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!

Lakeside Selection: Our Favorite Items for the Week

It’s Friday fun day! There are so many ways to spend the weekend, we’re letting the catalog help us decide what to do as we look for our favorite items for the week. Here’s this week’s Lakeside Selection.

bubbleizer

The fun never ends with The Light-Up Bubbleizer! It blows bubbles nonstop since it never runs out of breath. Pull the trigger and watch the bubbles flow. Its transparent body lets you see the bubbles forming. Streaks of colored light illuminate each shiny bubble as it floats in the air. Comes with a bottle of bubble solution (1.69 oz.) and is easily refillable. Works with any bubble solution.

food-covers

These colorful food covers slip over bowls, serving platters and casserole dishes with ease. This set gives you 96 of them in 3 different sizes at an amazing price! Each size features its own color to help you select the right one for the job. The covers are sheer, so you can see the food easily. Great for taking treats to work, the neighbor’s house, or a pot luck! Use them for storing leftovers in the fridge, and without the need to transfer food to a storage container, you’ll have fewer dishes to wash. Easier than fighting plastic wrap. Fits all shapes: round, oval and rectangular. Reusable or disposable.

mosaic-bird-feeder

Attract birds to your yard with this Solar Mosaic Bird Feeder. The pillar sparkles in sunlight, and at dusk it glows from the inside making the bird feeder a lively part of your nighttime landscape. A solar panel on top provides the energy for the light. Fill the tray at the bottom with seed, and the top canopy will protect it from moisture.

headwraps

Style your hair with a different print or color every day with this Set of 6 Headwraps. The headwraps are a comfortable alternative to hard plastic headbands and can also be worn wide for use as head scarves. Elastic banding prevents them from slipping off, so you can wear them for workouts or other physical activities.

picnic-table-covers

Give a fresh, new style to your picnic table and benches with this vividly colored 3-pc. set of covers. The durable vinyl covers prevent spills and dirt from reaching the surfaces and wipes clean easily. The edges are elasticized for a secure fit.

Pinteresting Picks for April

April is over and we have so much to do now that May is here. The catalog is giving us and our Pinterest followers ideas on what we need to gear up for summer. Here’s our list of the products most pinned for the month — our Pinteresting Picks for April.

folding-deck-table-no-caption

The Folding Deck Tables is one of our favorites and a favorite of our pinners. It’s the perfect space-saving table for a deck, porch or balcony — great for cocktails and snacks outside on a summer night.

today-is-a-new-day-no-capt

Today is a New Day Wall Art adds decor and inspiration to your home. The uplifting messages are printed on wooden box-frame with an antiqued looked.Every time you walk by it, you’ll be delighted with art and encouragement that will make you feel good all day long.

personalized-self-inking-stamps

Personalized Self-Inking Stamps let you put your mark on anything you want. With a choice of “round square,” “square block” and “round monogram” you can personalize all of your outgoing mail or anything paper you want to label as your own.

space-saving-bathroom-organizer

Space-Saving Bathroom Organizer maximizes storage for a small bathroom. It’s tall and thin and features multiple storage areas where you put all of your bathroom products and appliances. It even has a pullout drawer and a lower cabinet, which has a hinged door and magnetic closure.

 

Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items for the Week

It’s starting to get a little greener outside and while we’re looking at the catalog we’re thinking about how we’re going to spend our weekend outside. Here’s our Lakeside Selection for the week:

Coner-planter-fence

Prevent foot traffic through a flower bed or mark the borders of your property in a decorative way with a Corner Planter Fence.

Stuffed-burger-maker

Amaze yourself with the flavorful combinations you’ll create with the Stufz Stuffed Burger Maker. Pack up to 1/2-lb. of burger full of extra ingredients. You can also make cupped burgers and patties.

outdoor-mat

Take a Multipurpose Outdoor Mat with you and you will always have a perfect seat on the grass or sand. Water-resistant mat features a cheerful design in coordinating colors. It easily folds up to a compact size with a carry handle for transport.

Freezable 19-Oz. Water Bottle maintains your chilled beverage at just the right temperature. Store it in the freezer so that the gel inside the wall starts out frozen. You'll be amazed at how long your water stays cold. A built-in silicone straw on the screw-on lid folds down when not in use. Plastic.

Freezable 19-Oz. Water Bottle maintains your chilled beverage at just the right temperature. Store it in the freezer so that the gel inside the wall starts out frozen. You’ll be amazed at how long your water stays cold.

Twist-roller-ride

The Twist Roller Ride On gives kids a unique way to travel the driveway and sidewalk. It uses the natural forces of gravity, friction, inertia and centrifugal force to give any child age 3 and up a fun ride. It doesn’t have pedals, chains or a motor. Just hop on and start steering. All you need is a smooth, flat surface to make this sleek, aerodynamic ride-on toy go. Sit on the seat, put your feet on either side of the soft-grip steering wheel, give it a twist and roll.

Earth Day: Ways You Can Save the Environment at Home

Earth-and-moonTuesday, we recognize Earth Day on its 44th Anniversary. It’s a day we set aside to focus on nurturing the environment. Every little bit helps. Here are 7 ways you can help save the environment at home – insides and out — without changing your lifestyle.

Inside:

Take shorter showers. Even if your shower is a minute less than what you’re used to, you’re still saving water.

Turn off your dishwasher when it gets to the drying stage of the cycle. It doesn’t take any energy to let your dishes air dry.

Turn your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. According to energy.gov, For every 1° adjust your thermostat, you can save 1% on your heating or cooling bill.

Outside:

Girl-plantingPlant a tree. Trees help the environment on so many levels. Not only do they clean the air, but they also help conserve energy and prevent water pollution.

Ride Your Bike or Walk. You could use some exercise and so could the environment. Increasing trips by walking or riding a bike 12% to 15% could lead to fuel savings of 3.8 billion gallons a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 million tons per year – it would be the same as replacing 19 million conventional cars with hybrids.

Wash your car at a car wash. Professional car washes are more efficient than washing your car yourself. While using a hose in the driveway to wash your car uses between 20 and 100 gallons of water, a professional car wash uses 8-12 gallons of water. Professional car washes also recycle water and they’re required to dispose of the water so their chemicals doesn’t end up in a storm drain leading to rivers and streams.

Don’t use a coffee stirrer at the coffee shop.  Coffee stirrers are used for a few seconds and then stay in a landfill for years. Most coffee shops have washable spoons you can use to stir your coffee. Use those instead.kids-picking-up-garbage

If you care about the environment, you can put your use and waste into perspective by calculating your carbon foot print. Click here to find out how big your mark on the earth is. Happy Earth Day!