Camping Tips for a Luxurious, Comfortable Vacation

For a more relaxing and comfortable camping experience, you need not invest in a costly travel-trailer, pop-up camper, or mobile home. A few inexpensive items that are easy to attain can make your tent or campsite a more enjoyable home away from home.

Luxurious camping tips start with your tent! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)

Just follow these steps for a fun and accommodating camping experience!

*Maximize Sleeping Accommodations:

Either before you leave home or as soon as you arrive at your destination, purchase an inflatable air mat at the nearest superstore, convenience store or trading post for each person in your group. The 20 to 30 minutes it takes to blow it up will be well spent as you reap countless hours of peaceful sleep without noticing the bumpy roots, pinecones, stones and twigs below you.

Furthermore, these air mats double as a raft (their true purpose), but in the sense that if some unexpected water seeps into your tent during the night, you remain dry! Use as many blankets and sleeping bags as you like, and when the vacation is over, your couple-dollars’ investment will have been well worth it. Dispose of the air mat prior to returning home or keep it with your camping gear for next time.

*Maximize Cooking and Meal Choices:

Tired of the traditional hotdogs and s’mores over a campfire? With the right tools and food selections, you can cook just about anything your heart desires, from french fries to macaroni and cheese or Ramen noodles. Just follow this quick, easy and inexpensive checklist:

To diversify cooking, bring these items:

Mini Charcoal Grill

Charcoal

Lighter Fluid

Matches

  

An Old Pot or Pan

Tinfoil

Small charcoal grills can be purchased for as little as $10 or sometimes even less. With the grate that comes with the grill, you can make hamburgers, chicken, fish, baked potatoes and much more. Grill a muffin toast a bagel for breakfast.

Having a pot or pan in your inventory allows you to boil water for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, make soup, cook noodles and so forth. Place the pot directly on top of the grill, but realize that the flames may discolor its original shine and may also leave an ashy residue. Be sure to bring a spoon and potholders or an oven mitt to avoid burning yourself.

Though it is great for storing leftovers, tinfoil can help you cook smaller items, such as french fries, chicken nuggets or roasted veggies. Cover your grill top with it to reduce the mess made when cooking meats and other meals directly on top of the grill.

Be creative and all of your cravings can be satisfied with the right cooking tools and equipment.

Other items to bring:

Skewers (or gather sticks once you reach your campsite)

Paper plates

Insulated mugs to keep hot drinks warm and cold ones chilled

Utensils

Grill tools, such as tongs, large fork, flipper, etc.

Paper towels

Trash bags

*Maximize Your Living Space:

Staying Dry: Put a tarp below your tent prior to pitching it to help prevent water on the ground from seeping into your living quarters.

   

Also, try to rig a tarp above your tent by suspending it from the trees with rope so that rainfall is diverted away from your tent. Those inflatable air mats you use for better sleeping will also keep you dry in case of a leak (unless it is right on top of you!).

Keep all open food items sealed inside a cooler to avoid encounters with wildlife.

Also, hang your trash bags from a tree branch to keep it away from wildlife.

*Make Your Tent a Home:

Put up indoor/outdoor lights/lanterns to help you and others quickly identify and locate your tent in the dark. A string of small, fun-shaped lanterns would work well—especially when they stand out from those anyone else might use.

   

Bring a CD player or radio so you and your tentmates can enjoy some music.

Don’t forget to bring your own creative additions to make the most of your camping vacation!

Great Gifts for Clients, Colleagues, or Small Business Owners

Some people tend to be impossible to shop for… and when it comes to selecting the perfect gift, we’re often left scrambling to find a cheese and crackers set or a box of chocolates or high-end candy at the last minute. Shopping for your colleagues, clients, and small business owners doesn’t have to be as stressful as it can be, though. If you know a little bit about your recipient, you're set!With some decent lead time and some careful contemplation, you can nail down a great gift with less effort than you would expect!

As you select a gift for your client, colleague, or small business owner or associate, bear in mind that you’ll want to avoid duplicating or tripling any gift items they may already have – for example coffee mugs and desk clocks. While it may seem like a fabulous idea to present your recipient with a lovely new mobile phone or a digital camera, you’d best do your homework to ensure they don’t already have one!

