Tuesday, April 26, 2016

5 Free Things to Do in Knoxville, Tennessee

Nestled in a mountain valley about an hour away from Great Smoky National Park, Knoxville, Tennessee offers an active downtown and a variety of activities for visitors and residents. Read about five free things to do in this small mountain city.

1. The Sunsphere, a 24-story structure topped with a gold sphere, is one of the most recognizable and unique structures in the city. The Sunsphere, built for the 1982 World’s Fair, sits downtown in World’s Fair Park. An elevator at the bottom of the structures takes visitors up to the free observation deck inside the gold ball. Up here you can enjoy the view and watch videos of the 1982 World’s Fair. The Sunsphere is located near Clinch Avenue between 11th Street and Henley Street.

2. Explore East Tennessee history at Marble Springs. This free historic site, located at 1220 E. Governor John Sevier Highway, sits at the home site of Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier. The grounds offer several buildings to investigate, including a tavern and Sevier’s home. Explore the buildings, including some original furnishings, and learn about life on the frontier in the late 1700s. A visit to Marble Springs is a great thing to do with kids.

3. Visit Market Square in the heart of downtown Knoxville. The pedestrian block boasts benches, a fountain where kids can frolic, shops and restaurants. The area is also home to a number of events such as festivals, outdoor movies and the farmer’s market.

4. Visit Knoxville radio station WDVX, at the corner of Gay Street and Summit Hill Drive, for a free live music event, the Blue Plate Special, held each weekday at noon.

5. Take a hike in Ijams, a 100-plus-acre nature reserve just a few minutes from downtown Knoxville. The park offers a number of wooded trails, including one that winds along the Tennessee River and a trail to an old marble quarry. Ijams is located at 2915 Island Home Avenue.

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5 Fun, Easy Beltane Crafts for Kids and Adults

Miniature May Pole
This May Day craft makes a fine lawn ornament or table centerpiece for your Beltane holiday. You can make it as small as six inches high, or up to three or four feet tall if you prefer- it’s up to you.

You Will Need:
1 fairly straight, sturdy branch (the height you desire)
Flowerpot
Cardboard
Pencil
Scissor
Glue (optional)
Sand
Spanish moss
8 ribbons with wire in them (color and length that you like)

Start with a stick, and break off all smaller branches so it is a single, straight (fairly) stick. If you want, you can peel off bark, sand and even stain and paint it- but you can also leave it as close to natural as you found it. It’s a Wiccan craft, there is no right or wrong on how to decorate it; it’s up to you. When determining the height of your stick, mind you that 1/3 of it will be buried in the pot for stability.

Get your container, which should be at least 1/3 the height of your pole to ensure the pole is sturdy. So if you have a 2 feet high pole, you’ll want an 8 inch high flowerpot.

Place your flower pot on a piece of scrap cardboard and trace around it. Trim to make a cardboard insert that perfectly fits in the bottom of the pot. Glue it down to the bottom, if desired. If you want to keep the mini May pole on a porch or in the house, this will prevent sand from escaping.

Fill the container half-way with sand. Set the pole in the center. Water the sand lightly and tamp it down. Fill it the rest of the way, dampening it lightly and tamping it down around the pole, until the pole stands up straight.

Tie ribbons around the top tip of the pole. Fan them out around the pole and arrange them as you please- twist them, curl them, bend them gently to indicate movement.

Cover the top of the sand with Spanish moss and display for your Beltane holiday

* If you prefer, you can use potting soil and grow grass, chives or flowers around the pole.

** Another variation would be dispensing with the flower pot altogether and sticking the pole straight into the ground.

Green Man Mask
Wear this on the Beltane holiday to your sabbat rite, or hang it as a symbol of the Green Man and use it for your ritual focus. An excellent Pagan craft for all ages!

You Will Need
Mask form (or craft foam, paper plate, cardboard, etc.)
Tack glue or hot glue gun
Silk leaves, variety

Get a full or half-face blank mask form from any costume supply shop, or make a simple one by cutting eye-holes in a paper plate, or cut a half-mask with eyes out of cardboard or craft foam. Punch holes in the sides and thread ribbon through to tie it around your head.

Arrange the silk leaves on the mask, starting with the larger leaves going around the outer edges. Glue them on, slightly overlapping. Have the edges of the leaves hang slightly off the edge of the mask.

After completing the perimiter, move inward an inch and put another circular layer of leaves. Stagger them so they don’t match up perfectly with the first set of leaves. Glue them all the way around. Continue doing this until you cover the mask, avoiding the eye holes.

Finish by arranging and gluing some smaller leaves around the eye holes, being careful not to obscure the vision.

