When Was the Last Time You…?

Do you ever feel like time is speeding up and your best days may be behind you? Perhaps it is because there are some enjoyable things you used to do in your younger days that you no longer experience. Perhaps it is time to ask yourself when was the last time you…

Had a Creamsicle, Fudgesicle or Nutty Buddy?

Most of us have fond memories of ice cream from our youth. Maybe it was a visit to the local ice cream shop or a stop from the ice cream man in his truck. Perhaps it was just at home. Visit the ice cream section of your favorite grocery and see what old favorites they may have from your youth. A few dollars can buy a trip back in time. 

Rode a bike?

A lot of adults still ride bikes to commute, for recreation or for exercise. Many others haven’t been on two wheels in years. You know the old expression “You never forget how to ride a bike?” It is only partially true, but you will quickly get the hang of it again. It may spur you on to a new healthy activity in your adult life. 

Played pool?

Call a friend and ask them to go out and play a game or two of pool with you. You don’t need to be good to enjoy it. In fact, it may be more fun if you both are just bad.

Went swimming?

Whether it is a community pool or a hotel, getting into a pool and swimming or even just relaxing can be amazingly rejuvenating. Nobody really cares about how you look in a bathing suit and everyone else is just as self-conscious too!

Tried a food you’ve never eaten?

Ordering the same thing from your favorite restaurant again? How about exploring some new options? It may even just be an appetizer but trying new culinary experiences may lead to some new favorites!

Looked at old photos?

Tired of binging videos? Dig out some old photo albums or review your collection of photos in the cloud. It may bring back some great memories and create some laughter and smiles.

Had an insurance review?

Odds are it has been far too long. Reviewing your insurance may not be as tasty as having a Fudgesicle or as enjoyable as playing pool with an old friend, but it may it just save you some money. Contact one of our independent insurance agents for a free insurance review and quote. 

Five Recent Fads That Came and Went Quickly

It seems in the past, fads would last perhaps a summer or two. Hula hoops, mood rings and even bell bottoms seemed to have at least some staying power. Today, fads disappear almost as quickly as they catch on. Here are five recent fads that were gone in a blink.

Fidget Spinners

They were a toy, a stress-reliever and they gave those trying to quick smoking something to do with their hands. They were also annoying for many parents and teachers. These hand held gadgets, like most fads, really didn’t do anything. But somehow they caught fire quickly. Kids soon began modifying them into increasing dangerous toys and weapons. For a while in 2017 you would see them everywhere from convenience stores to specialty shops. They manufactured them in wild colors, they lit up and they made noise. Then they quickly went bye-bye, although they are still used in some forms of physical and mental therapy.

Planking

Planking became popular in the United States in 2010. It is part dare, exercise and comedic posing. Generally, plankers have their hands at their sides and stiffly pose face down in unusual positions. Of course, the fad wouldn’t exist without cellphone cameras and social media. There are those in fitness who believe planking is a terrific form of isometric exercise.

Selfie-Sticks

Wow, for a minute everybody had one of these to provide varying points of views of themselves in a pose. Quick frankly, they were handy in taking wider group shots. They quickly became banned by amusement parks and sports arenas and users became shamed in public. Never has a fad had its moment come and go so quickly.

Rear Pocket Messages

While guys had their sagging pants, girls tended to move toward using their jeans, in particular the rear end of those jeans and shorts, to send a message. From the cute to the seductive, it seemed everyone had something to say. When a word or two wouldn’t do, designs and “bedazzling” could step in. Pockets, no pockets, it really didn’t matter.

Pokemon

To be fair, Pokemon has been around for years. It was the virtual/digital game, however, that took over the world for a few months. This mobile game was played on smartphones, detecting virtual game characters and pieces on the screen that couldn’t be seen in real life. This led to a variety of accidents and incidents which led to injuries to players who were too focused on the game. It also led to charges of trespassing and unwanted crowds in public areas. At least it got young people outside if not away from their phones.

