temperature, replace the gauge with a heavy-duty pit thermometer (I prefer Tel-Tru) and place it on the cooking grate level so you can read the temperature where the meat is actually located. (Remember: heat rises to the top of the cooker, so the gauge will read 25-50 degrees hotter than where the meat is.)
3.Be choosy about your meat. The quality of meat is key to a succulent finished product. Seek out highly marbled cuts instead of just picking brisket on top of the butcher’s case. Try to find USDA grade prime beef and heritage breeds of pork.
4. Hold off on the sauce. If applied too soon, sauces and glazes with a high sugar content will burn. Save them for the final 15-20 minutes of cooking, especially with direct heat cooking/grilling.
5. Keep the heat steady. With backyard smokers, it is very difficult to maintain a small enough live, all-wood fire to keep your pit at the low temperature required for slow cooking. Using charcoal and adding a few hardwood chunks every hour will ensure that the heat remains consistent.
6.Rest your meat. My rule of thumb for testing meat after it comes out of the smoker is to use your hand: If you can hold your hand on it for a couple seconds, then it’s ready to cut. If you start slicing your barbecue too soon after it comes off the grill, you will notice a lot of steam evaporating – that’s the juice in the meat floating into the air!
7. Go naked. Try serving barbecue sauce on the side (instead of on your meat) so your guests can taste the long hours you put into smoking.
Mother’s Day is almost upon us—and if the mom you’re shopping for isn’t one for flowers and a sappy card, you might feel stumped on how to celebrate this big day. Odds are, you know you can never go wrong by lightening her load around the house—but how, beyond the oh-so-cliché breakfast in bed?
Look no further than this list of gifts that moms told us they actually want, all of which center around the theme of making her life at home a little bit easier or more enjoyable. And the nice thing is, these ideas can be pulled off at the last minut
So no excuses, guys! Here’s how to make Mom’s day, broken down by various annoyances around the house that you can easily fix
1. For the mom who’s height-challenged
Let’s start with the lone item on my own mom’s wish list this Mother’s Day: a rubber-tipped grabber ($15.99, Amazon). Her reasoning: Upper cabinets are just not designed for the vertically challenged among us, and my mom was tired of using tongs to pull things down from high shelves, because she kept almost dropping heavy glass objects on her face.
Problem solved with this grabber, which has rubber tips for grip, can swivel 90 degrees, and comes in a variety of lengths. And, of course, it qualifies for Amazon Prime, so you can have it there by tomorrow.
At first, this gift seemed a bit odd, but after trying it out myself, I realized I want one, too (hint, hint, hubs).
2. For the mom who makes memories for others
Plenty of moms make photo books—for grandparents and others in their lives, mind you. Yet when it comes to making a photo book for herself, it suddenly drops way down on her priority list.
“I should really do a photo book this year,” said every mom, ever.
And there’s your opportunity: Make one for her. Even better, fill it with photos of kids and make sure there are at least a few pics she’s actually in, since Mom is more often the one behind the camera.
You’ll probably have to sneak around the family photo galleries, check social media, and even call in photos from friends and family, but it’s worth the effort. A photo book both serves as a sweet gift and crosses something off her to-do list. Walgreens offers day-of printing, so there’s still time if you act fast.
3. For the mom with a messy car
No matter how fastidious you are, if you are carting around young children, the interior of your car eventually becomes a hellscape of Pirate’s Booty dust, crushed Cheerios, melted crayons, and mysterious sticky patches. I am so ashamed of how my car looks that I have put off getting the oil changed for weeks because I don’t want the mechanics to judge me.
So on the morning of Mother’s Day, skip the breakfast in bed, throw the kids in the car while Mom sleeps in, and surprise her with a clean car (plus, kids love going through car washes). Or else, break out the sponges and minivac and wash it yourself—inside and out—with the kids pitching in (they’ll probably end up with a bunch of “new” toys that were wedged under the seats, so it’s a win-win).
4. For the mom who opens/fixes/makes stuff nonstop
Once upon a time, while away from my family for the weekend, I returned to find my house filled with intricately carved cardboard castles, forts, dollhouses, and gingerbread men.
