Diploma in Hand
Post-high school guidance from online school graduates
Before a global pandemic reshaped education across America, many students followed the “expected” path: complete primary education, earn a high school diploma and transition into a career or further learning.
Now, after an unexpected year (or more) of online learning, many students are embracing more nontraditional routes for their education and considering new options for life after high school graduation.
A valuable first step for high schoolers is envisioning the future they want.
“Looking at different avenues and taking an interest inventory really help with the exploration process,” said Morgan Champion, head of counseling for Pearson Virtual Schools. “I recommend completing a career cluster interest survey, which are widely available online for free, to give guidance on which types of careers align to your interests and skills, such as a service-related or scientific field.”
Next, consider these choices and tips for preparing for life after high school from alums of fully online K-12 schools Connections Academy and Reach Cyber Charter School.
Keep Options Open for Different Paths
Beyond the traditional four-year college degree, there are many ways students can progress toward a long-term goal or successful career. Community or two-year college is an option for some because it’s often closer to home and tuition can be more affordable. Others enroll in a trade school or secure suitable jobs and step directly into the workforce. Some graduates enlist for military service while others take some time off to figure out their next step before making a move.
Keeping an open mind about all options is something graduate Angel Bennett supports fully. The flexibility of online learning allowed her to get a jump on her college education. She earned an associate of arts degree and associate of science degree through her local community college before graduating high school, giving her an edge in admission to her top choice four-year college. She now attends a private liberal arts college and is well on her way to a career fueled by a passion for clothing and inclusive fashion design.
The ambitious pace served as inspiration to Bennett’s younger sister, as well; Amber completed her own associate of arts and associate of science degrees as a 14-year-old high schooler and will start attending a private four-year university at 15 as she simultaneously completes her diploma.
Students should ask their high school about these types of dual-enrollment options.
Don’t Be Afraid to Act on Your Dreams
For some high school students, one of the most intimidating decisions to make is which colleges to apply to. However, law graduate Strider Kachelein, top of his undergrad class and top 4% in his law class at a prestigious institution, said to take that chance and apply to your dream school, even if you think you can’t afford the tuition.
Kachelein, who started online school in sixth grade, knows paying for college can be challenging for many high school students and their families. He recommends researching financial aid policies first and carefully.
“So many people believe they can’t get in and are shocked when they do,” Kachelein said. “Money can also be a big issue, but there are so many resources available, like the college match I applied to in high school. A key stat I also looked at while researching colleges was the school’s ‘percent of financial need met.’ There are a number of schools that will meet 100% of your determined financial need, which can make a world of difference. For example, at these schools, if your family is deemed unable to pay tuition, room or board then 100% of these expenses are covered by the school.”
High schoolers can reach out to their school’s college counselors to help navigate the application process.
Know It’s OK to Take a Break
Pausing in the middle of one’s education is a practice that’s more common in other parts of the world, but is growing in the U.S. According to data from Pearson, nearly 17% of U.S. high schoolers were considering a gap year, which enables the graduate more time to evaluate options and priorities, save money and plan for the future.
COVID-19 heavily influenced 2020 graduate Stormy Kaiser’s decision to take a gap year between high school and college. Choosing to accelerate her online curriculum allowed Kaiser to complete high school graduation requirements a year early, so even after taking the year off to realign plans the pandemic disrupted, she’s on schedule to enroll in a four-year college with her peers.
Take Advantage of Career-Related Coursework in High School
Nontraditional school models often offer nontraditional curriculum options, like career and technical education courses, that students can put to work right away. For example, Amya Meekins, who also graduated high school a full year early, took business classes at her online school that helped her learn about contracts, finance and other elements to successfully start and run her own business.
She now runs a boutique in addition to being a performer and motivational speaker. She’s also nearing completion of her second book, all as a 19-year-old undergrad pursuing her first college degree.
Consider Job Shadowing or Internships
Flexible scheduling is one of the most commonly cited advantages of online school among enrolled students. The extra free time can have big implications for students planning their futures, especially if they use the time to explore career choices.
That’s exactly what Becky Bressen did, shadowing a music therapist at the urging of her brother, who is a physical therapist. After initially feeling the career wasn’t for her and attending college with plans to become a music engineer and producer, a music therapy class made it into her course list, and it clicked for her. Right after college, she built a successful music therapy program from scratch at a hospice facility and finds her current role highly rewarding.
For more information about full-time online public schools, and tips for making post-graduation decisions, visit ConnectionsAcademy.com.
The Benefits of a Gap Year
When COVID-19 upended college plans for students across America, Stormy Kaiser knew she wasn’t alone. Even so, she never anticipated how using an unplanned year to regroup could benefit her future.
