Thursday, August 18, 2016

10 Tips for Decorating on a Budget

Most people are looking for great ways to save money on home décor, but still keep the designer look they are seeking. There are many ways to accomplish this. Below are some fantastic ways to decorate on a budget.

  1. Re-use existing items: This is one of the best ways to save money! In fact, you won’t spend any money at all. Take an inventory of items in your home and try to look at them in a different light. Sometimes we get so used to seeing things in the same place, that we don’t even consider using them in a different way. Just try moving things around, and you may come up with something you love!
  2. Paint, Paint, Paint! – One of the best ways to completely change the look of a room, and for only a few dollars per room! Try new colors that you never though of. Go to the paint store and pick out some samples. You can even buy a small container and test it out first. Budget decorating requires that you use paint to update and change the looks of things, whether it’s a whole room, a piece of furniture, or creating new artwork.
  3. Make Artwork – This can be done by salvaging old items, or creating new works of art from photographs, canvasses, or a collage of interesting items or shadowboxes. Artwork is an important part of any interior design.
  4. Clean up your act – Clear out all the clutter so that people can see the beautiful rooms you have created. Sometimes starting with a blank (or somewhat blank) canvas can give you a new perspective on your spaces.
  5. Dress your windows – You get a lot of “bang for your buck” with window treatments, because they take up so much vertical space in the room, and draw the eye upward. Try looking online at different types of window treatments and see which kind you would like. Some of the easiest ones to install or create include mini-blinds, wood blinds, plain flat valances, square cornices, and pinch-pleated drapes. However, the array of window treatments available is endless.
  6. Try new shops – Such as thrift shops, consignment stores, and auctions to find new and interesting items. You may come across a great conversation piece, or an antique that is worth much more than you pay for it!
  7. Illuminate! – Be sure that your new design has plenty of lighting. It would be a shame to spend time and effort creating a new room, and the details not get noticed. Lighting is also a great way to add accents and unique touches to your budget design.
  8. Don’t buy everything you see – Just because it’s cheap, it doesn’t mean you should buy it. If it doesn’t work for your room, you won’t like it when you get it home. You will just be stuck with an old piece of junk with nowhere to put it. Focus on buying things that you have planned for and budgeted for.
  9. Have a Plan – Know what furniture you need (and don’t need), what your color scheme is, and what your style is. This way, you won’t waste time and money by purchasing things that you don’t need, and don’t like. Budget decorating is all about know what is a good deal and what isn’t.
  10. Have Fun – Don’t get stressed out over your room! Sometimes it takes time, and trial and error to get it right. Just make sure to have fun and enjoy the process of making your rooms beautiful as well as enjoying the end result.

Find more great ideas for budget decorating at http://ift.tt/2bBuyV2, and http://ift.tt/2bNnOH4. Angela Sullivan is an Interior Designer and budget decorating enthusiast. This article may be reproduced as long as it is not changed, and remains intact, including all links and this statement.

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10 Tips for Decorating a Front Yard for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for being thankful and the acknowledgement of the fall season. It is always fun to decorate your front yard for Thanksgiving. When decorating your front yard you have to think about what represents Thanksgiving. Here are 10 Tips that will help you decorate your front yard for Thanksgiving.

# 10 Think about the Symbols of Thanksgiving

When decorating your front yard for Thanksgiving think about the symbols of the holiday. This will help you decide what you can buy to make sure front yard festive for Thanksgiving. Some good symbols include Turkey, Pilgrims, Pumpkins, Leaves, a harvest, and many others. Write down the symbols you like and try to boy props and decorations that match the symbols you want for your front yard.

# 9 Organize and Make a layout plan for your decorations

Before you put any of your decorations up on your front yard you should be organize and have a plan on where to put them. It is better to make a sketch or decide where the decorations are going to be put instead of doing it randomly.

# 8 Don’t Clutter or go overboard on decorations for your front yard

When decorating your front yard for Thanksgiving remember not to clutter it or go overboard. Sometimes a lot of decorations can look messy or too much. Sometimes less is always more. It is better to have a nice clean Thanksgiving decoration layout on your front yard then a really cluttered one.

# 7 Put Decorations on your front door and Windows

Some of the best spots to put up Thanksgiving decorations can be your front door and windows. You can really showcase your front yard when you your front door and windows to enhance the decorations. Some good decoration ideas include painting, your window with a holiday theme. Some good places to get decorations can be Michaels, or Joanns, or your local craft store.

# 6 Use real items to decorate your home for Thanksgiving

Sometimes its nice to use real items to decorate your home for Thanksgiving. Some real items include: pumpkins, leaves, and fruit. This can be a really unique way to make your front yard stand out for Thanksgiving.

# 5 Get Creative

There are so many ways you could decorate your front yard for Thanksgiving. Be creative about it and it will be great. Some creative things for decorating your front yard for Thanksgiving includes: putting up a scarecrow, putting straw in your front yard, or anything else you think will look good.

# 4 Make your decorations look nice and not sloppy

Put thought and care into your decorations for Thanksgiving. Make them look nice, and not sloppy. People will appreciate you decorations and hard work for putting them up.

# 3 Think about safety when decorating for Thanksgiving

When putting any holiday decorations in your front yard up you should always think about safety. Make sure you don’t have any decorations that people may trip over, or may get hurt on. Also make sure you don’t have anything that may be a fired hazard. Safety is always good to think about.

# 2 Use fall colors

When decorating you front yard for fall remember to use the seasons colors. Falls colors are orange, yellow, and red usually. Don’t be tacky and use non-fall colors.

# 1 Have fun and Be Thankful

Remember to have fun when decorating your front yard for Thanksgiving. It is also good to think about all the things you are thankful for.