If you like, arrange leaves to resemble a mustache or beard if desired. This Pagan Craft can be quite spiritual as masks have been used for millennia in rites and rituals.

Braided Goddess Headband

Wear this to the Sabbat, or make it as a special Wiccan craft gift for a friend.

You Will Need

9 ribbons, ½ to ¼ inch width, 3 to 6 feet in length
Beads (Make sure the holes are large enough to thread the ribbon through it)

Choose the colors for your Beltane craft ribbons carefully. You might wish to use the colors of the triple Goddess: black (Crone), red (Mother), and white (Maiden). You might use the colors for the triple God: black (God of the Underworld), green (God of the forests), and yellow/gold: (God of the sun). You may wish to use 3 red and 6 white ribbons (the colors of Beltane). Or, you simply may choose colors associated with your own God, Goddess, Path, to represent what is important to you this season, or colors that you simply like.

The length of the ribbon will depend on how far you want it to hang down, and how tall the wearer will be. A tall woman can go as much as 9 or 10 feet of ribbon if she wants them to hang down past her knees; for a toddler you may wish to use only 2 feet so she won’t trip on it or get it caught and tangled as she moves around.

Lay the 9 lengths of ribbon together, ends meeting. About 1/3 of the way from one end, tie them around and make a knot. Thread a large bead from the longer end, pushing it up to the knot.

Separate the strands into 3 sets of three. Begin to braid them. Any kind of You might wish to have someone hold the tied end, Every two inches or so, slip a single bead onto one of the ribbon strands. Continue doing this until you’ve worked your way down 1/3 of the strands. Thread on a final large bead and tie it off. Remember that braiding or weaving in a Beltane craft can be part of ritual, as a key meaning of Beltane is the entwining of separate things to become one.

If you like, you can decorate the ends of the loose ribbon strands with more beads. Use a dab of hot glue or a small colored rubber band to help hold them in place so they don’t slide up and down.

Put on your headband by wrapping the braided part around your head, over your brow. You can tie it off at the temple and have all the strands and beads come down the side, or you can tie it off at the back to have them cascade down your back. If you have very long hair, you might consider twisting or braiding the remaining strands with your hair.

Goddess Topiary
If you are really ambitious, you could make a wire frame and real vines; this, however, is a simply version made of silk foliage and flowers for your Beltane holiday decor.

You Will Need

9 inch florist foam or styrofoam sphere
4 inch florist foam or styrofoam sphere
Two 3 inch florist foam or styrofoam sphere
rectangular block of florist foam or styrofoam
Bread knife
16 gauge wire (about 6 feet)
Wire snippers
Pliers
Flower pot
Spanish moss
Silk leaves, flowers, vines, etc.
Hot glue gun
Pins

Take a medium to large flower pot and set the rectangular piece of florist foam inside. If it is too big, trim the foam with a bread knife. If it is too small, you can crumble newspaper and stuff it around the foam to stabilize. If you are using a lightweight plastic pot, you might want to put some rocks on the bottom to give it a little more stability with the weight. You don’t want it falling over on your Beltane holiday altar.
Cut a length of wire approximately 18 inches tall and straighten it out. Push it into the foam in the very center of the pot, about 5 inches deep into the foam. Push the 9 inch sphere onto it, dead-center, and push it through until the sphere rests on the rectangle.

A few inches of the wire should still be sticking out of the top. Center and push the 3 inch ball onto it, down to the 9 inch sphere. Cap it off with the 4 inch sphere, dead-center. If you want to secure it so that it won’t pop off, you can put hot glue on the wire before pushing it in.

Consider the large sphere the body, the smallest the neck, and the top sphere the head.

Cut the other 3 inch sphere in half exactly. These will be the breasts of the Goddess. Cut 3 inch lengths of wire. Use your pliers to bend the tip of one side (about ¼ inch from the end) on each one. Hold the flat sides of the breasts to the upper part of the body, just below the neck and head. Push the wire “pins” you made into them, right in the center, to attach them to the body. The little bent edges will help hold them securely.

Take the remaining wire and cut it in half. Bend each piece in the center into a hairpin shape. The rounded edge will be the “hands” so if you like you can use the pliers to arrange them to have a point on one side (like the 4 fingers coming together) and a smaller point on the other side (like a thumb). If you don’t feel comfortable shaping wire, you can leave it and just use your choice of foliage to get the shape you want.

Stick the ends of the “hairpins” into the sides of the body to make the Goddess’s arms raised up above Her head.

