Friendship Week: The Lakeside Collection Rewind

It’s National Friendship Week – it’s not a major holiday, but it’s a week worth recognizing to honor the people who have supported and celebrated us over the years. This week, we’re turning back the clock ten years and looking at what we might have gotten our best friends from The Lakeside Collection if it were 2004.

Lizzie-McGuire-dollThe Lizzie McGuire Doll Lizzie may be a clumsy middle schooler and a mediocre student, but she’s a great athlete and an even better friend. As a gift to your besty, the Lizzie McGuire doll says what you’re thinking: We’ll always be best friends, even in high school. This doll is a stuffed ‘04 trendsetter in her hot pink tank top and platform sandals but she’s also equipped to handle all your secrets – she comes with a purple notebook just like Lizzie’s to keep track of the confidential memos you only share with your best friend.

Spy-ToysUnderwater Spy Toys If you don’t want to leave a paper trail with your Lizzie McGuire journal, you can tell your deepest, darkest secrets to your best friend under water with these Water Talkies! All you do is take a deep breath, put your mouth on the talkie, dip into the deep end and reveal your classified information. With the Water Talkies, your secrets will only be between you, your best friend and all the fish within 15 feet of your conversation.

Friends-GameFriends Trivia Game Ten years after the pilot episode, the  Friends-ship has sailed, but not for you and your friends with the Friends Trivia Game! Test each other on how well you know all of Phoebe’s foibles, Monica’s management issues, Ross and Rachel’s rows, Chandler’s wisecracks, and Joey’s sandwiches. This game comes with 1,000 trivia questions covering 1994-2004 at Central Perk; it even comes with the signature over-sized coffee mugs just so you can feel like a true friend.

Cat-SweatshirtHoliday Fleece For the animal loving friend, nothing’s more fashionable than a stylish sweatshirt with cats adorned in holiday hats! And not a moment too soon – the weather is about to turn chilly and this cozy, one-size-fits-most shirt will give your best friend the cushy comfort a cat can’t.

Pooh-SweatshirtPooh Sweatshirts If your besty isn’t a friend of felines, there are other stylish sweatshirt options for friends – and who’s a better friend than Winnie the Pooh? Probably no one, but Tigger and Eyeore have certainly gotten Pooh out of enough jams to earn top spots on the Best Friends Billboard, if there were such a billboard.

Tiny-InstrumentsMusical Instrument Replicas The besty with a musical flair will love these tiny instruments! At a little more than 6”, these little musical gizmos are built like the real ones! The violin has real strings and a bow while the trumpet has three valves and a flared bell! They even come in velvet-lined cases. They’re not meant to be played or to be played with, but for the friend who loves music, they’re perfect miniature musical collectibles.

Ten years older and ten years wiser, our friends still deserve recognition. Even though these items are no longer available at The Lakeside Collection, your friends are. Think of them this week and have a party, send a gift or give them a nice note to show them your appreciation.

7 First Day of School Traditions to Start This Year

Image source: Flickr

Image source: Flickr

The first day of school is exciting and there are only so many we get to experience with our kids. Here are 7 first day of school traditions to make every first day of school memorable.

Preservation The night before the first day of school is almost as exciting as Christmas. To get rid of that nervous energy, help them craft a box where they can save their papers and artwork for the school year. It will be a collection of their progress and at the end of the year, have them sift through it to create a scrapbook. They can fill it with memories and see how they mature over the school year.

Fashion Show Help them pick out their favorite outfit to wear on the first day back to school. What they like to wear and what looks good for the first day of school might be two different things, so they may need guidance on how to be camera ready. Add something new to the outfit to mark the day – like a sparkly barrette or a hat – and look good for a picture.

Image source: Young Sok Yun via Fickr

Image source: Young Sok Yun via Fickr

Breakfast Your kids no longer get up or eat when they want, so make it easy on them and prepare a breakfast to entice them out of bed. Make an effort, but not so much effort you can’t get to work on time. Make healthy pancakes (it pleases you as much as it pleases them) or French toast (with whole grain bread, of course). Cut up fruit and make the batter the night before so all you have to do in the morning is heat the griddle.

