Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Pinterest Link Up!

Welcome to the September Pinterest hop!  Grow your Pinterest following by linking up your account below!  Please be sure to follow others in the hop!
Please link up to your Pinterest account only, not to your blog or other social media pages!  This month we will have two link ups- the first one is to link up to your profile for people to follow you. The second one is to link up pins you want repinned!  
Link up your Pinterest Profile for follows here!  Please follow at least 3 new people when you link up!

Link up your pins here.  You can link 1-3 recent pins you would like repinned! Please be kind and repin others in the link up as well! We will also be pinning some of the posts in the link up to our Northeast Bloggers account!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five Hop and 5 Things to Do In Maryland This Weekend

Welcome to the Friday Five!  We invite you to link up your Friday Five post with us each week- any post of five things is welcome!  This week's Friday Five comes from state rep, Christina, who writes Mom’s Messy Miracles.

The Steppingstone Museum Fall & Craft Festival


At The Steppingstone Museum’s Fall & Craft Festival in Harford County, you’ll find educational activities for kids and adults. You’ll learn about the farm experience and how to how apple butter and apple cider! Kids will enjoy pumpkin painting, apple bobbing, hay rides, a straw maze and more! For the adults, there are plenty of crafters and food vendors as well as tours of The Steppingstone Museum. The event happens rain or shine, but it looks like it will be a beautiful weekend.

Visit a Zoo

No matter where you are in Maryland, there’s likely a zoo nearby. Check out the Plumpton Park Zoo in Cecil County, the Salisbury Zoo in Wicomico County, and The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

9th Annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival

This year’s Microbrewery Festival looks like it will be a hit! Located in Westminster, MD at the Union Mills Homestead, this festival will showcase the best of Maryland’s handcrafted microbrews from 14 breweries with over 30 types of beer. You’ll find food vendors, crafters with unique gifts for sale, live entertainment, and seminars about brewing.

Tour Oriole Park at Camden Yards

This is the first year since 1997 that the Orioles have won the AL East. This is a huge deal for Baltimore baseball fans! It would be a great time to take a tour of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. While on the tour, you’ll be able to see the dugout, the Press Level, the scoreboard/jumbotron control room, and the executive suite level.


Calvert County Fair


County Fairs are always fun! This weekend you can attend the Calvert County Fair to see farm animals, tractor pulls, and a ton of entertainment. At the Calvert County Fair, you’re bound to find something for everyone!

We love going to our county fair and wandering around looking at all of the 4-H projects!

And now it's your turn!  Link up your Friday Five post below & be sure to hop around and visit a few others in the link up!

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Septembers Photography Challenge Link Up

Welcome to our Photography Challenge!  This is a once a month challenge to take a photo that fits into the theme for that month.  This months theme is: FAVORITE.  The link up will remain open the rest of the month so everyone has a chance to show off their photos!

Please make sure to visit other blogs on this hop if you link up and leave a comment on their photo!
Remember to link up directly to the post with your photos fitting the theme!  You can have more than one photo in your post, but please only link up once each month.  Please do not link up to your blogs main page, this link up is for the photography challenge only! 

Be sure to join us for the September challenge next month! October's theme is: FALL and will take place starting October 23rd!
Do you have an favorite photo to link up for this months theme?  Share below!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blog of the Week: Dollar Store Diva

This week's blog of the week is Dollar Store Diva!  We interviewed Dollar Store Diva's author Nikki about blogging and living in the Northeast.  Meet Nikki!

My name is Nikki, I'm a PR and Health student at Salem State University. I'd love crack into the health communication field someday and make healthcare better and more affordable for everyone! I'm a cross country runner, food lover, Gossip Girl addict, and dog lover. I love zipping around in my motor scooter and riding on the back of motorcycles.

What is your blog about?
I have a lifestyle blog where I focus mostly on healthy eating and workout tips, shopping deals, style, and organization.

What is your favorite spot to visit in the Northeast?
Ahhhh you have to make me choose! Well, I'm from Massachusetts but I like 5 minutes from souther new hampshire. I'd have to say Rye or Portsmouth NH! However Bar Harbor, Maine and Marblehead MA are close, too!

