Get The Most Out of Your Holiday Decorations

Other than the 4th of July, Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. During the holiday season, everyone is more cheerful and friendly to one another, there's beautiful decorations everywhere and who does not love watching Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf in Elf or Ebenezer Scrooge learn to hold Christmas in the past, present and future in A Christmas Carol? The holidays are filled with so many traditions and wonderful things to see and do that even though I hate the cold Chicago winter weather, I savor every minute of the holidays from Thanksgiving until New Years.
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Last year, I moved right before the holidays and was very excited to have my own place to decorate. However, being a recent college graduate and living on my own, I was strapped for cash so I needed to decorate on a budget. I'm here to share a few tricks with you that I learned to ensure you get the most out of the holidays, without feeling like you have to spend a fortune.

An obvious item known to cause money pressures through the holidays is presents.
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I used to buy gifts for up to ten people, between friends and family, but as we got older and everyone began wanting more expensive presents, I realized that was just not possible anymore. If there seems to be a lot of people on your holiday list, I'm always a fan of a secret Santa type gift distribution. On my mom's side of the family, the grandparents buy for the three grandchildren, the adults have a secret Santa exchange between the ten of them and the godparent's to buy a gift for their godchildren. It saves all of us money and the hassle of having to exchange what you do not like.
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For a friend or a roommate that you need to get a gift for, I always put a cute photo in a decorated photo frame, something simple but does not cost a lot of money from Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond. These always make great gifts. Another way to save money on gifts is to shop sales through the year instead of just around the holidays. Spreading it through the year helps, as you're not spending so much at once and it prevails you from running around trying to find everyone's gift come December.

Another holiday essential is lighting. Living in an apartment, I did not have a front lawn to decorate, but my roommate and I still hung lights around the fireplace and on the tree.
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Instead of using traditional incandescent lighting, we decided we wanted to be more environmentally friendly and bought LED lights. LED lights have many benefits to their use, but the one that was most appealing to us was the monthly savings and low-cost. They're available in strands for both indoor and outdoor use, with packs starting at $ 9.99.
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You can run twice as many lights using LED and still save money on your energy bills over traditional Christmas lights because they use 90% less electricity. They can last up to 100,000 hours for years of use, so you do not have to worry about buying new lights every season and you do not have to worry about replacing any bulbs. LED lights use light emitting diodes , which have no filaments that burn out, resulting in no bulbs to replace, which is always a bonus since it can feel like your replacement half your light strand before anything is decorated.

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When it comes to decorations, you do not need to spend an entitlement paycheck to have your home look like a page from Martha Stewart Living, but I understand the desire to have your home look elegant since Christmas is the best time of the year for gorgeous home decorations, both indoor and outdoor.
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As long as it's done tastefully and there is a theme, you can get away with almost any color at Christmastime. The most popular ones however include red, silver, gray, white, vibrant green, orange, lemon, gold, and purple. My favorite combination is using purple and gold, without forgetting the traditional colors of red, green, and silver of course.
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A great way to save money during Christmas and put a more personal touch on your holiday decorations is to gather the family around and make your own Christmas tree ornaments. Now, I'm definitely no whiz when it comes to crafts so I picked a relatively easy project of glass ball ornaments, which turned out looking fabulous and did not cost me a whole lot.
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Here's what you'll need:

  • Glitter paint
  • Frost coating
  • Glitter
  • Craft store jewels
  • Ribbons
  • Stickers
  • Clear glue

There are three different ways you can decorate these types of ornaments. My favorite is to simply take clear glue, make the outline of what I want and then apply my decorative pieces. You can also make cutouts of different holiday shapes and photos, tape them to the ornament and use spray paint, removing the cutouts when you're finished. Or, you can simply frost the balls with decorative spray paint. All three are simple and will have you're house looking festive in no time.

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The holidays are a time for family, cheer, giving and so much more. Do not let the stress of decorating or spending lots of money turn you into a Scrooge come holiday time. Follow some of these steps and turn to the Internet as a resource this holiday season and you will be stress free and able to enjoy all the wonderfulness around you.