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10 Tips for Families Who Don't Celebrate Christmas

Here it is mid-October and already the consumer is being bombarded with…visions of sugarplums dancing in one’s head? The kids are starting to make their “wish” lists, or what has become the “if-you-don’t-buy-it-for-me-I-am-going-to-become-a-bigger-pain-in-the-butt-than-you-have-already-allowed-me-to-be” list.

Let’s face it-Christmas has become commercialized, and even the most unexpected have fallen prey to its lure, disguised as a “one-size-fits-all” holiday. There are Jews who put up Christmas trees, and atheists who participate in holiday gift exchanges. Even those who call themselves “Christians” get caught up in the commercial hoopla of the season, rather than reflection on why this celebration is truly important in their tradition.

Perhaps it is done so that the children from these families and others do not have to face the discomfort of not fitting in with the mass expectation of the holiday. Nor do they want to have to explain why their families do not celebrate Christmas.

There are several reasons why some families might not celebrate the Christmas holiday season: The most obvious reason is that they come from a different religious or cultural tradition. Secondly, many Christians are now opting out of celebrating in this commercialized version of what has become the celebration of their Savior. There are others who have not been raised with a history of and have no strong ties to any particular tradition. Lastly, there are those whose circumstances are such that they have no opportunity to “celebrate”-perhaps the single mother and her child who is far away from family.

Having some alternative plans and strategies may make it easier for families and individuals alike to get through the Christmas season:

Tip #1: Have open family discussion. Whatever the reason a family may not celebrate the season, it is important for parents to discuss this decision with their children. Give your children the tools to stand up to the peer pressure of having to answer questions from friends, teachers, and others who will certainly be curious, if not critical.

Tip #2: Learn and explore. Use this time to research your own religious and cultural traditions. Or explore another tradition and compare the similarities and differences with your own. Encourage your children to be informed about their beliefs and others.

Tip #3: Serve others. Even if you do not celebrate the Christmas holiday, there are many organizations that do things for those who are less fortunate. Find a place which serves meals to those who may be homeless. Volunteer to serve or help to clean. Teach your children compassion for others who are less fortunate.

Tip #4: Donate unused or gently used items. Have everyone go through their possessions and pull out those things that no longer fit, or items which have been sitting around unused. Donate these items to a charity thrift store which benefits a cause you support, teaching your kids about the value of giving.

Tip #5: Befriend someone new. There are many elderly folks who are in nursing homes who have no family left, or their friends have passed on before them. Help your children learn to value what they have by talking to those who lived in a time where things were not so plentiful.

Tip #6: Get involved in winter sports. This might be the perfect time to get everyone involved in winter fitness. Skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports will help the family stay active and healthy. The slopes may not be quite as crowded on the days everyone else is visiting family to celebrate a holiday.

Tip #7: Plan a family vacation. This may be a great time to take your family on a vacation to Hawaii, the Caribbean, or on a theme park vacation. Allow the children to help make the plans or research the best airfares and vacation deals.

Tip #8: Go to a movie. Many movies are scheduled for release in the theatres on Christmas Day. It is usually not quite as crowded that day.

Tip #9: Explore the arts. During the holiday season, there are many galleries, museums and theatres which offer special plays, exhibits, and other events. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore these venues.

Tip #10: Tell the family stories. Drag out the boxes of photographs and other mementos saved. As you go through them as a family, tell the stories behind the events. You’re your children the gift of passing along the family stories. Allow each child his or her own scrapbook. Let them develop their creativity by coming up with their own stories. Make this a tradition on a monthly or seasonal basis.

Regardless of the reason you do not celebrate Christmas, this season gives you an opportunity to spend quality time together as a family. You can explore new ideas, make new friends, or start your own new traditions. Each will help to foster stronger family ties and create your own special memories.

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10 Tips to Help You Beat Sugar Cravings so You Can Meet Your Fitness Goals

Sugar cravings are something that I deal with on a day to day basis. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than something sweet. After gaining a good deal of weight, I realized that I needed to stop sugar cravings if I ever wanted to meet any weight loss goals. Here are 10 tips to help you beat sugar cravings.

Stop Sugar Cravings Tip #1

The first way to beat sugar cravings is to stop drinking soda. This includes diet soda. I always crave more sugar whenever I drink soda. Drink water and you might just notice that you don’t have as many sugar cravings.

Stop Sugar Cravings Tip #2

Use Splenda to sweeten your cereal and anything you need sweetened. Sometimes you need a sweet taste, and Splenda can provide you with it. If you need sugar in your cereal, switch to Splenda instead. This is a great way to beat sugar cravings while also getting the taste you crave.

Stop Sugar Cravings Tip #3

If you want to beat sugar cravings, brush your teeth when you feel one coming on. Nothing tastes worse than something sweet immediately after brushing your teeth. The stronger the mint in your toothpaste, the better it will help you curb your sugar cravings. You will also get the added benefit of enjoying better oral hygiene.

Stop Sugar Cravings Tip #4

Suck on a peppermint. If you want to beat sugar cravings and you can’t get to your toothbrush, suck on a peppermint. My personal favorite is Altoids. With a strong minty taste in your mouth, nothing sweet will taste good.

Stop Sugar Cravings Tip #5

If you just can’t beat sugar cravings, eat fruit. Fruit is naturally sweet and good for you. Turn your sugar cravings in to healthy habits by opting to eat fruit whenever those pesky sugar cravings spike.

Beating Sugar Cravings Tip #6

Keep a food journal. Make an entry every time you put something in your mouth. If you so much as add a packet of sugar to your coffee, make sure that you log it in your food journal. Keeping a food journal is great way to make yourself aware of what you eat so that you can stop sugar cravings.

