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Oct 25, 2018

4 Fun Earth-Friendly Projects To Complete With Your Family

It is never too early to start planning in advance for the winter or spring breaks. Schools will be out, and you'll be searching for activities to keep the whole family busy and happy. If your goal is to go green, invest some time into eco-friendly projects that reuse materials you already have. Look for ways to conserve energy around the house too. Check out these green projects you can complete this holiday.

Upcycle Plastic Grocery Bags
Image via Flickr by groundsel

Each time you go grocery shopping, you bring home several plastic bags. Instead of recycling your bags, turn them into something new. Grab a crochet hook to make plastic yarn, known as plarn. Weave or crochet the plarn into hats, handbags or decorative coasters. 

During the holidays, turn plastic bags into festive decorations including wreaths and pom-poms. Flowers made from plastic bags make beautiful accents you can use any time of year.

Start a Green Energy Project

Let the kids pitch in with a summer research project. School-age children can study eco-friendly power sources including solar and geothermal energy. The finished report could be a head start on this year's science fair project. Review the information together as a family to decide if any of these green energy solutions can work in your home. 

One thing you can do now to make your home eco-friendly is to complete an energy audit. Check for drafty windows and doors and use a programmable thermostat to control the home's temperature. Also, ensure that your heating and cooling system is running as efficiently as possible. 

Consistent HVAC maintenance is an essential step in conserving energy at home. Schedule appointments to have a professional technician change your filters and clean your home's air ducts regularly.

Reuse Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles provide durable craft material that you can use to make cute planters for your home or garden. Simply cut off the tops and paint on a design. Another idea is to take off the bottoms to create hanging lights for the patio or den. 

If you have a few extra wooden spoons and a plastic bottle, help your feathered friends and build a birdfeeder for the backyard. Poke a few small holes in a soda bottle, attach a hose and you have yourself a homemade sprinkler to help the kids cool off during a hot summer day. 
Photo by Parker Burchfield on Unsplash

Give Old T-Shirts a Second Life

Your favorite T-shirt you've worn hundreds of times may have seen better days, but it's still hard to let go and throw it out. Not to worry, that old shirt with a hole in it can still be useful. Cut more holes in it to make a reusable produce bag

You can also fashion worn-out cotton shirts into onesies or bibs for infants. If a shirt has stains on the front, salvage the sleeves and turn them into soft baby hats or socks.

Try these green project ideas this summer and see how you can recycle old materials and find ways to save energy. You'll have fun and feel good about going green and protecting the environment all year long.
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Oct 22, 2018

Six Hacks for Breezing Through the Airport

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
When it comes to travel one of the most familiar sights is that of an airport. Depending on how you prepare and how you spend your time there, an airport can either be a tedious drag, or it could be a true highlight. This is especially important when you have children with you. The younger they are, the less patient they will be with the waiting aspect of flying. By following these six hacks, you can vastly improve your airport experience for the whole family and make getting through the airport a breeze:

Hacks for Getting Through Security 

     1. Have Everything Packed for Easy Security Checkout 
Have your liquids and electronics within easy reach so that you can quickly and efficiently unload your luggage to be scanned. It is wise to also refrain from wearing metal and to remember to remove the items like coins or keys from your pockets.

     2. Teach Your Children Before You Go 
If this is your child’s first time flying remember to coach them on what is going to happen before you go. That way they will know what is going on and won’t need to ask questions.

Hacks for Making the Wait Easier 

     1. Have Games and Activities Ready
Games and activities are a sure-fire way to keep kids entertained, but just remember that electronics shouldn’t be their only source of fun. Bring coloring books, a doll, and other quiet activities for them to enjoy.

      2.Try Walking Around When Children Are Restless
If your child is restless, then walk around with them. Let them go into the shops and engage with the world around them. You will know exactly when your flight is boarding and when you need to go back, and letting them run around inside the airport should blow off some steam, so they rest well on the flight.

Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash
Hacks for When Your Flight is Delayed 

     1. Know What Your Rights Are 
You have rights when it comes to flying, but depending on where you fly, and with who you fly, those rights will differ. Flying in the EU means you can enjoy EU protections and regulations, but other airlines and destinations aren’t so lucky. Check in advance so you know what your rights are without stressing about a delay or cancellation.

