Ideas to Help Everyone Give Back on Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day! There are many ways to give back on November 11th, but there are just as many ways to support veterans every day of the year by finding the right volunteer opportunities, donating to an esteemed veterans organization from around the country and more. Read on to learn more about how to celebrate Veterans Day, and find out about some great veterans organizations if you want to get involved.


Veterans Day: Thoughtful Ways to Celebrate
November 11 is the anniversary of Armistice Day; the date World War I ended. It’s the day we celebrate the veterans in our country. This day of celebration was established in 1938. We know the when in celebrating, but do we know the how? Whether you have family, friends, neighbors or just want to celebrate the service of all American veterans and service members, check out these ideas to honor veterans in your community.

How to Show Support

National Military Family Association
The National Military Family Association prides itself on being the go-to source for information regarding all issues related to military families in America. Starting in 1969, NMFA has established a sturdy foundation of programs, including scholarships for military spouses, services for children in military families, opportunities for families to reconnect and more. It’s also a great resource for information and support on subjects such as how to handle deployment, what to know about military leave and benefits, life after the military and more.

Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude focuses on sending care packages to military members deployed overseas as well as their families at home, to veterans, care givers and more. The care packages are typically packed with food, entertainment, hygiene, handmade items as well as personal letters of appreciation from Americans all over the country. It has lifted the spirits of countless veterans, service members and families since 2003, sending more than 1.64 million care packages. Send a letter of your own to say “Thank You” on Veterans Day here.

Disabled American Veterans
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) helps improve the lives of veterans by providing free rides for veterans to get to medical appointments, and also assists with thousands of benefits claims. In addition to providing over 700,000 rides, DAV is also dedicated to helping veterans find employment by making vital resources available and hosting job fairs. It also works to create a community of volunteers across the nation, from all the disabled veterans who inspire each other to the local chapters in each state for people to get involved.

Back to School: 10 Morning Time Savers

Back to school means changing your morning routine. Getting the kids up and out of the house could double your morning workload, but there are tricks to get you out the door on time. Here are 10 morning time savers.

1. EAT Do not skip breakfast because yoBack-To-Schoolu are tight on time! Get ingredients and utensils ready the night before. You even can prep things over the weekend, like smoothie packs that go straight from the freezer or fridge to the blender.
2. PLAN TO EAT Plan lunch a day (or even a week) ahead. Pack as much of the meal in the evening as possible, and make sure ingredients for the rest are in one spot and easy to find. If necessary, keep the fully packed lunch bag in the fridge overnight.
3. PICK AN OUTFIT One of the biggest sources of last-minute struggles is clothing. Avoid this one by helping kids pick out clothes the day before. Children can take all the time they want to create an outfit, and parents have chances to make sure clothing is appropriate and clean.
Back-To-School4. PLAN A ROUTINE Create a simple routine that is similar to your family’s bedtime routine. This will prevent forgetting important things like brushing teeth and combing hair. The routine should include a bathroom schedule to make sure everyone gets the time they need.
5. GET UP EARLY Wake up before the kids. It is easier to get them up and going when you are up and going. Take a little time to shower, have a cup of coffee and get dressed before you need to focus on getting your children ready.
6. LEAVE IT AT THE DOOR Select a spot near the door specifically for things you need to grab on the way out, like shoes, bags, jackets, keys, and more. This will prevent a hurried search for a backpack or matching boots.
7. MENTAL NOTES Before you go to bed, go over the next day’s schedule. Don’t forget to check the weather report, too. You also can take this time to finalize transportation and carpool arrangements to avoid last minute scrambling.
8. TIME IT Use a timer to keep everything on track. Figure out how long you have to complete each task before you head out the door, then set a kitchen timer or the timer on your phone. That way, time will not slip away from you.
Back-To-School9. TUNE OUT Avoid the news unless the rest of your to-do list is finished. It is easy to get distracted by interesting—or depressing—stories from around the world. Staying up-to-date is important, but in the mornings, you need to concentrate on preparing yourself and your children for the day. There is plenty of time during the rest of the morning to catch up on current events. If there is a morning show you cannot miss, record it and watch it later.
10. STAY FOCUSED Resist the temptation to wash dishes, clean up an e-mail inbox, and other chores that do not need to be done in the morning. Once you have a morning routine down, you can add other activities to it if you have the time.

Do not wait until you are running late to find ways to save time. Plan ahead, and you will be ahead of schedule before you know it.

