5 Winter Activities for Kids

PenguinsWhen the first winter snow appears, it’s magical; by the eighth heavy snowfall of the season, you and your kids may start wishing for spring. Holiday fun can alleviate some of the boredom, but what happens after the tree’s taken down and the gifts are unwrapped? These fun indoor and outdoor winter activities are a great solution for the post-holiday blues.

1. Build a Snow Village

One of the simplest winter activities is still one of the best. Non-toxic, easy to mold and abundant, snow makes a wonderful building material for kids. Instead of sticking to snowmen that are fun to make but don’t do much once they’re complete, encourage kids to create their own snow villages. Let them use their imaginations to create fantasy snow castles, bustling snow spaceports, superhero hide-outs or anything else they can dream of making.

2. Bake Cookies Together

There’s no better time for baking than on chilly winter evenings, and kids love to help. Older children can do most of the assembling themselves with a little assistance from you. For younger kids, you’re the chief baker, and they’re your helpers who crack the eggs and level off the flour. Baking is only part of the fun; decorating the cookies you bake together is even more exciting. If you aren’t experienced in the kitchen, invest in a cookbook or a cookie kit.

3. Read a Good Book or Two

Winter weather can be unpredictable, and when the kids are stuck inside on a gloomy day, having an extensive library can be a life-saver. Young children often like to hear a familiar story told and re-told, but for older kids, new books hold more appeal. Keep a few books tucked in your closet for rainy days and pull them out when your kids complain about having nothing to do. For kids who get fidgety when they have nothing to do with their hands, look for activity books that include a model to assemble or an archaeological artifact to unearth.

4. Redecorate and Rearrange

Children love to have a space to call their own, and letting them participate in a room re-do can make a winter weekend fly. Going to the hardware store to pick out paint for walls and trim is an adventure in itself, and once the painting begins, the transformation becomes even more exciting. If you’ve recently painted and aren’t ready for a full room makeover, try rearranging the furniture, shelves and art. You can give a room a new look and more functionality without adding a thing to the space.

5. Get Crafty

Crafts are a wonderful way of keeping little hands and minds busy. Indoor crafts with winter themes such as cut-paper snowflakes or cotton-ball snowmen are perennial favorites, but take advantage of clear winter days with some outdoor craft projects. Kids can make beautiful ice candles with little more than cracked ice, an old milk container and melted wax. Working on bird feeders and birdseed sculptures teaches children how to care for nature while keeping them engaged in something fun.

Before you know it, the kids will be back in school and barreling toward summer, so make the most of winter while it’s here!

Image Credit: fun.familyeducation.com

5 Little-Known Christmas Facts

Christmas-treeChristmas is a holiday with deep roots, but no matter how much you enjoy the festive carols and the beautifully trimmed tree, you may not know some of these fascinating facts about the merriest day of the year.

Xmas Is an Old Term

Plenty of people think the “X” in Xmas is a way for advertisers to shorten the name of the holiday, but the nickname has a long history. Far from being a breezy abbreviation, it’s a deeply religious symbol that got its start in monasteries. First commonly used in religious texts in the 1400s, the letter “X” signified the cross and was the first letter of Christ’s name in the Greek alphabet. For monks who spent hours toiling over manuscripts, finding a way to write quickly and efficiently was vital. When they replaced Christ’s name with an X, they were using what linguists call a Christogram.

Christmas Trees Have a Roman Heritage

You might think of the tradition of Christmas trees as a German one, if “O Tannenbaum” is any indication, but decorating evergreens for the winter holiday goes back far longer than the Germans. Ancient Romans adorned boughs of evergreen trees with fruits and nuts for their Saturnalia celebrations each winter. Early Christians may have adopted the evergreen tree as a symbol of rebirth and renewal to make the holiday feel more familiar to Roman converts to what was then a new faith. The German tradition dates from the 1700s, but it didn’t catch on in England and America until Queen Victoria wrote about her happy memories of decorating trees as a princess.

A Famous Author Created Christmas Elves

Louisa May Alcott was most famous for writing Little Women, but she was a prolific author who penned many other short stories, novels and non-fiction articles. One of her short stories in 1856 mentioned Christmas elves, pointy-capped creatures who helped Santa Claus care for his reindeer and make gifts for good children. Although the story wasn’t published in her lifetime, she shared it with other writers, and a few years later, a story about Santa’s elves appeared in a copy of the magazine “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” one of the most influential publications of its time. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are enduring characters, but Alcott’s most famous literary creations might be Santa’s little helpers.

