Saturday, April 30, 2016

5 Easy Ways to Teach Your Children at Home

If you are looking for ways to teach your children at home then you will want to read this article. I will show you five easy ways to teach your children at home. After reading this article you should be able to teach your children at home with confidence.

Video or DVD
You can use videos to explain concepts that you find difficult. There are a ton of subjects available on video and or DVD. Just about anything you can imagine is on video nowadays, from English, math, art, and history to dance. I like to use videos to reinforce something that I have taught my children. For example, when we learned about earths atmosphere, I rented a DVD that actually took us on a tour of the earths atmosphere from outer space. The kids got to see what the atmosphere really looks like, this helped them to remember what they had learned.

Computer Programs
I find computer programs especially helpful when teaching my children subjects such as science, math and foreign languages. Children need very little help with the use of computer programs, which is nice when you have more than one child you are trying to teach. The programs help teach them step by step, and they cant go on until they master those steps. You can also use computer programs to help teach them things such as first aid and typing skills.

Books
A lot of children prefer to use books for learning, as this is what is most comfortable to them. You can get electronic books but most of the time children prefer to read when off the computer. The computer can be hard to read at for long periods of time, and very uncomfortable to sit by when trying to read. You can take a good book with you anywhere and get comfortable. The local library is a good place to find books, as is your local bookstore.

Hands-On
By doing things with a hands-on approach, children seam to grasp concepts a lot easier than when just reading about something out of a book, or hearing someone talk about it. This gives them a chance to put into practice what they have learned and to experiment with different outcomes. This is fun for kids of all ages, not just the little ones.

Internet
The internet is another good way for kids to learn, a lot of times this too can be done on their own, which means more free time for you. There are many sites online that offer distance education, and there are even some charter schools online that offer classes for free. K12 is one such school. They provide all the supplies needed for your home school year and even a computer for those who need one. Time for Learning is another good school, they offer online classes for children in grades k-8, with animation and interaction. The internet can be a wonderful place to learn and study, as there is so much information out there to be found.

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5 Effective Trouble Shooting Tools in WIN XP

Msconfig: A command-line tool (one that you can run from the Command Prompt or using the Run dialog on the Start menu) that opens the System Configuration Utility, which you can use to troubleshoot and resolve startup errors and resolve unwanted prompts by third-party applications.

Use Msconfig when troubleshooting errors that occur during the startup process, to rid the computer of third-party software prompts after startup, to discover and resolve problems with running services, or to resolve errors regarding the boot paths configured on multiboot computers.

To use Msconfig to open and use the System Configuration Utility, follow these steps:

1. From the Start menu, select Run.

2. In the Run dialog box, type msconfig and click OK.

Msinfo32: A command-line tool that opens the System Information window, which provides detailed information about the computer system configuration

Use Msinfo32 when you need to obtain information about the local or remote computer’s hardware configuration, computer components, installed software, or drivers (signed or unsigned); or when you need to get information about the BIOS version; verify that memory is installed and available; check product activation status; determine hardware conflicts; and more.

To use Msinfo32 to open the System Information window and to browse through the available data, follow these steps:

1. From the Start menu, select Run.

2. In the Run dialog box, type msinfo32 and click OK.

Chkdsk :A command-line tool that creates a status report of the integrity of the hard disk and corrects errors on the disk.

Use Chkdsk (Check Disk) to view the file system type (NTFS or FAT) and to verify the integrity of the disks installed on the computer. By adding the appropriate parameter (/F), you can also fix errors on the disk.

To use Chkdsk to check the integrity of the hard disk and automatically fix any errors it finds, follow these steps:

1. From the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and select Command Prompt.

2. To see all of the Chkdsk parameters, at the command prompt, type chkdsk /?

3. At the command prompt, type chkdsk /F to run Check Disk and automatically correct disk errors.

Disk Defragmenter: A program included with Windows XP that analyzes hard disks and locates and consolidates fragmented files and folders.

Disk Defragmenter looks for and consolidates fragmented files, those that are saved in various areas of the hard drive rather than in one place. Opening defragmented files takes less time than opening fragmented ones because the information is stored together on the disk rather than haphazardly. Use Disk Defragmenter when the user complains that the computer seems slower than usual, when the user has not used Disk Defragmenter in the past or does not use it on a regular basis, and when no distinct problems can be found for the slowdown.

To use Disk Defragmenter, follow these steps:

1. From the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and select Disk Defragmenter.

2. To analyze the disk to see whether it needs defragmenting, select the disk from the top pane, and select Analyze from the bottom.

3. To defragment the volume, select Defragment.

SFC /Scannow A command-line tool that scans and verifies all protected system files on the computer and replaces any missing files.

System File Checker (SFC) is a command-line utility that allows a technician or user to determine whether any protected system files are missing. Missing system files can cause problems with the boot process or problems when operating system components are opened.

To use the SFC /Scannow utility to determine whether there are any missing files and to replace them, follow these steps:

1. From the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and select Command Prompt.

2. Type SFC /scannow (note the space after SFC) and press Enter or Return.

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5 Essential Benefits of Trading the Currency Markets

Currency trading involves the buying and selling of different currencies. It works on the theory that is similar with share market. As we all know that to make a good amount of profit, you have to buy at lower price and sell at higher price, or we can also sell at higher price first and buy at lower price. But this is not as easy as it sounds. You can actually earn profits in currency trading by studying certain market conditions. All you have to do is to analyze the foreign exchange market in a correct way and then enter into a good trade.
But the question that arises is why to go for Foreign exchange trading? There is an alternative to invest in stock market also but here are a few important advantages of currency trading over stock market.

1. Twenty four hours continuous trading: Currency trading is done on twenty four hours basis. This market is open throughout the day and night as somewhere in the world, there might be this buy and sell trading that is going on. Traders involved in foreign exchange trading strategy can always get that first hand information and can act accordingly. The currency rate is actually run through telecommunication all over the network of banks twenty four hours a day from 00:00 GMT on Monday to 10:00 pm GMT on Friday. There are ECNs (Electronic Communication Networks) which bring the buyers and sellers together on continuous basis.

2. Increased liquidity: There is a superior liquidity in the market as there are always buyers and sellers to purchase and sell foreign currencies. Foreign exchange trading market size is many times bigger than the average of all the stock markets of the world taken together on a given day and the liquidity of such large market ensures price stability. Also Forex trading stop orders could be carried out more simply. This makes Forex trading signal more liquid and permits Forex traders to take benefit of trading opportunities as they happen rather than waiting for the market to open the next day.

3. 100:1 high leverage in currency trading: 100 to 1 leverage is commonly available from online foreign exchange dealers, which substantially exceeds the common 2:1 margin offered by equity brokers. This gives them a huge leverage in their trading and presents the potential for huge sum of profits with relatively small investments. Leverage can also go the opposite way and may lead to huge losses if you are not careful.

4. Currency trading transactions have no commissions: Foreign exchange brokers can earn money by fixing their own speculation between what a currency could be bought at and what it could be sold at. In difference, Forex traders have to pay a commission fee or brokerage fee for every futures transaction they come in to the view. The currency market is so large that no one individual, bank, mutual fund or a government body can influence it for a long period of time. In forex trading strategy, you can trade between seven currencies but not everyone trades in all.

5. Good online support: There are certain trading signals that give indications to the trade. These forex signals are delivered by email, instant messenger or direct to your desktop. Some services even offer auto-trading, allowing you to auto-execute their trading signals direct into your broker account.

Thus it can surely be said that currency trading is becoming immensely popular amongst traders and investors in the modern times due to vast profit potential over traditional forms of investment.

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5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries

Buying groceries can be one of the most expensive things you do each week. In fact, if you’re not careful, a single trip to the grocery store can take a huge bite out of your monthly budget. Fortunately, bringing your grocery bill under control is easier than you think. By following a few simple, money-saving tips, you can stick to your food-shopping budget while keeping more of your hard-earned dollars where they belong — in your wallet.

Here are 5 easy ways to save money on groceries:

1. Shop at several stores instead of just one
Beyond traditional grocery stores, many other retailers now sell groceries, too. These include big-box stores (like Wal-Mart and Target) and discount warehouse clubs (like Sam’s Club and Target). Every few weeks, do your grocery shopping at one of these alternate stores to take advantage of discounts, in-store sales and other offers.

2. Skip the big names and buy the store’s brand
An easy way to save at the grocery store is to avoid the more expensive name brands and buy the store’s brand instead. Or better yet, go with generic. When you compare the nutrition labels of all three, the differences are usually very small. Why pay more for fancier packaging? From now on, skip the name brands when you can.

3. Look for sale items, and then buy in bulk
Another way to curb your grocery spending is to buy your regular items only when they go on sale — and then buy them in bulk to maximize your savings. Don’t have enough room in your pantry to store the extras? Create more storage space by adding a new shelving unit or two to your garage, basement or guest room.

4. Buy frozen fruits and veggies instead of fresh
Frozen foods offer several advantages over fresh. First, many frozen foods are flash-frozen, which preserves the flavors and nutrients present when the foods were still fresh. Frozen foods also cost less and keep much longer than fresh, preventing waste. From now on, ignore the produce aisle and stock up in the frozen section instead.

5. Make your own beverages from concentrate
It’s likely that a large portion of your grocery bill goes toward beverages like bottled water, sports drinks, coffee, tea, soda, orange juice, and more. Switch to drinking your own filtered tap water, and buy concentrate. You can save hundreds of dollars each year by making your own beverages.

Today’s retailers offer shoppers more ways to save money on groceries than ever before. By following the five easy steps outlined above, you can stop overspending on food, stick to your budget and bring your grocery bill back under control. You’ll be surprised by how much money these simple tips will save you over time — and your wallet will thank you!

