• Five Fast Family Meal Ideas While You’re Moving

    by Patrick Redmond | Aug 01, 2014

    meal ideas when movingIt’s hard enough to feed your family with healthy, delicious food when you’re settled into your regular routine—add moving to a new house into the mix, and it’s pretty much pizza every night of the week.

    Whether you’re packing up the old house or still struggling to get everything put away in the new one, here are five meal ideas that don’t require you to have a fully stocked and loaded kitchen.

    1. Sandwich Trays: These can be purchased at most grocery stores or put together on your own. A package of rolls, several types of deli meats and cheeses, a bottle of mustard, and some lettuce, and you have a meal that requires nothing but your hands and a healthy appetite. The best thing about a DIY sandwich option is that leftovers can be wrapped up and used for lunch the next day.

    2. Barbeque/Camping Food: If you have gas hookups in the house that have been disconnected, or if you’re waiting on the arrival of your stove, you may want to look outside for your next meal. Barbeques and camping stoves tend to arrive faster (and are easier to set up) than most kitchen appliances. Run to the store to grab a bag of charcoal and any kind of meat you can stick on the grill and forget about for a few hours. Bonus: easy clean up and no pots and pans required.

    3. Takeout Smorgasbord: It can take months to find your new favorite takeout restaurant, especially if you only order from one place at a time. Take the guesswork out of your local eateries by ordering one item from multiple takeout place within delivery distance. It might not be the cheapest way to eat, but you can sample all the local food and turn your first week in your new home into one you’ll remember.

    4. One-Pot Soups and Stews: If you’re ready to start cooking but don’t have all your pots and pans out yet, consider a one-pot meal that minimizes the amount of time you’ll need to spend in the kitchen. Soups tend to work best if you’re feeding a large group, especially if you can cook it in a crockpot or other easily portable appliance.

    5. Pasta Salad: You might not be ready to pull together a full Italian dinner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a nice, carbohydrate-friendly meal. Pasta salad (or any meal that can be refrigerated and re-served) is ideal when you don’t have a ton of time or clean dishes. If you rely on mostly raw vegetables and pre-cooked meats (like salami), the only cooking you’ll need to do is the pasta—and that can be done in a single large pot.
     
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  • Moving to Orlando: Online Resources for New Residents

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 31, 2014

    New Orlando resident resourcesBecause of its size, finding your footing in Orlando as a new resident could take some time—which is something few of us have during a big move. That’s why we’ve pulled together this list of online Orlando resources to help new residents orient themselves to the new surroundings.

    From fun activities for the whole family to updates on news, sports, and more, you’ll find everything you need to enjoy life in Orlando right here.

    > Orlando Sentinel: It’s always a good idea to stay in touch with local news either by reading the paper or online. The Orlando Sentinel provides information on what’s happening in your area in terms of news, politics, sports, weather, and more.

    > Visit Orlando: While you aren’t necessarily a tourist, you may want to bookmark the official Orlando tourist site. This will allow you to stay up-to-date on what kinds of concerts, sports games, and activities are available in your area.

    > The Daily City: Step away from the major tourist and news sites to get a more personalized look at Orlando at The Daily City. Part foodie blog, part entertainment blog, and full of insider information on Orlando, this website offers a more in-depth look at the city.

    > City Surfing Orlando: Meant for both tourists and residents, City Surfing covers events, dining, shopping, nightlife, and news of interest for Central Florida. (Central Florida Top Five is another similar option.)

    > Chow Down Orlando: Want to know where to get the best local foods? Chow Down Orlando not only tries out and reviews area restaurants, but it also includes great photographs of venues and their offerings. Also check out their Twitter account for more frequent updates.

    > Orlando Beer Guide: It doesn’t get much more specific than this. If you want information on the local drinking scene, including microbrewing, breweries, and pubs, you can drink your way through Orlando here.

    > Visual Ephemera: Equal parts history, pictography, and musings on life in Florida, visual ephemera is a pictorial blog that provides a closer glimpse at life in Orlando and the surrounding Florida area. (You can also see more pictures at the Orlando Street Photography blog.)

