Expecting Company? Here’s How to Prepare Your Home for Overnight Guests!

You just found out that a few friends or family members are coming to visit for a few days, and they’re going to stay at your place instead of a hotel. Before you get stressed, check out these simple tips for making guests feel comfortable in your home.

  1. Create a private area. Although a separate guest bedroom is the ideal area for out-of-town guests, not all homes have this space. Give your guests a bit of added privacy by placing an air mattress in a little-used office instead of offering them the living room couch, or even put up a temporary partition at night if the couch is your only option.
  2. Provide linens. One of the most important things you can do to make guests feel at home is to provide them with clean sheets, towels, and other linens. Place a stack of towels on the bed, and be sure to turn down the bed sheets before they arrive.
  3. Offer storage. Your guests will feel like a nuisance if their suitcases are strewn all over the floor, so offer them a spare closet or even a corner of a low-traffic room where they can store their belongings.
  4. Invest in a few snacks. Oftentimes guests’ eating schedules are different from your own, and they might feel uncomfortable mentioning their hunger. Purchase a few tasty snacks before they arrive, and be sure to accommodate dietary restrictions like veganism or lactose intolerance.

Plan Your Peaceful Christmas: Guest-ify Your Home [The Art of Simple]
Getting Ready for Overnight Guests [Real Simple]
How to Welcome Overnight Guests Without Spending Money [Not Spending Money]
Hosting Overnight Guests [Life Your Way]
Make Your Overnight Guests Feel at Home [Southern Living]

How to Upcycle Common Household Items

You may recycle your paper and plastic, but when it comes to all of that junk that piles up in your closets, most people are at a loss. If you want to reuse those perfectly good items that you simply don’t have use for anymore, these tips can help.

  1. Picture frames. Instead of letting that slightly broken picture frame go to waste, get a bit creative about how to use it. Place a piece of colorful paper inside and lay the frame on its back to use as an eclectic, decorative jewelry tray or as a place to set candles.
  2. Colander. That beat up old colander may still have a bit more life in it. Place the bottom inside of a small bucket and fill the colander with ice at your next party. The water will run into the bucket as the ice melts so your guests won’t have to fish for ice.
  3. Old newspaper. Line drawers or shelves with old newspaper using wallpaper paste and craft sealant for an authentically vintage look.

New Uses for Old Things [Country Living]
25 New Ways to Use Your Old Stuff [HGTV]
50 All-Time Favorite New Uses for Old Things [Real Simple]

Summertime Desserts Inspired by Delightful Cocktails

Here's a trio of tasty cocktail-like desserts to keep you cool all summer long:

Grilled Mint Julep Peaches
Nothing says summer like fresh, juicy peaches, and this decadent dessert combines them with a classic mint julep cocktail to create a deliciously Southern dessert. Four ripe peaches are glazed in Kentucky Bourbon and grilled to a golden brown, then the whole thing is topped with vanilla bean ice cream a few sprigs of mint to give them that signature minty flavor.

Pink Grapefruit, Strawberry and Champagne Granita
Whether you have something to celebrate or not, this champagne-infused dessert dish is perfectly festive. The fruits and bubbly champagne are blended with ice to create a slushy mix that’s best served in a pretty martini glass.

Strawberry Peach Vodka Collins Poptails
A “poptail” is a fun way to describe a dessert that combines a cocktail with a popsicle, and it’s becoming an increasingly popular summer dessert trend. This one contains pureed strawberries, homemade peach syrup, and refreshing vodka to create its cold, fruity taste.

4 Unique Dishes to Take to Your Next Potluck

A potluck dinner is a fun way to experience a wide variety of different cooking styles, inviting every guest to bring a covered dish to contribute to the meal. Whether you’re tired of your usual potluck recipes or you’ve never brought a dish to a party before, don’t sweat it. If you’re invited to an upcoming potluck but don’t know what to bring, these four recipes will help make your dish a hit.

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart [Oprah.com]

Best Broccoli Salad [Mr. Food Test Kitchen]

Make-and-Take Potluck Dishes [Chow]

Old Fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down Cake [All Recipes]

Public Domain/Public Domain

Let Freedom Ring: 4 Fun Facts About the Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of our nation’s independence, and it dates all the way back to the late 1700s. This beautiful icon is rich with American history, and even non-history buffs will appreciate its inspiring story. Here are a few key facts about the Liberty Bell.

