Friday, June 2, 2017

Beach Hacks to Make Your Next Trip a Breeze!

Who doesn’t love a fun filled day lounging out on the beach. It’s wonderful to relax in the sun, listen to the waves and enjoy the whole beach going experience. Here are some tips to help make your next trip a breeze.

  Baby Powder –
 This is a beach must. Sprinkling baby powder on your hands or body quickly removes the moisture allowing you to easily brush off caked, wet sand. This is perfect when you need to reapply sunblock and don’t want the grains scraping your skin, or want to have a snack.


Inflatable Kiddie Pool Have little ones at the beach that aren’t quite ready to play in the waves? Bringing an inflatable kiddie pool is a great way for them to enjoy the water. Fill it up a bit to allow them to splash around or play with toys. This allows parents to sit and relax while also letting the kids enjoy the water. As an added bonus, place the pool under an umbrella to keep out of the sun.

Cork Keychain These are simple to make and are a great alternative if you don’t want to carry around a full set of keys. All you need is a cork, eye hooks and split rings. Screw the eye hook into the cork, attach the ring and voila! A floating keychain, perfect to take to the beach!

Ice Alternatives Save cooler space by packing freezable drinks and snacks instead of ice. They will keep your items cold but as they thaw, there will be plenty of things to eat. Some good options are water, juice, lemonade, grapes, yogurt sticks, popsicles and PB&J (Tip: Put Peanut butter on both bread slices and top with jelly to prevent soggy bread).

Another fun idea is freezing water balloons. Pack your cooler with this ice substitute and then let the kids have a water balloon fight on the beach after they thaw. 


Mesh Laundry Bag Keep beach toys in a mesh laundry hamper. The mesh bags allow the sand to sift through the holes while also air drying the toys.


Fitted Sheets Bring an old fitted sheet to the beach. By placing heavier bags and coolers in each corner, you create a relatively sand-free room for you and the family to relax in. This will also make an ideal play area for babies, minimizing how sandy they get. Further, if you set up a beach umbrella near one of the corners, you have a shaded section as well. 


Freezer Bags Freezer bags make a great beach cover for your phone. They will help prevent it from getting wet (not completely waterproof) while still allowing you to use your touch screen through the plastic so you don’t have to remove it.  

Additionally, if you don’t own any ice packs, you can make your own by filling them with water and letting them freeze.


Reuse Plastic Containers There are so many uses for your empty containers at the beach:
 
     Disguise - Use empty household containers to disguise your valuable items such as keys, money, phones and wallets. You can make good use of Pringles cans, wipes containers, empty Chapstick containers for money or anything else that might trick someone. 

     Storage – You can use empty plastic creamer containers to put snacks that might otherwise crumble such as goldfish or pretzel sticks. Reuse an empty wipe container to store garbage bags or napkins/tissue so the boxes don’t get wet and soggy. Lastly, clean out those peanut butter jars to make a nice dry place to keep your phone, keys or money.


Cupcake Liners Keep little hands clean while enjoying a popsicle on a hot summer day by pushing the popsicle stick through a paper cupcake liner. The liner will catch all those sticky drips as the popsicle begins to melt instead of them landing all over your or your child.


Get Crafty Here are a couple other creative ways to make your beach day a little easier.


     Duct Tape Beach Bag Don’t worry about your bag getting wet, here is a simple way to make a durable beach bag out of duct tape!
  • 2 rolls of Duct Tape, alternating patterns
  • white plastic trash bag
  • Permanent marker
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Cut open the plastic bag along one edge and the bottom. Tape it to a table top to keep it in place; use the marker to create a 16 x 30" rectangle.
  • Start duct taping right on top of the bag, covering the rectangle. Alternate your duct tape choices and slightly overlap each layer until you cover the entire rectangle. Make sure to overlap the edges you drew slightly.
  • Once you're done, press it all down well and then release your bag from the table. Flip it over and cut out along the Sharpie lines so you have a nice big rectangle of Duct Tape.
  • Next, apply strips of duct tape to each edge of the rectangle.
  • Fold up your bag and tape the sides together, leaving the top open. 
    • Handles:
    • Cut 2 26.5” and 2 25.5”pieces of tape
    • Center one shorter strip on top of one of the longer strips to create a handle
    • Stick each end inside the bag and attach. If you want to add to the durability, you can secure further by overlapping a piece of tape over where the handles are attached.
      Add Pockets to Your Beach Towels –By adding a few stitches to your beach towel, you can create pockets that serve the dual purpose of holding your items as well as help to weigh down your towel to prevent it from blowing around.
  • Start with an oversized beach towel so you have more space to work with.
  • Fold up one end about 6” (or however much you want depending on how deep or shallow you want the pockets).
  • Measure out the width you want for each pocket and mark it with a pin. You can make some pockets wider or skinnier if you want to customize a pocket to fit a specific item.
  • Sew along both sides of the towel and down each strip where you have the pins marked and done! As an added bonus, you can put all the items in the pockets when packing, then just roll the towel up and go instead of tossing them loosely into a bag.
Hopefully some of these tips will help your next beach trip go a little easier.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Board at the Beach


Summer vacations are around the corner, but what to do when we need to stay indoors? My family is a huge fan of board games, which is a great solution for those times when it’s rainy or too late to be outdoors. You have your standard classics such as Sorry, Scrabble, Life and Monopoly, but if you’re looking for something a bit more unique and interesting, then look no further. I’ve compiled a short list of some of our family favorites:

Pandemic:
2-4 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 60 mins to play.
Four diseases have popped up across the globe and it’s up to you and your team of specialists to eradicate them before they take over. Each player selects a role from several different specialists each with a specific skill that makes them unique to the team. For example, a Medic will remove all cubes of a certain type of disease in a city instead of just one when treating. Each player will work in conjunction with one another to use skills wisely, plan strategies and ultimately save the world from extinction. This truly is a game where you all win or lose together. 