Beating Sugar Cravings Tip #7

Eat a diet rich in fiber and protein. Fiber and protein keep you full and satisfied longer. If you aren’t hungry, chances are you won’t have sugar cravings.

Beating Sugar Cravings Tip #8

Stay away from carbs and starches such as white bread and potatoes. To the body, these items act just like sugar. If you are trying to stop a sugar craving by eating a slice of white bread, you are being very counter productive.

Beating Sugar Cravings Tip #9

Eat several mini-meals instead of three large meals a day. By eating, you are keeping your blood glucose levels stable. If your blood glucose levels are stable, you might not crave sugar as much.

Beating Sugar Cravings Tip #10

Eating sugar causes serotonin in your brain to fire up. This is what makes you feel good when you eat sugar. Instead of succumbing to that sugar craving take a walk. Walking and physical activity raises serotonin levels as well. You might not need that candy bar after you take a nice, brisk walk.

It is difficult to stop sugar cravings, especially when you have a sweet tooth. With the help of these 10 tips on how to beat sugar cravings, hopefully you will be able to better manage your sugar intake and meet your fitness goals.

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10 Tips for Hosting a Potluck Thanksgiving Dinner

Hosting a potluck Thanksgiving dinner is a lot of fun, and it is way less stressful than cooking everything yourself. If you have never tried having a potluck dinner on Thanksgiving you will be pleasantly surprised. Here are ten tips that will help you host your own potluck Thanksgiving Day dinner.

1. Always make the turkey. This is the longest thing to cook, and you are going to have to make this item, but remember you will have plenty of room in your oven for the turkey because you will not be making everything else too.

2. Plan to have your turkey finished cooking an hour before dinner. It will need time to cool before you can cut it, and this will allow you to free up oven space for reheating the items your guest will bring.

3. When mailing invitations include the items you are planning on making. This way you will not have double of anything, and it will allow your guests to make their dish accordingly.

4. When sending out invitations to a potluck dinner it is easily done with email. If you forward your email to all your guests they can respond to all of the other guests with the dish they plan on making, and this will make sure that you have a variety of food.

5. If you choose to mail invites than include a suggestion for what they should make; informing your guest of whether they should make dessert or an appetizer is important to the party.

6. Another very important factor to keep in mind is the amount of people you are expecting. You should always let the guests know how many people you are planning on having at the dinner so they can make their items accordingly.

7. When you are having a potluck dinner it is also a good idea to make some appetizers yourself. With this tip unexpected late guests will not leave your appetizer platters empty and your guests hungry.

8. You will have to reheat many of your guest’s items so make sure to have microwaveable containers to transfer their food into in a hurry if need be.

9. It is also useful to have many serving utensils because this may be easily forgotten when leaving the house.

10. Even though you are not making many items for this dinner, make sure you have plenty of empty space in your refrigerator to fit the items your guests are bringing.

Having a Thanksgiving Day potluck dinner is a great alternative, and these tips will make your dinner a delicious success.

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10 Tips for Improving Your Workouts

Often times when we are working out we lose some of the fire and excitement that we associate with it when we first start. Here are 10 tips to help you relocate that fire and increase your focus and results in your training.

1. Embrace Change – I work with a lot of guys who want to improve strength. The most important rule we have is everything works some of the time but nothing works all of the time. Continuing to do the same work is not only boring mentally but physically. Your results will suffer as your body adjusts to the workout. By changing your workout every 6 – 8 weeks you are able to keep reaching higher after your previous workout has reached a plateau.

2. Eat like your car eats – I have a terrible time dieting, I am no good at it. I am always hungry and hate to feel restricted. I find it easier and more satisfying to refuel. I understand that to have a successful workout I need to put the right fuel in my tank. In other words you don’t stick garbage in your car’s gas tank and expect it to go. So why do it to your body? So next time you are eating to lose weight or struggling through a diet, try fueling up for your workout instead.

3. Stop Stretching before workouts – I know that this must sound insane. Instead of stretching try getting a warm up in before exercising. It will warm your muscles before your workout without taxing them as much as stretching. Also try exercise specific warm-ups. It is great to get a sweat going on the treadmill before you do bench press but, it is more effective to do a few warm up sets on the bench before going into the heavy stuff. If you bench 200 pounds for sets of 10, then try a warm up of 115 pounds for a set of 8-10 and another at 150 pounds. These will get your muscle primed for the specific motion they have to perform. Younger people worry that this will weaken your total weight lifted. I have found that the opposite is almost always true.

4. Start stretching after workouts – I am finding it easier to find time to stretch after suffering through some minor injuries. I stretch in the shower, I stretch while watching TV, and I stretch after my workouts. If you only have an hour in the gym then stretch later that evening or shorten your workout to accommodate at least 10 minutes of light to moderate stretching.

5. Leave the gym – When the weather is nice try trading out your treadmill for a track, your dumbbell for a rock, and your pull up bar for a jungle gym. Working out is not an inside only sport.

6. Stop Working out so much – I workout because I love it. That love can be the biggest deterrent to my success. If I workout for an hour and a half I still have 22 ½ more hours in that day. Your body does not rest for that 22 ½ hours. No it is busy repairing all of the damage you did during those 1½ hours of work. I recommend giving yourself more time to rest. If I squat on Monday, I probably won’t squat again till Friday. I lift hard and I know to improve my goal (getting stronger) I must allow my body time to recoup before another round. I know not everyone works out to get stronger so 72+ hours of rest may seem a little long. Give yourself at least 48 hours before training the same body part or doing the same activity.

