What To Look For When Buying A Snowblower For The Upcoming Winter

Shoveling snow can be an obnoxious and even physically dangerous chore, especially in places where it can really pile up. Many a poor homeowner has been faced with the prospect of shoveling out a driveway before work, or on what was supposed to be a relaxing day off. A snowblower can be an easy, more thorough alternative, especially when it comes to larger properties where manually shoveling every drive simply isn’t a workable solution. Finding the snowblower that’s right for you, though, can be a complicated chore in and of itself. How do you pick the one that’s right for you and your property?

Well, to start with, we need to familiarize ourselves with the different types of snowblowers.

The Different Varieties of Snowblower

Snowblowers come in four main types, each having its own strengths and weaknesses. No one type is perfect for every application, and it’s up to you to decide which is right for your property!

Electric Snowblowers

Electric snowblowers are a small, portable, and compact option. They typically don’t require the maintenance that a gasoline-powered device does, so you don’t have to worry about changing the oil, keeping filters clean, or fumbling around with a gas can in subzero weather. Small and light enough to easily fit into most small spaces, an electric snowblower can be a perfect choice for anyone on a smaller property that doesn’t receive much snow. The trade-off for that portability is that an electric snowblower simply doesn’t have the horsepower to deal with large amounts of snow, or snow that has frozen solid.

Single-Stage Snowblowers

Single-stage snowblowers are smallest entry in the gasoline-powered category. Requiring more maintenance, these medium-sized snowblowers are never-the-less convenient and small enough to be a good option for areas where an electric blower simply isn’t up to the job. Essentially a horizontal, gas-powered auger on wheels, the snowblower’s rotating screw simultaneously scoops and tosses the snow out of its chute and away from the work area. While able to make short work of moderate snowfall, the single-stage snowblower’s auger makes contact with the ground, meaning it can’t be safely used on gravel surfaces, and its vertically narrow mouth means it can’t effectively deal with deep snow.

Two-Stage Snowblowers

The next size up, two-stage snowblowers are generally slightly larger than the average upright push mower, and may be more tool than you need if you live in an area that receives only moderate or occasional heavy snow. In return for that bulkiness, though, you get a generously sized bucket and a two-stage mechanism that can devour everything short of truly massive snowfalls, and sits high enough above the ground that it won’t damage concrete or gravel surfaces. Similar to the single-stage, the two-stage snowblower sucks up the snow with its auger, but then tosses it into a high-speed impeller that ejects it far away from the work area.

Three-Stage Snowblowers

The 800-pound gorilla of the snowblower kingdom, these monsters are large, powerful machines that inhale, chop, then HURL snow and ice a significant distance away. Featuring dual augers that chew through even the largest and most solid snowdrift, a three-stage snowblower offers a third auger, positioned perpendicular to the collection augers and called an accelerator, that chops and shoots the snow and ice directly into the impeller, which further chops it up and fires it out of the chute. More machine than most people will need, these powerful tools will clear almost any amount of snow and are perfect for someone with large and deep areas of stubborn snow who just wants to get the job done.

Choosing The Right Snowblower

While a single or two-stage snowblower will be sufficient for most properties, larger areas or places that tend to receive large quantities of wet, stubborn snow may require a three-stage snowblower. For those who are concerned with maintaining a pristine property, an electric snowblower might be a convenient and maneuverable supplemental device for areas where a larger machine won’t fit, or for small touch-ups when a larger device isn’t necessary. Ultimately, the needs of a specific property depend on its size, winter weather patterns, and even the personality and capabilities of the user, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You simply need to evaluate the requirements and quirks of your specific situation, then decide which machine best meets your needs!

What To Consider When Choosing an Electric Skateboard for Your Child

Riding an electric skateboard can be an enjoyable activity for your child, and it can help them get outside and into the fresh air. But when looking for the best cheap electric skateboard for you child, there are a number of important factors to consider. This includes the following:

How Experienced of a Rider Is Your Child

If your child is new to electric skateboarding (and skateboarding in general), you probably should consider buying a standard single wheel drive board. These boards are typically the least expensive and the easiest to use. By buying one of these boards, you can determine if your child actually enjoys electric skateboarding before moving on to a more advanced (and more expensive) model.