Begin to decorate your topiary. You can wrap silk leafy vines around it, slipping in a few blossoms here and there, or you can hot glue individual leaves and flowers all over it. Just make sure you fully cover the frame. You don’t want to be able to see any wire or foam spheres- make the foliage full and bushy. Being a Wiccan craft, or a Pagan craft in general, you may wish to add some real elements, such as twigs and branches, dried flowers and leaves, or seeds.

Cover the Styrofoam and newspaper in the top of the flower pot by gluing on some Spanish moss. If you like, you can paint and decorate the pot with acrylic paints.

Sun Catchers
Brighten your Beltane holiday with these cheerful, colorful decorations. This is a perfect Beltane craft for kids!

You Will Need

Newspaper
Wax paper
Templates or cookie cutters
Permanent markerOld crayons
Old cheese grater
Iron
Scissors
Hole puncher
Ribbon

Lay some newspaper out on your work space. Cut a 12 inch or so piece of waxed paper and lay it down on the work space.

Trace your shapes with a template, stencil or cookie cutter onto the wax paper using a permanent marker. Make them about an inch apart from each other. Use simple shapes that can represent Beltane- stars, sun shapes, flowers, leaves, candles with a flame atop them, birds, butterflies or dragonflies.

Peel the paper off your crayons. Grate them with the cheese grater. You can grate them directly over the wax paper for a random pattern, or you can grate the different colors into separate bowls or piles and sprinkle them onto the shapes with your fingers to have more control over the colors.

Carefully cover the shavings with another sheet of waxed paper. Cover that with newspaper.

Pre-heat an iron to medium low and press it firmly to the newspaper, one spot at a time, for about 10 seconds each time. Don’t iron back and forth like you’re ironing a shirt. Keep doing this until all of the crayon shavings have melted underneath the wax paper (peek every now and then under the newspaper to check). I’ve actually done this May day craft outdoors on a picnic table, and instead of an iron I used a small cast iron pan that I would set on the barbecue grill for a few minutes.

Allow the wax paper to cool. Cut out the shapes around the permanent marker line you had made. Punch a hole in the top, thread a ribbon through them, and hang them in a sunny window, from your porch or on a tree near your Beltane holiday festivities.

Tags:5 Fun, Easy Beltane Crafts for Kids and Adults

5 Foods Containing Heart Healthy Fats

Many people go on diets that completely eliminate fat from their meals. Do these diets work? Yes. Are these diets healthy? NO! You body needs fat. When you completely cut fat from your diet, your hair will begin to fall out and that’s just one of the side effects. The key is to cut bad fats from your diet. Not all fats are unhealthy. Many people have no idea, but there are heart healthy fats. Foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are actually good for you. The fats you want to stay away from are saturated and trans-fats. These fats will actually clog your arteries and raise your cholesterol, while good fats will lower your bad cholesterol level. The following foods contain heart healthy fats.

Foods Containing Heart Healthy Fats #1: Avocados

Avocados contain monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are heart healthy, because they lower bad levels of cholesterol while increasing the good levels. This means that they clear your arteries and keep them from clogging at the same time. Avocados are easy to incorporate into your diet. They are tasty in wraps, salads, dips, and even by themselves. The next time you visit the store, pick up a few of these heart healthy fruits.

Foods Containing Heart Healthy Fats #2: Olive Oil

Olive oil is a dieter’s best friend. Olive oil also contains monounsaturated fats, making it a heart healthy fat. Olive oil is an oil that should always be in your kitchen. This heart healthy oil can be used to sauté chicken, make healthy salad dressings, and even bake a cake. When using olive oil in baked goods, stay away from the extra virgin olive oil, because of its overwhelming flavor.

Foods Containing Heart Healthy Fats #3: Nuts

“Don’t eat those nuts, they’re full of fat.” How many times have you heard this? Next time, give that person a wink and shove a handful in your mouth. Don’t be surprised if they pass out, especially if they’re on a strict diet. Many people are misled to believe that nuts are full of bad fat. This is wrong. Nuts contain monounsaturated fats and some even contain Omega-3 fatty acids which are also heart healthy. Nuts also contain several other vitamins and minerals making them a very heart healthy food. Add nuts to some dried fruit and seeds for the perfect midday snack.

Foods Containing Heart Healthy Fats #4: Salmon

Salmon contains polyunsaturated fat which also lowers bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol. Salmon also contains Omega-3 fatty acids. For the perfect heart healthy dinner, cook a filet of salmon in olive oil and add some steamed broccoli with a whole wheat roll.

