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Your Monthly Check-Up: Soothing the Sting of Summer

By the time summer rolls around, most of us are so sick of winter that we want to burn our wardrobes and the thought of snow puts us over the edge. But the warmer months don’t come without their share of drawbacks. Mosquito and other bug bites as well as sunburn can put a damper on any outdoor activity. Here are some tips, courtesy of “EXPERIENCE L!FE” magazine, to help avoid bug bites and sunburn or sooth them if you’ve been outsmarted.

The best way to ward off mosquito bites is to remove any standing water from your surroundings, burn citronella candles and avoid wearing perfume. If you’re unlucky enough to get a bite or two (or a hundred), try witch hazel, a natural astringent, to reduce swelling and sooth the angry bites.

Calendula cream, which is made from marigolds, can also help bring relief in the event of a mosquito bite or bee sting. The essential oils in calendula are anti-inflammatory as well as antimicrobial – and it’s helpful for sunburn, too! If you’re allergic to ragweed, be sure to test a patch of skin first so you don’t get an allergic reaction. The last thing you want when treating your bug bites is to make them worse!

Let’s talk sunburn. Everyone knows that excessive sun exposure is dangerous, but trying to block out rays using sunscreens full of chemicals is bad for you, too. Plus, the sun is how we get our vitamin D, so we don’t want to completely block it out. Try mineral-based formulas with UVA/UVB protection and steer clear of sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), retinol, octinoxate and oxybenzone.

Stayed out there a little too long? Lavender and tea tree oil are both antiseptics and can help you with your agony. Besides having a very calming aroma, lavender can help cool the pain of mild burns and prevent scarring. Tea tree oil also helps relieve burns and prevent infection. Too much of either, however, can dry out the skin, so use sparingly.

Aloe vera is also a good sunburn remedy as it sooths and cools the skin and calms the irritation of the sunburn. As the pain subsides, the polysaccharides help the body create more antibodies to speed up the healing process. The best source of aloe vera is straight from the plant. Keep one handy and clip from the oldest, bottom-most leaves. For store-bought varieties, look for ones with aloe vera high on the ingredients list and without the neon green dyes.

Get more great natural remedies here and important sun information here!


Merchandise Monday: Summer Break Fun!

The kids have been out of school for over a month and, unless they have an unlimited supply of toys and entertainment options, chances are they’re going to get bored. Stave off this dreaded day with fun new toys for kids from our assortment. Some of these items are great for rainy days while others are definitely enjoyed best outside. Everybody wins.

                                    LeapFrog® LeapPad2™ Custom Edition Green

Customize the best-selling, kid-tough learning tablet with sticker skins and digital wallpapers—100-plus ways to make it unique! Choose from 10 fun sticker skins, including ones your child can color. Mix and match them with 11 wallpapers. Removable sticker skins come off easily, so your child can swap styles without any mess.

LeapFrog® Scribble & Write

Light up early writing skills! The LeapFrog® Scribble & Write provides stroke-by-stroke guidance and features a new mode that provides instant accuracy feedback. Children trace the lights to get practice writing uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers.

LEGO® Friends Heartlake Pet Salon

Celebrate the grand opening of the Heartlake Pet Salon – everyone's excited to check it out! Help Emma to shampoo her friend Joanna's pretty white poodle in the bubble bath, then trim and clip her on the rotating grooming table. Use the blow dryer and brushes to make her perfect!

LEGO® The LEGO Movie Cloud Cuckoo Palace

Revel with Unikitty in Cloud Cuckoo Land, the happiest, most positive and creative place in the universe! Join Emmet, Wyldstyle and all the master builders in this multi-colored playful paradise where the sun is always shining and a cute snail glides between the bright flowers.

nabi® DreamTab™ 8-inch Kids Tablet

The DreamTab™ 8” Kids Tablet features nabi® OS 3.0 Blue Morpho™ which starts with Android™ Kit Kat and adds over 400 kid-focused, parent-approved features. Dream Pro Studio™ is a powerful suite of creative tools that teach your children how to draw, animate, author their own books and edit movies like a pro.