Most Pets Get Christmas Gifts

If you consider your pets members of the family, you aren’t alone. About half of pet owners extend their Christmas spirit of giving to their pets and hang a stocking for Fido or Fluffy, according to a recent USA Today poll. Whether it’s a cozy pet bed, a squeaky toy or a bag of treats, giving your pet something special brings a little Christmas cheer to everyone.

Christmas Used to Be Illegal in Boston

Bostonians who love Christmas should be thrilled they didn’t live there before 1681. Until that year, celebrating Christmas in Puritan Boston was illegal and would cost you a five-shilling fine. Eventually, civic leaders loosened up and allowed Christmas celebrations, but even then, early Americans weren’t big on the holiday; in fact, some Puritans considered it a holdover from Catholicism or even irreligious. It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870, in part because the Puritans disapproved. Fortunately, most people didn’t see it that way, and Christmas celebrations have gotten steadily more joyous over the decades.

Image Crediteclecticallyvintage.com

Lakeside Selection: Our Weekly Favorites

Jewelry adds panache to any outfit, but it often has a deeper symbolic meaning that makes it even more precious. A wedding band’s unbroken circle, the timeless sparkle of a diamond engagement ring or a locket worn close to your heart is more than just jewelry; it’s a declaration of love. This week, take a look at what else you can say with jewelry when you shop the Lakeside Collection.

watch

Clip watches are popular with anyone who needs to keep her hands free. These Stone Inspirational Clip Watches combine the practicality of a clip with the natural beauty of stone. Each stone coordinates with the watch face and has a deeper meaning attached to it. Choose rose quartz to symbolize love, turquoise for protection, purple amethyst for calm or elegant onyx for strength. The back of each watch bears the inspirational message the stone signifies, giving you a psychological or spiritual lift whenever you check the time. Perfect for teachers and nurses, these watches feature a sweeping second hand and a sturdy carabiner clip.Not every message your jewelry sends has to have a deep meaning.

NFL-watch

Wear your NFL team affiliation on your sleeve with Lakeside’s NFL Watch and Wallet Gift Set. These officially licensed watches feature your team’s logo in full color across the watch face and a sporty leather-look strap in stylish black. Handsome silver-tone finishing on the watch bezel and buckle goes with anything from a team jersey to your favorite dress shirt. This set would be a great gift if it were just the watch, but with the bi-fold team logo wallet included, it’s a fantastic present for commemorating a playoff run, celebrating Valentine’s Day or marking a favorite fan’s next birthday.

Birthstone-necklace

Charm jewelry carries many different meanings as unique as the one who wears it. This gorgeous Cupcake Birthstone  Necklace features a lucky birthstone as its focal point, but the other sweet charms make it even more special.The cupcake represents a celebration to honor your birth. The 15-inch chain has a secure clasp and an extender to make it versatile enough to work with any neckline. Whether you wear it with a jewel neck, a turtleneck or your favorite T-shirt, it always makes a beautiful statement.

Family-bracelet

What could be more meaningful than the names of the people closest to you? Lakeside’s Personalized Family Bracelet has room for six linked names to encircle your wrist in sleek stainless steel, gold-tone or black. A generous 8 inches long, the bracelet will drape gracefully on the wrist and complement any ensemble. A genuine one-point diamond accentuates the bracelet’s clasp, adding a touch of sparkle to a deeply meaningful piece of family jewelry.

Whether your jewelry tells a story about yourself, your family or your favorite team, what you wear speaks volumes. With Lakeside’s jewelry collection, you’re never at a loss for something beautiful to say with your accessories.

How to Make Some Time for Yourself this Holiday Season

christmas-relaxIt’s important to make some time for yourself during the holidays if you want to ensure a stress free season. This almost goes without saying, but we always get so caught up in the hustle and bustle and of day to day activities that we forget to take time for ourselves. Normally, we can get away with waiting for the storm to blow over, but the stress builds much quicker during this time of the year. Therefore, we have fewer opportunities for release during that time. Here are a few of our favorite methods.

