Have a Fun Summer Potluck with the Neighbors

As the summer sunshine becomes too hard to resist, people are becoming more eager to get out of the house and mingle with each other. You, too, can take advantage of the fine weather to make new friends: spearhead a summer potluck! A neighborhood get-together gives you the chance to cultivate good relations with the members of your community. Here are four easy steps:


Tropical Patio by Milford Appliances Clarke

1. Gather Your Neighbors

A little morning chit-chat while you walk the dog or bring in the paper will do wonders when you are trying to get your neighbors on board. The best approach would be to hold a small afternoon tea at your porch or in your kitchen so you can begin asking them specific details, such as what day of the week they would be available for the event. In the process, you might even be able to learn a little more about them: what work do they do, or what recreational activities would they be interested in.

2. Plan the Menu as a Group

And since this is a potluck, you can take comfort in the fact that you do not have to prepare all the dishes. But as the party host, your job is to provide the venue, invite the people, and make sure everything goes according to plan. So how exactly does menu preparation foster good will among neighbors?

They begin to understand each other’s taste preferences. Not everyone may agree on the same choices. But the beauty of a potluck is that it allows everyone to contribute to the group what they themselves enjoy – from the food to the activities – while being able to take part in a community affair.

Create a general guide to give your guests more freedom to pitch ideas. Divide the menu into segments: 1) main dish 2) sides 3) beverage and 4) dessert.

If there are neighbors who would rather not cook up a dish, give them the chance to contribute by decorating the venue, organizing games, or coming up with party favors.

3. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

At the event, remember to relax and chat with your neighbors. Since summer potlucks are more of a collaborative effort, people are more laid-back than they would be at dinner or cocktail parties. No more fussing over dessert running out or having to wear fancy outfits (unless, of course, party guests are required to wear a costume!). By the time everyone has gotten a plate full of heartwarming treats, guests will begin chatting away. And once their tummies are happy, they will be ready to take part in all the festivities.

4. Give a Little Extra Treat

The best way to make friends with neighbors is to express some thoughtfulness. While others may volunteer to bring party favors, you can prepare your own set of giveaways. It can be anything from a souvenir photo of you and your guest to baskets of homemade treats. If you can, give it a personalized touch. Note the person’s favorites, such as sweets or trinkets, early on and hand them something they would truly appreciate and remember your summer potluck by.

Cultivating good relations with your neighbors through a summer potluck is a fun task in itself. At the end of all the festivities, the best part about fostering camaraderie with them would have to be witnessing your friendship grow.

At Home with Tree Classics: Creative Ways to Save Closet Space

Rummaging through your closet to dig up an item buried under clothes, blankets, and shoes is a tell-tale sign you’re running out of closet space. Chances are: the items crammed inside it may be better stored in another location. Use other areas of your home as creative storage spaces – and let your closet breathe.

1. Shoes

The bottom of the closet may be a convenient shoe storage space for some. However, shoes and shoe racks take up more room than you think. Free up the area for other items by storing your shoes in an under-stairs cupboard. Keeping them out of the bedroom will also prevent their dirt and grime from entering your personal space.


Contemporary Closet Organizers by London Closet & Home Storage Designers Clive Anderson Bespoke Furniture

 

You can also use shoe racks or cubbyholes in the mudroom to keep your footwear from tracking mud indoors. You can use the top part of this area to store your frequently used coats, jackets, and windbreakers.


Spaces

 

2. Pillows and Blankets

Use your closet space mainly for clothes and move your pillows and blankets to another area. A good place to keep these items in is an underbed drawer. Storing them under the bed allows you to keep them handy if you need to change sheets or add more pillows to the bed. If you don’t have a drawer, keep them in a storage chest or a slide suitcase under or by the foot of the bed.

3. Off-season Items

Clothes and accessories that are seldom used can be kept in stackable storage boxes and labeled according to the items they hold. The space underneath a window seat can double as a treasure trove for various odds and ends that may not have an immediate use but may hold sentimental value. Place hand-me-downs in this secure and convenient spot.


Eclectic Home Office by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Story & Space – Interior Design and Color Guidance

 

For vertical spaces that are often under-utilized as storage, hang bags, coats, or hats by using valet hooks and Velcro fasteners that can hold enough weight. Do prevent this area from becoming an eye sore by eliminating what looks like clutter. Hang only items that can also serve as decorative pieces when displayed.

Save closet space for the more valuable items. Scout other areas in your home that you can use as storage for other unique pieces.

