Beat the Heat, Save Your Wallet

Sometimes, it’s just too hot to be outside. When you and your children want to spend some quality time together but don’t want to brave the heat or spend money on indoor activities like going to a movie theater for the latest blockbuster, it’s time to get creative!

guacMake a taco bar with the whole family! Get out of the sun for a little while with this delicious, creative recipe from Food Network Magazine. Everyone can play “chef,” with each person in charge of his or her own part of the taco bar, from the guacamole station to the hot sauce station. An extra perk of this family friendly recipe? With a multi-compartment lunch box, you can even take your taco bar with you for work or school lunches for a tasty lunch that is much cheaper than dining out!



To make 2-4 servings, you will need:

  • 4 thin slices roast beef (about 3 ounces)
  • 4 (6-inch) soft flour tortillas
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup store-bought fresh guacamole
  • 1/4 cup store-bought fresh salsa
  • Mini bottle hot sauce
  • 2-4 multi-compartment lunch boxes
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
  • “chefs” to help out


  1. Fold 1 slice roast beef inside each of 2 soft tortillas, and put in the biggest compartment of the lunch box
  2. Sprinkle cheese onto the roast beef and tortilla
  3. Pack other compartments with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and other favorite toppings each.
  4. Seal and send off to school or bring to work!

Everyone has the chance to contribute to the meal, and you get to spend a little extra time with the family!

On lazy summer days, sometimes we just don’t feel like being active, and even cooking a meal together seems too ambitious. Even energetic children need some downtime! Take the opportunity to read to your kids. You can even act out scenes from the stories to get them involved! Scholastic’s Parent & Child magazine has a few recommendations for places to start.

  1. Charlotte’s Web
  2. Tuck Everlasting
  3. A Wrinkle in Time
  4. Anne of Green Gables
  5. Where the Wild Things Are

Reading together will stimulate your children’s imaginations and will build memories that will last a lifetime! Support local literacy and save money by renting these books from your local library. Need more reading ideas for children? Magazines like Highlights can turn a lazy afternoon into a time of learning and discovery for children!


Indoor camping is another budget-friendly way to get the whole family involved. All you need are a few household materials before you and your kids are ready for a camping adventure! 

  1. Rope
  2. Sheets
  3. Flashlights
  4. Chocolate
  5. Marshmallows
  6. Graham crackers
  7. Toothpicks
  8. Small candles
  9. Lighter
  10. Additional snacks (optional)

Choose a “campsite” – a room with enough space for the project – and tie the rope to furniture. Drape the sheets over the furniture to create your tent. Once you are ready for the camping to begin, get the small candle, chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers for mini s’mores! Turn out the lights and use the flashlight to make the camping experience more realistic.

Even when the temperatures a tipping the 90s, you and your family can find fun, inexpensive ways to enjoy the summer. Let us know which of these ideas is your favorite!


Family 4th of July

Let Freedom Ring With These 4th Of July Favorites

[two_fifth]cherry blueberry pie recipe[/two_fifth]

Are you ready for the most patriotic day of the year? Whether you have a fully planned 4th of July event or still have more on your holiday to-do list than you would like to admit, add a little more red, white, and blue to your weekend with these American themed cooking and decorating ideas!

What is more American than apple pie? Red, white, and blue-themed cherry and blueberry pie! Try a twist on an American classic for an easy, delicious Independence Day dessert. Whether you are cooking for a potluck or a small event with family and friends, this mouth-watering recipe from Food Network Magazine is sure to please everyone. Preparation time is only 20 minutes, and Food Network Magazine gives this treat an “easy” level rating.


What You Need:


  • 1 package double pie crust mix
  • 1 (20-ounce) can cherry pie filling
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Blueberry Sauce:

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, reserve 1/4 cup for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream

What You Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare pie crust according to package directions. Divide into 6 equal portions, roll into balls and refrigerate covered for at least 1 hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll each into a circle about 1/4-inch thick.