Expectations Over breakfast, have them make a list in a cute, crafty notebook of what they’re excited about for the new school year. Talk about their friends, what they want to learn and their new teachers. Save the notebook and pull it out to review on the last day of school.

Pack It Help them pack their lunches. Make it extra special with a fun dessert and a note from you. Tell them how proud you are of them and what kind of potential they have for the school year. Give them gentle encouragement to finish the day.

Picture It Take a picture of them before they leave for school or at the bus stop. Have them hold up a sign – pre-printed, on a chalkboard, or hand-drawn – with the date, their age and grade. Take an identical picture of them on the last day of school to show how much they’ve changed over the school year.

Dinner

Image Source: Zeetz Jones via Flickr

Dinner The first day of school is exciting and stressful. Treat them to a family meal of comfort food. Make them things only you can make right – like your perfect macaroni and cheese, oven-fried chicken or broccoli pie. After dinner, set up an ice cream sundae bar and take dessert to the patio to talk about the first day of school. Ask about what they did at school, what their teacher is like and who they were excited to see.

It’s just the first day of school, but there are only so many you get to witness in your child’s lifetime. You’ll be glad you marked the days for your memories and for theirs.

Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week

Summer’s days are ticking away. Soon, kids’ schedules will be full of school, homework, practices, and lessons. Make sure your child takes advantage of every chance to play with toys and gear from the Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.

More fun than bumper cars or a pillow fight, this Sumo Bumper Bopper has a fun, kid-friendly design.

More fun than bumper cars or a pillow fight, this Sumo Bumper Bopper has a fun, kid-friendly design.

Your little girl will feel like she's caring for a real baby with a La Newborn Real Life 14" Doll Set or Outfits.

Your little girl will feel like she’s caring for a real baby with a La Newborn Real Life 14″ Doll Set or Outfits.

Fun lights, sounds, and moving parts on this Rush & Rescue Remote Control Vehicle will help your little one save the day.

Fun lights, sounds, and moving parts on this Rush & Rescue Remote Control Vehicle will help your little one save the day.

She can create her own fairytales with Disney Magnetic Paper Dolls.

She can create her own fairytales with Disney Magnetic Paper Dolls.

They will make a splash while staying dry in cute Kids' Disney Rain Gear.

They will make a splash while staying dry in cute Kids’ Disney Rain Gear.

 

End of Summer Countdown: 6 Ideas for Having Fun with Your Family

Family-FunAugust is Family Fun Month! We’re counting down the days before the kids go back to school, so we want to make the most of the time we have left with the family. Here are 6 ideas for having fun with your family.

Be Nostalgic Put together a family time capsule. Have everyone collect items to remind them of what they did this summer – shells from the seashore, artwork, postcards, photographs, small toys, books, calendars, lists of your favorite intangible items (TV shows, songs, bands), ticket stubs (movies, airline, sporting events). Put all the items in a sturdy container that locks out moisture, seal it and make sure you have an open date clearly written on it. Burying it could ruin the contents, so store it in a cool dark corner until it’s time to open it.

Be Active Play a game outside. Badminton is a great game for the family because you can play as individuals or as teams and it doesn’t take a lot of athletic ability for it to be fun for just about any age. If you want to do something less competitive, plan a family day at the pool.

Family-FunBe Hungry Go on a picnic. Choose the most beautiful park in your community and plan a big portable meal. Get everyone to pitch in to make the food and prepare the coolers for an afternoon of eating in the outdoors. Make a whole day of it by planning games or flying kites.

Be Creative Make a summer family scrapbook. Have all the photos of everything you did this summer – include individual activities like Girl Scout camp or tennis camp. Come up with scrapbook themes and ideas as a family. Give everyone a few pages to decorate and include pages for journaling about how each of you spent the summer.

Be Curious Plan a treasure or scavenger hunt for around your block. Scavenger hunts are a great way for kids to explore the neighborhood and see it from a different perspective. Hunts encourage team work and give families the opportunity to communicate and interact. It sparks unique quality family time you won’t have during the school year.

Family-FunBe Constructive Build something as a family. A tree house or a fort in the backyard will be fun to plan and make together and the kids will get use out of it for the next few months. But even smaller items like a table or bench made from an upcycled wooden pallet to add to your outdoor décor is fun for the whole family to build and enjoy. If you don’t have the time or materials to build something permanent, there’s no shame in building a blanket fort in the backyard.

