Archive for 2016

Glimmers of Christmas Brightness

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

christmas-1849263_640Two weeks ago I wrote about how I have been struggling to find the joy I usually feel during the holiday season. Thankfully through the anticipation of events, planned activities, and patience, I have found my heart and mind embracing more of my typical holiday spirit.

We moved into our new home in early December. Although this was a bright spot, it is also where the need for patience came into play. It was wonderful to have a place that was our own, but moving into a home and unpacking it are two very different things. My irrational self wanted everything in place and perfect as soon as possible. My rational self realized that with a little calmness everything would fall into place in due time. As I write this, we are 95% done and feeling like this is home.

During the second week of December my kids returned home from college. Four days after moving into our new home we drove to Canada (and back) to bring our daughter home from her first semester at university. Another four days later we picked up our son at Logan after his semester ended. Having the kids (AKA adults) at home definitely adds to the festive air.

Over the last three weeks I’ve been working on the project that I adopted: completing a random act of kindness every day. I have found this project to be very fulfilling. For some of the acts I’ve done, it’s completely anonymous, and I don’t see a reaction. For others I am there, buying a coffee for a stranger, letting an elderly person go ahead of me in line. In a moment such as that, the smile on the person’s face is the only reward I need. Knowing that I made someone’s day better is quite amazing.

There are five days until Christmas, and I am glad that I will be with family and friends. I know that being with those I cherish will be comforting. I also know that a part of me will feel deep sorrow that my brother isn’t here to celebrate. So, I will acknowledge my grief but also remember the joy I have shared and the love that surrounds me. I will continue to seek the brightness in this holiday.

7 Safety Tips for Family Road Trips

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

car-1796388_640Safety on the road during family road trips is a matter of great importance. If you are planning your next vacation to be a road trip, be prepared because your car is about to become a moving family-room. However, there are things every parent can do to make sure that the whole trip goes smoothly. Here are seven safety tips for family road trips.

1. Get Adequate Sleep
Driving while drowsy is a significant contributing factor in 100,000 road accidents annually according to NHTSA. Ensure you drive when well rested and if possible, switch with another qualified adult driver every few hours.

2. Wear Your Seat Belt
Wearing a seat belt is the safest thing you can do on your next family road trip. In fact, it is a primary law in a majority of countries for front seat passengers and drivers to wear seat belts. Additionally, UK law requires child safety seats for children, and booster seats for kids who are not yet big enough to wear regular seat belts. Since the car seat requirements for your children keeps changing as they grow, ensure that you have an efficient car seat to suit their needs.

3. Be Sun Smart
Ensure you equip all your family members with sunglasses and sunblock during your road trip. You may as well invest in a sunshade for your backseat or pop hats on the heads of your little ones. When you leave your car, ensure you carefully cover your seats with blankets so that they do not heat up and burn the tender skin of your baby. What’s more? Never leave your kids alone because with the outside temperature at about 30 degrees, the interior of a parked car can rise to deadly temperature limits.

4. Keep Your Tyres Well Serviced
Besides making your car safe, maintaining its tyres at a recommended pressure saves you lots of cash. Consider buying a pressure gauge from Pep Boys to ensure that you have your tyres at a recommended pressure. Keep it inside your vehicle just in case you need to lower or raise the pressure. Consider replacing your car tyres with proper snow tyres for extra grip if you live in an area that gets heavy ice and snow.

5. Wear Safety Gear
The NHTSA recommends packing a car kit that contains warm blankets, water, jumper cables, a torch, tyre-changing tools, flares, a fully charged mobile phone and a first aid kit. You can also subscribe to a roadside assistance plan to ensure you know where to call during an emergency and what kind of support is in your policy plan.

6. Keep Heavy Items as Low as Possible
Store heavier items low in the seat wells to prevent them from becoming projectiles during a sudden stop. In that case, pushchairs, suitcases and anything else stored in an open cargo area should be kept as low as possible.

7. Play Defence
Apart from taking the safety precautions mentioned in this article, always think about the other drivers on the road. Always keep a safe distance behind the cars in front of you so that you have the time to turn or stop quickly. Also, make sure to avoid any activity that shifts your focus away from the road, for instance, using a handheld phone or eating.

You should also consider brushing up on your driving skills before you take a road trip. One of the easiest ways to do this is by taking mock DVLA driving tests. Top Tests offers tons of free resources as well as mock driving tests that you can take to refresh your driving skills. You can visit their website at

In Conclusion
Road trips are no small affair and things can go wrong quick if the proper precautions aren’t taken. However, if you follow the tips in this article, your family road trip will be a joyous experience.

Brought to you by our friend, Carol.

Swimsuit Styles That Are Trending: A Guide for the Whole Family

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

woman-918532_640Do you have a winter sun vacation booked for the family? Is everyone looking forward to going away and escaping the often dull, bleak, and cold winter at home? With a sun vacation comes the need for a swimsuit, which is why we’ve got you covered with a look at all hottest trends for the 2016/2017 season. There are trends for every member of the family, even the kids. We’ll take a look at designer swimsuits, and the lower budget suits in this article.

