Gear up for family adventure

Must-haves for exploring the great outdoors

Get out and enjoy the great outdoors with these proven products that will keep you going – climbing, camping, fishing, hiking, mountain biking and doing whatever you do in the wild, in style, comfort and with gusto.

Get down tonight

When the weather outside is frightful, it’s time to get down. Really good down. Every outdoors aficionado knows that not all down-filled puffy jackets or sleeping bags offer the same warm, wearability and durability.

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The difference is the quality of the down. ALLIED Feather & Down insulation is the industry gold standard, with superior loft, proprietary multi-wash cleaning and drying process for freshness allergen-free comfort and certified as sourced ethically and responsibly. Look for ALLIED Feather & Down in top-rated outerwear and sleeping bag brands like Slumberjack, Helly Hansen, and The North Face.

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Puffed up

Cuddling up by the campfire or huddled in a camp chair for a chilly soccer game, the Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket ($159) provides a comfortable layer of warmth that goes anywhere. This all-purpose throw blanket, made with the same technical materials found in premium sleeping bags, comes in bright colors and patterns, including the latest design, a collaboration between artist and outdoor adventurer Stickfort and camping gear companies Rumpl and Yakima, is a beautifully printed blanket inspired by the Pacific Northwest sunset. A portion of the proceeds will directly benefit the environmental preservation non-profit group Friends of the Columbia River Gorge.

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Lock and ride

Most cyclists love their bikes, but they don’t love lugging around a heavy, bulky bike lock for securing their wheels when they park. The lightweight but sturdy Otto DesignWorks Ottolock ($55 and up) is a tough, smash-proof cinch lock that is compact enough to tuck one into a pocket or seat bag. They unlock using a resettable, three-number combination, so there’s no key to keep track of—perfect for a stop by the brewery at the end of a ride.

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Boom tunes

Remember the boom boxes of yester-yore, balanced on a shoulder and pumping out tunes people could hear a block away? The go-anywhere compact bottle-sized BoomBottle MM ($129.99) has captured that grand, satisfying surround-sound acoustics of the famed traveling stereo with its two 12W speakers and two 45mm passive radiators, providing a full-range of crisp highs and deep bass tones, all situated in an IP67 rated dust and waterproof enclosure. This rugged, waterproof wireless speaker can travel anywhere, and it even has a MagicMount magnetic base to keep it stuck to metal surfaces. Available at Costco and other retailers.

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Soft hands, warm hearth

Out in the wilderness, catching dinner, chopping wood, and building a bonfire, your hands can get dry, rough and sore. Take along Lansinoh’s HPA® Lanolin Minis and apply soothing salve to hands, lips, heels and any exposed skin that needs protection from the elements. Originally developed as a nipple cream for nursing moms, this ointment is 100 percent natural, containing just a single ingredient, HPA Lanolin, providing a barrier layer that hydrates skin without perfumes or other harmful additives. A three-pack of .25-ounce minis is $10.99, available at CVS and Walmart.

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Eyewear for life

Good eye wear is more than a fashion statement, but who says you can’t look stylish while shielding your peepers from glare? Sunski sunglasses, the recycled plastic eyewear that supports the environment with every pair sold, are ideal for the beach, the mountain, or anywhere the sun shines. Sunski’s polarized lenses protect her eyes from harmful rays, and they stay put thanks to a fit for active lifestyles. Designed by San Francisco surfer dudes and tree huggers, Sunski frames, are quality crafted from industrial scraps and guaranteed forever.  Available at sunski.com. $55-$68, kids frames ($38) also available.

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Best foot forward

As Del Griffith expressed so eloquently, nothing’s worse than when your dogs barking. Whether you’re pounding the pavement, hiking through the woods, or standing in a stream in waders all day, your feet will thank you if slip Sof Sole insoles into your footwear. Freshen up the insoles of an old favorite pair of boots or give new life to your worn-out trail running shoes with the Sof Sole Airr Insoles ($27.99), for all-day comfort of a COOLMAX moisture-wicking top-cover and the and shock-absorbing relief of Polymer Gel that your puppies will love.