Surviving the Horrors of Grief During Halloween and Other Holidays

I learned early on, when my 22nd birthday arrived just six weeks after mom's funeral, that the "firsts" were always going to be rough. Days that had otherwise been cause for celebration, days when mom and I might have shopped and prepared and planned together to make the event "special" for those present. The emptiness around these festivals always re-ignited my grief; the sense of loneliness; isolation; realization that life would never be the same, forcing me to compare my life against others' who still had their mom or someone who was going to share the event and shower them with trips, cards, presents, cuddles, kisses and special time.
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Christmas, Easter, Birthdays and Halloween no longer held the same appeal. I found it hard to join in with the festive spirit, I struggled to feel excited, or enthused, in fact, I struggled to feel anything other than completely numb or heart-wrenching debilitating pain. Holidays were off limits.

Rather than happy celebrations they had become horrific reminders of a life I once had, where my loving mother inspired and created spectacular feasts, a group of fun, loving guests, beautiful gifts, or surprises, always with a touch of magic.
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The enjoyment and happiness of others upset me, annoyed me even, and occasionally made me angry: "How could they be so insensitive, did not they realize what I was going through?" No they did not.

It is extremely hard for those who are yet to encounter a loss to truly appreciate just how devastating and traumatic it is to lose a loved one. They can not see into your head or your heart to understand the kinds of suffering you experience in your grief.
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Oftentimes we "pretend" we are okay on these days, that we are just as excited as everyone else, when really we are saddened by the whole affair. So what can we do when holidays like Halloween are just around the corner, how can we prepare, both ourselves and those around us for the symptoms of grief and loss that will inevitably effect us?

  1. Expect the old demons to surface, even if it's been years since the loss of your loved one.
  2. Find a really close friend to spend the night with, someone who understands you so well that you will not have to say, that that's what you need.
  3. Do not overstretch yourself and watch out for patterns you might have around "stuffing" your feelings, like over eating, over working, consumption of drugs and alcohol, you will feel worse if you let these impulses get the better of you.
  4. Do not let the cheer get you down. Trust that one day you too will feel festive again, and understand that for now you are healing and fragile, your enthusiasm will always return.
  5. Create your own ritual to remember your loved one and how you shared this event together; light a candle, write a note and send it heavenwards attached to a helium balloon, get out the pictures from years past and reminisce, express how much you miss them to your friends and family.
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  7. Give yourself space for your grief. The "firsts" are always difficult and even if you are well on the road to recovery they can still bring you down. Take an afternoon off work, sleep in longer, stay home or go out if you want, but try not to make plans you'll have to cancel if you feel bad.
  8. Do something extra kind for yourself. Book a steam, spa, pedicure, massage, or take a yoga or dance class. Go play golf, go surfing or spend the afternoon on your hobbies. Order food in, or go to your favorite restaurant. Be gentle with you.
  9. Be prepared for the triggers. People talking about what they are doing with their mom, dad, brother or sister and expect to have your sense of loss aggravated. Do not avoid this, but sit with it. Feel into it.
  10. Spend some time reflecting on all the good things you have in your life. Give gratitude for your own life, the love that surrounds you and the people you still have to share it with.
  11. A problem shared is a problem halved. Find someone who understands: a friend, family member or grief counselor who can collectively empathize with your feelings and is not trying to get you "back to normal." Seek out an environment where your deepest fears and pains will be nicely accepted in a loving, non-judgmental way.

Why You Need To Make Your Next Holiday In Jordan, The Land Of History, Culture And Natural Beauty

If you are looking to take a unique and unforgettable vacation, Jordan holidays are a great option. Jordan is a country full of wonders, history, and culture. Moreover, the geography and wildlife of Jordan are so diverse that there is something to do for every kind of traveler.

Jordan is situated between Israel, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. The territory is situated along the Dead Sea, and the Jordan River empties into the great water body. Jordanian people have been rated by many travel agencies as being the most welcoming and passionate hosts any traveler could hope for. This attitude is reflected in the fact that 10% of GDP, or $800 million, comes from tourism.