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5 Easy Ways You Can Stop Damaging the Planet

1. Compost! Millions of tons of rubbish are sent to landfills while you read this article. Landfills are detrimental to the environment in many ways, including using valuable property, contaminating local water systems, and displacing wildlife. They also release toxic gases. The less you send to the landfills, the better it is for the environment. It is easy to begin composting. You can buy a special plastic compost bin to put in your garden/yard. Ours cost about £20, but prices depend on the size and style you choose. Using a special compost bin will prevent rats, flies, and other pests from flocking to your compost, and so is worth the investment. I have a small bin (trash can) in my kitchen that I empty regularly into the bigger compost bin outside. And it’s easier than ever because you can buy bin liners (trash bags) that are compostable! Good things to compost include: leftovers and other food scraps, tea bags, garden waste, and paper towels. Do not put in anything with chemicals that could be harmful to the environment.

2. Use less electricity! We don’t think about it, but we waste huge amounts of electricity in our homes. For example, turn your appliances off rather than leaving them on standby. A study showed that over £10 million worth of electricity was wasted each month in the UK alone just because people kept their TVs and VCRs on standby rather than turning them off! You don’t have to change what you use, just turn things off when you’re not using them. Unplug your mobile phone chargers when they’re not charging; turn off lights in empty rooms; use energy saving light bulbs. For more good ways to save energy in your home, see

3. Reuse shopping bags! Experts estimate that 750 billion plastic shopping bags are used each year. Although many stores do have recycling schemes, most people just throw them away and they end up in landfills. They create a lot of pollution in their production, and are bad for the environment after they’re used. They’re also annoying, and quickly fill up your kitchen drawers and cupboards. Avoid this hassle by using reusable bags. You may already have canvas bags you can use, or you can buy them cheaply at most supermarkets. They are more practical and better for the environment.

4. Eat Green! A government report in the UK released in July 2007 estimated that £9billion a year was spent on food transportation. The food transport industry has a huge carbon footprint. If possible, buy locally produced foods. Not only is it better for the environment, it will support your local environment, and food that has had less transport time is healthier for you too! Living in southern England, I obviously have to buy imported bananas if I want them with my breakfast. However, I buy most of my vegetables (potatoes, corn, parsnips, swede, carrots, onions, etc.) from a local farmer. They are cheaper than buying from the supermarket, and the quality of the food is much higher. Another huge way our eating habits impact the environment is by eating meat. If you eat meat, eat less and try to buy local meat. It takes 78 times as much fossil fuel energy to produce the same amount of beef as soy. The meat industry produces 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK (just in the production; more is released by transporting the meat from producer to consumer). Goingvegetarian is best, but it can make a huge difference just to cut back. For good resources about how are eating affects the environment, check out these websites: http://ift.tt/1SVPqIH, and http://ift.tt/1QIrbWC.

5. Conserve water! This can be as simple as turning the tap off while you’re brushing your teeth. Just try to cut out unnecessary water use. Plant your garden with plants that are indigenous to the area and your climate. If you live in a dry area, don’t plant flowers that will need watering every day to survive. When you do water your outside plants, water them at night so that the water used will be most effective. Never waste water on your lawn. Grass will survive whether or not you water it. Even if it goes slightly brown during the summer, it will be fine and it is a huge waste to use water on it.

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5 Examples of Core Values: How They Can Improve Your Life

A persons core values or personal values are strongly held beliefs about themselves and the world around them. How you perceive yourself will ultimately determine how you relate to others and the rest of your world. Our assumptions, about ourselves form in us the expectations that shape our lives. The value system you hold is all about what we think ought to be true for others and ourselves. We have a notion of how people ought to behave, speak and perform and when this does not hold true we are frustrated and angry. This is especially true with concepts such as honesty, integrity and openness.

Here are five of the most common personal values and a brief example of how our belief about each can help or hinder our personal growth.

Love

The number one core value for most humans is love. How you expect people to behave in love however can cloud the issue and make love a miserable thing. You have all different types of love and the heart has the capacity to love beyond our expectations. Putting restrictions on love can be bad for you and the ones who care about you. love should be freely given and just as freely received. When we allow others to love us we sometimes make it harder by coloring their expressions of love with our own personal concept and core beliefs of how it should be. This causes friction. Expecting others to conform to your beliefs can make love a miserable time for you both. On the other hand if you are loving others and allo0wing them to love you without expecting them to adhere to your belief system it can be a beautiful thing. They will also have the core belief system expectations so it is important to know what your are and to communicate your needs one to the other in order to get them met in a civilized manner.

Fun

Yes, fun is a core belief, some people have a belief system that is all fun and still others are the extreme opposite. It is important to have a balance in your life. Time is short and to live life constantly striving to get ahead and to keep up with the Jones’s will leave very little time for fun. All work an no play, as the saying goes has been the reason for many heart attacks, strokes and ulcers.

Freedom

Freedom is a value that people feel so strongly about that they are willing to die for it. When freedom is endangered by anything or anyone the first response is one of frustration and anger. Freedom can be had by all even in the confines of interpersonal relationships. Rules believe it or not are a part of freedom. Freedom to be yourself is not hindered by having to responsible to and for the people around you.

Authenticity

It is becoming increasingly difficult to be authentic in today’s “cookie cutter” world. How many times have you heard or even said to someone “Why can’t you be like “, this is not fair to that person. Individuality should be prized above all else. Every where you look you see the sameness of people. This even permeates how you perceive yourself. We all have to dress and think and talk alike to be accepted. In the search for your core values you will also find that authentic person you have left behind. Learning to embrace and celebrate this person will be the challenge of your lifetime.

Growth

A life without growth is stagnate and boring. Your values should inspire you to want to be better today than you were yesterday.

There is a website that has a tool that is free to use that will help you to sort out what your five most important core values are. Once you know them you can begin to rearrange the way you relate to your world.

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5 Extremely Useful Marketing Ideas for Non-Profit Organizations!

Good marketing strategies can greatly benefit your non-profit organization! Well-done marketing increases consumer participation and satisfaction, empowers donors, staff members, and volunteers, and tangibly improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the non-profit’s services, creating an overall stronger organization.

Here are five strong marketing ideas that will quickly increase the strength, efficiency, and value of your not-for-profit organization.

1) Develop and Distribute Marketing Materials.

Design and create eye-catching marketing materials that visually transcribe the services, benefits, donation opportunities, goals, and values of your non-profit organization. Your organization’s name and logo should be clearly visible, and all written information shared on your materials should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. These marketing materials can include brochures, flyers, business cards, postcards, counter displays, wall posters, pens and notepads, etc. Depending upon your printing abilities and available funds, you can either create these materials in-house or have them created for you by a local or online printing service.

Once you have developed these materials, begin distributing them locally. Give stacks of flyers and counter displays to willing business and eateries. Post flyers in public places, and hand distribute or mail flyers, brochures, and postcards throughout the surrounding communities.

2) Create and Maintain a Professional, Eye-catching Website.

A creatively developed, well-built website satisfies any non-profit’s modern-day need to maintain a strong web presence. Your website will likely become the center of interaction between your non-profit organization and its current and potential members, volunteers, and donors. The organization’s cause and mission, goals and values, activities, and all other useful information should be properly placed, well showcased, and easily accessible to the viewers. The website should also be kept timely up-to-date with news, event information, blogging links, recent photographs, etc.

3) Reach Out to Your Constituents Through Social Media.

Using social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, YouTube, and Yelp is a low-cost, extremely effective way to reach out to current and potential members, volunteers, and donors. Use the media outlets to make direct connections between your organization’s internal staff, and those who are equally as passionate about the causes or services that the organization values or provides. These media platforms should be used to share current events and goings-on within your organization, and should provide potential members and donors easy access to in-depth information about opportunities offered by the organization, should they want to participate or donate.

4) Communicate with Current and Prospective Constituents.

The age-old adage “Communication is Key” stands true. Your constituents rely on communication with the organization for empowerment and encouragement to further their efforts with and within the organization. Conversely, your organization must rely on communication with your constituents to determine the overall value of your organization and the goods or services it provides. Are consumers satisfied with your goods or services? Are organization staff members and volunteers satisfied with what they are receiving in exchange for membership and engagement with the organization? Are donors satisfied with the value and levels of service being provided in conjunction with their generosity? Research and maintain prospect and customer databases, and use them to find the answers to these questions through special mailings, surveys, follow-up telephone calls, etc.

As you gather the answers to these questions, do not remain idle! Use this valuable information as a resource that leads to organization improvement. See where services can be fine-tuned or diversified, where service or good quality can be improved, where constituents can be reached easier or quicker, where organization alliances can be made, etc.

5) Publicize and Emphasize the Importance of Patrons’ Efforts

Everyone enjoys a little recognition. Make known the importance of your constituents’ efforts and donations, and your gratitude towards them for these efforts and donations. Doing so provides to your patrons a sense of trust and appreciation, and motivates them to remain engaged with the organization.

All non-profit organizations are astutely aware that its target consumers must be actively involved in its efforts to accomplish its goals- make sure that the target consumers and constituents understand this, as well. Every so often, distribute and publicize messages of gratitude and encouragement. Both the non-profit organization and its patrons will be better off because of it.

In conclusion, remember that not-for-profit does not mean that your organization mustn’t gain any profit at all. The fulfillment of your organization’s goals and missions, especially when due to a strong marketing strategy, is a large profit in itself.

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5 Fab Android Apps

I remember that glorious day as if it were yesterday. What day you ask? The day I received my android smart phone, the HTC Incredible. It is the phone that ushered me into the smartphone arena. It changed not only how I do many daily tasks but it amazed me with its features, and for me redefined what a phone is capable off.

