5 Back to School Organizing Tips

Back-to-schoolThe first week back at school is here and it’s hectic. No one is ever prepared for the chaos that comes with that first week. Take it easy and go with the flow with these back to school organizing tips.

Review Think back to the last school year and how mornings were carried out. Remember what worked and what didn’t work. Eliminate practices that slowed mornings down and improve the ones that helped move mornings along. Tailor new routines to fit personalities and habits of your growing children. They’re evolving, so their routines should evolve with them.

Back-to-schoolVisualize It Make a list of things for each person to do in the morning and a list for the evening. Most tasks will be repeated daily, so you don’t have to recreate lists every day, but you may have to add to them. Do it on a chalkboard or dry erase board so everyone can see what they’re responsible for. When you and your family follow what’s written on the agenda, it will be harder to miss something.

In Box, Out Box Next to your daily schedule, set aside a basket or box for school papers going to you – report cards, permission slips, etc. Look at it before you sit down to breakfast and make sure to sign or read everything before the day starts. It will save you the time and energy of looking for papers at the last minute when you’re rushing to get out the door.

Plan Ahead If there’s anything you and your children can do the night before, do it. Put cookies and chips in lunch bags, lay out clothes for the next day or set aside breakfast food and dishes for the morning. Set up everything so the only thing you have to do in the morning is execute the task. It will shave time off the morning routine and you’ll walk out the door a little less frazzled.

Back-to-schoolSchedule Schedules are the key for a smooth morning. For shared bathrooms, mornings can feel frantic. Allot each person a certain time when they can be in the bathroom for their morning mirror time. With set times, the risk of conflict is greatly reduced. Set a time for everyone to be at the breakfast table to eat and get lunches sorted. With everyone operating the morning machine, getting out the door and to school and work on time will become a habit.

Starting the day never feels as good as we want it to, but it doesn’t have to be crazy. Getting things sorted ahead of time with plenty of communication helps develop positive patterns to begin the school day and leads to a great school year.

5 Tips to Make Moving Easy

We’re in the middle of the busiest time of year for moving. However, no matter what time of year it is, moving is a hassle. Her are 5 tips to make moving easy.

Moving1. First Night Bag Pack an overnight bag or small box with all your essentials. This “first night” bag ensures you will not have to search for a change of clothes, medication, and toiletries before you lie down for some rest after a hectic moving day. It also is a good place for a small flashlight, as well as electronics like laptops and cellphones that can easily become misplaced or even stolen. Every member of the family—including pets–should have their own first night bag. Children’s bags should include any stuffed animals they sleep with and storybooks in case they need help calming down to sleep. Pack a few toys, an extra leash, treats, and a few servings of food in your pet’s bag.

2. Easy Access For every room, have a clear box filled with the things you will need first so you can find them quickly. It is a handy way to ensure you know where toilet tissue is for the bath, basic cookware and utensils are for the kitchen, and phone chargers are for the bedrooms. Remember to also have an additional clear box with trash bags, paper towels, box cutters, and other things you will need as you unpack.Moving

3. Purge Moving is a wonderful opportunity to get rid of things you do not want or need anymore. Decide what to do with unwanted items early to get them out of the way. It can take time to sell items online or at your own yard sale. If you want to use auction or sales websites, begin the sales or start advertising items about six weeks before your move. Not only will this prevent procrastination, what you get from the sales will also help pay for the move! For items you want to donate, arrange for a charity to pick them up a week or two before you move. Go on the Salvation Army or Goodwill websites to find the nearest locations.

4. Get It Sorted Sort through pantry items and household papers before packing them. There is no reason to take an expired can of pears to your new home. Pitch it now. Also, paper can take up a lot of space, and boxes full of it are heavy. Shred and throw out old junk mail and outdated paperwork. As for the papers you need to keep, photograph it or make digital scans, then save those files on a memory stick or cloud service. You will have readily available copies in case the originals get lost or damaged.

Moving5. Prepare the Basics  If you can, visit your new home before the move and get the kitchen and bathroom ready to use. These will be the first rooms your family will want to use, and you will want them in working order. Hopefully, the previous owner gave the house a complete cleaning, but take along some basic supplies just in case. Stock up the bathroom with toilet paper, towels, and a new shower curtain and liner.

