Wednesday, September 14, 2016

10 Holiday Gift Ideas for RVers

My parents began their RVing adventure last year. Between summering in South Dakota, wintering in Arizona, they are often on the road. Last year while Christmas shopping for them, I discovered that RVers present a special holiday shopping challenge. These nomads have little extra storage space in their moving homes, so any bulky or fragile gifts are out of the question. The following are some RVing gift ideas I have compiled. This list of both practical and fun ideas contains RVer gift ideas that will either take up little space or will serve a specific, practical purpose.

•During summer months fraught with mosquitoes and flies, RVers will be happy to have the Texsport Brittmoore Screen Arbor. They will have plenty of room to eat, read or stretch out for a nap out of the sun and away from bugs in this 10′ x 10′ x 92″ screened-in enclosure. ($58.95;

•Few RVers risk packing glasses or fine crystal, knowing how rough the road they travel may become. They need not forego attractive stemware or drinkware altogether, though. The Embossed Grape Acrylic Stemware from Prodyne is available in four-piece sets of flutes, wine glasses or goblets. This clear stemware is both elegant and practical. ($12.99-14.99; The colorful acrylic glasses pictured above have the weight and appearance of glass, but are not as fragile. ($1.99;

•If you know an RVer who enjoys wildlife, perhaps they would appreciate the Duncraft Mini Classic Birdfeeder. Small, lightweight, and easy to fill and empty, this feeder will allow travelers an up-close view of regional birds wherever they are and easily pack away when it’s time to hit the road again. ($12.97;

•Give the gift of entertainment with one or more travel editions of popular board games from BoardGames Express. The Deluxe Scrabble Folio Edition comes in a compact carrying case for easy packing. ($18.95;
•Long hours spent driving can cause sore, stiff muscles in any driver. Alleviate some of their driving stress by giving the RVer on your list the AirHawk Pro Comfort Seating System. The AirHawk Pro increases circulation and evenly distributes body weight, relieving the stress that sitting for long periods places on the body. ($149.95;

•Many new RVs and vehicles now come equipped with GPS units. If the RVer on your list doesn’t have one, though, or if they spend a lot of time outside their RV, hiking or on an ATV, why not get them a handheld GPS? The Garmin GPSMAP 76 12-Channel Handheld GPS is a highly-rated, low-cost system with many convenient features for travelers. It records points along the way and can guide the user back to their starting point, convenient if they’ve wandered off a hiking trail or misplaced their vehicle in a busy parking lot. Easily loadable with the various maps available on optional CD-ROMs, this unit will allow travelers to navigate unfamiliar isolated country roads or crowded city streets with ease. ($159.99;

•If you know the itinerary of the RVer on your list, do a little research on an area they will be visiting and consider giving them a gift certificate for a popular restaurant or museum in that area. The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum is a must-see attraction for visitors to Tucson. For nature-loving RVers who are wintering in the Tucson area, a Gift Membership to the museum would make a wonderful holiday present. A $50 General Membership comes with two membership passes for unlimited admission as well as three guest passes. (

•The National Park Service offers an annual pass for entrance into any National Park. The National Park Pass is good for one year and is well worth the $50 fee for anyone touring the U.S. (1-888-GO-PARKS;

•Food storage and preparation space in an RV are limited, so RVers all too often rely on dining out or prepared meals, both of which can be expensive and often unhealthy options. Help them find simple and healthy meal ideas with Cooking Aboard Your RV, by Janet Groene. This 216-page cookbook contains 270 recipes, as well as hints and ideas for cooking in an RV. ($12.71;

•Replace last year’s atlas with the 2007 Leather Clad Rand-McNally Road Atlas. This handsome North American atlas rolls up in its leather cover fit conveniently in a glove compartment or console. ($48.00;

If the RVer for whom you are shopping will not be spending the holidays with you, remember to inquire about gift-wrapping from the retailers above, and consider having the gift shipped directly to them to save you from paying for shipping twice. Good luck shopping and Happy Holidays!

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10 Holiday Gifts for the Car Lover

So, you know a car enthusiast and the Holidays are quickly approaching. While they might wish for a new or vintage car as a gift, that is usually out of anyone’s budget—instead, here are some affordable gifts for the petrol head in your life. From a build-your-own fuel cell car, heated cushion or some swank driving gloves, hopefully these gifts will inspire some ideas for a thoughtful and charming gift.