For Pies:

  1. Place each of the rolled out circles onto the baking sheet. Divide cherry pie filling into the center of each of the 6 pie crusts and sprinkle each with the pumpkin pie spice. Fold the edges of the pie dough over the cherry pie filling, making sure to leave the center of the pie exposed. Place a few of the reserved blueberries on top of each pie. Brush the sides of the pies with milk and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Place pies in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

For Blueberry Topping:

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, stir together blueberries, sugar, and two tablespoons water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. To serve, place 1 warm pie on 6 plates, top each pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of the blueberry sauce.


[one_third]Fireworks Display[/one_third]


Sometimes a delicious dessert alone is not enough. Go the extra mile with tasteful red, white, and blue DIY decorations! BrightNest’s DIY patriotic firework placemats are a simple, quick way to add a nice touch to your 4th of July event.



What You Need:

  • White, beige, or light-colored fabric placemats
  • Red and blue fabric paints
  • A kitchen scrub brush
  • A paper plate
  • Water for rinsing the kitchen scrub.

What You Do:

  1. Pour a quarter-sized amount of red fabric paint onto a paper plate; repeat for blue paint.
  2. Dip the scrub brush bristles one of the colors of paint and firmly press the bristles into the fabric to start making your design.
  3. To create the appearance of fireworks, alternate and overlap paint colors. Make sure to rinse the kitchen scrub in water between alternations to avoid overly blending your colors.
  4. Let the placemats dry in a safe place and – voila! You have your own patriotic placemats.

Tip: Want to add a little more flair to your fireworks? Use a second, smaller kitchen scrub to create smaller fireworks!

As you prepare for an all-American celebration full of potlucks, get-togethers, fireworks shows, and more, these quick Independence Day extras will add a little more bang to your weekend. Have a fun and safe 4th of July, and remember those who sacrificed for our freedom.

If you want more easy DIY decoration ideas, check out Have any other 4th of July cooking or decorating ideas? Feel free to share them below in the comments section.


“Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.”

– George Washington in his Farewell Address


National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month

Did you know that June is National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month?

According to the National Gardening Association, one in three Americans households now grow their own food. In the past five years, the number of Americans with some type of garden increased by 17%. The largest increase came from those in the 18-to-34 year old bracket. Reasons given for gardening included: the produce tasted better and cost less than at the supermarket, it was healthier and of better quality, and it enabled individuals to spend time outdoors and feel productive. Many parents also noted that they enjoyed teaching their children how to garden.

The top 10 garden-grown vegetables in the United States are:

1.) Tomatoes

2.) Sweet peppers

3.) Cucumbers

4.) Hot peppers

5.) Onions

6.) Beans

7.) Carrots

8.) Summer squash

9.) Lettuce

10.) Peas

Farmers’ markets are a popular alternative for individuals who don’t have the time or space to garden. They have increased in popularity throughout the last five years: in 2009, there were around 5,000 registered farmers’ markets in the United States; today, there are over 8,000.

Despite the growing popularity of gardening and shopping at farmers’ markets, however, Americans are still not eating the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. found that only 11% of Americans consume the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals, follow these tips from Cooking Light:

1.) Eat More Fruits for Breakfast

* Stir berries (fresh or frozen), dried fruit, or banana slices into yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal.

* Eat a fruit salad or drink fruit juice.

* Cut up a banana and eat it with peanut butter toast.

* Make a fruit smoothie. There are thousands of great smoothie recipes. You can whip them up in a matter of minutes. They’re a healthy and delicious breakfast alternative! You can find lots of great smoothie recipes in Taste of Home magazine.

2.) Add More Vegetables to Each Dish

* Add extra vegetables to a pizza, casserole, or sandwich. If you’re making Eggplant Parmesan, double the amount of eggplant. If you’re making Chicken Pot Pie, double the amount of vegetables in the dish.

