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A Sneak Peek of Summer Sunshine: How to Throw an Indoor Beach Party!

Hello followers! Where I live has been hit with some snow AGAIN. Here is a fun article I recently posted with LongIsland.com to get you into the summer time spirit. (Even though, I know I already am thinking of summer!)

Is this cold weather giving you the blues? If you and your family are mentally ready for the summer warmth, throw an indoor beach party that you, your children and even their friends will enjoy. Both you and the kiddies will be thankful to get away from the cold for a while and enjoy some fun summer activities, indoors!
These summer time activities are the perfect way to keep the whole family busy during a cold weekend or on a snow day. The activities will really get everyone in the mood for summer and will help you to forget about how chilly it is outside!
Wear a Bathing Suit
Most children love to play dress up, even when there’s nowhere to go! Instead of the princess and super hero costumes, have the children pick out their favorite bathing suit to wear for the day. Allow them to wear it until bedtime, after the “beach party” tires them out. To add some more fun to their beach outfit, throw on some other beach necessities like flip flops, sunglasses and beach hats! Break out the swimmies, too for the younger children.
Watch Movies on Beach Towels
Take the gigantic beach towels out of the closet a little early this year! Set them up in the living area in front of the TV and “lay out” as a family in front of your favorite movie. To really add to the beach experience, set up some beach chairs to lounge in or stand a beach umbrella up against something so everyone can lie underneath it.
Make Summer Time Blender Drinks
Indulge in some fun and colorful slushy drinks, perfect for during or after the movie!  A tasty drink that the children will love is a virgin Strawberry Daiquiri. For the moms and dads, add some liquor to it for the ideal summer cocktail. The sweet and fruity taste will surely remind you all of summer, especially if you add a festive straw and mini cocktail umbrella for some fun drink décor!
Indoor Limbo Contest
The party isn’t over just because the movie is! After the movie, have the kids compete in a friendly game of limbo. If you don’t happen to have a limbo stick lying around, use anything that can resemble one, like a broom stick. Throw on the limbo song while the kids line up and get ready to participate. The adults can be the judges and whoever wins the competition will receive a creative summer time prize.
Summer Time Feast
To end your beach party off right, enjoy a summer meal together as a family. Keep the blender drinks flowing and think of a meal your family likes to eat during the summer that you can still prepare inside. A simple dinner idea that is always a hit is delicious tacos loaded with your favorite toppings. If you want to have more of a BBQ feel, make some burgers and hot dogs with a chopped salad and corn on the cob for a yummy side dish!
Once your beach party is over, your family and friends will be grateful for the mini vacation they were able to take from the crispy cold air. Your beach bash doesn’t have to be a onetime event either, throw a party whenever you or the kids are feeling tired of winter and to help get prepared for summer time. The more parties you have, the closer you are to sweet summer!

Go for the Gold: Host a Watching Party for the 2014 Winter Olympics!

Hosting an Olympic Watching party this week? Here’s some great ways to incorporate friendly competition and sports games into your celebration!