If your child is experienced with electric skateboarding, you may want to consider buying a standard dual wheel drive board. These boards offer more performance than single wheel drive boards. They not only produce higher speeds, but they can also accelerate faster. They actually can accelerate fast enough to throw your child from the board. So, if safety if your primary concern, you may want to avoid these types of boards. These boards are also harder to use than single wheel boards.

Regardless of how experienced your child is with electric skateboarding, you want to get a skateboard with good brakes. Electric skateboards can come with either mechanical or electric brakes, but most models on the market today come with electric brakes, which can potentially fail. So, it is important to develop a backup plan with your child, so they know exactly what to do in case the brakes fail.

Where Will Your Child Ride the Skateboard

Almost any electric skateboard will ride well along smooth and straight roads. But not all electric skateboards can handle hills and unpaved surfaces.

If you have steep hills in your neighborhood, make sure that the skateboard has sufficient power to climb them. Steep hills may necessitate the purchase of a dual wheel drive skateboard, which, as we have already stated, may be too complex for a new rider.

If your child will be riding the skateboard on unpaved surfaces, you may want to consider buying a model made specifically for off-road riding. These models have pneumatic tires for better traction and can ride well on just about any surface. However, if the roads around your home are not exactly smooth but not terribly rough either, you may get by with a model that has larger and softer wheels. Look for wheels that have a diameter of at least 80 millimeters and a softness rating of 76A or softer.

How Far Will Your Child Be Riding the Skateboard

Every electric skateboard has a distance range that specifies how far it can travel without recharging. If your child will be traveling long distances with the board, you want to make sure that the board can make it there and back, because there may not be charging options along the way. Keep in mind that the distance ranges manufactures list are based on riding along a level surface. If you have hills in your neighborhood, this will require the board to use more power, which means it will run out of power faster.

Other Considerations When Choosing an Electric Skateboard

If you live in an area with lots of wet weather, you may want to consider buying an electric skateboard that is water resistant, as many manufacturers of standard electric skateboards strongly advise against riding their boards in rainstorms.

If you plan to travel on airplanes with an electric skateboard, make sure that the board’s battery complies with TSA restrictions. Some skateboards have batteries that are too large to be taken on an airplane.

Finally, before buying an electric skateboard for your child, check with local law enforcement to make certain that such boards are legal, especially for children. Some municipalities forbid them and impose large fines on those who ride them.

The Top 5 Home Exercises For Busy Parents

As a health-conscious, fitness-enthusiast parent, I want nothing more than setting a good example for my kids by paying attention to my body, remaining in good shape, and enjoy the boost of physical energy that being active gifts me with, every single day. Often, however, despite my best effort, reality ends up standing in my way.

Let’s face it, as a busy parent, juggling work, household, and child-rearing duties, often we simply can’t afford to lose the time driving to the gym or even spending heaps of time by hopping on the elliptical or going for a long jog or cycling session. Fortunately, as I’ve found out, if you are truly serious about your health and revamping your physique, you don’t even have to.

Take a look at the following exercise ideas designed to tighten your abs, sculpt your arms, lift your buttocks, and get you into shape in no time, without having to leave the comfort of your home. Easy-to-do in-between chores, before going to work, or even while playing with your kids, these workout ideas eliminate all those typical excuses that we usually allow to stand in our way to obtain that much-coveted ideal body.

1. Planks

Benefits:

  • improved core strength
  • toned tummy
  • better posture
  • stronger back
  • shapely upper arms

How To Do Them:

Get on the floor in a push-up position, elbows on the ground, right under your shoulders. You should balance on your toes and forearms, holding this position as long as you can, but at least 10 seconds. Add 5 seconds every day; before you know it, you will be able to maintain a proper plank for a minute or even longer.