     2. Get Compensation
Whether you travel for business or leisure, a delay at the airport will likely cost you. Perhaps the only cost will be lost time at your holiday destination, but more likely there will be extra transportation costs to cover the delay once you land. Do not let these inconveniences ruin your holiday. Instead, rest easy knowing which compensation plans are applicable. In the EU, for example, you are covered by government regulation, making the compensation process as easy as going to FairPlane and filling out their online form within six years of your flight’s delay. 
Photo by Dmitry Sovyak on Unsplash
Flying with children doesn’t have to be a nightmare, you only need to prepare your children and pack accordingly. By following these six hacks, you can actually turn the waiting hours at an airport from boring and stressful to fun for the whole family.
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Oct 19, 2018

GhostBed Sheets Make For A Better Night's Rest

In recent years, I have found myself having a lot of difficulty getting comfortable at night to fall asleep at a decent time. My problem is partly due to always feeling hot. My poor husband would often times have to put on a sweatshirt and sweatpants to come to bed, because he felt like I kept our bedroom at Arctic temperatures. Okay, maybe dropping the A.C. super low, and having the ceiling set on super high-speed is a bit much for the average person.

Another part of my problem was that I've struggled to find a sheet set that is comfortable, cool, and durable. Thankfully I found the perfect solution with my new GhostBed Luxury Sheets made with Supmia cotton and Tencel fiber blend. This sheet set will work great on almost any mattress, but it's ideal to pair it with any GhostBed mattress. These sheets are amazingly soft and luxurious. From the moment I touched the sheets with my finger tips, I could feel a smooth coolness.

The GhostBed Luxury Sheets set is a product of GhostBed by Nature's Sleep, which makes a mattress that Consumer Reports rated very good or excellent in every category, and is the best mattress for fibromyalgia. I like knowing that the sheet set comes with a 3-year warranty, and free shipping!

So what exactly makes Supima cotton sheets? Supima cotton is one of the finest quality grown cotton in the US. Made using longer, smoother, and cleaner yarn, the result is a softer and more plush feel. Additionally, Supima premium cotton is also more durable, able to withstand washing year after year and maintains its original shape, feel and comfort. This makes me happy because I wash bed sheets frequently.

I have had sheets in the past where the elastic stretched out so much that it caused the bottom sheet to slip off. This does not happen with GhostBed sheets. Just look at that wide elastic band that helps prevent the fitted sheet from popping off.

My husband and I love how comfortable our sheets feel, and that the set came with four pillow cases instead of two like most standard king sets do. They come in either gray or white, which is perfect when you like neutral colors. There is a downside though. It is almost impossible getting out of bed, because we are so comfy! Also, it brings kids into our room sneaking under the covers so they can experience the comfort, too.

Our Ghostbed Luxury fitted sheet set goes perfectly with our new mattress cover. Be sure to check out GhostBed online and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Next up for us will be a bedroom makeover!

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The Travel Files - 6 Reasons To Visit Myrtle Beach In The Off Season

Every year we visit Myrtle Beach several times with our family. It is always a good time and we can't ever get enough. Most people prefer going to the beach in the summer, but we feel differently. We go no matter the season or weather. One of our favorite times of year to travel to Myrtle Beach is in the winter. Yes, winter! I've come up with a short list of reasons why you should visit Myrtle Beach in the off-season.

We love an oceanfront view! 

  • Great weather- The weather is often times still mild in the beginning of the winter season. Next week will be in the lower 70's and upper 60's. Not bad if you love to walk on the beach like we do! 
  • Lower cost to stay oceanfront- If you love listening to the sounds of the ocean, you can stay in an oceanfront condo for less than you think. A condo offers all of the comforts of home including private bedrooms/baths, kitchen, washer/dryer, and dishwasher. Our favorites are Avista Resort and Prince Resort. There are many great amenities like indoor pool/hot tub, fitness center, on-site restaurant/bar to name a few. Check out the rates, you will be pleasantly surprised. Also, most locations don't require a minimum night's stay like they do in the summertime. Often times you can find a spacious 3-bedroom condo for as low as $100 per night! 
  • Less crowds- If being in the midst of crowds is not your thing, the off season is the best time to visit. Sometimes you will feel like you have the whole beach to yourself. As long as you dress in layers, you will be good to go. 
  • Outlet shopping- Right after Christmas, stores slash prices on merchandise to make room for spring items. This is the perfect time to rack up some good deals on clothing, home decor, toys, accessories, and more. You can even get some holiday gifts for the next year at deep discounts. 
  • Lots of attractions- Myrtle Beach is full of fun attractions for the entire family. There are themed restaurants, putt-putt mini golf centers, museums, live shows, animal exhibits, holiday festivities, arcades and more. If you plan ahead, you can often times get specials that can save you a few bucks.
  • Make everlasting memories- Being at the beach with your family is a great way to reconnect and have some fun. We make new memories every time we go and have even created new traditions along the way. 
This hot tub at the Avista Resort is where you'll find me