Here are some suggestions to aid your quest for the perfect present for small business owners and business associates. Consider these gift ideas or use them to help you come up with your own idea. Good luck!

1. NEAT Receipts™ scanning unit – For people whose clutter runs their lives, a paper-eliminating device may be the ultimate gift of liberation. NEAT Receipts is a handy and helpful device that connects to computers with a simple USB cord. The device scans receipts, business cards, and documents of just about any kind, converting them to digital JPEG or PDF files.

Digital document management at its finest!The scanning device is slim and slender, offering great portability and easy storage. It comes with its own soft sleeve case (great for business travel) or storage inside your laptop case for anytime use. The NEAT Receipts software allows you to search for keywords within the documents you scan, making your job easier on the reporting end. The software also employs “Smart Sorting™”, which automatically organizes the documents you scan.

NEAT Receipts allows you to export your scanned data into Microsoft Outlook®, Excel®, Word®, Money®, QuickBooks®, Quicken®, TurboTax®, csv, vCard, Plaxo®, HTML, and more. The digital scans are accepted by the IRS and retain the integrity of the original receipts to prevent fraud. NEAT Receipts makes it easy for anyone to prepare expense reports for tax time, store contact information through scanned business cards, and to eliminate the need for many paper documents.

Best of all, the ease of using this device makes it easy for business owners and associates to keep track of receipts without tossing them all into a shoebox, causing more clutter. For more information on NEAT Receipts, see: www.neatreceipts.com.

2. Noise Cancellation / Noise Reduction Headphones or Earphones – This gift can be invaluable for the frequent flier. Slap on a pair of noise cancellation headphones or earphones and relax as you drown out the sounds of the airplane and other passengers around you. They also work amazingly well with an MP3 player, CD player, laptop computer, portable DVD player, or other electronic audio device.

Depending on your prospective recipient’s wearing preference, you can choose from full ear-covering headphones like BOSE Acoustic Noice Cancellation® headphones (my husband highly recommends the Bose® QuietComfort® 2 Acoustic Noise Cancellation Headphones) or tiny, foam-tip earphones that fit comfortably in the ear, such as Hearing Components’ Comply™ NR-10 High Tech Noise Reduction Earphones.

The Bose QC2s feature rotating ear cups, an adjustable headband, replaceable ear cushions, a battery light indicator, high and low settings, extension cord, power switch, and more, all packed within a sturdy, padded and zippered carrying case. These headphones are a rather high-end item, costing around $300 and up, depending on the retailer.Business travelers love noise reduction!

I enjoy using my NR-10s with my iPod or during Web-based training on the computer so I can fully drown out the sounds around me and focus on learning…or relaxing. The earphones offer a convenient volume switch on the cord, allowing you to turn down the volume at an instant’s notice. The Comply™ Canal Tips are patented and crafted from soft, durable foam that blocks out the noise comfortably and effectively. Product documentation states these tips are three times softer than human skin!

When I wear these handy earphones, I just squish the foam tips between my fingers gently before use, and they expand slowly for a perfect fit in my ears. Comply foam tips are available in different sizes that all expand for the best fit. Replacement packs are offered for when the foam tips have reached their full lifetime potential. For most people, one set of foam tips can last up to three months. Comply NR-10 earphones retail for roughly $70 – $80. For more information, check out: www.complyfoam.com.

3. Digital Photo Frame…


Plans for a Perfect Hawaiian Honeymoon – Maui

Luaus are a Must-See in Hawaii!Luaus, barefoot walks along the beach, tropical cocktails as far as the eye can see…. A honeymoon getaway to Hawaii seems to be the perfect place for happy newlyweds! My husband and I enjoyed nine amazing nights in this tropical paradise, and I’m quite convinced we’d still be there living the good life if we could afford it! Here are some of our favorite activities that we would recommend to you if you are able to enjoy your own honeymoon – or any excuse to travel – to Maui!