Initially, Kaiser planned to start her pre-med journey at New York University, but after seeing the effects of the pandemic in urban areas, she shifted focus. A year of recharging and self-exploration, writing short stories and volunteering took her in a new direction. She now plans to attend Baylor University, where she’ll double major in chemistry and mathematics as a pre-med student.
Due to her time management skills, personal diligence and involvement in volunteer opportunities, she was offered scholarships at many colleges and universities – a whopping $600,000 overall. She is now on her way toward becoming a neurosurgeon.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Lessons from Expert Educators
Tips from experienced teachers for new and aspiring educators
Each school year offers exciting opportunities for little learners to discover and explore new topics, make friends and master new skills. While much of the focus is on families during the back-to-school season, it’s also an important time for educators, especially those who are working with young children or are just starting their careers.
These tips from award-winning and long-term educators at KinderCare can help new and aspiring teachers prepare for a successful start to the school year and their careers.
Communication is Key
Making time to connect with families gives teachers opportunities to build bonds, which is essential for success. Communicating and understanding their unique needs shows you have their children’s best interests at heart. By regularly sharing stories and observations about each child’s progress, teachers can also provide families with a sense of reassurance their children are being recognized and cared for as the unique people they are.
Never Give Up on a Child
Each child faces unique hurdles as he or she climbs the educational ladder, with some facing more challenges than others. While at times it can be frustrating to tailor lesson plans to meet each child’s individual needs, Joan Coberg, a teacher of 40 years, recommends one important trait: patience.
“The best advice I would give is to never give up on a child,” Coberg said. “Have lots of patience. Always lead with love and kindness; be respectful. When I first started my career at KinderCare 40 years ago, I was learning, too. As teachers, we also learn from the children.”
Set Boundaries for Success
Similar to open lines of communication with families, getting to know your students individually can help build relationships necessary for a successful school year. Jami Vandegrift, a prekindergarten teacher and 2018 KinderCare Teacher of the Year, said this helps build mutual respect between teacher and student.
“As you build relationships, you will start to establish boundaries and routines,” Vandegrift said. “Once you feel comfortable with the kids and the room, you can start bringing in the curriculum. Starting as a new teacher, I always thought I had to do it all at once. I’ve learned over time to start small and build each week on something new.”
Be Willing to Change
Consistency and structure within the classroom setting are important for establishing routines, but it’s also helpful to have an open mind and to stop an activity when children lose interest. Be observant, flexible and willing to rethink schedules, classroom arrangements, transitions and more. Stopping to observe and ensure students are engaged can help promote success as many children learn best when fueled by personal interests.
Let Children Choose Their Paths and Recognize Accomplishments
School days often include activity time when students can explore interests like art, music, physical activity and more. When it’s time for activities, try letting children choose what they’d like to do first. This can help foster independence while easing transitions, according to Hattie Mae Covington, a toddler teacher of 45 years. It also opens the door for teachers to cheer on their students for succeeding in activities of their choosing.
“Kids, especially young children, love to be recognized and rewarded for doing good work,” Covington said. “High fives and smiley face stickers go a long way toward encouraging them and helping them be successful. Celebrating students for their accomplishments can be a meaningful way to create bonds that support their ongoing interest in learning.”
Find more experts’ advice to set new teachers up for success at kindercare.com.
Plan a Memorable Family Reunion
Family reunions this summer are sure to take on special meaning as families reunite after months apart. Organizing such a momentous event may feel like a lot of work, but thinking of it in smaller pieces can make it easier to manage.
Finding a date that works for everyone may be the biggest hurdle. Once that essential detail is set, start planning your family get-together with these tips from the travel experts at Vrbo:
Decide on a celebration style. Family reunions come in all shapes and sizes. You might plan a gathering for a single day with a big meal and plenty of time for chatting with relatives, or it may be a multi-day affair filled with activities that get all ages involved.
Pick the place. The location of your reunion depends on many factors. In some cases, families plan for a location that’s easily accessible for the majority, like a midway point or a city where a large branch of the family tree is rooted. Other families build reunions around the head of the family and plan the location around where the eldest members of the family reside. Still other reunions are destination getaways with multiple households in one vacation location.
Choose where you’ll stay. Figuring out what kind of lodging best suits your reunion depends on a variety of considerations, but the larger the group, the more challenging it can be. A vacation rental home may be an option when you’re bringing multiple families together under one roof or plan to stay for several days. Many vacation rentals even offer amenities like pools or hot tubs that can be enjoyed privately rather than shared with the rest of the resort or hotel guests. A tool like Vrbo’s Trip Board of reunion-friendly homes can help you find inspiration for a perfect place.