Apart from the courteous and hospitable environment, there are a number of benefits associated with Jordan holidays. One of the best known sites in Jordan is Petra, a city carved in stone which is considered one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. For this honorable position, Petra beat other well-known sites such as Machu Picchu in in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Petra can truly be called the world’s most spectacular lost city. If you are journeying to Petra, don’t miss out on the village surrounding it, known as Wadi Musa (which means the Valley of Moses).

There are a number of great restaurants and shops in this small town.

The capital city of Jordan is Amman. It is a modern and diverse city which is among the most beautiful in the region. It is known for its fine dining scene and the constant evolution of its night life. Amman has a number of large malls and a chic, modern business district.

For those interested in religious tourism, there is no better place to go than Jordan. The fortress of Muwakir is a significant site in religious history, gaining fame as the stronghold of Herod the Great. In addition, it is the place where John the Baptist was beheaded. The Jordan River is the place where Jesus was baptized. Mount Nebo is said to be the site where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land before he died. Finally, an interesting religious site is Madaba, which hold the Madaba Map. This map is the oldest depiction of the Holy Land, dated back to the 6th century.

If you are interested in sea views and enjoying the night life, Aqaba is the town for you. It is known for its beautiful coral reefs and the unparalleled marine life that come with it. International DJs hold many concerts, parties, and raves in Aqaba. Currently the town is in the midst of a lot of development, with a reported $20 billion invested in real estate and tourism projects. It has been named by some as the ‘new Dubai.’

Finally, one of the most tranquil places to venture for Jordan holidays is Wadi Rum. This area is a desert filled with hills and mountains, located in the southern region of the country. The site is connected with Lawrence of Arabia and features many interesting sporting activities including rock climbing.

How to Keep the ‘Wow!’ Factor in a Cheap Turkey Holiday

Escaping to Turkey in the summertime is a welcome move, but also a challenging one. Many holidaymakers are flocking to take advantage of the hot weather and the prime beaches and sea waters. The main priority for modern-day travelers is to go cheap. Once a bargain is secured, travel agents suggest to enhance a holiday in Turkey by adding more excitement to it and planning the free time cleverly.

Below are some methods to help one make the most of one such holiday.

Focusing on All-Inclusive Resorts

An all-inclusive holiday package contains all the essentials of a holiday and sometimes more. Because most of these come from the same provider, price reductions are easy to be made. Hotels and entire resorts do their best “to fill in the seats” and thus they make available plenty of facilities, pampering services and so on. Turkey travelers are excited about all the possibilities within an all-inclusive resort.

Identifying the Main Attraction Factor

Some are fond of history – it could be the Ottoman times of the Middle Ages, the Byzantine era or the ancient Greek heritage. It’s important to identify which is more appealing and locate where the main sights and relics are. Others feel attracted to Turkey because of its spicy oriental food and delightful sweets. The focus will then be on markets, restaurants, traditional villages etc.

Comparing the Regions

Comparisons can go a long way. The Turkish territory is vast and attractions are scattered all over. Besides, the entire coastline is dotted with competitive resorts that make it hard to choose one over the others. The best selections are made when the different resorts are compared – based on their dominant crowd, the location, the views, the general mood and so on.

Paying attention to these aspects before deciding to book a holiday to Turkey will make a significant difference. Any tourist can benefit of one of the cheapest 2015 getaways, customized as per their taste and requirements. Turkey is highly competitive and is always willing to offer more to its guests. This is how its resorts got to be packed during the past summers. It is a destination where bargain and luxury coexist, a place where any kind of tourist can feel happy.

You can plan now your next holiday keeping Turkey in your list of cheap holiday destinations for 2015. Hope the above tips may help you to make the best of your holiday.

Workout Success During the Holidays

Year after year it sees as the holiday season approaches the numbers on the scale rise as quickly as the temperatures fall. Who can blame us, with all the holiday food, parties, and mom's home cooking where the main ingredient is butter; its only natural to put on a few pounds. But, by using a system developed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine called FITTE, you'll be able to make this holiday season your fittest ever.

Frequency: this reiterates to the number of given training sessions in a timeframe that will help you reach your goal. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends frequent activity preferably every day of the week even if it's for 15-30 minutes at a time.