    > Orlando Moms Blog: If you’re a parent in Orlando, it can be difficult to find non-tourist websites for information, tips, and activities. Orlando Moms Blog is one of the rare sites that offers a place for resident parents who want to see beyond the surface.

    > Magic Basketball Online: In terms of sports, Orlando is most famous for its basketball team. Stay updated on games, scores, and player information at Magic Basketball Online.

    > Orlando Bands: Interested in the local music scene? Find out who’s playing and where—and access a regularly updated schedule of events that covers much of the Orlando nightlife.

    You’ll also want to hit the streets and find your own way around the city, so don’t be afraid to head downtown or to your local shopping center and ask around. Orlando residents tend to be warm and welcoming to newcomers, so you’ll feel like you’re home in no time!

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  • Moving to Germany: How to Prepare

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 28, 2014

    Moving to GermanyWith a recent World Cup win on their shoulders and one of the most stable economies in west-central Europe, Germany is a country seeing an influx of American residents these days.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean making the transition is easy. Whether you’re going as a young person studying abroad, a professional taking advantage of the business opportunities that exist in the larger cities, or a family undergoing a relocation, expect there to be a few changes in your lifestyle and approach to packing.

    > Sell Old, Buy New: The German economy is strong, and not so different from the United States that you should be able to easily adjust. Although you can expect to pay more for consumer goods and going out to eat (between 10 and 15 percent more, in fact), the rents and grocery prices tend to be much lower. This balances out to so that you don’t have to be afraid of buying new furniture and large essentials when you arrive. Most Americans making a semi-permanent transition to Germany prefer to sell their larger, bulkier personal belongings in the United States and start fresh in their new home.

    > Different Appliances: Appliances and electronics fall under the “leave at home” category. Because the voltage and electrical outlets are set up differently, few of your technological belongings will work in Germany without an overhaul or adapter. Save yourself the trouble of packing up your TV, microwave or even your hair dryer and plan on buying those at your destination instead.

    > Public Transportation: It’s almost always best to leave your American car in America (either sell it or have it stored). Although Germans also drive on the right side of the road, there are differences in emissions and standards that may require you to upgrade your vehicle before it’s allowed in. Public transportation in Germany (especially the larger cities) tends to be well-planned, so you may want to start thinking about doing less of your own driving.

    > Temperate Climate: The climate in Germany is temperate and seasonal, making it comparable to the majority of the United States. Expect warm summers and cold winters, and don’t forget to take advantage of the great skiing that takes place here during those chilly months. Fashion is pretty standard for the European Union here, so you should be fine either packing your own clothes or taking advantage of the local shopping.

    > Prepare for a Medical Wait: In terms of technology and availability, the health care in Germany is comparable to that in the United States. However, getting the initial appointment and setting up your private insurance can take some time (you won’t get to take advantage of the universal health care until you’re officially a resident). Always plan to find a doctor right away and pack a few months’ worth of your regular medication so you don’t run out.

    You’ll also want to be aware of customs regulations in Germany before you start packing. Because Germany is part of the European Union, they’re held to the same standards as many other EU countries. Expect to pay duties on household goods and furniture, to encounter restrictions in moving pets, and to find other standard restrictions like those related to food and beverages.

    If you are planning a relocation to Germany or any international relocation, reach out to North American Van Lines to be connected with a specialized international relocation coordinator who can provide you with a free moving quote and help you through the moving abroad process.

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  • Friday Favorites: 5 Things to Do in Orlando, Florida

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 25, 2014
    5 things to do in Orlando

    Once you’ve moved to Orlando and unpacked your belongings, it’s time to start exploring the area. We suggest you skip the usual trips to Disney World or Universal Studios and discover these gems—just as exciting, but much more a part of the local lifestyle.