Tips to Pull off a Stress-free Kids’ Birthday Party

The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and your kids have spring fever. Add planning a birthday party to that and you have the recipe for the perfect headache. But a birthday party doesn’t have to be a chore — here are tips to planning a stress-free kids’ birthday party.

kids-moms-birthday-partyPlan Reasonably

Remember to take on only what you can handle. Not every parent is a party planner, but most parents want to be pleasing parents.  A good party doesn’t have to be a grand party.

Involve Your Child

Let your child’s personality dictate what kind of party you throw. If he or she is shy, have an intimate party where your child feels comfortable. If he or she is an extrovert, a bigger party with more games might be appropriate. Don’t force your child into something you want, make it about what they want.


Start with a theme. Themes add consistency to the party. When the decorations, food and drinks all coordinate, it’s easier to streamline planning. This is something you can recruit your child to help you with. If he or she chooses the theme, it will likely be a hit.  However, stay away from themes that require costumes. It adds stress to the planning and it may be asking too much of other parents.


You don’t have to invite the entire class. Keep it simple and invite just girls or just boys. You can even do the “age plus one” rule and invite one more child than the age your child is turning. 10 nine-year-olds is much more manageable than 25 nine-year-olds and it’ll be a better opportunity for the kids to bond in a way that’s not like being in class.

Kids-birthday-cakeYou don’t have to do paper invitations, but if you want to keep your child part of the fun process, he or she can help with them – just make sure to send a follow-up email so you know it gets in the hands of parents. Otherwise, the Internet has many options for sending out cute invitations through email.

Internet invitations allow you to be very specific. Extend the invitation to allow as many family members you’re comfortable with and they can RSVP with the exact number of attendees.  The “drop-off age” is typically five, so assume with caution the child is the only one attending from ages five and up.

Include the start and end time to give you added control around clean up.


For food and decorations, involve the whole family. Don’t take on all of the responsibilities yourself. Have your spouse take care of the grocery shopping. Have your kids help bake and decorate. Everyone can take part in set-up and break-down.

Bookend with Fun

Start the party with your best game and end with cake and ice cream. You want to get them interested at the start of the party and you want to keep them interested until the end.


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Goody Bags

If you want a no-stress party, skip the goody bags. Kids don’t expect them so they won’t know the difference. What the kids are there for is fun and cake. Save yourself time, money and energy by leaving goody bags out.

You don’t have to go bananas for your child to have a blast and the less stressed you are, the more fun you and the party will be.


4 Tricks to Stay Warm in Sub-Zero Temperatures


spirit fingersThis winter has been harsh, and many of us are living in temperatures we never knew could exist outside of Antarctica. To make sure we all stay warm, here are a few quick tips to combat the cold. You’ve only got a few weeks left of these record low temperatures, so bundle up and get through it!

1) Draft Stopper

Wooden doors tend to swell in summer and shrink in winter, leaving small gaps of space that let in big drafts. One small door draft stopper (door snake) can be the difference between a freezing cold draft and a warm and cozy home. You can find a decorative snake to shove under your door, or find one that attaches to the base of the door to make sure there’s no gap letting in cold air.

2) Heated Blankets

One of the more underrated home accessories, heated blankets are a life saver! When you’re watching TV on the couch, you really don’t need to heat the entire house, and electric blankets are warm enough to keep several people cozy while watching movies and catching up on the Olympics. Rather than cranking the heat, invest in a few heated blankets instead. You can even remove your duvet and place them directly on your bed for about 10 minutes to warm up your sheets and mattress before climbing in at night!

3) Hand & Feet Warmers

Trudging through the cold weather is best left to Alaskan wilderness explorers, but sometimes we find ourselves in similar situations while simply trying to get to work! If you have to wait for public transportation, or if your car takes a long time to get warm, consider stocking up on a few reusable or disposable hand warmers. We like putting them in our socks and boots and shoving them in our mittens when we’re riding the train to work! Pair that with a hot cup of tea or coffee and you’ll be warm before you know it!

4) Cover All Gaps

Much like insulating your home, the gaps of skin you leave uncovered can let lots of heat escape. You should wear gloves that cover your shirtsleeves, or that can be tucked into your sweater. Leggings may not be the warmest gear of all, but when you wear them under your jeans or work pants, or over your tights, they can make a huge difference! If you have to walk more than 20 feet outside in sub-zero temperatures, leggings and insulated activewear will keep you warm. It’s also important to wear long socks that reach about midway up your calf, and if you’re wearing leggings, tuck them into the socks to keep all the heat inside!

Tips For Finding Time To Exercise

walking pedometerEven if you have complete freedom over your schedule, it can be difficult to squeeze in a workout. One of the most popular resolutions is to improve health and fitness, but by the end of January, most of us are burnt out from the stress of fitting in a workout. Don’t beat yourself up about this; instead, be proactive about making time for exercise. Here are great ways make exercise a part of your lifestyle to keep that 2014 resolution.

