Why Sell Your Home in the Winter?

Many home owners think that winter time is NOT the time to put your home on the market.

What do you think?

The inventory of homes for sale tends to dwindle during the winter months. Right now, interest rates are very low. So, if there are buyers in your local market, you may be at an advantage selling when most sellers are waiting.

Read more from Lowe's Inman News.

Pay only $100 down and own your next home!!!

The United States Housing & Urban Development (HUD) is offering several new sales incentives on HUD homes that will make these homes more affordable for home buyers.

* $100 down payments on HUD Homes financed with Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured financing
* Sales allowances that can be used to pay closing costs, make repairs, or pay down the mortgage amount

$100 Down on Colorado Springs Foreclosures

That's right, $100 down through FHA financing (620 FICO score or higher) and you can buy your next home. This program will be in place for the next 12 months. Previously, you had to put down 3.5 % of the purchase price. Qualifying buyers can put just $100 down to buy a HUD foreclosure in El Paso County. This program is available to buyers who intend to occupy the home after purchase; not for investment buyers.

What is a HUD home you may ask? Any home that was financed with an FHA loan that was foreclosed on is a HUD home. When someone with an FHA insured mortgage can’t make the payments, the lender (or bank) forecloses on the home. FHA then pays the lender what is owed and then HUD takes ownership of the home and lists it for sale.

I am a Real Estate Owned (REO) / Foreclosure expert in the Colorado Springs and El Paso County areas. I would be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have regarding HUD homes for sale or this $100 down program. Contact me today at 719-963-4867 or email me at springslifestyles@gmail.com

To learn more about HUD programs, visit the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development website. To learn more about the $100 Down Program in Colorado Springs, I found Tom Camp's article here to be very informative.

Low Mortgage Rates & Home Buying

Mortgage rates at all time lows

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is currently 3.82%, down 13 basis points from 3.95% at this same time last month. After peaking at 4.1 percent, the 30-year fixed mortgage rated hovered between 4% and 3.95% for the rest of the month, before falling to the current rate.

The rate for a 15-year fixed home loan is currently 3.18%, while the rate for a 5-1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is 2.75%.

Two great reasons to buy a home

Make money with somebody else's money: The best part of buying a house is, what other investment enables you to use somebody else's money to make money? That's exactly what happens when your house appreciates in value and you sell it for a profit.

Even though you still owe money on your mortgage, the people at the mortgage company don't make you share the proceeds with them, now do they? What a deal. And to make this profit, you don't have to overhear a brilliant stock tip or try to comprehend bond rates. All you have to do is pay your mortgage.

Take in the tax benefits: Don't forget that home ownership comes with lucrative tax benefits. The first benefit starts the moment you move in. The IRS allows you to deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage from your federal income taxes.

It's the government's way of supporting home ownership. Here's another tax treat, courtesy of Uncle Sam. If you make money on a business or a bond, you have to pay capital gains taxes on the profit. But if you sell your house at a profit, the gain is tax free up to $250,000.

Four steps to take before buying a new home

1. Find out how much home you can afford. Before you do anything else, find out how much home you can afford. To do this, look online for a quality mortgage calculator (Zillow has one that works well). Mortgage calculators show you how much home you can afford based on your income, an average interest rate, and the length of the loan.

You also need to calculate your debt-to-income ratio, which shows the amount of your income that goes toward paying your debts. The higher your ratio, the less likely you will qualify for a home loan. Find out if you can get a mortgage before you begin searching for your dream home. If your debt-to-income ratio is more than 36 percent, you should think about getting out of debt, or at least reducing your debt immediately.

Your credit score also plays a role in your loan eligibility. If you have a higher credit score, you will be eligible for better loan rates. If you have a low credit score, on the other hand, you should first learn how to improve your credit score before you get pre-approved for a loan.