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Patch it up

A great down jacket will last for a decade or more, but accidents happen, and that’s why there’s NOSO Puffy Patches. Fix up those tears and snags in your favorite outerwear with this permanent rip-stop nylon fixer that will seal up holes in your coat, backpack, sleeping bag, tent or other gear with just the sun or a clothes dryer to activate the adhesive. They come in six colors and 13 shapes that are so fun and stylish, you might just want to stick them on for fashion. $14.95 for a pack of 3.

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Eat, love, tell

Pack a picnic basket that will tantalize your taste buds, with True Story Foods, purveyors of ethically sourced meats that are wholesome and delicious. Every meat-loving and health-conscious foodie will find something tasty to chew on, like organic apple & wildflower honey chicken sausages, organic grass-fed beef hot dogs, or organic bacon and tenderloin from Non-GMO fresh pork. The culinary carnivore on your list can enjoy premium flavor every day in a brown-bag lunch, with sliced deli cuts like black forest ham, oven roasted turkey breast or uncured Italian dry salame.

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The latest in tech to keep you smart and charged up in 2019

Stay smart and charged up year-round with new gear for the New Year

Smart stuff

Never again have that empty feeling when you run out of your favorite snack, with Weplenish ($39.99, Amazon). This amazing smart endless snack dispenser takes count of your snacks and automatically re-orders them when the container is running low. Weplenish also holds your favorite k-cup brands like Starbucks, Green Mountain, Nespresso, Dunkin Donut etc., and is compatible with a variety of snacks like KIND Bars, RXBARs, GoMacro Bars, Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, and Keebler’s Cookie Variety Pack.

Smells like millennial spirit

Add some atmosphere to your living or work space with Moodo, the first smart aroma diffuser. This room-freshening device sends scents into air with the touch of a button, using an app on your phone, or on the device itself. You can even link it to Alexa or Google Home and control the fragrance with voice commands. Starter packs ($189, with special sale pricing up to 40 percent off) include one aroma diffuser and three scent families. Refill capsule collections are priced at $17.94 to $29.90.

Cable keeper

If you love to be plugged in, but you hate the tangle of cables on your desk or nightstand, you will love the Cable Wrangler ($19.99). Created by Austin-cool Silk, makers of a variety of unique smartphone cases, wallets and accessories, this upholstered magnetic mound will hold her cables with a satisfying “click.” For non-metal cables, the holder features tiny metal collars to place around the necks of those pesky errant cables.

Get your headset in the game

Get into the game with the Audio Technica ATH-PG1 ($129), a headset for serious gamers with immersive audio that makes you feel inside the action. The 44 mm drivers provide powerful, lively sound specially tuned to accentuate all the sonic detail of the gaming environment. The closed-back, lightweight headset stays on snuggly with complete comfort, allowing extended play. The ATH-PG1 also comes equipped with a flexible, 6″ boom microphone for live-sounding in-game voice communication with other gamers, or you can use the headset for everyday media listening, and even for calls and controlling audio and video on smartphones and other portable devices. Compatible with PS4, iPad, iPhone, laptops, PCs, and other gaming devices with standard 3.5mm TRRS connector.

Eh I?

If the new era of tech has got you thinking, then The Fourth Age (Atria Books, $23.25 in hardcover, Amazon), Byron Reese’s thoughtful new book about smart robots, conscious computers and the future of humanity will give you some virtually real intelligence to ponder. Reese, the CEO and publisher of the technology research company Gigaom, offers this essential reading for anyone who enjoys probing the deeper questions about how tech has revolutionized our society and our very selves. The Fourth Age will make you wonder, and it will make you smarter for your next dinner party convo, or online chat.

Hit the Hi-Fi Bottle

Remember the boom boxes of yesteryore, balanced on a shoulder and pumping out tunes people could hear a block away? The go-anywhere compact bottle-sized BoomBottle MM ($129.99) has captured that grand, satisfying surround-sound acoustics of the famed traveling stereo with its two 12W speakers and two 45mm passive radiators, providing a full-range of crisp highs and deep bass tones, all situated in an IP67 rated dust and waterproof enclosure. This rugged, waterproof wireless speaker can travel anywhere, and it even has a MagicMount magnetic base to keep it stuck to metal surfaces. Available at Costco and other retailers.