The summer has flown by, but it’s not over yet! Enjoy the summer with your family while you can! Check out our emails and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more  #familyfun as the summer winds down this month.

Best Places to Camp

camping-2We only get so much time to get to spend outside, making the best of it by camping is the logical way to take in nature at its best and warmest. The great outdoors are vast and beautiful — so where do you go? Here are some of the best places to camp around the country.

Illinois In the southernmost tip of Illinois, nestled between Missouri and Indiana is Giant City State Park. The park has everything you might want for an active camping trip – rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking and fishing. The campsites vary in accommodations – sites with water, electricity and showers are available for reservation, but you can also use the walk-in sites without all the amenities.

camping-3New York Just north of Lake Ontario and south of Canada, Canoe-Picnic Point State Park is open for island tent camping. What makes this campground more interesting than others is it is only accessible by boat, so you have to pack accordingly and budget for boat rental. The site is great for fishing and you can cook what you catch at the picnic ground where there are communal cooking facilities.

California Three hours west of San Francisco and four hours north of Los Angeles, is some of California’s most impressive landscape at Yosemite National Park. Cascading waterfalls, towering sequoias and tranquil trails attract more than four million visitors every year. There are thirteen campsites where you can pitch a tent, but motels and cabins are available for those who like a bed and bath.

Florida Not far from Cape Coral, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, cushy camping surrounded by water is best at Cayo Costa State Park where secluded beaches are lined by pine forests and swamps. The island is only accessible by ferry or private boat which means the nine mile island has hiking trails to lead you from the campgrounds to the water to snorkel and fish or watch for manatees and dolphins.

Camping-1Pennsylvania In eastern Pennsylvania, camping, fishing and hiking is best at Locust State Park. Hiking and biking allows you to take in the lush forest and wetlands on your own, but the park provides guided tours to examine the lake and Pennsylvania wildlife. There are lakeside campsites for those who want to swim or boat and sites to accommodate RVs and campers.

Wherever you are, you’re never too far from a great camping trip. You don’t have to drive to enjoy the great outdoors; sometimes your backyard makes the perfect campground.

Who We’re Following

Our social networks are buzzing and we want to share with you some of our favorite blogs, pinners and tweeters that share our love for home improvement and family life. Here’s who we are following we this week we think are worth checking out.

Better-in-bulkBetter in Bulk is a family-friendly, crafty and wholesome place to get ideas for what to have for dinner to where to take a weekend trip. Better in Bulk is also quite handy with the camera; check out her Fourth of July photos – they’re worth the visit to the website.

Shabby-Creek-CottageThe Shabby Creek Cottage is all about creating the perfect home from the ground up. The DIY tricks are unbelievably thorough – try aging galvanized metal! – and the recipes are so mouthwatering even if you didn’t think you’d want to try them, you will after you see the pictures.

PinterestPinterest

V. Ruth Baranowski is a well-rounded pinner. Farm animals and children’s costumes get equal amounts of pin-time with tookytooky15, but she pays special attention to The Art of Being Awesome and we pay special attention to her; so should you.

From cute kids to crafty creations, Dixie Henderson gives us Pinspiration. Not only does she pin things to encourage us to make and do things, but some of her boards are downright entertaining. A favorite of her boards is “I Remember These!” which is filled with all sorts of nostalgia. Check her out.

TwitterTwitter

Holly Becker (@decor8) Tweets sweetly with a new mom’s voice and a stylist’s eye. She mixes up her messages with décor suggestions and inspirational quotes. She’s a fountain of information as well as a pleasure to follow.

Alli Smith (@allismith77) Alli Smith is a writer and storyteller and offers tweets short and to the point. Her topics vary from “Mother-In-Law vs Daughter-In-Law” to “Porches, Patios, and Paths.” Whatever she tweets, we’ll follow.

At The Lakeside Collection we’re always scouring the Internet for ideas and inspiration. Whether it’s on Twitter, Pinterest or a blog – when we see something fantastic, we want to share them with you and we hope you’ll do the same for us. Leave us a comment if there’s a site, pinner or tweeter you think is inspiring.