Swimline CoolJam™ Floating Basketball

This great pool game puts all the rules of basketball into the water for extra fun! The frame and rim are constructed from PVC that will insure longevity. Featuring a full-color, blow molded, hard body backboard for extra support, every cannonball will turn into a slam dunk.  

Swimline Remote Control Submarine

Fun for the pool, lake or bathtub, the Remote Control Submarine climbs and dives below water surface, turns left and right and comes complete with a search light and long range transmitters – 27 MHz frequency.


Merchandise Monday: Put Your Best Face Forward

Summer is here and between the sun, sand, chlorine and other outdoor irritants, chances are your skin is taking a beating. And since most of us can’t get to a spa every day, we’ve got some great products in our assortment to help you maintain a healthy summer glow!

Clarisonic® Aria Sonic Skin Cleansing Brush

The sleek, modern and intuitive Aria sings with three speeds, a real-time battery life indicator, USB-enabled pLink charger and a drying stand that converts to a charging station when coupled with the charger. The kit also includes a wall adapter, sensitive brush head and 1-ounce refreshing gel cleanser.


Clarisonic® Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System

Using sonic technology, Clarisonic®’s patented micro-massage motion works within skin’s natural elasticity to gently remove impurities, leaving skin softer, smoother and more beautiful. The 1-button, 1-speed Mia fits your active lifestyle for beautiful, glowing skin wherever life’s adventures take you.


Clarisonic® Mia 2® Skin Care System – Pink

Lightweight, compact and equipped with a travel case, Mia 2® gives you a gentle and effective cleanse at home or on the go. With two speeds – Delicate and Universal - you can customize your cleansing experience to address your specific skin concerns. Get glowing!


Don’t forget to clean your Clarisonic! What? You ask? But it’s a cleaning device! Why would I have to clean it? Your Clarisonic can spread bacteria if you don’t wash it regularly, defeating the purpose of cleaning your face so thoroughly in the first place! Plus, your brush heads will last longer if you treat them properly! But you don't have to take our word for it!

Conair® True Glow™ Heated Beauty Mitts

The True Glow™ Heated Beauty Mitts are thermal spa heated beauty mitts for softer, healthier-looking skin and provide even heat that stimulates and revitalizes hands. Heat opens pores to allow your moisturizer to condition the driest of skin.


Conair® True Glow™ Hot/Cold Therapy Facial Sauna

The Facial Sauna features an exclusive 2-step system. Warm steam opens pores and cleanses while a cool mist closes pores and hydrates. True Glow defends against dryness, signs of aging and environmental damage. A timer with five settings lets you can choose the length of your facial.


Conair® True Glow™ Sonic Cleansing Brush

The Sonic Cleansing Brush offers a skincare solution with professional results and is gentle enough to use every day. The brush head operates at 300 oscillations per second, shaking dirt and makeup from pores without irritation. Three speeds keep your skin clear and prevent clogged pores and blackheads.


Tanda Luxe™ Skin Rejuvenation Photofacial Device

Luxe™ reduces fine lines and wrinkles, fights dullness, hydrates, firms and plumps and improves texture for overall more youthful, radiant skin. Fight seven signs of aging with one device!


Tanda Zap™

The Tanda Zap™ combines the same powerful blue light technology used by dermatologists with sonic vibration and gentle warming to reduce mild to moderate acne within 24 hours. Simply cleanse your skin, press the orange power button and lightly place Zap over blemish until vibration stops.



Your Monthly Check-Up: June is Men's Health Month

When it comes to our health, it seems women are more apt to see a doctor when something is wrong, whereas men will avoid an appointment at all costs until the situation becomes serious. In fact, men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year, according to recent U.S. Government statistics. For an African American or Hispanic male, the odds of having seen a doctor are even lower. The same for men ages 18 to 44.  