What’s old is new again

Kids of all ages will enjoy a trip in the way-back machine via Bandai Namco Flashback Blast ($18.88, Walmart). This collection of old-school classics, such as Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, Galaxian, Mappy, Sky Kid The Tower of Druaga and Xevious, will take you back to when video games were simple and pixelated. The game set includes a wireless controller and HDMI dongle that easily connects wirelessly to your HD TV, for hours of timeless fun.

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It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

Moodo smart-release fragrance diffuser spruces up your home, apartment, or office

Add some atmosphere to your holidays with Moodo, the first smart-home aroma diffuser. This room-freshening device sends scents into air with the touch of a button, using an app on your phone, or on the device itself. You can even link it to Alexa or Google Home and control the fragrance with voice commands. The small plug-in warmer device contains cubbies to drop in four pod-like capsules of fragrance, like Floral Musk, Spice Market or Eucalyptus Nights.

The capsules come in four-pod collections of complementary scents for mixing, for up to 400 combinations. Using the app, you can blend the fragrances to the scent you like, and you can turn up or down the intensity of the fragrance to suit your senses.

You can customize your fragrance mix, or you can use pre-set blends such as Alpine Wood or Holiday Spirit, which releases more of some scents and less of others to give just the right aroma you want. The diffuser can be left on all day or only when you want fragrance; and the scents are safe and clean-releasing, without any residue on furnishings.

 

For the holidays, the Winter Scent package contains Xmas Cookies, Xmas Tree, Snow Angels and Fireplace capsules. So even if you have an eco-tree (fake), you can pump up Xmas Tree for a journey to a Canadian Forest in winter, with the soothing scent of Fir needle, Fir balsam and Cedar tree oil.

12 gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for woman on your holiday gift list

Gifts for the woman who has everything

Forever Flowers

She loves flowers, but she wishes they would stay fresh and beautiful forever. Venus et Fleur eternity roses are her bouquet dreams come true.  These preserved and perfectly formed roses last a year or longer, displayed elegantly in their special vase containers, such as crystal clear acrylic or luxurious leather boxes. Also available in custom collections, these exquisite and fragrant blooms can be exhibited like a museum treasure. From single minis ($39) to abundance bouquets of dozens ($499 and up).

Down Matters

With a uber warm cost by Helley Hansen, like the stylish Svalbard 2 Parka, ($325), your favorite outdoorsy gal can get down and get warm, literally. The difference in this jacket is the quality of its ALLIED Feather & Down insulation. This legendary fill is the industry gold standard, with superior loft, proprietary multi-wash cleaning and drying process for freshness allergen-free comfort and certified as sourced ethically and responsibly.

The clog she’ll love

When she’ stepping out, for a fast jaunt to the mailbox, to walk the dog, pick up a few groceries, or joining her buds for après ski, her tootsies will be toasty in Stegmann wool clogs ($125). These comfy clogs wear like winter flip flops. They slip on quickly and are easier than pulling on her boots, perfect for around the house, or out running errands. These quality crafted sustainably manufactured classic clogs have earned their workhorse reputation as the timeless slip-on show that has been keeping feet luxuriously warm and comfy for decades.

Luxurious linens

Give her sweet dreams, pampered in stylish luxury bedding from Loomstead. The lavish and unique designs of these fine yet affordable bed linens complement the high-quality sustainably sourced Belgian flax and Egyptian cotton fabrics, offering a soft, crisp and comfortable experience. The simple and modern Cotton Coverlet ($200) will freshen up her bedroom and the natural linen materials will keep her warm in winter and cool in summer.

Smooth operator

Make her feel good all over, free of stubble on her legs, underarms and bikini area, with the Luminess Silk and Smooth Body, a gentle shaver that removes unwanted hair anywhere, by lifting hair off skin and cutting if at the root – with zero cuts, shaving bumps, or skin irritations. This compact, battery powered girls’ best friend uses sonic technology to sheer unwanted hair wither wet or dry, and its gentle enough for daily use.  $49 at luminesscosmetics.com

Smart stuff

She will never again have that unfulfilling feeling when she goes to get her favorite snack, and the box is empty with Weplenish ($39.99, Amazon) . This amazing smart endless snack dispenser takes count of your snacks and automatically re-orders them when the container is running low. Weplenish Also holds her favorite k-cup brands like Starbucks, Green Mountain, Nespresso, Dunkin Donut etc., and is compatible with a variety of snacks like KIND Bars, RXBARs, GoMacro Bars, Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, and Keebler’s Cookie Variety Pack.