2. Get pre-approved. Take the time to get pre-approved before you begin looking at homes. In fact, many real estate agents won''t work with you until you have received pre-approval for a mortgage. Regardless, you should look to get pre-approved anyway. You might find the perfect home, and then find out the bank denied your loan application. This heartbreaking scenario wastes your time and your agent's time, too. I have several mortgage brokers that I highly recommend and would happily refer.

3. Find a real estate agent. Once you've improved your credit score and you know how much home you can afford, you need to find a great real estate agent. Your agent acts as your representative, provides you with information about market prices, and helps you find a home. Because you are reading my blog I hope that you will send me an email or call me so that I can talk with you about your home buying needs.

4. Take stock of your financial situation, again. By the time you get ready to buy a home, you may be sick of thinking about money. After following each of these steps, look at your available income one more time, and review your short- and long-term financial goals.

Fall Back

If you live in the USA or Canada, Daylight Savings Time 2011 ends on November 6, 2011. This means that, at 2am, we "fall back" and gain an extra hour of sleep (or nightlife). Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; as well as most of Saskatchewan and some parts of BC, Nunavut and Quebec, do not observe Daylight Savings Time.

Treats, not Tricks: Keep Halloween in Safe Hands - Your Family's

Safe & Sound Trick or Treating
Teach Your Kids

Start by taking your kids, not sending them
Add to the fun by including other families
Find a "family-friendly" neighborhood (even if you must drive there)
Escort young children to the door; instruct them never to enter a house

Have children use the "buddy system" - pick a partner and stick together
Avoid close encounters with candles - in and out of the jack-o-lanterns
Light your way by remember to take flashlights
Leave dark houses behind; no porch light, trick-or-treaters are not welcome
Observe safety sense; cross streets at intersections after looking both ways
Wear comfortable costumes that don't obstruct vision; use reflector tape if needed
Educate your children about "stranger danger" in age-appropriate ways
Equip yourselves with cell phones or 2-way radios
Nibble candy at home after a thorough checking by parents

Winter Home Protection Tips

Fall into Winter Home Protection

service man and furnace

Simple Tips to Help Protect Your House

For many, fall is a favorite time to be outdoors. Be sure to include these routine home maintenance steps among your autumnal activities.

  • Clean your gutters. Overflowing water from clogged gutters can damage your roof and lead to cracks in your home's foundation.

  • Replace damaged/missing shingles. Cracked, broken or missing shingles leave your roof exposed to the elements.
  • Trim trees and bushes. If you let trees and bushes grow too close to your home, they can block the sun and lead to water damage.

  • Have a professional tune your furnace. By having your furnace checked and tuned by a professional, you can reduce temperature variations, improve air quality and protect against carbon monoxide.

  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors run on batteries, check them at least once every season.

  • Put unused lawn equipment away. If you've finished with your lawnmowers, clippers, rake and other implements for the season, put them away in a safe place for next spring.

  • Have your chimney checked. A professional chimney sweep can evaluate the condition of your chimney and, if necessary, clean it to get rid of creosote, which is flammable and can be dangerous.

  • Winterize sprinkler system. Drain and winterize your sprinkler system as well as hoses that are attached to a downspout.

  • Sealing windows and doors. Seal and caulk around windows and doors to keep drafts out and the heat in.

These aren't the only maintenance tips to follow, but they should give you a good start on keeping your home safe and secure this autumn. Take action soon but please consult with a professional where appropriate.

*much of the above information was taken from www.amfam.com article

For Sale: Ranch home on 5 acres with mountain views

Colorado Ski Pass

Are you a Colorado skier? I am so excited that ski season is fast approaching!

Do you have a 5th or 6th grader? If so - you'll want to check out Colorado Ski County USA Passes to learn how your 5th grader can ski for FREE or your 6th grader for only $99 (ski for 4 days at one or all of the 21 member resorts for only $99 total).