Walking Meetings

Whether you’ve got a conference call or an in-person meeting, there’s really no reason why that can’t be a walking meeting. Meet at a park or near the beach, and offer up a “walking meeting” to your client to ensure they’re prepared with sensible shoes. Meetings often take hours, often sitting in conference rooms, munching on snacks; time that is much better spent on your feet! You can’t always schedule walking meetings outside, especially when it’s raining or freezing, but that shouldn’t stop you in terms of conference calls. Find an indoor track or hit the treadmill with your cell phone and ear buds. Grab a pedometer to measure your distance, and you’ll be surprised how far you can walk in an hour or two!

Lunchtime Swims

Regular swimmers can swim a full mile in about 35 minutes, which makes for a very quick workout. If you’re just a beginner, plan to swim for about 20-30 minutes and the distance will get further and further as you progress. Either way, a 30-minute swim still leaves plenty of time for showering and change afterwards, and it’s a great way to break up the monotony of the office.

Early Gym Classes

You’d be surprised how easy it is to bond with a stranger at a 5am spin class. Start going to a morning class that meets twice a week and you’ll be so glad to have a workout complete before you get to the office! You can probably fit in yoga, pilates, barre, and spin classes, and then you have an excuse to buy cute apparel and gym bags! If you can convince a friend to join you, that’s even better! If you make Tuesdays and Thursdays your gym days, you won’t be tempted into Monday or Wednesday night happy hours – saving you even more time for sleep and exercise!

Different Commute

If it’s a bike-able distance, get yourself a backpack for work essentials and a change of clothes, and plan to bike at least 3 times a week. Another option is public transit. This is not possible for everyone, but if you can find a way to get to your office for a reasonable price in a reasonable length of time via public transit, do it. When you take public transportation, you are normally forced to walk more in-between stations and stops. Plus, you will have plenty of time on the train to read or catch up on emails. If you are able to take that early morning workout class, you can even take a short little nap on your way to work, or use that time to eat a quick and healthy breakfast – like banana-oat muffins or a hardboiled egg. If you don’t have public transit options, you can make little changes in your commute by parking half a mile from your office, or at the very back of the parking lot. Every little bit counts!

Workout Happy Hour & Social Events

Everybody loves a good happy hour, but why not make it a workout hour instead? Whether you’re running, walking, biking, or doing a mat workout, choose a social workout that encourages conversation. You can also make weekend workout dates, such as a day hike with friends and family, or a trip out to a lake. Your friends will hardly notice the lack of a cocktail when you’re catching up on the day’s events, and the hormones you’ll release from exercise are much better than those affected by alcohol!

3 Tips for your Lakeside Order


Packing-BoxesEach click on an item builds the excitement of waiting for your order to set sail and arrive at your doorstep.

1. Timing is everything

Whether you have your favorites marked or your cart stocked, you want to ensure your gifts are on time for family and friends. At the moment, Lakeside only ships to the contiguous United States of America. Though express shipping is not offered at this time, being confident in a delivery time is just a phone call away. The time-frames will very on seasons so be sure to call your favorite reps in customer service at (847) 295- 6058 to assist you with a time-frame in your area.

2. Additional Delivery means added value

When redecorating or moving into a new home its important to have some solid staples such as side tables, wall décor, and home office essentials. Additional Delivery or AD can be found on the website below the item number or on the check out page. This additional shipping cost allows Lakeside to offer all the wonderful key items that can bring any room together. Whether it’s organizing books or adding the last piece to complete a room, your space will look impeccable.

3. Location, location, location

It is important to all of us that our Lakeside finds get to us ASAP and one way to do this is to provide a physical address for your items to be delivered to. Though your package may be sent through UPS or the Post Office, UPS can only deliver to a physical address. Attempting to send your order to PO Box may cause a delay in receiving your favorite items. In addition, provide an apartment or suite number if needed to ensure the package is taken to the correct address. These steps will help eliminate any delay in receiving your favorites.

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Making the Most of Small Spaces

Small-Living-SpaceYou’re crowded, cramped, always tripping over your things or other people, and feel like you have to navigate a maze to get from the living room to the bathroom. Sometimes it can feel like a cave. Whether you are living in a small house, tiny apartment or dorm room, or are just stuck with too many people for the home you have, living without enough space can be challenging and frustrating.

You have two options here: complain about it, or tackle the problem head on and fix it. Here are some tips on getting the most out of your small space.