Foods Containing Heart Healthy Fats #5: Peanut Oil

Too bad you can’t fry food anymore, but wait…….what about peanut oil? Peanut oil contains monounsaturated fats, making it the perfect oil to fry in. Peanut oil adds a ton of flavor and if you fry foods properly, only a small amount of oil is absorbed into your food. What are you waiting for? Go make some French fries, you know you want to.

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5 Fun Exercises for Flat, Toned Abs

Spring is approaching, and we will be donning swim suits soon! It’s time to think about toning your body.

The Gut Buster, also known as the Ab Roller, was marketing as a way to do lower ab exercises. You were to lay on the ground, neck on the rest bar, hands on the side handles, and roll with the Gut Buster or Ab Roller. These worked terribly! They promised to support your neck and always ended up hurting my husband’s and my neck. We bought the Gut Buster off of a television ad. Too bad it didn’t help tone our abs and ended up costing us money to go to a chiropractor. I tried to use this gently to see if I could somehow get the Gut Buster to actually work. Finally, I sent this lower ab exercise piece of trash to the curb.

For beneficial lower ab exercises that have worked for me, see the following recommendations:

Leg lifts-Laying on the floor on your back and lifting your legs. I would do about twenty five leg lifts on each leg to start. Every few days add five more leg lifts. Start to lay on your side and lift your legs to tone your legs and love handles twenty five times.

While laying on your back, the leg lifts help to tone your abs well. You can feel the burn the more leg lifts you do. The slower you raise and lower your leg, the more pain and gain you will receive! I lost inches doing this while cutting down portions of food. I ate healthier by making better choices in food such as sherbet instead of fattening ice cream. Drink a lot of water instead of empty calories in soda pop.

NordicTrack– If you own a NordicTrack Ski Machine I am sure you can attest that this works wonderful for your abs! It is a lot of hard work. Be prepared to sweat!

You “ski” on the NordicTrack using both your arms and legs. Your arms sway back and forth as your legs do the skiing. The NordicTrack has a nice smooth glide so as not to jar your back. For people with back problems the NordicTrack is a must. Once your back is feeling better, use the NordicTrack (after getting permission from your doctor) to build up your lower stomach muscles. My husband had back problems a lot. After using the NordicTrack he rarely has back problems anymore. His abs are trim, too! Before using the NordicTrack I always do leg lunges. Also, calf stretches. After getting off of the NordicTrack I like to walk around for about three minutes. This will help you not feel stiff after skiing.

Crunches– Lay flat on your back, hands behind your head, knees bent, and slowly lift your head off of the ground about eight inches. I start out with twenty five crunches and work my way up to three hundred crunches per day. You do not have to do all of your crunches in one sitting. Break them down to some immediately in the morning. When you get home from work finish the crunches off.

Good old walking– Helped me tone up and lose weight. By adding at least thirty minutes of fast-paced walking to your day in combination with the leg lifts and crunches, you will be burning up calories! By burning up calories you will see the inches start to fall off. You will start to see your body tone up. A feeling of well-being.

Get outside and walk with your children and/or dog. Make it a family event. Go take a hike in a hilly area to really work your muscles. Mix up the places you walk so it will not get boring. If you have a treadmill, get moving while listening to music! I noticed if I watched my favorite television show or a movie, I did not walk as quick. If watching television works for you then do it. Whatever works best for you to get involved in exercising.

Swimming– Doing swim aerobics helped me to tone my abs. I never took a class. I did my own exercises against the water resistance. Again, the leg lifts in the water. While standing, lift one leg in front of you ten times, lift leg to the side ten times, and lift leg behind you ten times. Alternate legs. Repeat five times.

If you are by a pier or the side of a strong swimming pool hang on to the side at position yourself at arm’s length away. Lift both of your legs up at the same time. Curl your knees up to your stomach. You can feel the burn in your abs. Repeat ten times. Take a break. Repeat ten times for more lower ab exercises. Have fun swimming and come back to this exercise two more times.

I did learn from a fitness trainer if you want rock hard abs such as the notorious “six pack”, in addition to exercising you have to change your way of eating. The rules for that were too hard for me! For others it may be fine, but I am happy with a toned stomach that looks good in clothes. It does not have to be a six pack. I have to get back to doing all of these exercises right along with you!

The best advice the fitness trainer gave me is by this simple question: What did you do as a kid for fun?

Answer: We went to the park and ran around, rode bicycles, played tennis, baseball, basketball, kickball, swimming, tag, etc.!

So be a kid and get active, feel the burn, and have fabulous looking abs by following these lower ab exercises!

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5 Foolproof Strategies for Dominating Your Email Marketing Campaigns

With the Internet booming, and more and more companies selling their products online, most businesses understand the importance of Internet marketing. However, many are unsure of how to effectively market their campaigns, and the majority leave money on a table every day by utilizing “strategies” that are riddled with more holes than Swiss cheese.

