Posts Tagged ‘family’

Why Many Americans Are Becoming Minimalists!

In Your Guest Writers on February 20, 2011 at 10:15 PM

(And how you can too)

By: Jennifer Brown Banks



Image Credit Somedarkson



“Sometimes less is more”.

If nothing can be said of a tough economy and uncertain times, it’s certainly causing us to reassess our lives and redefine what it is that we value. True? Prosper perspective is crucial for survival and optimal quality of life.

‘Dem days of living high on the hog, keeping up with the Joneses, and making bold risks have gone bye-bye like eight track tapes and “free love “ in the ’60s.

As a case in point, I was surfing the Net and saw where quite a few folks were constructing and living in what are called “Tiny Homes” now. These structures, that are a mere fraction of the size of your typical American Dream, are said to “house” just as much joy for those that own them. Not to mention, they cost less comparatively in many cases, and prevent the possibility of over indulgence and hoardering.

With this being said, here are some factors to consider if you’re contemplating this lifestyle choice in the future.


  1. Our parents survived on less, and in many cases were just as fulfilled. In former generations, many didn’t have cable TV, or Internet or fast food conveniences.
  2. Minimalism typically means less debt.
  3. Less debt leads to less stress. Less stress can lead to longer longevity and better health.
  4. Having an attitude of materialism and defining ourselves through our possessions is unhealthy and unrealistic. As we have seen through world events, our status can change with one act of God or misfortune.
  5. Stream-lined living and proper focus can cause us to spend more time with family and friends,  develop and sustain important bonds and relationships, and cultivate cherished memories.


A wise person once said, “You don’t have to have everything, to have everything you need.” Food for thought.

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, Columnist, and Pro Blogger.  You can find her work at  Pen and Prosper, Coffeehouse for Writer’s and


America’s National Parks – FREE on Veterans Day!

In budget, coupons, Your World on November 5, 2010 at 10:56 AM


Yosemite Park Image Credit: JDrmar



Take a hike.  Literally!  In honor of Veterans Day, that’s  11 November this year, the entrance fee at all national parks (there are over 100) is  FREE.

To sweeten the deal many outfitters, shops and hotels in our natural treasures offer discounts like buy-one-get-one half off, or for free deals and other  money-saving specials. Check out these sweet deals  at:  Park Partners .

Remember, prior military service isn’t required to take advantage of these offers.  But if you’re a veteran, savings at some locations are even better.

Sample Savings:

Death Valley National National Park, CA

Furnace Creek Resort
Earth-friendly organic t-shirts 2/$20, regularly $14.99 each

Everglades National Park, FL – Shark Valley Tram Tours

Shark Valley Tram Tours honors veterans by offering 50% discounts to veterans and their dependents on all tours.  Call Shark Valley Tram Tours at 305-221-8455.  Or visit them  at to receive  more information or to make reservations.

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ — Buy one West Rim Sunset Tour and get one free.  You’ll also receive 20% off any retail purchase in all Xanterra operated gift shops.


Click here to find a national park near you.  Or visit .

Happy Trails!

Halloween Still Rocks!

In budget, Your Food, Your Home on October 14, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Next to Christmas, Halloween was my favorite holiday when I was a kid. Though my days of dressing up as Piglet and Minnie Mouse are long gone, Halloween is still celebrated in my home.   

Here are a few EASY treats and tricks to help you have fun this Halloween season. Click the title links for instructions.

Cagey Ghost

Turn unused tomato cages into friendly or spooky ghosts. I made this project last night.  It’s super easy and a lot of fun to make.

Note:  If you intend to place your ghosts outside, consider using a plastic shower curtain ($2 at Walmart)   instead of a white bed sheet.  The plastic cover will protect your little friends if it rains.

Pumpkin Fashions

17 spooktacularly sensational ideas for turning your so-so pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern with pizzazz!

Last Minute Budget Friendly Costumes

It’s not too late to deck out your little (and not so little) ones with creative and easy-to-make  customs.

Healthy Halloween Snacks

Halloween isn’t just about the candy.  Here are 15 fun, hearty and healthy snacks.

Pumpkin Hair Bows

These adorable pumpkin clips are perfect Halloween accessories for your little one’s hair.  This trio was handcrafted by Paige’s Pretty Bowtique.

Free Screen “Scream” Saver

Enter this spooky 3D graveyard if you dare.  Brave the stormy night as the living dead, bats, assorted  ghouls and howling sounds materialize.

Happy Halloween! 