If you're curious about renting a condo, check out my reviews and tips from previous visits to Avista Resort and Prince Resort. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

Oct 16, 2018

Protect Your Mattress With A Ghostbed Mattress Cover Protector

Have you ever had a time where you were casually sitting in bed watching TV, having a snack, and you grab your drink then you spill it all over yourself and your bedding? Or perhaps you were changing your baby's diaper, and they had a pee pee accident? I have had both happen numerous times in the past. Let's face it, we are all human, and do a lot more than just sleeping on our bed. You invest your hard-earned money for a good mattress, so it's important to provide good protection against those everyday life occurrences.

If you have a mattress from GhostBed, then you might be familiar with their line of bedding items as well as the best mattress for back pain. The GhostBed Mattress Cover Protector is the perfect choice to provide superior protection.

I've dealt with mattress covers in the past that were awful, because they have that annoying fitted-sheet-that-didn't-actually-fit thing going. The GhostBed protector has a 2-inch thick elastic band that encases the entire bottom for maximum stability. I'm telling you, the band goes way under your mattress so you do not have to worry about slipping. This makes me SO happy because I always get annoyed when I see my husband's side of the bed with the sheet or cover off the mattress. And he says that I am the wild sleeper! 

The super soft knit top provides quiet breathability. As soon as my son saw it, and felt how soft it was, he dove on top of my bed. I had to tell him that it was just the mattress cover and not the actual bed sheet. I'm happy to have a total water-proof barrier with long-lasting durability after every wash. It also offers non-migrating antimicrobial technology which helps eliminate allergens. I do love that it makes no sound when you are in bed.

Your GhostBed Mattress Cover Protector comes with 10 year limited warranty and FREE shipping! Who doesn't love FREE shipping?! They come in all sizes including: twin, twin xl, full, queen, king, and cal king.

We are so pleased with our new mattress cover, and now I can sip my beverage with no worries. We highly recommend the GhostBed Mattress Cover Protector, and it works best with the GhostBed mattress.

One last thing: GhostBed is excited to celebrate their 3rd Birthday on Halloween! To kick off the celebration, GhostBed (bigger, better mattresses built to keep you cool all night) is giving away a FREE GhostBed Mattress. Enter here.

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Oct 9, 2018

5 Things No One Told You About Shopping for a Home

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Buying a new home is exciting, but if you’ve never gone through the process before, you may be in for a big surprise – and probably more than a few. When you aren’t experienced with the ins and out, your excitement can quickly turn into frustration. The National Association Realtors recently released some of the latest numbers related to home-buying transactions showing that of all homebuyers, 34% are purchasing a home for the first time. If you’re thinking about becoming a part of that statistic, knowing what most were never told about shopping for a home can prevent learning the hard way.

It’s Going to Cost You Lots More Than You Think

If you’re renting, paying say, $1200 a month, plus perhaps utility costs, you have a pretty good idea of what you have to pay each month. If utilities are included, you know exactly what you’ll be shelling out when rent is due. But when you’re shopping for a house and the lender says the mortgage payment will be only $1400 a month, you might think, “Well, that’s only $200 more, I can easily handle that.” But you’re wrong. There are lots of other things to consider in addition to that payment plus utilities. You’ll need to pay for homeowners insurance, maintenance and repairs (something that’s inevitable), property taxes, and perhaps home association dues and even appliances.

That makes it difficult to determine your exact monthly costs as you never know when something is going to break, and there’s no doubt that total figure is going to be a lot more than just the mortgage payment.

You’ll Need to Limit Your Credit Card Use

Before you start shopping for a new home, you’ll need to hold off on purchasing any big items on credit cards, opening any new lines of credit, obtaining a car loan, etc. In fact, the more you can pay down your debt the better as the ability to get approved for a mortgage, and a good interest rate depends largely on your credit score.