What do you love most about blogging?
I basically get to create my own business with clients, and do what I love. 

What is your favorite form of social media?
Youtube/video streaming. Pretty much anything where you create something. If you put your hard work and creative juices in it, it deserves to be recognized.

Where do you live and what do you love about it?
I live in the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts but I go to school in Salem, MA. I love that I can access so many states so easily, and I can also access the beach and the mountains easily as well!

Thanks Nikki! Be sure to check out Nikki on her Blog and her Youtube Channel!

Are you interested in being one of our blogs of the week?  Let us know!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September Facebook Hop

Welcome to the September Facebook Hop!  We invite you to link up your blogs Facebook page below and then go visit and "Like" your fellow bloggers on Facebook!  Be sure to like from your personal page so the likes will count!

Please follow at least THREE new blogs on Facebook when you link up.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Ways to Save Money on Halloween Costumes

Halloween is quickly approaching and that means that we all have costumes on our minds!

With 5 kids that means 5 costumes, plus candy for trick or treaters and oh, my it adds up quickly! As a kid my mom made all of my Halloween Costumes—elaborate costumes too I may add…my mom made me an awesome Philly Phanatic costume when I was in 3rd or 4th grade.

I’m not creative enough  to make costumes from scratch however,  so I need to get creative with how I spend my money for Halloween costumes and I am always looking for easy ways to save on costumes while still allowing my kids to dress as the character they want.

My kids haven’t decided yet what they want to be yet but we will be finalizing those details soon so that I can start looking for the best prices on items needed for the costumes.

Ways to Save on Halloween Costumes

 Here are some easy ways to save when it comes to Halloween fun:
  1. Plan ahead for costumes—I have friends who buy costumes the day after Halloween for the following year. That way they get costumes at a great price and there is no stress in finding a costume at the last minute. Secondhand stores are also great places  to pick up costumes and since most are only won once for a few hours they are typically in great condition.
  2. Attend a costume swap-The second weekend of October is National Costume Swap day and many communities will be hosting costumes swaps that day.  If your community isn’t hosting one then why not start your own or even just get together with your friends to swap. We all have costumes in our closets and attics that we would love to get rid of.
  3. Think outside of the box—rather than buying a full costume from a store try and see if you can buy pieces and recreate the look on your own. For instance, have a child who wants to be Bob the Builder? Just dress them in jeans and a flannel shirt and buy a toy toolbelt and you have the look you want with out the expense of buying a costume.
  4. If your child absolutely has their heart set on a specific costume, make sure to start looking for it in early October. By looking for it early in the season you can make sure that you are getting the best price. Compare prices between the different retailers, check out the prices on Amazon and make sure to look for coupons to use.
  5. Finally, buying the trick or treat candy can really add up. My suggestion is to buy it gradually and stock up before Halloween night.    Buy a few bags each week in the weeks leading up to Halloween and put it away for the big night, that way it isn't a dent in your budget and you are all set and ready to go with no stress.

Megan Galko is the owner of NEPA MOM.com and lives in Northeast Pa with her husband, 5 children and one dog.  She writes about Tips and Tricks to Make Life Easier for Busy Families. Make sure to check out her website www.nepamom.com or follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/nepamom or  Twitter.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Friday Five Hop and Five Autumn Activities to do in the Northeast

Welcome to the Friday Five!  We invite you to link up your Friday Five post with us each week- any post of five things is welcome!  This week's Friday Five comes from state rep, Valerie, who writes In-Between Life.

The first day of fall is only a few days away and there’s a TON of things to do here in the Northeast! This area is notorious not only for our beautiful autumn scenery, but also all the fun fall activities to do. These are just five of a multitude of activities you can partake in whether solo, with your family or your friends. However, these five are very important fall activities that you should absolutely find time to do because it wouldn’t really be autumn in the Northeast without doing these! :)

1. Apple & Pumpkin Picking

Of course, there are so many different vegetables and fruits to be picked throughout the Northeast (all depending on what area you’re in) but these two have always been the most popular. There’s just something about apples and pumpkins that scream fall to me. This is such a fun and cute activity to do with your family on the weekend and the photo ops with the kiddos are endless. Grab some hot apple cider and cider donuts after you’ve made your picks and you’re good to go! The great thing about this fall activity is that it can lead to even more fall activities… such as baking an apple pie or pumpkin pie or the all-time favorite: pumpkin carving! (Maybe not a favorite for some of you because if you’ve done this before you know how messy and difficult it can be, ha!)