The 2014 Winter Olympics are a wonderful opportunity to show your country pride while watching your favorite sports all during the same event. They only come around once every four years, so make it a worthwhile time with family and friends by celebrating with these fun party ideas!
The ideal Olympics Party features patriotic decorations, fun activities for adults and children, delicious food and a bunch of sports fans on the edge of their seat! Take a look at these great party tips featuring fun decorative ideas to tasty treats for the perfect Olympic Entertainment.
Decorations
Catch your guests’ attention by placing tiny flags along your walkway, each one representing the different countries participating in the Olympics. Most party throwers only decorate the inside for a winter party, not realizing that it’s a nice touch to add something outside as well to put your friends in a patriotic mood before they even step inside!
Put together small Olympic medals using mini size bottles of liquor for the adults and Gatorade bottles for the children. Tie a red, white and blue ribbon around the top of each bottle and give out to each guest as a party favor!
For the food and snack table, use a large stand made out of Styrofoam to place “The Olympic Rings.” Use paper colored plates to make each ring, gluing them onto a straw. Then simply place each ring in correct order into the Styrofoam.
Snacks
Snacks and appetizers are a huge part of the perfect party. It’s a great idea to have a variety of snacks so all your guests can be satisfied. You can even add festive food coloring or use red, white and blue foods to truly bring out the Olympics theme.
Fruit skewers are not only healthy but are great party treats since they’re easy to eat while socializing. Use blueberries, strawberries and marshmallows to have a plate full of red, white and blue skewers to honor the United States.
Create fun popcorn torches perfect for the kids and adults, too! Use mini ice cream cones for the torch then simply fill with popcorn, which will represent the golden torch flame. This too is another easy to eat snack that all your guests will be sure to enjoy.
Combine something healthy with something sweet to make American Flag Strawberries. Dip the strawberries half way into white chocolate so the red top is still showing. Then use blue sugar or blue sprinkles for the bottom portion of the strawberry. Once you’re finished, you will have an American Flag Strawberry!
Activities & Competitions
Have the kids of the party make Tissue Paper Torches that they get to take home with them. This is a cheap and easy to make craft that only consists of a plastic drinking glass (can purchase from a Dollar Store), spray paint if you would like to change the color of the glasses and three sheets of tissue paper (yellow, orange and red) Stick the tissue paper inside the glass, and gather so it represents a flaming torch. It is best for children to be supervised during this craft, and assisted by an adult while using the spray paint.
Enjoy a friendly, light-hearted competition with an Olympic Snowball Ring Toss. Place the Olympic Rings in their correct order on the floor about six feet away from the players (can place closer for children) Using mini marshmallows, see who can get the most “snowballs” inside the rings. At the end of the competition, have gold medal cookies waiting for the winners or another prize of your choice.
Compete in the cold as a family with a running race around the yard or at a local park. If it is snowing where you are, have a sledding competition down a nearby hill. Have a set of “judges” who time the competitions and write down everyone’s finishing time to see who wins the gold medal!
These useful tips will help create the perfect party atmosphere for you and your guests and will make your party hosting a fun and stress free experience! These ideas are also a great idea to utilize for an Olympics theme birthday party or sporting gathering.
Miss your favorite Olymic Event? Not to worry! Check out the Official Olympic YouTube Page to watch competitions, clips, highlights, and more!
Check out some more of my LongIsland.com articles here. 🙂

DIY Winter Wedding Centerpieces – Simple, Fun & Cost Efficient

Hello followers! I am going to be writing the weekly wedding articles from now on with LongIsland.com, so I will be sharing them on here as well for all of you planning your big day. 🙂

For those of you braving the cold and planning a winter wedding, we have the perfect seasonal centerpiece ideas for your big day!

Weddings can be extremely expensive, but centerpieces are an item on your list that don’t have to be. Save some money by creating your own and doing some bargain shopping for the supplies.
If you’re still unsure which color scheme to go with for your special day, most of these ideas can be made ahead of time so you can still add a burst of color once you decide. Take a look at these innovative ideas and check an item off your to-do list!
Winter White Glitter Bottles
Go for a winter wonderland theme with these white glitter creations made from empty wine bottles. You’ll be surprised at what a charming centerpiece a bottle can make once it is fancied up a bit. To begin, clean out any size bottle you would like before spray painting it a winter white. Add an extreme touch of sparkle with some silver glitter to make it pop and once the bottle is dry, place branches or flowers matching your theme inside. If you want to add even more decoration, attach some jewels and paint a number on the bottle to use as a table counter. This way, you’re saving on centerpieces and table number cards!
Wood Chunk Arrangements
If you’re interested in having a rustic-style winter wedding, these assorted wood chunk centerpieces will prove to be the ideal look. Choose a variety of different sizes of wood chunks, clean cut at the top so they’re nice and flat. Place an item of your choice to sit on the wood, such as candles, flowers, lanterns or fabric to match your tables. To add to the rustic theme, place pine cones or fake leaves around the centerpiece.
Tree of Draping Jewels
The tree of draping jewels is a great choice if you’re looking to have a large centerpiece that makes a bold, graceful statement. Purchase some fake white, snowy branches at a local flower shop or craft store (you can spray paint them yourself too) and place them inside a tall, clear cylinder or glass vase of your choice. You can add some marbles or seasonal ornaments to the bottom of the glass to keep the branch in place. Once it is sturdy, decorate the tree with hanging tear drop shaped crystals. If you want more of a winter style, use hanging snowflakes as an alternative. You will certainly be impressed with this wonderful display and it is sure to capture the attention of your guests!
Candle-Lit Paper Lanterns
Get a super elegant look by creating glowing paper lanterns for the center of your tables. It is inexpensive and simple to make, plus it adds a soft touch to your winter décor. Use a flameless candle to put in the center of the lantern so you can avoid any trouble if someone knocks it over. Once the candle is inside, you can add some decorations to the outside of the lantern such as crystals or fake snow to complete your theme. Or, just use the candle if you would like to keep things simple.
Mason Jar Centerpieces
Mason jars have become a popular trend amongst weddings and other celebrations in the past year. We have a couple of different creations you can put together utilizing mason jars. You can keep it simple by placing a piece of burlap or ribbon around the jar and adding a pretty accent to it, such as a pearl to stick with the winter white theme. If you want a classier look, use lace instead of burlap. Leave it as is, or add a candle to the inside for a pleasant touch. Get a bit more creative and spray paint your jars white and stick some flourishing flowers inside to match the rest of your décor. Then, add a ribbon around the jar to complete the display.
Once you choose a centerpiece and complete it, you will feel satisfied knowing you put your hard work into it and that others loved it. Keep a centerpiece for yourself to save as a keepsake so you can look back on it and remind yourself of your creative side! Creating things yourself can really help keep the cost down also, making it easier for you to spend a couple extra dollars on that perfect honeymoon spot!

