Plan Ahead for This Year’s Holiday Vacation
Whether your family counts a holiday vacation among your treasured traditions or you’re anticipating a holiday getaway for the first time, getting an early start on your planning can help ensure your trip is filled with good tidings and joy.
Know what you want to spend. If you’re planning to open your wallet a little wider for this trip than you have in the past, you’re not alone. A survey by American Express Travel found more than 60% of travelers are planning to spend more on trips in 2021 since they missed out on travel in 2020. Setting your budget now can help you make choices about things like accommodations and activities while giving you some extra time to save. Working off a budget from the start can also help you take advantage of book now, pay later options that may give you added savings or incentives.
Be conscious of high-demand destinations. Popular travel spots tend to fill up fast, so if you’re considering visiting a high-demand location, be aware of how crowds might affect your plans for everything from wait times at attractions to rental cars and more. According to vacation rental company Vrbo, prime warm-weather destinations where families can spend the holidays together are already facing lower availability for homes, including Florida and Hawaii beaches. Similarly, Maui, Hawaii, has less than 20% of homes available during Christmas week. Ski spots also see a large share of holiday travel, so be prepared if you’re planning on a holiday hot spot.
Manage against the unexpected. Despite all the advantages of planning ahead, it’s impossible to predict unknown variables like the weather when you make travel arrangements months ahead of time. Travel insurance can help protect the majority your investment if you have to cancel your trip. Some policies offer coverage for cancellation for any reason, so you’ll want to research exactly what your policy allows, including weather and pandemic-related cancellations.
Book lodging early. With travel volume up and availability for accommodations already trending downward for the holiday season, consider making reservations sooner than later.
“We typically see December bookings peak in October and November, but families are locking in their holiday vacation plans much earlier than usual,” said Melanie Fish, Vrbo’s travel expert. “Vacation homes have been quickly scooped up during every popular travel season this year, so it’s no surprise families are planning ahead to ensure they have a great place to spend the holidays together.”
Look into local events. In this pandemic age, many attractions and activities have new guidelines, including altered operating schedules, occupancy limits and reservation systems. You can typically find the latest information on websites or by calling ahead. Take these measures into consideration as you’re creating your trip itinerary and organizing advanced reservations.
Consider how the holidays will affect your packing. Traveling during the holidays may mean a different approach to your typical vacation packing. Especially if you’re traveling with children, you’ll need to make space for beloved holiday traditions such as gifts or a visit from a certain jolly old elf.
For more inspiration for your holiday getaway, visit Vrbo.com.
5 Steps for Better Meal Prep
Eating healthier and saving time around the house are common goals for many families, and there’s one solution that can help attain both: meal-prepping. By planning and preparing meals in advance of each week, you can practice better portion control while creating free time for normally hectic mornings, afternoons and evenings.
Consider these tips to start your meal-prepping process:
- Include the whole family. By letting everybody in on meal-prepping, you’re helping ensure everyone is satisfied with the breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks that become your end results. Even if you only plan to work in advance on lunches, for instance, loved ones will likely enjoy the process more if all are pleased with the meals they enjoy later.
- Plan the meals. Once the whole gang is included and on-board, start brainstorming the recipes and dishes you’d like to make. Try starting with just one course at first – lunch is likely to be the easiest – to help keep meal-prepping simple at the start.
- Buy ingredients in bulk. Whether your grocery shopping takes place over the weekend or on a free weeknight, purchasing ingredients and supplies in bulk – without overbuying perishables like fruits and veggies – can help make sure you have everything you need once it’s time to build the meals themselves.
- Head to the kitchen. Pick one day each week when you can plan to spend ample time in the kitchen making your meals. Use cooking techniques that are less hands-on, like baking or slow-cooking, as often as possible so you can multitask throughout.
- Sort and divide. Using quality food containers to keep your meals as fresh as possible, start splitting up servings in ways that fuel you and family while instituting improved portion control. By sorting out specific meals ahead of time, you can begin creating better eating habits.
Visit Culinary.net for more kitchen tips and tricks.
5 Simple, Natural Ways to Boost Immunity
Your body’s immune system protects against illness and infection, fighting off threats before you even know there’s a problem. Even though your immune system usually does its job automatically, you can give it a boost with habits that promote wellness and support immunity.
Eat healthy fruits and vegetables. Although you may not be aware they contain flavonoids, these phytochemicals found in some fruits and veggies are a vital part of maintaining health. Flavonoids are found in colorful fruits and vegetables like cranberries and elderberries. When it comes to power foods, elderberries’ exceptional flavanol levels make them an immune system powerhouse. Especially important during cold and flu season, elderberries can also be enjoyed in a cup of warm tea for instant comfort.