Chances are, when you go away on your honeymoon, you’ll probably only have between one and two weeks to enjoy your experience to the fullest. If you have more time than that, great news for you! Either way, you’lluaul be sure to soak up every great memory you can. Whether relaxing by the beach or in a cabana by the pool, out on a sailing excursion, helicopter ride, or partaking in any other activity you choose to do, your honeymoon in Hawaii is sure to be an unforgettable time.

Do some research online before you go, or check in with your concierge once you get to the resort for help planning the best activities for you and your new spouse. Consider these activities that we loved, or plan your own itinerary from scratch. Remember, keep some time aside for relaxing and reveling in your recent marriage!

Culture – Attend a Luau!

Don a shell lei and get ready to feast on fabulous tropical fare and pina coladas as deeply as the night is long. Aside from our troublesome flat tire inspired by a bamboo spike, my handsome husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the Wailea Marriott’s Luau.

The food truly was a presentation in and of itself. Male and female performers danced around, displaying each entrée and accompaniment to the luau’s guests before indulging themselves with a tasty bite. The menu ranged from chicken and Kalua pork to mahi-mahi and more. The evening’s beverages were virtually bottomless, as the open bar offered the friendliest of refills.

Performances dropped jaws and prompted camera-happy guests to inch closer and closer to the action. Luau dancers, acrobats, and of course, the world-renown fire knife dancer kept our evening bursting with excitement. The passion and exuberance of the performers really becomes contagious as many of them migrate from the stage down to dance amongst the guests’ tables. If you visit Hawaii for your honeymoon, making the time to visit a luau is my top recommendation for a memorable and exciting dinnertime activity.

For more information on visiting a luau near your resort, please check with your hotel’s concierge.

Keep Reading about Dining…


The Journey to My First Mother’s Day: A List of Miracles – by Tonneka Dawson

SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway Entry!Here Tonneka Dawson shares an exciting journey from DINK to mommy, peppered by trials and tribulations along the way. Keep a box of tissues nearby when you read her gripping story! Please read this story and rate it to help us determine a winner for our Mother’s Day SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway! Editor’s Note: This contest has already concluded. Keep checking for new contests!

I am blessed with two wonderful parents who have been married 39 years, are adventurous, thoughtful, successful and happily retired. Sounds like they’ve got it all but one thing was missing for them and that was being grandparents! Turns out that myself and my one and only sibling fell into the DINK category (double income household). We had goals to build our careers, be financially stable and just be married with no dependants forever. We also had preexisting knowledge that getting pregnant would be difficult hence the hesitation to even try. Imagine how crushed my mom was at the thought of both of her children not being able to give her?

Last year at Christmas time, to our surprise, my brother and his wife announced they were pregnant. At the same time, my husband and I had our own secret under our hats. We were pregnant too! Could this really be happening? Two couples told that they may never have children were now pregnant with babies only 6 weeks apart?!? It had to be a miracle.

We celebrated Mother’s Day last year with an entirely different perspective. My sister-in-law and I were showered with “Mother-to-be” cards and gifts and were amazed at the thought that next year we’d have babes in arms. We were already being welcomed into the parenting club! We wished we could have all been together for Mother’s Day, but unfortunately my brother and sister-in-law had been living in California the past two years. We all missed each other terribly and wanted so badly to be going through pregnancy together.

Just weeks after Mother’s day my dad was diagnosed with Stage III cancer. It was the most difficult thing I’d really gone through. Having a very close relationship with my parents and being the only one in close proximity meant being a support for them but carrying incredible fear for what my dad was about to go through. I was also trying to be a wife, perform at my job, and have a healthy pregnancy. How could these two miracles come into our lives and then have something like cancer ruin it? My parents who so wanted grandchildren and envisioned camping adventures with the kids, babysitting, and family get-togethers were now restricted to thinking only about making it through the next day of chemo or radiation.

At first, I thought it was so unfair that during the happiest time of our lives, my mom and dad have to be going through the most difficult time of theirs. Amazingly enough, all of his chemo was while I was on maternity leave. That meant I got to be with him during the worst part of his treatment. My little angel-baby lifted his spirits and helped him have laser focus on getting through it – a reason to fight! The timing had to be a miracle!