Intensity: returns to level of physical stress that your specific activity places on your body. The easiest way to measure this is to monitor your heart rate. The general rule of thumb is to keep your heart rate moderate, which will aid you in a moderate exercise routine, but will not be intense enough to cause exhaustion or breathlessness right away. An intensity of 60 to 90% of maximum heart rate is recommended for improved fitness levels.

Time: reiter to the length of time you will perform the activity. On average, 30 minutes of total activity is recommended each day. However, your 30 minutes could have achieved combination of activities totaling 30 minutes. (ie: 15 minutes on a rowing machine and 15 minutes on the treadmill). To improve your fitness levels a similar method of combining activity is recommended for 30 to 60 minutes.

Type: refer to the type of activity you choose. For general health requirements this could mean doing basic household chores, or for improved fitness levels this could be of the activities found at your gym (cardio machines, aerobics classes, and weight training) or playing sports. Whatever activity you choose, make sure it keeps you moving.

Enjoyment: returns to the fun you get from your activity. Enjoyment is the most overlooked piece when establishing a successful fitness program. If you do not like what you're doing, you will not force yourself to do it! Choose something that goes along with your personality and interests. You will be much more apt to continue a fitness regimen that is fun and challenging!

Holiday Dangers – The Top Three Threats To Your Dog This Winter And How To Prevent A Calamity

The Holidays can be such a joy for many families. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or none of the above there are plenty of ways to enjoy the holidays with your whole family and that includes your pet. To be on the safe side, it is important to know that while there are plenty of times to include your pet in your holiday festivities, there are some things you have to watch out for. The holidays should be a time of joy, but those pet owners who are not careful may have a tragedy on their hands if they don’t know what to look out for.

To help you make the holidays as painless and joyful as possible, here are the top three threats to your dog this winter and how you can prevent a calamity from occurring to dampen your holiday spirits.

Holiday Greenery

One of the best parts about Christmas is the fact that there are so many traditions that require upholding, and these are great ways to make sure that your holiday is as pleasurable as possible. Christmas trees, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia plants-these things all complete the Christmas atmosphere but they can all pose a threat to the health of your pet. All of the above are poisonous to your dog if enough is consumed, so just to be on the safe side never put any of these things anywhere where your dog can reach them. Have some type of gated system around the Christmas tree to keep your dog from getting too close, and put other plants up out of the reach of your dog, no matter how clever they may get.

Our canine companions have a tendency to get rather intelligent when it comes to figuring out how to get into things that can hurt them; cut them off at the pass and make sure everything is out of their reach.

Holiday Sweets

The holidays are a time of sharing and caring, and who said that we can’t do that with our pets? While it may be tempting to want to pass a few pieces of candy from your Christmas dish to your faithful four-legged friend, you would be doing them much more harm than good. Sugar does awful things to a dog’s system and chocolate does even worse. Baker’s chocolate and concentrated chocolate can be a real killer, as is the case with other highly caffeinated products or those with a high concentration of chocolate.

If you are being tempted to share, think twice. Chocolate can send your dog into massive convulsions, and even a coma from which they may never return. Do the right thing and get a candy dish for puppy-approved Christmas treats so that every time you have a treat your dog can have one too. That way you won’t have to worry about them wanting or getting any of what you have.

Cold Weather Products

When the winter months hit, people tend to break out a whole slue of products designed to help them combat the cold weather. This includes salts, antifreeze, and other things of that nature. There is no doubt that having a safe environment would be rather difficult without salt for your sidewalks, and if you don’t want your car engine to freeze antifreeze is a must-have, but did you know that both of these can cause serious internal damage to your best friend?

Antifreeze is the main culprit that gets dogs every year, and if you don’t be careful you may have to deal with a tragedy along those lines this year. The bad thing about antifreeze is that dogs like the taste, so avoid a tragedy by getting pet-safe antifreeze alternatives or keeping it under lock and key, far away from where your pet will ever be able to get into it. Do not allow them to drink out of puddles or lick their paws after a walk either as it doesn’t take much to get them sick.

The worst way to spend your holiday is to spend it mourning over the loss of your pet. Take the necessary precautions and protect your best friend from these and the many other dangers that winter months pose.