When I first got the phone I downloaded dozens of apps (it’s fun isn’t it?) and then as the months went by I uninstalled many as I found myself using a select few apps consistently. Here are 5 apps that made the cut and are worth checking out:

1. Dropbox

Ever heard of cloud storage? If you haven’t heard about it or used it before, you’re in for a treat. Dropbox is a company that provides free and paid cloud storage to the public. You can sign up on their site (dropbox.com) and get 2GB of storage space for free. You then download their software which places a “Dropbox folder” on your computer’s desktop. When you place a file (any kind of file) in that folder, it syncs to Dropbox online effectively making it available anywhere. This is really cool! You no longer need to carry a flashdrive with you. Things get even better when you get the free android app available on the android market. With the app, you can upload pictures you’ve taken with your phone to your Dropbox account instantly – I use the app for this all the time to upload and share pictures without having to use a USB cable to transfer the files to my laptop. It’s very fast and convenient, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

2. Catch

I’m a creative guy, and my head is always buzzing with all kinds of ideas, often when I’m out and about. I wanted a notes app that I could use to store ideas that I have on the go, as well as simple things like lists and things to do. Enter “Catch”. This is a free app that gives you the ability to take different types of notes, such as text notes, camera notes, reminder notes, even voice notes! You can set it so that every time you add a note it will sync to your Catch account that is available online so your notes are available anywhere you have an internet connection. Never forget that next great idea ever again!

3. Tapatalk

I’m a forum junkie. Their are several forums I frequent, and having a smartphone allows me to view and post in threads while on the go when I want to. The problem is that viewing threads in a regular phone browser is not intuitive. You often have to zoom in, or the text won’t format nicely for proper reading. Tapatalk is the answer to this. You can save your favorite forums and threads for fast and easy viewing, and of course, publish posts. Get your read on.

3. Gasbuddy

I’d now like to introduce you to my new little friend, his name is Gasbuddy. Gas prices continue going in one direction (hint: it rhymes with yup), and this is having a large impact on many drivers. Wouldn’t it be nice to save some money at the pump during these difficult times? Enter Gasbuddy. Gasbuddy is a free app that uses your phone’s GPS and data connection and provides you with local gas prices. You can organize the list it gives you by price per gallon or by distance. Gas prices are typically updated every few hours both by other Gasbuddy users or by the gas station themselves. Drive by that gas station smiling, knowing that just a few blocks away is another station with much cheaper gas. You’re so smart.

4. TuneIn Radio

I love music of all kinds and this is one app I use almost everyday. It’s free and gives you access to thousands of radio stations, both in the U.S and abroad. You can set your own station pre sets by browsing stations via the app. One thing I like about this app is that you can search by country, it’s a great way to discover new music. Did I mention it’s free?

5. JuiceDefender

As much as I love my android phone, the battery life was just terrible. It was especially bad when I first got the phone as I was constantly downloading new apps and exploring its features. I didn’t want to change out batteries or use a larger battery that would take away the slimness of my phone. The solution? JuiceDefender. This fantastic app (free version available) has built in battery saving profiles (balanced, aggressive, extreme, custom) that you can put into effect with just a touch of a button. Click the profile you like (I suggest starting with balanced and then go from their). The app optimizes the battery usage of your smartphone giving you HOURS of extra juice. After installing this app, I was shocked at how much more battery life I was getting. Truly remarkable, try it and see the results for yourself.

So their you have it, 5 great apps that I use all the time that I’m sure you’ll love too. Give them a test run and let me know what you think in the comments. I plan on doing a part 2 with more great android apps so stay tuned! Till next time.

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5 Factors Influencing the Cost of Tattoo Removal

When it comes to the price of removing tattoos, there is no single answer that can summarize how much such a thing costs. Why isn’t there a simple answer for how much it costs to remove a tattoo? Simply because not all tattoos are the same! In fact, the biggest factors related to the expense of removing tattoos are precisely those unique factors relating to the tattoo itself. So what are these attributes? Let’s take a look at them right now.

The first factor influencing tattoo removal cost is the size of the tattoo. This is an obvious one but it needs to be noted. In the simplest terms, the bigger the tattoo, the more treatments it takes, and thus, the more treatments involved it drives the cost up. The reverse is also true of course, with very small tattoos, such as those on the wrist or ankle, costing much less to remove.

The second factor is the tattoo inks used – specifically, the color of the tattoo ink. Black ink is easier to remove than colors such as green or blue. However, thick solid areas of black ink present a unique problem as well in the sense they require more treatments to remove.

A third factor influencing the cost of tattoo removal is the age of the tattoo. Tattoos that are more than a decade old are likely to have gone through some natural fading over time, which makes them easier to fade away entirely. Conversely, a brand new tattoo will costs more to remove than an older one of the same size and design.

A fourth factor relates to how the tattoo was done. If it was created by a friend using some cheap tattoo equipment, it’s likely at the wrong skin depth. This may make it easier or harder to remove, thus driving the cost up or down.

The fifth and final factor we’ll look at today is the method used to remove the tattoo. Whereas rejuvi tattoo removal and laser treatments cost about the same, dermabrasion usually is a more costly procedure. At the other end of the spectrum, shady methods such as TCA cream peels or tattoo removal creams cost much less, but typically don’t work very well at removing tattoos.

Check out this site on cheap tattoo removal prices for more information on how such an expense adds up, how to finance professional tattoo removal services instead of trying a cheap method which doesn’t work very well, as well as a guide to all other tattoo removal techniques and their associated costs in one handy reference chart.

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5 Excellent Nintendo 3DS Games with Crippling Flaws

The Nintendo 3DS has an amazing library, but some of the finest games for the console have crippling flaws. These great 3DS games just narrowly dodged perfection. Just what is it that caused these otherwise AAA games to fall short? While some gamers might disagree, these are the main flaws that held back each of them.

Tetris Axis

Gamers were doubtful there could ever be a handheld entry in the series better than Tetris DS. While Tetris Party Deluxe did disappoint, Tetris Axis does nearly everything perfectly. The 3D effects are very impressive and the gameplay is just as addictive as ever. The cartridge is packed with twenty-plus variations of Tetris and a great soundtrack. What is it that places Tetris Axis on this list?

Many gamers lament the inability to use the Circle Pad, but this isn’t the only issue at hand. While it is disappointing that you’re forced to use the D-Pad, an even bigger problem is the overabundance of clone game modes. In order to fill out the package, the developers slightly retooled several existing modes leading to many disgruntled gamers. Had these two issues been addressed, Tetris Axis might have outclassed Tetris DS.

Samurai Warriors: Chronicles

The 3DS launch lineup was filled to bursting with amazing third party offerings. Nintendo came to the table a little light with its three games- Nintendogs, Steel Diver, Pilotwings Resort, but Koei stepped up to the plate for a homerun. Just what makes Samurai Warriors: Chronicles so impressive? Fantastic gameplay, a treasure trove of content, and visuals that impress from the moment you turn the console on. The friendship system’s use of dialogue trees and affinity bonuses will keep you replaying stages to befriend and unlock new characters.

Many portable games are fleeting experiences- Koei made certain this would not be one of them. So what’s the problem? The lack of English voice acting is almost a deal breaker for this otherwise perfect game. Chaotic levels require multiple undertakings to fully catch the subtitled dialogue and to complete tougher missions. Failed an ambush? Lost your supplies? Let a defector escape? I bet you wouldn’t have if you were warned in English.

Harvest Moon: A New Beginning

There isn’t much to say about Natsume’s latest Harvest Moon offering on the Nintendo 3DS. It is, without a doubt, one of the finest portable HM experiences thanks to its focus on customization, gameplay tweaks, and abundance of content. The game isn’t plagued by glitches like its predecessor and the controls are far more polished than previous efforts. What earns it a spot on this list?

The game is famous for throwing out the ‘old rule book’ in order to have a ‘new beginning,’ but in the process it lost some of its charm. In an overextended effort to draw in new buyers, many long-time fans were left feeling left out by the simplified gameplay and focus on customization over exploration and lifestyle simulation. If A New Beginning committed a crime, its stealing far too much from Animal Crossing.

Skylanders Giants

Who would have thought Spyro the dragon could manage such a comeback? How many gamers would have guessed that Spyro would deliver so amazing an experience at this late, dark point in his life span? This follow-up to the equally amazing Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is a must-have game for fans of both platforming and RPGs.

Although it improves on the original in practically every manner, it stumbles in one major area. The game’s performance leaves much to be desired with frequent lagging and stuttering. While it doesn’t plague the gameplay at every turn, it does trigger some cheap deaths and uneven boss battles. Activision really should have polished this return to Skylands.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance

It’s amazing what a difference 3D visuals, excellent voice acting, and finely polished gameplay makes on a portable Kingdom Hearts title. While Birth By Sleep and Re: Coded struggled, Kingdom Hearts 3D surpasses even the excellent, Organization XIII flavored Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. The inclusion of a world based on The World Ends With You is the only the start of this fantastic follow-up’s successes.

The atrocious card battle system is nowhere to be found and Sora’s new voice does a far better job than his predecessor. Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance squeezes a home console KH experience onto the Nintendo 3DS. While you are granted all the blessings of a console KH game, you also receive the curses. The game’s length leaves much to be desired as the game mostly succeeds in leaving you wanting much more. We can only hope that Square Enix is smart enough to grace the 3DS with a follow-up that serves up more content.

Tags:5 Excellent Nintendo 3DS Games with Crippling Flaws

Friday, April 29, 2016

5 Exercises for Olympic Curling

In between network coverage of the Winter Olympics’ figure skating death spins and aerial skiing triple twisting flips, you may have watched some chilled-looking people apparently playing shuffle board on ice. How, some viewers may ask themselves, is having admittedly excellent bocce-ball-type skills considered a sport? While aim isn’t necessarily related to athleticism, curling’s delivery requires a lot of flexibility and a lot of strength to make that flexibility useful. On the other end of the sheet, it takes a fair amount endurance to be able to sweep for the 10 ends that make up a game. Fit to Curl, written by Canadian elite curler and veteran skip, John Morris, is an entire book devoted to the physical conditioning required by the sport, but here is a small sampling of exercises for curling conditioning.