Tasty Apps & Snacks for Super Bowl Sunday

Check out my latest article on LongIsland.com:

Try a new Super Bowl appetizer this year and have your guests begging for the recipe!

It is that time of year again, sports fans! Super Bowl Sunday is quickly approaching, and if you’re hosting a get together this year, one of the things that is probably on your mind is figuring out the perfect appetizers to serve your guests. In many households, the delicious appetizers are a Super Bowl tradition and are a huge part of this big day.
If you’re interested in trying out something new this year, take a look at these great recipes that will have your friends and family begging for more! Whether you are hosting the party or attending it, these simple and tasty dishes are ideal for the perfect Super Bowl celebration. We have also included some healthy snacks as well, for those of you looking to stick to your clean eating plan.
Mini Potato Footballs
Get creative with potatoes this year by turning them into mouth-watering fully loaded footballs with cheese, bacon, sour cream and herbs placed on top.
Ingredients:
  • 20 small red potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
  • Toppings of your choice (bacon, cheese, sour cream, chives, etc.)
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place potatoes, salt and olive oil in a large bowl until potatoes are thoroughly coated.
  • Bake the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet for about 20 minutes or until soft.
  • Let them cool down slightly before cutting a small slit in the top of each and scooping out a portion of the inside.
  • Place toppings of your choice inside each potato and serve while still warm.
Red Velvet Cheese Football
Red velvet mix isn’t just for cake! Score a touchdown with this unique dish, served with assorted crackers and cookies.
Ingredients:
  • 1 box of red velvet cake mix
  • ½ cup of butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • ½ cup of sugar
  •  2 tbsp. of brown sugar
  •  ¾ cups of mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp. white chocolate chips
  •  Assorted crackers and cookies
Directions:
  • Beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, brown sugar and cake mix until well blended.
  • Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a football shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Un-wrap the cheese football and place on a serving tray. Use the white chocolate chips to make the laces on the football and cover the rest with mini chocolate chips.
  • Serve with your choice of cookies or crackers.
Buffalo Chicken Wings
Chicken wings play a main role on the appetizer list for the Super Bowl. Here is a delicious recipe that will be sure to score a touchdown with your guests! 
Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds of chicken wings, rinsed clean
  • ⅔ cup hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper for taste
Directions:
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Use aluminum foil to cover an entire sheet pan. Be sure to wrap around the edges also. Then spray the pan with non-stick vegetable oil.
  • Spread the wings out evenly on the pan and lightly sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, turn the wings over and let cook for an additional 20 minutes.
  • While wings are baking, prepare a saute pan at low-medium heat. Combine the butter, salt, garlic pepper, cayenne pepper, hot pepper sauce and paprika in the pan. Allow the butter to melt then whisk for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Once the wings are finished cooking, remove from oven and dump into the large bowl with the chicken wing sauce.
  • Make sure to coat all the chicken with the sauce and allow the wings to sit for about 5 minutes before tossing again. After second toss, serve warm and enjoy!
Healthy Roasted Bell Peppers
If you’re looking to be brave and stay healthy on Super Bowl Sunday, this bell pepper recipe with goat cheese filling will be the ultimate appetizer for you and your friends.
Ingredients:
  • 1 box of mini bell peppers
  • 1 log goat cheese
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. of balsamic vinegar
Directions:
  • Cut the tops off of the mini peppers and remove the insides.
  • Place them on a baking dish and sprinkle with olive oil (optional)
  • Roast at 400 degrees F for about 5-10 minutes or until peppers are browned
  • Remove and let cool.
  • Mix the goat cheese, basil and balsamic vinegar into a bowl.
  • Stuff the peppers with the mixture and enjoy!
Spinach Pinwheels
Don’t feel bad about indulging in this spinach dish because it too is a healthy appetizer! This hearty recipe will be sure to catch everyone’s attention, whether they enjoy eating healthy or not!
Ingredients:
  • 20 oz. frozen chopped spinach (thawed & drained)
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 envelope ranch dip mix
  • 1 jar bacon bits
  • 4 chopped green onions
  • 10 inch flour tortillas
Directions:
  • Combine sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise into a mixing bowl.
  • Beat in dip mix.
  • Add bacon, spinach and green onion then mix thoroughly.
  • Spread the mixture onto the tortillas, leaving a ½” space around the edge.
  • Roll up each tortilla tightly and wrap each in plastic wrap.
  • Chill for a couple of hours, or overnight.
  • Once finished chilling, cut off the ends and cut into ½” slices before serving.
Whether you choose a healthy recipe or one with some more calories, these dishes are sure to satisfy your guests. You can make these tasty appetizers for other kinds of parties as well, along with Super Bowl Sundays for years to come!
If you don’t have time to cook for the big celebration, no problem! We’ve got you covered. Check out some of the great catering companies that can dish up some great eats for your get together, and help make your day stress-free!