Whether you enjoy skiing Arapahoe Basin, snowboarding at Copper Mountain, kickin' up powder at Winter Park or trying your luck at Monarch on their black diamonds ~ you should check out this deal if you have a 5th or 6th grader. If you don't - enjoy your ski season anyway! ;)

Stressed-out by home clutter? Don't agonize.... ORGANIZE!

If clutter is threatening a takeover, divide and conquer!
Household clutter tends to take on a life of its own. What starts as just a few items here or there can end up as a mountain of stuff that seems impossible to manage. Deal with "incoming clutter" - flyers, newspapers, bills, mail, kids school papers - by handling it once, and immediately either acting on it, filing it or tossing it. Then when you need to pay a bill, it won't be hidden under a pile of useless papers. "misplaced clutter" is items like toys, books or clothing which just need a quick trip to their home....toys to the toy box, shoes to the closet, etc. By following a few easy rules, you can trim that clutter down to size and finally eliminate it!

How to start organizing
Organizing your home doesn't have to be a battle, but you do need a battle plan. Don't try to organize your house in a day. Pick one area and start there. Think of it as a "non-clutter zone" that you will expand each day. If you make serious commitment to organization in family areas, then family members can use the same principles in organizing their own spaces, such as the home office. The important thing is to start somewhere!
Maintain your clutter-free home
It's a wonderful feeling to get ride of clutter, but unless you think and act in a new way regarding "stuff," you'll wind up right back where you started. So, spend ten minutes every morning on a quick pick-up. Getting organized and maintaining a clutter-free home is one of the best steps you can take toward a stress-free life. For additional tips on organizing and de-cluttering your home, visit the following websites and put together a plan that's right for you and your family.

The Clutter Cutters - Local Colorado Springs Family Manager Coach, Cari Pemberton

Organized Home - Great tips and ideas on getting & staying organized

Clutterbug - How to gain peace of mind by organizing your home

Take Charge of your credit

Who Knows More About Your Finances?
You - or your automobile salesman?
Gone are the days when a hopeful couple sat across the desk from their local banker anxiously awaiting his decision on their loan application. Today, the fate of their loan and the rate of their interest hinges on a computer-generated number - their credit score.

What's the score?
The FICO credit score reflects dozens of parameters in one's financial history. For years, this number - named for developers, Fair, Issac & Company - was a tightly guarded secret. Congress has now secured your right to know.
  • Score 700-850 - smooth loan process; best interest rates
  • Score 550-699 - medium risk; higher interest rates
  • Score 300-549 - sorry, rarely a loan or credit card is offered
Know your score
Are you soon hoping to purchase a new car? a new home? remodel your home? send a child to college? Before you talk financing, send for your credit report and FICO score. If there are errors or other surprises, contact creditors to make corrections or negotiate settlements. Also, be sure to notify the credit bureau of your dispute. Legitimate black marks on your credit won't disappear quickly. (it takes seven years; ten for a bankruptcy.) However, time and your diligence can turn things around. Lenders will give recent responsible activity due consideration.

In our credit-driven society, taking charge of your credit should be an on-going process. Your FICO score is a snapshot in time, not set in concrete. Review it each year for errors that may have crept in and to monitor your progress. You have the power to know it, raise it, maintain it.

* Pay all bills - and pay on time * Too many credit cards or zero cards
* Maintain 2-4 credit cards * High non-mortgage debt
* Close unused credit or store cards * Delinquent accounts
* Keep balances well below the limit * Frequent job or address changes
* Pay more than the minimums * Charge Off's (bills marked uncollectible)
* Establish long-term credit history * Bankruptcy


Equifax Information Services, LLC 800-685-1111 www.Equifax.com
Experian 888-EXPERIAN www.Experian.com
TransUnion LLC Consumer Disclosure 800-888-4213 www.TransUnion.com

If you are interested in being put in touch with a lender for pre-approval for a home purchase or to refinance your current loan, please contact me. I'm happy to recommend several lenders that I work closely with and trust.
Laughter is the best medicine
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Get your beauty rest
Cliches? Or truths to heed?