Plan activities. Depending on your family’s style, planning how everyone will pass the time may be a scheduled itinerary or a loose list of potential things to do. Either way, leave time for casual conversation and simply enjoying a few moments together, as well as lots of entertainment to keep kids occupied while the adults catch up.
Create a menu. From potluck to catering and everything in between, there are numerous options when it comes to feeding a reunion crowd. You might have everyone bring their own food, ask each family take turns serving meals or plan easy bar-style meals like tacos or walking nachos. It’s a good idea to coordinate your menu plans so you don’t waste food or have duplicate ingredients in the refrigerator. Remember to plan for extra snacks and desserts, too. Many homes available through Vrbo include access to refrigerators and fully equipped kitchens, making it easy to store extra food for the gathering.
Incorporate your heritage. What sets a family reunion apart from other types of gatherings is the focus on family. Make your reunion special by incorporating special aspects of your heritage, whether it’s a monogrammed centerpiece for the dining table or photos of multiple generations you scatter around the venue. Another idea for a multi-generational family reunion is a slideshow of photo memories set to music that plays as the precursor to a family movie night under the stars.
Find more inspiration and ideas for organizing your family reunion this summer at vrbo.com/reunion.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
How to Navigate Family Feelings About Returning to School
Whether it’s your child’s first day of kindergarten or the start of middle school, back-to-school season can bring a range of feelings – from worry to excitement – for the entire family. This year may be more emotional as many families spent the better part of the past two school years at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s important to remember that even in the best of times, it’s normal for children to express feelings of sadness, isolation or stress,” said Tyreca Elliott, from KinderCare Learning Centers’ inclusion services team. “Learning how to address those feelings helps us build self-confidence, resilience and independence. What’s important is the way adults respond to children’s stress. Offering comfort, reassurance and assisting with problem solving will help children learn and grow from stress in a positive way.”
As an added bonus, Elliott said many of the most effective ways to help children learn to navigate their feelings work just as well with adults. Consider these three tips to help your children (and yourself) manage emotions during the transition back to school.
Plan ahead: The fear of the unknown can be stressful. Children who aren’t able to clearly articulate their feelings likely won’t be able to make the connection between new, uncertain situations – like going to school and being around other people – and their feelings. Instead they may become overwhelmed by emotions, which might look like more meltdowns, clinginess or a variety of other behaviors. Talk with your children about how they feel about going back to school ahead of the first day of class. Ask questions to help them determine why they feel particular feelings when they think about school then work together to solve potential issues. That could mean finding a way to meet your children’s teachers ahead of time, whether virtually or in-person, or practicing introducing themselves to classmates.
Build a consistent routine: Routines can give children (and adults) a sense of security and structure, which in turn make it easier to cope with big emotions like stress and anxiety. Try to stay consistent, and if you need to make adjustments, talk them through with your children. Be sure to mention key milestones instead of times, particularly if they can’t tell time yet. Make sure your children have opportunities to ask questions about any changes to routines. They may need reassurance before they’re ready to face something new.
Create special family moments: As important as routine is, it’s just as important to prioritize quality time together. That could mean a vacation or something as simple as Saturday bike rides or Sunday morning pancakes. Plan a family outing or special time together to celebrate completing the first week of school. Family rituals and celebrations can give children and adults something to look forward to. Quality time together also helps families build resiliency.
For more tips to navigate back-to-school season, visit kindercare.com.
Keep the Fun Afloat
5 tips to make watersport adventures safe this summer
For those who enjoy outdoor and active summer lifestyles, water entertainment may be the way to go. Racing the waves with the wind flowing through your hair can be a fun and exhilarating way to enjoy fresh air; a dip in a cool lake can also help keep the heat at bay on hot summer days.
Despite world events over the past year, the watersports lifestyle is thriving – potentially due to the nature of personal watercraft riding and ability to practice social distancing. In fact, powerboat sales reached record highs, and while that momentum has slowed some in 2021, personal watercraft sales are still surging – up 77% over 2020, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. This growth means there are lots of new riders on the water, and that can affect the safety of riders both experienced and new.
Respecting riding etiquette, wearing protective gear and being conscious of the environment can help ensure riders have fun and continue to enjoy access to watersports. The team at Sea-Doo, a global leader in personal watercrafts, shares this advice to help keep everyone safe while having fun on the water:
Know the rules. Rules can vary from one state or location to the next, so be sure you know what the expectations are before you head out on the water. You can find more about licensing requirements and other regulations in your area through the Boat U.S. Foundation.
