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.

TIP #1: MAKE A LIST OF INGREDIENTS YOU NEED TO MAKE MEALS.

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.

TIP #2: GO SCOUR YOUR LOCAL GROCERY AND HEALTH FOOD STORES TO FIND INGREDIENTS.

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.

TIP #3: PREPARE MEALS AND MAIN INGREDIENTS AHEAD OF TIME

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.

Health
Texture
Taste
Health

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.



Texture

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.


Taste

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.

Resources

Dallas News

East Coast Health Insurance

Once the statue is built, making money would be a breeze.

I admire the art, but to attract millions of tourists it needs one thing - the rest of his body!

Would anyone visit the Statue of Liberty if all you could see were a torch?

Probably not.

Once the statue is built, making money would be a breeze.

Visitors would buy tickets and ride an elevator to a platform where coin-operated telescopes overlook the city.

"Find Jimmy Hoffa," a sign would read, "He's out there somewhere!"

On the way down, they'd shop to their hearts desire in the souvenir store, located in the champ's shoe.

Who would underwrite the mammoth statue?

Talk to Don King - he's the promoter.

I'm just the idea guy.

Urban Area 51

People love UFOs!

With a little effort, Detroit may become a hotbed for extraterrestrial sightings, luring tourists from around the globe.

Do the accounts need to be legitimate? Ask the tourism officials at Loch Ness.

Interest may be stirred up by posting on Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook.

"Yikes!" a status may read, "a beam of light just hit me in the head and I can speak Mandarin - what's happening???"

But the sources would have to be credible.

I nominate Michigan Governor Rick Synder to make the first sighting. He seems to be the only person who really wants to help Detroit anyway.

His story of epic enlightenment aboard the mother ship may prompt hoards of people to flock downtown in hope of being vacuumed up into the vortex.

Hotel occupancy may skyrocket, along with the sale of cotton candy.

Running of the Mechanical Bulls

Don't ask me why, but every year thousands of people flock to Pamplona, Spain to have bulls chase them through empty streets.

Why couldn't we do the same thing in Detroit? We have empty streets.

As an animal lover, I wouldn't want to chance any mishaps, such as some buffoon from Terre Haute being gored. So instead of real bovine, mechanical bulls would be released for the trot.

The horn of the beast would stop inches before it entered a participant's kidney, because of a specially designed chip. The same technology that warns a Ford Edge it's about to back into a Honda Civic in the parking lot of Applebee's.

The point is, we've got the engineers to make this happen.

We put the world on wheels. We could certainly put bulls in the streets.

The truth is that with the huge social sites available today

If you want to succeed online you need traffic and most people have false, limiting beliefs that getting traffic is a difficult thing. Then this belief becomes a reality for them. If you want to make it big online, if you want your website business to experience explosive growth then you must firmly and passionately believe that you can do it!
This is not about the Law of Attraction or all that New Age stuff (I am not against them), it is about pure common sense. If you don't believe in your success how on earth can you succeed?

Here are the top-3 Myths/Beliefs that are actually preventing you from getting all the traffic you wish and more:

Limiting Myth #1: If you want to generate lots of quality traffic you have to be an expert, a "guru".

Wrong! Although being an internet marketing "guru" means you know how to get your traffic and succeed, the truth is you only need to be better than the average person in your industry. It is not hard to be on top of the average person in your market if you are focused on educating yourself and keep learning the nuts and bolts of your industry.

What happens in reality though is that most people do not believe in their content or products/services and they sabotage their own plans for success.

Limiting Myth #2: If you want to generate lots of quality traffic you need lots of time.

Wrong! It does not take long time to build traffic to even an average site. Then why it takes so much time for most people to build it? I assume its because they are doing it wrong! For example:

- They spend lots of money to buy their traffic instead of generating it themselves.
- They put all their efforts/attention in the quantity of traffic instead of quality.
- They believe that adding more and more quality content, their site will get noticed by everyone in time.

The truth is that with the huge social sites available today, it is easier than ever to start generating traffic immediately.

Limiting Myth #3: If you want need to generate lots of quality traffic you should buy all the paid tools and info products out there and test everything you find online...

Wrong, wrong, wrong! The truth is you actually have all the tools you need at your disposal and funny thing is that most of them are super popular and free! But if you are like the majority of website owners/webmasters you've been kept in the shadows of what's working and what's not (when it comes to generating quality, tightly targeted traffic).

Why have you been kept in the dark? Simply because all these people who know what actually works and what really makes money, will not share their secrets with just anybody. It makes sense right? Would you give your business secrets to a competitor? Of course not. I know, I know it helps to share stuff sometimes but you must know what to share and when to share it...

So, these are the top-3 myths about getting traffic. These days there are so many super popular sites (social networking sites, article directories and press release sites, special sites like squidoo or hubpages) that can get you tons of traffic if you consistently following (or inventing) a traffic generation strategy that brings you all the quality traffic you want.

I hope this article will inspire you to start building your own traffic generating technique(s). I have also written other articles about internet marketing, traffic and SEO, please check my yahoo writer's profile.

MGM Resorts International

MGM Resorts International just announced a great attraction promotion at several of their Las Vegas properties. Patrons can attend any three of seven optional attractions for a total of $54. This deal includes the following options as well as their original ticket prices (children-adult) if bought separately.

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay -- $12-$18

CSI : The Experience at MGM Grand -- $23-$30

Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat at Mirage -- $12-$17

The Roller Coaster at New York New York -- $14

Bodies...The Exhibition at Luxor -- $24-$32

Spongebob SquarePant 4D Ride at Excalibur -- $9.95

Titanic...The Artifact Exhibition at Luxor -- $21-28

Tickets for the above attractions can be purchased at each resort's box offices or by calling the number 866-606-7111. As of right now, there is not an expiration date for this promo. But just to be safe, you should definitely go experience soon.

This is truly a fantastic deal that could save you a lot of money! Amazing.

Edamame Snacks

One of the reasons I joined a CSA was to ensure that my kids had access to fresh organic vegetables. But I soon had a big problem on my hands; my kids were not overly enthusiastic about eating the green vegetables we now had in abundance. It is possible to make vegetables, even greens, appealing to kids. You just need to get creative. Here are three healthy green vegetable snacks kids will be eager to nosh.

Edamame Snacks
Edamame are immature soybeans still in the pod. Even though they are chock full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients, my kids found it hard to get past the fact that they were green and resembled lima beans, which they hate. That is until they tried these tasty snacks. In a bowl, stir together two tablespoons of soy sauce, two teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add ten ounces of fresh edamame pods. This recipe will also work well using thawed frozen edamame pods. Boil pods for five minutes, then drain thoroughly. Do not overcook the edamame as you want them to have a bit of crunch to them. Add the beans to the soy sauce mixture, tossing to coat. Eat these healthy green snacks by peeling away the pod and popping the beans into your mouth. These taste great warm or served at room temperature.