Bold Bright Prints
Here’s a trending style that the whole family can take part in. Bold bright prints are showing up everywhere when it comes to swimsuit fashion. Think bright colors such as royal blue, purple, hot pink, coral, turquoise, and orange. What’s fun about the bold bright prints is that they also help to give you that sun-kissed glow by brightening up the appearance of your skin.

As far as what kind of print to pick, there seems to be a large selection this season and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Some of the hottest prints are florals, geometric prints, stripes and polka dots. Check out these Anne Cole swimsuits for ideas.

One Shoulder Suits
This is another trend that is proving to be hot for 2016/2017. This is a style both mom and daughter can wear. For moms, look for a suit that has a strap on just one shoulder leaving the other one bare. Typically, the side with the strap features a very wide strap to give that extra support and comfort. For little girls, the trend is to have to straps with one side being much thicker. It gives the illusion of a one-shoulder swimsuit without having to worry about it slipping down as they play.

A Touch of Frill
Also for mom and daughter, look for swimsuits that have a touch of frill or ruffle to them. It could be around the bust or waist. This is a fun whimsical look that works on all ages, including suits for babies. One thing to note about this style is that if you tend to be a bit busty, you probably won’t want added bulk by means of ruffles through the bust area.

Boarding Shorts
While this style isn’t exactly new it does prove to be fun and trendy each and every year. Board shorts are a great option for men, young boys, women, and young girls. Board shorts are shorts that sit a bit longer, usually just below the knee. These are not only stylish but they are excellent for playing in and doing water activities in. Just throw a t-shirt or tank on and you can go straight from the beach or poolside at your resort right to the buffet for a casual meal.

Don’t forget to incorporate the other hot trend, bright colors and prints, into your board shorts!

Halter Style Swimsuits
The halter style swimsuit has long been a favorite among women of all shapes and sizes. It offers excellent support, is stylish, and can make a suit look extremely luxurious or super sporty. Both women and young girls can wear this style and you’ll find both one-piece and two-piece options.

Swimsuits with SPF Protection
While this isn’t exactly a style of bathing suit, it is popular and trendy. Many bathing suits today have built in SPF protection so you won’t have to worry about the sun’s rays getting through the material. This is especially great when it comes to bathing suits for young kids. They tend to have extremely sensitive skin and can burn easy, so it gives parents peace of mind knowing they are covered.

These swimsuits also work well for anyone who will be engaged in water sports. Getting a sunburn is easy while you play in the water, so at least this way you know the parts that are covered in material truly are protected from the sun.

Beach Cover-Ups
Now before you grab your swimsuits and call it a day, be sure to pick up a great cover-up to wear with the suit. Women and girls have all kinds of stylish options ranging from loose fitting sun dresses, to wraps, to jumpers.

You’re Ready for the Water
Picking up a trendy and stylish swimsuit for each member of the family will be a breeze thanks to this guide. You will all look and feel great while you enjoy the sand, the surf, and the sun.

Brought to you by our friend, Carol.

Trying to Make Christmas Bright

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

christmas-stars-ornamentsThe Christmas season is my favorite time of year. I love the lights, the decorations, the sparkle in young children’s eyes. It’s the time of year when there seems to be extra cheer and I get to spend even more time cooking for others. For me, all of this excitement begins on the day after Thanksgiving.

This year, however, it’s quite different. It’s my first year as an empty nester, which makes the start of the holiday season feel so different. Although it’s been years since I read a Christmas book to my kids at bedtime, I’m used to the energy and anticipation of children (even teens) in our home. In addition to an empty nest, we also are kind of nest-less. We are finishing up our hotel stay, as we prepare to move into our new home this Wednesday. Our accommodations are nice, and the staff here has done a lovely job of decorating, but I’m still living in a hotel room that isn’t home. And of course, there’s the part of me that’s grieving the loss of my brother this year. There’s a very big part of me that’s filled with sadness during my favorite time of year. To help with this sadness, I’ve used both in-person and online therapy.

As November neared its end, I decided to make a few resolutions. First, I had to accept that this holiday season would simply be different. With an early December move-in date, decorating might be less but I would embrace the excitement of our new home. Second, I decided that different dates would be important. Instead of looking forward to the day after Thanksgiving to decorate, I’m excited for the third week of December when both of my kids come home from college. Third, I realized that although I would be sad, I could do kind things for others and in that find some happiness.

The first two resolutions were simple. Wait for kids to come home when finals are done. Wait for moving day to arrive. Each of these events has a separate countdown. (Currently at 1 day to moving, 5 days until daughter is home, 9 days until son is home.) The third resolution took a bit more work.

I could have left the kind act to randomness, but I work better with organization. So, I created a random acts of kindness calendar for myself. With many online versions available, I looked at tons of them and found inspiration for creating my own. While making the calendar, I decided that some of the things I do will be anonymous, but others will be done in-person. Having completed my first five acts of kindness, I look forward to each day’s act in hope that I make someone else’s day brighter.