2. Haunted House or Hay Ride

Ahhh yes. With fall brings Halloween and the entire month of October tends to revolve around this awesome and fun holiday. This may not be a “kid-friendly” activity unless you have older kids, but it’s definitely something you can go out and do one weekend with your friends. Have a contest to see who can scream the loudest ;) There are so many places in which you can find the perfect “haunted house” and some are scarier than others. 

Also, you can either go on one of these fun and “fake” haunted houses that are always guaranteed fun and laughs, but if you’re into history or want something more authentic you can also visit actual “haunted” places. There are some pretty famous haunted places throughout the Northeast, such as Sleepy Hollow in New York and Salem in Massachusetts. If you’re from New Jersey, like I am, you may be familiar with Weird NJ that has a great list of all the weird and supposedly haunted places throughout the state. They've actually expanded their site so now they have "weird" and spooky stories for all the states! Check it out here. As the weather starts getting chillier, you may find the urge to give yourself a few haunted chills ;)

3. Hiking or Camping

This is the perfect time to go on a hiking or camping trip. Ideally, a day of hiking would probably be best since the temperatures drop significantly at night and you might not want to freeze your butt off in a tent! There are so many beautiful hiking trails scattered throughout the Northeast. No matter what state you reside in, you’re bound to find a great one. It’s also the perfect time to go hiking because the scenery can be amazing. The changing colors of the leaves combined with that crunch you feel as you hike through paths covered in crisp fall leaves is really one of the greatest parts about fall in the Northeast. Take advantage of a sunny Saturday or Sunday and go out hiking. This is one of those activities that can even be enjoyed solo (and maybe even the best when done alone) because it provides a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Surrounding yourself with nature can always bring clarity and peace to the mind.

4. Fall Festivals 

Festivals aren’t just for the summer, you know! There are plenty of festivals thrown throughout the few months of autumn. Since a lot of fruits and vegetables are in harvest during this time, there’s usually food-related festivals you can find in your area. If you’re a fan of craft beers, there are tons of Octoberfest related festivals, too. A lot of the farms that do apple and pumpkin picking throw festivals of their own, or sometimes towns throw their own “fall festivals” with tons of activities for the whole family. This is also a time when a lot of craft fairs take place.

5. Bonfires

Seriously, is there anything that smells more like fall then the smell of a bonfire? I love when it starts getting chillier out and you can smell coal burning (or whatever that smell is?) Obviously, you should check your state laws before creating your own bonfire because some places prohibit them. The best part about bonfires is you can create one in your own backyard. Invite some family and friends over and relax by the fire with some hot cocoa or hot apple cider. Perfect time to tell ghost stories, too! 

What’s your favorite fall activity?

Do you have a fall tradition you do every year with your family/friends?

And now it's your turn!  Link up your Friday Five post below!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Geocaching: A way to get outside in the Northeast

One great thing about living in the Northeast is the amount of things you can do outside. With plentiful options, there is sure to be something for anybody who likes the outdoors.

There’s hiking trails all over, mountains to climb, bike trails to ride, sports to play, and games to get you out and about.

Geocaching is one of those games.

Several years ago, I had been looking for something to get me outside and active, well more than I already was. It was early 2008 and a friend said he saw something about this game – geocaching. He owned some GPS units, so we decided to give it a try a week or two later.

Despite it being in the middle of the winter, we went at it on a crisp winter afternoon. We found five that day, and I was hooked. I originally posted a bunch of this on my blog a couple of years ago and now I want to share it with others – so that maybe you can also become a geocacher and see the fun in the game. One of the best parts about it is that it’s extremely family friendly. This game can be fun for people of all shapes, sizes, ages and physical abilities. It’s truly a way to get people outdoors and exploring.