* Add extra vegetables to your sandwich. Switch up traditional sandwich toppings such as lettuce and tomatoes with unique alternatives like cucumbers, zucchini, or apples.

3.) Sneak Fruits/Vegetables into Meals

* Add mushrooms, eggplant, onions, peppers, and squash to your spaghetti sauce recipe. Add grated vegetables to your meatloaf or soup. For more recipes ideas, check out Taste of Home!

* Make carrot cake, pumpkin bread, corn muffins, blueberry coffee cake, and other healthier options.

4.) Make Meatless Meals

* Make meatless meals one day a week. You can make meatless salads, omelets, pizzas, soups, wraps, sandwiches, and other recipes. Make Eggplant Parmesan, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, and other hearty, healthy recipes. If you need ideas, peruse Vegetarian Times for inspiration!

5.) Try a New Fruit or Vegetable Each Week

* Try a new seasonal fruit or vegetable each week. Check out your local farmers’ market for ideas. Let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable that they want to try.

6.) Choose Healthy Snacks

* Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter at home or at work.

* Eat dried fruit or pre-cut fruits and veggies for an afternoon snack.

* Drink fruit juice instead of soda. Half a cup of 100% fruit juice is equivalent to an entire serving.

7.) Make Fruity Desserts

* Dip bananas in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and freeze them for a delicious dessert option.

* Top ice cream or frozen yogurt with fresh fruit.




Summer Activities for Kids

iStock_000020184652SmallAre you trying to come up with some fun summer activities for your kids? If you are looking for some creative, inexpensive ideas that will keep your kids entertained, try some of the following ideas:

1.) Tie-Dye Shirts

Help your kids unleash their artistic side by creating tie-dye shirts! Give each of your kids a white 100% cotton T-shirt and let the magic begin!

2.) New Outdoor Activities

Have your kids been dying to ride horses? Have they always wanted to go sailboating? Write a list of new activities on slips of paper and stick them in a Mason jar. Throughout the summer, draw out one of the activities and try it together! This is a great way to expose your kids to new activities without breaking your bank account.

3.) Read Together

Give your child a subscription to one of their favorite magazines so that they can continue reading all summer long. According to the literacy non-profit Reading is Fundamental, children who read during the summer retain their reading skills much more effectively than those who do not. Find a magazine that your child will look forward to receiving each month so that they can be both entertained and educated all summer long!

4.) Sidewalk Chalk

Give your kids some sidewalk chalk and let them create masterpieces in your driveway! You can also teach them to play fun games like Hopscotch. For added fun, you can draw a racetrack on your driveway and let your kids race toy cars!

5.) Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling

This is a fun and inexpensive alternative to traditional bowling! You’ll need six glow sticks, six empty water bottles, a ball that can knock over the water bottles (such as a small basketball), and paper and a pen so you can keep score. Crack each glow stick to make it glow. Put one glow stick into each of the empty bottles. Arrange the bottles like bowling pins. If you’re bowling indoors, make sure to play in a clear area without breakable items (such as a living room or playroom). If you’re playing outside, you can play on the patio, driveway, or in the yard. Let each family member bowl, and keep track of the score! For added fun, serve bowling alley style snacks like hotdogs, popcorn, and soda!

6.) Ice Cream Party

Facing a particularly hot day? Let your kids run through the sprinkler or take them to the pool. Afterwards, have an old-fashioned ice cream party! Let your kids choose between making banana splits, ice cream sundaes, or root beer floats. This is a fun and inexpensive way to cool down on a hot day!

7.) Cook with Your Kids

Summer is the perfect time to teach your kids some basic cooking skills. Teach them how to prepare basic foods such as baked potatoes, tacos, and cookies. You can find simple recipes for kids in Yum for Kids or Real Simple!