    1. Lake Eola Park: Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, you can find this beautiful, green park surrounded by dozens of buildings and a bustling urban setting. Visitors here can walk along the mile-long trail or rent paddleboats to cruise the lake. Regular concerts and a weekly farmer’s market only add to the appeal—and it’s a quick walk from the rest of the downtown activities.

    2. Kennedy Space Center: Although it’s not technically located in Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center is only a short drive away. Visitors are invited to view exhibits, artifacts, displays, and attractions related to space travel, and if you time things right, you can even watch a rocket launch take place.

    3. Gatorland: Part theme park and part wildlife refuge, Gatorland offers 110 acres of activities and reptile education for families. Recent additions include a gator zipline to add more of an appeal to those seeking theme-park-level thrills.

    4. Amway Center: If you’re a sports fan, a visit to Orlando’s Amway Center is a must. Most famous as the home of the Orlando Magic basketball team, you’ll also find ice hockey, arena football, and countless concerts taking place here. Because it’s located in the Orlando downtown area, you also have access to shops and restaurants nearby.

    5. Winter Park Shopping: For some of the best shopping Orlando has to offer, skip the tourist areas and head for the suburb of Winter Park. National chain stores like Pottery Barn and Ann Taylor are located alongside local shops, boutiques, and cafes—and because the whole area is only about 10 blocks long, it’s very pedestrian-friendly.

    Of course, you can always hit the major tourist sites, as well. One of the best benefits of living in Orlando is that you can avoid the peak tourist times and see the sights on your own terms—and get to know the rest of the city’s hidden pockets in the meantime.

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  • Moving to Orlando: Real Estate and Top Neighborhoods

    by Patrick Redmond | Jul 23, 2014

    Orlando neighborhoodsBecause Orlando is such a sprawling and populated city, finding the best place to live can be a challenge. Pocket communities and closely-knit neighborhoods tend to crop up in unlikely places, but with a little research ahead of time, you should be able to find one that suits your lifestyle.

    > Altamonte Springs: A northern suburb of the Orlando area, Altamonte Springs offers a slice of family living with great access to the city center. Commute times are low, but the area is far enough from the urban spaces to offer good schools and low crime rates.

    > South Eola: If you want to live in the heart of the downtown area and enjoy city living (complete with a high level of walkability, great local shops and restaurants, and more urban lifestyle), South Eola might be a good fit. Expect to pay downtown prices and for homes to be more along the lines of condos and apartments.

    > Thornton Park: Offering an almost European style of scenery and construction, this family-friendly neighborhood is beautifully green and centrally located to many city amenities and businesses.

    > Winter Park: Located in the northern part of Orlando, Winter Park offers one of the best areas for historic homes and upscale living. Museums, Rollins College, and a great arts scene provide the center of this neighborhood, with plenty of gorgeous homes and fine dining venues to complete the scene.

    > College Park: This area isn’t named for a nearby college—it’s called College Park because the streets all take after famous universities. Although close to the downtown area, College Park is more affordable than many other neighborhoods, and offers a younger, more low-key approach to life.

    > East Orlando: Home to the University of Central Florida, this area is teeming with students, apartment-style living, and a young and hip nightlife. Although not always ideal for families looking to own their homes, you can find quite a bit of culture and activity here.

    > Dr. Phillips: Although this sounds more like a talk show than a city, Dr. Phillips is actually one of the most desirable neighborhoods for families. Named for the citrus magnate who owned the area, it’s close to Universal Studios but not so much that the tourist trade overtakes the family-focused neighborhoods and affordable homes.

    > Celebration: As the name suggests, Celebration is one of the more “Orlando-like” areas in the city, close to the theme parks and focused on fun and activity. Modeled after the historic towns of the 1900s, life here is more of a vacation than a year-round way of life. Many residents enjoy these homes as second homes or vacation homes, though you could live here all the time to take advantage of the pools, parks, and great walking trails.

    Because Orlando is such a diverse city, you can enjoy almost any kind of home and lifestyle you want. Urban neighborhoods that rival those in other metropolitan areas, family-friendly areas with great schools, and theme-park like vacation centers are all here to explore—and in many different price ranges.

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