What is geocaching?

Simply put, geocaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt. People use GPS receivers (hand-held) or a smart phone (Geocaching.com has an official app) to find something that somebody placed. You could be looking for a large ammo can, a small lock-and-lock container or a nano — which is a small metallic container the circumference of a dime. The containers can be clever or easy.

Remember to sign the log!

Geocaching began in 2000. Most geocachers who have been in the game for a bit know Dave Ulmer as the “father” of the game. He placed the first “geo stash” on May 3, 2000 in Oregon.

He placed a cache and posted the coordinates on a Usenet group. Within three days, it had been found twice. This cache was mostly buried (which is no longer accepted) and contained things such as computer programs, videos, books, a slingshot, money and a can of beans.

The original cache is no longer there, but there is one in its place as well as a plaque commemorating the spot as the place for the first geocache.

The idea of the game is simple. You get the coordinates for a cache. Go find it. From there, the minimum requirement is to sign the log and replace the cache as well or better than you found it. If the cache contains any swag, which is usually just dollar-store items or the like, you can trade things out. But you should always try and trade equal or above value.

How do I play?

First, steer your browser to Geocaching.com. Sign up for a free account. Then, you can search for caches.

(Note: there are some other geocaching sites — such as opencaching.com — but geocaching.com is still considered the No. 1 place to go as it features the most geocaches listed).

At a minimum you need to have some version of a GPS. Garmin is my personal choice, but there are some other good hand-held units out there. With the onset of technology, too, most smartphones can be used for geocaching. Groundspeak — the owners of geocaching.com — have apps available on the iPhone and Droid for geocaching. People have even used their iPads to geocache. That makes life even easier as it can use your location and find the nearest caches. Realize, however, that the GPS in the phones isn’t as good as most hand-held devices.

Ammo cans (usually green) are always a welcomed sight. The gold ones are often placed in honor of someone reaching 1,000 finds.

Basically, after you sign up for an account on Geocaching, you can plug in an address and find caches nearby. Plug those coordinates into your GPS — or use your smartphone — and go find it.

Before you go, however, read the description. Get an idea of what you are looking for. That will make life easier. I would suggest making your first few finds a larger container, so you can see what is out there.

Once you get to the area, start looking. Look for a spot that might hide something. Does anything seem out of place? Check around closely. Don’t always rely on the GPS. Once you are within 10-20 feet, start looking. Coordinates aren’t always going to be perfect as people have different GPS units and the weather could have played havoc when it was originally placed.

One thing to always remember — be aware of the difficulty and terrain ratings listed on the geocache page. Each are numbers 1-5 with one being easy and 5 being the hardest. Keep those in mind when you go searching. When starting out, you should probably keep it at 2.5/2.5 and under for a few caches to keep yourself in it. You don’t want to do the hardest ones, come up short and get disheartened!

Once you find the cache, sign the log. Trade some swag if you wish, but when done, put it back where you found it and make sure it’s hidden!

After that, log your find online. Go to the cache page, leave some comments for the owner and enjoy the game.

It’s that simple.

Types of caches

The following are the ones you’ll likely come across during your geocaching adventures. Note that this is not all the caches, rather ones you’ll come across more than others.

Traditional cache: The original type of cache. It’s, at its most basic, a container and log. They can range in size, so make sure you pay attention to the size listed on the cache page.

Multi-cache: This means there is more than one location. So the first one will lead you to the second, and so forth, until you reach the final. Again, it could be many different sizes — at each stage.

Mystery cache: This is also known as a puzzle cache. Basically, you’ll have to solve or do something — either before or in the field — to get the real coordinates. When you see this, make sure you read the cache page very closely!

Letterbox hybrid cache: Letterboxing is something that pre-dates geocaching. Basically, you get clues on how to find a letterbox. In the end, there’s a stamp that you stamp your book with. The idea is the same here — often these caches are sharing a spot with the letterbox. Stamps are also there. basically a traditional with a different icon.

Event cache: You won’t be finding a container here, rather a bunch of geocachers getting together to hang out, eat or do other things. This is the social aspect of the game and usually a lot of fun.