Fads are a blend of orchestrated marketing, organic happenstance and today, are often the product of social media. It is hard, if not impossible, to predict what’s next.

America’s Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions

If you were asked to guess the most frequently made resolution made every New Year’s, what would you say it is? Many would guess “losing weight.” The reality is however, “losing weight” isn’t at the top of the list or even second. What are the New Year’s resolutions that most in this country decide upon?

1. Exercising More

While closely related to losing weight, actually exercising more frequently is the most popular of all the New Year’s resolutions made in this country. A full 50% of people of make resolutions identify exercise as one of the items on their priority list heading into the new year.

2. Saving Money

Following exercise, financial concerns makes the most popular list for New Year’s with 49% including “saving money” on their agenda. Saving money can include everything from turning off lights in unoccupied rooms to putting back a certain percentage of your income each month. It could also include a free, no obligation insurance review, by the way, should you have “saving money” among your resolutions.

3. Eating Healthier

About 43% of people who make resolutions will mention healthier eating among them. This is not always easy as eating healthier is often more expensive than eating fast food. Perhaps that is the reason so many place “saving money” at #3.

4. Losing Weight

Here it is (pun intended) the elephant in the room when it comes to the 4th most often mention New Year’s resolution on people’s lists. About 37% of those making resolutions place “losing weight” in the top four. It is actually encouraging that most recognize that exercising and healthier eating habits are critical to losing weight.

What is on your New Year’s resolution list this year? If saving money is among your goals, we invite you to contact us for a free insurance review and price quote from one of our independent insurance agents. We can review your automobile, home, life, and even business insurance policies and get quotes from multiple companies. All combined, the savings could be significant. Contact us today to get started.

Resolve to start the new year right with an insurance review and quote by giving us a call today!

You’ve Never Been Where???

More of us are planning road trips in the future, giving us new opportunities to explore places we may never have been to before. While these places may be ‘overdone’ as tourist destinations, everybody should visit them at least once.

Niagara Falls

People travel from all over the world to see this natural wonder, yet many of us here in the United States have yet to make the trip up north. There’s a lot more here than water falling over a cliff. You can stand underneath the falls, take a white water trip, visit Goat Island and even visit a nearby casino. While in the area, have some original wings in Buffalo, visit one of the many regional wineries or take a day trip to Toronto, just about 70 miles up the road.

Washington, DC

It seems many of us visit the Nation’s Capital as children, but rarely return. Visiting Washington as an adult can even be more rewarding. Much of what you can see and visit is either free or priced affordably. The hotels in the area, however, are another story.

New Orleans, Louisiana

You don’t have to visit during Mardis Gras to experience New Orleans fully. It seems every week there are festivals, concerts, parades and parties in the streets. Be sure to explore beyond the French Quarter and Bourbon Street to the French Market, Riverfront, Audubon Zoo and more.

Las Vegas, Nevada

If you’ve avoided Vegas because you don’t gamble, you are missing out on an amazing amount of other attractions. There are big name live shows, amusement rides, and you are just a day trip away from the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. Even if you never put a quarter in the slots, the casinos are amazing to stroll through. Most area hotels have world-class pools where you can rejuvenate and enjoy the Vegas sun.

Chicago, Illinois

Not often thought of as a tourist destination, Chicago is often the place you stop on the way to somewhere else. The city though, offers world-class museums and a Zoo, the Navy Pier, professional sports year around, great shopping and night clubs and a beautiful lakefront. Foodies will love the selection of ethnic foods available in the city and, of course, their famous deep dish pizza and Chicago hot dogs.

If you find yourself heading to the same destinations each year, spread your wings and explore. Any of the cities above can offer a great week or weekend of fun.