*Sources: Family Fun, Screen Saver and Etsy

Family Friendly Travel Destinations

In Your Guest Writers, Your World on October 6, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Image Credit Chrissi Nerantzi


With a bit of creativity you can likely make any travel destination into a fun and safe trip for your children. Finding a place to go on vacation that will offer benefits to kids without a lot of effort or stress for you is slightly harder.  

Your entire family should have an enjoyable vacation, no matter what age they are, so we’ve compiled a list of family friendly travel destinations. If you have any additions please feel free to let us know in the comments section.  

Jellystone Park Campgrounds  

This might seem like one for the kids but Jellystone Park Campgrounds are fun for the entire family. These parks are located all across the US in places like Cooperstown, New York and Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. There are also 5 locations in Canada if you’re in need of northern road trip. Each of the Jellystone locations include all kinds of fun activities for kids, including water slides, swimming, playgrounds, and mini golf. There are also activities for adults like fishing, dances with manned DJs, hiking, camping, games rooms, and arts & crafts. The best part if that most of these activities can be enjoyed by both adults and kids.  


Williamsburg, Virginia combines the educational fun of Colonial Williamsburg with the just-plain-fun of the nearby Busch Gardens theme park. In the summer there is also the massive Water Country USA water park if you’re in need of a cool down.  

American history comes to life in Colonial Williamsburg. Volunteers and actors portray people from over 200 years ago; bringing to life pre-American Revolution life in the United States. There are other nearby historical areas that can be visited such as Yorktown – all within a short drive of Williamsburg.  

Mardi Gras in New Orleans  

This is one that you might think would only be for the adults (or maybe even just for college students). Mardi Gras may be infamous for its party culture but it’s actually quite family friendly if you get past those initial thoughts about the festival.  

Most of the hard partying during Mardi Gras takes place on Burbon Street, which means most of the rest of the festivities are focused on families. The festival is an amazing spectacle with it’s parade, music, and culture. It’s important to educate your children on how to travel safely before and even during your trip. This is important whether you’re visiting Mardi Gras, Disneyland, or even the in-law’s house one state over.  

San Diego 

This Californian city has everything you’re looking for – whether you’re a kid or an adult. Children can enjoy building sandcastles on the beach while their parents relax. 

The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most progressive zoos in the world and a must-visit if you’re visiting the city. The zoo, which is owned by the City of San Diego, has an impressive 4,000+ animals of more than 800 species including many endangered species. It is also one of the only zoos in the world to house a giant panda. 

Another great spot for kids in San Diego is Legoland. I’m sure a few parents have grown up enjoying Lego too! 

This was post was contributed by Ryan Embly from the rental car comparison website CRX. If you’re seeking car rentals in New York or any other city in the US visit their website today.

Organic Food: Help! I’m sooo confused!

In Your Health, Your World on June 25, 2010 at 8:57 AM


If you’re like most folks you probably try, (or at least think about :)) taking care of your body  by eating “right”.  You may even be the type that occasionally buys foods that conserve Mother Earth’s resources.  But, if you’re like me, with dietitians, nutritionists, and green experts throwing around terms like hormone-free, free-range, natural, and organic, you don’t know what to buy or eat!

 After-all, isn’t organic just a fancy word for natural?  

After doing a bit of research, I found the answer … No!  Even though these terms often appear on food labels they don’t have the same meanings. 

What is organic food? 

Organic refers to the way agricultural products such as grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, poultry, and meat are grown, raised and processed.  For example, organic farmers don’t use conventional methods to fertilize crops or feed animals.  Instead of using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, techniques like crop rotation, adding compost and even beneficial insects are utilized.  Animals raised on organic farms are fed organic foods, allowed access to the outdoors and kept in clean living quarters.  And unlike conventionally raised livestock, they’re not given antibiotics, or growth hormones.    

In addition, organic farms and companies that process organic foods must be certified by the government that they meet United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA) organic standards.  The only exceptions to this law is are business that sell less than $5000.00 a year in  organic products. Violators face a stiff penalty of $11000.00 per  incident.

How Can You Tell If Food is Organic? 

Read the label.  Most, (though not required), certified farms and businesses label their products with USDA Organic Seal. 

Use the guide below to help identify  organic agricultural products.  