Kneeling Lunge Stretch
Curling’s delivery requires limber hip flexors. To loosen them up, try the kneeling lunge stretch. Start out with one knee on the ground, the other leg in front bent at a 90 degree angle, weight centered. Push your hips forward slightly until you feel the stretch. If that isn’t challenging enough, scoot the front leg forward, maintaining the 90-degree bend. Don’t let yourself sink into your hips too much.

Lunges
To get in and out of a delivery posture and keep themselves upright in it, Olympic curlers need strong legs. Lunges target the quads and glutes, and help curlers practice keeping their balance in a lunge position. Stand with one foot flat on the ground in front of you and the ball of the other foot on the ground behind you. Keep most of your weight on the front foot and slowly lower yourself to a 90-degree bend. Slowly return to the starting position. Keep your shoulders and hips aligned throughout the lunge. Never lock your knees.

Plank
Even though curlers use brooms and gliders to steady themselves during their delivery, they have to be able to do most of the stabilization themselves. Core strength is essential to stability. The plank is a particularly effective static core exercise. Start out with your knees and elbows on the floor, elbows directly below your shoulders. Extend your legs behind you one at a time, and lift your hips so that your shoulders, hips, and ankles form a straight line sloping toward the floor. Pull your navel in toward your spine to keep your hips from dropping. Don’t let your head drop. Keep your spine as straight as a board.

Warrior II
We’ve established that curlers need flexibility, strength, and stability. Yoga is great for developing all three. Warrior II pose builds leg strength while opening up the hips and engaging the abdominals. Start with one straight leg in front and one straight leg in back, toes pointing forward. Turn the toes of your back foot out slightly, aligning the back heel with the front heel. Turn hips and shoulders toward the back leg, lift your arms to shoulder height, and look over your front shoulder. Bend your front leg moving your body laterally forward toward the front foot. Make sure your hips and shoulders are aligned and that your weight is distributed evenly. Don’t bend your front leg past 90 degrees; your knee should never move past your ankle. If you’re wobbly, try thinking about kicking the floor away with your front heel as you hold the position, and remember to keep your core engaged.

Push Ups
So far, we’ve focused on the most evidently athletic aspect of curling, the delivery. But think about the last time you mopped the kitchen floor. Were you slightly sore the next day? Now imagine doing that at triple the speed for about 100 feet for each of the 80 rocks delivered in a game. That takes some serious arm strength and stamina. Push ups are a sweeper’s friend. They target the triceps and back for sweeping and engage the core for maintaining balance on the ice. Hand positions can vary, but keep your hands at shoulder level. For best results, go for the largest range of motion possible. Make sure not to lock your elbows. As in plank position, don’t drop your head or hips.

Tags:5 Exercises for Olympic Curling

5 ESPN 30 for 30 Documentaries to Watch

On October 6th ESPN will be starting their new 30 for 30 documentary series. See, it’s entitled 30 for 30 because it is ESPN’s first good idea in 30 years. I kid! ESPN had some good ideas for the first 10 years. Anyway, starting on October 6th ESPN will be airing 30 different documentaries over the next several months. The ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries are not created by ESPN (thank goodness!) but were all made by actual filmmakers. After looking over some of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries there were a few that stuck out as the most interesting.

5 ESPN 30 for 30 Documentaries to Watch: Without Bias
Without Bias explores the questions that still remain about the tragic death of Boston Celtics player Len Bias. The death of Len Bias was a significant event, and not just because it was one of the signs of the Celtics dynasty ending. After Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose the public’s reaction to the tragedy was so outrageous that it began the realization of how dangerous recreational drugs can be. Without Bias is a ESPN 30 for 30 documentary by Kirk Fraser.

5 ESPN 30 for 30 Documentaries to Watch: The U
The U is about how University of Miami became “the U.” In this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Billy Corben talks about how in the early 80’s the Hurricanes program completely transformed. Howard Schnellenberger began to recruit black players for ghettos and the Hurricanes new found athleticism and swagger led to several national championships.

5 ESPN 30 for 30 Documentaries to Watch: Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks
Reggie Miller’s greatness was never more evident than that classic series against the New York Knicks in 1995. The Knicks lead game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals 105 – 99. 8.9 seconds left. This game was over. Until Reggie Miller did the impossible scoring 8 points in nine seconds. In this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Dan Klores tells the story of Reggie Miller and how he became the most hated man in New York City.

5 ESPN 30 for 30 Documentaries to Watch: No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson
It seems like a cop out at times. Someone explains away an athlete’s bad behavior by saying they had a tough life growing up but for Allen Iverson it was true. In this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Steve James, the director of Hoop Dreams, examines an incident between Iverson, his friends and another group of friends that led to Allen Iverson going to court, and eventually jail, as a teenager.

5 ESPN 30 for 30 Documentaries to Watch: Into the Wind
Phoenix Suns’ point guard Steve Nash makes his directing debut in Into the Wind, an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about Terry Fox. Terry Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer and had one leg amputated but decided it would not stop him from running across Canada. Every day Terry Fox woke up and ran the distance of one marathon with the entire country of Canada watching on, including a six year old by the name of Steve Nash. Terry Fox ran for 143 days and made it across two-thirds of Canada before new tumors were discovered and Fox was forced to stop.

Tags:5 ESPN 30 for 30 Documentaries to Watch

5 Facial Hair Solutions for Guys and Gals

There are a multitude of facial hair removal options out there on the market for both men and women, and each of them has varying results. But let’s be honest with ourselves. Some men aren’t comfortable with some methods of hair removal, and the ones guys like may make a woman cringe. We’re going to be looking at 5 popular hair removal options and weigh their pros and cons for guys and gals.

The good old fashioned razor is tried and true. You can use it anywhere and anytime. Technology for shaving has advanced since your grandfather picked up a 1 ton piece of metal and slid it across his face. Many are lightning fast and can deliver stand alone results. The price is good and blades last a fairly long time and can be easily replaced.

Guys: Most guys are going to want to stick with this, when it comes to facial hair removal. It’s tried and true and the results are fabulous. Gillette, one of the leading companies for razors, is always innovating the shaving world and giving men better results for their money. Most new razors barely leave cuts.

Gals: For facial hair, gals ought to give this a pass, for one reason and one reason alone: The hairs will become coarser over time. There is a reason some older women are walking around with Grouchos. Don’t cut corners now and you’ll retain the beauty you’re looking for in the future.

Some of you may have heard of hair removal creams, both natural and synthetic. The first thing you need to know that some of them work; Not all of them do, but the ones that do, do it very well. They key to finding the ones that do is very simple. Look in health and beauty forums online, talk to people with similar skin types of your own and see what works.

Guy: Most guys might want to give this a pass. Although it can give better results than the traditional razor, it’s a bit messy and can be time consuming. Most guys don’t fit in a lot of time for a shaving routine, so this is out for them.

Gals: Personally, for women, I would put this method above all others in terms of results. Most women want to remove all the facial hair, and these can do it for you. However, time still needs to be considered, and women don’t have any more then men, maybe less.

Another option, which is hardly innovative and not exactly new, is the tweezers. The tweezers has the same mobility as a razor, but is much slowed in getting the job done, and some may find the experience to be a little more irritating than they are willing to put up with.

Guy: This is another very time consuming method, and there are more hairs on your face than there are stars in the sky. You may want this for the stray ones, but this is not the method for you.

Gals: You don’t want hair on your face, because there’s hardly any hair on your face to begin with. A hair here and there is an anomaly for you, so keep these tweezers handy to catch anything the morning routine didn’t. Tweezers are hardly stand alone, but they can be good for touch ups.

Another choice out there is a waxing kit. These things can deliver some good results or patchy messes and really, it has to do with experience. First time users may give it a try and be turned off by strands missed here and there. Waxing is an art and should be taken as such. It takes time and practice to do it right.

Guys: Some guys go for this, but like many other methods, I would give it a pass for guys. It’s a little too much for what guys are willing to put into their shaving routine.

Gals: I would have to pass on this one for gals too. It’s just too much precision work involved to get those stubborn hairs off of your face. You’d be better off leaving it on than making a patch work mess across your face.

Another form of hair removal you may want to consider is electrolysis. If you have the time and the money this is the way to go in terms of long lasting results. Electrolysis uses low grade shocks to kill hair follicles neutralize growth for very long periods. This is something either a guy or a gal could go for, and the only thing holding either back would be the price tag.

” guide for guys to grooming facial hair. “

” Guide for gals. “

Tags:5 Facial Hair Solutions for Guys and Gals

5 Essentials to Pack in Your Vintage Beetle for Winter Driving

Now that the snow has fallen, I’ve been driving my Classic VW Beetle out on the roads instead of my pickup truck. While a vintage Beetle may seem like a poor choice of car for winter driving, I’ve discovered that the lower frame and rear engine placement makes this car a lot less likely to slip and slide on snowy roads.

Driving a vintage VW Beetle in the winter does take a little advance planning. Here are 5 things I pack into my VW Beetle before taking it out on the road.

Credit card. These cars are unique in that the windows don’t just ice up on the outside in freezing weather but frost up on the inside too. Since the heater takes a good 15 minutes to kick on, plan on scraping the interior windows at least half a dozen times while driving. I’ve discovered that a credit card works best for this job because the small size is easier to handle in the cramped front seat quarters of the car.

Rags. Window condensation also seems to be a problem with a Classic VW Beetle. Rather than smearing the moisture around the windshield with your hands, use a dry towel instead to absorb the condensation.

Old Blanket. For the times that you accidentally parked yourself in an ice rut on the side of a road, a blanket can provide your car with a little extra traction. What works best is to place the blanket behind the rear tires and back out of the spot.