As this century rolled into existence, average U.S. life expectancy hit an historic high: 77 years - up from an average of 47 years just a century ago. But how will Americans spend those extra years? Shuffling weary bones about a nursing home or playing shuffle board on a Caribbean cruise?

Do you remember being surprised to learn the age of a coworker or new friend? They look and act ten years younger - or older. Have you ever done that back-pedaling trick when you mistook someone's sister for her mother? Once past puberty, guessing a person's age can be tricky. Is there a secret to looking and feeling youthful?

From hormones to herbs, fighting the effects of time is big business. "Snake-oil salesmen" are alive and well with "magic" pills to restore the vitality of youth, grow hair, smooth thighs or wrinkles. The truth is that we are more than physical beings and no one pill or potion (or surgery) can reverse the advancing years.

The real "magic" lies in wise life decisions made in all areas of our humanity. In fact, laughing more, eating fruit, and sleeping that extra hour are not merely cliches, but examples of practical day-d-day choices that can add up to more years in your life and more life in your years.

Regardless of age, you can "live younger", reduce the risk of disease, and look forward to a future characterized by well-being and independence.

It's Easier Than You Think to LOOK younger:
Flossing your teeth wards off infection & helps your immune system 6.4 years younger
Work puzzles to maintain mental sharpness 2.5 years younger
Laugh to reduce tension that deteriorates health 1.7-8 years younger

Take a look at Real Age: Live Life to the Youngest for helpful articles, health & diet information as well as a complete personal profile and live "As Young As You Can Be".

Most Americans Couldn't Tell You What Their Home Is Worth

I want you to be one of the few who are informed. You know the genuine value of "home and hearth", but do you know the dollar value of your house? Or how much of that value belongs to you? A number of key decisions can be more wisely made with the benefit of this knowledge.
  • Is your home adequately insured? If disaster were to strike, would your insurance cover the losses? In California, a state known for wild real estate escalations and wild fires, many devastated homeowners have learned the hard way that their homes were under insured.
  • Is your estate plan based on a realistic estimate of your home's worth? Assuming you have provided a means for your assets to be distributed upon your death, will your plan minimize the tax burden your heirs may face? Underestimating home equity could force loved ones to sell the family homestead to cover inheritance taxes.
  • Could your home mean more to your family than just safety and warmth? Could home equity be put to use in financing your children't college education? Funding a business? A more active retirement plan? Home improvements?
  • Do you know how to measure the value of your home? A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is the only tool that provides current pricing of homes in your style in your area. With a recent CMA and knowledge of your home's condition relative to others that have tested the market, you can know an accurate dollar amount for your home.
Contact me today if you would like to know the worth of your home and receive a complimentary CMA. I would be happy to stop by, take a closer look at upgrades and improvements and provide you with a more in-depth, personalized analysis.

35th Annual Colorado Springs Balloon Classic THIS WEEKEND

This event is held in Memorial Park, in Colorado Springs, off Pikes Peak Avenue between Hancock Avenue and Union Boulevard near the shores of Prospect Lake from Sept. 3rd - 5th.

Mass ascensions of dozens of balloons are scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings with a Balloon Glo® scheduled for Saturday and Sunday evenings. Each year a variety of concessions are available and entertainment is provided during each event. Admission for spectators is free!

Per city ordinance - no pets are allowed in Memorial Park during the Colorado Balloon Classic.

The park is filled with festivities all day long. It's recommended you arrive at the park by 6:00 am to be a part of all the activities and walk the field and be next to the balloons as they inflate and take off! The evening Balloon Glo activities start at 5:00 pm with the Glo started at dusk/dark. For more information, visit their website.

What Size Moving Truck Do You Need?

When you are moving and need to rent a moving truck, it's important that you know the size of the truck you need. Moving trucks can be very expensive to rent, especially when you are moving a long distance away. It's always best to make sure you have the smallest truck that is still large enough for all of your stuff to save money.