Do-It-Yourself Australian Fishing Holidays

Step Number 1 – Float the idea

Make your friends and their partners aware that you are planning a fishing holiday – you need their support and commitment to make it happen.

Step Number 2 – Select the Crew

Great mates in close confines with extended periods of alcohol fueled sleep deprivation, interspersed with flurries of activity can stretch friendships. But it can be so much fun! Choose wisely – I'd recommend limiting numbers to either four or six people.

Step Number 3 – Determine the Venue

The venue will depend on your group's fishing fetish ie freshwater, deep sea, estuary, beach, rock or game fishing.

Step Number 4 – Select the Dates

Work pressures, school holidays, weddings, relatives, children's sporting activities, pregnancies and other inconveniences will make it nearly impossible for you to select an appropriate date. Even if you have to set it twelve months in advance the date is the key to getting everyone committed.

Step Number 5 – Establish a Budget

The budget will determine your accommodation, length of stay, number and nature of fishing expeditions and extras you can package to make the trip special. Tell the crew the trip will cost more than you expect and grab a deposit off everyone to show they are committed.

Step Number 6 – Use a co-conspirator

The planning task can be made easier if you enlist the support and help of one of your crew to bounce ideas off and use as a sanity check.

Step Number 7 – The Exploratory Visit

Check out the available accommodation, golf courses and pubs and clubs for entertainment. Look out for maxi-taxis, restaurants, cafés and pizza joints and unusual near attractions. If chartering a boat or using a guide, try them out while you're in town. Speak to locals and get advice about which one to go with. Use the Internet to investigate the destination.

Step Number 8 – Come up with a Plan

When it comes to fishing holidays you should be seriously organized. Do not wait for things to happen, come up with a daily agenda that outlines some organized activities. Consider a punter's club day, a BBQ somewhere, bushwalking or card and theme nights like an "Ugly Shirt" or a "Funny T-Shirt" night. Include a sports day where you conduct a Pentathlon observing of snooker, darts, pool, golf and a mystery event. Have a prize for the eventual winner.

Step Number 9 – Have some fun Rules

Implement a set of 10 rules for the trip. Kick off a "Kittie" for common grocery items used by all. Have a slave each day that cooks, cleans, get beers for the other participants.

Step Number 10 – Under Promise and Over Deliver

Promise a fishing trip but deliver an experience that your crew will never forget. Try to be under budget and send your mates home with money in their pockets – it's always appreciated.

Bridge Holidays From the UK – Fun, Friends and Travel in Poland

Bridge or contract bridge is a well-known card game enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Bridge is also the perfect excuse for thousands of people to leave the UK every year and enjoy a holiday package tailor around playing bridge. Traveling with fellow enthusiasts and friends, people spend time simply enjoying different scenery while taking part in endless games of Bridge. A typical internet search will bring up many bridge holiday results for the usual sun soaked locations such as Spain, Greece and even further afield such as Barbados. The average age of Bridge players in the UK is 55 years old and over 60 in the USA. Given the target market for Bridge holidays contains a lot of people who are retired or near retirement it is no wonder that chilled out beach locations are a popular destination option. However, there are a lack of overseas city destinations on offer for Bridge holidays from the UK. No doubt there are hundreds of Bridge players out there who like the idea of ​​a Bridge holiday but are not attracted to the sunny beaches and hot climates traditionally given by specialist travel agents.

There are of course many options within the UK for city / countryside based Bridge holiday locations out there but how about the same options abroad? Would you consider Poland and specifically Zakopane and Krakow as a possible destination for your next Bridge holiday? A combination of time spent between the countryside of Zakopane in Southern Poland and the city of Krakow, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Zakopane is based at the foot of the Tatra Mountains and instead of sand and sea offers Bridge players beautiful scenery of mountains, mountains and forests, a location of growing interest in the winter ski and snowboard holiday market. Krakow is a listed UNESCO world heritage site offering museums, medieval architecture and Gothic cathedrals. If you are the more adventurous type and would be interested in seeing more of the places you are visiting then Poland would offer plenty of scope for a well balanced holiday of playing Bridge, enjoying local traditions, visiting historical sites and creating a truly memorable experience.