 

She’s with the band

Active gals who work and play hard may love their betrothed but hate their uncomfortable wedding band, which is why Fixate created a variety of quality silicone rings ($8.95 – $24.95), ideal for the gym, outdoors, construction site, watersports, and just about everything she does on a daily basis. Made with premium medical-grade silicone in a variety of ring sizes, colors, shapes and designs, she can wear this band wherever.

Eyewear for life

When she wants to make a fashion statement and a statement about sustainability at the same time, she can frame her face in stylish Sunski sunglasses, the recycled plastic eyewear that supports the environment with every pair sold. Whether she’s at the beach or on the mountain, Sunski’s polarized lenses protect her eyes from harmful rays, and they stay put thanks to a fit for active lifestyles. Designed by San Francisco surfer dudes and tree huggers, Sunski frames, are quality crafted from industrial scraps and guaranteed forever.  Available at sunski.com. $55-$68, kids frames ($38) also available.

Second skin

Whether she’s out in the wilderness, on the slopes or out for run, she will feel comfortable and warm wearing a Kora ($160) base layer. This snug-fitting sweater, made of 100 percent pure Himalayan yak wool fabric, conforms to the body with an ergonomic 3D fit and insulates for an effect of 40 percent more warmth than comparable merino fabrics. Styled for maximum body coverage with and extra-long length and zip-up neck collar, the Kora can be worn in comfort all day.

Live by the knife

She can chop, dice and slice up a meal like a pro with Michelin-Star-Chef-approved Edge of Belgravia’s Galatine cutlery ($167 for the 7-piece set).The bold, sleek jet black knife collection gets its name from the magical sword that the Lady of the Lake gave to Sir Gawain. The blades can be stowed in their own unique holder, the Black Diamond Knife Block ($99), a half-utility, half-piece-of-art, in which the knives appear to magically float. Available online and in retailers nationwide including Bed Bath and Beyond.

Cable keeper

She loves to be plugged in, but her OCD makes her hate the tangle of cables on her desk or nightstand, she will love the Cable Wrangler ($19.99). Created by Austin-cool Silk, makers of a variety of unique smartphone cases, wallets and accessories, this upholstered magnetic mound will hold her cables with a satisfying “click.” For non-metal cables, the holder features tiny metal collars to place around the necks of those pesky errant cables.

Puff mommy

She can snuggle up by the campfire or on the sofa with the Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket ($159). Made with the same technical materials found in premium sleeping bags, this go-anywhere throw blanket will keep her cozy and warm in any environment. The latest design, a collaboration between artist and outdoor adventurer Stickfort and camping gear companies Rumpl and Yakima, is a beautifully printed blanket inspired by the Pacific Northwest sunset. A portion of the proceeds will directly benefit the environmental preservation non-profit group Friends of the Columbia River Gorge.

Crystal Duffy’s near-death experience during pregnancy led her to help other mothers

When her high-risk pregnancy endangered her life and her babies’ lives, she used the experience to teach other moms how to better communicate with medical caregivers

Crystal Duffy went into her high-risk pregnancy like many other mothers, trusting in her doctors and expecting the best outcome. As many expectant mothers learn, things don’t always go as planned. In Duffy’s case, at 21 weeks, she had a “gut” feeling something was wrong. She talked to her doctor and underwent tests that showed that her twin daughters shared a single placenta. Duffy never knew that the crucial information about one or two placentas could mean the difference between life or death, for her babies and herself.

Duffy, who was age 29 at the time, was experiencing an uncommon but serious complication of pregnancy called placental abruption, which occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery. If untreated, the condition could result in the babies not getting enough oxygen or nutrients, which could cause premature birth or stillbirth. For the mother, the risk is hemorrhaging and bleeding to death during delivery.

Duffy and her doctors collaborated and determined that she should undergo an in vitro surgery to correct the problem, and they decided she should deliver her babies early, at 30 weeks. Duffy’s delivery went as well as could be expected, though she spent two months on extended bed-reset and her premature infants spent 38 days in NICU. The traumatic experience of finding out about her life-threatening pregnancy complication and then having to make crucial decisions to save her life and the lives of her children proved a transformative experience for Duffy and her family.

