miércoles, 10 de septiembre de 2014

Think you're still missing something?

If you're a frequent traveler, you know the hard lessons on booking hotels and saving money at the same time. Think you're still missing something? Try these tips:

Book direct
The math is simple: If you go call and book the hotel straight, there's a likelihood that you're getting the most accurate room rate. On the other hand, many travel sites offer deals that you just can't pass up. Usually these are offered on non-peak seasons. There's a virtue in knowing how to comparison shop. Many times you may get shocked for being a victim of switch and bait--you booked for a low price only to find out that you are relegated to the only room available which is one you didn't want.

Troubleshoot it by calling the hotel directly and tell them exactly what you want and what rate you're getting on a travel booking site. They will be happy to beat the price for you.

Become a club member

Becoming a hotel or resort club member is free, and comes with plenty of perks. If you're a frequent traveler, you should pick the hotels you always stay in and apply to be a member--most likely you'll get one or two nights free everytime you book a stay with them. In fact, whenever we would stay at MGM resorts, we always get offers in the mail for free rooms for at least three days in any of their property such as New York New York and Monte Carlo.

Resort fees? Do your research

Does the hotel offer free breakfast? Are pets allowed? Do they charge resort fees? Free breakfast obviously saves you money so you don't have to leave the hotel for the nearest IHOP. Many hotels charge you extra for pets if you didn't know they are off-limits, and you can only stay in specific rooms. Resort fees are fairly new: for the uninitiated, I have no idea what this covers. Ask any hotel staff and they don't know either. I'm just making an assumption that resort fees pretty much cover the internet use and the complimentary bottled water, wine and cheese crackers they send up to your room when you check in.

The 17 Day Diet is not hard to follow at all

The 17 Day Diet is a great, healthy, simple diet to follow because it allows you to eat plenty of food without feeling deprived, requires minimal exercise, achieves rapid weight loss, and helps you feel great both mentally and physically. The philosophy of the diet is based on eliminating sugar and processed foods, limiting fats and sodium, eating lots of vegetables and lean protein. It also includes exercising for at least 17 minutes a day and avoiding alcohol. Drinking a cup of green tea with meals and ensuring you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day are also important on this diet. It may sound difficult, but once you are prepared, it is actually quite simple to follow the program. The diet consists of four 17-day cycles, beginning with Cycle 1 which has a more limited selection of food with an emphasis on restricting carbs. The food lists expand with each subsequent cycle until you reach Cycle 4 which allows for a widely-varied, well-balanced, healthy way of eating for a lifetime.

The 17 Day Diet is not hard to follow at all - if you take the necessary steps to succeed. I say this from experience after going on the diet and having great success for the first two cycles with a loss of 18 pounds in 34 days. Things were going well, then it all fell apart...because I got so busy, I was unprepared, and I did not do some very simple things to ensure my continued success. After learning what caused me to fail to stick to the diet (lack of preparation), I am once again back on the program and things are going much more smoothly now. Because I whole-heartedly believe this is an excellent program that can truly help people achieve phenomenal results with weight loss that they have never been able to obtain with other programs, I wanted to share some simple tips that will help ensure your success.


Since this diet requires you to eliminate sugar and processed foods and allows only olive oil or flax seed oil as your fat source in the first cycle, most of your traditional seasoning, dressings, and condiments will not work. You need to be able to have the ingredients to make your meals on hand in order to make it simple to stick to the diet. Otherwise, it becomes too tedious and difficult to follow. When making your list, be sure to review the recipes provided in the book because they contain many things not included in the "List of Foods" in Cycle 1, such as parmesan cheese, lowfat sour cream, or barbecue sauce. After making a complete list, you are ready to go to the store in search of these items.


When I started looking for the ingredients I needed to make meals, I was shocked to find out how difficult it was to find items that did not contain sugar, high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, or other unhealthy ingredients. It can be done, and once they are found it is simply a matter of purchasing the items, but I was literally spending hours searching store aisles for salad dressings, ketchup, bbq sauce, marinara sauce, soups, salsas etc. This is an unavoidable and necessary evil critical to your success. Imagine if you get off work, starving for dinner, stop by the store to pick up ingredients to make a meal, and it takes you 2 hours to find ingredients that you can actually use to stick to this program! That could make anyone give up. It is absolutely critical to your success to already have the products you need on hand or, at the very least, to know what to buy and where to get it. It all boils down to investing some initial time to research and find the items that can be purchased already prepared and discovering which items you will need to make from scratch since there are none commercially available.