Summer Magazines

iStock_000009958489Small“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Henry James

Do you agree with the words of 19th century writer Henry James? Whether you enjoy sitting by the pool or traveling to new locations, summer is the perfect time to relax and rejuvenate. It’s also a wonderful time to catch up on reading. If you’re looking for some great magazines to read this summer, here are a few good options:

1.) Travel + Leisure

Nothing says “summer” like a vacation! If you’re looking for the perfect vacation destination, peruse copies of Travel + Leisure to find the best spots. Each magazine is filled with colorful photos and in-depth reviews of dozens of destinations. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway to a nearby city or an extensive international trip, Travel + Leisure is the perfect resource. The magazine details the best restaurants, hotels, and activities all across the globe. It’s also filled with practical tips about packing, sightseeing, and finding the best travel deals. If you want to learn about the world’s best vacation spots, Travel + Leisure is a must-have!

2.) New York Magazine

Whether you live in New York or simply want to visit one day, this magazine is a must-read. New York magazine publishes a yearly “Summer Guide,” which provides lists of summer activities, recipes, and entertainment options. Past topics included, “12 New Places to Eat in the Hamptons,” “25 Books to Beach-Read,” “Summer Rental Guide,” and “What to Do Every Weekend From Now Until Labor Day.” The lifestyle magazine also features movie and music reviews. In addition, there are articles about the latest nightclubs, fashion trends, and clubs in the Big Apple. New Yorkers will benefit from learning about all the entertainment options available in their beloved cities. Those who don’t live in the city will still enjoy the informative and engaging articles.

3.) O, The Oprah magazine

If you’re looking for a relaxing magazine to peruse by the pool, this is the perfect option. Packed with articles about career choices, relationships, and health issues, O, The Oprah Magazine is a well-respected and poplar women’s magazine. Literature lovers will enjoy the summer reading guide recommended by Oprah herself. The reading list is comprised of excellent fiction and non-fiction selections, as well as memoirs.

Still looking for the perfect magazine to enjoy on a lazy summer afternoon? Visit We have discounts on thousands of magazine titles, so you can easily find the perfect magazine without breaking your bank account. Happy reading!

Park reading

Encourage Kids to Read All Summer Long

Spending time with momAccording to the National Education Association, children can lose up to three months of reading progress over the summer months. Reading is Fundamental, America’s largest literary non-profit, noted, “Children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slide backward.” Are you looking for some tried-and-true ways to encourage your child to read all summer long? Here are some surefire suggestions:

1.)   Make Reading Fun

Many teachers hand out a required reading list at the end of the school year in an attempt to encourage students to read throughout the summer. However, it can be difficult for children to stay engaged unless the book captures their attention. Does your child have a favorite activity, such as sports or animals? If so, consider buying them a subscription to a magazine that revolves around that topic. It will be much easier for them to stay focused on something that captures their attention.

2.)   Combine Activities With Reading

Does your child love swimming? Read a story about a famous swimmer before heading to the pool. Does your child enjoy baseball? Suggest that they read a story about a baseball player before you head to the game. Encouraging your child to read about a favorite activity can help them learn more about something that interests them.

3.)   Read Aloud to Your Child

Respected educator Jim Trelease, who wrote the Read-Aloud Handbook, says that reading aloud to children helps create lifelong learners. He states,

“It’s long established in science and research: the child who comes to school with a large vocabulary does better than the child who comes to school with little familiarity with words and a low vocabulary. In books, newspapers, and magazines, the language is more complicated (than in ordinary conversation). A child who hears more sophisticated words has a giant advantage over a child who hasn’t heard those words.”

He adds that reading aloud also increase a child’s attention span. He encourages parents to read to older children as well, since a child’s reading level usually doesn’t catch up to their listening level until 8th grade. As a result, reading aloud to older children will continue to help cultivate their comprehension skills.

At, we have several magazines for children. From American Girl to Highlights, we have a wide array of entertaining and educational magazines that kids of all ages will enjoy. If you’re trying to motivate your child to continue reading all summer long, consider buying them a subscription to their favorite magazine. They’ll look forward to receiving it in the mail each month!