Just after my niece was born in California and my son was born in Washington, my brother’s company had a re-org. He was offered a new job, back in the Seattle area. Another crazy miracle! They moved after the first of the year and live in the neighborhood just across from ours. The babies play, we go on walks and cherish all of the quick, drop-in moments that we always hoped we’d have. This is what I pictured for my first year of being a mother. All the family together, dad’s treatment all done with and going on our way with busy schedules and worrying about smaller things like “did the baby poop today?”

Unfortunately though, my husband and I did have bigger things to worry about with our son. He was born with a congenital heart defect called VSD. He was diagnosed immediately after birth with having a large hole in his heart. Since he was born he has been monitored every 3 weeks by cardiologists and we knew that open heart surgery was eminent. Our family and friends took us into their arms and assured us that our baby would survive. And he did! He is thriving and healthy with a handsome scar spanning his tiny little chest. He was only 6 months old when I watched him be taken away as this untouched, beautiful baby to come back to me in ICU on life support and with a gamete of tubes coming from all over his body. I thought being a mom was going to be so easy? What’s this all about – I thought I’d have a blissful pregnancy, swift delivery, and a healthy little monster running my life. That is not at all what it’s like.

My husband and I requested the recording of his surgery. We were so curious and interested in what our son had to endure. We watched it with such amazement. I was overcome with emotion, not because it was graphic and too much to take in, but because I was able to watch the very moment in which my son’s life was saved. That was a miracle.

I know that my journey to my first Mother’s Day is out of the ordinary and I believe many things happen for a reason. My list of miracles, good and bad, were put in my path to teach me about being a child, being myself, and being a mother. My miracles taught me that parenting advice and experiences you read about in a magazine will never really equate to what you’ve gone through but that it’s the individual miracles, if you choose to look at them that way, that build you up to be the person that you are.

This Mother’s Day I will savor all of my miracles. My experience during pregnancy, dad’s cancer (now in remission – hurray!), my brother and sister-in-law coming home, my son being born and born again with his surgery and most of all, that every day I get to be a MOM.

How to Spoil Your Kids without Spoiling Them – by Barbara Baker

SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway Entry!Here Barbara Baker shares thoughtful tips on how to spoil your kids with love. Please read this story and rate it to help us determine a winner for our Mother’s Day SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway! Editor’s Note: This contest has already concluded. Keep checking for new contests!

I am a mother of three wonderful human beings and am very proud of them. I am a spoiler when it comes to giving them all the love and attention they need. I am not, however, a spoiler in nonessential items. My husband and I are always tight for money and can never buy our kids what they want (especially during the holidays), but we try and let them know through love and communication that there is much more than inanimate objects to keep you happy in life.

I am a firm believer of working hard for your money and will work at instilling that in my kids. Giving them everything that they want from the beginning is not going to ensure this.

Our kids need stability and reason in life, but allowing them to live lavishly does not introduce them to heartbreak (which they will go through) and some setbacks that come with growing up. It is important to teach values as well as injustices. I believe that we need to talk to our kids rather than yell, talk and reason with them rather than ignore, and most of all, love them unconditionally without making them feel like they have to do something special in order to get that.

You don’t need to reward them with items every time they do something grand… reach down and HUG your child and tell them how wonderful they are and how well they did. Forget taking them to the malls, restaurants, and toy stores…reward them with more quality time; reward them with more hugs and kisses.

Love is the only thing free that can give them the affection one needs to flourish in life…not unnecessary items that will break in a few hours or days. Those things go away but do nothing for their self worth. Granted it might make them want more in life, but what about the emotional connection they may miss.

It takes more energy to take them out to get ice cream (not counting the calories you just gained by doing so) than it does to sit down, put them on your lap, and read them a great book. Love is very much needed in our lives…spoiling our kids with that love is an addiction I can’t live without.

How to Be a Mother – by Diane Roscoe

SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway Entry!Here Diane Roscoe shares what it means to be a mother. Please read this story and rate it to help us determine a winner for our Mother’s Day SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway! Editor’s Note: This contest has already concluded. Keep checking for new contests!

It would be so easy if each of us came into this world at birth with our own personalized instructions telling our mothers exactly what to do when we cry, how to treat us when we are sick or scared, and what to allow us to do-and not to do throughout our lives to avoid getting hurt or in trouble.