Baked Kale Chips
My kids would gladly eat an entire bag of salty, oily potato chips. Getting them to eat kale however proved a more daunting task, until I baked up a batch of these little gems. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the tough stems from the kale and tear leaves into bite sized pieces, approximately the size of a potato chip. Wash and thoroughly dry the kale. Wet kale will not crisp up when baked. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Don't crowd the sheet or the kale will not brown and crisp properly. Drizzle kale with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt or any seasoning of your choice. Bake for twelve to fifteen minutes. Chips are done when kale has a crisp sound when the pan is shaken. My youngest loves to eat these healthy green vegetable snacks dipped in ketchup.

Baked Zucchini Fries
Here's a creative way to get your kids snacking on the one green veggie everyone always seems to have in overabundance: zucchini. Zucchini fries make a great appetizer when dipped in pizza sauce or ranch dressing or as a side dish for sandwiches or burgers. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Combine 1/2 cup of Italian-style panko breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk 2 eggs. Wash one pound of zucchini, cut into fries and blot dry with a paper towel. Thicker cut fries will taste more like zucchini. Thin fries will have virtually no zucchini taste after cooking. Dip the zucchini fries into the egg then the breadcrumb mixture. Place coated fries onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for ten to twelve minutes, flip fries over then bake for another ten to twelve minutes, until crisp.

More From This Contributor:
High Nutrient Snacks for Kids
Creating a Healthy Pantry on a Budget
Top 5 Ideas for Teaching Your Child About Giving Thanks

Los Angeles - Late September

The Feast of San Gennaro is an annual Italian tradition that has spread around the country to many American cities. Many cities hold their own Feast of San Gennaro festivals, and they are always filled with fun, music, and delicious Italian food. Here's my look at three of the best San Gennaro festivals to visit:
Los Angeles - Late September

I'll be attending the Galbani Italian Feast of San Gennaro Los Angeles, which kicks off with a party hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla. The Los Angeles event is from Friday through Sunday, September 28-30, in Hollywood just off Hollywood Boulevard. I went last year and had a great time. There are rides for the kids, great music and performances, cold beer, and great food.

New York City - Mid-September

New York City's Little Italy presents one of the oldest (86 years) and one of the best Feast of San Gennaro festivals. It's an 11-day event virtually closing down the streets of the Little Italy neighborhood and worth a trip just for the experience. The 2012 event was September 13-23, and the 2013 feast will be around the same dates. Every day is filled with great music and entertainment and amazing Italian food.

Las Vegas - Early September

The desert resort gets into the Italian spirit with their own six-day event. In 2012, the 33rd annual San Gennaro Feast Las Vegas was held at the Silverton Casino. Entertainment this year included Vegas legend Clint Holmes, along with the cast of "Jersey Boys," a great show about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The event included a huge vendor area with all kinds of Italian delights to eat.

History of San Gennaro

The event is actually a Catholic religious festival celebrating the life of Saint Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, Italy, who died a martyr in the year 305. In Naples, the Saint is celebrated twice a year on the first Sunday in May and on September 19, when worshipers carry an image of the saint through the streets of Naples in a procession. The early Italian immigrants in New York carried on the tradition in the early part of the 20th century, and the event has evolved into a huge street festival, party, and celebration of Italian culture.

Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog travel4people.com. You can follow him on Twitter @thefredsherman.

More From This Contributor:

Muir Woods and Marin Headlands: Great Day Trips From San Francisco
Beacon Hotel South Beach - Great Service Starts With the Details
San Francisco at Night - 3 Family Adventures

Outdoor Gift Ideas for Men

The complaint is often heard as shoppers walk into our mens gift shop that "men are so hard to buy for". This complaint is often followed by "what do you get a guy who has everything?" Hearing these pleas for help so frequently makes one realize just how common the issue is. In these next few minutes we'll take a look at some great gift ideas that will enable shoppers to choose gifts suitable to their man, making the shopping experience not only bearable, but enjoyable.

Stress-free shopping, particularly at Christmas when the malls are packed, is a high priority, so we'd like to offer some tips that will help shoppers have ideas before they enter the shops so they can quickly and easily find the perfect gift for him.

Before looking at the 3 great gift ideas for men, one must consider what his interests are. What does he love doing? Where does he like spending his time? What sort of a job does he have? What is he avid about? The answers to these questions will help you choose the best category below to consider when choosing presents for the one you love.

1. Outdoor Gift Ideas for Men

If your man is an outdoorsman, there's no point buying him office accessories (though we'll talk more about desk gadgets later!). Consider his interests - camping, being "Mr. Fix-It", remodelling old cars, hiking, bike riding, horseback riding, gardening, building, adventure sports (including rock climbing, hang gliding, water skiing, or snow boarding). Does he need new equipment for any of these hobbies? Would he want some rustic decorations to hang in his workshop, a new beer stein for drinks while he works, home décor reminding him of his favourite activities, or gift cards to do any of these events? Put your thinking cap on and consider what might float his boat (quite literally!).

2. Office Gift Ideas for Men

Some men just are not into the outdoors and love crunching numbers and shuffling papers. Desk accessories and stationary thrill them to no end - they get excited just stepping foot in an office supply store. Well, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration, but an office guy does like a nice desk set with his name engraved on it. Mugs with names on them, a nice engraved pen, a clock and pen holder - these all make nice executive gifts. Then there are the quirky gadgets like Plug Mugs (needing the owner's plug in order to be able to use the mug - prevents office theft), Rubiks Cube mugs, and flying monkeys to ward off office boredom. And don't forget the whole set of USB gadgets that can be operated through the computer - his office will never be a boring place again!

3. Sports Gift Ideas for Men

Your man may not enjoy hiking, but most men are into some form of sport - whether it be playing it or watching it in front of the television. New sports equipment, a membership with the local sports team, sports merchandise of his favourite team, and tickets to the next football match all make great gifts for the sports addict. Make a memorable day and plan a family outing to his favourite sporting event. Or purchase a tour of the local sports stadium and throw in some of his favourite merchandise with it.

These are basic ideas, but the goal is not to give a "one-size-fits-all" sort of answer. Because, in reality - one size does not fit all! But with these broad categories the aim is to get your mind whirring with the limitless possibilities of what to give your man for his birthday, Fathers Day, or Christmas.

Everyone has t-shirts that they love but they no longer wear

Everyone has t-shirts that they love but they no longer wear. Maybe you outgrew your favorite t-shirt, or maybe it got a hole in a very unflattering place; either way there are some awesome ways you can recycle your t-shirt to make it last many more years. There are several fun ways to reuse old t-shirts, and this article will inspire you to bust out your old shirts and get crafting.