Email marketing has proven to be one of the most successful, budget-friendly methods for developing customer reliability and generating business – however, if it isn’t done properly, the results are minimal.

These five proven email marketing strategies will help you go from lackluster campaign to total domination:

1. Create a subject line that grabs your reader’s attention

This is the most important factor in your “open” percentage. If your headline isn’t catchy, who’s going to open your email? If you don’t grab your reader’s attention, your email will go straight to the recipient’s trash. Also, stay clear from using words in your subject line that could be filtered as spam – if the recipient’s email provider marks it as spam, they’ll never even see your email and every email you send after that will get dumped as spam, too.

2. Offer your audience quality content

If you want to be effective, you need to provide the reader with some kind of significant information, something that is of value. On the other hand, your readers will want something in return for reading your email. So, try to offer them something that benefits the both of you.

3. Use the right email format and design

The way you offer your content will directly correlate to how well it is received. Font size is an important part of heading in the right direction. If it’s too small, people might struggle reading it, and if it is too big, it will be a nightmare for people with small screens. Use images carefully, since many email providers don’t generally display images by default. Your messages should be easy to understand and plain text as they would be with a full-blown CSS layout.

4. Don’t forget about mobile users

The amount of smartphone users in the present-day technology era has completely blown up. People are constantly using their cell phones to check their email while on the go. Because of this, it’s crucial that your email marketing campaigns are just as easily read on a smart phone as they are on a PC. If you’re unsure how to do this yourself, hire a programmer to format your messages for cell phone users.

5. Send your emails at the right time

Setting the right time to send your email messages out can make or break your campaign. If it’s too early in the morning, they may be lost in the sea of daily opt-in messages they receive. Too late in the day, and they may be overlooked. Research the best time to send your messages, based on your target demographic and niche.

Mass email marketing is the easiest and cheapest tool in your arsenal to increase your business with very little work. By following these five strategies, there’s no way you won’t convert more sales, with just a little extra effort. The more sales you generate, the more you’ll profit in the long run.

Start applying these tips to your business today and see the difference it makes in your sales!

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5 Fun Ways to Decorate with Seasonal Fall Flowers

The season has quickly changed from summer to fall and it’s time to start decorating accordingly. Flowers are easy to incorporate into any theme and can be used in a variety of interesting ways. There is no limit to the decorating possibilities with seasonal fall flowers. Here are five fun ways to decorate with seasonal fall flowers.

Fun Ways to Decorate With Seasonal Fall Flowers: Door Frames
Seasonal fall flowers can be used to create strands that can be hung around door frames. This can be done with both silk and fresh flowers. When using fresh flowers, be sure to dry them first and spray them with a floral acrylic coating to protect them. Sunflowers are great for decorating door frames, as they accommodate the large space. Because of the yellow color, they also can brighten a room.

Fun Ways to Decorate With Seasonal Fall Flowers: Table
Seasonal fall flowers of course can be used to make great table arrangements, but there are more ways to use them n the table as well. Flower garlands can be wrapped around the table legs. Also try sprinkling flower buds and stems around the table. Marigolds and daisies in varied colors are great for this. Fresh or silk can be used.

Fun Ways to Decorate With Seasonal Fall Flowers: Countertops
Seasonal fall flowers can be put in a simple vase on the countertop. Also try laying out a flower garland and winding it around existing countertop decor. Just as on the table, another fun way to decorate with seasonal fall flowers is by sprinkling them around the countertop. Be sure you do this in a designated are, of course. You still need some counter space for other things.

Fun Ways to Decorate With Seasonal Fall Flowers: Furniture
Seasonal fall flowers are fun to use in various places around the house. Try wrapping seasonal fall flower garlands around assorted pieces of furniture. Lamp posts and chair legs are great spots for this. Also experiment with wrapping them around the edges of tables and stands. Yellow fall flowers are great for rooms that need brightening. Orange fall flowers can balance an extra bright room. Choose red for a more romantic feel.

Fun Ways to Decorate With Seasonal Fall Flowers: Walls
Seasonal fall flowers can be used on the wall in all sorts of fun ways. Create swags and hang them in various places. It can also be fun to wind flower garlands around wall sconces, picture frames, and other wall decor. Try letting seasonal fall garland strands cascade over other decor for a natural look. This can be especially fun to do in between picture frames and other grouped wall decor. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

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5 Free Web Tools to Power More Traffic to Your Website

In order to power more traffic to your website you need to know more about your website. Is your keywords the best to use, how many unique visitors do you have and are the visitors numbers growing, are but a few of the questions these free tools can answer.