Think of the broken hearts, stitches, tears and grey hairs that could be avoided in life! But it’s not that easy. Mothers are only human, and we can’t know what the future holds for any of our children. All we can do is bring them into this world because we want them, and then prove to them that we do want them throughout their lives.

No child asks to be born – it’s a mother’s choice to have a child, so in doing so, she should make up her mind to be the best mother possible.

And the best mom possible works full-time. And she stays at home all day. She breastfeeds. And she only gives her baby formula. She sends her child to daycare, and she stays home with her child all day long. She takes her child to all sorts of activities, and she is content just rolling around in the grass with her child each day.

Being a mom isn’t one specific thing… you can be a mom and still be crazy, or sexy, or funny, or quiet. You can still have friends and go to parties and have girlfriends to hang out with. Being a mom doesn’t change the person you are…it only makes you more aware of what really matters to you in life.

Sure you can still go out to a party and have fun, but you get to a point where you know that there’s a sweet little life at home waiting for you, so you don’t want to BE at that party for too long. You can dress in a slinky dress and have someone tell you how incredible you look, and yes, that feels terrific, but when your little 10-month old looks you in the eye and gives you a sloppy, but genuine real kiss, how could you possibly even care what you are wearing!

You can know all there is about fashion and design, but when your 15-year-old says “let’s go shopping together,” you feel as if you had been given a miraculous gift!

Each of us who are moms are moms in different ways…some of it good, some of it maybe not the best in the eyes of others – or worse yet, in the eyes of our child. But again – we are only human. And there are times, I think, when our children don’t understand that. But all we can do is love our children, and to let them know that we do love them and that we are each going through this thing called life without any kind of instructions. We are all learning from our mistakes – and our triumphs, but no matter what we go through, we have one another to share it with.

To be a mother, you have to just be who you are…someone who really, truly cares about the life that you chose to bring into this world…and to let that life know that it is truly wanted.

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day with your Mom or Mother – by Carolyn Correira

SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway Entry!Here Carolyn Correira offers sentiments, warm thoughts, and tips to celebrate with moms and mothers and her own mom who lives far away. Please read this story and rate it to help us determine a winner for our Mother’s Day SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway! Editor’s Note: This contest has already concluded. Keep checking for new contests!

You should definitely make her day with flowers and candy or a piece of jewelry. Mother’s Day should be her day to relax and feel loved. Cards are a very important part of Mother’s Day because you pick the one that best suits your relationship you have with her. Every day should be Mother’s Day because she is the most special person in your life and she should feel appreciated for all she does and has done. God Bless Mother and Mom.

I think that everyone can call their mother and mom on Mother’s Day and let her know just how much they love her and that they hope she has a wonderful day. It is hard when you are grownup to be able to visit as much, but if you take at least 5 minutes daily or weekly or on the weekends to let her know you are thinking of her, that would make her feel so much better.

You only have one mother or mom so make sure that you let her know how special she is today and always. Without your mother or mom in your life, it just isn’t the same. She is the one with wisdom and has the heart for caring. If your mother or mom has passed away, then you have a special Guardian Angel ^A^ watching over you and your family.

When you get older you start to sound like your mom or mother and that is a good thing. Mothers are only there to protect and guide you and help your journey in life to not be so hard. God made mothers special because they always have a special place in our hearts. If you are from a big family, then get your mother or mom the special jewelry with each birthstone so she has all her children with her, and if she has grandchildren, then the necklaces with their adorable faces are always on display.

   

Take care of mom because she has always taken care of you. I miss my mom because she is in Texas, but she is always in my heart and prayers. I am smiling now just thinking of her. I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to everyone, and hoping you know how special all of you are.

Take care of yourself and make sure to pamper yourself. Keeping all of you in my thoughts, prayers, and heart. Thanks for the giveaway and if I win you know this is going to my mom. 😉

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day for the Mother who has Passed Away – by Hazel Wilcox

SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway Entry!Here Hazel Wilcox shares heartfelt advice for celebrating Mother’s Day in honor of the mother who has passed away. Please read this story and rate it to help us determine a winner for our Mother’s Day SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway! Editor’s Note: This contest has already concluded. Keep checking for new contests!