There probably is no way to have a completely stress-free move. But with a little preparation, it is possible to make it simple so you can start enjoying your new home without a headache.

Back to School Checklist

Classroom

Image Source: Krissy Venosdale via Flickr

The school year crept up on all of us. Even if we’re not quite ready, we can be prepared to send the little ones off to school if we’re organized. Here’s a back to school checklist to help you get ready for the big day.

Finish Official Business

  • Confirm class schedules and calendar
  • Update your child’s immunization records
  • Update contact information with the school and any other outstanding documents to avoid hold-ups on the first day of school
  • Inform the school of any health issues or medications
  • Obtain dress code requirements
  • Obtain a class supplies list
  • Look at the lunch menu provided by the school and decide if it makes sense to participate in the lunch program or to send a sack lunch with your child

    School-Lunch

    Image source: Melissa via Flickr

Arrange Transportation

  • Walking and bicycling – make sure your child is familiar with a safe route
  • Carpooling – confirm schedule with other parents
  • Bus – confirm pick up and drop off times and locations

After School Activities

  • Make sure your child knows where to go as soon as school lets out
  • Have play dates, after school sports or clubs confirmed
  • If your child goes straight home, make sure your child knows how to get into your house (i.e., where keys are kept how to use the key)
  • Make sure your child knows where to go in case of an emergency and have safety contacts established
  • Go over your phone numbers, address and how to get ahold of you during the day
school-buses

Image Source: Larry Darling via Flickr

Establish School Night Rules

  • Set rules on time spent in front of the TV or playing video games
  • Determine a chore and homework plan
  • Create a homework space
  • Confirm bed times and wake-up times
  • Go over school morning routines

Prepare for Learning

  • Have your child review last year’s basic skills
  • Select a book to read to warm up their brains for the school year or do a few word and number puzzles to ease their minds into doing work

The first day of school is going to be stressful no matter what, but you can reduce the stress with a little bit of preparation and organization.

Relaxation Day: 5 Ways to Relax Before School Starts

The first day of school is just around the corner. It’s a stressful time of year, but, luckily, August 15th is Relaxation Day and we’re using it as a reminder to loosen up before everything turns topsy-turvy with the new school year. Here are 5 ways to relax before school starts.

Dog

Image source: Chapple via Flickr

Take Time for Your Pet Having a dog or cat around to bond with has shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. In fact, at some university campuses, they’ve employed therapy dogs for students to visit when school becomes too stressful. At Harvard Medical School, you can even “check out” a dog just like you check out a book. If it works at Harvard, it may just work for you.

Exercise A good workout may not sound appealing, but aerobic exercise can actually help you relax. It lowers stress hormone levels and releases endorphins – the feel-good chemical. In addition to releasing endorphins, according to a study from Princeton University, exercise re-organizes the brain to shield it from stress. Take 30 minutes to jog down the street and you’re on your way to relaxation.

neck-massagerTouch There aren’t many people out there who would turn down a massage. In addition to feeling good physically, it can reduce anxiety, stress and aggression. Australian researchers examined the effects of daily massage on participants over seven weeks and tracked their anxiety and aggression levels. They found massage reduced stress and anxiety almost instantly. A daily massage may not be a reasonable activity, but the effects may warrant having a massage ball or neck massager handy at all times.

Play with Your Kids You only have a few weeks left to spend time with your kids, so playing with them is a no-brainer. What you might not know is studies show playing reduces stress. Researchers at Kansas State University found the more time mothers spent engaging with their children, the less overwhelmed they felt. You love being around them anyway, that they make you feel relaxed is an excellent bonus.

chocolate-cupcakeEat There are all sorts of soothing foods you can eat to relax. At the top of that list is dark chocolate. It contains Tryptophan which is an essential amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin which can help your sleep and improve your mood. Tryptophan is found in a variety of foods – honey, spinach, cheese, eggs, duck, to name a few. When you’re planning your next meal, make it a relaxing one and be sure dark chocolate is for dessert.