My favorite simple t-shirt craft is the t-shirt pillow; it is easy and a great item you will use for years to come. All you will need for this project is an old t-shirt, needle, thread, scissors, and some stuffing. Now simply cut the sleeves of the shirt and the neck of the shirt so it makes a square. Next you will need to turn the shirt inside out, and thread your needle. Start sewing at the left or right side corner of the shirt where you cut the sleeve off. Continue sewing until you have sewn completely three sides around the square. Now sew half of the final side, and turn the square right side out. Fill the pillow with stuffing until it is a good density, and sew until the square is completely sealed. This project makes an awesome pillow out of a shirt you might have thrown away.

Another fun shirt project is a shirt purse. This project is easy, and it is a good way to recycle; all you will need is a shirt, scissors, and needle and thread. Simply turn the shirt inside out. Sew the top edge of the shirt, where your head would go, shut. Next cut the sleeves off of the shirt, and sew the holes shut. If this shirt is long sleeved this is helpful, but you can use short sleeved shirts as well. If the shirt has long sleeves you can use them as a strap; if not you can use a strong ribbon or piece of felt. Just sew the sleeve ends to the sides of the bottom of the shirt, and you have an awesome bag.

Another fun way to save a t-shirt that means a lot to you is making a t-shirt pot holder. For this project you will need a piece of felt, an old shirt, scissors, needle, and thread. Now simply cut out the part of the shirt you like. If there is a picture or a fun pocket cut out a square that is suitable for a pot holder. Next cut a piece of felt slightly bigger than the t-shirt piece. Now lay the shirt on top f the felt, and sew around all of the edges. Cut a small strip from the felt and sew it to one of the corners of the square. Now you have completed your potholder, and you have recycled one of your favorite shirts.

There are many ways to recycle things found around your home into fun and useful craft projects. I hope these ideas have helped you to reuse some of the items you might throw out.

Creative Painted Veggie Pizza

It's the age old struggle: kids versus beets. Over the years, I have tried in vain to convince my kids that eating beets is great, but they were not buying what I was selling. Then I tried The Sneaky Chef cookbook, which had me preparing endless veggie purees and hiding beets in my kids most loved foods. For all my efforts, the results were often less than successful and I knew there had to be a better way. Why not take the deception out of feeding beets to my kids by making beets fun? There is no need to be sneaky in order to get kids to eat beets. Here are three fun and tasty ideas that will have kids eager to eat their beets.

Creative Painted Veggie Pizza
Use play and creativity to get your kids to eat their beets by having them create a painted veggie pizza. To make Painted Veggie Pizza you will need two balls of pizza dough, olive oil, flour, two cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and vegetable paint. First, make the veggie paint by steaming one cup of beets either in the microwave or on the stove top. After steaming, process beets until smooth in a food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup of water so that the mixture will have a paint-like consistency. My kids love it when I make other colors of veggie paint to go along with the beet paint. Good choices are spinach, orange tomatoes and yellow peppers. I usually make a big batch of each color veggie paint and freeze for later use.

When you are ready to make your pizzas, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Divide each dough ball in half and flatten to make four small pizza crust canvases. If dough gets too sticky to work with, sprinkle with a small amount of flour. Now comes the fun part. Have kids paint their pizza crusts. I keep a supply of small food grade BBQ brushes on hand for this fun foodie project. Top each pizza with1/2 cup of cheese and bake on an oiled baking sheet about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand five minutes before slicing.

Heart Healthy Beet Apple Salad
This salad is a surefire kid pleaser, sweet with vibrant colors. My kids call this heart salad because the deep red of the beets and pink tinged apples reminds them of valentine hearts. It really is a fitting name because beets are heart healthy root vegetables loaded with phytochemicals, folate, vitamin C, antioxidants, niacin, potassium, iron and carotenoids.

To make Beet Apple Salad, you will need to peel and shred two beets and two apples. I use my all purpose grater for this, but a food processor would also work well. My kids love Granny Smith and Fuji apples, but any kind of apple would be great. Have kids use their hands to mix the beets and apples together in a bowl. They love getting to play with their food and helping to prepare the salad will make them eager to gobble up the end result, beets and all. Make a dressing by mixing together a handful of dried cranberries, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and honey to taste. Let kids use their hands again to toss dressing and beet mixture.

Tasty Baked Beet Chips
Another fun way to get kids to eat beets is to turn them into a healthier version of fat laden potato chips. Beet chips are great because the natural sugars in the beets give them just the right amount of sweetness to tickle small taste buds without added sugar.

To make beet chips you will need four beets, scrubbed clean with peels left on, one tablespoon of olive oil and sea or kosher salt. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice beets thinly, about the size of a potato chip. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and salt. Spread beets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Flip beet chips over halfway through cooking time. Make sure you keep a careful eye on them so they don't burn. The longer you bake them, the crispier your beet chips will be.

More From This Contributor:
3 Surprising Superfoods Your Kids Will Love
Beyond Eggs: 3 Breakfast Superfoods for Kids
5 Common Nutritional Deficiencies in Kids and How to Remedy Them

Strength Training and Its Aerobic Effect

I'm a certified personal trainer, and below are 3 tips to help you reach your fat loss and/or strength gain goals.

Strength Training and Its Aerobic Effect

An intense set of lifting weights will raise heart rate. Though the set may last 10-30 seconds, this is all that's required to force the cardiovascular system to adapt to the stimulus.

The longer an intense strength training set, the more the cardiorespiratory system must work. After a set of 20 reps with heavy weight in a compound lower body exercise, your heart will be thumping. Twenty reps of dumbbell curls or triceps kickbacks won't do much for heart rate.

But 20 reps of a heavy full range squats, leg presses, or pull-ups will spike heart rate to supply these multiple large muscle groups with lots of oxygen.

Strength training indeed produces an aerobic training effect, even though this type of exercise is called "anaerobic." You must lift intensely with compound (multi-joint) exercises to get the cardio effect I just described. When compound movements are performed this way, a fat loss effect is greater than when strength training is performed with low reps.

Strength training does not replace cardio exercises, so you should always have cardio workouts as a regular feature in your fat loss regimen.

Burst Training for Fat Loss

A single burst of high energy physical activity that lasts for around 60 seconds, done a total of eight times spread throughout the day, will actually do far more for fat loss than will an hour and a half nonstop on any type of cardio equipment, or jogging or bicycling outdoors.

This is because 60 seconds of highly intense movements provoke a fat-burning hormonal response, making these hormones continue to circulate throughout your body in elevated amounts, all day long, bringing up resting metabolic rate.

Squat Form

The squat is one of the premier exercises for gaining strength and achieving weight loss. Before using a bar, first master your form with bodyweight squats in front of a mirror. When you feel that your form is good, use a light bar.