The bell was originally cast in 1751.
The Pennsylvania colonists were so pleased that William Penn gave them the freedom to choose their own religion that the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the bell for the State House.

The original bell cracked and had to be replaced.
The first bell was cast in England, but cracked soon after arriving in Philadelphia. Two local craftsmen cast a new bell in 1753 out of metal from the original.

The Liberty Bell traveled around the country on tours.
In the late 1800s, the bell was such a symbol of freedom that it traveled around the U.S. to fairs and expositions to help unite the people after the Civil War. It returned to Philadelphia in 1915.

The bell weighs approximately 2,000 pounds.
It is made of 70% copper, 25% tin, and traces of lead, gold, silver, zinc, and arsenic. It still uses its original yoke, which is made of American elm and weighs 100 pounds.

Missing an Ingredient? Try These Common Food Substitutions!

It's happened to the best of us: You excitedly begin a recipe only to find that you're missing an ingredient. Don't scrap your recipe just yet! Chances are that you have an adequate substitute on hand. Here are three common substitutions that can prevent the hassle of last-minute runs to the grocery store.

If you're missing oil or butter:
Try applesauce in place of oil or butter. This sub-in works wonderfully in quick bread recipes (like banana bread), as it adds moistness to the bread. Mashed avocado and bananas can also be subbed for oil and butter.

If you're missing eggs:
These substitutes can replace one large egg: 1/4 cup pureed silken tofu; 2 egg whites; half a banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder; 2 egg yolks plus 1 tablespoon water (best used in cookie or bar recipes).

If you're missing sour cream or mayo:
Greek yogurt rivals the creamy flavor of sour cream and mayo, and bonus: It's lower in fat and calories! In some cases, Greek yogurt can be substituted for buttermilk or cream cheese.

Common Ingredient Substitutions [AllRecipes]
Emergency Substitutions [Betty Crocker]
Top 10 Food Substitutions for Healthier Cooking [TLC]

3 Unique Family Travel Ideas

Planning a family vacation doesn’t have to include life-sized cartoon characters or expensive amusement park trips. These unique family-oriented trips will help you find the perfect travel destination for everyone in your family.

  1. Park City, Utah. Full of what is commonly hailed as the best snow on earth, Park City is an ideal travel destination for the ski bunny family. Sign the little ones up for a ski lesson, set the older kids loose on the slopes, and relax at night in any one of the area’s luxurious lodges or amenity-packed cabins.
  2. Playa del Carmen, Mexico. If beach vacations are more your style, this one offers the best of the ocean for family members of all ages. Playa del Carmen is one of the top dive destinations in the world, and it also offers gorgeous golf courses, a hip downtown community, and even ancient ruins just asking to be explored.
  3. Boston, Massachusetts. For the family of sports lovers, Boston is an all-American vacation spot with some impressive teams. The kids will love going to a game at Fenway Park, and the large number of historical sites are so interesting, they might not even realize that they’re learning something along the way.

Best Family Friendly Vacations – Anywhere [Trip Advisor]
Family [Travel Channel]

Happy Presidents’ Day

Remembering the courage and vision of past and present leaders, we honor and share the spirit of Presidents' Day together as a nation.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wishing everyone a day filled with fun and happy memories!

Nutrition Tips for Vegetarians

Whether you want to show support for animals or simply choose to avoid meat products, becoming a vegetarian can be a very healthy lifestyle choice. Though it decreases your risk for many long-term diseases, a vegetarian diet can make it difficult to get the protein and other nutrients a person needs to stay healthy and energized.

These vegetarian eating tips can help you create a balanced, meat-free diet:

  • Make sure that you get enough protein by incorporating nuts, beans, peas and soy products into meals and snacks.
  • Keep up with your necessary iron intake to create healthy oxygen absorption in the blood by eating a lot of spinach, kidney beans, lentils, black-eyed peas and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Choose calcium-fortified soy milk to replace the calcium normally found in regular cow’s milk.
  • Consider vegetarian alternatives to traditionally meat-based foods to keep your diet exciting (for example, bean burritos, veggie lo mein, or vegetarian lasagna).

Tips for Vegetarians [USDA]

Public Domain/Public Domain