Even If You Don’t Have Kids or Plan on Having Any, Considering Are Schools is Important

Singles and couples who don’t have children and don’t plan to often overlook the schools in the area when shopping for a home. While you probably think it doesn’t matter, it will if you ever decide to sell your home. That’s an important aspect to buyers, with homes in neighborhoods that have access to good schools generally appreciating in value faster than homes in neighborhoods where schools are average are worse, whether you’re purchasing a house among Charleston real estate or any other town in the country.

You Won’t Be Able to Resist Looking at Homes Higher Than Your Price Range

It’s only human nature to want something you can’t have, and nearly all people who shop for homes ended up looking at places that are out of their price range. While that’s all well and good, just don’t move forward with it. What’s even worse than living in a house that may need a few minor repairs is living in a nice home that you can’t really afford and eventually having to sell it when you don’t want to, or even worse, going through a foreclosure.

You’ll Probably Get Outbid

In a sellers’ market, or in areas that are hotter than others and likely to have cash buyers, you’ll probably get outbid, and more than once. While getting your offer rejected isn’t fun, keep trying - odds are that you will succeed.
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Oct 8, 2018

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health this Winter

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

It is no secret that there has been a spiraling mental health epidemic in recent years. Unfortunately, in winter months people are more at risk of illnesses like Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the dark nights can feel a little more than scary for some people. It is easy to dread this season when you have had bad experiences in the past. However, there is nothing to say it can’t be different this time around. Luckily, lots more tips and tricks are making their way out into the open now that the stigma around mental health is being broken down. To ensure you have the right help, make sure you take note of a select few.
Photo by Trang Doan from Pexels
Eat a balanced diet

When winter is just around the corner, it can be much easier to turn to comfort food as a way of helping you to feel comforted during dark nights. Although indulging in your favorite snack in moderation is a great addition to your diet, you should also make sure you are eating enough vitamins and nutrients. In fact, there are some foods that are both easy to put into every meal, but which are also full of the vitamins your brain needs to help fight depression. It should also be noted that there are also substances that should be avoided, such as excess amounts of caffeine, alcohol, and drugs. If you feel as though you have slipped into a drug dependency at this time, it’s best to see help from a trusted drug addiction center to get you back on track.

Keep your exercise routine

It is widely regarded that having a good exercise routine can do wonders for both your physical and mental well-being. Colder and shorter days can make it feel impossible to keep on top of your current exercise schedule. The gym may seem like a world away, and your regular morning runs will be less appealing when it’s still dark outside. This is where many people decide to make the most of home exercises, as it removes a lot of the stress involved with making it to the gym n harsh weather conditions. While it is recommended that you complete some higher intensity workouts using equipment such as dumbbells, there are some exercises which have been proven to work better for your mental health. For example, yoga has been linked to lowering rates of depression and anxiety, and is a great way to handle excess stress around the holiday season.
Photo by from Pexels
Make use of natural light

In winter, the levels of natural light only take up a short space of the day. This is mainly which leads to problems like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Ideally, you should be outdoors as much as you can, so that you can soak up all the vitamin D your body needs. Taking long walks are a great way to do this. However, there will be days where being outside is not what you need. When this happens, you can maximize the natural light in your home, or you can invest in a special UV lamp so that your body can keep producing the vitamin D it needs to keep your mind healthy.

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Oct 5, 2018

Hotel Transylvania 3 Spook-tacular Giveaway

Have you or your kids seen the Hotel Transylvania movies? My son got to see the first two on-demand through our cable service, and has been eagerly awaiting the latest one to come out on DVD. Good news: Hotel Transylvania 3 is now available on Digital HD, and comes out on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD on October 9. This sounds like the perfect choice for a family movie night, especially with Halloween coming up. I can see a lot of laughter, singing, and requests for, "May I watch it one more time, pleeeeease?".

Hotel Transylvania 3 is filled with more than an hour of engaging bonus materials including three “All-New Scary-Oke Sing Alongs,” a monster dance party dance along to “I See Love” by Joe Jonas featuring Jonas Blue, plus a fun zing-tastic read along with Drac.  Families can enjoy all the frightful fun with a “Plan Your Own Spook-tacular Sleepover” feature and “Vampire Make Over: Mavis and Drac Tutorial,” and go behind-the-scenes to explore the amazing talent who bring these characters to life in “Behind the Screams – The Voices of Hotel Transylvania 3.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 is directed by three-time Emmy®-winning director Genndy Tartakovsky and written by Genndy Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers. The film is produced by Michelle Murdocca. Hotel Transylvania 3 is presented by Sony Pictures Animation.