1. ‘Top Gear’ merchandise: For the car lover who isn’t quite just pure muscle car freak, and doesn’t mind a bit of British humor, Top Gear is a wonderfully written magazine that is based off of the popular British car show of the same name. And yes, they do ship out internationally. If not a magazine subscription, the Top Gear store has t-shirts, figurines and other knick-knack’s.

2. Vintage automotive poster: Instead of opting out for the usual hot babe posing on a equally gorgeous car, why not go a little retro? Places such as All Posters and Poster Classics sell reproductions of vintage advertisements, including ones for classic cars.

3. Racing video-games: Titles such as Need for Speed, Gran Turismo or Burnout are excellent gifts for the car lover that also has a gamer streak. Maybe even couple the game with a steering wheel game controller for the best experience.

4. Pass for indoor go-kart racing: If the weather is a bit cold in your area during the winter months, indoor go-kart racing will probably be the best bet. However, if you live in a nicer climate during the winter, don’t hesitate for that local go-kart track!

5. Gear Head fashion: Driving gloves are a popular gift for car lovers, or perhaps a nice motoring jacket. Know a lady car enthusiast? A nice silk scarf for a drive might prove to be a unique gift, too. Here are some men’s and women’s driving gloves.

6. Car accessories: A very common gift idea for car lovers is a fancy GPS, such as a Garmin or TomTom. However, other great accessories can include a heated cushion for the driver, should their car not have heated seats or maybe satellite radio.

7. The Supercar experience: Does your car loving friend, family member or significant other continually dream being able to take a drive in an Aston Martin, Ferrari or Lamborghini? Though this may be the most expensive on this list, it is also probably the coolest. Rent a supercar for a day (or weekend) for the gear head in your life! Check out these websites for some offers: Gotham Dream Cars and World Class Driving.

8. Build your own eco-friendly car: Okay, that was a bit misleading since it’s not a car that you can drive. Rather, it is a model car that runs off of water! Still very cool. The Fuel Cell Car is great for the aspiring car enthusiast or someone interested in the hybrid car industry.

9. Mobile iPod player and charger: This dock is more than just a player and charger for your iPod or other MP3 devices, however. It has an extra USB port to charge your phone as well as a nice little cradle for your music player. The cradle is adjustable for smaller MP3 devices, too. Check it out here!

10. Car cleaning kit/complimentary service: This would probably be more appropriate as a stocking stuffer gift, however, it is still relevant enough to bring up. Car cleaning kits are sold at Target, Wal-Mart and other such places or can be made by purchasing the products separately. If cleaning products aren’t an option, try getting the gear head a complimentary service such as tire rotation, a tune up or new brake pads.

There you have it! Ten Holiday gifts for the car enthusiast in your life. If none of these really have that “it” factor you’re looking for, try heading on over to and doing a search on car accessories, toys and other products that might be the perfect fit.

Otherwise, enjoy your Holiday season with your favorite car lover!

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10 Home Remodeling Projects that Pay Off

Whether you’re looking to sell your home in a year, or 10 years down the road, you want to ensure that the money you invest in it is put to good use. Certain home remodeling projects offer a higher ROI (return on investment) than others, making you more money when the time comes to sell your home. Listed below, you’ll find 10 home remodeling projects that pay off. In these difficult economic times, wouldn’t it be nice to know that the money you invest will provide a return later in life?

When you think of home remodeling, you likely think of the monetary investment involved. While it’s true that most remodeling projects are expensive, the right ones will certainly pay off. Potential home buyers want a home that won’t eat away at their savings to repair or update. Your home will sell faster and yield a higher return if it is remodeled and renovated beforehand.

10 home remodeling projects that pay off

Kitchen remodel – The kitchen is the deal breaker (or maker) for most potential home buyers. This is the # 1 top home remodeling project sought after by current homeowners, and the one room in the house that will stand out in the minds of those interested in purchasing a home. Do NOT skimp on the kitchen remodel. New cabinets, countertops, appliances, flooring, space savers… everything should be revamped and remodeled to yield the highest ROI. Do it right, and you can expect to see a 90 percent (or higher) ROI in this room of the house alone!