100% Organic

  • Product must be 100% organically produced; this does not include added water or salt
  • Product label must list: the ingredients when the product has more than one ingredient, the name and address of the manufacturer, distributor, etc, of the finished product and the name of the certifying agent
  • Product may display USDA Organic Seal 

95% Organic

  • Product must be 95% organic; this doesn’t include added water or salt. 
  • 5% of the product may contain non-organic products that are not commercially available in organic forms.
  • May use the word “Organic” in the product name  
  • Product label must list the ingredients, noting the organic ingredients, the name and address of the manufacturer, distributor, etc, of the finished product, and the name of the certifying agent
  • Product cannot contain sulfites  (a food preservative)
  • Product may display USDA Organic Seal 

Made With Organic

  • 70% of the product must be organic; this doesn’t include added water or salt
  • 30% of the product may contain non-organic products that are not commercially available in organic forms
  • May use the words, “Made with organic …”  
  • Wine products may contain added sulfites in the form of sulfur dioxide
  • The product label must list the ingredients, noting the organic ingredients, the name and address of the manufacturer, distributor, etc, of the finished product, and the name of the certifying agent
  • The USDA Organic Seal may not be used 

Some Organic Ingredients

  • 70% or less of the product may be organic
  • 30% or more of the product may contain non-organic agricultural ingredients 
  • The product label must list the ingredients, noting the organic products 
  • The USDA Organic Seal or certifying agent seal may not be used 

While natural, hormone-free, and free-range are important product labels, don’t confuse them with certified organic foods – they’re not the same nor are the words interchangeable. Be a smart shopper by familiarizing yourself with all these terms.  Understanding product symbols and labels allows you to make better nutritional decisions for you and your family. 


USDA National Organic Program  – Find practical educational material about “going organic”.  Also, has fun activities for kids.  

Local Harvest – Find organic farmers’ markets, and family farms in your area.

What are your thoughts on organic foods?  Are they really better for your health?  Are they worth the expense?  Or, are they over-rated?

What’s In Your Beach Bag?

In Your Books on June 20, 2010 at 10:04 AM

As you head out this summer to lounge poolside and on sun drenched beaches, don’t forget to pack a few great reads along with your sunscreen, towels, and beach balls. 🙂

Following, are a few suggestions to get you started.  Enjoy, and Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

Jenniemae and James A Memoir in Black and White by Brooke Newman

This true and heartwarming story is about the extraordinary friendship between an illiterate but,  number savvy black maid and her employer, mathematician and friend of Albert Einstein, James R. Newman.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

A heartwarming, heart breaking, and yet at times, funny tale of family, love, and hope told from a dog’s point of view.

In a Heartbeat by Leigh Ann and Stan Touhy

The extraordinary couple depicted in The Blind Side tells their remarkable story.

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

The lives of three women connect and intertwine in this suspenseful story as  secrets and sins from the past are reveled.

Total Money Makeover by  Dave Ramsey

Best selling author, and radio talk show host, Dave Ramsey shares financial advice and tips.  “The bedrock of his system is simple: work hard, pay what you owe and stay out of debt.”

What’s on your summer reading list?

Mommy and Me – Baby Giveaway!

In Your Giveaways on June 6, 2010 at 10:25 PM


Heather  is the winner of your Mommy and Me – Baby Giveaway!!!  

Congrats Heather! 

SUMMER is on its way and we’re kicking it off early with a guest article written by Lauren Dzuris, Top Carriers for Toting Your Tot, and a nifty Mommy and Me, Baby Giveaway!     

It’s super easy to enter; you’ll find the prize package, and steps listed below.      

Prize Package:       

  • Eco Fi Booties
  • Hungry Friends: Mealtime Book and Bib
  • The Everything Guide to Raising a One-Year-Old
  • My Favorite Toys

Total Value: $60.00      

Eco Fi Booties.  Also called Ecospun, these soft booties (with removable liners) are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles – pretty neat! Two hand embroidered flowers adorn the toes.  Size:  Infants  0 – 3 months old.      

Eco-Fi Booties


Hungry Friends:  Mealtime Book and Bib. Wipe clean pages and bib are features you  enjoy; while baby has fun dining with a hungry frog, tiger, dog, cow, pig and more.     


The Everything Guide to Raising a One-Year-Old. Written by a pediatrician and a mom, this book offers practical and informative advice to busy moms and dads, on the developmental milestones that occur between the ages of 12 and 24 months. From how to select daycare providers, to dealing with tantrums, and communication needs, this book  helps parents and their little ones enjoy a safe, happy and healthy transition from babydom, to toddlerhood.     