Reduce stress with outdoor activity. Keeping physically fit provides numerous health benefits such as reducing stress by being one with nature through taking a walk outside. The sun’s UV rays help your body produce vitamin D, which is important for your bones, blood cells and immune system, as well as helping absorb and use certain nutrients. Yoga and massage can also be used to help stimulate the immune system and promote well-being.
Keep a regular sleep schedule. Sleep gives you an opportunity to recharge. This is when cellular regeneration and other healing is most efficient. Keeping a regular routine helps signal to your system that it’s time to rest so you can fall asleep easier and reap the whole-body benefits of a healthy sleep cycle.
Wash hands frequently. Especially during the school year, when germs are rampant and easily carried from school to home, you can give your immune system a hand, literally, by frequently scrubbing away germs before they have the chance to attack.
Rely on natural remedies. Modern, stressful lifestyles and exposure to environmental
pollutants can put immune systems under pressure. However, some of your existing soothing rituals can actually support better health, too. One example is relaxing with a hot cup of tea. The natural and organic ingredients found in Buddha Teas provide numerous health benefits. Options like Mushroom Wellness, Divine Immunity, Elderberry Tea and Reishi Mushroom blends all contain immunity-boosting ingredients.
While they’re not an obvious ingredient, mushrooms have been incorporated into healing practices for thousands of years for their immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich properties. There are several powerful medicinal mushrooms but one stand-out is the reishi mushroom, known as the “mushroom of immortality” and “divine plant of longevity.” This anti-inflammatory powerhouse is known to promote healthy cell growth and healthy blood pressure, along with improving immune function.
Learn more about boosting your immunity naturally at buddhateas.com.
A Golden Way to Get Better Sleep
While golden milk has become a trendy beverage of choice, this comforting, herb-filled blend is actually ancient. For thousands of years, golden milk has been an Ayurvedic ritual, with Indian families enjoying a warm nightly cupful before bed.
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric, the main component in golden milk, is thought to impart the energy of the sun to the body, hence its radiant, golden color. Turmeric’s documented healing properties impart substance to this traditional “elixir,” and have given golden milk a reputation as a healing cup of comfort.
In addition to improving physical and mental well-being, regularly drinking golden milk has the potential to lessen your chance of becoming ill in the first place. It’s also an anti-inflammatory that supports healthy digestion and promotes calm.
This turmeric-dominant blend includes ginger root and black pepper to aid digestion; ashwagandha to tonify, energize and calm; and cardamom, nutmeg and vanilla bean, all meant to encourage rejuvenation and peace. Consider an option like Buddha Teas’ CBD Organic Golden Milk, which includes a THC-free CBD isolate for added wellness benefits.
Prepared by mixing with a warm cup of your favorite milk, the smooth, slightly sweet, pungent brew offers a soothing treat just before bed. Many people also enjoy golden milk prepared cold.
Pop Up a Celebratory Snack
Popcorn lovers rejoice: October was National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, a seasonal celebration of one of America’s oldest and most beloved snack foods.
As farmers head into the fields to harvest crops, families and friends gather to enjoy this ever-popular treat. Whether it’s prepared on the stovetop, in the microwave or ready to eat from the bag, Americans consume 15 billion quarts of this whole grain each year.
Celebrated for its seed-to-snack simplicity, popcorn is also non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and naturally low in fat and calories, which makes it an easy fit for dietary preferences – and it’s budget-friendly.
Add in popcorn’s irresistible smell, taste and versatility, and it’s easy to understand its popularity. With so many different ways to eat it – plain, buttery or loaded with goodies like these Toffee Almond Chocolate Popcorn or Churro Popcorn versions – popcorn fits many moods and occasions.
Pop up a bowl and join the Popcorn Poppin’ Month celebration with more recipes at popcorn.org.
Toffee Almond Chocolate Popcorn
Total time: 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling time
4 cups popped popcorn
3/4 cup chopped toasted almonds, divided
6 tablespoons toffee bits, divided
6 ounces milk chocolate, melted
1 ounce dark chocolate, melted
In large bowl, toss popcorn, 1/2 cup almonds and 4 tablespoons toffee bits. Drizzle with melted milk chocolate; toss until well coated.
Transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with dark chocolate; sprinkle with remaining almonds and toffee bits. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, or until set; break into clusters.
Substitution: Use dark chocolate for milk chocolate, if preferred.