The Web is full of videos of people executing really bad squat form. It's not surprising that many of these trainees are using a heavy barbell. People are so eager to be "squatting big" that they never learn good, efficient form. Proper form is vital for avoiding back injury and for maximizing fat loss and strength gain results.

The back squat should be powered by the glutes and legs, not the lower back. When you feel confident squatting with a light bar, enlist a certified personal trainer inspect your form.

Make sure that the trainer views your profile to get a good look at your lower back as you squat, to make sure that you do not lose the lumbar arch. Ask the trainer to watch your feet and knees for proper tracking.

By implementing these 3 exercise tips, you will expedite reaching your fat loss and strength gain goals.

Commercial Juicer Method of Juicing a Lemon

When the recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, it means having to juice a lemon. Juicing a lemon takes a little finesse, and some cooks find it frustrating to extricate the juice apart from the seeds. Here are 3 simple ways you can juice a lemon and keep lemon seeds out of your cuisine.
Roll, Cut, and Squeeze Method of Juicing a Lemon

As lemon juicing methods go, this one is the most straightforward. First, roll the lemon under your palm against the counter to release the lemon's juices. Then simply cut the lemon in half and squeeze the lemon juice into a waiting container. Using a separate bowl allows you to pick out the seeds before pouring the lemon juice into whatever you're cooking.

A variation on this method is to hold lemon halves cut-side up while squeezing out the lemon juice. Doing so allows the seeds to remain within the lemon half. Yes, the lemon juice drizzles through your fingers into the bowl. It's not the neatest method, but then, the nice lemony fragrance of lemon lingers with you, long after you rinse your hands off and dry them.

Reamer Method of Juicing a Lemon

One of the easiest ways to juice a lemon is using a reamer. Reamers are a quick and effect way to juice most citrus fruits. I juice either a lemon or lime most days, and I keep this glass reamer (as seen in photo) handy in my kitchen. Once all the lemon juice collects in the bottom of the reamer, I can pick out the seeds and easily pour the juice into the food I'm preparing.

Although my glass reamer happens to be an antique, there are many reamers on the market that effectively do the same thing. I came by my Depression Glass reamer at a yard sale for five bucks, and I've also seen antique reamers for sale at antique shops, as well as on eBay.

Modern glass or plastic citrus reamers are available in kitchen stores. Handheld cone-like wood reamers are also available. Plastic reamers (as seen in photo) allow you to squeeze out the lemon juice manually. The reamer's mid-section catches seeds and strains lemon juice into the container below. Grippers on the reamer cap cup around the citrus peel and help you rotate cut citrus halves against the grate. This keeps your hands out of the juice. An easy pour-spout helps you measure out an exact amount.

Commercial Juicer Method of Juicing a Lemon

Although you could use a commercial juicer to juice a lemon, it seems a bit over-the-top. The time it takes to clean the machine after juicing seems hardly worth it. But if you have lots of citrus to juice, using the machine makes a lot of sense. You can find a variety of commercial juicers from very expensive models to inexpensive models.

Juicing a lemon is an every-day event for many cooks. If you're tired of squeezing citrus and pressing peels between your palms to extract every bit of juice and pulp possible, why not give one of these other methods a try? Why not find a citrus reamer at your local second-hand shop or antique shop and purchase it? You can "go green" and add a low-tech gadget to your kitchen that works as well as it did decades ago.

Daisy has joined in on the celebrations.

Halloween happens to be one of my favorite holidays because it allows me to express my creativity. Every year I try to show off my festive side by sporting some sort of costume, and for the last six years my beagle, Daisy has joined in on the celebrations. Granted, she doesn't enjoy wearing the costumes as much as I like seeing her in them, but she likes to please me, so she gives in most of the time. This year I was having a hard time deciding what theme our family was going with, so I ended up with a few costume ideas for dogs. Here are the three easy, do-it-yourself dog costume ideas.
Hunting dog

The fact that my dog, Daisy is a beagle means this costume is a bit of a cop-out because beagles are known as hunting dogs, but in my defense not many people have seen her in her hunting attire. In order to pull this costume off Daisy would wear a camouflage collar and leash along with a hunter's orange safety vest. She already owns these items, but you can get then for your dog at any sporting good store or at most franchise pet stores.

You could also do this costume with a basic black leash and collar, a child's size camouflage t-shirt, and a small piece of bright orange fabric from a fabric store or cut from an old piece of clothing.

Skeleton

This costume really only requires a shirt that fits your dog with a skeleton design on it. I was able to find a set of child size pajamas with a skeleton pattern already on them at a local thrift store, and all it took was a little sewing to make it a perfect fit. However, you could also create this look will with a plain black shirt and some fabric paint. All you would have to do is fit the shirt to your dog, paint on your design, and you are all set.

Flower

I'm actually shocked I haven't dressed Daisy as a flower before, but I've really never considered it until this year. What's more surprising is that dressing a dog as a flower seems to be quite simple. All I needed was some colored felt - I decided on pink for the flower petals, and green from the leaves - and a pattern for both.

To assemble, I cut the leaves and petals out a long with a piece of felt as long as Daisy's collar and a little more than twice as wide. Then, I arranged and pin the petals and leaves on one edge of the length of long piece of felt. Once I had everything in place, I folded the felt in half creating a tube or pocket and sew along the seam. After sewing the piece, I slid Daisy's collar into the sleeve, and was all set.

In the end, I decided that Daisy will be a skeleton this year for Halloween. All of the costumes we cute on her, but the skeleton closely match the "day of the dead" theme my husband are going with.

More from this contributor:
Halloween Safety Tips for Dogs
Three Scary Movies You Should Watch on Halloween
Tips for Planning a Howling Halloween Party for Dogs

Thanksgiving Dinner Green Beans

When our daughters were younger Thanksgiving used to be a huge occasion. We had a lot more extended family then. Thanksgiving dinner was always a challenge for us. My house was the only place where the family could gather without someone creating a ruckus (most of the time).
Hubby and I went to great lengths to plan seating arrangements that kept the "in-laws" separated from the "out-laws" and the kids together. This worked fabulously but it took careful coordination and made planning Thanksgiving dinner a real challenge.

One year I decided that I was going to cut the stress as much as possible and started investigating ways to use the crock pot. This was the best thing I ever did. Once I started in with crock pots for Thanksgiving Dinner I never went back.

If you are look for easy Thanksgiving Dinner recipes these may help. Other than the turkey and the dressing most everything else can be put into a crock pot.

Thanksgiving Dinner Green Beans

If you have frozen green beans left from your garden, Great! If not, use canned. Put as many into the crock pot as it (or your guests) will hold. Don't fill it quite to the top. Leave at least an inch worth a space for steam to build. Toss in a few bullion cubes and bits of bacon or ham. Add enough water to just about cover the green beans.

