You’re doing it this time. You’re committed to this, and 2022 is the year it happens. The year marks the start of the New Year’s Resolution you’ve been thinking about for ages: you are finally going to eat healthily. You wait for the internal applause to die down, you give your speech, and you look into your pantry and fridge to discover that there’s not a single fruit or vegetable in sight.

Immediately, you wonder if maybe you need to file a retraction to your speech. But don’t fret! Even in this chilly winter season of barren fields of snow, there is no shortage of fresh produce on the market. All you have to do is know where to look.

You Can Find Them at a Supermarket

Yes, but don’t leave just yet!

Sure, you can find almost any kind of fruit or veggie up for grabs at a supermarket, but just finding them is only half the battle. See, there’s a reason why we’re talking about fresh produce during the winter, and it’s not just because it’s timely.

Seasons affect many things, not just weather patterns, average temperature, or family plans. Organic produce is heavily dependent on the Earth (obviously,) and thus, their growth and overall health are also dependent on the Earth. More specifically, each fruit and vegetable’s growing season.

So when you go looking for some succulent squashes, you might see the term “in season” thrown around a few times. It is an important factor in anything you want to buy as organically as possible. You want to go for things in season, the plants designed to be grown during the winter. A quick budgeting tip for our thrifty readers: things in season are often more affordable options.

For instance, you might want to go for some apples, oranges, pears, lemons, grapefruits, kiwis, and others of the sort. These fruits are considered in season during the winter. As far as vegetables, go with cabbage, carrots, and celery. Beets and brussels sprouts are also in season.

So, yes, you can find these at the supermarket. But you have to be careful because a lot of produce is flown in from around the world. Often, these countries lack farming regulations, so they are grown in sub-standard soils and lack nutritional value. So another viable option that many people rely on is local farmers’ markets.

The Winter Farmers’ Markets

Now, this is more like it. It has the local shop vibe you’re going for, and you can practically feel the plaid and denim on your skin already.

All kidding aside, farmers’ markets have always been the go-to when it comes to healthy lifestyles. Even in the snow-buried states, farmers’ markets are up and running, full to bursting with ripe produce. Depending on where you live, you might be surprised at how close to you they are. Likewise, you may be surprised to find that your local farmers’ market is only a few minutes further from your local chain grocery.

Unless, of course, that isn’t the case, and you aren’t quite sure that a whole hour of driving there and back is entirely worth meeting your health goals. Well, guess what? In a lot of areas, there is another option.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

If you are unfamiliar with the term, Community Supported Agriculture comprises individuals within the community who pledge to support a local farming operation while that same farm supports the community. In this model, growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production.

Here’s how this works: members of the CSA buy a share of the local farming operations produce before the actual growing season. For doing this, the members of the CSA receive regular distributions of what is grown on the farm. It is a win-win because farmers receive advance working capital, earn better crop prices, and gain financial security. The members, in return, receive regular deliveries of fresh produce that generally works out to be below-market prices.

You can think of it as supporting your local agriculture via a subscription service. It’s kind of like Netflix, but for fruits and vegetables. Different CSAs work in different ways, but the general idea is that you’ll be sent some great, freshly-grown produce. You may even find some items you’d never think to try on your own!

Little Tip: Freeze It

There’s a reason why iceboxes are pretty prime on the list of human inventions: they are invaluable for keeping things stored. So if you’ve got the space, the freezer is your best friend.

The freezer allows you to buy fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk, then freeze what you will not eat right away. But, of course, not all produce will hold up to being frozen. So we recommend looking online for helpful hints regarding the best way to freeze your prized organic fruits and vegetables.

Family Staycation

It’s no shock that millions of families have decided to forgo their vacation plans in favor of staying home. But, whether it’s current events that have kept you home, financial concerns, or frustrations with travel, a vacation doesn’t have to be a nightmare — especially if it’s a staycation.

Even if you aren’t going somewhere warm, you can bring the warmth home with the perfect winter staycation.

Family Cooking Time

Of course, there will be food at this staycation, but why cook and bake it all by yourself? Instead, get your kids in on the action by letting them have their turn at the kitchen counter!

Have one child take care of the baking, and another the stove-top stuff, or any combination that works. Delegating responsibilities like this is an effective way of making sure they feel important to the process while not overloading them with information. If you want to kick it up a notch, throw on some music and make it a cooking party.

These are fantastic skills for children to learn and if they fall in love with cooking, you might have to cook fewer meals!

Vacation Themed Movie Night

It’s not exactly hard to find movies for vacations, but there are tons of classics your kids may not have heard of, so why not share this king’s bounty of cinematic delight? With the surge of streaming services and, respectively, movies being streamed, it’s a simple task of getting everyone into a room and pressing a few buttons to get right into the thick of it!