Holidays can be extremely difficult for the child who has lost a parent. Take Mother’s Day for instance…how does one show respect for this holiday when the mother has already passed away? The answer is simple: Celebrate! There is no need to stop celebrating a special day simply because the guest of honor is not present. After all, this is the perfect time to create memories of your loved ones for the people that miss them just as much or for those little ones who never had the opportunity to meet them. Below are some examples of ways to show your respect:

The Balloon Message: Get balloons for each member of the family. Have them write a letter to them on one page of a notebook. Let them write whatever they wish, and when they are done, fold it up and use a hole puncher to put a small hole on one corner. Thread the balloon’s string through the hole. Tie securely. At the same time, (be sure to space apart), everyone lets loose their balloon and the letters of love float to heaven to their loved one!

The Family Recipe: Take one of your loved one’s signature dishes and create a copy of the recipe. Pack all the ingredients in a basket and give away at special occassions where the loved one cannot be present, such as a birthday, anniversary, graduation, wedding, etc. This way they have the recipe to carry on, and the ingredients to make their first batch!

The Picture Collage: On special holidays, such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, get together with your siblings and make a picture collage of all the times shared with your loved one. Make them on a scrapbook page that can be put into an album (copies of photos work well here). Each year, have a get-together on that occassion. Add the pictures taken at the last get-together to a new photo page. Continue the tradition each year.

The Birthday Bash: Each year on the loved one’s birthday, hold the biggest and best party of the year! Put out pictures of your loved one and celebrate as if they were there. Have a special time to remember and talk about your loved one!

 

With a little creativity, celebrating holidays and special times will not be so hard, and the younger generation will come to love your passed family members just as much as you did, as they will understand how big a part they played in your life.

The Very Best Way to Celebrate Mother’s Day – by Don Schraier

SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway Entry!Here Don Schraier shares thoughts and memories of his mom and tips on how he and his wife will spend Mother’s Day with her mother. Please read this story and rate it to help us determine a winner for our Mother’s Day SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway! Editor’s Note: This contest has already concluded. Keep checking for new contests!

The very best way to celebrate Mother’s Day is to have a mother. Since mine is no longer around, I make sure my wife’s Mother’s Day is a good one. This year we’re going to Portland where her family is so she can see and catch up on everything.

We’ll have a car and drive around to all the places she wants to see again and stop wherever she wants to, and maybe pick up a present or two along the way. We’ll have a big family barbeque and also a couple of small restaurant gatherings. This isn’t 300 words but the rest will be in great conversations about whatever she wants to talk about….

The thing I remember most about my mother was that she could prove any abstract theory by something she heard over the backyard fence about somebody. If it happened to someone she heard about, it proved a general truth that covered all the questions since Aristotle.

She was of that subservient generation where the man was the boss of the house, but she really ran everything and made all the decisions. Salome couldn’t have done it better. My mother lived with severe back pain for a number of years without complaint and preferred chocolate-covered cherries to any meal.

   

Whatever shortcomings I thought I had come up with about my parents when I was in school were overcome by her absolute kindness and generosity. How she put up with my father and me all those years is a mystery better than The Bermuda Triangle, and really, she kept us afloat in some very trying times. I have three children now and my wife has two children, but I don’t think either one of can compare to the solid wisdom of that generation, no matter how many how-to books we have today.

How to Plan the Best Mother’s Day for Your Mother – by Susan M. Keenan

SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway Entry!Here Susan M. Keenan shares tips for How to Plan the Best Mother’s Day. Please read this story and rate it to help us determine a winner for our Mother’s Day SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway! Editor’s Note: This contest has already concluded. Keep checking for new contests!

Planning the perfect mother’s day celebration is a simple task that requires only three facets: a bit of creativity, a touch of coordination, and a smattering of love. Once you combine all three of these ingredients, you will be on your way to the perfect way to honor the mother who holds a special place in your heart.

The most important concept to keep in mind is that this day is not about what you want or what you like. Instead, this day is about the opportunity to show your mother how important she is to you, how much you love her, and how much you respect her as a person. This doesn’t need to include a physical gift that your mother unwraps, but instead, it can involve time spent together enjoying each other’s company.