Questions to Ask Your Grandparents this Holiday Season

We all have different relationships with our grandparents, at least those who are fortunate enough to still have them around. If this holiday season affords you you the opportunity to visit with them, you may be able to strengthen your relationship while learning something along the way. It starts with asking some interesting questions of them. Make sure your questions will illicit some thoughtful, pleasant and positive answers that may bring some smiles to their faces. Here are a few to consider.

How did your grandparents meet?

Almost everyone reflects back fondly on how they met the loves of their lives. You may also find it interesting how the stories differ if you have the chance to talk to both grandparents.

What was the most fun they ever had?

This may range from something they reflect back on from childhood or even something they recently experienced. You both will enjoy the smiles as they mentally go through the files of pleasant memories from the past.

What is it they would still like to see or do?

You don’t want this to be a reflection of regrets but a focus on possibilities. Perhaps there is something you and/or the rest of your family can help them accomplish or experience.

What live concerts have they been to?

Of course this will vary greatly depending on their age. What performer was their favorite? Who did they go with and how did they get tickets? Do they still listen to the music? Who would they have liked to have seen in person?

Did they ever win anything?

They may have been on a TV game show or won a prize in the lottery. Then again they just may answer no. If they did win something, it is likely it was a pleasant experience they will enjoy recalling and telling you about.

Do they have any hidden talents or skills few people know about?

Ask about sports, musical instruments and art. They may even have a good impersonation of a famous person.

What advice would they give their “younger-selves”?

Here’s where you can pick up some wisdom without feeling like they are trying to direct your life. They may offer solid advice based on personal experience.

What is their favorite movie of all time?

Why is it their favorite film? When was the last time they watched it? Could you make a “date” with them to watch it together with some homemade popcorn?

If you never quite know what to say to your grandparents, ask for a few minutes with them and pose some questions to them. Keep it fun and light and be sure to share some of your own similar experiences. It just may be the greatest gift they get this holiday season.

Five Communities That Always Have the Christmas Spirit

This is the time of year when holiday lights, decorations and the Christmas spirit are everywhere. There are, however, communities who have made Christmas and the Holidays a year-long tradition. If you love this time of year you will enjoy visiting anyone of these five communities that always have the Christmas spirit.

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Home of the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth, Michigan has built a year long business based around the holidays. Bronner’s claims to have over 50,000 holiday-related items in stock all year long. The town is known as “Little Bavaria” and is home to a Silent Night replica chapel. There’s not always snow on the ground here, but it can seem like it!

Christmas, Florida

East of Orlando, visitors to the Space Coast may find themselves in the tiny town of Christmas, Florida. The biggest attraction is the town may be the mailbox where Christmas greetings may be postmarked from “Christmas” all year long. Of course there’s a gift shop and a giant concrete alligator nearby.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Is it any wonder this town was founded on Christmas Eve? As if “Bethlehem” didn’t explain it well enough the community also carries the moniker of “Christmas City, USA.” You can even stay at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem in the town, built in 1922. That is, of course, if there is room at the inn.

Santa Claus, Indiana

This small Indiana town gets tens of thousands of letters from children every year. It is also home to the Santa Museum and Village. Hotels in the community include the Peppermint House, the Gingerbread House and Santa’s House. Interestingly enough there is no Ho-Ho-Hotel.

Helen, Georgia

This Bavarian themed community in the middle of Georgia provides a ton of activities yea round from horse drawn carriage rides, to zip-lines to a number of arts and crafts like woodworking and glass-blowing. This town really steps it up during the holidays however, with their annual parade, community decorations and Christkindmarkt.

For some, Christmas comes too soon, for others it doesn’t come often or soon enough. There are places you can find the spirit alive all year long. Happy holidays!

7 Childhood Games to Ask Your Parents (or Grandparents) About

Did you ever wonder what kids did before video games or smartphones? Before there were digital social networks, there were kids who gathered in their neighborhoods, almost every evening in some cases, to participate in a variety of sports and games. The games would continue until being called home for supper. Often, the games continued after dinner, until it was dark or “the street lights came on.“

Beyond the traditional game of baseball or game of tag, what were some of the games that were played to while away these hours each night? Here are some of the games to ask your parents (or grandparents) about.