If you are running a website or a blog in today’s marketplace, but wonder why it’s not performing better then you need to continue reading this article.

Here are some free tools that can and will help guide you and your site to better numbers. Like any analytical approach you still must provide value in order to succeed. Nothing will improve a boring or poor website content or products. But these tools will help you make some of that determination as well.

Google Business Solutions

Google Business solutions has a number of free tools to help every Webmaster to manage their site and get the most out of it. Some of the more important tools are Google Analytics to analyze website traffic, Website Optimizer to help build effective websites, and Webmaster Central a tool to improve your site visibility.

Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows you send messages less then 140 characters in length. This is a must to get your message out to as many people as possible. Tweets are messages and you need to tweet your content, video, podcast, ebook or anything else you create that needs marketing. It will enhance any marketing campaign.

IdeaMarketers – GoArticles – Articlesbase

Content marketing is a must to get organic traffic delivered to your site. It helps to build links and puts your website before a lot of people. Content marketing is writing an article about your business and building an author’s resource box with links to your site. Publishers of ezines, newsletters or webzines then publish your article, which adds the resource box to another link that is exposed to large numbers of new people and is a great way to market on the web. The three article marketers above are the three I use.

WordPress Blogging Software

WordPress is an open source software that has become the defacto platform for all bloggers and some websites. It is like a set of tinker toys. It has a basic platform that can then be enhanced with plugins. Plugins are small pieces of software that do specific things like place a twitter button after each post. If you already have a website this is a great way to ad a blog to attract more traffic. Search engines love WordPress and are acquainted with the platform, which makes it easy to crawl.

All in One SEO Pack Plugins

The must plugin for a site set up on WordPress platform. This plugin will help you manage your search engine optimization for each post you create. Easy to use and a fantastic addition to your blog or website.

These five free web tools are just the beginning but they will help you market your website or blog to keep you from being invisible on the web. But you must use them consistently to get the most from what they have to offer.

More from this contributor:

7 Most Influential Social Media Marketing Blogs in 2010

A Summary of Important IRS Tax Code Changes for 2010

Discover the Financial Advantage of Retirement Overseas

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5 Fun Ways to Teach a Child About Math

According to Broadeducation.org, students in the U.S. rank 25 in math compared to their peers in 30 other industrialized countries. These numbers are alarming. They indicate that the future adults of America may not be equipped to handle more complex technological jobs. Help your offspring avoid falling victim to this shortcoming by using one of these five fun ways to teach a child about math.

1. Honor Pi.
Have you ever heard of Pi Day? On March 14, math enthusiasts around the world celebrate this symbol, which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Participants use this 24-hour period to discuss the significance of Pi and purchase smartly designed memorabilia. Both activities allow a young person to view math in a unique, exciting way.

2. Play cards.
Teach a child about math by opening up a deck of cards. This classic approach towards entertainment can greatly benefit children under the age of 7. Why? Games like Uno and Go Fish require number recognition and addition for score keeping. As a result, as they enjoy themselves, they also boost their math IQ.

3. Shop together.
Give your child a real life lesson on how math impacts daily living by taking him shopping with you. When he complains about nothing being in the refrigerator or having nothing to wear, shell out a few dollars, take him to a store and let him figure out what he can buy with the money. This practice will force him to apply percentages, subtraction and addition.

4. Visit math sites.

Websites like Funbrain.com offer original games geared towards math for young minds. Add them to your list of favorites on the family computer. Then, introduce your son or daughter to them. They teach a child about math in an engaging manner that incorporates bright colors, challenges and fun.

5. Gift sudoku books.
Sudoku is a puzzle in which the numbers 1 through 9 are placed in grid cells so each row or column is not complete. The object of this game is for the player to figure out which numbers are missing using their math skills. Gift sudoku books to your offspring as holiday stocking stuffers or add-ins for birthdays. Sudoku is very addictive to people of all ages and your child will naturally come back for more.

Do you see how you can use these five fun ways to teach a child about math? Apply them to your child’s life and help him beat the odds.

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5 Freelance Writing Niches

Finding a writing niche can help freelance writers to narrow their field of expertise and focus on writing projects they feel most comfortable with, while providing a much needed service to clients. To learn of 5 freelance writing niches, read on.

5 Freelance Writing Niches: Translator

Bilingual freelance writers have an edge when it comes to translating material into one or more languages to reach a wider audience. Brochures, booklets, international web sites and much more can all benefit from a bilingual freelance writer who would like to tap into their writing niche.