I was absolutely dumbfounded how many food products had unhealthy ingredients that I didn't even consider before being educated on this diet, like finding sugar in Worchestershire sauce, spices, or marinara sauce. Sugar was found in so many grocery items, even when it was completely unnecessary and unexpected. So be prepared to be extremely frustrated by having to put hundreds of items back on the shelf after reading the ingredient list. But be patient. You will be able find many items, and will also discover to ways to make your own condiments quickly and easily from a few simple ingredients. Remember to look closely at the ingredients and nutrition label as they may be deceiving. Marinara sauce that has no sugar may show a high sugar content in the nutrition label, however if no sugar is added, that means the grams of sugar listed are those naturally occuring in the tomatos. Also, some products will have sugar listed in the ingredients, but on the nutrition label it may show zero grams of sugar. While not specified in the book, I deduced that these items showing zero or just a few grams of sugar were okay to use since it was so minimal. Find the products and ingredients you need and purchase them before starting the diet. Having your pantry and fridge stocked will significantly improve your odds of succeeding.


Diets are most difficult when we allow ourselves to get too hungry and we are tempted to grab anything that is convenient, readily available, and quick. That is the cornerstone of the success of fast food in our country. So, to stick to this diet, it is important to have items that meet that criteria. It is actually pretty simple to do with just a little preparation. I found it is very convenient to make chili and other soups for something quick to heat up. Keeping single servings in the fridge and freezer make it a snap to grab and eat or take to work. Also, having grilled, baked, or boiled chicken breast already cooked in the fridge make it easy to whip up a quick meal. You can add this to your soups or salad for a protein-packed, satisfying meal. Since I found it easier to stick to the diet by eating savory, flavorful food, I also liked to make "taco" meat by using lean ground turkey seasoned with onion,chili powder and Ms. Dash's chili lime seasoning. I could add this to my eggs for a mexican omelet, make a taco salad, or lettuce wraps to make a tasty meal in minutes. I also made salad dressing, vegetable dips, and barbecue sauce ahead of time and kept them ready to go in the fridge. This really only requires a time investment of a couple of hours once a week to keep you going strong on the program. By having all of these items ready to go, and allowing you to have a meal ready in minutes, it can keep you on track even when you are at your weakest point of hunger. I found this step to be absolutely critical to succeeding on this program. This step will help you incorporate the 17 Day Diet into your busy lifestyle. Without advanced food prep, I don't believe I could realistically stick to this diet for any length of time.

These 3 simple tips will go a long a way to helping you succeed on the 17 Day Diet. Set yourself up for success by preparing for the diet before you start. It is said that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Every day you have an opportunity to change your life; prepare for this diet and you will have great luck on the 17 Day Diet.

Meaningful employment positively impacts individuals

Meaningful employment positively impacts individuals in recovery from mental health and substance abuse by: 1) making them too tired to engage in former drug related activities directly after work, 2) bringing them under socialized peer pressure which can be exerted upon a macro (society as a whole ranging from employers to friends) and micro level (close associations), 3) implants healthy fears about losing hard won positions of respect within society and monetary rewards, 4) assist in developing and maintaining refusal skills - the ability to say - no - to their drug of choice, past dysfunctional behaviors and life style; thus, providing those in recovery from mental illness and substance abuse who are suffering from long term unemployment with meaningful jobs actually assist in their recovery as it reduces taxes - this is because taxes are utilized to pay for drug treatment programs, incarceration, and increased police presence in communities. According to, (et. al. 2009, Mental Health and Addiction 101 Series) Harm reduction can be defined as "any program or policy aimed at reducing harm related to substance use without requiring that the substance use be stopped. The program or policy may be aimed at the individual, family, community or society."

Why not just provide them with volunteer positions? The problem with this is that today's volunteers including those that are in recovery from mental illness and substance abuse; especially those that are over thirty may be just as qualified as those individuals working as paid employees. Individuals over thirty struggling with recovery from mental health and substance abuse issues don't just sit around and collect welfare and SSI checks. These individuals also engage in everything from volunteer positions, internships to formal education in order to return to work; unfortunately a number of these individuals may engage in these back to work activities for years without being rewarded for their efforts; thus, encouraging them to relapse and give up any hope of leading a normal life. According to BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 2010 online publication relating to volunteerism within the U.S: whites volunteered at a rate of (27.8 percent), blacks at (19.4 percent) and Asians (19.6 percent); while Hispanics or Latinos, 14.7... Individuals with higher levels of educational attainment which includes those that possess college degrees who age 25 and over volunteered at a rate of 42.3 percent.