7. Crank up your cardio – Cardio sucks, I hate it. There is nothing more boring for me then do the same motion for a ½ hour to an hour. I would much rather shorten that time to 15 minutes or maybe a ½ hour. Add intervals to your cardio and cut down the time. Instead of jogging 30 minutes try sprinting for 30 seconds then jogging for a minute. 10 sets of this will have your heart rate jumping and have you heading for the showers 15 minutes sooner with better results.

8. Cardio does not mean run or bike – Cardio is just a way to elevate your heart rate for an extended period of time. I love to box so punching the heavy bag was a natural progression for my cardio. What do you love to do? Why not play basketball instead of bike, tag football instead of wasting away on an elliptical, or tennis instead of a rowing machine? Heck you can even shorten your breaks during your weight lifting program and use that as cardio. Options are everywhere.

9. Redefine your goals – If you want to bench 400 pounds great, go get it. Let me ask you a question, why? What are your goals and why do you want them? I want to lose weight isn’t a goal. Wanting to drop 15 pounds so you look better in a bikini is a goal. Wanting to drop 100 pounds so you can set a better example for your children is an even better one. Your why has to be as big as your want. Which means the reason why you’re working out must be a big enough motivator to push you towards what you want. So why do you workout? The clearer your why is, the easier it is to workout.

10. Stop being a failure – I see a lot of people who are too hard on themselves. A lot of people I have worked out with over the years see themselves as successful only when they reach their goal. So every day that you haven’t reached your goal, you’re a failure. I don’t believe that. I believe that every day that you stick to your plan and move towards your goal, you’re a success. You won’t lose 100 pounds overnight but you can feel better about yourself overnight. Every time you workout and make a stride to achieving your goal you are a success. It feels good to be successful every day. It feels so good that you will see a difference in your commitment to your workouts.

These tips are only tips. Try to mix them into to what you’re already doing. You know your body better than anyone else, so only do as much as you can.

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10 Tips to Flirting Online

So, you’re on a date site. Well, looking to find a potential boyfriend or girlfriend online can be fun, but it can also be dangerous. There are plenty of weirdo’s out there who do disturbing things. So if you’re the kind who’s interested in finding a halfway decent person online to maybe get acquainted with, then here are ten tips on how to flirt online without attracting the wrong kind of single men and women.

Be careful with the information you post online. Don’t be too detailed and don’t easily give away your contact numbers. Let them ask for it so that you can filter out who you want and don’t want to contact you.

Choose your photo carefully. Don’t post overexposed body parts, unless of course, you want to be perceived as easy. Choose something subtle, say, a picture where you’re smiling casually with your hair down. If you’re a pet lover, a picture of your pet would be cute, and some girls would be interested in that and check you out. It’s a breath of fresh air from the sea of cocky photographs in the date site.

Don’t choose a disturbing username. Princess Kit and DJ funk might get to meet more decent singles than say, bigknockers69 or touchmyjunk.

Talk about your interests for a while with that person. Don’t immediately jump to suggestive topics because it might ruin a potentially good conversation. Let that person get to know you without having to reveal the more private details.

When someone initiates a live chat with you, don’t be rude. Send out a simple hello and if there’s nothing funny going on, it’s alright to start a mild conversation with that person. If you don’t feel like talking to that person, then just say you’re busy and say goodbye. Most private chat rooms offer an offline button so that you seem like you’re no longer online.

If you’ve been chatting with the same person for a while, pull it up a notch with a video chat. Wear normal clothes and not revealing, else you’ll look like some cyber hooker.

Always protect yourself online. One reason as to why you shouldn’t immediately jump to suggestive conversations is because the one you might be chatting with is an impersonator and looking to destroy your reputation or scam you.

Try playing games online together. This will make things fun for both you and that person. Play online poker or other fun games with him. You’ll have great memories, even if they happened without you leaving your seat.

Keep in touch. There’s nothing wrong with sending a short email even just once, or greeting them during the holidays. Don’t pester the person. You’ll seem needy and obsessive. If they don’t reply, then let it go.

Choose the proper dating site or chat room for you. Like, for example, don’t join a chat room filled with vegetarians if you’re a meat lover.

If you’re looking for a free date site, two suggestions would be OkCupid and Connectingsingles. There are a lot of registered members so you’re likely to find someone who will surely have the same interests as you do.

Shawn Hickman is the owner of Orlando SEO Pros an Orlando Marketing Company. To get more information about Tips to Flirting Online, visit the Dating Advice section of DateLocalz.com Top Free Dating Sites.

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10 Tips to Gain the Most from Your Insurance

Insurance coverage is a powerful tool when consumers face devastating losses. Being smart about how you buy and use insurance can help you get the most for your money. The following tips can help.

1. Think twice before filing small claims. Submitting claims that exceed the deductible by only a few hundred dollars may increase your premiums down the road and ultimately cost more than the repair would have cost out of pocket.

2. Buy the right amount of coverage. Be sure you coverage is adequate, but not excessive. Insurance policy limits should be revisited every year. You may need to update your homeowners coverage whenever you make major purchases or remodel your home. On the other hand, some of your personal belongings may decrease in value over time, requiring less coverage. It’s a good idea to update your home inventory annually and check for possible savings. With auto insurance, consider dropping collision or comprehensive coverage on older cars if their decreased value makes the coverage no longer cost-effective.

3. Increase the deductible. Raising the deductible by a few hundred dollars can result in a significant decrease in your premium. Deductibles often start at $250. By raising the deductible to $1,000, you may save nearly 25% on homeowners premiums and 40% on collision and comprehensive coverage for your car.*

4. Look for safety discounts. You may be able to lower your homeowners premium if your home has safety features such as dead-bolt locks, smoke detectors, an alarm system, storm shutters or fire retardant roofing material. You may qualify for discounts on auto insurance if your car has features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft, such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and anti-theft devices.

5. Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer. Some companies offer a discount for multiple policies.

6. Maintain a good credit rating. A poor credit score may raise the cost of insurance, while a high score may result in cost savings.

7. Don’t smoke. Cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire death across the country and property losses total millions of dollars each year.** Because of this, insurers often charge lower premiums to smoke-free households.

8. Be loyal. Some companies reduce premiums for long-time policyholders.

9. Ask about discounts. Many insurance companies offer discounts, but the types of discounts vary. An insurance agent can help you find the ones that apply in your situation – and even suggest steps you might take to qualify for further reductions.

10. Turn to a trusted partner. The experienced insurance agents at [THIS FINANCIAL INSTITUTION] can help you get the insurance coverage you need without paying more than you have to. Rely on their expert knowledge to help guide you to insurance coverage that fits your family’s situation and provides peace of mind when the unexpected occurs.

* Source: Insurance Information Institute, www.iii.org .

**Source: Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, http://ift.tt/1akklGr .

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10 Tips for Getting Your Car, Truck or SUV Ready for Winter

Every year around this time it hits you with all of the shock and surprise of a horror villain leaping in to slaughter a group of unsuspecting teenagers. No, you are not watching your life suddenly flash before your eyes thanks to the grim machinations of a serial killer but rather you are finding yourself shocked by the sudden onset of a cold and dreary winter.

As such, you need to come to grips with the fact that your driving style, driving needs and what you carry in your car, truck or SUV needs to change as well. So how exactly are you supposed to prepare for the upcoming winter driving season?

Well, first off you had better remember what your mother always told you and dress warmly. Your vehicle might have a heater, heated seats and a heated steering wheel but accidents always find a way of happening. And if you wind up driving off an embankment where no one can see you (and your car dies), then you will be glad you dressed warmly.

So beyond the obvious, what else should you do to prepare yourself for driving in the winter? Read on to ensure you are following these ten helpful winter driving tips.

1. First off, if you live in a snowy climate you seriously need to think about a good set of snow tires. There is a tremendous amount of wisdom inherent in swapping out summer for winter tires if you live somewhere like Michigan. That also means that in the summer months you get to enjoy the dry weather traction of summer tires.

2. Check all of your vital fluids under the hood. This most especially applies to the anti-freeze and brake fluid reservoirs.

3. Inspect your wiper blades to make sure they aren’t dried and brittle from an intense summer or torn. You are going to need them this winter.

4. Pack yourself a first-aid kit. Many stores carry pre-packaged first-aid kits but you can save money and make your own with all of the supplies in your bathroom.

5. Make sure you carry water, extra warm clothes and some snacks in your trunk or cargo area in case you get stuck, lost or worse this winter.

6. Check your headlights and tail lights to make sure no bulbs are burned out. You want to make sure you are visible to other drivers.

7. Check your tire pressure. Improper tire pressure can adversely affect vehicle handling and that is dangerous in winter.

8. If you live in a snowy climate make sure you have your windshield scraper and a tub in the car. You never know when the windshield might get covered in ice and/or snow.

9. Change your engine air filter. This helps your engine run cleaner and it’s wise to do every half-season.

10. Check your tire tread. When checking your tires turn your steering wheel all the way to the right and the left to ensure tire wear is even across the tread. You don’t want to lose traction of suffer a blowout in winter.

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10 Tips for Getting Flat Abs

It used to be that doing sit-ups everyday was all you needed for flat abs. Since the definition of a firm abdomen has gotten more defined, so has the ways you can get it. Getting rid of the flab around the middle now requires more than just sit-ups. If you want to get bikini ready for your next vacation, it’s about a combination of diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.

Watch the Carbs
Reducing the carbohydrates you eat can eliminate bloating, water retention and even weight gamin around your stomach. Get your carbs from fruit and whole grains, not cake or candy.

Exercise Ball
Instead of doing sit-ups on the floor, try doing crunches on an exercise ball. This works many of the muscles in an around the stomach-as well as the back-since it requires balance and movement.

Drink Fluids
Ironically, the best way to get rid of stomach bloating from water retention is to drink more water. “Shape Magazine” says to aim for eight glasses a day of fluids, preferably water.

Avoid Stress
Stress is bad for your abs for more than one reason. It can cause an increase of cortisol in your body. This hormone not only increases appetite, but it deposits fat around the middle.

Eat More Fiber
Eating more fruits, vegetables and other fiber-filled foods can lead you to flat abs by aiding your digestive tract. The quicker the food moves through your stomach the flatter it will be.

Don’t Eat Late
Eating late at night, especially a large meal, can cause you to wake up with extra pounds around the middle. To keep flat abs, eat light at night and avoid after dinner snacking.

Skip the Salt
Decrease or eliminate sodium in your diet to keep your abs flat. Salt causes water retention and therefore bloating. Beware of high sodium contents in prepared foods, especially soups.

Have Breakfast
A study by metabolic specialist Dr. C. Wayne Callaway, showed that those who did not eat breakfast had a lower metabolism than those who did. Eating breakfast can help you burn more fat in your abs.

Get Moving

Keep your body moving for a firmer stomach. Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise can be effective in reducing weight gain in your stomach. Running, swimming and even walking can help you get flatter abs.

Stand Tall
Good posture may not permanently change your stomach muscles, but it can make your abs flatter. Stand up tall and align your ears over your shoulder to naturally tuck your abdominal muscles in.