What’s better than enjoying a classic like National Lampoon’s Vacation with the family?

Say, while you’re at it, why not combine the two ideas and make some movie night snacks together? For example, sprinkle some food coloring on a bowl of popcorn, throw in some M&Ms, or make homemade pizza?

Vacation Themed Game Night

But perhaps a classic National Lampoon film is a little mature for your kids. That’s okay because other mediums exist outside of cinema!

Sure, you can play charades, Pictionary, and Apples to Apples, but why not take a vacation from tradition and break into something new and exciting? Of course, if you’ve watched the famous Stranger Things, you’ve seen the charm of Dungeons and Dragons, but there are tabletop role-playing games for people of all ages.

Break out your creativity and try a different kind of tabletop role-playing game like The Witch is Dead (woodland creatures try to solve a murder mystery) or Crash Pandas (a bunch of raccoons trying to drive a car). Encourage your kids to get out of their bubble and learn something new yourself.

Eat Outdoors

All those meals and treats you’ve made together aren’t going to go to waste, are they? Of course not! But why do it in the same regular kitchen, when the whole point of the staycation is to do different things?

Do you know what else shouldn’t go to waste? The crisp, cold air outside! Treat you and your family to a real winter meal by taking it all outside and drinking hot cocoa to warm the body—nothing quite like watching the snowfall while the steam of hot beverage brushes by your nose.

A winter picnic can be fun, but if there’s too much snow or it’s too cold to eat outside, you can still have fun. Take the picnic into the living room and eat on a blanket, or build a fort in the basement and have your picnic in there! The possibilities are endless.

Backyard Camping

If it’s not unbearably cold outside, how about some good-old backyard camping? Get out the tent gear that’s probably been collecting dust in the garage and pitch a tent in your backyard. The idea is to make it as close to a real camping trip as possible without relying on the convenience of the house just a few yards away.

Make a fire pit, roast some smores, cook some hot dogs over an open fire. Do all the great stuff you should do when you’re out camping. Then, after the fire dies down, you can sit together in the tent and tell stories or play word games. There is nothing like the quiet and close quarters of camping to bring the family together.

And that might just do it for us! Hopefully, you’ve got a few ideas of your own rattling around in your head, even aside from the ones posited here. Just remember to keep it simple, keep it fresh, and keep it fun!

The school year fast approaches, and so too does the deadline for getting those school supplies for your school-going children. So here are a few of those much-needed supplies, in case this past year has made you or your child forget what normal school is supposed to look like.

1: Masks

There is still much debate and political wrangling over the requirement for masks in school this fall. Most common masks will protect those around the wearer, but not the wearer. If you are looking for a mask that is at least 95% effective in protecting your child, look for one rated KN95 and above. Be sure to do some shopping around, though. There tends to be a large variance in price on these.

2: Backpack

There will be many books, which need to be carried around easily and quickly. So there’s not a whole lot better answer than a good, sturdy backpack. If your kid complains about the straps digging into their shoulders, there are other backpacks out there with extra padding in the straps that should solve the problem. If they complain that the backpack is too heavy, there are backpacks available that come with a handle and rollers.

3: Notebooks

Typically, you’ll want to get ones that are ring-bound, with lined pages that are easy to tear away from the notebook. Notebooks like that are a little more multi-purpose and easier to use in more situations. Then, of course, there are the classic black-white glue-bound notebooks (they do come in different colors, by the way). The important thing here is that it serves as a notebook: a place for writing and storing written notes. As opposed to the bag of loose paper your child will bring home at the end of the year.

4: Pencils

But you can’t write anything in a notebook if you’ve got nothing to write with, right? The reminder to get No. 2 pencils almost goes without saying these days, as it’s so ingrained into everyone’s subconscious. However, it’s worth mentioning anyway: the lockdown made us forget about many basic things.

5: Student Planner

Speaking of forgetting basic things, you know what would cut down on the stress of remembering all the homework assignments that need doing and when they need to be done? Writing them down in a little calendar, with a little handy task list, of course. Not only does it help your child stay on top of things, but it’s also convenient for you if you need to check in on their progress and help them organize themselves. Good training for later in life!

6: Water Bottle

No, not the plastic ones that come in bundles. We’re talking about the reusable ones – the big ones you can keep refilling when necessary. Especially as the weather remains hot around this time of year, making sure that your kid can stay hydrated for long periods is important. Even with schools being mostly air-conditioned, hydration is important for brain function and especially during physical activity.