Lighter. Another quirky feature of old VWs is that the metal locks tend to freeze up, especially after nightfall when the temperatures dip into the single digits. I keep a lighter in my coat pocket to help unlock frozen locks. The lighter is used to heat the metal part of the key before inserting it into the lock. In extreme freezing conditions, it will take a couple of tries before the lock is thawed sufficiently to work.

Bagged sand. Classic VW Beetles don’t have a lot of trunk space but usually have enough to hold some bagged sand. Weighting the front of the car with bagged sand not only boosts traction, it gives you something to sprinkle on the ice in case the car gets stuck. A 50 pound bag of sand costs $4 or less and can be found at your local hardware store.

More by this contributor:
How to stop your car windows from freezing up.
How to hang curtains in a VW microbus.
How to de-ice a frozen car lock.

Tags:5 Essentials to Pack in Your Vintage Beetle for Winter Driving

5 Events that Are Happening for the Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Week

According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, these are 5 events that are happening for the Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Week.

1. Stride and Ride

This is a walking event held in communities all across the country at various dates/times throughout the year. To find walk locations, please visit the Stride and Ride website, posted here. To register for a walk in your area, you will need to contact your local MDA office and they will give you all the information you need to be able to participate. These walks provide the families of patients with MD with services they may need and access to life-saving research.

2. MDA Summer Camps

These summer camps offer a wide variety of programs for children from ages 6 to 17 who are affected by neuromuscular diseases. These children can attend sessions throughout the week that are arranged by MDA volunteers and other staff members. These camps have activities that are based on the abilities of the campers. These activities include, but are not limited to: playing baseball, going fishing, going swimming, riding horses, etc.. There are activities that have less physical demand, such as arts and crafts time, cook-outs, nature studies, and more. To find out more information on the times, dates, and locations of these camps, please contact your local MDA agent – you can get their contact information here.

3. Bowling Against Dystrophy

These bowling events are held to raise money for Jerry’s Kids. Jerry’s kids is a disease advocacy group for MD. To find out where this event is in your area, please contact your local MDA agent.

4. MDA Golf Tournaments

These golf tournaments are held all around the country to help support Jerry’s Kids. To find a tournament near you, please contact your local MDA agent.

5. The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon: Held on Labor Day

This is a huge television event where many of today’s biggest celebrities bring help and hope to those with neuromuscular diseases. Please contact your local MDA agent for more information.

Tags:5 Events that Are Happening for the Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Week

5 Facts About Judaism

Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world, so by know you should know…

1. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all believe in the Old Testament. Yes, that’s right, all three of these religions have the same basis, and branch off from that. The rift comes with Jesus Christ. Christians believe that he was the messiah and they are waiting for ascension into Heaven. Jews believe that he was a prophet, but that the messiah has not come, and they are waiting for him. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, but that Muhammad was the final prophet to God, and thus they are also waiting for ascension to Heaven. Also, each have their own text after the Old Testament. Jews have the Torrah; Muslims have the Koran/ Qu’ran; and Christians have the New Testament.

2. The original 10 commandments are not the real 10 commandments. If you remember from scripture, Moses brought down the commandments we all remember (No graven images, love thy father and mother, etc), but when he saw how his followers were acting, he smashed them on the ground. He then went and retrieved 10 new commandments from God, which are the following:

Exodus 34:14-26 “[1.] For you are to be worshippers of no other god: for the lord is a God who will not give his honour to another[…] [2.] Make for yourselves no gods of metal. [3.] Keep the feast of unleavened bread; for seven days your food is to be bread without leaven as I gave you orders, at the regular time in the month Abib; for in that month you came out of Egypt. [4.] Every first male child is mine; the first male birth of your cattle, the first male of every ox and sheep. [5.] A lamb may be given in payment for the young of an ass, but if you will not make payment for it, its nexk will have to be broken. […] [6.] Six days let work be done, but on the seventh day take your rest […] [7.] And you are to keep the feast of weeks when you get in the first-fruits of the grain and the feast at the turn of the year when you take in the produce of your fields. [8.] Three times a year let all your males come before the Lord, the God of Israel. […] [9.] No leaven is to be offered with the blood of my offering and the offering of the Passover feast may not be kept till the morning. [10.] Take the first fruits of your land as an offering to the house of the Lord your God. Let not the young goat be cooked in its mothers milk.”

These are the tablets that stayed and the ones that would be in the ark of the covenant. The others, which are mentioned in Exodus 14, were replaced by these, but no less better remembered.

3. Chuanaka isn’t as important holiday to Jews as one may think. Chanuka has been elevated in importance because it falls on the calendar near the very important Christian holiday, Christmas. And though it shares the giving qualities of Christmas, it isn’t considered anywhere near as important to Jews as Christmas is to Christians.

4. There was genocide on Jews before the Holocaust. Anyone remember the Spanish Inquisition? It was about converting Jews to Catholocism. Judaism has endured centuries of hatred and pain.

5. There are Rabbis whose specific job is to bless food to make it Kosher. My grandfather, who used to work in a butcher shop, explained to me one day that all butcher shops have a Rabbi who will come in and bless the meat as a whole in order to make it Kosher. They also have to bless the shop, tools, and anything the meat will be touching in order for it to remain Kosher. And just in case you want to eat blessed BBQ, your grill must be blessed before the meat touches it.

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5 Fair Trade Clothing Sites to Check Out!

According to the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) website, “Fair Trade is an economic partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect.” The principle that Fair Trade is founded on is very noble and ambitious. Because of this corporation, many people who live in poverty have a chance to sell items that would not normally be marketed to the major population. Rather than be exploited, these people are given a better avenue to show the world what they can create. Listed and described below are five different, fashionable clothing websites dedicated to using Fair Trade.

1. Fair Indigo

Fair Indigo is a clothing website with many fine pieces. Most of their fashion costs a pretty penny, but they make sure to provide high-quality pieces for their customers. Women, men, baby, and kid’s clothing is available. If you peruse the website it is easy to see that they have some wonderful items to be purchased. Fair Indigo even sells beautiful jewelry too add that extra flair to an outfit.

One of their unique items include a Boheme bag that is reusable. Buyers can use this bag for shopping or carrying everyday items. Another interesting buy would be their best-selling Alpaca Scarf. It is 100% eco-friendly and totally fashionable!

2. Global Mamas

Global Mamas is another interesting store that provides Fair Trade clothing. Their clothes are appropriate for all ages and sizes. Their pieces also have attractive, lively patterns.

One of the aspects that attracts buyers to Global Mamas would be the name. It truly encompasses what Fair Trade is about. It is not about just one person but everyone around the globe.

Some of their best sellers include reversible aprons, decorative ornaments, and beaded bracelets. Not only can these things add style to your wardrobe, but they can add style to your home.

3. Marigold Fair Trade Clothing

Marigold Fair Trade Clothing is a very trendy wholesaler that wants to reach people everywhere looking for “economic independence”. The clothes are made from naturally dyed organic cotton. They do not have clothing for all ages, but they definitely have variety. Expect to find anything from a relaxing Yoga outfit to a stylish work outfit on this site. Marigold really speaks to adult men and woman, and that is what makes the store special.

I was impressed by the variety that they carried. Some of more popular items were printed skirts, dresses, women’s and men’s tops. They seem to be making a fashion statement with flowy pieces.

4. Pristine Planet

Green shopping is very important to Pristine Planet, making it a perfect fit for Fair Trade. Clothing for every age is offered at this site. They carry beautiful patterns. One of my favorites had a flowery look to it. They also have funky sayings on some of their clothes. I laughed when I saw printed text on a pair of underpants!

One of their best features is the organic women’s clothing. Some fine fashion can be found here. Tunics, pants, whatever you need, they carry it.

5. Maggie’s Functional Organics

Maggie’s has some different items, and that is why I chose this store as the fifth and final Fair Trade clothing place to look at. Maggie’s Organics makes sure to state that it fully supports the ethical treatment or workers and well-made clothing. This is something we can all respect as buyers. I really liked how Maggie’s carried tights and socks. These items are essential, and that means that any person looking to be involved in Fair Trade can make a lot off of them. They have other clothes too.

The more popular and new styles that they provide seem to be comfortable. The pallet is fairly neutral and wearable with many outfits. If you are looking for something practical and soft, this might be the place!

Sources:

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5 Family Friendly Fuel Efficient 2011 Vehicles

My family is in need of a new car within the next year, so my husband and I have been doing some collective research. Since gas prices are at an all time high, symptomatic of an ever-rising volatile economy, we are mainly focusing on gas mileage efficiency. We are also entertaining the idea of purchasing an electric car. Of course, traveling with our most precious cargo – my two young sons – makes safety another important factor in our final decision. The following are vehicles high up on our list as we narrow our search for the next perfect car purchase:

Chevy Volt 2011

Deemed “2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year,” this is a front runner choice for us so far. Since we are a four person family and we rarely make out-of-town trips, it would eliminate the need of gasoline for a majority of our driving. There is an option to use gas for out-of-town trips, as the Volt gets approximately 37 miles per gallon when the gas engine kicks on the highway (after the energy running off electric power runs out). We also like that by purchasing the Chevy Volt, we wouldn’t be feeding into America’s reliance on foreign oil. Our purchase would also compensate a domestic car company, further aiding our U.S. economy. The only drawback would be in price, as it’s retailed about $32,000 which is a bit out of our price range.

Toyota Prius V (Versatility) 2011

What is great about the Toyota Prius V is in price– approximately $21,000– which is a considerable savings than the Chevy Volt. However, we would be contributing to a foreign market but our eco karma would be maintained since it another electric car option. This crossover vehicle gives the space of a SUV but the gas mileage of a car. The Prius V boasts about 50 miles per gallon which would be great for when we do take our out-of-town trips. It’s versatility ( V ) is in how we would use it– hatchback space for needed storage (always a factor in traveling with family in short errand trips about town) or we would equip it with more luxury space for comfort in long distance traveling.

