Make A Difference This Holiday Season

The cold holiday months can be a difficult time for many people. If you’re looking for a way to give back, this time of year is the perfect time to start. Below we have listed six of the simplest and most impactful ways you can spread your holiday spirit this year. Many of our communities participate in these these opportunities; watch for emails from your community about our giving back events.

Send holiday cards to active-duty military and veterans:
Sending cards to our military heroes is a simple, yet impactful way to give back this holiday season. It may not seem like much, but this small gesture can brighten the day of those who have given so much to fight for our freedom and those who aren’t able to make it home to their families for the holidays. You can send cards through your local American Red Cross that participates in the Holidays for Heroes program. You can also see if A Million Thanks has a card drop-off location near you.

Collect donations for a food bank:

Food banks are always in need of help, but especially during the holidays. During this time, many people are in the giving spirit and it’s a great opportunity to get friends together to collect donations. You can form your own food drive or gather cash and food donations for a drive run by another organization. Food banks look for nutritious nonperishable items like whole grain foods and canned foods with low sodium. If you’d like to look for a food bank in your area, click here.

Volunteer at a Shelter:
As money is short for many during the holiday season, one of the most rewarding ways to give back is to donate your time. Take time to volunteer at a homeless shelter or a women and children’s shelter to help with meal prep or food service. This allows for the opportunity to meet the individuals you serve and makes for a very gratifying experience. To find a shelter to serve at near you, click here.

Assemble a group of friends to sponsor a family:
Get a group of friends involved in the giving this year by sponsoring a family in need. There are many organizations such as The Salvation Army that gather information for families in need of sponsorship during the holiday season. Groups will be provided with a list of the family members and the children’s ages, clothing sizes and wish lists. After choosing a family, let the holiday shopping begin! Your group is free to spend whatever amount meets the budget. This very rewarding way of giving back ensures that families in need have a holiday they won’t soon forget.

Help Children in Need with Toys for Tots:
A great way to get involved this season is to help children in need by donating new, unused toys to the Toys for Tots Foundation. Toys for Tots is a charity that collects unwrapped donated toys to give to less fortunate families who can’t afford gifts during the holidays. “The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.”

Black Friday Is Coming!

Black Friday is quickly approaching and this year’s deals are expected to be even better than they were last year. All major stores will be competing to have the best deals and online sales are expected to be a higher priority for most retailers. Every year, online sales are increasing as fighting the crowds is becoming less and less appealing. It has also become a trend for retailers to have deals going on for the entire week after Thanksgiving as opposed to just on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Some big-name retailers may even start their deals even earlier than the week before the holiday. So, all that being said, what can you expect for deals this year on some of the big-ticket items? Below are some of the highly anticipated items that are sure to be worth checking out!

The brand-new iPhone 8 models and iPhone X are some of the highest anticipated gifts of the season. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have upgraded cameras, HD displays and a new glass exterior. The biggest changes are seen in the iPhone X with a 5.8” entire screen retina display, face ID to unlock your phone and use Apple Pay, improved stabilization on the camera and animojis that give your emojis personality. All three of the new iPhones charge wirelessly for another added convenience.

Deals for the Samsung Galaxy S8 are more than likely going to be as good as they were last year with retailers charging $0 for the phone if you sign a contract. There’s also a good chance that they will throw in some free gift cards and accessories.

The Xbox One X is set to release on November 7th – just in time for Black Friday. The best deals will be on the bundles, which will include games for only a slightly higher price. It’s also worth mentioning that Microsoft gives retailers more room to be aggressive with their discounts, so keep an eye out!

Depending on the game it comes with, and whether or not you will play it, buying the bundle will often times be a better deal than just buying the console itself. In past years, the bundle only costs slightly more than the console alone. Right now, the prices are remaining pretty solid, but are expected to drop later this fall, just in time for when Microsoft releases their new Xbox One X.

As is usually the case for new TVs on Black Friday, you will have to move fast this year if you want to snatch one before they’re gone. If you’re in the market for a new high-end set, but can’t afford the price tag, this is your chance – don’t miss these deals!

