Set for Success

Back-to-school shopping essentials

(Family Features) Whether your children are entering kindergarten, starting up their high school careers or heading off to college, back-to-school season often means running from store to store in search of the necessities for a successful year. Help your student make the grade this year with some of these top picks for everything from classroom tools like calculators and planners to lunchtime solutions like lunchboxes, water filtration systems and on-the-go snacks.

Find more tips and back-to-school essentials to ensure your kids have everything they need before class is back in session at eLivingToday.com.

On-Trend Tech

Send students back to school in style with a dedicated math and science machine in one of the year’s trendiest tones. “Rose Curve Gold” is now an available color option for Texas Instruments’ TI-84 Plus Color Edition (CE) line of graphing calculators. Now thinner and lighter with six times the memory, the calculator can take students from middle school through high school and into advanced college courses. For more information, visit education.ti.com.

Packing Perfection

Back-to-school season requires plenty of packing and preparing. Be ready with an option like this Freezable Hampton Lunch Bag from PackIt, built to hold containers and bottles of various sizes for easy on-the-go access. The large, redesigned shoulder tote has built-in freezable gel to keep items cool, and the interior wipes clean with its food-safe lining. The kids can have everything they need all packed in one collapsible bag made from non-toxic poly canvas. For more information and packing gear, visit PackIt.com.

Drink Smarter

America’s drinking water infrastructure received a “D” grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers in its 2017 report card. However, you can still send your preschool- through college-aged students back to school with cleaner, great-tasting water. The PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration System is an on-demand filtered water solution certified to reduce more than 70 contaminants, including 99 percent of lead – more than any other brand, according to NSF. Learn more at PUR.com.

Fashionably Warm

The school year typically brings with it cooler temperatures. Ensure your student is prepared for the elements whether he or she has to walk across campus or wait at the bus stop with the proper outerwear, including a light jacket for fall. With a variety of styles, lengths and materials available, the right jacket can be both functional and fashionable.

Savory School-Day Snacks

Whether it’s for lunch or snacking on-the-go, an option like these convenient packs of Sabra Singles can satisfy midday cravings. Bursting with great taste and wholesome nutrition, these 2-ounce servings of Sabra hummus are packed with plant-based ingredients you can feel good about. Pair with veggies or pita chips for a nutritious lunchtime snack, and find more at sabra.com.

Personalized Organization

Help your student keep those notes, study times and test dates organized with a quality planner that also showcases his or her personality. Available in a myriad of trendy colors and patterns – like polka dots, stripes or chevron – as well as various calendar layouts like daily, weekly or monthly, the right planner can help your child stay on track, achieve goals and preserve memories in one stylish and organized place.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Children running, Jacket, Planners)

SOURCE:
Texas Instruments
PackIt
PUR
Sabra

Healthy Home

Healthy at Home

How to improve indoor airflow and quality

(Family Features) More efficient, tightly built homes than those constructed in previous generations are generally well-regarded, for the most part with good reason. However, when you consider people spend 90 percent of their time indoors on average, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such airtight environments raise some concerns.

All that efficiency cuts down on airflow, effectively trapping allergens and toxins inside. According to estimates from the EPA, the air inside the average home may be as much as five times more polluted than the air outdoors, even in a bustling city.

“We know instinctively that spending so many hours in stuffy places isn’t good for us,” said Peter Foldbjerg, head of daylight energy and indoor climate at Velux. “According to research, living in damp and moldy homes increases our risk of asthma by 40 percent and leaves us vulnerable to developing other ailments.”

Limited fresh air and light during the day can negatively impact mood, sleep and performance. Air pollution can also pose a health risk through irritation to the eyes, nose and throat; headaches, dizziness and fatigue; and respiratory conditions, heart disease and cancer. To help alleviate some of these concerns, consider these tips.

Bring the outside in.
Even a small step like adding some potted plants, which are known to purify air, can improve your indoor environment. In addition, think of how you could create a better view to the outside through smart use of windows and doors that bring in fresh air and daylight.

Rely on natural air flow.
Open your windows 3-4 times a day, at least 10 minutes at a time, to allow fresh air in. To complement natural light and fresh air from vertical windows, consider adding skylights to rooms you use most often. Skylights that can be opened, such as those offered by Velux, contribute to greater indoor comfort and ventilation by removing excess heat, moisture, odors and other indoor pollutants. They can also help reduce the need for air-conditioning due to the chimney effect, which occurs when skylights and vertical windows are both opened, allowing warm, stale air to rise and escape through the roof, replaced by fresh air drawn in through traditional windows.