If your mother has more than one child, coordinate the plans to include everyone. This way, no one is left out and your mother can enjoy the company of each of her children and grandchildren. Instead of inviting everyone to your home or dropping in to visit your mother, why not select a place for everyone to gather that also includes one of your mother’s favorite activities, foods, events, or locations?

For example, if your mother is fond of gardens and all of the lovely accoutrements that go with them, arrange to take her to a garden show, public garden, or similar location that features a garden area as one of its special exhibits. Arrange to have brunch there, take a few photos as mementoes, and purchase a few flowers if they are available for sale. Other suggestions for locales that might create a memorable Mother’s Day afternoon include zoos, the circus, museums, antique marts, historical sites, and the theater.

Additionally, if your mother is up in years and getting out of her home has become difficult, arrange for an afternoon of shopping. Visit stores that your mother enjoys and purchase the items that she selects. In fact, you can arrange a few home repairs or decorating changes and hire someone to apply a few fresh coats of paint, wallpaper a room or two, or dig out one of those overgrown bushes in her front yard.

Instead of a Mother’s Day card, you can arrange for all of her children, spouses, and grandchildren to get together and have a portrait taken. Tell her that everyone’s smiling face is the signature on her card. Take this idea a step further and arrange to have a jigsaw puzzle, tee shirt, or mouse pad created from a photograph that includes each of your mother’s special people.

Of course, an old-fashioned picnic in her yard, the local park, or in her home is a wonderful idea that might bring back a few fond memories. Pack a lovely picnic basket full of surprises that she can discover as you help her to unpack it. Similarly, there’s no one quite like your mother, so why not show her a special time this Mother’s Day?

My Mother’s Day – by Sarah Howe

SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway Entry!Here is a heartfelt expression of Sarah Howe’s relationship with her mother, and a number of things she plans to share with her mom on Mother’s Day. Please read this story and rate it to help us determine a winner for our Mother’s Day SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 Player Giveaway! Editor’s Note: This contest has already concluded. Keep checking for new contests!

My mother was not always there when I needed her growing up. On Mother’s Day I will forget this and remember that she too was growing. I will put aside all of the things we disagree on and put forth all of the times we laughed together.

I can’t stand shopping with my mother, but I would buy her the world if I could. We usually argue over everything; today, however, we will agree on how far we’ve come. Growing up she struggled with money, jobs, and relationships, making as many mistakes as possible. Now we both live our lives with grace and ease, still making mistakes here and there, but had I not learned from her, I would not have come this far.

On Mother’s Day I will give thanks to my mother for clearing the path for me; through every struggle and every hardship. I will grow with her, laugh with her, shop with her, and learn with her and from her. I will listen to her and maybe cry with her. She is my mother. She is the reason I’m here. Even if she hasn’t been the best parent to me, I am a better person because of her.

   

On Mother’s Day I will tell my mother how beautiful I think she is, inside and out. I will say that I’m sorry if I ever took her for granted. I will tell her she’s one of my best friends and that we should get together more often. I will forgive and forget every mistake she made. I will cherish every memory of when it was just the two of us. I know that mothers don’t always know what’s best, but that they learn it along the way. I am happy to have been with her along for the ride. On Mother’s Day I will be her daughter. I will love my Mother. I will tell her all of this.

How to Plan a Fun Cinco de Mayo Party – Recipes and Party Games

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not just another excuse to party! Margaritas are fun for Cinco de Mayo!The holiday dates back to a battle between Mexican and French forces on May 5, 1862, when the Battle of Puebla took place.

Observed throughout the United States and in various other places across the globe, Cinco de Mayo traditionally involves music, food, dancing and general celebration. The parades, festivals, parties, and activities celebrate Mexican heritage.

Nonetheless, Cinco de Mayo is a favorite holiday for socializing and drinking, in addition to celebration in general. Many people all across the world celebrate this holiday, much in the same way as St. Patrick’s Day. The day finds favor with young and old and everyone in between. If you are thinking about having a Cinco de Mayo party, make sure you have a little bit of time to consider your options so you can have a fun and engaging party. Here are some ideas to help you get your party off the ground.