Work Out Your Brain

Everyone knows the importance of eating healthy and getting some sort of exercise on a regular basis, but many people forget the importance of also exercising their brain. Studies have shown that doing regular “brain exercises,” along with regular exercise and eating plenty of antioxidants, can increase your brain’s cognitive reserve. There are several types of software that can be purchased to put your brain to work, but experts recommend practicing more real-world activities for more effective brain training. Here are 10 effective and less expensive ways to give your mind a workout.


1. Test your recall: Do something as simple as making a grocery list and try to memorize everything on it. Put it away for an hour or so and then see how many items you can recall.

2. Music: Studies have shown that learning to play a musical instrument over time or singing in a choir can do wonders for an aging mind.

3. Mental Math: With all the technology available today, math is made simple, but figuring out problems the old-fashioned way can be a great mental stimulation. To really test your cognitive abilities, try walking at the same time!

4. Cooking Class: Whether you’re a natural in the kitchen or are more of a microwave chef, try cooking something new. Because cooking involves so many senses (smell, touch, sight and taste) it is ideal for working several different parts of the brain.

5. Learn a new language: Not only does the listening stimulate the brain, but having a rich vocabulary has been linked to reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

6. Visualizing Words: Think about a word and the way it is spelled in your mind and then use either the first two or last two letters to form another word. This activity helps to refresh your brain on the things you already know.

7. Maps: After traveling to a new place, sit down and try to visualize a map that you used and draw it from memory.

8. How good are your tastebuds: When eating a meal, try and identify the different ingredients that you are tasting, like the different spices or other tastes that may be harder to place.

9. Hand-eye coordination: Instead of watching television or using various forms of technology, try a hobby that requires the use of your fine-motor skills like knitting, drawing/coloring or doing a puzzle.

10. Learn a sport: Try a new sport that not only uses the body, but also the mind, for instance yoga, golf or tennis.

The Scoop on Sunscreen

Any sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun, right? – Wrong! There are several factors that play in to how well a sunscreen will protect. Consumer reports tested over 60 sunscreens ranging from lotions to lip balms and found that there are more important factors than just the SPF number. The sun protection factor (SPF) measures how long a sunscreen will protect you from ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. This radiation is the main cause of sunburn and it also contributes to skin cancer. They also tested for protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which tan and age your skin, but can also contribute to skin cancer.

In order to get the most out of your sunscreen, Consumer Reports suggests using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection from both UVB and UVA rays. It is recommended that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and is water resistant. It’s important to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. If you’re using a lotion sunscreen, a teaspoon per area is a good amount to ensure full coverage. If you prefer spray-on sunscreen, apply a thick layer that can be rubbed in (rub it in) and repeat it one more time. Consumer Reports stresses the fact that sunscreen, no matter which type, is to be reapplied every two hours as well as after swimming and sweating to get the best results.



To find out more about sun protection and to see the top-rated sunscreens by Consumer Reports, go to www.consumerreports.org and search for “sunscreen buying guide”. Below you will find some other helpful tips on keeping your skin protected from the sun this summer.


CLOTHING: Wear clothing that covers your skin when in direct sunlight for a long period of time. Hats also help to shade your face.

SHADE: When spending an extended amount of time in the sun, be sure there is a shaded area or bring something like an umbrella or canopy to create a shield from the harmful rays.

SUNGLASSES: Not only are sunglasses an easy way to make a fashion statement, they also are essential for protecting your eyes from UV radiation.

TIME OF DAY: It’s a good idea to spend your time outside when it’s earlier in the morning and in the evening when the sun isn’t as high in the sky.

NO BURN: Try your best to prevent any red, sore or blistered skin and use sunscreen as a last resort. It is best to avoid the damaging rays if at all possible.

UV INDEX: Be sure to check the UV Index to help plan your outdoor activites and avoid sun exposure.

 

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/sunscreens/buying-guide.htm
http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/?gclid=CLrjydWy5dMCFQa4wAod8LICew

Recipe: Firecracker Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • Splash of Grenadine
  • 2 Shots of Bacardi Razz Rum
  • 2 Shots of Lemonade
  • 2 Shots of Blue Curacao Liquor

Directions:

  • Fill glass with ice
  • Pour splash of Grenadine over ice
  • Slowly pour in Bacardi Razz Rum
  • Pour in Lemonade
  • Pour in Blue Curacao
  • Drink and Enjoy!