  1. Search through your house to see how many things you will need to be putting on the moving truck. Make a note of all of the large things in your house like your living room and bedroom furniture. If you have any other large things that will need to be packed you should take note of these as well.
  2. Call the moving truck rental company that you are planning to use. Ask them what size trucks they have to choose from. Typically they will have several different sizes. In most cases the larger the moving truck's size, the more expensive it will be to rent.
  3. Ask them which one they suggest using. Normally they can give you a general idea of the size of moving truck you should use by knowing how large the place you are moving out of is.
  4. Take what the moving truck rental company has told you into consideration. After you have done this, determine if your particular living space fits the description you gave them. For example, if you told them that you are moving out of an 800 square foot one bedroom apartment, then make sure you are accounting for any garage or storage space you may be using. If you do have extra space with more things to move, you should consider renting a moving truck that is one size larger.
Taken from a Merchant Circle article by gasman.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Off to a Good Start

Shy...fearful...excited...apprehensive. From kindergarten to college "back to school" is filled with emotion. Whether moving to the next grade or the next school, children need parent support.

What if you were required to change jobs every year? Just when you began to feel capable in your work, you would get a new boss, a new office, new co-workers, new responsibilities. THAT'S what it feels like to go back to school. Acknowledge the jumble of emotions your child may be experiencing and reassure him/her.

Cool clothes, the right backpack, lunch box, notebook and calculator. The average American household spends nearly $500 preparing their offspring for the fall migration back to school. The most valuable gift you as a parent can give your school-bound children, however, doesn't cost a cent ~ your enthusiastic partnership in their education. Research studies have shown time and again that excellence in student achievement is closely linked to active parent participation.

Parents Make a Difference!
Children of involved parents have better grades, better attitudes and better behavior.
  • Develop a relationship with your child's teacher. Volunteer in the classroom; go on field trips. Don't miss Back to School Night or teacher conferences
  • Instill a love of reading. Have good books available for your children at every age
  • Limit TV and video games
  • Spend time helping your child with their homework, playing a game, going on a walk
  • Know your child. If you suspect a learning disability, take advantage of the vast resources available. Your school-age child has a right to an evaluation and accommodations to give him/her the best education possible
  • Be available. Talk frankly with your children about values you want for them
You are the first and most important teacher your child will ever have. Don't underestimate the value of your contribution!

Federal Housing Finance Agency Reports Interest Rates lower

The average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loans of $417,000 or less decreased 13 basis points to 4.79 percent in June. These rates are calculated from the FHFA’s Monthly Interest Rate Survey of purchase-money mortgages. These results reflect loans closed during the June 24-30 period. Typically, the interest rate is determined 30 to 45 days before the loan is closed. Thus, the reported rates depict market conditions prevailing in mid- to late-May.

The contract rate on all mortgage loans (fixed- and adjustable-rate) was 4.61 percent in June, down 14 basis points from 4.75 percent in May. The effective interest rate, which reflects the amortization of initial fees and charges, was 4.74 percent in June, down 13 basis points from 4.87 percent in May.

Information from RISMEDIA, July 29, 2011

Free Admission on Mon, Aug 1st to any of Colorado's 42 state parks

Colorado State Parks will celebrate Colorado Day, Monday, Aug. 1 by offering free entrance at all 42 state parks. Colorado Day was created by the state legislature to mark the anniversary of statehood, granted in 1876 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Free entrance at the state parks is an annual Colorado Day tradition. Learn more at Colorado State Parks Home Page and find out what parks are near you and go exploring!

Shop at BORDERS for discounts

Borders bookstores are now closing (due to bankruptcy) and store closing sales are going on with discounts up to 40% off. Call or visit your local Borders store to learn about their discounts. You only have until July 31st to redeem any rewards points or Borders Bucks you may have accumulated, so don’t delay!

If you have gift cards, they’ll be accepting them through their entire store closing sale and at Borders.com.