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10 Tips for Getting in Shape for Summer

With summer just around the corner, it is time to get ready for the season’s more revealing fashions and outdoor activities. These 10 fitness and diet tips will help you get in shape for summer.

1. Walk. Now is the time to start exercising more, and walking is one of the best exercises for women of all ages, whether you a young mother with toddlers or a retiree enjoying her golden years. Walking is good aerobic exercise that can provide significant health benefits, such as helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, increase bone density, strengthen muscles, reduce or maintain weight and ease stress. Also, walking is a low-impact exercise that is relatively easy on the body, especially the joints, and less likely to cause injury than higher-impact activities such as jogging, and it is easy to do and to fit into a busy schedule.

2. Boost your activity level by incorporating more exercise into your regular routines, for example, by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, parking further from the door when shopping, or walking a little further when taking the dog out for his evening stroll.

3. Take up yoga. Anyone can do it, since yoga routines can be tailored to ability and fitness. Yoga strives to integrate body, breath and mind to improve physical and mental health resulting in potential benefits in many aspects of everyday life. Among other things, it can help to reduce stress, increase energy, strengthen and shape the body, and control weight.

4. Find an exercise buddy. Exercising with a friend can be more fun than exercising alone and you can mutually motivate each other to stick with an exercise program.

5. Join an exercise class. Like exercising with a friend, participating in a regularly scheduled exercise class can provide an incentive for regular activity.

6. Work out with weights. Many fitness experts recommend an exercise program for women that includes aerobic exercise like walking, stretching to increase flexibility and help to avoid injuries, and strength or weight training. If you are a newcomer to using weights, consider a beginners weight training class, since proper technique is important to maximizing the benefit of your work out with weights and to avoiding injury.

7. Dust off your bike. Biking is great aerobic exercise, a lot of fun and it will help to shape up your legs for summer shorts and swimsuits.

8. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. They are good for your health and good for your figure. Visit your local farmers’ market to buy the freshest produce and support your local economy.

9. Add these heart-healthy superfoods to your diet. At breakfast, eat a bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries, snack on almond and walnuts, have salmon in a salad at lunch or as an entrée at dinner, and cook with olive oil. Not only are all these foods great for your heart, but, eaten in moderation, they can help you to lose weight.

10. Buy yourself a new swimsuit and put it where you will see it every day. It will be a powerful incentive to for you to stick to your exercise program and diet.

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10 Tips to Greatly Improve Your Health

One: Increase fruit intake. It’s full of antioxidants and nutrients, and many fruits contain digestive enzymes that’ll keep your pipes running clean and efficient.

Two: Avoid fruit juices. It’s a common misconception that they’re great for you; sure, they’re loaded with vitamins, much like the whole fruit, but they lack the fiber, and so the sugar in it will cause an insulin spike in your body–something that eating whole fruit will not result in.

Three: Reduce dairy products. Yes, things like milk are a great source of calcium, protein, and other essentials. But unless you can find a raw milk vendor in your area, the milk that you are drinking, while it delivers lots of protein and calcium, will do more harm than good. Cows these days are loaded down with hormones and artificial feed, and the chemicals therein are transferred to the milk. Also, dairy products have been shown to increase phlegm and result, sometimes, in reduced immunity. Besides getting calcium, try getting magnesium and vitamin D, too. Vitamin D and magnesium are essential in the use of calcium in the body, and without them, the calcium is nearly useless. It’s estimated that up to 60% of the calcium in milk is not used, unless you get a magnesium and vitamin D intake to match. Try getting most of your calcium from nuts and vegetables; almonds are a good source, as is broccoli, I believe.

Four: Drink more water. I can not emphasize this enough. Water does several very important things for your body: It provides ‘padding’ for your joints, it regulates body temperature, it flushes out toxins, increases metabolism, can stave off hunger, aids in digestion, and has no calorie content. It is one of the few ‘perfect’ edibles there are out there. It has no adverse effects, unless you drink way too much and become waterlogged. But that takes care of itself. You might worry about having to urinate all the time if you drink more water. The fact is, your body will adapt to the heightened water intake after a few days to a couple of weeks (depending on various things), and you may even end up heading to the bathroom even less than before.

Five: Reduce your sodium intake. Or, if you absolutely have to have sodium for some unknown and un-thought-of reason, match it with potassium. Potassium can help ease the adverse effects of sodium on the body, research shows. While a little bit of sodium is necessary, most of us take in way too much. Before popping a handful of mixed salted nuts in your mouth, maybe you should rinse them off first.

Six: Increase your iron intake. Iron is one of the main nutrients that helps the blood carry oxygen throughout the body. More oxygen flow results in more energy; more energy, and you might just want to get out there and do something, like exercise.

Seven: Exercise. This one’s a given. Don’t do just cardio or just strength training, but, rather, do both on different days of the week. Make sure you don’t overdo it, if you’re just starting. Jumprope is excellent conditioning, as is running. Anaerobic activity trumps aerobic activity for fat loss; 30 second sprints followed by 15 seconds of rest, and repeating several times, will burn off more fat than as much as twice that time spent running long-distance.

Eight: Meditate. Or find some other way to chill out. It’s a proven fact that stress and anxiety increases chemicals in your body that tell your body to begin storing fat; this is probably a descendant instinct of the old body-logic, “Oh, no. The mind is panicking. We must be about to run out of food! Time to store up…”
Meditation has also been shown to have other positive effects.

Nine: Get a good night of sleep. Running on fumes (so to speak) and not sleeping for long periods of time invokes the same ‘panic button’ in the body that stress does. It will result in excess fat storage. And, besides, a good night of sleep is just nice to have. No need for scientific facts to back that up; a good rest will make just about anyone feel better.