1. The shoulder massage

Obviously you don’t have time to go see a masseuse during a holiday time crunch. However, Lakeside has a wonderful alternative that help you relieve some of the stress where it is most concentrated. This heated neck massager can help you melt into a stress free zone of bliss and forget about your list of to-dos. The massager has two speeds, and is designed for maximum comfort due to the fleece cover and the foam inserts. Also it is portable so you can use it where you want to, and when you want to, because it runs on AA batteries.

2.The lumbar massage

Pair your neck massage with a posture-improving lumbar massage. These help you relieve tension from your lower back. We love this item because this wonderful little device is portable, and pulls double duty as a foot massager if need be.

3. Block out time for yourself

All of the little devices in the world can’t help you if you are unable to make sure you’ve actually set some time aside for yourself to get it done. So instead of rushing to get your impromptu massage at the last minute, make it a not-so impromptu situation. At the start of your holiday planning, commit to distressing for a half-hour or an hour. And when the time comes to stop doing work, stick to your stopping point no matter how important the task is! Don’t worry, your to-dos will still be there when you get back.

4. Minimize your aches and pains

In order to really benefit from the time you set aside for yourself, you should constantly be aiming to reduce the amount of mental and physical holiday stress that you take during the day. This entails a lot of real attention to detail. For instance, you may be accustomed to sitting down for long periods of time when you are doing work. However, did you know that this can weaken your hip muscles and actually do a lot of unseen damage to your body? Save yourself a ton of time with this incredibly soft seat cushion.

5. Be assertive

You would honestly be surprised how many people fail to tell their friends, family, and loved ones that they are in over their heads. This can be such a big mistake, because they can be your biggest helpers in lightening the load. At the very least, they will give you the space you need to relax.

Image Credit: foxnews.com

7 Tips on Planning a Holiday Meal

Plan-DinnerHoliday meals are absolutely amazing to enjoy, but they can be a nightmare to plan if you go about it in a disorganized manner. Armed with these 7 handy tips, you can make your holiday meal a total breeze. Here at Lakeside, we believe that meals should be about enjoyment, quality family time, and memories. They should most certainly serve as a relief from the stress of meal preparation. These quick shortcuts can show you how.

1. Segment your grocery list

One of the first mistakes that many people make is that they plan incredible recipes and just make an incredibly ill-fated trip to the grocery store. Why is this so terrible you say? Well, when everyone else has the same exact idea you are dealing with the equivalent of a grocery store meets Black Friday kind of thing.  So how do you segment your list? After you decide exactly which recipes you’ll be preparing, divide up the ingredients you need based on the specific department it is in. For instance, make a produce section, a spices section, etc. and fill them in!

2. Bring a helper, but let the kids play at home

If you need to get things done quickly, you’re better of dividing and conquering. However, bringing your kids can be counterproductive as you may have to keep tabs on them depending on how young they are. Make sure your helper is on the same page as you and you are looking for separate items in separate sections (see tip 1) of the list.

3. Concentrate your efforts

Instead of going all out on wonderful sides, you should focus on the main dish. This may seem pretty obvious, but you would be amazed how many people actually take more time to plan out their side dishes more than their main dishes! Remember, more people are interested in the centerpiece dish than filling up on stuffing.

4. Use a bit of familiarity

The holidays can be wonderful at inspiring innovation, but make sure to cook at least one dish that you are familiar with and love to make. This will minimize the amount of stress, and excess time used in cooking new creations and experimental dishes. It is great to have a fallback in case something doesn’t turn the way you were hoping it would

5. Consider special needs

If someone is a diabetic or has special needs think about these things ahead of time when you are planning. It can be an absolute nightmare to put together special needs dishes on the spot. If you are in a pinch, it can be easier to cater a portion of the meal.

6. Presentation counts

All the preparation in the world can fall flat if you don’t put some time and effort into the presentation portion. If you are out of ideas, you can always use trusty holiday décor themes!

7. Keep portions in mind

If you are inviting a lot of guests over, you may actually have to make that recipe that serves ten people. Otherwise, try to be realistic about how much food you make. If you are in the habit of making extra, be sure it’s something you enjoy just in case you have a lot of leftovers.