Anytime is a good time to relax, but sometimes we have to make a point of working it into our schedules. Make Relaxation Day your notice to slow down before things hit hyper-speed on the first day of school.

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week

Summer is almost done, but there still is time left to plan one last trip before the leaves fall.  Close up the house and grab the family for a weekend road trip, or head to the woods to bond over flickering electric candles and a crackling fire. Pack up and head out with our Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week.

Aunty Acid is that grumpy old lady inside us all! This humorous travel mug says what you're thinking so you don't have to.

Aunty Acid is that grumpy old lady inside us all! This humorous travel mug says what you’re thinking so you don’t have to.

This Set of 6 LED Candles creates a realistic glow that's safe around kids and pets.

This Set of 6 LED Candles creates a realistic glow that’s safe around kids and pets

Air conditioners are expensive...do not let fall and winter conditions destroy them! These covers, designed to fit most window or central air units, prevent snow, ice and dirt from collecting and causing the compressor housing to rust.

Air conditioners are expensive…do not let fall and winter conditions destroy them! These covers, designed to fit most window or central air units, prevent snow, ice and dirt from collecting and causing the compressor housing to rust.

 

This comfortable fleece jacket will keep you warm on all your outdoor adventures. His and Hers Highland Timber Jackets feature woodsy camouflage detailing around the shoulder and collar that adds a fashionable touch to a basic fleece zip-up jacket.

This comfortable fleece jacket will keep you warm on all your outdoor adventures. His and Hers Highland Timber Jackets feature woodsy camouflage detailing around the shoulder and collar that adds a fashionable touch to a basic fleece zip-up jacket.

Set of 4 Wrap It Heavy-Duty Storage Straps is great for holding pipes, tubes, extension cords and more.

Set of 4 Wrap It Heavy-Duty Storage Straps is great for holding pipes, tubes, extension cords and more.

 

5 Summer Cocktail Ideas for Lounging on Hammock Day

hammock-1July 22nd is Hammock Day — which is perfect for the middle of July because all we want to do is lounge in a hammock and sip a cold cocktail. So we came up with a list of fun and easy cocktails to drink on Hammock Day.

CocktailsTea with a Kick

Peachy Hard Iced Tea 

  • 1/3 cup peach liqueur
  • ¼ cup TB spiced rum
  • 1/4 cup peach schnapps
  • 1/8 cup vodka
  • 1 cup sweet tea
  • Lemon wedges

Combine the first four ingredients and pour over two glasses of ice. Stir in tea. Squeeze in lemon to taste. Makes about 4 servings.

Citrus with Spice

Moscow Mule

  • ¾ cup vodka
  • Fresh lime juice from 1 lime
  • 3 cups ginger beer

Combine vodka and lime juice in a shaker with ice and shake it up. Pour over four glasses of ice and top with ginger beer and gently stir. Garnish with lime slices. Makes about 4 servings.

Cocktails-2

 

Berry with a Bang

Berry Shandy

  • 3/4 cup blackberries or raspberries, muddled
  • 4 bottles light beer (a lager like a pilsner is best)
  • 1 (12-oz.) container frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1 TB blackberry or raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup vodka

Stir together ingredients. Pour over ice. Garnish with lemon slices. Makes about 6 servings.

Melon with Marvel

Watermelon Sangria

  • 1 small watermelon, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 750ml bottle white wine (dry is best – a sauvignon blanc or a white Burgundy would be ideal)
  • ¾ cup vodka
  • ½ cup triple sec
  • ½ cup simple syrup

In a blender, puree watermelon into a juice and strain through a sieve or a cheese cloth to remove chunks. Combine the strained juice with remaining ingredients and refrigerate for two hours, stirring occasionally. Serve over ice. Makes about 7 servings.

You don’t have to have a cocktail to enjoy the day in a hammock, but if you have a hammock, this is a reminder to get out there and enjoy it while the weather is lovely.

Happy Hammock Day!

Video Game Day: How We Played Video Games Before Internet Consoles

July 8th is Video Game Day. For parents, this day is met with an eye-roll even though most parents went through a video game phase when they were kids. Perhaps the disdain for the day is out of envy — after all, video games 20 years ago weren’t quite as fancy and high-tech as they are today. Here’s a look back at video games LTD Commodities was peddling before internet consoles.