The thought of trying a new holiday destination to the more experienced Bridge players may be a slightly worried prospect, there are of course strict rules and regulations to be followed, after this is first and foremost a Bridge holiday. No need to worry, Bridge is played around the world and Poland is no different, there is a Polish Bridge Union (Polski Zwiazek Brydza Sportowego), regular competitions and thousands of members. A Bridge holiday to Krakow and Zakopane would have been professionally organized as a trip to Spain.

Take a look at Poland when considering your next bridge holiday destination and enjoy a wonderful blend of culture and Bridge together.

Enjoy Vacation Vacation Time in Belize

The fabulously colorful and exotic Central American nation of Belize is becoming a more popular vacation destination with North Americans, Brits and Europeans as it becomes more accessible and better known. It's a stunning Caribbean country with so much varied flora and fauna, with dramatic scenery, untouched coastline and a wealth of things to do and see – so much so that it's as popular today with backpackers as it is with families and it is as popular with the baby boomers as it is with young couples!

A truly paradise nation, Belize is seriously worth consideration if you're after a bit of adventure tempted with a laid back lifestyle, and if you like to combine beachcombing with mountain climbing! In other words, there really is something for everyone in Belize and because the US dollar is pegged to the Belizean dollar, Americans will not find it expensive and British and European visitors will find it positively cheap!

In terms of things to do in Belize – how about this for starters – you can explore the rainforest and share the experience with over 500 amazing species of wildlife. You can explore caves and Mayan ceremonial sites, you can island hop by boat, by canoe, kayak or even under your own swimming steam! You can sunbathe until sunset and then watch the sun setting over the ocean or atop a mountain or a Mayan temple. You can snorkel, learn to scuba dive and explore the stunning reefs around the country's coast, you can fish, hike, bike, be wined and dined and just fall in love with the culture, history and vibe in Belize.

The only trouble is that there may come a point during your vacation when you realize that you do not want to leave! And if you find yourself in this position the good news is that you can probably get a visa to stay! Visas are available for all ages and for most nationalities and you can get a visa to live and work in Belize, a visa to retire to Belize or just a visa to extend your vacation … to find out about your rights as a foreign citizen who wants to live, work or even buy property in Belize visit the Belizean embassy in your country.

My Perfect Vacation at Wisconsin Dells

Long ago, going to Wisconsin Dells really was this type of big dream, my family were too busy and now we actually do not have sufficient budget to look there. When I got job I made a decision to save lots of on the cost to visit Wisconsin Dells even in a student budget vacation. So there, it's now a dream becoming to reality. I went there with my friends also it was amazing, the costs were just worth the price for that many incredible water parks I've seen in Dells. I then conclude that Wisconsin Dells is just right to be known as the lake Park Capital in the US. I have to share for your requirements the places that I've gone through the Wisconsin Dells.

1. Noah's Ark Water Parks- The first time I saw it, I'd say it had been a real superb and appealing spot to be. It was awesome to watch since there you will see essentially the most breathtaking-taking water slides, rides, America's longest water coaster as well as the black Anaconda! If you may have young kids with you they would definitely love to click here simply because they have Tadpole Kiddie Kingdom Water Playground and Noah's 4-D Dive-In theater. There, I'm sure whether it's my friends or family holiday, your vacation will certainly be satisfying.

2. Wilderness- What's awesome about Wisconsin Dells is, this location for nature lover vacationistas because they had the ability to reserve natural resources, endangered animals plus some other interesting views within the wilderness. Before, I believed their wilderness may have been completely changed but surprisingly it is possible to still glance at the ambiance for being natural and you also could really claim that it's a "wilderness".

3.Lodging- before I and my friends decide to go there, lodging is one of the reasons that hold us back from visiting Dells because we expect lodging would be very expensive the fact that they are known as the best in leasing business. We learned that Dells has 6,000 rooms and 4,000 campsites so with these many accommodations to stay we have a lot of option as to where we could save.

These places that I've mentioned are just a few attractions that I've gone through in Wisconsin Dells. Even then words are not enough to express how happy I was to be in that place. Hopefully one day I would bring my family and friends out there and have some fun! You too should not miss out the opportunity to have a perfect vacation at Dells.