Image Credit: paulweberphotography.com

Lakeside Collections: Our Weekly Favorites

This week we’ve compiled a list of four items for a room that sometimes needs the most help: The bathroom. We’ve come up with four of our favorite items that will help you keep the room you get clean in, clean and cozy. Because the last thing you want in your bathroom, is the feeling of being some white-walled sterile operation room.

Toliet-paper-holder

Our first item is the Toilet Roll Storage Stand. Never have that worrisome moment again where you’re not sure how many rolls are left, or where they are stored, or worse, if there’s any left at all. With this handy stand, you’ll always know when you need a refill. Also the chrome finish lends a modern finish to your bathroom.

Bath-mat

The bathtub can get slippery. So bathmats are always a good idea, especially if you have children. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be a boring white, or beige color that’s eventually going to show all of the dirt that gets washed away. Our Microfiber Tub Mats provide great suction so that they’ll stay in place. And these won’t cause mildew or store an odor. Typical bathmats are made of don’t stay in place, and therefore are susceptible to bacteria build-up underneath. Take advantage of a bathmat that won’t get your kids or pets sick and will match the décor you have in place. Add some color and personality to your bathroom with these mats, and have peace of mind knowing that everyone is safe.

Soap-dispenser

The Kountry Krystal Soap Dispenser is another great way to add some personality to your bathroom. With its homey, vintage vibe, this soap dispenser will give your bathroom a cozy feel.These pieces are perfect for the holidays and if you are going to have any guests over at your place. The vintage of appeal comes from its resemblance to a jar and its country feel.

Santa-toilet-cover

There are a lot of ways to decorate your home. Most people look to decorate their tree and stay away from anything not related to their family rooms and outdoor areas. However, for those extra festive folks, it can be amazing to take the decorations into the bathroom as well! This festive, fun santa toilet seat is sure to be a simple delight to all of your guests, and a source of joy for all of your family. The design fits just about any type of toilet, and was built for standard toilets. Also, it is a perfect addition to kid-friendly décor. Set them up in any bathroom in your house and listen to their reactions

Take time to decorate one of the smallest, yet most important rooms in your house. That’s one of the best ways to celebrate the holidays, friends, and family during this month. The bathroom décor trends you set this month can carry out throughout the next year and set the theme and tone for 2014. As we wrap up this year, make sure to take advantage of the opportunities to come up with some of your own great bathroom décor.

 

7 Time Management Hacks for the Holidays

Time-management-holidaysWith the holidays coming upon us at a rapid pace, things can get extra hectic with the amount of stuff you have to do. It is extremely important to make the best use of the time you have. Still, it may seem like you don’t have enough hours in the day to take care of all the many things you need to do. Here are 7 of our tried-and-true time management hacks that can help you make the most out of your precious time.

1.The Kitchen Timer Hack

You may remember this handy little guy from all your favorite recipes. However, this wonderful little device can help you make incredible strides in time management. If you allot just one hour to a task, but don’t keep your eyes on the clock, that one hour task has a funny way of turning into a two hour task. Be careful and set the timer at the halfway mark to remind yourself that half the time has expired, then reset it for the second half.

2. Make a list and Check it Twice

First make a list of all the things you have to get done for the day. Once you have that list, make sure you prioritize. Studies show that the morning times are best for difficult tasks that require the most amount of focus. So get you to-do list in gear by making sure you have your tasks organized in the proper way.

3. Physical Activity

Don’t skip out on your dose of physical activity. This is one of the most often overlooked time management hacks in existence. It can be really tempting to ditch your workout because you’re so caught up with other things to do. There is a big problem with that though. Just focusing on all of the things that require mental activity can tire you out quickly. This is especially true if you are sitting down for long periods. Do yourself a favor and start your day off right with a quick but not too intense workout. It will pay time saving dividends later on in the day.

4. Make stations

Are you going to be doing one thing over and over again? If you have to repeat a task, sometimes is pays to set up stations. One of our favorite ideas is the gift-wrapping station. This helps keep all of the things you need in one place. (It’s especially useful for those notoriously hard to find items like ribbon, tape, and bows). Believe it or not, it could end up saving you a lot more time than you think!

5. Plan your time with your kids accordingly

Kids aren’t likely to follow the routines you set for yourself, so make sure that you set boundaries early. If they know that you mean business because it’s a stressful time, they’ll oblige (even if it’s begrudgingly so).