Push-Button Basketball “Indoor hoops without the drywall repairs” and… fun! Make lay-ups and three-pointers with the touch of a knob, but even with all the “surprising upsets” everything stays intact with the protective plastic dome. The colorful score keeper tracks all of the exciting one-on-one action of “thrilling comebacks” all without a battery, cord or internet connection.

Push-Button-BasketballHappy Driver with Bump and Go Action Get behind the wheel without a driver’s license with this driving simulator! It has a key you can actually turn to start the “car” and a gear shifter so you can change gears as you speed up and slow down — depending on your simulated traffic. You can even avoid jams by shifting into reverse and head in another direction to reach your destination without getting into an “accident.” If you prefer action in the air, water or narrow road ways, simulators come in choice of airplane, motorcycle and boat.

Happy-Driver

Cassette Game Player Who needs an MP3 player or a portable CD player when you can listen to your Wham! Make It Big cassette tape and play video game tennis or grand prix at the same time from the same machine!  This Cassette Game Player takes FULL-SCALE cassettes (no Pocket Rockers here!), it features adjustable headset and built-in belt clip. The video games function on a simple watch battery; the cassette player — which features play, stop and fast forward (Sorry! No rewind) — operates on two AA batteries.

Cassette-Game-Player

Electronic Action Games Tic tic tic! Beep beep beep! Aliens are blown to bits with the intergalactic Space Blaster! Battle hostile aliens from wherever you are in the Universe and you’ll “feel the power of an arcade in the palm of your hands.”  ”Arcade?” you might ask. Well, it just means you don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy decimating aliens with the touch of a button. Oh, and don’t worry, your hands won’t actually turn green if you play Space Blaster. If sports are more your thing, “Basketball,” “Motorcycle” and “Car Racing” are also Electronic Action Game options. There are two skill levels to choose from on each game and, just in case you need help getting to class on time, the EAG includes a “handy clock and alarm.”

Video-Game-Player

Electronic Tabletop Games What’s your video game pleasure? Football? Fighting aliens? Car racing? Baseball? Well, you can play them all on separate machines from the comfort of your kitchen table or desk top (by “desk top” we don’t mean a computer that is not a laptop or tablet, we mean the top of a desk!). You have the option of playing as a beginner or an expert (no in-betweeners, please!) as you take on the electronic opponent of your choice. These games will keep you mesmerized for hours, but just so you don’t get too wrapped up in Electronic Tabletop Games, the clock chimes hourly to remind you you’re wasting a perfectly nice summer day.

Electronic-Tabletop-Game

Technology has improved exponentially in the last twenty years so LTD Commodities no longer carry these video games. It’s a good thing, too — now video games just take up Cloud Space rather than storage space (but we will always sell storage space solutions!). Unfortunately, video games still waste your time now the same way they did in 1994.

 

UFO Day: Best Places to Spot UFOs

UFO

Image source: Gerhard Ulhorn via Flickr

July 2nd is UFO Day. According to the Syracuse New Times, there are about 25 UFO sightings reported around the world every day. In the United States there are a few places where reports are heavier than others. Here are 5 of the Best Places to spot UFOs.

Texas Apparently, the entire state of Texas is a great place to spot UFOs. From Lubbock to Huffman, there have been compelling accounts of UFOs hovering over the Lone Star State. Going back to the 19th century, an aircraft crashed in the town of Aurora, destroying a windmill. The remains of a small being were found and it was buried in the town cemetery. More recently, in 2008, dozens of Stephenville residents claimed to see aircrafts the size of football fields flying over the town. It made national news, but about two weeks later, the US Air Force dismissed the claims saying training flights were being conducted at the time of the “sightings.”

UFO

Image source: Flickr

Pine Bush, New York As the UFO Sighting Capital of New York, residents of Pine Bush have been seeing and hearing strange things regularly since the 1900s. One aircraft known as the “Westchester Boomerang,” has been spotted more than 2,000 times in Pine Bush and surrounding areas, but there are numerous claims of alien encounters – two books have been published about the activity. Today, there’s a yearly festival in the spring to celebrate UFOs and aliens in Pine Bush.