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups popped popcorn
In small bowl, mix granulated sugar, powdered sugar and cinnamon.
In small saucepan, melt butter; stir in 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar.
In large bowl, toss popcorn with cinnamon butter until well coated. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cinnamon sugar; toss to coat well.
Tips: For spicy variation, add 1 teaspoon spicy chipotle seasoning. Serve with hot chocolate.
Home Cleaning Hacks for Fall
Cooler fall temperatures mean you’re likely to spend more time indoors. Taking time to spruce up inside and out can make you more comfortable and give you peace of mind that your home is tidy, clean and prepared to weather the months ahead.
Tidy Outdoor Spaces
Before stashing your lawn care equipment, give your home and landscape some end-of-season attention. Use a power washer to clean lawn furniture and store it away from the elements or use covers to protect it. Clean out gutters and remove debris from flower beds to encourage proper drainage.
Check for Repair Projects
Give your home a thorough inspection to identify any problems that need attention before cold weather sets in. Look for concerns like loose shutters or siding, cracked or loose shingles, cracks and gaps around doors and windows that may allow moisture or cold air to creep in. Severe weather and cycles of freezing and thawing can exacerbate these problems, so it’s best to make repairs before they result in major damage.
Eliminate Dirt and Dust
Moving indoors, take time to remove any dirt and grime that has accumulated. Wash textiles like curtains and rugs. Wipe down kitchen and bathroom surfaces with an antibacterial solution. Dust other parts of the house, including blinds, windowsills, baseboards and other hard-to-reach places.
When it comes to vacuuming, make sure to keep floors clean and free of outside dirt all season long with an all-around cleaner that can vacuum and mop simultaneously, like the DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI. It provides convenient, efficient, hands-free cleaning you can control via smart home devices. With a built-in HD camera, the AI-powered robot identifies common household obstacles and intelligently determines how to clean around them, while also providing on-demand home monitoring. Complete with laser mapping and navigation technology to scan and map your floors for faster cleaning and fewer missed spots, it is also compatible with an optional, automatic emptying station that allows for up to 30 days of fully maintenance-free cleaning.
Promote Air Quality
In addition to keeping floors clean and allergens under control, there are other steps you can take to promote better air quality while you’re spending more time indoors. Scheduling service for your furnace can help ensure it’s in good condition before cold weather hits. This is also a good time to replace your air filter and consider a duct cleaning. Take time to clean ceiling fans and reverse the blades so the air circulates but fans don’t create a chilling effect.
Swap Seasonal Essentials
A new season brings change, whether it’s simply swapping out your wardrobe or gearing up for a busy season of school activities and sports. Make time to put away out-of-season clothes and other necessities to make room for the things you’ll need for the autumn months. Keep only the things you need and store the rest to help keep clutter under control.
Find more tips for efficient fall home maintenance and cleaning at ecovacs.com.
Kid-Friendly Brain Food for Busy School Days
Starting a new school year, whether in the classroom or online, brings excitement for kids of all ages. Opportunities to see friends, make new acquaintances and explore new areas of interest abound.
Along with the exciting times can also come early mornings with hectic moments getting ready, including making sure that lunches and snacks are packed for the day ahead. Keep fresh grapes from California on hand as an easy, fresh staple ready to drop into lunches and pack as a portable snack – no need to peel, cut or slice.
Heart-healthy grapes are brain food too, and a healthy choice any time of day to help fuel young minds in the classroom or after school.
Grapes also pair well with other healthy ingredients to create fun and tasty snacks such as these Peanut Butter Grape Bites. Involving your kids in the process can be beneficial, and is as simple as asking them to complete one of several child-friendly tasks: rinsing grapes, measuring ingredients or, perhaps the most fun part, dipping grapes in peanut butter, coconut, dark chocolate or almonds.
Providing children with ways to help in the kitchen can give them a sense of accomplishment while teaching them important skills like math and how to follow instructions.
To find more back-to-school recipes for kids and families, visit GrapesFromCalifornia.com.
Peanut Butter Grape Bites
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 5 minutes
Yield: 12 pieces
12 California grapes, any color, chilled
1/3 cup natural peanut or almond butter
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup chopped almonds
Place wax paper sheet on baking sheet. Dip each grape in peanut butter or almond butter to coat half then dip in either coconut, dark chocolate or almonds, alternating with each grape.
Transfer grapes to baking sheet then chill until ready to serve.
Nutritional information per serving: 70 calories; 2 g protein; 4 g carbohydrates; 5 g fat (64% calories from fat); 1.5 g saturated fat (19% calories from saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 25 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.