Tree Classics Weekend Fun: 5 Benefits of Kite Flying

After a long and busy spring, it’s time that you unwind and take in the beautiful summer sunshine. What better way to de-stress than through a classic activity: kite flying. Tree Classics shares with you five great benefits of letting these colorful aerial wonders take flight.

Relieving Stress

In today’s fast-paced world of high-tech computers and complicated electronic gadgets, people get stressed out quickly. Spending hours working on and with devices can take a toll on the mind and body. To combat technostress, a simple hobby such as kite flying comes in handy. 

Kite flying may not depend on sophisticated technology. A sturdy thread, your kite, and the wind are all you need. But it allows you to forget the anxieties of the world. 

As you watch your kite while it is in the air, your mind focuses solely on making it stay in flight. When you end up ignoring the distractions in your environment, your mind enters into meditation. While you’re doing this, both your mind and body start to relax. 

a kite
Photo from Jonf728 via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Sharpening the Mind

Ever wondered how monks are able to stay calm even in the most challenging of situations? This is because they have reached a state called mindfulness, and it can also be achieved through kite flying.

But learning how to focus isn’t the only benefit of this activity. Because kite flying entails mastering maneuvers and performing them over and over, the whole process improves memory and learning, based on a research study by the American Psychological Association.

a man and his kite
Photo from heatheronhertravels via flickr. CC BY 2.0

 

Keeping the Body Fit

While most enthusiasts of kite flying will tell you that you don’t really need to run to make your kite fly, you’ll find it difficult not to. If you’re used to being confined in a four-cornered office all day, you’d want to soak up the freedom that the outdoors accord you.

Run around and break a sweat as you let your kite fly through the air. This will help improve the blood flow in your body as your heart rate begins to rise. Your breathing will become better as your lungs adjust to the oxygen intake while running.

Socializing with Others

One unique thing about kite flying is that it is a social activity as well. In countries, such as China, Japan, and the United States, hundreds of kite flying enthusiasts gather in festivals and competitions. Their common love for the sport allows them to bridge age and even cultural gaps.

A beautiful kite is also an excellent conversation starter. It’s a good reason to create fond memories with loved ones or strike up a friendship with a fellow kite flyer at the park or beach.

making a kite
Photo from stevendepolo via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Communing with Nature

Similar to fishing and camping, flying kites allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Working all day in an office exposes you to too much artificial sunlight from lamps and too much processed air from air conditioners. These weaken your body. It’s about time that you pull yourself away from work and reconnect with the earth.

Heading off to a park or beach to fly kites will not only allow you to bask under the sun and take in natural air, but it will also let you enjoy the sight of clear blue skies and lush green trees. According to a study by the Oxford Journals, communing with nature helps promote a positive outlook in life which eventually leads to a healthier mind and body.

kite festival
Photo from New Brunswick Tourism | Tourisme Nouveau-Brunswick via flickr. CC BY 2.0

The simplicity of this activity and the carefree attitude it fosters make kite flying the definition of sheer summer fun.

 

3 Heartwarming Ways to Celebrate Fathers’ Day

Remember when your dad first took you out to the lake to fish? When he took you to your very first ball game? Or when he taught you how to ride your bike without training wheels? These were the good old days when it didn’t matter if you didn’t catch a fish, your team lost, or you fell from your bike more times than you could count. Spending time with your dad was all that mattered.

This year, it’s your turn to let Dad know how much he means to you. Tree Classics looks back at timeless father-and-child activities that you can still enjoy as you celebrate Fathers’ Day.

Father and Child
Image by Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Curtains

Window curtains can either make or break the style of a room. While their main function is to provide protection from the harsh light of the sun, curtains also frame windows to highlight the view outside or accent the overall look of the room inside. Tree Classics gives you a list of things to consider when selecting draperies.


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Tree Classics Favorite Recipes: A New Take on the Applesauce Cake

There is more to eating apples than just keeping the doctor away. For one, they make delectable desserts. Applesauce, the sweet puree from the fruit, makes a fine ingredient when creating one of America’s classic baked goods. Tree Classics features four recipes that add a new twist to the all-time favorite applesauce cake.

apple and cinnamon
by Apolonia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Joy to the Tree: Meet the Winners of our Photo Contest

Tree Classics Joy to the Tree Photo Contest

Celebrate once more the joy of decorating your Christmas tree and take inspiration from the winners of our Tree Classics Joy to the Tree Photo Contest.