My Favorite Toys. This delightful book helps children explore the wonderful world of toys.  Discover teddy bears, wooden blocks, trains, wind-up cars, puppets, and all sorts of colorful playthings on every page.     



A Few Simple Steps to Enter        

No. of Winners: 1     

Start Date:  12:00 AM7 June 2010      

End Date: Midnight EST – 12 June 2010     

Open To: Residents of the United States and Canada  

Please leave the following in your comment(s):


  1. Read Lauren’s article Top Carriers for Toting Your Tot, then list the three baby carriers she wrote about.
  2. Leave a way to contact you: Email, Blog Address, Twitter, Etc.
  3. If you like our magazine, we’d appreciate (NOT required to enter) a follow here and on Twitter
  4. You may enter twice (2). Good Luck!

Your giveaway ends 12 June 2010 at midnight, Eastern Standard Time. Each comment is numbered and your winner is chosen by and notified 13 June 2010. Please respond within 48 hours to claim your prize package, (we’d hate to give your prize to the someone else) 😦

Military-Friendly Family Attractions: Active Duty and Retired Get in For Free!

In budget, Your World on May 27, 2010 at 9:23 AM

Image Courtesy Robert Linder


Businesses across America recognize the valuable contributions our active duty and retired military families make by offering free admission to museums, water parks and other family attractions.   For those traveling near a military base, make (down right cheap 🙂 ) reservations for space-available accommodations by calling  the following phone numbers:  

Army: 1-800-GO-ARMY-1  

Air Force: 1-888-AF LODGE  

Navy: 1-800-NAVY-INN  

 Happy Memorial Day!



Image Courtesy Helen Bobis


 Kings Dominion – FREE admission to active duty and retired military personnel on Sunday and Monday of both the Memorial Day and July 4th weekends as a part of its Tribute to the Armed Forces program.  The exact dates are May 30, 31 and July 4, 5, 2010  

Valleyfair Amusement Park – Free admission to members of the armed services, active or veteran. Must show military ID. May 30th and 31st.  

Carowinds Theme Park– FREE regular admission ticket to any active or retired military personnel on Sunday and Monday of both the Memorial Day and July 4th weekends.  

Queen Mary – Offering free admission to veterans and active U.S. military personnel over the 2010 Memorial Day Weekend.  

The New Orleans Zephyrs – Offering free admission for all military personnel and their families for the Memorial Day game on Monday, May 31.  

Blue Star Museums – Over 600 museums will offer free admission to Military & their families from Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, through Labor Day, September 6, 2010.  

Colonial Williamsburg – Will hold a free commemorative program and free admission on May 31st from 10am – 10:45am  

Alabama Adventure – Active Military admitted free with Military I.D. May 29th – 31st.  

Gilroy Gardens – “Gilroy Gardens Salutes our Heroes with FREE ADMISSION to the park. This offer is for all Military, Police and Fire Personnel. Guest must present a valid Military, Police and Fire ID to receive one (1) FREE complimentary ticket.”  

Kings Island – Free admission to military personnel Memorial Day and July 4th weekends.  

 Lowry Park Zoo – May 31, any active duty, activated, retired or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman is entitled to free admission.  

 Knott’s Berry Farm and all three Southern California Knott’s Soak City water parks –Palm Springs, San Diego and Buena Park are offering FREE admission to active and retired United States Military personnel on Sunday May 30th and Monday May 31st AND  Independence Day (July 4-5) weekends as part of their Tribute to the Armed Forces Program.  

 Hawaiian Falls Waterpark in Texas is offering free admission to all active duty military personnel to their three area waterparks, including parks in Garland, The Colony, and Mansfield, from 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Memorial Day, May 31.  

 Thank you Free Sample Momma for providing this list!  

Bodie Island Lighthouse

In Your World on May 24, 2010 at 8:53 PM

Bodie Island Lighthouse - Courtesy Danie Pratt


It’s often said that Bodie Island Lighthouse got its name from the many shipwrecked bodies that washed ashore – it’s often spelled Body Island Lighthouse!           

I used this image in 10 Reasons Kids Love North Carolina, an article I wrote for Fun Place DataBase.   In your search for entertaining places to take the kids this summer give them a try.  They’re a  great resource to find fun attractions across America that you and the kids will enjoy. 🙂

Take a Hike!

In Your World on April 22, 2010 at 11:51 AM

US National Parks



Utah Arches National Park


A quick reminder that entrance into all 392 National Parks is free during National Park Week April 17 – 25.   Go ahead, get out and “Experience Your America”!