“This is the secret weapon for all my best cardboard detail work,” my husband said, proudly brandishing a utility knife. It made me realize I wanted one, too.
Because let’s face it: Moms are constantly opening boxes, then turning them into school projects, all while dying to file down their nails. A good utility knife, like this one from Leatherman ($34.95, REI), makes doing all of the above and more a breeze.
5. For the mom who’s dying to watch her own shows on Netflix in peace
Is there anything more classic than Mom sitting on the couch half-listening to “her shows” on a tablet while the younger members of the family bask in the blaring gibberish of “SpongeBob SquarePants” on the TV? Get that lady some nice wireless headphones already! That way, she can truly tune out what’s not pleasing and dive into “Big Little Lies” in peace. For added points, get them in her favorite color, since that’s entirely doable these days. This model below, by Mpow ($34.99 to $39.99, Amazon), comes in an assortment of hues.
6. For the mom who makes all the plans
It’s a cliché that on Mother’s Day someone else cooks and does the dishes. This is OK, but what the moms I talked to were dying for wasn’t relief from menial labor, but the mental labor they pour into arranging their kids’ social schedules, school responsibilities, and other tasks that one mom acquaintance calls the “CNN ticker” that’s constantly running in her head about who needs what, and when.
According to Caroline Kronley of Brooklyn, NY, “an amazing Mother’s Day present for me would be something like taking on the scheduling of long-discussed play dates, planning the logistics of some upcoming family event, or assuming full responsibility—no asking questions!—on children’s food consumption during a given week.”
It could even be something as simple as planning the Mother’s Day celebration: “Rather than simply getting time away on my own, give me time with the fam without me having to mentally carry the load of decision-making,” says Amanda Bowman of Austin, TX.
It doesn’t have to be a gift with an elaborate presentation or “gift certificate” for chores or anything like that. Just pick a task—feeding everyone, pet care, cleaning—and manage it entirely for a week (or longer if you want to remain permanently in her good graces).
Sometimes, the sweetest words you can say to someone are, “Don’t worry, I’m taking care of it.”
Being able to buy a home is such an exciting occasion. You want to be educated and informed of the process BEFORE your home search begins. Here are some items to consider when buying a home:
How much we can afford to pay for a home?
Talk to your lender to find out what you qualify for. If you do not have a lender, talk to your real estate agent to help you find a lender that may work for you.
How can I determine my housing needs before I begin the search?
Your home should fit the way you live, with spaces and features that appeal to the entire family. Before you begin looking at homes, make a list of your priorities: location, size, lot, amenities, etc. Establish a set of minimum requirements and a “wish list”. Minimum requirements are things that a house must have for you to consider it, while a “wish list” covers things that you’d like to have but aren’t essential.
What is the MLS and how does it work?
MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service. The MLS is a private database that is created, maintained and paid for by real estate professionals to help their clients buy and sell property. It is extremely convenient, does not cost a penny to buyers, plus you get a qualified and experienced guide to help you through the complicated process of becoming a homeowner. You can search the MLS at the Village Concepts Realty Group website at http://www.villagesells.com/homes-for-sale-search/
What should I look for when walking through a home?
In addition to comparing the home to your minimum requirement & wish lists, consider the following:
Is there enough room for both the present & the future?
Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms?
Is the house structurally sound?
Do the mechanical systems and appliances work?
Is the yard big enough?
Do you like the floor plan?
Will your furniture fit in the space?
Is there enough storage space?
Does anything need to be repaired or replaced?
Imagine the home in good and bad weather and in each season. Will you be happy with it year round?
Take your time and think carefully about each house you see. Ask your real estate agent to point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint.
How can I keep track of all the homes I see?
If possible, take photographs of each house: the outside, the yard, the major rooms, and extra features that you like or ones you see as potential problems. And don’t hesitate to go back for a second look.
Is a private home inspection worth the money?
It absolutely is! For most people, a home is the largest investment they will ever make and protecting that investment by spending a few hundred dollars is well worth it. An inspector checks the safety of your potential home. Home inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will provide you with a report of any repairs that need to be take care of, suggestions on how to maintain your home, and most importantly, will provide you with peace of mind. A home inspection may be able to stipulate if the seller will either make the proper repairs or compensate you for the repairs that need to be made.