Dress for success. Ensure you have a life jacket or personal flotation device that fits snugly but comfortably. Remember to connect the tether cord from the ignition of your watercraft to your life jacket to cut power to the engine should you end up in the water. Additionally, neoprene shorts can help prevent injuries and give you a comfortable layer between your body and the saddle. Gloves and boots provide protection and improve your grip, and sunglasses can help protect your eyes from the wind and water. It’s also a good idea to keep a windbreaker in a storage compartment in case weather blows in unexpectedly.
Gear up. Once you’re dressed for the occasion, you won’t need much other gear, but there are a few items that can help protect you. Always keep an anchor on board, along with a radio to call for help if you have trouble. A water bottle can help ensure you stay well hydrated on the water, where you typically sweat a lot due to the wind and sun.
Play nice. On gorgeous, sunny days, you can expect your local lake to be busy. Being respectful of others on the water helps ensure everyone can enjoy their water adventures safely. If you haven’t already, take a watercraft or boat safety course and brush up on the basics. Beyond that, pay attention to signs, especially ones that note restricted areas and no-wake zones, and keep a safe 200-foot distance between yourself and other watercrafts.
Be earth aware. Part of being responsible on the water is respecting the environment. You can do your part by committing to green habits like refueling on land and doing maintenance work well away from the shoreline. When you’re riding, getting too close to the shore can tear up your watercraft, but it can also be harmful to the fish and birds that feed on the sediment in the shallows, as well as the vegetation. Be aware noise and movement of boats may disturb bird populations. Stay clear of posted bird nesting areas. Nesting birds may fly from their nests, exposing unprotected eggs and hatchlings to the sun’s heat or predators. Keeping to channels and deeper water also helps protect the wildlife and prevent shoreline erosion.
Find more tips to maximize your fun in the sun and stay safe on your personal watercraft Sea-Doo.com.
Plan a Coastal Road Trip Excursion
(Family Features) If you’ve never traveled along the Pacific Coast, or maybe you’d just like to experience it from a new perspective, there are few things quite like a road trip to take in the sights and experiences that make the journey one to remember.
A road trip lets you set your own pace and enjoy the companionship of friends or family. When you’re ready to explore, outdoor adventures, historical experiences and 99 miles of coastline await in Monterey County, California, which is known as a scenic, beautiful expanse along the Pacific Coast. From wide-open beaches, verdant vineyards and fields to the peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains, there’s plenty of room to roam.
Some of the top scenic drives in the world are along California’s coast, where you’ll find a wide range of local topography. One example is Highway 1, where starting toward the north, you’ll see the state’s second largest wetlands, artichoke fields and rolling sand dunes, as well as cypress forests and the craggy coastline. Further south, you’ll encounter towering cliffs, redwoods and awe-inspiring bridges.
Other notable sights include fishing ports; beaches; wildlife including seals, sea lions and sea otters; the famed Lone Cypress; mansions; and several championship golf courses.
When you’re ready for some action, there’s plenty to find along the coast. From a captivating 18-mile long recreation trail with coastline views to kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, whale-watching excursions and more, there are numerous ways to whet an appetite for adventure near the ocean. Inland, you’ll find options like hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, cave exploring and horseback riding.
Along the California coast, you can find tens of thousands of acres of vineyards producing more than 53 different varietals of wine. In Monterey County alone, you can take your pick among 65 tasting rooms set against picturesque backdrops. How you choose to experience wine country is as diverse as the varietals you’ll discover. For example, you might head to the beach with a newly purchased bottle of your favorite wine, jump aboard a wine trolley to let someone else do the driving for a while or schedule a tour that takes you behind the scenes with a winemaker.
No visit to the coast is complete without a visit to the beach, but not all beaches are the same. From white sandy beaches to rocky cliffs, you could plan an entire road trip around the different kinds of beaches waiting for you to discover their beauty. Enjoy bird spotting, rock collecting, surfing, tide pooling and more.
Some of the area’s greatest treasures are the lesser-known beaches, including one that sits in the middle of Cannery Row. The sheltered cove of McAbee Beach was used by Portuguese whalers in the 1850s and Chinese fishermen in the early 1900s. Today, this secret beach is a perfect spot to let kids burn off energy before or after a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Visitors can spot seals and otters playing offshore, and it’s a popular launching point for scuba divers exploring the kelp forests.
Wellness for Body and Mind
When you’ve taken in the sights and explored to your heart’s content, be sure to leave time for rejuvenation. From spas and meditation retreats to spending time in nature, it’s easy to make wellness a priority when visiting the California coast. You can even enjoy food that’s as good for you as it is delicious with a growing focus on sustainability by visiting daily farmers’ markets and fish markets, which provide a bounty of locally sourced produce, fresh meat, seafood and hand-made treasures for a truly enriching cultural experience.