EarthCache: Again, you won’t find a container. This is something where you’ll have to do some things to learn an Earth science lesson. They can be really easy or quite in-depth. Again, read the cache page so you know what you’ll have to do when you get there!

Virtual cache: Though these can no longer be hidden as they are archived from that, there are many still there to be found. These won’t have a container, but you’ll have to find something or do something (such as take a photo). There are some places (such as Washington D.C.) where there are many of these available to find.

Hiding a cache

I would suggest you find a bunch of caches before placing any. Though it’s tempting to go out and hide some so you can see people find it, the hides are better once you have some finds under your belt and you know you are going to continue the game.

Remember, if you place a cache, you have to maintain it. Once you have found a bunch of caches and want to hide them, check the geocaching website for rules and such.

Other parts of the game

There are some aspects to keep in mind when caching, specifically about the things you might find in a cache.

Geocoins can come in different shapes, sizes and looks. As nice as they are, they usually aren't for keeping (unless you bought them for your personal collection or someone placed it in the cache with the idea of someone getting to keep it!)

Something else to know about are travel bugs and geocoins. These, most of the time, are not keeper items. These are meant to be moved from cache to cache. They get logged on the geocaching website when you find them and then you drop them in another cache and note that when you log the cache.

Pathtags are similar in that they have a tracking code, but usually these are in there as signature items, so you can trade for it and keep it. You should still log it on the Pathtags website as it will show the owner where it was picked up. When you log those, you’re basically putting a tack on a map.

Then there are signature items. These can range from pencils to wooden coins to business cards to artsy things to other items — but they are things that cachers leave behind to show they were there. These can be considered swag and you can trade for these items. A lot of people collect signature items. For me, personally, it’s pretty much the only things I’ll trade for.

There’s the regular swag, too — trinkets, toys, DVDs, books — all sorts of stuff. Sometimes it’s a themed cache. Sometimes it’s normal, cheap swag.

That’s the basics of geocaching. I don’t want to overload anyone with the game. I’ll re-visit this soon and get a little more in-depth on some items. But this should, hopefully, get you rolling on playing the game. If you have questions, post it in a comment or drop me a line!

Most of all, have fun! Geocaching can take you some wonderful spots and hopefully, it will take you to some places you’ve never seen!

P.J. blogs at A ‘lil HooHaa about geocaching, baseball, homebrewing, living with diabetes and countless other topics. Feel free to stop over and say hi!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blog of the Week: Sweet Catastrophe

This week's blog of the week interview is with Diana who writes the blog Sweet Catastrophe.  Meet Diana!

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Tell us a little about you:   
Hey there, I'm Diane and I blog over at Sweet Catastrophe. I'm a Target shopping machine - seriously though I'm there at least twice a week! I have two adorable cockapoos, Tobie & Mia. I'm a fan of green tea, pumpkin spice lattes, popcorn, reading and so much more!
What is your blog about?  
Everything! But I guess SC could be classified as a lifestyle blog if I had to pick. I blog about make-up, fashion, the crazy things Tobie & Mia do, my recent diagnosis and battle with Meniere's Disease and more. I hope you will stop by!
What is your favorite spot to visit in the Northeast?
That's a tough one but I have to pick Ithaca, NY located on beautiful Cayuga Lake. The town itself has a laid back vibe with good food and lots of wineries. There are waterfalls, great hiking and of course the lake for boating and swimming - it's perfect!  

What do you love most about blogging? 
The learning opportunities and the community. I was so naive when I first started SC, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! Along the way I've met some wonderful people who have taught me so much. It's been such a blessing!
What is your favorite form of social media?
Instagram! I love sharing my pictures and being able to see yours! It's a great way to connect on the run. I treat it like a visual diary!
Where do you live and what do you love about it?   I have lived near Harrisburg, PA for the past 2 1/2 years. The area is so diverse. There is hiking, great food, shopping, festivals, apple orchids and more. Plus I'm only a short drive from Baltimore, Washington DC, and Gettysburg if I'm looking to do something different!
Thanks for the great interview Diana!  Be sure to check out her blog Sweet Catastrophe this week and say hi!

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