“500” or “5 Bucks”

This was a baseball related game that centered around a single player who would either hit a baseball with a bat, or throw the ball to a group of players in the filed. The goal was to become the first to reach “500” or “5 Bucks” depending on the specific game. Upon reaching the goal, the fielder would then become the batter or thrower. Each type of “hit” had varying values. A fly ball, for example, when caught cleanly, was worth 100 or $1. Fielding a ball on one bounce was worth 75, two bounces, 50 and a ground ball was 25. Players who muffed the play would be penalized the worth of the play.

Red Rover

The game starts with two equally numbered teams facing each other about about 20-25 feet apart. Each team member held the hands of the people next to them as to form a “wall”. One team calls “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (player) over.” and the named player charges the other team trying to break through the linked hands. If successful, the player selects a player from the team he broke through and returns with that player to his original team. Should he not be able to break through, he becomes a part of his new team The winning team is the one left with the most, or all, the players.

Kick the Can

All you need to play this game is some empty space and a can. When played as teams, one team hides while the team stands in the center area near the can. After counting to a certain amount, players on the team that is ‘it” must try to protect the can while eliminating the competition through tagging them. If a player from the attacking team kicks the can before being tagged, his or her team wins.

Four-Square

Four-square is played with a basketball sized ball with at least four players, all on a large square, divided into four corners. The “King”, or person in the fourth square, serves the ball to another player who must allow the ball to bounce once before hitting it to another player. All hits must be underhand and when a player misses, they either sit out or go back to the number one square, depending on how many are playing. Players rotate up to the “Kings” position as players ahead of them miss-hit the ball.

Hide and Seek

One player closes or covers his eyes while counting to a pre-determined number. The other players take this time to “hide”. The first player found then become the seeker for the next round. The last player found wins that round.

You could also ask parents and grandparents about such classics as Blind Man’s Bluff, Capture the Flag, Mother May I, Simon Says, Hopscotch and others.

 

Are Heirlooms a Thing of the Past?

There was a time when just about every family had cherished heirlooms. Perhaps it was a silver tea set, piece of antique furniture, set of China or work of art. Today, however, it seems many of these heirlooms are becoming a thing of the past. What is contributing to the demise of the family heirloom and do they still exist? What can we do to make sure items of financial and emotional worth are kept in our families? Here’s a quick look at why heirlooms just may becoming a thing of the past.

Changing Lifestyles

One of the reasons heirlooms like tea sets, China plates, punch bowls and even silverware are no longer kept and handed down through generations is the change in our modern lifestyle. We just don’t formally entertain like we used to. For formal dinners, we are more likely to go out to a high-end restaurant than unpack Grandma’s China.

Space

Many older homes had formal dining rooms with space for a China cabinet that could hold plates and crystal glasses. These formal dining areas have largely given way to great rooms and larger multi-purpose entertainment areas. In addition, many families just don’t have the storage space for items, even if they were kept in boxes or bins.

Younger Generations are Less Attached

Younger generations are less attached to “things”. There seems to be less desire for ownership. This is why so many younger people rent until much later in life or rely on ride-sharing or public transportation as opposed to purchasing a car. With less of a desire for ownership, the need to own heirlooms lessens.

The Changing Definition of “Heirloom”

While this may seem sad on some level, there is still a lot to be said for items being handed down generationally. Items that are crafted or handmade by a family member are especially valued in families today. Items like knitted blankets and quilts can be cherished for years. Hand crafted wooden toys or other hand made items can carry high significance.

If you want to be remembered, consider giving a family member a gift of something you made yourself. If you have neither the skills, talent or inclination to make something yourself, consider giving an engraved item. Personalized, engraved items are rarely disposed of and can carry as much, if not more meaning than a few boxes of China.