Volvo V60 Sports Wagon 2011

This particular Volvo coupe is aiming high for us in safety. We like that it features the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system, especially for those long distance car trips we take through mountainous terrains.

Volvo XC60 T6

Volvo XC60 T6 prices at about $32,000. We like that it is a crossover vehicle that provides for better gas mileage efficiency than an SUV, but still gives plenty of space in back for a week’s worth of grocery purchases, sports equipment, and/or any other storage needs we have for our family activities. It averages about 22 miles per gallon.

Subaru Outback 2011

My husband plans to camp a lot with our sons as they get older and he is considering the Subaru Outback 2011 with four wheel drive. It estimates at about $23,000 which puts that well within our price range. The miles per gallon average about 19 miles for city driving, 27 miles for the highway.

We are still weighing out the pros and cons of all above mentioned vehicles, but they are well within our top five family vehicles to purchase in the upcoming year.

Tags:5 Family Friendly Fuel Efficient 2011 Vehicles

5 Family Staycation Hotspots in Charlotte, NC

If the price of gas in Charlotte is keeping your family from even thinking about going on vacation this summer, perhaps you should consider a family staycation. Charlotte is filled with some wonderfully fun and entertaining places to go that will make you feel like you have traveled miles away. Here are some of the best places in Charlotte to go for a family staycation:

Great Wolf Lodge is the perfect family getaway. You’ll feel as if you’ve traveled hundreds of miles away because you’ll be having so much fun. The Lodge hosts a huge indoor water park that is included with the price of admission to the lodge. The rooms are actual suites that comfortably sleep 4 to 8 guests. Whereas Great Wolf Lodge is located in several areas across the country, its nice to know that there is one in Charlotte. You can have a great family vacation without having to leave the city.

McDowell Park Camping. McDowell Park and Nature Preserve is one of the area’s most beautiful parks. Located beside of Lake Wylie, it hosts over 7 miles of hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a nature center. Another wonderful feature of the park is the camping area. The camping area hosts 56 camping sites that range from primitive to RV, depending on what your family is looking for. McDowell Park has always been one of my family’s favorite places to go — whether we just spent the day grilling out and walking the trails or whether we took advantage of the camping facilities.

Carowinds. Carowinds is the area’s theme park, host to many different rides, attractions, and shopping. There is also a huge outdoor waterpark that is included in the price of admission. For your convenience, there is a campground which is perfect for a family staycation. To get the best value for your money, buy a family season pass. This way you can enjoy the park during your staycation as well as throughout the entire summer.

Explore uptown Charlotte. Uptown Charlotte is filled with fun activities for the family. Take a ride on the Lynx Blue Line lightrail system, and spend the day visiting some of the places that uptown has to offer. Some of these include Discovery Place, Imaginon, the Epicenter, and the Nascar Hall of Fame. There are a variety of restaurants as well for every price range, including street vendors and entertainers for your enjoyment.

US National Whitewater Center. The US National Whitewater Center is a wonderful way to spend time with your family. If your family loves adventure, then this is the place for you. There is whitewater rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. There are zip-lines, rock-climbing, mountain biking, and trails to walk on. There is also a restaurant for when those hunger pangs take over. Check on their website for a list of upcoming events.

Don’t give up on the thought of a vacation this summer. With so many fun activities here in Charlotte, you can have a staycation that you will always remember.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

5 Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2012

The fantasy season is over. Now is not the time to sit around idly watching the … PLAYOFFS?! Now is the time to organize your last impressions from this season and write them down. You will forget what happened and get caught up in all the hype in late July and August when all the fantasy experts are telling you what to think. Create your own list of thoughts and save them on your computer. I’m not saying ignore the experts, some of them know what they are doing, but I think it is important that the experts use stats to back up their opinions. Therefore, I present to you my opinion of five players whom I would consider sleepers and backed up my opinion with factual data. Also, I should point out that this information is mainly intended for point-per-reception (PPR) formats but also has utility for standard league players.

5. Titus Young. If you’ve been watching the Detroit Lions lately, this won’t come to a surprise to you at all. Young seems to have supplanted Nate Burleson as the #2 WR target in Detroit. He has come on strong late this season and has developed a knack for getting in the endzone. The smallish (5’11”, 174 lbs.) WR finished his regular season rookie campaign with 48 receptions for 607 yards and six scores. The six scores rank him 4th amongst rookie WRs this season, but it is noteworthy that four of those scores have come in the last four weeks. There is a lot to like about the former 2nd round pick from Boise State. He has excellent speed and quickness , he is tied to a high yield offense, his playing time seemed to increase as the season went on and he is gaining chemistry with Matt Stafford. We can’t just ignore the negatives though: he may be the 3rd overall target in that offense (Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew), he has a history of causing trouble and his QB still has not shed the ‘injury risk’ label (at least in my mind). With all these factors in mind, I would not draft him in a single digit round. I’m thinking 12th-13th round at this point, making him a low-risk/high-reward player, possibly working himself into a situational WR3 or flex option on your fantasy team. You will be tempted to drop him early in the season, but like a fine wine, he will get better as the season ages.

4. Brandon Lloyd. He may not be a sleeper in every sense of the word because we know what he is capable of. He was the waiver wire all-star of 2010. I am considering him a sleeper since the Rams’ injury-marred , disaster of a season ended in the firing of their head coach and GM. The result, at this point (that’s what you get for reading about ridiculously early sleepers), is uncertainty in St. Louis. After being traded from the Broncos to the Rams early in the 2011 season, Lloyd made an immediate impact. He delivered a useful 70/966/5 for the season. If you delve further, you find that he played in only fifteen games this season. In his four games with the Broncos, he had only 19/283/0. In his 11 games with the Josh McDaniels-led Rams’ offense and their revolving door at QB he had 51/683/5, which is an average of 13.6 Fantasy Points per Game (FPG). 13.6 FPG places him in the WR3 range in a season where he was traded to a new team that couldn’t keep a QB healthy . Lloyd was able to make an instant impact for the Rams because he was reunited with McDaniels. The two were together in Denver in 2010. With McDaniels departure to become the OC for New England (again), I would expect a solid 70+ receptions and 1000+ yard campaign from the under-appreciated Lloyd in 2012. However, Lloyd followed McDaniels from Denver to St. Louis via a trade. Would McDaniels push the Patriots to trade for Lloyd? Food for thought.

3. James Jones. What sleeper list would be complete without a perennial sleeper such as Jones. This time I think its for real. The problem for skill players in an offense like the Packers’ (Saints, Patriots and Lions are other example) seems to be the presence of a few consistently great fantasy producers and a whole bunch of guys that are hit and miss fantasy producers. So why is it that I have the audacity to believe that James Jones can move into the ranks of the consistent producers? Let’s take the Saints and the Patriots for example and use the metaphor of the burden of proof in a murder trial; means, motive and opportunity. The Saints and the Patriots have great QBs that excel at getting the ball to the open man, whoever it may be. Aaron Rodgers proved that he is one of, if not the best QB in the game in a season that saw both Tom Brady and Drew Brees eclipse Dan Marino’s all time passing record. There we have the means. As for the opportunity; the Saints and Patriots have shown us that it is possible to have three consistently good fantasy producers in the same offense. Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Darren Sproles are the three studs for the Saints and Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez represent the bulk of the offense for the Patriots. In 2011, Green Bay had only two consistently good fantasy producers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, so there is room for another. The potential for a 3rd fantasy producer coupled with the diminished production of Donald Driver give us opportunity. Last we have motive. The motive is directed by the NFL to pass more. Rule changes in recent years have greatly benefitted the offenses, specifically passing. It is not a coincidence that two QBs eclipsed a passing record set in the 1980s in the same season. As you might have noticed, I have not mentioned the logical third prong of the Packer pitchfork of offense, Jemichael Finley. Wouldn’t he be expected to become the third good fantasy producer? Maybe, but why didn’t he do it this year? I don’t have the answer but, he will come at a higher price than Jones on draft day and this article is about sleepers. I like Jones in the late rounds 10th or higher. Another low-risk/high reward guy, that’s how I like my sleepers.

2. C.J. Spiller. I wanted to put Knowshon Moreno here but I couldn’t do it. Spiller is a former #1 draft pick for the Buffalo Bills but has not quite produced like he was expected to until Fred Jackson went down with a broken leg. If you would like my thoughts on how Spiller and Jackson will split carries next season, click here. Since Jackson’s injury, Spiller has produced like Bills fans had always hoped he would. In the last four weeks of the season Spiller had 308 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs in addition to receiving stats of 18/153/2 . In PPR leagues, that is 88 fantasy points, or 22 FP/G! Jackson was having an epic fantasy season before he was injured, and his return will diminish Spiller’s fantasy production greatly. Jackson, though a ‘low-mileage’ back, will be turning 31 this year. Spiller, on the other hand, will be only 25 years old at the beginning of the season. Jackson is recovering from a broken fibula, Spiller is a former #1 pick (owners and GMs generally want these guys to do well so they don’t look bad) and has the ability to line up at WR. In 2012, I want to own a piece of that backfield and I am anticipating Spiller to be the lower priced player of the two. If Spiller is available after Round 6 in your fantasy draft, grab him and reap the rewards.

1. Matt Flynn. Matt Flynn is currently the back-up QB for the Green Bay Packers. At the end of the season, he will become an unrestricted free agent, which means he will be able to sign with any team. The 3rd year man out of LSU may be one of the most sought after UFAs of the offseason. It is easy to overhype a back-up who has had limited success (Scott Mitchell anyone?) however, in Week 17, Flynn set a franchise record with six TD tosses in a single game. This for a franchise that had Brett Favre and has Aaron Rodgers, who was sitting out to avoid any injuries that might arise if he were to get Suh-plexed. It is valid to consider that Flynn’s performance was a result of the system in which he plays rather than his skill. Ultimately, you must decide, but I am betting on Flynn. Obviously, the team Flynn ends up playing for will be a major factor in determining his fantasy value going forward. He is an interesting player to monitor, especially in keeper leagues. He will probably be available toward the end of fantasy drafts and if so, I won’t hesitate to add him to my roster.