5 Freelance Writing Niches: FAQ Pages

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) pages are nothing new. We all benefit from reading up on FAQs when we want to purchase a new kitchen appliance or some other commodity and we want reassurance that if the appliance does not work, it can be returned for a 100% money-back guarantee. Some FAQ pages are a great resource and will answer people’s questions in a matter of moments, while others leave a lot to be desired. If you are a clear, concise writer and can work with company FAQ pages, and translate their company needs into readable, understandable English, then you stand a chance of success as a FAQ freelance writer.

5 Freelance Writing Niches: Safety Manuals

Do you have experience as a technical writer? Technical writing is a wide field and includes such work as safety manuals and user manuals. Manufacturing companies often hire freelancers for the sole purpose of undertaking technical writing. Writing safety manuals is a lucrative job for the right person who has experience in this type of niche writing market.

5 Freelance Writing Niches: How-to Guides

Freelance writers who have a particular field of expertise such as knitting, crocheting, decorating or crafts can put their skills to good use by writing how-to guides to teach others more about their specialist skills. Where possible, include full-colour photographs along with the how-to guides.

5 Freelance Writing Niches: Puzzles

Puzzles are popular with the young and old and feature in print publication for adults as well as in children’s publications. Consider honing your writing niche by focusing on composing word searches, crosswords, and problem solving puzzles.

Niche writing can be personally rewarding and financially satisfying for freelance writers who have chosen this form of writing. Pick a niche writing market that you feel comfortable with and work on ways to improve your field of expertise.

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5 Funny Twitter Accounts You Should Follow

Twitter can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and stay on top of the latest news, but it can also be the source of some good laughs if you are following the right people. Here are 5 great accounts you should follow if you are looking for some smiles the next time you log in.

1. First World Pains @FirstWorldPains

This account provides many daily “observations” about the trials and tribulations of living in the modern world. Sometimes it seems as though they are watching me and writing down exactly what I am thinking. The tweets are funny, sarcastic, and the perfect way to remind yourself that those “big deals” throughout your day really aren’t that bad after all.

Sample tweets:

It’s been my birthday for 20 minutes and no one’s written on my facebook wall yet.

The restaurant doesn’t have their hours online, so I had to use Google Street View to squint at the sign on their door.

That was my favorite song…then Kids Bop covered it…

2. Conan O’Brien @ConanOBrien

Conan O’Brien shortly joined twitter after the whole Tonight Show debacle, and it’s been funny one liners ever since. While he doesn’t always talk about his show, you can hear about his performances, travels, and general life observations by following his account. The laughs just keep coming.

Sample tweets:

I wonder how Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are celebrating the 5th of July?

Every 666 years there’s a mystical 2-day convergence between Toyotathon and Lobsterfest.

My son asked me where babies come from, and to distract him I said “some day we’re all going to die.”

3. Stephen Colbert @StephenAtHome

Stephen Colbert is one of the funniest people of late night, so it makes sense that he has one of the funniest twitter accounts online. Stephen is in full character on this account so you can expect the same type of political analysis and shameless self promotion. If you love his show, Stephen often tweets about things he has recently covered. Stephen Colbert, with his countless fans who will do most anything at his beck and call, is what twitter is all about – communicating with people for the greater good, even if it is to fund his own hilarious antics.

Sample tweets:

If the Earth’s getting warmer, maybe it’s because God’s giving us a tan so we look great when we get to Heaven.

We could be in for a double-dip recession. Which is terrible: I wanted mine with sprinkles.

I forget, when you’re scrapbooking is it “paste before sticker, never felt sicker” or the other way around?

4. Jim Gaffigan @JimGaffigan

Comedian Jim Gaffigan blends hysterical comments about life, his family, and pop culture with personal photos and stories from his travels. The celebrities on twitter can seem like some well paid marketing person types their 140 characters of wisdom for them, but Jim Gaffigan is funny and relevant all by himself. You can get a few laughs and learn more about this comedian by following his account.

Sample tweets:

I’d like to congratulate the Greeks on winning the yogurt wars. The economic wars, not so much.

Ask me about my Tempur-Pedic. Then ask my wife why there are 4 kids in it every morning. Now enough with your questions, I’m tired.

I guess Ultimate Frisbee is easier to say than “only team sport people play with a Frisbee”.

5. Texts From Last Night @TFLN

Texts From Last Night is a popular website where actual funny text messages are anonymously posted. The twitter account highlights some of the best. Some of the texts are outrageous, but some might just hit a little close to home. Either way, it’s definitely good for a few laughs and some “I’m glad that wasn’t me” moments.