7: Lunch Box

Hardcover lunch boxes can get filthy if you don’t clean them or get new ones. Trust me. And you do not want your kids to go out with grimy lunch boxes for a fun and colorful variety of reasons. So, why not purchase a new lunch box? It’s also important for the simple fact that it’s getting hotter, and keeping the food cool will be a bonus. Besides, your child’s taste in design has probably changed since last year.

 

Now, those are the essentials that you’ll need to ensure that the school-going members of the family aren’t going ill-equipped. However, that doesn’t mean they have to go with just the bare necessities.

For example, if your child has certain learning or attention-related disabilities, there are a few things you can get for them that will help enable their concentration. Of course, we all have learned about fidget toys by now – spinners and cubes and the like – but there’s also squeeze balls, silly putty, gum, or if the school is particularly progressive, they can wear headphones and listen to music set at low volume. These items are tremendous tools in helping those with ADHD to concentrate.

One final note: Yes, the pandemic is still going. And while we put masks at the top of this list, it bears repeating. Make sure that your child is as safe as they can be. An additional idea to the masks is to arm your child with small bottles of hand sanitizer and remind them to wash or sanitize their hands frequently.

Time marches ever onward. Popular music flows along with the rivers of change, and once-great bands soon find themselves in the annals of history – memories within the eras of the past. But when we look back upon these storied pasts, do we rediscover our favorite classics and find the youth of this new age lacking? Were bands from the 90’s better than the bands of today, or are our memories more intoxicating than the actual songs?

Let’s face it, the ‘90s had Vanilla Ice, and it still needs to apologize for that.

In all seriousness, the point of this article is both to look back and see what happened to those we used to love. For example, N’Sync — what happened to all those guys, anyway? Where are the people who crafted the music of our childhood, teendom, college years? Has Vanilla Ice learned the error of his ways and become a monk as atonement? Let’s find out, shall we?

Backstreet Boys

Backstreet’s back, alright. Around the ‘00s, they seemed to just disappear into the ether, never to be heard from again (until we heard from them again). They started releasing albums once more in 2007 with “Unbreakable.” Their most recent album came out in 2019, “DNA.” So, hey, those boys are still hanging around those backstreets!

Spice Girls

There was a moment in time when five young women set the pop music industry on fire. They educated the young lads on what they should do if they wished to be their lovers and prodded the deepest parts of our minds with the fundamental human question: “Who Do You Think You Are?” But alas, the spice, much like the hot kick it gives to a meal, was short-lived. In 2001 they disbanded, and they never really got back together again, not really. They would go on to collaborate on a few disparate projects, a tour or two, but that was about it. More or less, they went off to do their own successful things, like birds leaving the nest or the spice rack.

MC Hammer

Aaahhh yes, the untouchable man, the craftsman of rap, the wearer of the low-hanging pants. His days of making music were quite fruitful (it wasn’t just that one song: He’s released ten albums throughout the entirety of his career). But those days are presumably done. Now, he’s a spokesperson in ads for things like Command Strips.

N’Sync

Hey, if you’re looking for more N’Sync, at least one of those guys is still banging out the tunes. While the Backstreet Boys reunited and continued their fated journey across the streets, N’Sync has more or less said their final farewells, with the last major reunion being a one-off in 2018.

Destiny’s Child

Well, we know where Beyonce went. But what about the other two? How are Rowland and Williams? Though Beyonce obviously stole the world’s attention, the rest of this sparkling group have done pretty well for themselves as well. You might know Rowland from her role in “Empire,” and Williams got to be in “Chicago” in 2010.

Nirvana

Erm, yeah, Nirvana isn’t a thing anymore. So rest in peace, Kurt. However, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the band disappeared. Dave Grohl, the gentleman of rock, is still making music in Foo Fighters. It’s a good thing the drummer for Nirvana is still around! Still here, and still making music! Foo Fighters would be considered by most actually to be a 00’s band, but that’s because they rose to fame around that time. However, technically, they did start in the ‘90s.

Vanilla Ice

You knew this was coming. Alright, Ice, it’s time. Your hour of judgment is at hand. Where are you now, and what have you done?

Are you the host of a home improvement show called “The Vanilla Ice Project”?

Huh. Okay. Unexpected, but okay. Good for you, Ice.

 

Well, there you have it. We could’ve gone into more bands, but the line has to be drawn somewhere, or we’d be here all day. If you weren’t already aware, there were a ton of bands in the ’90s. We could’ve talked about how Boyz II Men is still around and kicking, how Lauryn Hill had a fling with tax evasion before going back to performing at small venues, or how 98 Degrees was the boy band who did “Because of You,” and we’d all go “oooohhhh okay I do know them.” But we won’t.