Start planning your Pacific Coast road trip adventure at SeeMonterey.com.
Family-Friendly Ideas for Summer Fun
Warm, sunny days are the perfect setting for making family memories, but they’re also ideal opportunities to encourage kids to get creative and let their imaginations soar.
These ideas for summertime activities encourage family interaction, and the more kids get to help plan and organize the details, the more engaged you can expect them to be.
Visit Your Local Park
Pack all the kids’ favorite snacks and beverages to keep cool and hydrated. Choose your spot under a big shady tree and spread out for an impromptu picnic. Be sure to bring along outdoor toys for a game of catch or lighten the load and create a nature scavenger hunt with different types of leaves, rocks and flowers for kids to discover. If they come across an unfamiliar plant or animal, snap a picture with your phone so you can do some research on it when you get home. Encourage the kids to draw or design a piece of art reflecting the things they saw.
Create Watercolor Paintings
Away from the school setting, kids sometimes have fewer opportunities to practice expressing their ideas and getting creative. Fun tools can make an artistic session more exciting, so look for unique methods like blending Zebra Pen Mildliner Brush Pens with water and a paint brush to create fun, pastel watercolor paintings with minimal mess. The pens are conveniently double-ended with a paint brush-like tip on one end and fine marker tip on the other so you can precisely draw a design then create softer swirls of color using water and a brush.
Water Sponge Challenge
Cool off with a fun and refreshing water fight with a few creative twists. First grab sponges, or water sponge balls, and a full bucket of water. The sponges are reusable so you can use them all summer long. Make it extra fun by organizing teams with kids against adults or everyone fending for themselves. Encourage kids to devise their own blockades and targets or adapt a classic game like baseball or dodgeball using water sponges in place of the usual balls. You could also do a sponge scavenger hunt to load up everyone’s buckets before the dousing begins.
Find the Animals
Visit your local Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo or aquarium and have your kids find as many animals as they can from the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction species list. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the concept of extinction and why these animals are on the list. Follow up the visit with an activity that reinforces how everyone has a role in conservation and look for ways to help protect each family member’s favorite animal.
Make Oven S’mores
On a rainy night (or any night) make a s’more by putting it in the oven. They turn out just as melty and gooey as the campfire version but with easier prep and cleanup. This is a tasty way to get those creative juices flowing. Experiment with different candies, such as peanut butter cups in place of chocolate bars. Or add different ingredients and have other family members guess the flavors.
Find more ideas for creative inspiration this summer at zebrapen.com/art-studio/creative-tips.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Get Ready to Read this Father’s Day
Shopping for Father’s Day can be difficult. From tools to tech toys, some gifts are used over and over again, but thoughtful gifts that match your dad’s interests can make this year’s present a memorable one.
If he enjoys reading, there are options that align with almost every hobby and interest, from advice for hands-on projects to thrilling mysteries and exploration of the challenges many dads face every day, and these picks can provide a reminder of you every time he sits down to read another chapter.
Find more stories to share with your dad at Facebook.com/WilliamMorrowBooks.
Practical ‘Dadvice’ for Everyday Tasks
From the host of the YouTube channel that went viral, “Dad, How Do I?,” comes a book of the same title that’s part memoir, part inspiration and part DIY advice. Rob Kenney wished he had someone who could teach him the basics – how to tie a tie, jump-start a car, unclog a drain, use tools properly – as well as succeed in life. In this book, he shares his story of overcoming a difficult childhood with an absent father through the strength of faith and family, and offers words of inspiration and hope. In addition, he provides instructions for 50 practical DIY projects, illustrated with helpful line drawings, as well as the occasional dad joke.
A Riveting Race Against Time
“New York Times” bestselling author Linwood Barclay returns with a riveting thriller, “Find You First.” Diagnosed with a terminal illness, tech millionaire Miles Cookson begins a search for the children he’s never known. Somewhere out there, after having been a sperm donor, he has nine unknown kids who might be about to inherit both the good and the bad from him – maybe his fortune, or maybe something much worse. One by one, Cookson’s heirs are vanishing – every trace of them wiped, like they never existed at all.
An Exploration of the Challenges Fathers Face
Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, Craig Melvin, news anchor of NBC News’ “Today,” had a fraught relationship with his father. Lawrence Melvin was a distant, often absent parent due to his drinking as well as his job working the graveyard shift at a postal facility. A powerful, intimate exploration of fatherhood, addiction and resiliency, “Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father” is the story of their long journey to reconciliation and understanding, as well as an investigation of the challenges facing all dads.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
A Sizzling Summer Meal
Summertime, for many, represents an opportunity to enjoy freshly cooked meals while enjoying time outdoors. Taking your dishes from ordinary to extraordinary starts with chef-inspired recipes that call to mind the flavors of the season.