Bathroom remodel – Aside from the kitchen, the bathrooms are the most important rooms to consider remodeling. This is especially true for the master bath. According to Lending Tree, the master bath should be renovated to include luxurious additions such as dual sinks, jetted tub and standing shower to yield the highest ROI. In addition, if your home currently has just one bathroom, consider adding a second one to increase the value of your home and make it more appealing to potential home buyers.

New decking – Adding new decking, or replacing the deck currently in place, is a great way to improve the look of your home and increase its value. Fortunately, this is one of the more affordable home remodeling projects. With an estimated investment of $10,000 or less, you’ll receive an ROI of roughly 87 percent! Plus you’ll enhance the curb appeal of your home too.

Window replacement – Although replacing all the windows in the home may seem like a pricey investment, it is certainly one that will pay off in the long run. Not only will new windows improve the look of your home and enhance curb appeal, but they will also lower energy costs, which is a definite plus in the eyes of a potential home buyer. Remodeling Magazine indicates that this particular home remodeling project can yield an estimated 85 percent ROI.

New siding – Vinyl siding is not your only option when it comes to replacing the exterior of your home. Fiber cement siding, clapboard siding, and siding that resembles brick, stone or wood are just some of the alternatives. New siding enhances curb appeal, makes a home sell faster, and can offer you a ROI of roughly 90 percent.

Home office – Since more and more people are making a living from the comfort of their home, a home office is an appealing addition for many potential home buyers. Lending Tree reports that by adding a home office, you will not only increase the value of your home by roughly $13,000, but you’ll also recoup an estimated 50 percent of it’s original cost. This room can easily be used for another use for home buyers that work outside the home.

Basement finishing – An unfinished basement is not only an eyesore, it’s also an absolute waste of space. Most people see an unfinished basement as an unusable portion of the home and not worth the hassle. However, a finished basement will add usable square footage and yield a higher return. It is estimated that finishing out the basement is a home remodeling project that will provide a return on investment of 75 percent.

Attic remodel – Like the basement, the attic can be considered wasted space if it is left unfinished. While the cost of transforming the attic into usable living space would be extremely expensive, turning it into usable storage space is a more affordable option. With finished out walls, flooring, and built-in storage, this once empty space becomes an appealing addition to potential home buyers.

Sun room – One of the most popular home remodeling projects of today is the addition of a sun room. A sun room offers a spot to enjoy the outdoors without actually being outdoors. It can be used all year long, in any weather, and is a worthwhile investment for those looking to increase the value of your home. It will also offer a return on investment of roughly 50 percent.

New roofing – Did you know that a new roof can increase the value of your home by roughly $13,000? According to Lending Tree, a new roof is one of the most worthwhile home remodeling projects as it yields a 67 percent recoup on the initial investment.

More from Jennifer Wagner:
12 Ways to Enhance Curb Appeal
Home Improvement Project Considerations
How to Save on Your Home Improvement Project

Personal knowledge

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10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time

At one point in time musicals were a very popular genre of movies. In the 2000s musicals aren’t quite as common so it is one of the few genres where some of the older musicals actually have a chance to compete with newer movies as far as the highest grossing movies of the genre, unlike most genres where the entire top 10 is made up of movies from the last 10 years. These are the top 10 highest grossing musicals of all-time.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #10 The Blues Brothers
The Blue Brothers edges out Annie by just $170,000 to take the tenth spot on the list. The SNL skit-turned-film is one of four musicals in the top then that is from the 1980’s or earlier.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #9 Moulin Rouge!
The Oscar nominated Moulin Rouge from 2001 ranks ninth on the list. Like the Blues Brothers, Moulin Rouge just barely made the list over Annie. Moulin Rouge! made $57.3 million at the box office, just ahead of The Blues Brothers’ $57.2 million and Annie’s $57.0 million.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #8 The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was based on the Broadway production of the same name. Charles Durning received an Academy Award nomination for his supporting role and both the movie and its star, Dolly Parton, received Golden Globe nominations.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #7 High School Musical 3: Senior Year
The first two High School Musicals were TV movies but Disney was smart enough to recognize they could make money with a theatrical release of the third High School Musical. The film starring Zac Ephron and Vanessa Hudgens gained $90.5 million at the box office.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #6 Dreamgirls
Dreamgirls was a rare hit with the Academy and at the Box Office. Dreamgirls was nominated for 8 Oscars including a Best Supporting win by Jennifer Hudson. At the box office Dreamgirls pulled in $103 million.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #5 The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture show is the oldest musical in the top ten as it dates back all the way to 1975. It’s a musical, it’s horror, it’s comedy, it’s a rock opera, it’s British. The Rocky Horror Picture show certainly was unique and made $112 million at the box office.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #4 Hairspray
Zac Ephron has not been around a long time but he is already the star of two of the top ten grossing musicals of all-time. It’s too bad he’s trying to distance himself from dancing and singing to use his weakest talent of acting instead.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #3 Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia! was one of the surprise hits of 2008 and climbed all the way to the third highest grossing musical of all-time. Mamma Mia! grossed $144 million.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #2 Chicago
Chicago was the most successful of the recent musicals as it grossed $170 million. Chicago also won 6 Oscars although I never understood why it was more liked than the other musicals in the top ten.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Musicals of All-Time: #1 Grease
Clearly Grease is the one that you want. Grease is fun to watch on summer nights. There are worse things could do than watch Grease. Okay, is that enough Grease puns yet? No? Ummm…Grease is…raining on prom night? I got nothing.