Chocolate Day

Chocolate-Bar

Image Source: John Loo via Flickr

It’s Chocolate Day — No other food sparks such guilt and pleasure — that silky, cocoa morsel deserves a day to call its own. Here are some of the best and most inspiring quotes about chocolate.

“Chocolate is the first luxury. It has so many things wrapped up in it: Deliciousness in the moment, childhood memories, and that grin-inducing feeling of getting a reward for being good.”  –Mariska Hargitay

“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.” — Katharine Hepburn

“If there’s no chocolate in Heaven, I’m not going.”   — Jane Seabrook, Furry Logic Laugh at Life

Chocolate-cupcake

Image Source: Shemille Laine via Flickr

“After about 20 years of marriage, I’m finally starting to scratch the surface of what women want. And I think the answer lies somewhere between conversation and chocolate.”  –Mel Gibson

“Mom always said too much chocolate is like having too much love—you can’t get enough.”  ― Geraldine Solon, Chocolicious

“The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare…neither knew chocolate.”  ― Sandra Boynton

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.” –Audrey Hepburn

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”  ― Charles M. Schulz

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”  ― Linda Grayson

“Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”  ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Box-of-chocolate

Image Source: Ulterior Epicure via Flickr

“Strength is the capacity to break a Hershey bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces.”  ― Judith Viorst, Love & Guilt & The Meaning Of Life, Etc

“Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain.”  ― Dave Barry

You don’t need a reason to eat chocolate, but Chocolate Day is as good an excuse as any to indulge in the world’s favorite sweet treat. Happy Chocolate Day!

 

 

New Wedding Gift Etiquette: What You Need to Know Before You Send a Present

Wedding-GiftWedding season is upon us. Wedding traditions are changing. Though the wedding gift is still part of the customs, but wedding gift etiquette isn’t what it used to be. Here’s what you need to know before you send your gift.

When

Popular opinion is wedding gifts can be given within a year of the nuptials. That idea may be popular, but it’s not considered polite. Think about your own standards of etiquette when you’re gift shopping. A good rule of thumb would be to give a wedding gift as soon after the wedding as you would expect a thank you note for the gift. You want to be thanked right away, so it’s only fair that you give the gift right away. If you need a hard deadline, three months is an acceptable amount of time to get your gift in the hands of the happy couple.

Wedding-giftsWhere

If you were invited to the ceremony and you don’t attend, it’s polite to send a gift anyway. If you go to the ceremony, it’s polite to give a gift – no matter how far you travel. If it’s a destination wedding and you attend the wedding, it’s polite to give a gift. The only time it’s not tacky to not give a gift is if it’s the second wedding for either the bride or the groom and you gave a gift for the first wedding.

What and How Much

Typically, gift registry information is not included in announcements. Ask the bride and groom where they are registered. How much you spend is mandated only by how much you can spend. The amount of money spent on each wedding is different, the income of every guest is different; all people are not expected to spend a set amount. Registries are handy for this; you can select a gift that matches your budget. Personal gifts the couple won’t forget or cash are also acceptable gifts. A good way to think about it is to let the relationship you have with the bride and groom – as well as your budget — dictate what kind of gift you give.

Bride-and-groomThe rules for giving gifts aren’t as strict as they once were. Couples are getting married later and have established jobs and live so they don’t need a kick start to furnishing their homes the way couples once did. A gift is never expected (at least it’s not supposed to be), but a token to remember one of the most important days in a couple’s history is appreciated.

Dos and Don’t of Being a Bridesmaid

We’ve all heard horror stories about being a bridesmaid — helping plan a wedding can drive anyone bananas – but there is one goal: a fabulous wedding. Here is a list of the dos and don’ts of being a bridesmaid to make sure it’s an event you – and the bride – want to remember.brideswithbridesmaids

Do:

Be Available

A lot of people don’t know what goes into planning a wedding until they’re planning a wedding. It’s like sprinting a marathon from the moment the planning starts until the return flight from the honeymoon. It’s a lot of work. The bride needs a lot of help. She asked you to be a bridesmaid because she trusts you will pick up her slack because she’s got a million other things on her plate. Make sure you can give her as much help as you can offer… she’d do the same for you.