2. Tricep Dips

Benefits:

  • sculpted triceps and shoulders
  • firmer arms
  • elimination of upper-arm “bat wings”

How To Do Them:

You can easily utilize a sturdy chair, the couch, or even your heavy, non-tipping kitchen table for this exercise. Place your hands on the edge, firmly gripping them, on each side of your hips. Next, lift your buttocks up from the seated position and begin to lower it by walking your feet forward slowly. You should be supporting your full weight with your arms and feet. Next, return to your starting position.

3. Counter Push-Ups

Benefits:

  • upper arm strength
  • sculpted back
  • lifted chest muscles

How To Do Them:

Facing your countertop, place your hands on its edge, shoulder-width apart. Step two steps backward. Next, slowly lower your upper body towards your hands and the edge of the counter, much like in the case of a regular push-up. Finally, return to your starting position.

4. Squats

Benefits:

  • stronger legs
  • sculpted glutes
  • shapely thighs

How To Do Them:

Place your legs about shoulder-width apart, facing forward. Next, slowly lower your rear end, as though you are trying to sit down on an imaginary chair. You can extend your arms in front of your body to help with your balance. Bend your upper body forward and stop moving downwards once your thighs are parallel to the floor. Return to your original position.

5. Glute Bridges

Benefits:

  • tightened glutes
  • toned hamstrings
  • slimmer hips
  • shapely legs

How To Do Them:

Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Let your arms rest on the floor by your sides. Next, slowly lift your hips off the ground and keep moving them upwards until they form a straight line with your thighs. After a few seconds, lower them back to the ground.

I hope you agree; these exercises don’t seem too difficult to incorporate into your busy daily schedule, as a parent. If you commit to doing a few sets of them daily, you will find -much like I did,- that getting into shape is simple, effortless, and doesn’t have to be time-consuming at all!

Planning a Summertime Wedding? Here Are Some Tips To Keep In Mind

Summer is a beautiful season for a wedding and reception. Depending on where you live, summer also means dealing with high temperatures and lots of humidity. Even if you would like to have the ceremony outside, there are ways to ensure all your guests are comfortable and the setting is everything you could want. Start with these tips and the planning will go much smoother.

Choose a Theme in Colors That Are in Keeping With the Season

The right color scheme goes a long way toward creating the ambiance you desire. If you need inspiration for colors, consider the flowers that are native to the area and will be in full bloom. A combination of those colors can be used for the ceremony setting as well as the reception space. You’ll also find that using flowers and greenery that are in season leaves more of the budget to lavish on other elements of your big day.

Make It An Indoor/Outdoor Affair

Choose a venue that allows guests to enjoy elements of the indoors as well as the outdoors. One that will work nicely for the reception as well as the ceremony is great, since no one will have to drive from one location to the next. Consider a lodge with an open space overlooking a lake, a restaurant with a great view of the ocean, or even a stately mansion with a grove of trees between the home and a brook.

Think about holding the ceremony outdoors followed by an indoor reception. Along with providing a beautiful backdrop for exchange of vows, it will be much easier to move everything inside if rain moves into the area. It will also be easier to ensure the food is kept at the proper temperature and that the guests can enjoy the meal without being distracted by the heat.

Cooling the Outdoor Space

Holding the ceremony under a grove of trees or an open canopy does help everyone be more comfortable. Enhance that effect by renting freestanding air conditioning units to circulate cool air. You can also have paper fans prepared for the wedding and pass them out with the printed order for the ceremony. Along with providing a way for guests to fan themselves, you also ensure they have a keepsake of the event.

Consider the Attire for the Wedding Party

It’s possible to select attire for the the attendants and others that’s attractive and anything but heavy. Since you do plan on having the ceremony outdoors, you want to make choices that allow everyone to get the most of any stray breeze. A professional can help you choose attire for the bridal and the groom’s parties that’s the ideal colors, made from materials that allow everyone to breathe, and will hold up well even if the temperature is higher than anticipated.

Morning or Late Afternoon is Best

Timing is everything when you are planning a summer wedding. Afternoon ceremonies and receptions are fine the rest of the year, but a summer event should be held in the morning or the late afternoon. Doing so ensures your guests will enjoy the outdoor portion without feeling uncomfortable. That’s especially important if you are going with formal or semi-formal attire fore the ceremony.