Tags:5 Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2012

5 Factors that Make a Restaurant Kid-friendly

Most lists of “kid-friendly restaurants” seem to focus on the menu (see, e.g., Parents.com). But what really makes a restaurant attractive to parents with children? Here are 5 critical factors:

1. Entertainment. Children have shorter attention spans than adults do, and too often they are ready to leave a restaurant before the meal is over. That’s why kid-friendly restaurants provide entertainment for children. The entertainment can range from a visible tortilla-making machine to an actual stage show; whatever the case, they key is to have something to lengthen that attention span.

2. Noise Tolerance. One reason to take your kids out to dinner is to avoid the noise and chaos that often surrounds a dinner at home with young children. But kid-friendly restaurants need to be tolerant of noise, because your kids will probably be loud in public, too. Think about the sound level at a restaurant before you go.

3. Speed. Even if a kid-friendly restaurant provides entertainment, it is important that food arrives quickly to avoid complaints and misbehavior from your children. It does not have to be fast food; it just has to be food that is reasonably fast.

4. Personal Space. To be kid-friendly, a restaurant also must provide a reasonable amount of space around your eating area. If tables and chairs are jammed in too close to each other, trouble is certain to ensue. Your children need space to get up, wander around, scoot their chair back, and so forth.

5. Kid-Friendly Menu. Finally, yes, the menu does matter. Parents need a restaurant menu that contains food their children will eat – not necessarily on a separate kids menu, although that is typically the case – and that is not insanely priced. I have paid $8 for a tiny grilled cheese sandwich before; avoid annoyances like that by checking the menu on-line before you visit a restaurant.

Eating out with children can be an enjoyable experience if you find a kid-friendly restaurant that satisfies the criteria listed above; there is no reason to waste your time at restaurants that do not provide these amenities.

Tags:5 Factors that Make a Restaurant Kid-friendly

5 Fall 2011 Makeup Must-Haves

The eyes and the lips have it in the fall 2011 makeup department, so make sure you’re stocked up on some of the basics this season. Whether you choose to go with a matte or a dewy-skin look for fall, make sure the emphasis is on the eyes or the lips. The smokey eye look is still a hot trend for Fall, but you can change things up with a pop of color. Go all out with shimmer and glitter by night for a fun and flirty look this season.

From vampy lipstick to shimmering eye shadow, here are just five 2011 makeup must-haves to add to your collection:

#1: Vampy Lipstick or Gloss

Fall 2011 makeup trends from the NY Fashion Week runways included bold, crimson-red lipstick and burgundy lip shades. Turn any simple look into something more glamorous with shades rich and dark red, burgundy and wine-colored shades this season. Just remember that going bold on the lips means you’ll need to lighten up with the eye makeup.

#2: Illuminating Shimmer Powder

Maintain that summer glow for just a few more months with the help of an illuminating powder that has a touch of shimmer. These complexion highlighters can make your skin appear fresh and create the effect of a natural glow. Use it in place of a bronzer to create a more natural-looking finish, and look for powders that contain moisturizers to keep skin soft and beautiful throughout the day. My personal favorite: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish, $27. This frosty powder adds some shimmer to the cheeks and forehead and can double as an eyelid enhancer.

#3: Brow Powder

Still can’t get that perfect arch? Fear not with some brow powder and a dark brow pencil by your side. Bold, enhanced brows are a hot trend for Fall 2011 and many celebrities have already pulled off the look with style. Kim Kardashian caught the eye of many a beauty maven with her super-sculpted brows at the Kardashian wedding this summer, and the trend will be staying with us through the colder months. Stock up on a brow powder and eye pencils that match your natural hair color to create a fuller, face-framing brow.

#4: Teal or Red Eye Shadow

The smokey eye trend is here to stay for yet another season, but with a twist for Fall 2011. This look is perfect for evenings and special occasions because it creates a sultry and dramatic finish. Brighten things up with a punch of color using teal or dark red eyeshadow shades for an even more definition. Layering is key, so you need to make sure you’re still using plenty of greys and pewter shades to create the “smudging” effect. Play with some bright colors left over from your summer palette to create a colorful smokey eye this season.

#5: Shimmering Neutral Eyeshadow

If you’re not a fan of the smokey eye look and prefer to keep things simple and classic, stick with a palette of neutral but shimmering eye shadow this season. Beige, tan, taupe, almond and cream-colored eye shadows with flecks of glitter or shimmer are perfect for enhancing the lids without overdoing it. Finish with a skinny line of liner and a few layers of waterproof eyeshadow and you’ll be good to go. Splurge for No. 21 Midnight Brown from the Burberry collection to enhance those eyes this season.

Fall 2011 makeup trends are all about the eyes and lips. Stock up on any or all of the above beauty basics to round out your Fall makeup collection.

More content from this contributor:

5 Ways to Get Out of a Beauty Rut

Increase Shine While Styling Your Hair

5 Foods for Shiny Hair and Beautiful Nails

Tags:5 Fall 2011 Makeup Must-Haves

5 Family Events in Sacramento Memorial Day Weekend 2011

Although you may be wearing shorts and flip-flops way before Memorial Day, if you’re like most Sacramentans the three-day holiday weekend at the end of May is your official kick-off to summer. Betwixt the usual barbecues and backyard swim parties, the long, leisurely Memorial Day weekend is a perfect time to take the family on an outing and create some new digital memories for your family’s blog.

Sure you can go to Folsom Lake or the Sacramento Zoo. But, if you’ve been there, done that, here are five fun and affordable family friendly events in the Sacramento area to choose from this Memorial Day weekend:

2011 Sacramento Jazz Festival & Jubilee: The Sacramento Dixieland Jazz Festival dropped the Dixieland in its name awhile back and now features a full range of jazz music for young and old. Jazz bands from across the globe perform in various venues all weekend, from the Firehouse courtyard in Old Sacramento to canvas tents along the Sacramento River.

The festival begins with the Jazz Jubilee parade in Old Sacramento Friday morning, with professional jazz bands, school marching bands and clowns prancing down the cobblestone streets amidst fire trucks and antique cars.

Freebies for families on a budget: The parade is free. No tickets needed for youth band performances on the Delta King dock, the grassy area near the Railroad Museum and downstairs at Round Table Pizza.

When: Fri.-Mon., May 27-30, 2011. Parade starts at 11:45 a.m. on Fri., May 27, but arrive at 10 a.m. to snag a good viewing spot. Jazz bands perform all four days.

Where: Old Sacramento and nearby hotels.

More info here.
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2011 Sacramento County Fair: The little brother to the California State Fair, the Sacramento County Fair has almost everything its big brother has at a smaller price. Admission is only five dollars. Seniors and children under 12 are free.

Food, animals, midway rides, carnival games and entertainment are among the many featured attractions. Exhibit halls showcase contest entries of local children and teens in categories such as art, baked goods, photography, floraculture, sewing and computer technology. Who knows? Maybe your children will be inspired to take up a new hobby.

Wallet alert: Parking is $10.

When: Thurs.-Mon., May 26-30, 2011.

Where: Cal Expo, Sacramento

More info here.
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2011 Sierra Festival of the Arts: Get out of Dodge for the day with a short hop to Grass Valley just past Auburn. The quaint and cozy downtown plays host to one of California’s best fine arts and street fairs. Unlike the usual chatchkes you see at many craft fairs, the Sierra Festival of the Arts is a juried show; only the most unique artisans are invited to display their work. Kids will enjoy the colorful arts and crafts, not to mention the musical entertainment and food. Admission is free.

Wallet alert: Grass Valley is about 60 miles from downtown Sacramento. Leave the SUV at home and borrow the neighbor’s electric car.

When: Sun., May 29, 2011, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Mill Street, downtown Grass Valley

More info here.
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2011 Roseville Memorial Day 10K/5K Run & Walk: Work off all those Memorial Day weekend hamburgers and strawberry shortcakes at this holiday fun run and walk dedicated to the men and women who died for our country. Prizes will be awarded to top athletes in various age ranges, from children under 12 to seniors 70+. All participants get a free shirt and refreshments after the race.

When: Mon., May 30, 2011, 9 a.m.

Where: Maidu Park, Roseville

More info here.
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2011 Fairy Tale Town Puppet Show Series: As part of its puppet show series, Fairy Tale Town in Land Park will be presenting Puppet Art Theater Company’s version of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” this Memorial Day weekend Like most puppet shows, the puppeteers at PATC take liberties with the original story, adding a modern day twist, the Wolf Alert 3000, but the moral remains the same. If you “cry wolf” too many times, no one will believe you when something is really wrong.

Wallet alert: Puppet show tickets are $2 after admission ($4 weekdays, $4.50 weekends) to Fairy Tale Town.

When: Fri. May 27, 2011, 10:30, 11:30 and 12:30; Sat. and Sun. May 28 and 29 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30.

Where: Fairy Tale Town, across from the Sacramento Zoo in Land Park

More info here and here

Tags:5 Family Events in Sacramento Memorial Day Weekend 2011

5 Factors that Impede Customer Shopping Frequency

5 Factors that Impede Customer Shopping Frequency

Little can be done regarding fluctuating demand and sluggish market conditions that create inconsistent selling trends. However, if your retail management team can identify with any of the following five factors that impede customer shopping frequency, you’re one step away from increasing sales and customer satisfaction.
While some solutions are simple, others may require additional research and an implementation process. The end result is guaranteed to be worth it.

5 Factors that Impede Customer Shopping Frequency:

#1 Factor that Impedes Customer Shopping Frequency – Insufficient Parking
Insufficient parking is the first deterrent to customer shopping frequency. Few people choose to walk distances to shop and many other factors such as the weather, elderly customers, customers with children and handicapped customers make up a large percentage of ‘lost’ customers. Additionally, customers who do elect to ‘walk the distance’ may refrain from making bulk purchases.