6. Label Your Serving Ware

If you are getting ready to plan a party then you are going to need some help. You can make sure things go smoothly and efficiently if you label the role and purpose of each dish and bowl, etc. This will end up saving you a lot of time having to explain to others exactly what goes where. This time management hack will make any party planning a much better and less stressful experience!

7. Breath

Okay maybe that’s an obvious one, but sometimes it’s harder to remember doing that in the heat of the moment. If you are really stressing out, it’s smart to remember to breathe deeply for a few minutes or so. You’d be surprised how much this overstated, but underused tactic works out. Use it to center yourself again, and you’ll be well on your way!

Image Credit: wellness.wellcall.com

Elf on the Shelf: Ideas for a New Holiday Tradition

elf-on-shelfIf you haven’t been swept into this craze yet, you will undoubtedly hear about it before the end of the season. If you don’t know much about it, here’s the quick background. Elf on the Shelf is a fun activity for your kids and family, from the extremely popular book of the same name. However, the new family tradition has evolved into something much more fun and interactive. The premise is that from Thanksgiving until December, the presence of Christmas elves in the house monitor kids’ behavior to make sure they act extra nice until the holidays. The Elves “move” from place to place in the house to show the children that they are, in fact, watching them.

We have seen some absolutely extraordinary Elf on the Shelf ideas that are extremely creative and effective in purpose, simultaneously. One of our personal favorites is the “morning scrabble” elf. The morning scrabble elf is a very versatile idea, and is very dramatic because of your ability to add text. Essentially, Santa’s elf magically appears seated on a scrabble board spelling out a message to your kids.

The effect is always powerful and almost instantaneous, because it appears as though the elf spelled the letters out themselves. For maximum, effect use messages to reinforce good behavior in order to play along with the theme. This is always most effective if your children are old enough to read but young enough to believe the possibility of an elf magically spelling out words, and it works better in families that tend to play more scrabble than others.

The goal is also to make people in the family smile. One of the easiest ways to do that is simply through personification, or making the elf seem really human. We love the mischievous elf idea at Lakeside. Essentially, your family elf gets hungry helping Santa assemble all of his toys and treats for the holidays and visits your kitchen for a quick snack. In order to make this appearance look real, it is very important to make sure that you leave an obvious paper trail back to the “scene of the crime”.

Prop your elf up on the kitchen counter, next to a bowl of candy or doughnuts. Next unwrap some of the candy and make sure wrappers are strewn about. Finally, to complete the effect, take a few small bites out of the candy or food and place the half eaten piece firmly in the elf’s hands. This will complete the effect with the utmost flourish. Watch people’s faces light up in wonder as they marvel at your family elf’s appetite!

Keeping in line with the mischievous elf theme, we are fond of the graffiti elf. This one is almost self-explanatory to people. However, one of the things that we don’t see enough of with this one is creativity. Remember, if you are the one creating the “artwork”, you will use a dry erase marker for cleanup. This means that the sky is the limit. Don’t restrict your amazing work to dry erase boards. Feel free to markup a few family pictures (as long as the picture is covered by glass). Make sure to position your elf by the picture with the marker firmly placed in hand!

You are only limited by your own imagination with this wonderful family tradition. Do you have an Elf on the Shelf tradition? Tell us about it!

Image Credit: business2community.com

Lakeside Selection: Our Weekly Favorites

This week, we’re focusing on everything delicious for the holidays with our extensive collection of gourmet gift baskets. Everyone appreciates gourmet delights, and they’re the ideal gift for groups. Make a favorite client feel appreciated or show your book club how much you care with gourmet goodies that please any taste. At Lakeside’s prices, you can even pick up a few for yourself!

Cookie-basket

Santa Claus may enjoy cookies and milk when he makes his rounds on Christmas Eve, but he would truly love something from our Mrs. Fields Deluxe Gift Box. This collection of Mrs. Fields’ most popular cookie flavors in individual packets makes a lavish gift for families and groups, but it can also be split into separate stocking stuffers. Each box contains 25 cookies in seven scrumptious flavors, including white chocolate chunk macadamia, oatmeal raisin and classic milk chocolate chip. Each gift box is hand-packed and checked for freshness so that your gift arrives in perfect condition.