Already this holiday season, there have been many moments when there’s a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I have learned to accept that is how this season will be. But knowing that each day I’ll do something kind for someone else helps to ease that sadness just a little bit. Focusing on make another person’s day a little brighter has made mine brighter also.

A final thought: Although this was my choice to perform random acts of kindness this month, I’m wondering if others might be interested in doing this also. I’m not asking for a daily commitment to this but a single, simple act. If you read this article and decide to do something kind for someone else, please share it in the comments. I’d love to see these acts of kindness multiply.

Five Power Snacks for Busy Students

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

hummusThe life of a student is filled with studying, long hours, and multi-tasking. With that said, the long hours can start to take a toll and leave you feeling a bit drained. So what can you do? Well we’ve put together a list of power snacks meant for busy students like you that will help you stay awake and alert while you work on your online business administration degree.

Crackers and Hummus
If you don’t have a lot of time to put a snack together, then this one is for you. Hummus spread on whole grain crackers provides you with a huge boost of energy. What’s also great is that the hummus is a good source of fiber, which keeps you feeling full for long periods of time. You can either make your own hummus or pick up a container of store-bought that you can keep in the fridge. Suddenly those long hours studying for your online bachelors in business will seem much more tolerable!

Fruit and Protein
Not only does this combination provide you with a boost of energy, it’s also very quick and easy to put together. Opt for a tablespoon of peanut butter that is known for protein, and spread it on either a sliced apple or banana. This combination tastes great, is quick to eat, and the boost will hit you pretty fast. The sugar that is found in fruit takes longer for your body to actually metabolize, which means the effects will last longer than if you were to snack on processed sugars.

Hard Boiled Egg
This is a great snack that you can pre-make. Pick up a dozen eggs and boil them, then store them in your fridge. You can then grab one whenever you feel you need that boost of energy. One hard-boiled egg has six grams of protein. It also contains a great amount of B6 and B12, which provide you with energy.

Homemade Trail Mix
Here’s a snack that is great any time of day or night, and because it’s portable you can also throw a baggie of it in your backpack. In a reusable container or jar mix up a variety of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and even a bit of dark chocolate. Opt for such items as peanuts, almonds, walnuts, raisins, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax. Make sure the ingredients are unsalted. Once you’ve got all of your ingredients together, toss them in the container and it’s ready to be enjoyed whenever you like. Making your own is usually more cost-effective, and it allows you to customize it.

Who doesn’t love a great bowl of popcorn? Well here’s a fun fact, not only is popcorn delicious it’s also a very healthy and energy boosting snack. Steer away from the butter soaked varieties and add your own toppings instead. Air popped kernels are also the best option.

Remember to Feed Your Brain
These snacks are obviously great for providing you with energy when you need it, but they also help to feed your brain, allowing you to absorb and learn that much easier.

Brought to you by our friend, Carol.

Why Not Make Another Change?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

hotel-roomSeeing that title, readers may wonder what exactly I’m changing at PeKu now. The good news for our loyal readers is that there have been no new changes to PeKu. However, there has been another set of changes in my personal life, which does affect PeKu in some form or fashion.

To review, there have been a number of changes for PeKu and me in the last three months:

  • In August I downsized PeKu and let go of my entire writing team in an attempt to revive its future.
  • In September my husband and I became empty nesters.
  • In October I decided that PeKu should focus solely on Think Tasty, including giving it my own personal voice.

Yeah, there’s been a little bit going on in my life on both personal and professional levels (and that list doesn’t even include my work with Wasabi Ventures Academy). However, I like to be busy and keep my calendar full. So, why not put our house on the market and see if we can find a better sized home- one that works well for two most of the time but still has room for kids who are home for the summer and holidays? So, we did that and closed on the sale of our home last week.

This was an exciting development, with one hitch. The sale happened quickly, and we hadn’t found our next place to live. So, with a contract signed we began a search for our next place and found one quickly. (Phew!) Of course, finding a place quickly doesn’t mean moving there quickly. The exact place we want isn’t available until early December. Let’s do a little math. House closes in early November. New place is ready in early December. Yep, there’s a month without a home.

It’s only the two of us for the bulk of that month, so there was an easy solution- live in a hotel. Now, that may sound like something out of storybooks or tv shows, and it kind of is. It’s nice not having to vacuum the bedroom or clean my breakfast dishes. Plus, it’s a nice setup with a good fitness center, indoor pool, and a welcoming staff. However, as someone who not only loves to work with food, but also builds part of her career around food, it makes things a bit tricky. I have done some hotel room cooking, as you’ll see on Think Tasty in a few weeks, but I miss having my whole array of kitchen tools and appliances.

I’m keeping in mind that this transition period is short and will make me appreciate our new home even more. In the meanwhile I’ll be crafting as many microwave-only meals as I can. And trying not to get used to clean towels that appear magically every day.