Donate & Receive FREE FOOD at Chick-fil-A

MONDAY, July 25th - Take at least 2 non-perishable food items to any Colorado Springs Chick-fil-A location on Monday and receive a FREE original or spicy chicken sandwich. Donations will be given to Care & Share Food Bank. Please be generous with your donations.

What are you doing this weekend?

Looking for some fun things to do this weekend around town? Here are a few things happening in Colorado Springs this weekend.

Friday, July 22nd:
Enjoy BBQ on the patio at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post tonight from 5-7pm for only $7.50.

After dinner, head to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo for stargazing at the mountaineer sky ride. Only $5 for adults or $4 for kids. From 8pm - 10pm. Soar over the zoo as the sun sets and enjoy learning about astronomy and gazing at the stars.

Saturday, July 23rd:
Downtown Colorado Springs Food Tour from 2:30pm - 5pm $49/person - tour also includes Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.

5th Annual Colorado Springs Beer Fest noon - 5pm at Antlers Park with free parking at Antlers Hilton parking garage - hosted by Old Chicago. Advance tickets are $20; at the door $25

Free Family Adventure Day at Bemis School of Art between 10 am - 2pm with a free docent led tour of the Fine Arts Center at 12:30pm.

Sunday, July 24th:
Shivers Concert An Evening of Inspirational Song at Packard Hall, Colorado College. $5-$15; concert starts at 4pm.

Of course, this is just a sampling of events around town this weekend. You can check out more by visiting http://www.coloradosprings.com/

Have a fun & safe weekend

2011 U.S. Women's Open in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor

I love golf and am so excited that the 2011 U. S. Women's Open is taking place this week at the Broadmoor. This is the 66th annual U. S. Women's Open at it takes place from July 4 - July 10, 2011 on the Broadmoor East Course. Big names like Morgan Pressel, Anna Nordqvist, Paula Creamer, Christina Kim, Annika, Brittany Lincicome, Natalie Gulbis and more will be here. There will be autograph signings and of course plenty of golf. Normally, this is something fun to watch on ESPN, but since this is local, if you can make it, you should. Talk about a once in a lifetime experience. You can check out ticket information as well as a schedule of events here. Maybe I'll see you there!

Colorado Springs Fourth of July Celebrations & Events

If you are like me, you enjoy watching a good fireworks show on the 4th of July. I've had a bit of difficulty gathering the correct information for all the local fireworks shows in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas. This is not an exhaustive list, but I feel it gives you some great highlights.

For decades, Memorial Park in Colorado Springs was "the place to be" for 4th of July celebrations and fireworks. Back in 2009 the city discontinued 4th of July activities there due to budget cuts. Not to be confused with Memorial Park in Woodland Park where there are celebrations (see below for details).

Here are several links I have found with a list of local events, celebrations and fireworks.

4th of July celebrations at the Air Force Academy Falcon Stadium will be a popular choice for many in Colorado Springs. Gates open at 4 p.m. on Monday the 4th and the fireworks display will start at 9:30 p.m. There will be a bouncy house, food vendors, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic as well as the AFA Band. Check out all the details here.

Sky Sox Stadium is another place to enjoy your 4th Celebrations. The game starts with the Sky Sox vs Tacoma Rainers at 7:05 with a grand fireworks display following the game. Fireworks will follow after the game.

Rock Ledge Ranch at the entrance of Garden of the Gods is having patriotic celebrations on July 4th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will not be a fireworks display. Learn more.

The Rocky Mountain Freedom Festival at the Douglas County Fair Grounds in Castle Rock will have fireworks on SUNDAY, July 3rd at 9:45 p.m. Check out all the details here.

Cripple Creek always has a BANG of a fireworks show. Entertainment starts at noon in the City Parking Lot and fireworks start at dark.