If you’re a summer burger connoisseur looking for a fresh twist on tradition, this recipe calls for high-quality beef from Omaha Steaks. Created by Omaha Steaks Executive Chef David Rose, these Fried Lobster Po Boy Burgers with pimento remoulade sauce are a tempting way to combine two summertime favorites – seafood and burgers.
Visit OmahaSteaks.com for more summer meal inspiration.
Fried Lobster Po Boy Burgers
Recipe courtesy of Omaha Steaks Executive Chef David Rose
Prep time: about 20 minutes
Cook time: about 20 minutes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons minced pimentos
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced bread and butter pickles
1 pepperoncino (seeded and minced)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 dashes hot sauce
kosher salt, to taste
Fried Lobster Tails:
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup potato chips, finely blended in food processor
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon minced flat leaf Italian parsley
2 Omaha Steaks lobster tails (5 ounces each)
1 pound Omaha Steaks premium ground beef
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 brioche buns
2 slices yellow cheddar cheese
3 leaves romaine lettuce, shredded
To make pimento remoulade: In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, pimentos, mustard, pickles, pepperoncino, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, lemon juice and hot sauce until well incorporated. Season with salt, to taste.
To make fried lobster tails: Preheat grill to 400 F and add oil to 10-inch cast-iron pan about 1/2-inch deep.
In medium bowl, whisk flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika until well incorporated. Set aside.
In separate medium bowl, whisk egg, water and hot pepper sauce. Set aside.
In third medium bowl, whisk potato chips, panko breadcrumbs and parsley until well incorporated. Set aside.
Cut lobster tails in half lengthwise, remove meat from shell and season with remaining kosher salt and black pepper.
Toss halved lobster tails in flour mixture first, egg mixture second then potato chip mixture third, coating thoroughly.
Fry lobster tails 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through. Close grill lid between flipping.
To make cheeseburgers: Preheat grill to 450 F using direct heat. Form ground beef into two 1/2 pound patties, each about 1/2-inch thick.
Using thumb, make dimple in center of each patty to help cook evenly.
Season both sides of burger with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread butter on each cut side of buns.
Grill burgers 4-5 minutes per side for medium doneness.
Add one slice cheddar cheese on each burger, close lid and grill about 30 seconds to melt cheese. Remove patties from grill to clean plate. Place buns cut sides down on grill grates and toast 20-30 seconds, or until well toasted, being careful to avoid burning.
To assemble: Place desired remoulade on buns. Place cheeseburgers on bottom buns. Top each with two fried lobster tail halves. Place handful shredded lettuce on lobster tails. Top with buns.
Let Tea Take You for an Adventure
Visiting a new or favorite destination is one way to travel, but that’s not always possible. If you can’t escape to a new location, consider taking a mental break in the comfort of your own home with tea as your companion.
With many different varieties of tea to choose from, you can infuse your journey with flavor while enjoying wellness and relaxation benefits. Enjoy virtual travels – wherever you are – with these tips from the experts at Buddha Teas.
Even when you can’t get to a spa, tea can help you focus on wellness and refresh your body and mind. While yoga, meditation and massages can aid in recharging you physically and mentally, teas like chaga, detox dharma or mushroom wellness can further help you unwind. Chaga, a medium-bodied mushroom tea, can be enjoyed with honey or milk for a nurturing, peaceful escape. It can also help reset your center and give you a boost of healing energy without any caffeine. Mushroom teas blending flavorful herbs and spices can bring power and pleasure to your cup with remarkable immune boosting, wellness potential – no honey or milk is needed. If you’re seeking a total recharge, look for teas with organic ingredients such as ginger root, turmeric and black pepper blended with the super cleanser, burdock root, to create the perfect environment for your body to rid itself of all toxins.
If you enjoy hiking and connecting with nature, flower teas like Japanese cherry blossom, chamomile and lavender can be ideal companions. An option like Buddha Teas matches your appreciation for nature. The teas are 100% unaltered, organic and wildcrafted. They’re made from fresh herbs and tea leaves and packaged in bleach-free bags, so you can enjoy the purity of natural teas without harmful chemicals or additives.
Some journeys are more emotionally charged than others, from reminiscing trips down memory lane to quiet getaways intended to let you free your mind. A heightened sensory reaction to these kinds of emotionally significant destinations is best balanced with chakra teas. “Chakra” is the ancient Sanskrit word for the seven central points of energy that reside within, helping balance your physical, emotional and spiritual states.