Please be aware that the purpose of a home inspection is to point out repairs that can affect the safety and resale value of your home, not cosmetic blemishes.
Be sure to choose a home inspector wisely. Be sure to ask questions and find out how many years they have been in the business. Talk to your family, friends, and realtor to see if they can recommend one to you.
What are some tips on negotiation?
Remember, that the listing price is what the seller would like to receive but is not necessarily what they will settle for. The more you know about a seller’s motivation, the stronger a negotiating position you are in. For example, a seller who must move quickly due to a job transfer may be amenable to a lower price with a speedy escrow. Before making an offer, check the recent sales prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood to see how the seller’s asking price stacks up. Some experts discourage making deliberate low-ball offers. While such an offer can be presented, it can also sour the sale and discourage the seller from negotiating at all.
Do I need to be there for the inspection?
It’s not required, but it is a good idea. Following the inspection, the home inspector will be able to answer questions about the report and any problem areas. This is also a good opportunity to hear an objective opinion about the home you’d like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general maintenance questions.
What should I look out for during the final walk-through?
This will likely be the first opportunity to examine the house without furniture, giving you a clear view of everything. Check the walls and ceilings carefully. Also check any work the seller agreed to do in response to an inspection. If you find that the work has not been done, it should be brought up prior to closing.
How can I protect my family from lead in the home?
If the house you are considering was built before 1978 and you have children under the age of seven, you may want to have an inspection for lead-based paint.
What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air. In a few areas, depending on local geology, radon dissolves into ground water and can be released into the air when the water is used. Radon gas usually exists at very low levels outdoors. A Radon inspection may be necessary and can usually easily be fixed if levels are high.
Are you ready for spring? I think many of us are more than ready for spring and summer to arrive!
Are you thinking about having a garden this season? If you are, here are a few helpful hints.
Start Small – Unless you have done this in the recent past and are an old timer in the sport then don’t get too crazy. Stay within your limits. The Farmers Almanac states that a 16×10 is a good size for beginners. The smaller the space the easier to grow crops. A 16×10 garden can feed a family of 4 for a summer with a little extra for you to give away or to conquer canning.
Spacing – Make sure you space your plants out. Give them all enough space to get sunlight and grow as they please. You can always look at the spacing requirements on the seed packets.
High Quality Seeds – Seeds are much cheaper than plants, spend good money on them now, as opposed to wasting your time when the cheap seeds don’t germinate.
Water Properly – Be careful not to water your plants too little or too much. Don’t let them starve or drown.
Harvest Time – Plant and harvest at the right time. Be sure to read the seed packets or the plant instructions so that you have the right knowledge to take the best care of the plants in your garden.
WHAT DO I PLANT?
Well if you are a beginner, like I am, the Farmer’s Almanac has a guide of what are the easiest plants to grow when you are just starting out.
Here is a list of the recommended plants to grow;
Peppers (6 plants)
Tomatoes (5 plants, stalked)
Marigolds (to keep pests away)
Zucchini squash (4 plants)
Now you have a better idea of what to do when starting your summer garden. If you need more info, The Farmer’s Almanac is always a reliable source!
Looking for some fun, inexpensive things to do for your significant other OR your kids on Valentine’s Day? Here are just a few food ideas to show someone you love, just a little EXTRA love on February 14th. Most of these, you don’t need any extra ingredients from the store — just your regular everyday groceries. So go ahead, get yourself a heart cookie cutter and go to town!
1. Heart shaped bacon – place bacon in a heart shape on a pan, and bake in the oven at 400 degrees until crisp.
2. Heart shaped toast to go with your bacon.
3. Rice Crispy Treats!
4. Hear shaped cookies are a MUST on Valentine’s Day!
5. Adorable cupid arrows made out of fruit.
6. Veggies cut and sliced to be shaped like hearts to dress up your salad.
7. Classic heart shaped pancakes!
We hope you have a heart-felt, fun & loving day with your loved ones on Valentine’s Day this year.