*Must be 21 or over to consume alcohol. Drinking and driving is prohibited. Please drink responsibly.

Pets of the Month

CAT of the Month:

My name is Kendall Marie Hawthorne, and I recently transferred from TurtleCreek in Des Moines, to Breckenridge in Omaha.  I love traveling with my mom, whether it is in a car curled up on her lap while she drives (I don’t think she likes this, but I do) or under the seat in front of her on the plane.  I am 9 years old, and I have been going everywhere with my mom since I was rescued at 3 months old from the streets of Phoenix.  My favorite place to hang out is in mom’s laundry basket on a fresh, fluffy pile of anything I can get my hair on.  My favorite activity is to chase toy birds, but only inside of the apartment.

DOG of the Month:

My name is Kevin. I live at LionsHead Apartments in Omaha, NE with my mom and dad. I am a Pomeranian and I am almost 6 years old. I was adopted 4 years ago from my mom’s friend. Cuddling is my favorite pastime, next to stealing socks. I also enjoy going on hikes; my mom has a special backpack for me to hang out in when I get tired. I absolutely love children. I am training to become a therapy dog, so I can help sick children have happy days at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center here in Omaha.

Think you have the world’s cutest pet and want everyone to know it?
There’s nothing wrong with being a show off!  Enter your pet in Richdale’s Pet of the Month contest for a chance to win a BarkBox or KitNipBox for your furry friend. Tell us about your furry friend and if he or she is featured, YOU win! Send pictures and a brief description to: TheLeaf@richdale.com.

Doorstep Meal Prep

The thought of making a trip to the grocery store can make some people cringe, especially after a long day at work. So, why not make that stress a thing of the past by having your groceries and planned meals delivered right to your doorstep? Meal prep kits like HelloFresh, Green Chef and Blue Apron have grown substantially more popular in the last couple years with more and more options popping up all the time. So, which one do you choose? We did a comparison of three of the top doorstep meal kits to hopefully make your decision easier!


HelloFresh was our top choice with high ratings of best nutritional value with the most nutritional information, freshness of ingredients, and of course, great taste! However, if you’re looking to step out of the box and try some new flavors, HelloFresh has fewer options for those with adventurous taste buds. On the other hand, if you don’t mind the simplicity, HelloFresh’s meals, on average, had the lowest fat content, calories and sodium, making it perfect for those looking for healthy alternatives. Most of the meals take 30 minutes or less to prepare, but the more complicated recipes required additional time (about 15 minutes). HelloFresh is more on the pricey side with price per portion being about $11.50


Green Chef was our second choice with the majority of its ingredients being fresh and unblemished, its fiber and fat content being tied with HelloFresh, and its tasty flavors. Green Chef focuses on having all organic ingredients (GMO and hormone free) and a higher vegetable content than the other meal kits. Their meat products are also raised without the use of antibiotics. Green Chef also offers an expansive range of kits, which include vegetarian, carnivore, Paleo and gluten-free, making it ideal for diet and health conscious individuals. Meal prep time had a wider range of 20 to 45 minutes depending on the recipe. Green Chef is also one of the more expensive meal kits due to its all-organic ingredients coming in at about $11.99 per portion.


Blue Apron is our third choice, although it offers the most diverse recipes and the most budget friendly meal plans compared to the others. As far as taste, the dishes are fresh with good flavor and texture. The majority of foods were crisp, often organic and unblemished. The recipe cards do list calorie information, however they do not list any in-depth nutritional information as amounts may vary depending on how each meal is prepared. Meal cook time ranged anywhere from 25 minutes to 60 minutes depending on complexity. As stated above, Blue Apron is the most affordable with an average per portion price of $9.99.

Whether you’re cooking for your family or just yourself, make the process easier and skip the grocery store. All three of these meal prep kits offer a deal when you sign up to give it a try. HelloFresh offers $15.00 off when you subscribe to their email, Green Chef offers two free meals in your first week and Blue Apron offers 3 free meals on your first delivery. Choose the best kit for you and put those culinary skills to the test!