Keep the Food Light

The reception menu should be free of any foods considered heavy. This is true even if you plan on holding the event in the late afternoon. Fruit and vegetable trays are great ideas. Shrimp cocktail, cucumber sandwiches, and gazpacho with pita bread is also worth considering. Caesar salads are also an option you will want to consider.

Remember that beverages should also be light. Sparkling water with fresh fruit for garnish works well. Flavored teas are also favorites this time of year. Desserts can include selections like shaved ice in several flavors or sherbets are also a great choice.

A Little Music for the Reception

It’s worth the money and effort to have a professional manage the music for the ceremony and the reception. A deejay can work with you to come up with the perfect set list for both. You can also ensure that the deejay controls the volume so guests can chat without having to talk over the music. When the time comes for the first dance as a married couple, the professional will know how to adjust the volume.

Work with a wedding planner to come up with the ideal venue and other elements. Start planning early on and it will be easier to ensure every detail is addressed. Above all, relax and let others take care of everything when the day arrives. All you should think about is enjoying the ceremony and the reception, and starting a new life with your beloved.

Top Outdoor Summer Activities For The Whole Family

Summertime provides a great opportunity for families to get together and enjoy outdoor fun. Your family can create fun activities and games that they can play together. Turn your backyard into a water park, a football field, or soccer stadium, all while using things that you have lying around the home. The following are a few fun activities to get your family excited about summer.

Soda Bottle Bowling

Don’t want to spend money taking your children to the bowling alley? Get a few empty soda bottles, line them up in your backyard in the shape of a triangle, and make your own outdoor bowling alley. You can make the project even more fun by painting the outside of the bottles and putting numbers on them. Or you can take photographs of your family and stick them inside the soda bottles. Do you want to enjoy a summer night with your family? Throw glow sticks inside the soda bottles and have the time of your life.

Go for a Hike

Unless you are visiting a national park, you can enjoy the beauty of nature for free. Most communities have hiking trails that are well groomed and monitored for safety. A quick search online will point out some of them. Many hiking trails are rated for difficulty. While you are on the trail, take the time to enjoy the beauty of the nature around you. Many families find that nature hikes are a great time to talk about their concerns, worries, and build a strong family bond.

Listen to Music Outdoors

One of the great things about summer is that it allows creative individuals to turn large open spaces into comfortable locations for people to gather. Most cities have free outdoor events, such as concerts or movie screenings. Make a night out of it by preparing a picnic meal as a family. Pack up delicious snacks, cold beverages, chairs, and blankets and enjoy each other’s company while listening to fun music or watching something entertaining.

Go to the Beach

Going to the beach is another awesome way for families to enjoy each other’s company and to enjoy nature without paying a dime. If you live by the ocean, walking on the beach will allow you and your family to enjoy wildlife, relax in the warm sand, and splash around in the rolling waves. If there is no ocean nearby, a lake or a pond offers a great way to enjoy the tranquility of gently rolling water, the greenery that usually surrounds the lake, and a variety of wildlife.

Gaze at the Stars

Although the stars are out all year round, in most places, cold winter weather means that you can only look at them through a glass window. During summer months, you and your family can lay in the backyard or breakout the telescope and gaze at the stars. Buy a star chart, or download a free or inexpensive app to make identifying the stars easier. You will be amazed at the way the sky changes throughout the night as the stars roll by. Getting a little fresh air before going to bed is a great precursor to a good night’s sleep.

Go Horseback Riding

Adults and kids love horseback riding. Horseback riding allows you to explore the terrain from a perspective that most people do not usually have. Many horse parks embrace years of equestrian history and equestrian traditions. Horseback riding takes a little patience and commitment. However, as parents and children alike gain confidence on the horse, their joy increases. Even a short horseback ride can lead to a child building a bond with the horse that will last a long time.

It seems like just as fast the summer comes, it disappears. Families should take advantage of the summer by spending as much quality time together as possible. Whether it’s riding a horse, enjoying an ice cream cone on the beach, seeing an outdoor concert, or just stargazing, make this summer one that the whole family will never forget.