Connecting with History
Seeing historical sites and learning about ancient people may inspire you to immerse yourself more fully in an unfamiliar culture. Root teas can help give you a taste of the unknown, such as green tea (Japan), dong quai (China), ashwaganda (India) or black cohosh (North America).
Find more ways to experience the true taste of tea at buddhateas.com.
How to Make a Perfect Cup of Tea
Creating a cup of tea that perfectly pleases your taste buds and accentuates the flavor of the variety requires patience and diligence. Consider these steeping steps from Buddha Teas, crafters of beverages using high-quality, fresh herbs and leaves from fresh, organic and wild plants. The sources are harvested, gathered and packaged with conscious care to help you experience the true taste of tea.
Step 1: Water
Use fresh, preferably filtered, water. Many teas, especially herbal, include subtle flavors that can be lost or altered if prepared using unfiltered water.
Step 2: Temperature
Measure the temperature of heated water using an electric kettle with a variety of settings or a cooking thermometer. Consider these temperature guidelines for different types of teas:
• Black (200-205 F)
• Green (175-180 F)
• Blends (190-205 F)
• Matcha (175 F)
• Herbal (205 F)
• Oolong (185-205 F)
• Pu-erh (195-205 F)
• White (175-185 F)
Step 3: Steep
Once water reaches the proper temperature, pour water over one teabag per 8 ounces of water. (For a stronger brew, use additional teabags). Most teas require a 3-6-minute steep, depending on the type of tea and preferred strength.
Herbal teas may take longer to reach full strength than black, green or white teas, sometimes up to 10 minutes.
One thing to keep in mind: Each tea presents its own unique flavor profile, some naturally trending toward bitter. However, teas that are not naturally bitter will often become so if steeped at too high a temperature or for too long.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
5 Tips to Promote Health During Spring
As seasons change, there’s often a great deal of shuffling and movement, including common allergy triggers like trees, pollen, mold spores, dust and dander along with pesky sinus pressure. Combined with changes in barometric pressure and weather patterns bouncing up and down, spring can be one big pain – literally.
“This is the time of year when most of us are excited to see the change of seasons, but millions of allergy and sinus sufferers welcome spring with trepidation,” Dr. Ian Smith, M.D., said. “Common triggers such as trees, pollen, mold spores, dust and dander can wreak havoc for many. Having a trusted multi-symptom reliever of upper respiratory allergies like Mucinex Sinus-Max is absolutely key in making the season more enjoyable for all suffering from sinus and congestion issues. With a reliable multi-symptom product stashed in your medicine cabinet, and the combination of simple modifications like being mindful of your indoor climate, eating more fruits and veggies, and staying hydrated, can help limit sinus discomfort this season.”
Take steps this spring to ease the impact of sinus and allergy problems and focus on your overall wellness for a smooth transition with these tips:
Control your allergy and sinus triggers. Knowing what flares your allergic reactions can help prevent discomfort. For many people, monitoring pollen counts and limiting time outdoors on high-pollen days can help reduce reactions. You might also avoid hanging laundry outside, as pollen can stick to clothes and sheets as they dry, and ask for help with yardwork to limit your exposure.
Find some pressure release. When nasal congestion or sinus pressure build, it can feel like a ton of bricks have landed on your head. However, you can find relief with products designed to help clear up your stuffy nose, relieve headaches and thin and loosen excess mucus. Often, if you’re experiencing sinus problems, you’re dealing with multiple symptoms. From congestion to headaches and sinus pressure, an over-the-counter medicine like Mucinex Sinus-Max can break up your sinus symptoms with just one dose or your money back.
Manage your indoor climate. Even when you start spending more time outdoors, it’s important to keep close tabs on the quality of the air inside your home. If you’re prone to allergy flare-ups or sinus infections, manage the humidity level by using a humidifier or dehumidifier. If outdoor allergens are a concern, avoid opening windows and doors, and instead rely on air conditioning on warmer days. Also be sure to change filters regularly and use an air purifier for added protection.
Keep fluids flowing. More time outdoors in warmer weather can quickly lead to dehydration, especially if you’re working up a sweat. Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated and keep your body operating in top shape. Staying hydrated can also help keep mucus moving, allowing you to ease through allergy or sinus problems.
Update your medicine cabinet. A seasonal change is a good time to take stock of your medical supplies and medications to ensure you have what you need for the months ahead. Discard any expired prescriptions or over the counter medicines and be sure restock common spring and summer essentials like bug bite ointments, sunburn spray and multi-symptom products like Mucinex Sinus-Max to help temporarily relieve sinus and congestion symptoms in one dose. Also be sure to replenish your first aid kit with plenty of bandages and wound care supplies.