I do this at about 8:00 in the morning and set the crock pot to cook for 4 hours. This makes a yummy vegetable dish for your Thanksgiving Dinner.

Mashed Potatoes

Use real potatoes. Peel them and cut them into chunks. Boil them in the stove in a large pot for 20 minutes. Pour them into the crock pot to keep them warm for your Thanksgiving dinner. Use the lowest setting. Add salt, butter and milk right before putting the mashed potatoes on the table.

Spiced apples.

One of our favorite Thanksgiving dinner recipes is spiced apples. They are super easy to make and have less sugar than pie.

Spray the crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. Chop, core and peel apples. Place them in the crock pot and layer with a few dabs of butter or margarine. (Ok, I cheat here and use a margarine spray but it doesn't have quite the same flavor.) Then sprinkle lightly with allspice and repeat the process. It's apple, margarine or butter, allspice all the way to the top of the crock pot. When you are finished pour apple juice or cider over the mixture. Set the crock pot to cook in 6 hours. It will be ready for dessert by the time you are.

Our family likes this Thanksgiving dinner recipe dipped over angel food cake or topped with cool whip. Yum!

Source:
Personal experience fixing Thanksgiving Dinner for 30 or more people for years.

Click here for more articles by this author. Follow Gayle Crabtree on Twitter by clicking here.

July was Sandwich Generation Mont

July was Sandwich Generation Month, a chance to pay tribute to adult children who are juggling the demands of raising their kids while taking care of aging parents. The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to increase from 40 million in 2010 to over 88 million by 2050, doubling the ranks of those experiencing this stressful combination of responsibilities.

We expect to take care of our growing children. After all, isn't that in the parenthood job description? Even after the last kid moves out and we are settling into the empty nest, if one of them drops out of college, loses their job or separates from a partner, we let them come home. But with ailing parents it can be even more complicated.

From time to time, we all feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. But for the sandwich generation, that's especially true. The stress, guilt and exhaustion that come from trying to keep so many balls in the air can be overwhelming. One goal of Sandwich Generation Month is to raise awareness. Here are some tips so you don't have to cope with all the demands by yourself:

Encourage your parents' independence. Identify what they really need you to do and what they can do for themselves. Have respect for their experience and wisdom as they make decisions and take responsibility. Step back so they do as much as they can for themselves.

Find professionals to help you out. Put this into place ahead of time if you live far away or before there is a crisis. Do your parents need the support of a geriatric case manager? Learn about health care advocates, geriatric assessments, specific gerontologists, in-home help and continuum of care.

There are community resources available. Take advantage of them. Home health and companion companies help with chores such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. And adult day care centers encourage supervised time for your parents to socialize while you get a break.

Caregiver groups can be a lifesaver for you. These consist of others who are in the sandwich generation and understand exactly what your life is like. Led by a group facilitator, you'll get support, information, suggestions. You may even laugh a little as you share experiences.

You are more prepared than you think. Look back and track the strengths that have worked for you in the past when you have faced difficult circumstances. For the comfort and well-being of you and your parents, put them into play now.


Your attitude and behavior impact the challenges. Recognize the emotional shifts you need to make as well. Talk to friends who are having similar problems with their parents. Seeing the situation from another perspective can normalize your reactions, help you prioritize the issues and ease the transition.

Take note of the changes your family is experiencing. Remain sensitive to what your parents are going through. And come to terms with your own feelings of frustration, anger, sadness or loss. Address unfinished business with your siblings, resolve the issues and get them involved.

Pay attention to your own needs. As you assume greater responsibility for your parents' care, make nurturing yourself a priority. Renewal gives you more energy and resilience. You'll find that being positive and centered - emotionally stronger - you're more ready to meet the challenges.

These can be a very stressful time in your life. Rely on your coping strengths when you take smaller steps than you would like. Through acts of kindness you'll bring greater joy and richness into your parents' lives. When you spend intentional time with them relish their appreciation, which you deserve. And savor the power of the example that you set as your own children watch how you support their grandparents.

© Her Mentor Center, 2011

Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. is a family relationship expert with solutions if you're coping with stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law. Log on to http://www.NourishingRelationships.blogspot.com and sign up for a free ezine,' Stepping Stones,' and ebook, "Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals." Visit http://www.HerMentorCenter.com for practical tips & learn about "Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm."

Use the Right Size Carton

If you choose to do your own packing, try to use moving cartons as opposed to "behind the grocery store boxes." The reason is that not only are the moving cartons going to be sturdier and of the right sizes but they will be of a roughly uniform size (18" deep). Movers load the truck by stacking furniture and cartons in tiers or rows that stretch from wall-to-wall and floor-to-top. These rows are like brick walls in that they work much better when all the bricks are the same size/depth. Moving cartons are generally sturdy enough to use wall-to-wall as a base of a tier to stack lighter items of the same size on.

***Always mark your cartons on their sides, not just the tops. Look at the stacks of cartons in these pictures and then visualize trying to figure out what is in the ones on the bottom. This can save you a lot of work. If you are using used moving cartons, be sure to cross out the old markings so there is no confusion for you or your movers.

If new cartons are too expensive, check your area for used carton sellers. The cartons are generally in good condition and may sell for half the price of new ones. An even cheaper way to get perfectly good moving boxes is to drive around your neighborhood and look for moving vans delivering furniture. Ask your new (soon-to-be-ex) neighbors what they plan to do with their used boxes and offer to haul them off. Bear in mind that movers call this a debris haul and charge for it.

If this all seems like it's a bit much, try and consider the fact that a sturdy, well-packed carton is the best insurance for handling your stuff.

Use the Right Size Carton

There are eight basic sizes o f moving cartons that are all designed for certain types of goods and a certain weight. Common sense tells you that the heavier the item the smaller the carton should be to make moving that weight more manageable.

• 1.5 Cube Small Carton 16.75" x 12.5" x 12.5"

The smallest carton is best for the heaviest items: books, tools, canned goods, etc. A 1.5 cube carton packed with books averages 40-50 lbs. Loading some of these boxes with lighter items will also provide you with a good size item to 'fill' in spots in your load nearer the top of the truck

• 3.0 Cube Medium Carton 18" x 18" x 16"

Anything too large for the book carton-notebooks, manuals or larger books as well as heavier pots and pans is a good fit for this size box.

• 4.5 Cube Med/Large Carton 18" x 18" x 24"

The 4.5 and 3.0 cube cartons are the general purpose workhorse cartons.