Fort Carson's Celebration will occur SUNDAY, July 3, beginning at 4 p.m. at Ironhorse Park. The event includes many family-oriented activities to include arts and crafts and big-air jumpers for children, food vendors and musical entertainment by the New Sensation Band. Fireworks will be set to music by the 4th Infantry Division Band. Attendees over the age of 18 must present a federal or state issued photo ID and proof of vehicle registration and insurance. Visitors should enter through Gate 1, off State Highway 115. Besides service animals, no pets are allowed. Weapons, glass bottles and backpacks also are prohibited. To learn more info, call the Outdoor Recreation Complex at 719-526-4494 or the Fort Carson Public Affairs Office at (719) 526-4143 /7525.

Manitou Springs The fireworks are tentatively scheduled for dusk and will be shot from Higginbotham FlatsFlats, across the valley from the town. A final decision on the fireworks display will be made the weekend of July 4. To learn more, call the Volunteer Fire Dept at 719-685-1444 or go to their city web site.

Monument / Palmer Lake / Tri-Lakes area: They have events going on ALL weekend. Their fireworks extravaganza begins at dusk by Palmer Lake. Check out all the events here.

Woodland Park also has many events & fireworks to celebrate the 4th. You can read all about it here.

Of course, we all know how dry it is in El Paso County, Colorado right now and that due to fire bans, some of the above shows could be cancelled. Please check with authorities before heading out. Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!

Fourth of July Patriotic Recipes

With 4th of July on Monday, I wanted to share some patriotic recipes for you that you may enjoy over the weekend or perhaps at a 4th BBQ or get together. Keep checking back for even more 4th of July and Colorado Springs Activities.

Recipe Girl share a wonderful Red, White & Blueberry Cheesecake Recipe. Considering it's a sweet and yummy treat - each bar is only 200 calories (5 Weight Watcher points). And of course, summertime is such a fantastic time to find vibrant and delicious berries. If you are wanting to find local farmer's market's in Colorado Springs, see my recent post.

And who doesn't love Rachel Ray and her always chic ideas! I thought these strawberries were very cute and easy to make ~ a great way to dress up a dish or even garnish a salad.

What kid (or adult) for that matter doesn't like JELLO?! I thought this recipe for Stained Glass Jello Stars was very creative as well as festive for a 4th of July celebration.

And for all you cake lovers out there (I am right there with you) here is a beautiful patriotic cake recipe that will blow you away. Not only does it look really cool, it tastes delicious!

Whatever you do for your Fourth Celebration ~ have a blast as you celebrate our United States of America and our Independence. Keep checking back for more helpful posts!

Photography tips for 4th of July Fireworks

Fourth of July is coming quickly! It is less than a week away. What are your plans? Maybe a BBQ with neighbors or family? Perhaps camping? Most likely, you will catch a fireworks display. I found this article very informative and colorful! Keep checking back over the next 72 hours for more 4th of July posts, including what to do in Colorado Springs over the 4th.

Step Back in Time: Colorado Renaissance Festival

Have you ever been to the Colorado Renaissance Festival & Artisans Marketplace in Larkspur, Colorado? Boy is it an experience I would recommend. Even if you have been before, it is ALWAYS worth going again. This year is their 35th anniversary and they are open weekends through the end of July. I would buy your tickets ahead of time and plan to be there from open to close (10 am - 6:30 pm).

You can visit there site here for all the details!

Colorado Springs Farmer's Market 2011

Do you love to go to farmer's markets and get fresh produce? I know I sure do. I never seem to remember when and where I can find them. So, I thought you'd find this information helpful! I was surprised to find that there are quite a few weekDAY markets as well as many weekend markets. So, check it out and enjoy local produce!

How Does Your County Rank?

Whether you’re looking to make local business decisions, integrate into a new neighborhood, or find volunteering opportunities where there is a need, it’s important to be informed about the health of your community. Fortunately, finding that information is quick and convenient when you visit this County Health Ranking Site.

This website brings together 50 reports through the collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The result is a health ranking of each state’s counties.

How Does Your Community Rank?