2nd Factor that Impedes Customer Shopping Frequency – Limited Products / Limited Brands
Granted not every store can provide a variety of products and brands as do the superstores. But for many, the superstores have become the shoppers’ choice for that main reason. This can be remedied by omitting poor performing products, adding a few of the most requested items and incorporating popular brands. Additional research may be required to achieve optimum results.

3rd Factor that Impedes Customer Shopping Frequency – Self Checkout Kiosks
Retailers will say that their customers are the heart of their business. However, most customers typically don’t feel that way. One of the biggest indicators that customers are not priority to retailers is the great invention of self-checkout kiosks.

Major internal retail changes are most often to enhance the customer’s shopping experience. Self-check kiosks do very little to promote this concept. While a very small percentage like the option of self-checkout, it doesn’t compensate for those who are intimidated by it and prefer traditional checkout clerks.

4th Factor that Impedes Customer Shopping Frequency – Limited Pay Methods
Surprisingly, there are a number of customers today that do not possess credit cards and a limited number of older customer use debit cards. Restricted pay methods impede first time customers shopping frequency in that they will not be repeat customers.

5th Factor that Impedes Customer Shopping Frequency – Spatial Crowding
Human crowding and spatial crowding are separate issues. While human crowding can often inspire customer shopping frequencies, spatial crowding can be a detriment (unless you have a store full of impulsive shoppers).

Recent studies indicate that retailers with loyal customers are what make the foundation for customer shopping frequency. If your numbers are down for sales and customer traffic, take inventory of the five factors that impede customer shopping frequency. Noting just one out of five of the factors that impede customer shopping frequency and taking measures to correct it, will be making a positive step toward increased sales, customer traffic, and customer shopping frequency.

Tags:5 Factors that Impede Customer Shopping Frequency

5 Famous Women Scientists to Remember in March

Throughout the course of history, there have been many women that participated in the fields of anthropology and paleontology. Unfortunately, they are often not as well known as their male counterparts. That’s why I thought that it might be a good idea to mention a few of them in time for Women’s History Month. With that said, here’s a brief look at five of my favorite scientists:

Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey (1913 – 1996)

Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey has to be the first person on my list because my grandfather would tell me stories about her and her husband when I was a child. They were archaeologists and physical anthropologists that conducted several excavations in Africa. His name was Louis B. S. Leakey. Her famous discoveries include the skeletal remains of a Proconsul Africanus and ancient footprints.

Mary Anning (1799-1847)

Mary Anning is the next fabulous female on my list. I chose to include her because I looked up to her throughout my childhood as well. She was considered a fossil hunter. What I admired most about Anning was all of her incredible discoveries. Over the course of her career, she unearthed a vast array of fossils including an Ichthyosaurus, a Pterodactylus and a Plesiosaurus.

Winifred Goldring (1888 – 1971)

When it comes to female scientists, I couldn’t leave Winifred Goldring off of my list either. She worked as a paleontologist, a geologist, a science expert and served as the State Paleontologist of New York. In addition, she conducted research on stromatolites and helped to get the Petrified Sea Gardens in New York designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Margaret Mead (1901 – 1979)

Another female scientist that I felt deserved a mention was Margaret Mead. She was an anthropologist, a writer, a photographer and a museum curator. Furthermore, she studied issues related to child development and gender roles. Mead was also known to have held several high offices during the course of her career. Some of the organizations that she was involved with were the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Federation of Mental Health.

Ruth Sawtell Wallis (1895-1978)

Lastly, I wanted to put Ruth Sawtell Wallis onto my list. She worked as a physical anthropologist and is credited with being the first person in France to unearth the skeletal remains of an Azilian. Personally, I found that fascinating. In later years, she also went on to study Eastern Canada’s Micmac Indians and the growth patterns of children.

Source: Personal Experience

More from this contributor:

5 Noteworthy Women from the 1920s

Women Who’ve Swum the English Channel

First Ladies of Skateboarding: A Trio of Tenacious Women

Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma City, Ok: A Tribute to Flyers

Tags:5 Famous Women Scientists to Remember in March

5 Fantastic Sock Yarns

For many knitters, choosing yarn for a project can be as exciting as the project itself. Sock knitters in particular have an amazing collection of yarns to choose from, with more being released every season.

With such a large selection available, where should an eager sock knitter start? These five brands all have something unique and fun to offer when considering that next pair of socks.

Berroco Sox

In Berroco’s many lines of yarn, Sox sock yarn stands out. Made from 75% wool and 25% nylon, Sox can be machine washed and dried. The nylon makes it durable, so socks will last longer than those made with more delicate fibers. With a gauge of 7.5-8 per inch on US2 needles and offering 440 yards per skein, this is the perfect yarn for everyday sock projects. The multitude of bold, bright self-striping colorways will satisfy knitters looking to add a splash of color in their wardrobes.

Trekking XXL
Similar to Berroco, Trekking XXL also gets 7.5-8 stitches per inch on US2 needles. Weighing in at 459 yards per 100 gram ball, Trekking XXL comes in an amazing variety of colorways. From variegated to self-striping, this yarn has it all. Being machine washable means that it’s great not only for socks, but also lightweight baby items or casual gloves.

Creatively Dyed Calypso

Knitters looking to get more bang for their sock yarn buck should check out Calypso by Creatively Dyed. At 510 yards per skein, this generous hand-dyed yarn can make a pair of socks for even the biggest feet. The 100% superwash merino wool fiber is durable and knits up into a firm but stretchy fabric perfect for a hard-wearing pair of socks. Each skein is individually hand-painted for a unique, vibrant color experience.

Koigu Premium Painter’s Palette Merino (PPPM)

Made from super-soft 100% merino wool, Koigu is a true treat for feet. Bright, hand-painted colors make PPPM great not only for socks, but also small lace projects. Each 50 gram skein has 175 yards, meaning that two skeins of this slightly pricey yarn are needed for every pair of socks, but Koigu is worth the money. This yarn is best knit in simple patterns that will showcase the brilliant colorways.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock

Socks That Rock by Blue Moon Fiber Arts is coveted among sock knitters. Why? This line includes a stunning array of hand-dyed and hand-painted colorways in a variety of weights and gauges. Fiber content for the three most common weights-light, medium, and heavy-is 100% superwash merino wool; Silkie Socks that Rock contains 81% wool and 19% silk. The crisp, beautiful colors range from subtly variegated to bright, bold hue combinations. Socks that Rock appears in many published sock patterns and knits up into a gorgeous, sturdy fabric. Blue Moon is also the home of the Rockin’ Sock Club, a yearly club for sock knitters offering two new patterns every other month, plus fun knitter swag in each club shipment.

There are many, many more amazing sock yarns out there to try. Knitters looking for a unique sock knitting experience can check out the brands listed here or dabble in one of the other great yarns on the market. No matter what yarn is chosen, knitters are sure to enjoy their next pair of socks all the more!

Tags:5 Fantastic Sock Yarns

5 Father's Day Gift Ideas for Your Religious Dad

I have a confession to make. I’m a PK. For anyone who grew up in a religious background you might just know what that means. For those of you that didn’t, PK stands for “Preacher’s kid”. Some say we are the best behaved kids around, others say we are the worst, but regardless of how good or bad you are, you should get your religious dad something he’ll really like this Father’s Day. Many times in my career of Father’s Days I have taken the easy way out because I didn’t know what to get him. When you have a preacher for a dad, the obvious present for any gift giving situation is one of a few things: A tie, a Bible, a cross, maybe even a movie like The Passion of the Christ. These may be fine gifts, but I know for my dad? He’s sick of getting stuff like that. If you have a religious dad, chances are he already has that stuff, or he doesn’t want it. So how about these great gift ideas instead:

1. A journal
Why? From what I have seen, religious men are thinkers. They wrestle with many thoughts, feelings and emotions. Providing them a place where they can put and sort all these thoughts can be a very intimate and appreciated gift.
Where? http://ift.tt/1UkkEIz -These are handmade journals made with natural materials and paper. I got my dad one for Christmas and he loved it. They have a feeling of adventure and are also much less feminine that many regular notebook styles.
How much? Range from $2-$25

2. A PDA
Why? If your dad is anything like mine, has has more going on then he can sometimes handle. Teaching classes, preacher, Bible studies, counseling, and other tasks rely on keeping organized. A pda (Personal Digital Assistant) is a great and fun way for doing just that.
Where? Circuit city, best buy, or any electronic store
How much? A good one will probably run you anywhere from $100-$300 depending on what all you want it to do.

3. Bible Software
Why? Yes I know we were trying to stay out of the hardcore religious gifts but hear me out on this one. This is something that your dad’s generation never had, and would probably never think of on his own. There are many useful Bible programs that can be put on your computer or PDA that will aid your dad greatly in his study and preparation time.
Where? http://www.logos.com/
How much? Prices really vary depending on how complex it is.

4. A getaway
Why? Working in or around a church can be an extremely stressful job. My dad had many health problems do to stress in his former position. Also, on average, religious men take much strength and encouragement from their family. What he really needs and wants may not cost you a penny. Plan a getaway just you and him.
Where? It really depends what you dad is into. If he likes sports take to a game. Plan a fishing trip. Go to the city to have a steak dinner. It doesn’t have to be very creative. Just spend time with him and let him have a break from daily stresses.

5. Music
Why? It’s no argument that music has a very deep effect on is. It can be extremely comforting, encouraging, and motivating. This one really depends on what kind of dad you have though. Some people really get into praise worship, others prefer conservative alternative. Either way, some great ideas include: Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns, Point of Grace, and Mercyme
Where? Any Religious bookstore or CD store.
How much? $8-$20

Tags:5 Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Your Religious Dad

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