To help other mothers and families facing similar situations, Duffy wrote a book, Twin to Twin: From High-Risk Pregnancy to Happy Family. Duffy’s twin daughters are now four years old, and they are healthy and happy sisters to her oldest daughter, who is six, and Duffy feels her emotionally, physically and spiritually transformative experience has given her the strength, knowledge and inspiration to help others through their journey of a high-risk pregnancy.

Duffy’s book gives practical advise to mothers regarding how to communicate with their doctors and form a partnership with them. She also advises mothers to learn everything then can about their pregnancy and possible complications, so that they are prepared if something does go wrong. Duffy urges mothers to speak up, ask questions, and to trust their inner feelings about their pregnancy, since they know their bodies better than anyone else. Through the book, Duffy aims to equip mothers to handle all aspects of their pre- and post-natal self-care, from dealing with anxiety to finding creative outlets and otherwise staying mentally healthy while home caring for a newborn.

Taking a challenging episode of her life and making it into a positive is part of Duffy’s message to other mothers. She has become an advocate for mothers experiencing high-risk pregnancy, and she now dedicates herself to educating other mothers, by serving as a patient advocate on advisory boards at hospitals and through TV appearances and involvement in raising awareness for campaigns such as of Preemie awareness month in November and Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) Awareness Month in December. She is also a leader in a movement #ChangeTheConversation, which encourages doctors and mothers-to-be to communicate more effectively, to improve pregnancy and delivery outcomes.

Their Voice Rescue Raises Funds with Help of Local Restaurant, Works to Find Dogs Forever Homes

“Plate it Forward” Event at Front Royal Houlihan’s Raises $600 to Support Care of Rescued Dogs Until They are Adopted

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Last month diners at Front Royal Houlihan’s Restaurant enjoyed a good meal that did a good turn for rescued dogs, at Plate it Forward,” a community fundraising event.  The restaurant donated 15 percent of all food proceeds on July 15 to the organization Their Voice Rescue, and diners made donations and bought merchandise, amounting to a total of $600 raised at the event. The funds will go toward the feeding and care of 11 dogs the charity is sheltering as they seek permanent homes for the animals.

 

“We at Their Voice Rescue, and the loving dogs we care for as they await their forever home, are incredibly thankful for this opportunity. We had such a wonderful time meeting members of the community and discussing with them the hard work we do helping dogs that were formerly in kill shelters or puppy mills,” said Ellen Furhken, a spokesperson for the group.

 

Their Voice Rescue focuses on rescuing dogs from high-risk kill shelters from around the country. The dogs are temporarily housed on a 50-acre property 9n Delaplane, Virginia, where they are nurtured while they await adoption. Many of the dogs were rescued from animal shelters where they were destined for euthanasia, or they are rescued from puppy mills, where unethical breeders cage dogs and use them solely to produce offspring, often neglecting them and abusing them. Other dogs brought to Their Voice Rescue were lost or abandoned after a natural disaster.

 

Since the organization formed in March 2018, it has aided in the adoption of seven dogs. Their Voice Rescue is currently providing foster care for 11 dogs, with more dogs on their way to the shelter. Six of the dogs are available for adoption: two border collie mixes, Oreo and Brando, who are both almost two years old and playful and loving; Tod is a three-year-old husky mix who enjoys learning tricks and going on walks; Curly, Peanut and Cardi B, which are six-month-old chiweenie puppy siblings.

“We are so thankful to our community, and to Houlihan’s, for supporting the cause of giving a voice to animals in need as we work to save our canine friends from high-risk kill shelters,” said Furhken. “Animals give us so much, and we want to help them by giving them a voice.”

 

Learn more about Their Voice Rescue at www.theirvoicerescue.org or by visiting them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theirvoicerescue and Instagram at www.instagram.com/theirvoicerescue.