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10 Historical Sites of Western Nebraska

Agate Fossil Beds

Just outside of Harrison Nebraska, Agate Fossil Beds is one of three national monuments in the state. Species of dinosaur and large, extinct mammals from the Miocene era, fill the lands around this area, including an ancient species of horse called the “Miohippus”. The site was sacred to the Lakota tribe, and in the 1890’s, was a cattle ranch owned by Captain James Cook.


2 ½ miles north of Alliance Nebraska, you will find one of the most original creations of the area; Carhenge. During the 1980’s, sculpture Jim Reinders built this unique replica in memory of his father. More than 30 members of his family came together, and helped put this incredible monument together using a total of 38 automobiles.

Chimney Rock

Less than 2 miles south of Bayard, Nebraska sits one of the most widely known landmarks of the Oregon and Mormon Trails. From 1812 through 1866, thousands of pioneers passed by this natural wonder, many of which carved their names into the sandstone. Many others sketched the rock, carrying a piece of history with them as they traveled on west. Due to it’s historical value, a Chimney Rock design was chosen to represent the state on the reverse side of the Nebraska State Quarter.

Crow Butte

2 ½ miles south of Crawford, Nebraska lies the site of a dramatic battle between the Lakota and the Crow Nations. Legends state that the Crow nation was stranded atop the butte by the Lakota, though escaped in the night. In the early 1980’s, the federal government found a Uranium deposit on the site.

Fort Robinson

Beginning as an Army post in 1874 during the Indian Wars, this fort continued to grow and was used until after World War II. Named for Lt. Levi Robinson, the fort became one of the largest installations of the Northern Plains. In the 1930’s, Fort Robinson became a Prisoner of War camp. Today, you can still visit the barracks and buildings of the original inhabitants.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Less than a mile from Chimney Rock, travelers can take a trip back in time and join in an actual Wagon Train. Horses, covered wagons, and cooking out on the plains gives the modern family a chance to experience the old west and live a few days in the lives of the original pioneers.

Prayer Bluffs

1 mile east of Henry Nebraska is the exact location of where Mormon leader, Brigham Young gathered his followers in a special circle of prayer. Many stayed behind in what was then known as Winter’s Quarters, Nebraska, while the rest continued on to present day Salt Lake City, Utah.

Rebecca Winters’ Grave

1 ½ miles east of Scottsbluff Nebraska is the resting place of a pioneer woman by the name of Rebecca Winters. During the second wave of the Mormon Trail migration, many lost their lives to the elements, including this brave woman. In 1902, surveyors for the Burlington Northern Railroad found her grave marker and changed the direction of their lines in order to protect her final resting place.

Robidoux Pass and Trading Post

2 miles south and 8 miles west of Gering Nebraska sits the site of a fur traders station. Indians brought furs to trade and pioneers saw it as a sign of civilization after months on the open prairie. Reconstructed to look exactly as it did more than a hundred years ago and still offers all the goods that would have been available in the 1800’s.

Scottsbluff National Monument

3 miles west of Gering Nebraska sits one of states greatest natural rock formations. In the early 1800’s, a fur trapper by the name of Hiram Scott died at the base of this site due to injuries from a bear attack, hence the name. The bluff was one of the most important landmarks during the many westward migrations.

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