Safety Measures to Take While Preparing For A Snow Storm

My latest article with LongIsland.com due to today’s snow storm on Long Island.

Long Island residents are preparing themselves for the approaching snow storm that will be arriving today. The snow is predicted to be a large amount, so we have come up with some safety tips that will help you before, during and after the storm.

As a storm sets in, it is best to be fully prepared and take precautionary measures to avoid any harmful situations. This goes for on the road, your vehicle and inside your home. The American Red Cross states that an extremely important part of being well prepared is having a clear understanding of the assorted warnings and advisories that are reported.

  • A Winter Storm Outlook means that storm conditions are possible in the next two to five days.
  • A Winter Weather Advisory indicates that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous; and if proper precautions are taken, conditions should not be life threatening.
  • A Winter Storm Watch is an alert that storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People should make preparations and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • A Winter Storm Warning indicates life-threatening, severe conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People should take immediate steps to insure safety.

Once you and your family are prepared for the storm, take a look at some of our general tips on staying safe during the snowstorm:

  • Be sure you are utilizing your heat properly inside your home to avoid any frozen pipes.
  • According to NFPA and USFA, if you are using a space heater, be sure to turn it off and unplug it when it’s not being used.
  • Do not use a stove or oven to heat your home, household members can become ill with carbon monoxide poisoning and can be put at a serious risk for burns.
  • Let your vehicle warm up before driving and be sure to check your tire pressure and battery which can both be affected by the cold air.
  • Give your pets extra protection and don’t keep them outside. If they are unable to live in your home, be sure they have proper shelter outside that will keep them warm and safe during the storm.
  • Have a first-aid kit on hand along with bottled water and a supply of non-perishable food.
  • Be sure to stock up on supplies including batteries, flashlights, candles, matches and blankets.
  • Be sure to feed your pets a little extra during the cold winter months so they have enough fueling calories to keep themselves warm.
  • Be alert while driving at all times. Keep an eye out for black ice and for other drivers. Some don’t take the same precautionary measures as others. Stay as far back as possible from the driver in front of you so you will not have a problem if they stop abruptly.

A significant part of during-the-storm safety includes shoveling. Take a look at the following shoveling safety tips offered by The National Safety Council:

  • Those over 40 years old or individuals, who are rather inactive, should be exceptionally careful.
  • Do not shovel without a doctor’s permission if you have a history with heart trouble.
  • Do not shovel while smoking or after eating.
  • Shovel slowly! Shoveling can raise your heart rate due to all the lifting, so it is best to pace yourself and stretch out before doing the task.
  • Shovel only fresh snow. The freshly fallen snow is easier to shovel than the packed-down snow.
  • As you shovel, push the snow rather than lift it out of your way. This will make it much easier on your back.
  • Use a small shovel so you don’t strain yourself by picking up too much.
  • Don’t lift with your back, use your legs. By keeping your back straight and bending and “sitting” into the movement will keep your spine upright and less stressed.
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion. Take a break if you run out of breath.
  • Dress warmly and be sure to cover the places that need extra attention including your nose, ears, hands and feet.

PSEG Long Island has already thought about the snowstorm aftermath. They are as well preparing themselves for the service of Long Island residents. As PSEG awaits the storm, they are preparing for quick responses to any resulting power outages by doing the following:

  • Performing system checks on critical transmission & distribution equipment. This will arrange for contractors to assist the utility’s own skilled workforce.
  • Logistic checks will be performed ensuring the availability of fuel and other critical materials and supplies.
  • Coordinating with municipal and county emergency management personnel to inform them of the preparation work, what to expect and how the utility will respond.