Cleveland, Ohio UFO activity is hot in Cleveland and its surrounding area. Many people have reported strange lights over Lake Erie – like big red or orange balls unlike anything associated with an airplane or helicopter. There are government and military bases nearby, but witnesses claim the lights are from out of this world.

San Luis Valley, Colorado The UFO sightings are so frequent a woman built a UFO watchtower where more than 20,000 in the last 15 years have gone to witness alien air forces in action. There have been more than 60 reported sightings – including flying discs — in the area along with strange occurrences involving cattle. There is a nearby air force base, but whether it’s there for testing aircraft or fighting alien invaders, is a matter of debate in some circles.

UFO

Image source: Roberto Fontana via Flickr

Los Angeles, California The Battle of Los Angeles in 1942 has UFO chasers still linking the city with extra-terrestrial activity. The Battle was what seemed like an enemy attack and even set of air raid sirens, but the US military had no explanation for it except it was likely a lost weather balloon. Now there is thought to be an underwater UFO base off the coast of Los Angeles UFO chasers think is connected to the Battle of Los Angeles. There was some speculation about a base in 2006, but earlier this year, some structures were discovered off the coast. Whether or not those structures are alien has yet to be determined.

Whether you have spotted unidentified flying objects in the sky or not, UFO Day reminds us the Universe is much bigger than the world we live in and we are not alone. 

Pinteresting Picks for June

It’s the last day of June and summer is in full-swing — we can tell just by looking at our Pinterest boards. We looked at our most pinned products — they’re all very different, but there’s definitely a summer theme to the selections. Here is our list of Pinteresting Picks for June.

Splish-Splash

Your kids will jump at the chance to make waves in this Banzai Splish Splash Pool. Overflowing with nearly 8 feet of fun, this inflatable water playground gives toddlers a cool retreat from the heat. Six activity stations include a rainbow canopy, whale slide, water-spraying starfish stacker, baby dolphin rider, clamshell sprinkler and water-spraying pool rim. Simply attach to your garden hose and let the fun begin.

 

Gnome-Tree

Solar Gnome Tree House will put a smile on the face of everyone who sees it. This whimsical garden accent features windows that light up using the power of the sun. Turns on automatically at dusk.

 

Smores-Grill-Rack

Prepare everyone’s favorite campfire treat on the grill with this S’mores Grill Rack. The stainless steel platform holds graham crackers and chocolate on top, while the sides can hold marshmallows on two of the four included skewers.

 

Body-Pillows

A 52″ Bright Body Pillow is a fun and comfortable addition to your bedroom. Cradle it for extra support while sleeping on your side. Lean back onto it when reading or watching TV. Works as a decorative pillow for your bed as well.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Simple Ideas to Give Your Room a New Look

living-roomRedecorating can be a lot of work and a lot of money but every room could use a refresher once in a while. Here are 5 simple ideas to give your room a new look without all the expense and effort of renovating.

Contrast Treat trim and baseboards as you would treat wall art or a photograph. Curate it. Give it color in contrast to the walls. Making the trim stand out mixes up the mundane and gives the room an unexpected visual pop.

Angle Pick up your furniture and move it. It doesn’t have to be completely re-arranged, a simple slide counterclockwise to change the angle of the room refreshes a tired arrangement without tearing down a wall or even dragging out your tool box.

living-room2Rotate Change up your accessories. Rotate different colored throw pillows and blankets into the room to create a different mood. Do this seasonally to brighten the room, to tone it down or when you get bored the room’s landscape.

Redistribute Go through your room and collect all your knick knacks, curios and baubles. When all of your surfaces are free of mementos, redistribute them. Just mixing up the little things brings a welcome shine to a dull room.

living-room3Nature Add a houseplant or two to the room. Plants add color and life to a room as well as filter the air we breathe. The room doesn’t even have to have much light; some plants prefer indirect sunlight and thrive in dim spots. Even if you don’t think you can care for a plant, there are many plants that require minimal maintenance.

Reviving a room doesn’t have to be a lot of work or cost a lot. Sometimes it only takes a few adjustments to bring cheer back to a room.