Cut the Clutter
The first step you should take is to get rid of clutter. Having too many things trying to fit in a small space will make it feel even smaller. Ask yourself what you can live without. Are all those thingamabobs and doohickeys essential to your happiness? Do you really need those sweaters you haven’t worn since middle school, or the cappuccino-maker that hasn’t been turned on in 3 years?

This is not the time to be softhearted or sentimental. If an item actually does have sentiment to it, by all means keep it. However, if you are creating sentiment where there is none, then be ruthless and toss it. If you can’t bear to throw it away, then give it to charity, recycle it, or have a yard sale and earn a few bucks.

Getting rid of clutter will make the room feel more open and less cramped. After doing that, it is much easier to follow the remaining steps.

Double-duty Furniture
Make your space multitask. You have more than one thing to do a day don’t you? So why not make your furniture do more than one thing, too!

Grab an ottoman with storage inside that you can also use for extra seating. Use an open bookshelf as a room divider, or invest in a futon to use as a couch during the day and a bed during the night. Instead of just putting a table under the window, use a trunk or chest that can double for storage and a window seat.

Another way to use furniture to its full potential is to have a way for it to disappear when not in use. Beds that fold into the wall, chairs that store inside each other or small tables with drop leaves for that dinner party you are having, but that can then be dropped once again to create more room.

Creative Storage
There are places for storage everywhere; you just have to look harder for some than others. There are of course the more obvious closets and under-the-bed areas that work great for storage. But simple additions, like a spice rack to the inside of the cupboard door, a shoe racks on your closet doors or a turn table to awkward spaces can bring so much more space to your home.

Instead of having the awkward space between the cupboards and ceiling just gathering dust, add more cupboards or more shelving. Add shelving above the toilet that goes up to the celling to make use of wall space, and put double rods in closets for twice the hanging space.

Check for dark nooks and crannies that you can use. You may have to be inventive with the spaces available, but you can make them work. If you have an unused wall—and it’s allowed in your lease if you’re renting—take off the sheetrock, refinish the wall, and create in-wall shelving. These are especially handy behind open doors and other places that would otherwise be unusable.

Downsize Furniture
Huge furniture in a tiny room will only dwarf the room and make you feel even more cramped than you already are. Choose furniture that fits the scale of the room. Instead of one large coffee table, choose two smaller end tables. Instead of one big sofa, try a loveseat and a chair or two. Pick a flat screen TV if you can to save space. If you hang it on the wall instead of placing it in an entertainment center, it will open up even more floor space.

Pick a bed with a small headboard, as that can make the bedroom seem smaller, or have a headboard that doubles as shelving. If you go for the shelving option, you can even consider getting rid of your dresser to open up space. In your kitchen, pick small scale appliances—there are some fridges that take up no more floor space than the cupboards—and compact countertop appliances. If you can find appliances that serve more than one function, that’s even better.

Fool the Eye
There are ways to trick your eyes into thinking a space is bigger than it is. Glass is your friend with small spaces; a table with a glass top will blend into its surroundings and keep the eye moving. Mirrors and light-colored paint on the walls will reflect more light and create a bigger-looking space. Neutral and monochromatic furniture, floors, drapes, and walls also make space look larger, and you can include a pop of color with small accents to create focal points.

This might sound bland and boring, but will not only make the room seem larger, but will also camouflage odd angles or other oddities in the room. It will also make it easier to create seasonal changes, like dark orange throw pillows in the fall to red and green for Christmas. Just have fun with accents, textures, and wall art to let your personality shine through.

Follow these tips and watch as your space transforms from a cramped, crowded, cave to an open oasis for all who visit.

Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose pride and joy is her family. In addition to spending time with her husband and daughters, she loves being outdoors and sharing her experiences with others through writing, which includes anything from Vancouver plumbers to local photographers.


Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items for the Week

It’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays, and one of our favorite ones, Halloween, is coming up soon! Get everything you need to make your home and yard look gorgeously gruesome for Halloween today, and you’ll have plenty of time in October for planning parties, creating costumes, and adding cute or creepy finishing touches to your decor. If Halloween’s ghosts and ghouls aren’t your style, you’ll also find beautiful seasonal decorations to celebrate autumn. No matter how you decorate for October, you’ll find what you need.