Although there are laws that that offer tax incentives for hiring long term unemployed individuals, these laws may not be enough to ensure that women and minorities in recovery from MHSA issues will be rehired back into the work force due to the problem of racism, and the stigma of substance abuse/mental illness. Yet, without question, hiring long term unemployed individuals in recovery is the best way to reduce government and tax payer spending.

Dick Echorst of Century 21

Buyers on a budget are finding it harder to secure affordable housing due to investors gobbling up lower priced homes; sometimes before they are advertised publicly. Hiring a competent realtor is essential, or you may find yourself lost in house hunting purgatory. During the last 38 months, I have looked at homes in almost every state on the eastern seaboard and met at least a dozen realtors with varying degrees of expertise. The qualities I look for when choosing a realtor are dedication, a sense of humor and the willingness to be pestered at all hours of the day and night. The two best realtors I've encountered possessed all three of these attributes and have made the grueling process of home shopping fun instead of frustrating.
Dick Echorst of Century 21 Sbarra & Wells is located in upstate New York, an area I know very little about. He has kept in touch with me faithfully for the last three years through two hurricanes and all major holidays. Since I am far away, the task of touring potential homes falls on him alone. I send him multiple inquiries a week and he always responds the same day, even if it's near midnight. Dick has an uncanny knack for narrowing down my housing choices with words of wisdom like: "You don't want to live there." or "It's a nice area if you don't mind flooding." His dedication to caution never wanes and his level of honesty is steadfast. When I do find something he approves of, Dick is always willing to go see it for me & send a video.

My local realtor, Kevin Colman of Prudential Gross & Jansen Highlands in NJ, is like an overprotective mother, always looking out for his client's best interests. I suspect he attended real estate boot camp instead of regular real estate school. According to Mr. Colman, most of what I see on the internet is already sold or too expensive for my budget. Everything I ask him about is either in attorney review or "not really for sale." It almost seems like he's trying to prevent me from buying anything instead of helping but his methods are designed to save time. Kevin specializes in commercial real estate as well as residential and is one of the busiest realtors I've met. I don't think he ever takes a day off and he manages to answer all my questions, even if I've asked them more than once. Kevin also has a good sense of humor, which is important because finding a house on a shoestring budget can be stressful. He's been showing me houses since 2007 and has never complained, even though I have yet to buy one. Most of the properties we look at are moldy or lacking essentials like sheetrock & flooring but he remains optimistic; always encouraging me that we'll find the right one eventually. No matter what I ask of him, Kevin comes through. Whether it's a seller willing to finance or a house big enough for 6 kids that fits my ridiculous budget; his dedication to working miracles is unwavering.

According to US Housing Conditions, the homeownership rate is the lowest it's been since 1996, sales are at their lowest since 1997, and the production of new homes is the lowest it has ever been. Still, home prices are similar to those in 2003. What should you do if you're a buyer trying to find an affordable home on a tight budget? Find a realtor like Dick Echorst who's willing to answer emails at midnight & send video from two hours away. If you prefer comic relief with your house hunting; hire Kevin Colman, who's brave enough to go inside a house even when the listing notes say "do not enter structure!" He tells a good fish joke too.

I've switched from baking with all-purpose flour to whole grain flours.

I've switched from baking with all-purpose flour to whole grain flours. Now, I get more requests for my cookie recipes than I did when I used all-purpose flour. I've come up with a few reasons why I think my whole grain cookies are more popular.


According to the Mayo Clinic, whole grains not only help your digestive system but they also assist in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. Whole grain flours help me slip in extra nutrition. Because of the added nutrients, my family and friends often mention feeling less guilty about eating my cookies.


I'm a fan of soft cookies. Whole grain flours seem to keep my cookies softer, longer. Instead of the cookies only feeling soft when they are taken out of the oven, they stay soft for at least a week after.

If you're fond of crispier cookies, just bake them slightly longer. For example, I bake soft cookies for eight minutes and crispy ones for ten. You'll also like the crunch whole grain flours can add. I like the feel of sugar in desserts, and with whole grain flours you get a similar texture with less sugar.