Stuff you need for summer, when the weather is hot, the pool is cool, the kids are out of school

Here’s what you need indoors and outdoors, for fun in the sun and summer entertaining

Glide through summer

Cruise through the neighborhood, head to the pool, or coast over to your BFF’s house, and arrive like a rock star on the Razor Hovertrax DLX 2.0. This ultimate Nirvana-on-wheels hoverboard features a self-balancing deck that makes it easy to mount and maneuver, and the anti-slip rubber traction platform lets you stay in control for a smooth and easy ride. The exotic finishes and multi-color LED lights will make your entrance memorable, and the 60-minute extended-life battery will keep you going for the long haul. The powerful but silent motor can move you at up to 9 miles per hour, and the shatter-resistant polymer frame and fender bumper keeps your board looking sweet ride after ride.

Mighty bike

The bike paths beckon over summer break, and the serious cycling kid will love power peddling through the neighborhood or catching some air on an Islabike, the Rolls Royce of specialized bikes for young riders.

This high-end brand of bikes, created by renowned British bicycle designer Isla Rowntree, respects the young rider with quality construction and attention to detail never before seen in a child’s bike line – down to the option of the child’s name embossed on the frame.

 

Built as light as possible and ergonomically sized for children’s bodies, Islabikes fit and feel right for kids. As youngsters in their formative years hone their skills, the Isla design gives them the advantages of a high-performance bike, preparing them for the next level of competitive riding, or recreational cycling at its finest.

Cool for the pool

Summer is for lounging, and for hanging at the pool or lake, so why not combine the two with the Airhead Sun Comfort Cool Suede Zero Gravity Lounge. This upright floating lounge allows you to feel weightless as you relax in a comfortable position for reading, tanning or checking out the views, while you keep cool with a beverage in the convenient drink holder. String up the lounger through the molded rope holder and tether yourself to docks, buoys, boats or other loungers. Available in three vibrant colors of sapphire, line and raspberry.

Cookies that complete you

Kids at camp compare care packages, so make sure your little camper has snacks that rule. Load ‘em up with an assortment of cookie goodies from Complete Cookie by Lenny & Larry’s. These freshly-baked protein packed cookies are vegan-friendly, non-GMO and free of soy/dairy to appease a wide array of dietary needs and come in a variety of flavors like the scrumptious Double Chocolate, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and more! Their new 2oz cookies with 8 grams of protein & 5 grams of fiber is the perfect size to satisfy hunger and give them the energy to paddled across the lake.

Fat is where it’s at

Headed out for a day of summer sporting? Power up with FBOMB’s all-natural macadamia nut butters, with plenty of energizing good fat, which is what the “F” stands for. Each 1-ounce snack pack is a handy squeezable pouch of deliciously creamy, low-sugar nut butter with nut bits, all gluten-free, non-GMO, vegetarian, keto- and paleo-friendly. Available in three flavors: Macadamia with Coconut, Macadamia with Sea Salt, Macadamia Pecan with Sea SaltSalted Chocolate Macadamia.

Ferociously good snacks

Sleep in on the lazy days of summer and let the kids make their own breakfast, or snacks, with Kodiak Cakes, exclusively at Target. The brand known for their protein-enhanced Flapjack & Waffle mix offers a wide range of whole-grain protein-packed breakfast treats and snacks in self-contained cups with powdered ingredients that can be stirred up with a little water or milk and microwaved for a mini-meal or muffin in about a minute. Flavors include Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cup, Blueberry Muffin, Homestead Cornbread, Buttermilk & Maple Flapjacks.

Get Jaded

Entertaining indoors or outdoors, a summer scented candle adds an ambiance to your gathering. The fresh, sweet aromas of the Jaded Candle collection will elevate any space, with clean, refreshing fragrances. Jaded candles are handmade from 100-percent pure soy and contain no additives, chemicals or colors. The natural ingredients ensure a healthy, soothing aroma for any occasion, in seasonal scents including Himalayan Bamboo, Hydrangea, Island Hibiscus.

Chem-free pest control

When the summer months arrive, so do insects. Keep them out of your home and away from your family naturally with EarthKind’s Stay Away fast-acting pest repellent products. In the form of sachet-like pouches doused in botanical oils that humans find pleasant smelling, but bugs hate, these products ward off all kinds of pests, from mice and spiders to ants. The pouches are powerfully effective yet contain no poisons or toxic baits, and can be used anywhere indoors, in kitchens, pantries, closets and basements. Sold at Target.