• Dish pack Carton 18" x 18" x 28"

The dish pack is a double-walled (double-thick) 5.0 cu.ft carton that is your best bet for packing anything fragile. These boxes are immortal- they never die. Movers stack furniture on them, walk on them and pack tools and equipment with sharp, pointy edges in them and they can still be re-used. This is the box with the most bang for your buck.

• 6.0 Cube Large Carton 22" x 22" x 21.5"

This is a lampshade carton. Pull the metal harps from your shades and stack them on top of each other, layering packing paper in between them to get mult ple shades in one box. It can also hold bulky comforters or large children's toys. It is notdesigned to hold heavier items. Many civilians buy 6.0 cubes because they are big and cheap but don't take into consideration their limitations. A 6.0 cube is equivalent to four 1.5 cartons or two 3.0 cubes. A 6.0 cube filled with books (yes I have seen it done and yes I have moved them and yes I have also refused to move them- especially upstairs) can easily weigh 200 lbs. Even if you think you or your crew can handle it-the box probably can't and will likely break at the bottom.

• 24" Wardrobe Carton 24" x 19.75" x 45"

The garment box or wardrobe carton is also double-walled and is the safest way to pack and haul your hanging clothes. Cartons average $10-$15.00 but compare that to the cost of re-pressing or dry cleaning the clothes in 24" of rod space in your closet. Longer items like coats and dresses will generally hang to the bottom of the box, while shorter ones will leave room in the bottom for shoes, purses and hats. The wardrobe carton also serves as a 24" deep tier base in the truck to load wider chairs and end tables on top of for a perfect fit.

• Lamp Base Carton 14" x 14" x 40"

Larger lamps and taller decorative pieces like sculpture are good uses for the lamp carton box. Fireplace tools, loose golf clubs, canes and garage items like hand saws and hedge trimmers are also handy to stow away in the lamp carton.

Mirror/Glass/Picture Packs

•Small 2-Piece Mirror Carton 37 5/16" x 4 3/8" x 25 5/8" Extends to 37 5/16" x 4 3/8" x 54"

•Large 2-Piece Mirror Carton 48" x 4.5" x 33" Extends to 48" x 4.5" x 68"

The mirror pack is the safest way to handle pictures and smaller glass or stone table tops. Using crumpled packing paper on the bottom, top and sides-just like with the dish pack-cushions the glass from shock.

Places to Shop in Wausau: Clay Corner Studio

Wausau, Wisconsin is a small town of around 40,000 people in the heart of the state. This city offers great shopping with its number of boutiques located along the River District (on the east side of the Wisconsin River). Among these boutiques, a few stand out as truly unique and worth the visit. Be sure to go to these three shops when visiting Wausau.
Places to Shop in Wausau: Evolutions in Design

This is a refurbished townhouse that has been decked out with flowers and stocked with merchandise ranging from apparel to household items to bath and beauty products. One can browse and wander upstairs through the bathroom, kitchen, and bedrooms all while looking at quaint furniture and items for sale. Downstairs is a spectacular florist department that puts together unique flower arrangements for any type of event.

Places to Shop in Wausau: Sweets on 3rd

This Wausau sweets shop is a must see for the chocolate connoisseur! They have gourmet truffles, gelato, and even Whoopie pie mixes! One can buy chocolate and sit in the table at the front of the store and enjoy the view of Wausau's River District and storefronts. The truffles, though pricey at two plus dollars each, are to die for! I highly recommend the port wine and whisky infused dark chocolates, though all are stellar! Though other chocolate shops exist in Wausau, Sweets on 3rd is truly this town's gem!

Places to Shop in Wausau: Clay Corner Studio

Clay Corner Studio is sandwiched between the River District and the mall, just south of the square. Here one can shop for bowls, vases, dishes, and even shot glasses and piggy banks! Once an item is selected, one simply sits in the shop and paints the item using any number of colors of paint located in the back area. This shop does not charge a sitting fee for the painting or for the firing of the item, but the prices of the items themselves are slightly inflated to account for these expenses. For example, in the shop I purchased a coffee mug for twelve dollars and a cereal bowl for ten. The experience is definitely worth the money, and the environment of this Wausau shop allows you to relax and be creative

Places to Shop in Wausau: Conclusion

If you are planning a trip to the River District of downtown Wausau, then plan to shop at any of these three places for a fabulous afternoon!

Here's a short list of where you too might find a little extra money in your budget.

Recently, I took a long hard look at our bills and began brainstorming about what I could do to help our finances. There had to be hidden money there somewhere, I just had to find it. I made it my mission to find areas outside the norm of cutting back on groceries and other discretionary spending. What I found was money I didn't realize I was wasting. Here's a short list of where you too might find a little extra money in your budget.
Credit Cards:

While most people are aware of balance transfers from a card with a higher APR to one with a lower introductory or low balance transfer rate to save money over the short term, another avenue to explore is calling up your credit card company and attempting to renegotiate your rate. I admit it, I pay most of my bills online and give the charges a cursory glance when the bill arrives in the mail. One thing that I failed to notice was that my interest rate of my Discover card had jumped to 18.99% APR. The last time I remembered seeing a rate was about 14% a few years ago and it had been fixed at that point. It was now variable! If you carry a balance on your card, and your account is in good standing, it is worth a shot to call your company and ask if a lower rate is available. I was able to negotiate my rate down 2% less, not much, but to someone with a larger balance, it could mean a good savings. The friendly customer service representative invited me to call back anytime and see if there was a better rate available for me. The worst your credit card company could say is no.

Discover currently offers a 1% cash back on purchases and occasionally runs special promotions where you earn more if you use your card under certain circumstances, e.g. at hotels, gas stations, etc. Work your card! This program is especially fruitful for those who do not carry a balance, as it is effectively free money. $20 in rewards can translate into $25 gift cards. Take the time to think about what kind of rewards you would like to earn, be it airline miles, gift cards, etc. and choose your credit card such that it benefits you the most.

Car Insurance:

The public is well aware of Progressive's ads where they will give you their rate and the rate of other competitors. Simply put, shopping around can save you money. Check with prospective agencies to determine whether or not they give multi-policy discounts. Erie Insurance, for instance, gives multi-policy discounts for carrying your homeowner's and car insurance through them. Geico recently invited me to allow them to view our credit history in hopes of getting a reduced premium. Since our credit is excellent, we were offered a $50 discount on our insurance. Check with your agency to determine whether or not they have a similar program.

Are you over insured? Re-evaluate your policy needs every year and don't just auto renew. If you drive an older car that is paid off and not subject to a lien, you don't necessarily need collision. Check the Kelly's Blue Book value on your car and make sure you would be getting your money's worth if you had an accident. If you are driving a car worth $2,000 and have an accident that causes $4,000 worth of damage, your car will likely be totaled and you would receive just the value of your car. If you are paying more to drive your car than it is worth, then you need to make the proper adjustments to your auto policy.