Ten: Reduce processed sugar and sweetener intake, for the love of God. There’s a huge difference between simple sugars from fruits, and processed sugars found in cakes. The latter bears the blame for acidic saliva that often results in cavities, obesity, hyperactivity, some gland disorders, diabetes, and others. Processed sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, also are reported to stunt growth, slow down metabolism, and cause digestive problems. Avoid artificial ‘sugar-free’ sweeteners as well; they’re often just as bad, but for different reasons.

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10 Tips for a Happier Marriage

With high divorce rates and today’s mounting pressures, how can couples keep their own marriage functional and happy? How have couples happily married for 25, 30 and even 50 years, accomplished that feat? What are some of the secrets of their success? Though these ten tips will not cover every difficult situation in all marriages, they can help to foster happier, healthier relationships and support a couple through those rough spots.

1) Give of yourself. In the “Me” and “I” times we now live in, it can be easy to forget that a marriage is about a partnership. As such, it is 50% about each individual in a relationship. If one partner spends 50% of their time considering the well-being of the other, the mutual appreciation of the couple will soar. The old adage, “It is better to give than to receive” actually turns out to have great merit both in healthy relationships and one’s own emotional happiness.

2) Laugh. Laughter keeps people healthy. Not only is it great for dispelling anger and aiding in emotional healing, it has actually been shown to improve physical well-being. Learn to laugh with your partner. Think back to a moment when you heard a child laughing spontaneously at something totally silly. Remember how good it felt to hear that laughter and how it brought your own laughter to the surface. This is just as true when partners hear their spouse expressing such spontaneous joy.

3) Lighten up. We don’t need to take ourselves so seriously. When we get completely wrapped up in our own problems or passions, we tend to lose perspective. Try to step outside yourself for a moment. Ask yourself if someone else voiced those thoughts, had those feelings, behaved that way–what would you really think? Would you think they were a two year old throwing a temper tantrum? Would you ask them if they needed a sedative? Would you avoid them until they behaved rationally? Would you laugh? Would you agree?

4) Pamper yourself. We all need our down time. Privacy and quiet times are important for every individual. Too often, married couples, forget that they need this private recoup period and so does their partner. Make time to read that latest novel, take that walk, go see that movie, or put the headphones on and listen to a favorite album. Each partner should give their other half some special, private time to do with as they wish.

5) Learn to listen. Listening involves more than simply being quiet while someone else is talking. It is actually an active process, not a passive one. Listening not only means hearing what the other individual is saying, but it is doing so without trying to think of your response statement at the same time. There is no multi-tasking in active listening. Active listening prevents many problem situations because you will begin to know more about your partner than you believed possible and true communication will become more honest and fulfilling. In time, you will not only learn what they are saying but what it is they are not saying. Only active listening brings this skill into a marriage.

6) Share the work. In most relationships today, both partners are busy, involved and active. The old job duties assigned in the past may not make sense to today’s couples. Couples need to become aware of each other’s skills and assets and divide chores and responsibilities accordingly. Problems start to occur when one individual feels they’re pulling the entire load without relief. It may sound like something everyone would know, but there are numerous couples who state they are being taken advantage of, they pull all the workload around the house and they just wish their spouse would insert your chore of choice here.

There are exceptions to separating activities: children and past-times both couples may enjoy. With children, there are a growing number of stay-at-home Dads, just as in the past it was almost exclusively stay-at-home Moms; yet, children need equal love, guidance and care from both parents. This is sharing the work but it becomes a mutual job, rewarding for both partners and their children. The same goes for activities you both enjoy. Is there a sport or hobby which both of you love? Enjoy doing this together. This give and take between together time and separate activities, provides a sense of balance in a relationship.

7) Loyalty counts. Sometimes we all need to bite our tongues. Keep sarcastic jokes inside your head, off your tongue, and disagreements with your partner between the two of you. This is not the same as blind loyalty. This technique involves simple, polite, respectful partnering. In the corporate world, when one company merges with another, they do not spend their productive time tearing the other company down. They recognize what each company brings to the table and appreciates it for the benefit it is. In time, even in the best relationships, cutting remarks meant as jokes or put forth as teasing, often grow to have a ring of truth. We don’t need to go there.

A successful marriage partnership carries that mutual respect outside their private circle. They don’t put their children in the middle of their problems or expect them to be marriage counselors. They don’t have their co-workers learn to dislike the partner before they even meet the spouse at a company party. They don’t spread embarrassing details about their partner that should have been left unsaid. If you have a burning desire to impart embarrassing moments, tell people about your own. We all have enough of them to share.

8) Pick your battles. Some things really aren’t worth fighting over. We have all had bad days, idiotic moments, mental fatigue and diarrhea of the mouth. Allow your partner the same consideration as you hope others will give you. Sure there will be some days when a partner is less than considerate, even bordering on being a jerk…but is it a constant thing? Is it a pattern that needs dealing with? Or is this irritating lapse of behavior an unusual occurrence which may signal they need a hug more than a lecture.

9) Friends of friends are good things. Marriage should not stifle or suppress individuals. Instead, a good relationship actually helps an individual to become a better person, both to themselves and the people they come into contact with. Allow your partner to have some time with their friends. Friendship is important. You don’t have to hang out with their friends or even like them, but being polite, accepting and welcoming to your partner’s friends goes a long way. They don’t have to be your friends; they are your partner’s friends. The best marriages look at their partner as their best friend in life. Simple consideration of the friends of this, your most important friend in the world, can build a stronger and more trusting relationship.