Be Agreeable

This is your friend’s/sister’s/cousin’s wedding. Do what you’re asked to do and everything will go easy for you, the wedding party and the bride. Any bump in the road of wedding planning can throw off the flow of what’s supposed to happen. When everyone is on board for every step of the process, problems and the risk of drama are minimal. Let the bride choose the colors, the dresses, the flowers; if her ideas are outrageous, gently tell her to rethink her decision.

Bride and bridesmaidBe a Good Hostess

You’re there to make sure everything goes smoothly and tie up loose ends the bride can’t. This means talking to people when the bride can’t; handing out party favors; dancing when no one’s on the dance floor; making the party a party. It’s one of the most memorable nights of your friend’s/sister’s/cousin’s life so make it monumental.

Don’t:

Complain

This wedding is the bride’s party. Bridesmaids are there to share the day with the bride and share the burden of the bride. Bridesmaids help things along, not halt them. Complaining about food/dresses/destinations only makes the planning difficult. Make this the fun event it’s supposed to be. Make it a day the happy couple won’t forget. Make it easy and don’t complain.

Upstage the Bride

The most beautiful woman in the room is supposed to be the bride. Save the sparkly tiara for your wedding and let the bride shine. Let her be the one with the stars on her heels and the flowers in her hair. You’ll have (or have had) your own day to shimmer.

wedding ceremonyGet Drunk

What’s embarrassing: a bridesmaid dressed in hot pink taffeta stumbling in stilettos and slurring words.

What’s painful: knowing the evening is only going to get worse for that bridesmaid.

The bridesmaid might not remember what happened that evening, but it’s guaranteed the happy couple and everyone at the wedding will never forget how drunk she got. Don’t be that bridesmaid.

Being a bridesmaid is almost never easy. There are duties and expenses and you’ll likely have to do things you don’t want to do. But if you power through, your work and support will be appreciated. And remember the support – because there will be a time when you need support for a life event.

Best Ways to Spend Memorial Day at Home

American FlagWith the unofficial kick-off to summer, AAA expects more than 38 million Americans travel this Memorial Day weekend. But if you’re not on train, plane or in an automobile, you can still celebrate a three-day weekend. Here are 5 ideas on how to spend Memorial Day at home.

Memorial Day Ceremonies

Though a lot of Americans see it as a mini-vacation, Memorial Day is steeped in tradition — it was originally a day dedicated to honor fallen soldiers. Around the country, ceremonies are held each Memorial Day to pay tribute to US service men and women who died in the line of duty. At Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C., there is a remembrance ceremony planned – about 5,000 visitors are expected to attend. You don’t have to travel all the way to Washington D.C. to pay tribute; there are ceremonies in almost every state in the Union.

American FlagsParade

If you can’t get to a ceremony, you can always try to get to a parade. Parades for Memorial Day have been a tradition for more than a century – the town of Ironton, OH claims to have the oldest and longest running parade in the nation – it started in 1868. In New York City, more than one parade is held around the five boroughs and each one will be flooded with Sailors, Marines and Coastguardsmen as the holiday coincides with Fleet Week. The Chicago Memorial Day Parade and the National Memorial Day Parade are the largest Memorial Day events in the country.

Outdoor Concert

Symphonies across the Nation have special outdoor concerts planned to recognize Memorial Day. In Kansas City, Missouri, the Kansas City Symphony performs patriotic melodies on Sunday evening with a fireworks display behind Union Station. A similar concert is put on by the Dallas Symphony on Monday night and the Florida Orchestra is performing American classics and marches all weekend from Tampa to Clearwater.

The Lighter Side of the Weekend

BurgerCookout

It’s a no-brainer. You have an extra day to spend with all your friends and family who didn’t leave town, hosting a barbecue in your back yard is a perfect way to use the day. It’s a great time to enjoy spring’s bounty, the sunshine and good company over burgers. It doesn’t have to break the bank – make it a potluck event and have everyone bring what they make best. Revel in the long weekend.

Baseball

Whether you’re in a big city that has two professional baseball teams or you’re in a small town with a little league, nothing feels like spring like a good ball game outside. It’s an excellent family event where everyone can take in the sunshine while eating a hot dog.

Whether you attend a parade to salute soldiers or you spend the weekend relaxing with family over hot dogs, there’s no wrong way to celebrate the holiday. Enjoy your Memorial Day!