Bacon-basket

If you know someone who can’t get enough of bacon’s salty smokiness, we have the ideal solution: the Bacon Lover’s Gift Basket. Bacon’s appeal with savory foods is obvious, but it’s also a perfect complement to sweet treats. This gift basket features bacon pretzels and maple-bacon popcorn as addictive snack foods, while the bacon brownies and dark chocolate bacon bar are sweet gourmet sensations. A bacon-flavored lollipop is the finishing touch that makes this one a must-have for the bacon lover in your life.

Sugar-cookie-basket

For those with a sweet tooth, the Sweet Winter Delights gift box contains an assortment of treats that will delight anyone with a taste for sugar and spice. Belgian chocolate bars, peppermint bark and snowman cookies are perfect for holiday snacking. Yogurt-dipped pretzels combine sweet and salty flavors in a single irresistible treat, and cocoa mix from Ghirardelli will make someone special smile on chilly winter nights. With enough treats for two, this gift is ideal for newlyweds, couples or anyone with whom you’d like to share a few sweet moments.

Candy-bag

Vintage clothing and retro styles are back in fashion, but finding familiar tastes from bygone decades is more of a challenge. Surprise someone who recalls the sweets of their youth or treat a young trend-lover with Special Decades Candy Mixes, ready-to-give bags of treats from the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s. Each gift bag contains some of the most popular candies from each decade, all of which are made according to their original recipes. If you or someone you love hasn’t had a Chick-o-Stick, Razzles or a Nut Zipper in years, it’s time to sample some of yesteryear’s best flavors in these colorful candy assortments.

Gourmet gift baskets are a delicious way to let others know you’re thinking of them this holiday season, and with so many different styles and flavors from which to choose, you can find something for everyone on your list—including yourself. Spread some holiday cheer in the office, bring long-distance friends closer or give family members a special treat with gourmet gift sets!

Pinteresting Picks for November

Savvy Do-It-Yourselfers and Décor enthusiasts know that Pinterest is the go-to destination for fresh and innovating ideas for the home. At Lakeside, some of our most popular pins for the month of November have given many homeowners excellent ideas for adding a nice touch to their homes. The holidays are nearly upon us and homeowners love the fact that they can add beautiful accents from our For the Home section.

For-the-home

Items here include accent lighting for almost any area or location in your home, picture frames, and much more! The great part about our For the Home section is that is that our items are great for year-round decorating situations. Whether you are looking to spruce up your dining room, living room, or other multi-purpose room, this section has everything you need for the holidays, and any other time of the year.

lighted-garland

Sometime it’s important to consider décor for the season, as well. For instance, many of the top pins for the month are from our holiday decorations section.  Whether you are considering shopping for yourself, or shopping with others in mind, this amazing section has items suited for both large and small homes. The outdoor décor items allow you to put together an amazing display for yourself and your neighbors.

On the other hand, if you are merely looking to add indoor home décor with holiday flair in mind, Lakeside still has you covered with our holiday décor section. Find the perfect combination of items to decorate your tree, and make it a holiday season to remember for you and your family. Pinterest is great at showing you how your table could look with the proper tableware and intricate decorations. Even the best food will lose some of its luster if it’s not showcased properly. This is definitely an area in which we could all improve! So make the most of your holiday meals, and pay attention to your holiday tableware this year. Everyone will wonder how you made it look so incredible.

baby-set

Toys have been really big on Pinterest lately. The end of the year always wraps up so quickly, from Halloween onward. First, it’s Halloween, and before you know it Thanksgiving break comes around. By the time we’re over our holiday feast it’s already time for Christmas, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. If you are looking for a great gift for a child who is notoriously hard to shop for, then the Toys & Sports category is specifically made for you.

You can find puzzles here that will even intrigue sharp and intelligent children. If you are looking for gifts for someone a bit younger, or a bit older, you can still be sure you’ll find exactly what you need in this category. Combine all of your shopping in one place to save as much time and money as possible. So why not avoid the long lines, the returns, and hostile shopping conditions this year? You could go shopping anywhere, but wouldn’t it be great to do it all from the comfort of your own home? Lakeside’s Pinteresting picks for the month are a great place to start!