10) Look for things you love. Unconditional love is neither blind nor stupid. It is the certain knowledge that your partner brings more good to the world than they detract from it. If each partner spends a single moment of each day recognizing something good they see in their partner, no matter how small it may appear, these single moments can lead to a lifetime of appreciation. Look for these special traits in your partner and your appreciation of their place in your own life will expand exponentially. When this happens, the first tip presented in this list will become a no-brainer.

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10 Tips to Keep Your Kids Healthy While Traveling

Summer time is almost upon us, and that means that many families will take off on vacation. To make the most of your trip, you will want to keep everyone healthy and safe. Here are 10 tips to keep your kids healthy while traveling.

  • Wear Sunscreen– To prevent the redness, peeling and burning sensation of a sunburn, not to mention the chance of cancer later on, the CDC recommends a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 plus UVA and UVB protection.
  • Eat Healthy– Try to avoid fast food, although it is difficult for vacationers. Remember to eat plenty of fruits and veggies. This will keep the energy levels up, and it will lessen the trips to the bathroom from unfamiliar and greasy foods.
  • Stay Hydrated– Kids can easily get dehydrated just because they won’t stop to get a drink. Keep a steady supply of bottled water on hand, and have them drink it.
  • Use Bug Spray– If you are outdoors, one of the last things you want is to see a swarm of mosquitoes. So keep everyone sprayed with insect spray. Remember to not spray the face. Also, DEET isn’t recommended for children, so find a spray that has less than 30%, or 0% would be even better.
  • Wear Loose Clothing– Loose fit clothing will breathe better even if the material isn’t normally known for it. This will keep your kids cooler, and they will have less of a chance of getting overheated or dehydrated.
  • Pool Safety– NEVER leave your kids unattended in the pool. Make certain that they follow the pool rules of no running. If they can’t swim, keep them in shallow water with floaties or a life vest.
  • Don’t Drink The Water– This should go without saying, but try and keep your kids from drinking the water that they are swimming in. If it’s a pool, then they would be drinking chemicals and probably some human fluids. If it is a natural body of water, they would be drinking every other animals waste fluids and parasites.
  • Playground– If you find a nice playground, make certain that it is safe for the kiddies. Make sure that the equipment isn’t too hot. Also, the surface underneath should be wood mulch or rubber.
  • Helmet– If your children are skating, riding a bicycle or any other vehicle that could expose their heads, then put a helmet on them. Helmets do save lives.
  • Stranger Danger– Most importantly, teach your children not to talk to strangers. Also, have an up to date photo of your kids with statistics on height, weight, blood type and allergies. You should also place information on a card to put in your child’s pocket such as your contact information, known allergies and any other pertinent information. Keep them safe.

CDC, “Make Summer Safe for Kids,” www.CDC.gov

Maria Trimachi, “10 Summer Safety Tips for Kids,” health.howstuffworks.com

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10 Tips to Live Debt Free on a 25k Salary

With the current wobbly economy many Americans find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. People seem to think that if only they made more money their financial woes would be solved. Unfortunately, unless you actually plan out your budget and stick to it, it really doesn’t matter how much money you make, you are still going to encounter the same problems. That’s why whether you make $25,000 or $125,000 you need to plan your finances so that you get the most out of your income.

1. Collect all the data and put it on paper.

You may need to dedicate and entire day to this task depending on how messy your finances are. Simply collect all your financial data (income, credit cards, accounts, IRA, expenses, etc.) and put it into two separate charts. The first chart will include all of your income: salary, side business, and otherwise. The second chart will list off all of your current expenses. You can also use free financial websites like Mint.com to help you see exactly where your money is going.

2. Cut unnecessary expenses.

Do you really need an expensive gym membership? Can you cut some of your electricity and water use? The truth is that many times we are paying for more than we actually need. Find out where you can make some cuts and adjust accordingly.

3. The 60% Budget

A popular budget is the 60/40 theory. That is to say, 60% of your pay goes toward expenses and the other 40% goes into savings. You will be surprised at how easy it is to cut your expenses to 60% of what you make. You will also be surprised at how quickly your will savings grow.

4. Have some sort of secondary income.

Many financial experts will tell you that depending on one income is not enough. For this reason, you should start finding ways to make some extra money on the side. The Simple Dollar has an entire list of businesses that you can start on your own.

5. Keep your accounts simple.

There really is no reason to have multiple checking accounts unless you have a separate account for business expenses. With multiple accounts and no organization you will have a hard time keeping up with everything and may not even be able to track how much you spend.

6. Leave the credit card at home.

My credit card is locked away in a desk and only used for emergencies. If you are living on a tight budget there is no reason to add expenses to your credit card. Additionally, there is also no reason to have multiple credit cards at once.

7. Buy used.

Besides helping the environment and local business, buying used can definitely make a difference in a financial situation.

8. Cook your meals at home and brown bag your lunch.

Nothing puts a dent in your wallet more than eating out. Cook most of your meals at home and brown bag the leftovers for lunch, this way you save money and may even lose some weight.

9. Get rid of the landline at home.

A cell phone is more than enough to take care of your communication needs. You are probably already paying for nationwide long distance on your cell, so there really is no reason to have a landline at home.

9. Check out books from the library and rent DVDs.

Borrowing things is much more cost effective than buying a bunch of things you don’t actually need.

As you can see, if you are living on a tight budget there are several steps that you can take in order to avoid debt. With careful planning and perseverance, you will see that even $25,000 can go a long way.

Sources:
MSN – A Simpler Way to Save: The 60% Solution
The Simple Dollar: 50 Side Businesses You Can Start on Your Own

Tags:10 Tips to Live Debt Free on a 25k Salary

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