Every Halloween display needs a focal point, and we love this skeleton decoration for its weird and whimsical charm. Just because he’s passed on doesn’t mean he forgot how to take life easy, so he’s found a comfortable spot to relax for a spell. This sleepy skeleton’s chest rises and falls as he snores in his hammock, perhaps resting up for a big Halloween night. His hammock is 8 feet long, so it’s a large enough piece to be the center of your yard’s display. Add a spotlight or two to show him off, and you’ll have one of the most unusual decorations on your block.Interactive-skeleton-hammock

Halloween is about more than spooky skeletons, though. With this cheerful Halloween bunting, you’ll get in the spirit of the season while still keeping your decor friendly enough for the littlest kids. Made of durable polyester fabric, the bunting is perfect for a porch rail, a deck or a fence. At almost 60 inches across, this adorable hanging makes an emphatic statement. Choose from jack-o’-lanterns in festive fall hues of orange and black with green accents or a trio of cheerful, bow-tied ghosts. If you have plenty of space to cover, choose both – they look great together or separately.


If your kids’ trick-or-treating days are behind them, or if you prefer a more sophisticated take on Halloween, try these oddly elegant lighted Halloween urns to flank your door or adorn your porch. Welcome guests to your Halloween party in style with these black, molded plastic urns filled with bare branches and twinkling lights. Choose from traditional Halloween black with miniature orange lights or an elegantly eerie purple with blue lights. If you prefer, you can mix and match them to create a dramatic setting for your next Halloween party. Each pair of urns is over 22 inches tall, so you can also use them as a towering tabletop arrangement or near your fireplace.


Halloween is also harvest time, which is why we’re showing off these sweet garden decorations for your yard. These painted metal pumpkins stake into the ground and give your front or back yard a festive touch that works for Halloween, Thanksgiving and beyond. Pair them with hay bales to impart a country harvest look to your yard.


Whether your Halloween style is cute, creepy or comforting, we have your look! Get started today, and you’ll have the best-looking display in your neighborhood. We’re always getting new stock in, so check back often to see what else we have in store for the holidays.

5 Ways to Update Your Bedroom on a Budget

Decorate-bedroomOne of the quickest ways to change the look of your room completely is to paint it. You can spend hundreds of dollars to get a professional painter to do the work, but with careful draping and taping before you start, you can do it yourself for a fraction of the price. Unlike your living room or den, your bedroom isn’t a place that’s on public display, so choose shades you like even if they’re bright or unusual. Serene blues and greens suit some people while others go for brilliant red or royal purple. It’s your room, so go as wild or as mild as you like with paint colors.

Send a Message with Wall Text

One of the most exciting decorating trends for the last few years has been the use of text as a design element. Getting an artist to hand-paint or stencil text on your bedroom walls is one option, but it’s a costly one. If you have steady hands, you can do the work yourself. Another option is a wall quote decal that effortlessly adds a decorator touch to a wall. Another advantage of peel-and-stick text: When you’re ready to change your message, you don’t have to repaint.

Pick a Motif

When you have a theme to your decor, the finished product looks more cohesive. Choose something you love, such as a favorite era or place, and let it inspire your bedroom’s design. Do the brilliant hues of a Moroccan market inspire you, or is an airy Parisian atelier more your style? Do you dream of taking long walks in a lush forest, or is your perfect vacation spot on the beach? Your bedroom should reflect something about who you are.

Upgrade Your Linens

Luxurious linens instantly elevate your bedroom’s style and make it look more inviting. There’s a reason top hotels offer turn-down service to showcase their fine bed linens; nothing looks more inviting than a freshly made bed with elegant sheets. Follow fine hoteliers’ decor example with embroidered discount bedding collections it’s a good way to tie the main bedroom and master bath together.You don’t need to spend much to create the bedroom of your dreams. Whether you turn your room into a calm oasis or a colorful fantasy, you’ll never want to leave when it reflects your personal sense of style so perfectly.

Add a Sumptuous Rug

Bedrooms are about function as well as form. Stepping onto a soft rug instead of a cold floor on winter mornings is a delight, and bringing in area rugs lets you change the look of your room while making it cozy. Area rugs are also a wonderful fix for neutral carpets that don’t have much of a style impact on their own or that have become discolored in high-traffic areas. Choose pale hues to open up a dark room or vibrant colors to anchor light neutral tones. To link your bedroom decor to the rest of your home’s style, try themed rug collections it’s a good way to tie the main bedroom and master bath together.

You don’t need to spend much to create the bedroom of your dreams. Whether you turn your room into a calm oasis or a colorful fantasy, you’ll never want to leave when it reflects your personal sense of style so perfectly.

Image Credit: Sindterior

Our Top Gardening Tips

Here are some great gardening tips, happy growing!

Rock Marks the Spot

After you plant, don’t stick those unattractive labels into your garden to mark your seeds. Instead paint labels on smooth rocks. Check out this picture below from Rocks blend naturally into the surroundings, and best of all they won’t blow away!

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