1. Simply visit http://www.countyhealthrankings.org.

2. Hover your mouse of the map of the U.S. and click on your state.

3. Click on your county once the state map appears on your screen.

It’s that easy. With just a few clicks, you can see your county’s overall ranking as well as important local statistics related to:

  • Unemployment
  • Education
  • Health
  • Access to recreational facilities
  • Air pollution
  • Poverty
  • Motor vehicle death rates
  • Diabetes
  • And much more!

Check out your county today - and share this information with friends, family members, and co-workers in your community!

Kid Friendly Summer Activities

School is either out or almost out for your kids and you are wondering "What are we going to do all summer?" I have found a GREAT and helpful web site that has LOTS of summer activities. From puppet shows and free crafts at local libraries, to family mystery hikes in Cheynne Mountain State Park, to Bear Creek Nature Center Activities, to movies in the park, to special events coming to town..... check out all of these and many more at Macaroni Kid Colorado Springs. I love their calendar of events that tells you exactly what is happening, if and how much it costs, and all the other details you would want to know.

Have a happy, safe and fun filled summer!

Memorial Day ~ Remembering & Honoring

Memorial Day is more than going to a parade and having a BBQ or picnic! It is a day of remembrance of those who have died serving our country.

Since the late 1950′s on the Thursday just before the Memorial day, around 1200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, and tradition that continues to this day.

In 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Daythe Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts participate in what they call their Luminaria Program. They place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights

In the year 2000 the National Moment of Remembrance Resolution passed. At 3pm on Memorial Day all Americans are asked to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance & respect by pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence.

On Memorial Day, the flag should be at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.

Red Poppies are recognized as the Memorial Day flower.

Memorial Day was first called “Decoration Day” because of the practice of decorating soldier’s graves with flowers.

New York was the 1st state to officially recognize Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday in 1971.

Have a fun, safe, and memorable Memorial Day weekend !

We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them. ~Francis A. Walker

Article taken from Macaroni Kid Colorado Springs Newsletter May 2011

The Circus is Coming to Colorado Springs

What is your favorite memory from the circus? I remember cotton candy, popcorn, high wire walkers, elephants, clowns (not my favorite, if I'm honest) and so much more. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Fully Charged Circus will be at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, CO from June 9 - June 12. For show times and prices click here.

Great Deals on Restaurants, Vacations & More in Colorado Springs

Wanted to pass on to you information about Rubber Dollar: Making Life Affordable. It's a great site that allows you to get deals on restaurants, vacations, entertainment, attractions, etc. in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas. If you haven't checked it out, head on over there: Rubber Dollar.

FREE Carnival at Glen Eyrie Castle

A FREE family-fun event at Glen Eyrie

(April 30th from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm)

Bring the entire family out for a day of fun at Glen Eyrie, hosted by Eagle Lake Camps. Tons of exciting activities, giveaways, and endless fun! What’s more, if you register for a week of camp at the event, you’ll receive $25 credit for your camper’s store account and a free limited-edition tee shirt. Mark your calendar for April 30th--this is an event you won't want to miss!

Visit here for more information.

FREE Family Film Night - TANGLED in Old Colorado City

Family Film Night--Tangled

Tuesday, April 26

When the kingdom’s most wanted – and most charming- bandit Flynn Rider hides out in a mysterious tower, he’s taken hostage by Rapunzel, a beautiful and feisty tower-bound teen with 70 feet of magical, golden hair. Flynn’s curious captor, who’s looking for her ticket out of the tower where she’s been locked away for years, strikes a deal with the handsome thief and the unlikely duo sets off on an action-packed escapade, complete with a super-cop horse, an over-protective chameleon and a gruff gang of pub thugs.
Kids are welcome to wear pajamas to this month's family film!
Where: Old Colorado City Library
When: 6:30 PM
Cost: Free

** Special Thanks to Macaroni Kid Colorado Springs for having such a great calendar of events