Food for Cinco de Mayo

When it comes down to the key components of just about any type of party, the food on the menu is an extremely important factor. As you prepare for your Cinco de Mayo party, make sure you plan out your menu for appetizers and snacks, main courses, side dishes, and desserts. If you guests are accustomed to American cuisine, you may wish to include a few items on the menu that do not classify as authentic Mexican food.

Some popular dishes for Cinco de Mayo parties include:

– Chicken and cheese quesadillas
– Taquitos
– Rice and beans
– Salsa and chips
– Guacamole
– Make-your-own tacos
– Cheesy nachos
– Bean dip
– Chicken, beef, or shrimp fajitas

Recipe: Smoky Chicken, Bacon, and Cheese Quesadilllas:

Ingredients:

1 package (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Cooked chicken, cut into small, thin pieces
Bacon pieces

Steps:

1. Place one tortilla flat inside a large frying pan on low-medium heat.

2. Sprinkle cheese over tortilla.

3. Sprinkle bacon pieces or bacon bits over cheese.

4. Sprinkle pieces of chicken across the top.

5. Add a little more cheese.

6. When cheese begins to melt, place a second tortilla on top.

7. Flip carefully and continue heating another minute or two, until browned lightly and crisp.

8. Remove from the pan and slice into triangles to share.

9. Enjoy!

Drinks for Cinco de Mayo

Coronas are classic drinks for Cinco de Mayo parties! (Image courtesy of morgueFile.)Now that you’ve got the food side of the party covered, you’re going to want to plan a nice selection of tasty libations for your guests. The options are many, so put some thought into the type of bar you will set up. If you’ll be serving alcohol, consider the favorites, margaritas and Coronas! But don’t stop there. Will you be using a blender? Do you have enough margarita glasses for your guests? Do you have rimming salt and a dish for it?

Don’t forget to stock up on delightful beverages and ingredients:

– Tequila
– Margaritas – regular and strawberry! (Decide if you’ll offer frozen or just chilled.)
– Corona beer with lime
– Sangria

Want a different drink from the typical Coronas and margaritas? How about a Miami Vice? I learned about this drink in the Bahamas, but it is too yummy to ignore for any party!

Miami Vice Frozen Drink:

Ingredients:

Bacardi rum

Pina Colada mix

Strawberry Daquiri mix

Ice

Steps:

1. Make one pitcher of frozen pina colada with Bacardi rum.

2. Make one pitcher of frozen strawberry daquiri with Bacardi rum.

3. Immediately pour half a glass of pina colada mix into one glass and top off with half a glass of strawberry daquiri.

4. Add a straw and serve! Enjoy!

Make sure you stock your freezer and coolers with plenty of ice, especially if you plan to break out the blender!

Games and Fun for Cinco de Mayo

Kids of all ages can enjoy some fun and festive party games and activities on Cinco de Mayo. Depending on your budget, you can keep things small scale or go hog wild. The party will surely be enjoyable based on the people who attend, but it’s always nice to have a few games, activities, or ice breakers just in case things aren’t going exactly as planned.

Consider these games and activities for your Cinco de Mayo party:

Get a piñata! Nothing says “Happy Cinco de Mayo” better than smacking around a crepe papered donkey filled with candy, gum, and small toys, and trinkets with a baseball bat.

Have a Mexican Hat Dance. If you get enough adults to partake in the beverages, you might just have an amusing sight to see when it comes to this activity.

Put together party favors for your guests. Fill goodie bags with candies, small bottles of tequila, or other novelties.

Give all your guests sombreros, Mexican hats, or wide-brimmed straw hats. Decorate the hats ahead of time if you wish. This can be a fun party favor and an instant conversation piece.

Look into hiring a live band. If it’s not within the budget, get a bunch of CDs with great party music and set them up to play on your stereo.

Set up a relay race. Give the competitors something specific to do besides running back and forth. Make it challenging and award a prize to the winning team.

No matter what you do to plan your Cinco de Mayo party, remember that it’s good company that makes the party a success. Invite your closest friends, family, neighbors, and loved ones for the most enjoyable party in town!