Bonus Materials Include:

Three All New Scary-Oke Sing Alongs: Sing along to three Hotel Transylvania 3 inspired songs with your favorite characters!
“Dennis Had a Giant Dog” – Sung by Dennis & Winnie
“Monsters Like to Party Down” – Sung by Johnny
“Oh These Wolf Pups” – Sung by Wanda Werewolf
Plan Your Own Spook-tacular Sleepover: This feature will give you all details on how to make your own sleepover spook-tacular! From snacks to crafts to games and more, follow these steps to create a Hotel T sleep-over with your friends and family, the perfect setting to binge watch all 3 Hotel Transylvania movies.
Vampire Make Over: Mavis and Drac Tutorial: Learn how to turn yourself into your favorite Hotel Transylvania 3 characters.
Behind the Screams – The Voices of Hotel Transylvania 3: Step behind the "screams" with the returning stars and hilarious new cast to see how these characters are brought to life in the recording booth.
Johnny’s Home Movies (Franchise Recap): Johnny brings viewers up to speed on what’s happened in the Hotel Transylvania franchise so far.
“I See Love” Monster Dance Party Dance Along: Get up and get moving to this haunting monster mash.
Drac’s Zing-tastic Read Along: It's storytime with your favorite characters have a silly tale about Drac's search for a Zing!  Read along or sit back and enjoy!

Two Mini Movies (rated G): Two mini-features that will have you howling.
- Puppy
- Goodnight Mr. Foot

We are so excited to be able to offer a reader giveaway! One winner will receive 1 Hotel Transylvania 3 DVD and Trick-or-Treating themed pillow case.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and ends on Oct 14, 2018. Must follow rules in Rafflecopter. One winner will be chosen randomly. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

Oct 2, 2018

Great Places To Eat at When Your Family Visits Germany

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A family vacation to Germany is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is so much to see and do you definitely want to plan accordingly ahead of time. One thing you definitely want to plan is where you will eat. There are numerous famous restaurants around the country. Whether you visit Berlin or one of the smaller towns an hour or so outside the capital, there is plenty to eat. Here are some of the most popular establishments to eat at in Germany for locals and tourists alike.

Hofbräuhaus München

This restaurant dates back to the 16th century. It is easy to see why it has lasted for centuries once you step foot inside. It is a glorious three-floor beer hall that offers incredible Bavarian cuisine. It proudly boasts itself as the world’s most famous tavern. While you can certainly grab a beer, it has some classic German dishes on the menu, including roast pork with crackling, wiener schnitzel and beef goulash. With both a rich history and rich food, the entire family will find something to love here.

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Restaurant FACIL

You will definitely want to make a reservation before stopping by Restaurant FACIL. It is a fine dining establishment that boasts minimalist décor and huge glass windows. It features a seasonal menu, so you can visit it at different points of the year to enjoy unique dishes. It has been awarded with two Michelin Stars, so when you look for something a bit more upscale around Berlin, this is the place to go to.

Bayerischer Bahnhof

On lists of the most popular German restaurants in Leipzig, Bayerischer Bahnhof frequently ranks toward the top. It is a restaurant, beer garden and inn all in one. This restaurant was first built in 1842, and it is the perfect location if you will host a large event or if you want to check out whatever soccer match is on. In addition to offering a variety of homebrewed beer, it also serves up pork steak as well as pumpkin and apple cream soup.

Monsieur Vuong

Monsieur Vuong is small but personable. It serves up simple Vietnamese food, such as noodle salads and pho. The food is light, and you can be certain your dish will be free of any MSG. You can also enjoy an exotic tea or fruity cocktail along with your meal. Most meals will not last long, so it is perfect if you just want a quick bite before going about your day.

Osman’s Tochter

There is a sizable Turkish population throughout Berlin, and you can enjoy some of the finest Turkish cuisine around as Osman’s Tochter. It draws influence from classic dishes but puts a modern twist on them. Some of the dishes you can order here include lamb chops, fish köfte and grilled meatballs in yogurt. Many tourists prefer sitting outside to partake in some people-watching.

These are just a few of the amazing restaurants you can eat at while visiting Germany. There are plenty of others to find, so do sufficient research to find establishments you will remember for years to come.
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