Sample tweets:

(267): Were not alcoholics, were just impatient for Fridays

(303): Why is there bacon braided in my hair

(540): If I sleep with another Spanish guy it is officially renamed my senor year.

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5 Fun, Free Places to Take Your School-Aged Children in the Winter

It is hard to keep school-aged children entertained during the cold months of the winter, especially when on a strict budget. Having a 6-year-old, I have come up with several free things to do with children. After school and on the weekend, kids often get bored. They usually want to go places that cost money, such as the movies. When your kids tell you they are bored and you are on a strict budget, consider these five free places to go with your your kids.

1. Pet stores

School-aged children adore pets, making pet stores an excellent, free place to take your kids during the winter. Kids will enjoy looking at fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, and more. Our families favorite pet store, Animal Jungle, allows parents and children to go in aviaries to hold birds, such as parrots. They also provide food for a quarter so children can feed koi fish.

2. Barnes and Noble or other bookstores

Children like to have books read to them or read them to their parents. Bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble, have a section full of children’s books with chairs to sit in. Bookstores are one of the best free places to take your kids during the winter months because it is fun and educational at the same time.

3. The library

Keep warm this winter by taking your school-aged children to the library. Not only can kids read books while there, they can check several out to read at home. In addition, several libraries offer activities in the winter, such as gingerbread decorating contests.

4. Kid-Friendly drives

I realize that some drives are boring for children, but there are kid-friendly drives. Rather than paying to look at holiday lights, drive your children through several lighted neighborhoods to view houses decorated with Christmas lights. This is a great way to save money for those on a strict budget. Make it more fun by playing kid-friendly Christmas music. My daughter’s favorite is Disney’s Snowy Christmas, a CD we have had since her sisters were little. You may even choose to bring along some hot chocolate in kid-friendly mugs.

5. Candle stores

My 6-year-old daughter is absolutely obsessed with smelling candles. School-aged children are intrigued by smelling different scents and knowing the names of the them. Candle stores are a fun, free place to take your kids in the winter. Our favorite is the Yankee Candle store, often found in malls.

Keep warm this winter by enjoying these five free places to take your kids.

More from Rebecca Bardelli:

10 Tips for Keeping Your School-Aged Children Active During Winter

Is It a Lie to Tell Kids Santa Claus is Real?

Five Reasons Guinea Pigs Are the Perfect Pet for Children

Tags:5 Fun, Free Places to Take Your School-Aged Children in the Winter

5 Fun (and Totally Free) Youth Group Activities

When youth group funds are low or completely non-existent, you can still have a great time hanging out as a youth group. Here are five completely free youth group activities.

Totally Free Youth Group Activity #1
Play a team sport as a youth group

Whether it’s soccer, volleyball, football or any other team sport, your youth group will have a blast competing against each other. Most churches facilities for team sports already – like either an inside or outside basketball court or an old volleyball net that just needs to be set up. But if your church doesn’t have the facilities, head to your local park or high school and borrow theirs. Just make sure that it’s not during a time when it’ll be in use by a real team. The only equipment you’ll need is the appropriate ball for whichever sport you’re playing.

Totally Free Youth Group Activity #2
Make it a board game night

Dig in to your board game stash and bring them along to your youth group game night! Some favorites are Cranium, Scrabble and Twister. You can set up several games at once or just play one game as a group. Card games are big hit with youth groups as well. Check the internet for all the fun games you can play with just a deck of cards. And even if you don’t have board games or a deck of cards, try playing games like Charades.

Totally Free Youth Group Activity #3
Watch an inspirational flick

Host a DVD night for youth group is another totally free youth group activity that you can enjoy together. If you have a pretty extensive DVD collection, you can screen one of your favorites (make sure it’s PG and appropriate for your group). If you don’t see any good options in your own collection, ask friends or even your youth for a good movie that the whole group can watch. And if worst comes to worst, try renting a Redbox movie using a free movie promo code.

Totally Free Youth Group Activity #4
Host a ‘Bring Your Own Food’ party

You can host a youth group party without spending any money by simply asking each youth group member to bring a snack. This can be anything from a bag of chips, soda or homemade brownies. Teeenagers and food always make for a good time. Add in some games and you’ve got an instant party!

Totally Free Youth Group Activity #5
Volunteer at your local soup kitchen as a youth group

What could be better than lending a helping hand to a local soup kitchen and spending quality time as a youth group? Call up non-profits in your area to find out if there is something your youth group can do to help out. Whether it’s serving food at a soup kitchen, babysitting kids at a homeless shelter or reading to kids at an elementary school your youth group will walk away from the experience having had a fun time and feeling great about themselves.

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