I find that whole grain flours have unique flavors that enhance the cookie. The flour tastes are faint, so you don't need to worry about them overwhelming your dessert.

Whole Wheat Flour: Buttery
Oat Flour: Creamy
Brown Rice Flour: Nutty
Buckwheat Flour: Slightly nutty, but less so than brown rice flour

Whole wheat flour and oat flour work in everything. They can be used by themselves or added in with other flours. Brown rice flour and buckwheat flour need to be mixed with another flour such as whole wheat or oat. They cannot stand on their own, but still add wonderful flavor. The four flours mentioned are not the only whole grain flours you can find, but they are the ones I use on a regular basis.
After using whole grain flours exclusively for over a year, I don't miss all-purpose flour. The health benefits, texture and taste of whole grain baking have me hooked.

My daughter is terrified of storms

My daughter is terrified of storms. Unfortunately for her, we live in Florida. She's had to weather many hurricanes and tropical storms. We play pretend games to pass the time and help her stay calm during the worst of the storm. Here are three games that will keep kids entertained while you wait for a storm to pass.
Pretend you're camping.

We put on our pajamas and bring our sleeping bags and pillows into the living room. Our daughter brings her favorite dolls and stuffed animals. We have battery operated flame-less candles. We put those in the center of the living room floor and sit around them. We pretend the candles are our campfire. We tell stories and sing songs. Then we lay down in our sleeping bags and point out constellations we imagine in the sky.

Pretend to be reporters.

My daughter loves to play spy, so being a reporter is right up her alley. She dresses in what she feels is her most professional business attire, often borrowing items from my closet. Her father plays camera man and videos her with our digital camera. I'm usually her assistant. We have hurricane impact windows that don't need to be boarded up. She peaks out the windows and then she reports on the conditions she sees outside. She also conducts interviews (of our cats) to see how other citizens feel about the storm. Sometimes she writes her report down and distributes it to her father and I as a newspaper.

Pretend you're shipwrecked.

We build a big "cave" in the living room by taking the cushions off the couch and draping blankets over it, the armchair and coffee table. We start off sitting on the couch cushions on the floor. They act as our boats or rafts. We listen to the wind and rain and imagine our boats tossing and turning then crashing on the shore. We are thrilled to find the cave and take shelter inside.

These games are great to play even when we lose electricity. After all, electricity isn't usually available on a camping trip or when you're shipwrecked and reporters need to be prepared to deal with all types of conditions. They keep my daughter distracted and entertained until she either falls asleep or the weather calms down.

Dallas County Health Department.

Are you sexually active? If so, it's good to know where you can easily buy condoms to help you engage in safe sex. Your health and your partner's health could be at risk if you fail to engage in safe sex, so let condoms help you engage in the act of safe sex to help reduce the risk of various types of infections. Here are 3 places that condoms are readily available in the Oaklawn District of Dallas, Texas:
Dallas County Health Department. According to the Dallas News, the Dallas County Health Department now distributes condoms to help sexually active people engage in safe sex. The Dallas County Health Department, located at 5201 Harry Hines Boulevard in Dallas, Texas is a free clinic, so this is a good place to go for condoms. According to East Coast Health Insurance, you don't even need an appointment when you visit a free clinic in Texas.

Condom Sense. If you're in need of a quick box of condoms, you can easily walk on over to the Condom Sense store, located at 4038 Cedar Springs Road, right on the gay strip in the Oaklawn District of Dallas, Texas. This store sells much more than condoms, but the store can surely provide you with the very product that it claims in its name. The store is literally within walking distance of many of the bars on the Dallas Oaklawn Strip, so take advantage of the store's convenience.

Walgreens. If you cannot plan ahead enough to visit the free Dallas County Health Department, and you don't feel comfortable visiting the Condom Sense store, you can always visit Walgreens, located at 3802 Cedar Springs Road in Oaklawn Dallas. This store is located on the corner, right across from The Melrose, so you can still enjoy the convenience of location with the privacy you may desire when you go to buy condoms for your sexual activity. This Walgreens is a 24-hour store, so this makes it even more convenient, but you may end up paying a good penny for the product.

Now that you have three convenient locations at which to get condoms for sexual protection, you can now enjoy safe sex. Don't risk your health or your partner's health by neglecting to practice safe sex. Take advantage of the 3 locations in the Dallas area that can provide you with the protection for safe sex.


Dallas News

East Coast Health Insurance