  • June is National Men’s Health Month. Do you know what percentage of adult males are at risk? The following statistics were taken from the CDC:
  • Percent of men 18 years and over who met the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity through leisure-time aerobic activity: 53.6%
  • Percent of men 18 years and over who had 5 or more drinks in 1 day at least once in the past year: 31.4%
  • Percent of men 18 years and over who currently smoke cigarettes: 21.2%
  • Percent of men 20 years and over who are obese: 34.6%
  • Percent of men 20 years and over with hypertension: 31.6%  

Are these statistics surprising? When you avoid the doctor, you miss out on important health screenings that may catch something early on before it progresses to a more serious health threat. Also, just because you may feel fine doesn’t mean that you are fine. High cholesterol and high blood pressure, among other conditions, can worsen if left untreated. Men are much more likely than women to need hospitalization for conditions that could have been prevented with regular health screenings.

On average, women live about five years longer than men. Could men's avoidance of doctors and routine checkups have something to do with that? Something to keep in mind is that doctors have heard it all, so there’s no reason to be embarrassed about bringing up any and all health issues with your doctor. It could save your life! 

If you’re still feeling uneasy, it’s always good to have a game plan. Start by scheduling a check-up and don’t hold back about anything that’s been bothering you. Be screened and take any medications as prescribed. Create healthful habits and brush up on old ones – limit your alcohol consumption, exercise and eat as many healthy, whole foods as possible. After you check these off your list, give yourself a little pat on the back for taking all the right steps toward a longer and healthier life! 

Read more about Men’s Health Month here here and here !


Merchandise Monday: ‘Cue up the Party!

Back in February, we introduced new grills. Last month, we announced items for long-weekend fun. Now that summer officially starts on Saturday, we’re going to keep the party going and bring you even more great new items for your barbecue, backyard party and outdoor weekend relaxation. Summer is short and goes fast – especially here in Chicago – so we need to soak up as much of the rays and warmth as we can while they last!

KettlePizza™ Pizza on the Grill Package

Cooking with a KettlePizza™ is easy! The Pizza on the Grill Package includes an adjustable stainless steel sleeve, 14" aluminum pizza pan, built-in high-temp thermometer, high heat gloves and a pizza cutter. Enjoy cheesy and delicious pizza on the grill!


Smart Solar Flamingo Accent Light

The Solar Flamingo Accent Light is a decorative lighting idea for patios, decks and gardens. A metal sculpture in the shape of a flamingo creates whimsical garden art by day. Energy saving white LED in body automatically illuminates at dusk and turns off at dawn.


SunBriteTV® 32-inch Outdoor Rated HDTV, 720p

This all-weather TV makes an elegant addition to any area that requires a touch of entertainment. Place under an awning on your deck, pool, patio or outside kitchen. Under the stars or during daytime, this rugged TV will laugh off rain drops and shun salty air.


SunBriteTV® 46-inch Outdoor HDTV 1080p

This is SunBrite®’s most popular outdoor HDTV. By the pool, on the patio or over an outdoor fireplace, this true all-weather LCD TV is built for permanent outdoor installation and all-weather outdoor living entertainment.


Weber® Rapidfire® Chimney Starter

The Weber® Rapidfire Chimney Starter gets your charcoal glowing in just minutes. The extra large capacity bin will ensure you have enough coals to get cooking fast. Designed to quickly produce hot coals for cooking with an aluminized steel construction and special cone-shaped grate.

Do you know how to use a chimney starter? It's easy! Simply fill the chimney starter with coals and place over a few sheets of crumpled newspaper. Light the newspaper and let the charcoal begin to smoke – leave it untouched for 15-20 minutes or so. When the coals are covered in ash, dump the charcoal onto the bottom grate (using heavy mitts, of course!) and place your grilling rack over the coals. You’re ready to start grilling!

YETI® Tank Cooler

Made with YETI®’s signature Permafrost Insulation and No Sweat design, this party-ready beverage tub keeps ice retention at the center of attention. Tank holds 60 bottles, 96 cans, one keg, 51 blue crabs, 24 mullet and menhaden, 98 slices of watermelon, 20 gallons of trashcan punch or two bushels of oysters.