For more information, visit Mucinex.com.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Swimming Safety Tips for Summer
Playing in or around water is one of the joys of summer, but this treasured seasonal pastime comes with some serious risks. Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 14 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, many families will have informal gatherings and take trips to the beach, increasing the potential for children to have unsupervised access to water. Because of this, it’s important for children to take swimming lessons to learn water safety skills and create safer habits in and around water. As swimming lessons begin across the country, many are being conducted safely with COVID-19 precautions in place.
Protect your family’s safety around water this summer with these tips from the Make a Splash Tour, presented by Phillips 66 and the USA Swimming Foundation.
Designate a Water Watcher and Closely Monitor Children. Designate a water watcher when you are in, on or around water. Watch all children and adolescents swimming or playing in or around water, even if they know how to swim. Keeping young children or inexperienced swimmers within arm’s length at all times can help ensure you’re able to provide assistance if and when it’s needed.
Wear a Life Jacket. Anyone participating in any boating, paddling or towed water sports, regardless of swimming ability in pool or open water situations, should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Preschool-aged children (5 years old and younger), who are not protected by touch supervision, in particular, should always wear a life jacket. Swimming aids and water toys – such as water wings, inflatable water wings and rings – are not intended to be life-saving devices.
Learn to Swim. Research has shown formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of childhood drowning by 88%. Through the annual Make a Splash Tour, the USA Swimming Foundation, with the support of Phillips 66, encourages children’s swim lessons. By equipping your child with the skill of swimming, you’ll open doors to a lifetime of safety, fun, fitness and even employment opportunities.
While lessons progressively teach a variety of swimming strokes, some of the most important things swimmers learn – even in beginner classes – are breath control and how to float. These basic skills are essential for staying above water should someone find himself or herself unable to touch or too tired to swim to safety. Children can participate in swimming lessons before they can walk, and parent-child swim lessons provide bonding opportunities along with water safety education.
Swim in Designated Areas and Obey Posted Signs and Flags. Ropes, buoys and flags in larger bodies of water like lakes or oceans are commonly used to mark off safe swimming areas and provide visual cues about changes in depth, underwater surfaces and currents. Teach children what these signs and markers mean and that they’re in place as safety tools, not toys to play with or float on.
Learn CPR. If the unthinkable does happen, knowing how to perform CPR allows you to take immediate action, which has been shown to significantly better the outcome for children with submersion injuries. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, you could save someone’s life. Seconds count; the quicker CPR is started, the better the chances of recovery. There are many places that offer CPR training, including community organizations and nonprofit groups. Remember to keep your certification current once you have completed the initial requirements.
Make safety a priority for your summer water fun. For more information, including swim lesson providers in your area, visit usaswimming.org/makeasplash.
Make Reading Part of Your Mother’s Day Celebration
Many childhood memories include sitting on mom’s lap and reading stories together. This year, you can show your mother how much those memories mean to you by giving her a Mother’s Day gift that harkens back to those special moments spent together.
Whether your mom devotes time each week to read the latest best-selling novel or can only find a few moments every now and then to spend some quality time reading, there are plenty of thoughtful options available for nearly every mother regardless of how often she settles into a comfy chair with a good book. From cookbooks and memoirs to suspenseful non-fiction and coming-of-age stories, options like these can be an excuse for her to dive into a new read and steal a few minutes of uninterrupted me-time, which can be a special gift itself.
Find more stories about motherhood, mother-child relationships and other popular topics at Facebook.com/WilliamMorrowBooks.
A Tale of Coming of Age
A funny, wise and tender coming-of-age novel set in suburban Baltimore in the 1970s, “Mary Jane” by Jessica Anya Blau is complete with all the nostalgic trappings of the decade. The novel follows a straight-laced teenage girl whose world opens up after nannying for a progressive family in town and the celebrity couple hiding out there for the summer.
A Memorable Memoir
A story of unconditional love in the face of difficulty and the grace of perseverance “I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust” by Valerie Gilpeer and Emily Grodin is a memoir that details the journey a mother and her nonverbal, autistic daughter took to get to a place where they could finally understand and communicate with each other after a breakthrough revealed a young woman who had been trapped inside for more than two decades.
A Suspenseful Story
In “Mother May I,” “New York Times” best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson delivers a novel of domestic suspense in which a mother must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her child and the life she loves. A tale of power, privilege, lies, revenge and the choices people make – ones that transform lives in unforeseen ways.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images