Before you put away your Christmas décor and store your beloved tree back into the box this spring, take one more look back at the holiday’s most memorable trees from the winners of our Tree Classics Joy to the Tree Photo Contest.

On our Facebook page, Tree Classics proudly shared with everyone the Christmas tree masterpieces that showcased family tradition as well as cherished memories of the past season. The winners of the contest captured on camera the delight that only a Tree Classics Christmas tree can bring.

Love for Tree Classics

“The tree surpassed my expectations,” says Christine Young, this year’s top winner. The photo of her 12-foot fir garnered 39 votes from Facebook fans.

Christine was amazed at how her holiday centerpiece turned out. “I absolutely love our new tree this year.” The stunner was “the fullest, [most] beautiful, most lifelike tree” she had ever seen.

But Christine wasn’t the only one expressing love for her evergreen. Mindy Johnston, whose entry garnered 20 votes, shared her passion for decorating this classic work of art.

Mindy dedicated her Michigan Pine masterpiece to “Marine” who was home for Christmas for the first time in three years. A classic example of how a Tree Classics Christmas tree brings the family together.

A Different Kind of Ornament

Tree Classics Christmas trees have sturdy branches that can easily hold your Christmas tree decorations firmly in place. Diane Auger, whose entry bagged 13 votes, says her Scarlet Fir was “just the right size.”

Diane needed an evergreen that could house about 340 of her ornaments. Each detail added to the uniqueness of her Christmas tree, thus every ornament had to be tucked safely between the branches in order to bring out the vibrancy of the evergreen. Diane’s Tree Classics stunner delivered on its promise.

While traditional holiday trimmings may add character to a tree, a different kind of ornament took center stage in Lori Magelky’s entry.

“Just lights, no ornaments,” Lori says of Our Christmas tree, whose photo garnered eight votes. “We learned last year, after our cat climbed the tree, that we shouldn’t put ornaments,” Lori adds.

What makes this winning entry extra special?

The only ornament it did have: “The cat who likes to sleep in the branches.”

Each winner will receive a Sedona Fir Christmas Wreath. Tree Classics thanks everyone who participated in the Joy to the Tree Photo Contest.

Health Benefits of Having Pets

We feed them, clean them, play with them, and even talk to them. We love our pets and, in many ways, they love us back. Pets provide us companionship, comfort, and amusement. What we don’t realize is how beneficial these adorable animals can be to our physical and mental well-being. This May, celebrate National Pet Month by learning about the positive effects of caring for a furry friend.

graur razvan ionut
by graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Reduce Stress

After a difficult day, a pet can be just the thing to lift up your spirits. Research shows that people performing stressful tasks were more relaxed when accompanied by their pets. Spending time with a pet dog or cat induces physical changes in our bodies that enhance our mood. Cortisol levels are lowered and serotonin, a hormone associated with happiness, is increased.

2. Prevent Allergies

Studies reveal that children who grow up in a home with furry pets, such as cats and dogs, develop fewer allergies than those who don’t. Even kids who grow up on farms with large, domestic animals have less risk of allergies and asthma. This suggests that exposure to dirt and allergens at an early age strengthens a child’s immune system. This immunity boosting effect, however, only develops in children and does not affect adults with existing allergies.

Tina Phillips
by Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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National Library Week: The Benefits of Reading

The public library is an amazing repository of knowledge that is free to anyone. Unfortunately, it seems that with the pervasiveness of digital media and the World Wide Web, poring over hardbound and paperback reads is fast becoming a vanishing practice. To celebrate National Library Week starting this April 14, we offer some great reasons to pick up the reading habit.

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1. Boost Brainpower

Like any muscle, the brain benefits from a good workout.  Reading is an active mental process that is intellectually more demanding than watching TV or listening to the radio. By keeping your brain active, reading helps make you smarter and keep your concentration sharp as you grow older.

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Family Project: Creating a Window Box Garden

Being in the outdoors is a great way to spend time with the family. You and your loved ones can bring nature closer to home by creating a window box garden together. This project promotes closeness among family members and keeps them refreshed after a long work week while enhancing your home’s curb appeal.

by Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Kick Start the Project

Getting ready entails purchasing the materials, setting a specific day for the project, and getting family members involved. Have on hand the following basic materials: a ready-made window box container made of metal, plastic, concrete, wood, or terra cotta; concrete screws; wood or metal brackets; gardening tools; and planting materials.

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