If you have items that have been handed down through the family, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking family members if they have a desire for them. If not, however, don’t be offended. Heirlooms may not quite be a thing of the past yet, but times are changing.

The “Flying Nun” and Other Wild TV Show Premises

For 82 episodes from 1967 to 1970, American families were presented with a fresh-faced Sally Field who played the role of Sister Bertrille, a nun who had the amazing ability to fly. The Flying Nun was curious on several levels. First, it attempted to logically explain Sally’s ability to fly based upon the combination of her light weight, the high winds available at her convent, and the highly starched habit or head covering, worn by the nuns. It also was amazing it lasted for 82 episodes.

The Flying Nun was by far not the only wild premise for TV shows. Here a some others you may have missed.

My Mother the Car

If you think the title is clever, it is not. It is about a son’s mother who comes back in the form of his antique car. Yes, she talks through the radio.

Mr. Ed

What could be more fun than a horse that talks? The answer is one that is smart enough to know when to talk and when to act like a horse in order to create chaos in his owner’s life. Yes, it was all nice and fun until viewers realized fishing wire was used to control the talking motion of the horse’s lips and mouth. Goodbye Willlllburrrr.

My Favorite Martian

Bill Bixby played a young newspaper reporter and Ray Walston starred as 450 year old Martian in this comedic series that begins when Bixby saves Walston’s character after his spacecraft crashes. “Uncle Martin” has the ability to turn himself invisible, has telepathic powers and can either freeze or speed up the motion of people and objects. This premise was used time and again in television as My Favorite Martian begat Starman who begat Mork who begat Alf who begat…, well, you get the idea.

Cop Rock

This show happened in such a blink of the eye many still don’t remember it. Think LA Law with random choreographic and musical numbers scattered throughout its plot lines. Cop Rock only lasted 11 episodes that were so bad, they have obtained cult status.

Television history is scattered with programs based on odd premises, some achieving remarkable levels of success. I Dream of Jeannie, Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched and others were huge hits on television while launching the careers of noted actors. There had to be bumps along the way.

Six Women Who Made a Big Impact on Modern Music

When you think “Rock Star” you likely think of the men who reached exceptional levels of success in the music industry. Names like Sinatra, Elvis, Springsteen, Hendrix and others conjure visions of large, screaming crowds. What about the women in music who have impacted the industry dramatically? Many times the impact of these women went beyond their on-stage performances. Here are just a few.

Dianna Ross

Not only did Dianna Ross lead the legendary Supremes to success in the mid-sixties, but her talent, star power and determination led her to an amazing solo career that even included appearances on the big screen.She may be the definition of “Star”.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin’s raw, powerful, bluesy voice broke the mold for woman of her time. She was neither dainty or classically “pretty” but her voice and talent were undeniable. Singers of her genre are still compared to her to this day. She was simply impressive.

Whitney Houston

Whitney began singing in church as a young girl and never stopped until her unfortunate premature death. Her incredible voice and Hollywood good looks boosted her amazing career spanning film and music. Her rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” even became timeless.

Dolly Parton

Who doesn’t like Dolly? Singer, songwriter, movie star and amusement park mogul, Dolly has had a lengthy career that has spanned decades. Her infectious smile is backed with a lifetime of caring works outside the industry.

Madonna

Like her or not, there is no disputing the impact Madonna has had on the music industry. She has continually been able to reinvent herself through a long career of musical and film hits. No Madonna and there is likely no Gaga.

Aretha Franklin

She became “The Queen of Soul” in 1967 while in her mid 20s and never gave up the crown. She also carried the banner of black empowerment and performed at the funeral for Martin Luther King Jr. where she sang “Precious Lord” She will, however, most likely always be remembered for “Respect”.

Who you admire as a female rock star may have much to do with when you grew up and the style of music you were exposed to. Any of the above, however, are shining examples of women who led the way.