Homeowner's Insurance:

How low is your deductible? According a Federal Government PSA, raising your deductible from $500, which many insurance agents recommend, to $1,000 may drop your payment by as much as 25%. Don't allow yourself to be lulled into paying a higher than necessary amount just because you want the cheaper deductible in case you need to make a claim. If you did need to make a claim, it would have to be in excess of $500 to be considered, and you would be responsible for the first $500 of it anyway. Raising your deductible to $1,000 increases your exposure by a mere $500 per claim and if you are able to save 20% even by raising your deductible to $1,000, you would save $100 per year, thus only really have $900 exposure per claim, or only $400 more.

With regard to car insurance, depending on your market, it may or may not be worth it to raise your deductible. If you live or work in a high crime area or high accident area, you may want to leave your deductible where it is since the likelihood of filing a claim is higher. If you live mostly rural or in a low accident area, raising your deductible may make perfect sense.

Are you over insured? If you carry a mortgage of any kind on your home, also referred to as Deeds of Trust in some states, your insurance company has your mortgage company listed as a loss payee. What that means that in the event of a total loss, your mortgage company is going to see the insurance proceeds before you do. Your mortgage would then be paid in full, since you must carry insurance for the full value of your loan(s). Anything left over is yours.

Don't confuse the replacement value of your home with the value of your home. If your home burned to the ground, your building lot is still present. Your policy should carry replacement cost of the structure and not insure the entire amount of the land plus building unless your loan amount includes both. This is a great place to save money, especially if your home is free and clear of liens. Your insurance company will ask you basic information about square footage, number of rooms, etc. and calculate the replacement cost of your home for you. Caveat: I did ask about this and the insurance agent did forewarn me that if she did an analysis and the replacement cost was higher than what I was insured for, they would re-write my policy for the larger amount and charge me accordingly. Do so only if you are sure that your home building costs in your area are not excessive.

Last but not least, review your policy for redundant coverage. My homeowner's policy had redundant coverage for identity theft and I had them remove the redundant rider which saved $25 off my policy.

Lemon, Peppermint and Zinc

If you suffer from acne and have tried over-the-counter products to no avail, it may be time to reassess your cleansing routine. Most commercial acne medications and washes contain harsh chemicals, which can dry out your skin and inflame your pores, potentially making your skin worse. For example, Benzoyl Peroxide, one of the most common ingredients in acne treatments, has the ability to bleach your hair, towels and anything else it comes in contact with. Eeek. Consider that next time you think about using it to zap your zits.
As an alternative to slathering chemicals and toxins on your already irritated skin, consider making your own all-natural face wash to alleviate your acne symptoms. Making your own washes specifically formatted to combat acne is easy and affordable, and you can do so using common ingredients you probably have in your kitchen already! Using all-natural washes on a regular basis can help clear up your existing zits and pimples and work to prevent breakouts in the future.

Lemon, Peppermint and Zinc

Lemons are a natural astringent and peppermint is great for opening up pores. Zinc is one of the best things you can obtain over-the-counter to fight acne. To make this wash, steep peppermint teas bags in water for 10 minutes. Add in 1 spoon of lemon peel , and the contents of 1 zinc tablet, available at any pharmacy. Dip a clean cotton cloth into the mixture and use it to wash your face. Rinse the mixture off with warm water. This mixture is safe to use on sensitive skin and with regular use you should see a significant improvement in the overall appearance of your complexion.

Strawberries and Honey

Strawberries are a natural source of salicylic acid, a common ingredient in most over-the-counter acne medications. Honey is a natural antibacterial, which will help kill the bacteria that causes acne in the first place. To make this wash, mash up a handful of fresh strawberries and stir in 1 tablespoon of organic honey. Smear the paste onto your face and use your fingers to rub it in. Rinse away with warm water and repeat daily for best results.

Honey and Almond Oil

Almond oil will help replenish moisture to your face and prevent dryness that can lead to further breakouts. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of almond oil with 1 tablespoon of organic honey and massage the mixture into your skin. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing away warm water.

If you and your significant other are newlyweds

If you and your significant other are newlyweds, you may already discussed the topic of budgeting. Budgeting can be thought of as a "dirty" word for most, but it is a necessary function of starting out for a majority of newlywed couples. Discussing how to use money wisely comes up for topics such as bills, food and other commonalities of life but there is a topic that most newlywed couples don't talk about at the very beginning: vacations. There are two ideas on vacationing with your honey for an enjoyable time inexpensively.

Have a Stay-Cation: Sure, staying at home doesn't sound like much of a vacation, but if you are creative, you'll be having fun in no time. Go to your local park, have a picnic and enjoy the scenery with your spouse. Better yet, you could plan an itinerary for the day. A template for your itinerary could be: Starting your day bright and early at your favorite coffee shop for a light breakfast and your favorite coffee, a mid-morning job in your local park, basking in the nice weather having a picnic with your honey, followed by a mid-afternoon nap at home. Later, you and your significant other could go to the movies and then go to a nice candlelight dinner for two at the fanciest restaurant in town.

Travel to a Destination in your home state: Its almost like a stay-cation, but a little more adventurous than staying at home. Although it will be more costly than developing an itinerary for enjoying your time together closer to home, you and your significant other can enjoy a nice get-away vacation, enjoying the sites and activities in a different city of your home state. Some activities that may spark your interest could be: Going to an amusement or water park, experiencing the scenery of an area downtown, shopping at the mall, or visiting the museum.

There are enough obstacles ahead for newlywed couples. Having a decent, enjoyable vacation shouldn't be one of them. Which ever destination that you and your spouse decide to go, be safe and remember to have fun.

The movie 2Fast 2Furious

The movie 2Fast 2Furious stars Paul Walker and Tyrese in an action packed car thriller that is a great film for anyone to watch. Paul Walker returns in the sequel of the Fast and Furious. In this film Tyrese replaces Vin Deisel as Walker's main partner.

The film starts off taking place at a drag street race with three races getting ready to race. The race is hosted by rapper and actor Ludacris who has a big role in the film as a gambler and hustler. The races have to find a fourth driver and the get Paul Walker to come, who plays the role of detective O'conner.

Right out of the gate the film starts off great with the street race. The cars go so fast and towards the end of the race they have to drive off a bridge and race towards the finsih line. When the race ends, it is broken up by police cars who disarm Walker's car and bring him back to the police station. Walker's status as a cop has been removed because he allowed Vin Deisel to walk away a free man in the first film which angered his bosses.

Walker is used as an undercover agent to become a driver for a drug export criminal named Carter Verone played by an actor named Hauser. He is given another police officer to work with as a car racing driver but refuses and insisits on working with someone her knows.