Eliminate potential obstacles.
Avoid blocking fresh air with drapes, blinds and other hindrances, like heavy furniture placed too close to windows. Also consider other aspects of your home that could be thwarting your efforts to improve air circulation and quality, such as dust, dirt and mold. Regular and thorough cleaning can help keep those irritants at bay and make your quest for cleaner air easier.

Creating Cleaner Indoor Air

Creating more airflow is an important step to improving your indoor environment, but considerations like air quality should not be overlooked. More air is a good thing, but more clean air is better yet.

Everyday home life activities such as cooking, showering, lighting candles, sleeping and doing laundry can all contribute to polluted indoor air, which over time can lead to the development of illnesses.

These tips from the indoor climate experts at Velux can help make the air inside your home healthier:

1. Keep bathroom doors closed and turn on the extractor fan or open a window or skylight when showering.

2. Turn the hood fan on when cooking and open your windows, if weather permits.

3. Avoid burning candles excessively; look for alternatives such as sprigs of lavender to add a natural fresh scent.

4. Dry clothes outside when possible, which reduces carbon emissions from the dryer and minimizes potential pollutants traveling through the dryer vent.

5. Clean regularly with non-chemical based cleaning products, and pay attention to ingredients in cleaning products that may create hazardous fumes.

Increasing Natural Light
Sunlight is a natural antidepressant, and there is ample scientific evidence that associates daylight with better health and quality of life, such as improved mood, less fatigue and reduced eye strain. If your home needs some brightening up, consider these home features with natural light in mind:

Paint
Choosing a lighter-colored paint and avoiding statement wallpaper or large blocks of color can naturally make a space feel brighter and reflect any natural light entering the room. Think soft shades of off-white or subdued, neutral hues.

Flooring
Wooden, ceramic or stone floors with a polished finish typically reflect light to help brighten spaces. If you prefer carpet, consider light, neutral colors to help make the space feel brighter.

Skylights
Adding skylights is a relatively low-cost, high-impact home improvement that can enhance home decor and deliver energy-saving benefits, as well. Fresh air skylights, like those from Velux, can help reduce dependence on artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation, which helps save money on electric bills. Convenience features like remote control operation make it easy to manage air flow and natural lighting with the touch of a button.

Mirrors
Adding furniture and accessories with reflective surfaces can help diffuse light and add stylish touches throughout the home. Metallic, glass and mirrored accessories, or even mirrors themselves, can spread light throughout your home.

Lighting
Go easy on artificial lighting, and instead work to optimize natural light sources. Consider supplementing areas where natural light doesn’t reach such as corners and corridors with small lamps, and install dimmer switches that can easily be adjusted depending on the amount of natural light flowing into your home.

Find more tips for creating a healthier home at veluxusa.com/indoorgeneration.

SOURCE:
Velux

SPRING THINGS

Strawberry Spritzer

When it's summertime, you crave for something cold and fruity.  Combine frozen strawberries with frozen pink lemonade concentrate and you have a recipe for deliciousness.  This fizzy summertime strawberry treat will delight your tastebuds and keep you quenched while basking in the sun.  

Find more drink recipes at culinary.net.

Strawberry Spritzer

  • 1 package (10 oz) frozen sliced strawberries, sweetened and thawed
  • 2 liters lemon-lime soda, chilled (may substitue for ginger ale)
  • 1 can (12oz) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
  1. Pour strawberries in a blender and process until blended thoroughly. 
  2. Pour strawberries into a large pitcher; stir in soda and pink lemonade.
  3. Serve immediately.

SOURCE:
Culinary.net

Bright Breakfast

A Bright Breakfast

Getting creative with food is especially fun for little ones who like to help create and, of course, eat. Try these Watermelon Breakfast Push Pops for something sweet and mouthwatering in the morning. With bright colors and a little bit of crunch, they can help satisfy your sweet tooth and fuel your body for the day ahead. Find more creative ideas at watermelon.org/WatermelonOnTheGo.

Push Pops

  • 7 push pop molds
  • 2 cups granola
  • 2 cups watermelon chunks
  • 2 cups yogurt of choice
  1. Layer the watermelon, yogurt and granola and top with yogurt and watermelon chunks. Freeze push pop molds and enjoy the Breakfast a Go-Go when you’re on the go!

SOURCE:
National Watermelon Promotion Board

Outdoor Living

Outdoor Living

As many families prepare to ramp up their time spent outside, it can be helpful to keep the latest trends in mind while planning for outdoor living spaces.

According to research from the International Casual Furnishings Association, many people use outdoor rooms for things they can do indoors – from using cellphones for calls and games to working on computers, watching TV, eating, exercising and, of course, relaxing.

Since 70 percent of survey respondents said they enjoy spending time in an outdoor living space more than inside, it’s fitting that the 2018 furnishing trends address the outdoor lifestyle experience