Forbidden Island:
2-4 Players, Ages 10 and up, approximately 30 mins to play.
Play as a team of explorers seeking out sacred treasures from a beautiful island paradise. Watch out though, this island is sinking! It’s a race against the clock as you work together to collect all four treasures and escape before the island is engulfed completely in water! Like Pandemic, Forbidden Island is also a cooperative game containing specialists that must use their talents wisely to accomplish their goal.

Survive Escape from Atlantis:
2-4 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 60 mins to play.
If escaping sinking islands sounds like a fun theme for you, this is a great choice for those looking for a competitive game. The volcano has awoken and now the people of Atlantis face certain doom! Each player works independently to evacuate their pawns (ranked by point value 1-6) from the island as quickly as possibly either by boat or by swimming, but watch out! The water is a dangerous place filled with sharks, whales and serpents! Whoever has the most points on the safe islands at the end, wins! This is an amazing reboot of Parker Brothers classic game, Survive!


Karuba:
2-4 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 45 mins to play.
Let the expedition begin! Karuba is an addictive tile placing board game in which all players take their turn simultaneously (great for those, especially kids, that have a hard time waiting until their turn). In this game, each player must get their explorers to their corresponding temples before everyone else, collecting treasures along the way. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins! This is a really fun strategy game for the whole family.

Ticket to Ride:
2-5 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 60 mins to play.
Ticket to Ride is a train-themed board game in which players connect cities across the country via railway routes. Players will collect various colored train cards in order to claim railways and connect their destinations. Tensions rise as you use strategy to decide whether to go for more points or secure a critical route! This is an easy to learn game that offers a lifetime of replay value.


Blokus:
2-4 Players, Ages 7 and up, approximately 45 mins to play.
Blokus is a low-key and fantastic strategy game. Players take turns placing one of their geometric shapes on the grid. The object is to fit as many of your pieces on to the board as possible while also trying to block your opponents. The rule is this, your pieces cannot be adjacent to your own, but must touch at least one corner of them. The game ends when no more pieces can be played and the player left with the least amount of squares (what each shape is made up of) wins!
Qwirkle:
2-4 Players, Ages 6 and up, approximately 45 mins to play.
Qwirkle is another fun, tile placing game.  The objective of this game is to place matching tiles into the play area. Matching tiles consist of those that share ONE attribute (all the same color but different shape OR all the same shape but different colors) but not both. The dynamic of the game is similar to that of Scrabble, in that you place tiles in straight lines and can play off of other rows of tiles. Players score 1 point for each new tile they place in addition to 1 point for every adjacent tile affected by the placement. If a player is able to complete a row of 6 (1 of each color OR 1 of each shape) that is considered a Qwirkle and 12 points are given. Play continues until all tiles have been drawn and one player goes out. The person with the highest score wins!

Incan Gold:
2-8 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 30 mins to play.Will you brave the hazards of the temple or escape with all your coveted treasures? That’s for you to decide in Incan Gold, a fast-paced, press your luck game. Players take on the part of an explorer looking for treasure in an ancient Incan temple. Over the course of 5 rounds players secretly decide if they will continue going deeper into the temple for more treasure, or leave safely with the share they’ve already found. Watch out! If you get scared out of the temple by a hazard, you lose it all! At the end of the game, the player with the most fortune wins!

Hive :
2 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 20 mins to play.I’ve included this game because not only is it fun, but it can sometimes be challenging to find a really great 2 player game. Hive is along the same lines as chess, but with insects. Each insect type has a specific movement or ability that makes it unique from the others. Use strategic planning and trap your opponent’s queen bee first! The first player to surround their opponent’s queen (by using ANY of the pieces on the board) wins!

Cranium:
4-16 Players, Ages 13 and up, approximately 60 mins to play.
Outrageous fun for everyone! Cranium is a great party game that incorporates creativity, thinking and trivia all into one game. Players work on teams to complete tasks in each category (Data, Performance, Creative and Words) to win. The team that makes it to the end and completes all of their challenges wins!


Bonus Party Game
3-10 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 10 mins to play.
**Requires a FREE app to play**

If you’re looking for something REALLY different, I’d like to recommend One Night Ultimate Werewolf. This is a fast-paced bluffing game. Over the course of one round (1 day) each player will secretly have a role to play. At the end, you as a group must decide who the werewolves are amongst you. This gets fun as people try to bluff their way out of being revealed as werewolves. Can YOU think on your feet?


There you have it, a list of some of my favorite games. Find one that has peaked your interest? Great! Now what?

I love to learn as much about a game as I can before purchasing it because, let’s face it, they can be pricey and I want to be sure it would be a good fit for us. One resource I can’t live without in regards to board game research can be found here . On this site, you can find just about any game you can think of. In addition to providing descriptions, they offer reviews, game ratings, a forum for discussion, a place to browse games for sale and they also have put together lists of top games in different categories.

Buying the games. Some of these games can’t be found in your local toy superstore, but they are all easily obtainable. Here are some other options for purchasing:

*Some comic book stores carry a variety of board games.
*Boutique toy stores usually offer these higher end games. 
*Small gaming stores such as Born to Game in Dover, DE, will usually have a great selection to pick from.
*Online retailers such as Ebay or Amazon are also a popular choice.

I hope you enjoy one (or more!) of these titles as much as I do and they can find their way into your board game library!

Happy gaming!