Important Info to Keep on Hand

[Source: NFPAUSFAThe American Red Cross, The National Safety Council, PSEG Long Island]

Bitter Cold Safety Measures – Your Home, Vehicle & On the Road

Safely keep warm this winter by checking out some of these helpful tips!

Not only is the bitter cold painful to deal with and have us all wishing for summer, but it can be dangerous as well. Not many realize how the drastic dip in temperature can become hazardous, and is important to take seriously. Make sure to take precautionary measures when the temperature drops as low as it has today on Long Island.

There are a couple of different things to keep in mind when the winter cold sets in, and temps drop below freezing. Your home, your car and the road during your morning commute all come into play when it comes to cold weather safety, and it is important to err on the side of caution when it comes to handling cold weather conditions.

In Your Home
When the temperature drops, most people crank up the heat in their home to take away the chill. Be sure you’re using your heat properly and that your pipes are safe. It is a good idea to let your faucets drip just a little, to assure that your pipes do not freeze. If you are using a space heater, be extra cautious when deciding where to place it. Keep it a couple of feet away from things that can catch on fire such as clothing, bedding or rugs. Be sure to turn it off and unplug it when you are finished using it because according to NFPA and USFA, space heaters are the leading cause of fires during the cold winter months. Instead of the space heater, some use their stoves or ovens to keep their house warm. I would not consider this an option, especially if you have a gas stove. It can cause the people in the household to become ill with carbon monoxide poisoning and can also put those at serious risk for burns. If you still feel the winter chill when you’re inside, try lighting a fire in the fireplace to help warm up a bit.

Your Pets
Another thing to keep a close eye on in the home, is your loving pets! They also need extra protection during the winter months, just like their owners. If your pet is unable to live inside your home, be sure they have proper shelter that will keep them toasty while outside. This can include a barn, shed or a dog house that is warm enough for them to sleep in. It is a good idea to feed them more than the usual amount so they have enough fueling calories to keep themselves warm. Also make sure to refill your pets water bowl every so often since the water can freeze up from the cool air. Check out some other helpful tips given by the Suffolk County SPCA on how to care for your furry friend during the winter.

Your Car
During the winter months, most let their vehicles heat up for a good amount of time before driving them. This should be a priority when the temperature dips this low since it can make it more difficult for your car to start. Plus, your car will run more efficiently once it has been heated up. If you have an older vehicle, it is a good idea to check the battery as well just to assure that the cold has not affected it. Falling temperatures can also cause your tire pressure to go down, so be sure to double check this before taking a long commute.

On the Road
Once the temperature falls, any water on the ground quickly turns to ice. Be alert while driving and be sure to pay attention for black ice and shiny spots on the road since we recently experienced snow that was melted from rainfall. It is also a good idea to be extra safe since others on the road may not have taken the safety measures that you have. Remember, an accident can be prevented if just one person was paying enough attention.

Taking the correct precautions can prevent threatening situations from occurring so make sure you utilize these tips this winter and the cold months years ahead. Share your knowledge with your loved ones to keep them from making a chilling mistake.

Hot Chocolate Recipes That Will Keep You Warm This Winter

Check out my new seasonal article on some unique hot chocolate recipes that are perfect for this winter! Recipes include: Nutella Hot Chocolate, Peppermint Hot Chocolate & Almond Joy Hot Chocolate. Check them out to make for the holidays or for your next big special event.

http://www.longisland.com/articles/12-16-13/simple-stovetop-hot-chocolate-recipes.html

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Ecstatic

So, I need to share my excitement and brag for a minute.  I work for a website, LongIsland.com and I published an article less than 24 hours ago and it has over 7,000 views!  I have been with this company for a little over a year but mostly add their events and do some articles here and there.  I would love to just do articles but everyone needs to start somewhere, right?  I’ve never had this many views on any of my articles, and the other recent ones added by co-workers still have views in the hundreds.  I’m so happy to finally feel like I’m getting somewhere with what I love to do.  It took me awhile and I wasn’t even able to graduate after 5 years of college due to money issues, so this is huge for me!  I, for once feel fulfilled at a job which I have never felt before.  I’m looking to of course get my feet wet here and hopefully move to bigger and better things but I have nothing to complain about right now and it feels amazing.  Had to share my happy thoughts!  Have a good day people of Word Press. 🙂

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