He goes to smash car racing where his childhood friend Roman Pierce races. Pierce and Oconner have a history together in which Oconner put Pierce in jail for stealing cars and parts. The tow men work together along with an undercover drug agent to get information about Carter Verone. Verone tests their skills by having them break into a car impound and retrieve a bag of cigars. Once they get close to Verone they are able to relay information to the feds.

In their final task for Verone, they have to transport his drug money from one place to another without the cops catching them. In a confusing scene, the local police are unaware that Pierce and Oconner are undercover agents so they chase the two men. The FBI agents are also following them.

In the final scene, Pierce and Occoner disguise themselves by switching their cars and throwing off FBI and local police detectives. As they chase Verone, he discovers the undercover female FBI agent and holds her hostage. In a terrific stunt, Paul Walker drives her car off a hill and onto Verone's boat, catching him by surprise. Verone is captured and Walker and Pierce are able to leave the FBI.

This film was really exciting. Paul Walker and Tyrese really work well together and develop good chemistry on the set. The car racing scenes are thrilling but I still think that the original FAst and Furios film was better. however, if u enjoyed the first film, i still think you should watch this sequel.

Dietary Fat is Your Friend

Everywhere you look, someone is promising you some big secret about how to get six-pack abs. Some of these "secrets" have a slight ring of truth, while others do not. Learning to decipher what methods are the best ways for how to get a six pack will determine your success.

When trying to get six pack abs fast, the biggest issue you need to focus on is your diet. If your diet is not in line, you will never be able to get rid of belly fat, no matter how many sit ups, crunches, or other ab exercises you do.

Eat Enough Protein

First, make sure you get enough protein. Not only will proteins form the key elements you need to build muscle, but they will also give you greater feeling of fullness than eating carbohydrates by themselves. Protein is more "expensive" than any other macronutrient, meaning that your body will burn more calories to break down proteins, compared to carbohydrates and fats.

Dietary Fat is Your Friend

Don't be afraid of dietary fats, such as olive oils, fish oils, mixed nuts, avocado and peanut butter. While it is true that eating fat will increase your calories fast, as long as you keep it between 20-30%, it can be one of the best things you do to get a six pack fast. The important point here is that dietary fat helps keep your insulin level stable, which can actually cause fat itself, when high enough. Furthermore, dietary fat will keep you feeling full for a longer time, more than carbohydrates or proteins. Interestingly, with some high-fat diets you can get six pack abs fast because your body learns to metabolize fat for energy.

Carbs are Crucial on Post-Workout

Finally, when it comes to carbohydrate intake and getting six pack abs, you want to focus more on your carb intake around the post-workout period. If you want to get a six pack fast, then each meal you consume should contain raw vegetables (at least 1-2 cups). This will help stabilize insulin levels, improve protein absorption, and give your body all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibers it needs. Diet and Exercise for Success

So, if you're aiming to get abs in the coming months, you need to take a good hard look at your diet. This is the biggest factor that can't be overlooked, if you want to succeed.

The exercises you should do for your abs are crunches and leg raises. Try to run a little to burn fat; if you are not fit enough to run, try to swim one or two times a week. Skipping is a great exercise for fat burning, too and will help to tone your abs, as well. Pushups and pull-ups are also one of the best ways to shape your abs and tone your entire body.

Southern Star Brewing Company

Just four years ago, St. Arnold was the only (and the best) brewery in Houston. But times are changing and there are currently approximately 12 more breweries open and in the process of opening. Either drinking beer in Houston has become more popular or people are just realizing even more than ever before that "God loves us and wants us to be happy." (Benjamin Franklin).

Among the many in the progress of opening and those open one quick way of being able to taste the best of what these breweries have to offer is to attend The Texas Beer Fest, where brewers from all over the state of Texas and throughout the United States provide opportunities for sampling their beer as well as introducing their latest and greatest (or not so greatest depending on your vote).

But since The Texas Beer Fest only makes its way to Houston once a year there are three breweries in the area that you can find not only me, but in many cases a long line of other people waiting to lift a pint.

St. Arnold Brewing Company
Not only the patron saint of beers, but also the most well-known of breweries in the Houston area; it was the first brewery established in Houston and those in the Saint Arnold Army are sure it will be here for a long time to come. St. Arnold offers a regular selection of beers from browns to India Pale Ale as well as a selection of "reserves" (specialty beers) and seasonals like Oktoberfest and Christmas Ale (a personal favorite that I could drink year round.). This brewery is known for its tours, tastings, community events, special events and pub crawls as well as charitable efforts. Attend tours and tastings on: Monday - Friday 3PM with Taps open 3PM to 4PM and a tour at 3:30PM. On Saturdays people from all over the Houston area can be found in the beer hall of St. Arnold from 11am-2pm with tours at Noon, 1pm and 2pm. Admission is $7.00 and includes your tour, 4 tastings and sample glass.

No Label Brewing Company

"We don't need no stinkin' labels!" is the motto behind this family owned brewery. They are probably right. Their beer selection may be limited after only one year in production and distribution but it is popular every Saturday as people show up rain or shine or 100 degree temperatures to stand outside old rice warehouse in Old Town Katy. Tours and tastings are Free, but I would rather spend the $5.00 when I get there and buy a pint glass. Of course you can bring it back again, after all that is going "green" isn't it? I recommend bringing a cooler with food and some chairs or blankets to sit on. The atmosphere is fun, funky and borderline underground with silos towering over you. But the people are friendly and kids can play. Did I mention the beer is pretty good too? My personal favorite is the El Hefe, a Hefeweizen.

Southern Star Brewing Company
The Southern Star Brewing Company shines bright with tastings and tours on the first and third Saturday of every month in the afternoons beginning at 1pm. Pack a lunch, snacks or purchase brats, burgers and hotdogs from The Outlaw Cookers (and their burgers are delicious!). Tastings are free, but tokens are limited and you better plan on buying a pint glass from the gift shop. My personal pint glass normally contains the Bombshell Blonde, but I have to admit to a weakness for their newest brew a seasonal Walloon.

You can find Southern Star and St. Arnold in your local stores. Southern Star is distinguished by its can, no bottles there, but I prefer it on draft. No Label beers can be found on draft at a few select locations and restaurants but the opportunities to be label-less while bending your elbow are growing.

Each of the new kids in town are opening up slowly but surely in the Houston area. So far, New Republic Brewing is giving everyone a run for the taste, if not the money, and my list of beers and breweries in the Houston area to try or revisit is quickly growing.
Read more by this contributor
The DVD for Beer Historians: "Empires of Industry: Brewed in America"
Houston Hometown Beer St. Arnold: Beer Review of St. Arnold's Brown Ale a Little Nutty and a Little Tasty
Honoring Octoberfest: Beer Review of Samuel Adams Blackberry Wit
Sources: Personal experience