Saturday, May 7, 2016

5 Children's Authors that You Should Be Reading to Your Children

Shopping for children’s books can be so overwhelming and time-consuming. I find that I like to stick to a few tried and true authors. These 5 authors are true family pleasers. They are filled with happy moments for children while also throwing in some jokes for mom and dad to enjoy while reading.

1. Mo Willems

Mo Willems is a staple of many houses and he should be in yours, too. His stories are insta-classics in my opinion. Whether you read, Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus or Today I Will Fly! your child will be amused. I promise that you will also be amused. I mean, who is not amused by a pig that declares that he will fly today!

A small side note though, beware of the Knuffle Bunny series. I cry every time I get to the last book. I may be crying now just warning you about that.

2. Bob Shea

Bob Shea writes a great series about Dinosaur which is based on his son. He gets your kids giggling, but also gets the point across to kids that something you should be doing these things like, bedtime and the potty.

If you doubt his ability beyond the simple Dinosaur Vs. series, read I’m a Shark! My kids loved that book so much that they basically destroyed their Scholastic school edition in a week and I wound up having to buy a new copy based on their love the books.

3. Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton has a lot of books. A lot. She has 622 product listings on Amazon. If you wondering where to start, I’d point you in the direction of Fifteen Animals and Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! I had a hard time finding something that I liked when I went looking for a book by her. We received Fifteen Animals as a present and since then I have become a fan. When your 1 year old starts asking for a book by repeatedly chanting “BOB”! you know that you have a hit on your hands.

4. Lane Smith

Lane Smith is a wonderful illustrator, but he also writes books. My personal favorite of his is John, Paul, George, and Ben. He takes history and stretches it an extreme that is so much fun that it has really sparked a true curiosity into American History for my children.

It’s a Book and It’s a Little Book are also a lot of fun for kids. If your kids are anything like most kids, they will pretend that a book is anything. So it is fun to see the characters play the books.

5. Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak. He takes my breath away. I have always loved his work. One of my favorite books as a kid. He was my favorite author then and Where the Wild Things Are still takes my breath away. The art. The message. I cannot even truly tell you how much I love this book. As a child, I read Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue constantly. I kept my copy for myself and bought my children their own copy.

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5 Christmas Gifts Not to Give Teachers: Advice from a Former Educator

I was an elementary teacher for eight years. During those years I collected gifts of all types from my students. While I appreciated the thought behind all of them (OK, MOST of them – There was that “please give me an A” gift given right before final report cards that was highly suspicious …), I quickly came to learn some gifts that teachers do NOT need more of.

5. Lotion. Now, I love lotion. It smells good. It keeps my hands soft. But – I don’t need 5 bottles each Christmas season. And that’s usually what I ended up with.

4. Mugs. I like a good mug of hot chocolate as much as anyone. However, during my eight years in the classroom I became the proud recipient of approximately 93 mugs. For awhile, I even had a shelf in my apartment devoted to a mug display (no snickering please; I was young). The worst offenders are “best teacher” mugs, of which I have maybe 27.

3. Homemade goodies that the child proudly announces “I made for you!”. Okay, please don’t call me a grinch. As I said before, I love the thought behind gifts and love the idea that a little crumb cruncher spent a Saturday morning baking up goodies for his beloved teacher. HOWEVER. Would you enjoy eating goodies that a seven-year old, in an unknown kitchen, made for you? Enough said.

2. Candles. This is similar to the lotion. Smells good, but don’t need ten more each year.

And … the Number One gift not to give a teacher … drum roll please …

1. TEACHER KNICK-KNACKS! Of any kind! Really, after a year or two in the classroom, teachers do not need anymore small wooden decorative apples, rulers proclaiming “world’s best teacher”, dollar store pins featuring apples with a smiling worm, etc. This even includes teacher-themed ornaments, often inscribed by a child “You’re the Best!” (or, as I received more than one of, “You’re the Beast!” – not sure if this was intentional or not). Actually, apple-themed ANYTHING is probably a bad idea. Not all teachers even LIKE apples!

Lest you think I’m a total sourpuss, let me give you a couple of ideas that teachers LOVE receiving.

1. I love getting notes and cards written by my students. Unlike knick-knacks, they don’t take up much space. They are heart-felt and I have a folder of them I have kept for years.

2. Gift cards. Especially wonderful – have the entire class pitch in for a single gift card. I challenge you to find any teacher who would not enjoy this gift.

So, now you are armed with knowledge. Shop wisely for your favorite teacher this Christmas season!

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5 Chocolate Halloween Desserts

When you are in need of Halloween desserts with chocolate, look no further. Here are some of the best out there. You can’t go wrong with Hershey’s. (Hershey’s)

Halloween Trick or Treats Monster Cups
Ingredients• 30 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates• ¾ cup (1-½ sticks) butter or margarine, softened• 1-2/3 cups sugar• 3 eggs• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract• 2 cups all-purpose flour• 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa• 1-¼ teaspoons baking soda• 1 teaspoon salt• ¼ teaspoon baking powder• 1-1/3 cups water• 1 container (16 oz.) creamy vanilla ready-to-spread frosting• Red and yellow food color• Assorted HERSHEY’S Candies
1. Remove wrappers from chocolates; set aside. Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-½ inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.

2. Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. Beat on high speed of mixer 3 minutes. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder; add alternately with water to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Fill prepared muffin cups about ½ full with batter. Place chocolate piece in center of each.

3. Bake 20 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Remove from cups to wire rack. Cool completely.

REESE’S Marble Cheesecake
Ingredients• CRUMB CRUST(recipe follows)• 3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened• 1 cup sugar, divided• ½ cup dairy sour cream• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract• 3 eggs• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour• ¼ cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil• 1-1/3 cups REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips(reserved from crust)• ¼ cup milk
1. Heat oven to 450°F. Prepare CRUMB CRUST.

2. Beat cream cheese, ¾ cup sugar, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl on medium speed of electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and flour; beat until blended.

3. Beat cocoa, remaining ¼ cup sugar and oil with 1-½ cups cheese mixture in medium bowl. Place 1-1/3 cups peanut butter chips and milk in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted when stirred. Gradually add warm peanut butter mixture to remaining vanilla batter; beat on high speed 5 minutes.

4. Spoon peanut butter and chocolate mixtures alternately over prepared crust. Gently swirl with knife or spatula for marbled effect.

5. Bake 10 minutes. Without opening oven door, decrease temperature to 250°F. and continue to bake 30 minutes. Turn off oven; leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes without opening door. Remove from oven to wire rack; with knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Cool completely; remove side of pan. Refrigerate until serving time. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake. 12 servings.

1-¼ cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 40 wafers, crushed)
¼ cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) butter or margarine, melted
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips, divided

With knife or food processor, chop 1/3 cup peanut butter chips (reserve remaining chips for cheesecake batter). Stir together crumbs, cocoa, powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl. Stir in chopped peanut butter chips. Press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch spring form pan or 9-inch square pan.

Yummy Mummy Cookies
Ingredients• 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened• 1 cup sugar• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract• 2 eggs• 2-½ cups all-purpose flour• ½ cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa• ¼ teaspoon baking soda• ½ teaspoon salt• 1 cup HERSHEY’S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate• 1 to 2 packages (12 oz. each) HERSHEY’S Premium White Chips• 1 to 2 tablespoons shortening(do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)• Additional HERSHEY’S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in 1 cup small chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough 20 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

2. Heat oven to 350°F. For mummy body, roll 1 tablespoon dough into 3-½ inch long carrot shape; place on ungreased cookie sheet. For head, roll 1 teaspoon dough, roll into ball the size of a grape; press onto wide end of body. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.

3. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

4. Microwave 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chips and 1 tablespoon shortening in microwave-safe pie plate or shallow bowl at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted.

5. Place 1 cookie at a time on table knife or narrow metal spatula. Spoon white chip mixture over just the top of cookie to coat; place on wax paper. (If mixture begins to thicken, return to microwave for a few seconds.) Melt additional chips with shortening, if needed for additional coating. As coating begins to set on cookies, use toothpick to score lines in body and on face to resemble mummy . Place two small chocolate chips on each for eyes. Store, covered, in cool dry place. About 30 cookies.

Ingredients• 2 packages (4 oz. each) HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar, broken into pieces• 1/3 cup milk• 1-1/3 cups miniature marshmallows• 1 cup (½ pt.)cold whipping cream, divided• 8 single serve graham cracker crumb crusts• 2 teaspoons powdered sugar• ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Melt chocolate with milk in small saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Add marshmallows; stir until smooth. Remove from heat; cool completely.

2. Beat 2/3 cup whipping cream until stiff in small bowl; fold into chocolate mixture. Divide evenly into crusts. Cover; refrigerate until firm. Just before serving, beat remaining 1/3 cup whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff; serve on tarts as garnish. Refrigerate leftovers. 8 servings.

Halloween Chocolate Cake
Ingredients• 1 (6.0 oz.) HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Bar, broken into pieces• ½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened• 1 cup boiling water• 2 cups all-purpose flour• 1-½ cups sugar• ½ cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa• 2 teaspoons baking soda• 1 teaspoon salt• 2 eggs• ½ cup dairy sour cream• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract• CHOCOLATE COATED ICE CREAM CONE(recipe follows)• ORANGE FROSTING(recipe follows)• DECORATOR’S FROSTING(recipe follows)
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan.

2. Stir together chocolate bar pieces, butter and water in medium bowl until chocolate is melted. Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in large bowl; gradually add butter mixture, beating until well blended. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla; beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare CHOCOLATE COATED ICE CREAM CONE. Drizzle ORANGE FROSTING over cake. Place ice cream cone into center of cake for pumpkin stem. Using leaf decorating tip, pipe leaves onto ‘pumpkin’ with DECORATOR FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

CHOCOLATE COATED ICE CREAM CONE: Place 1 cup HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and 1 tablespoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil) in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Spoon melted chocolate over outside of flat-bottom ice cream cone. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

ORANGE FROSTING: Place 1/3 cup butter or margarine in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute or until melted. Stir in 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel and 1-½ teaspoons vanilla extract. Stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons hot water for desired consistency. Stir in red and yellow food color for desired color.

DECORATOR FROSTING: Combine 3 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon meringue powder in small bowl. Add 1-½ cups powdered sugar and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat on high speed of mixer until stiff. Stir in green food color for desired color.

Hershey’s. Hershey’s Trick or Treat Recipes. 2010. 14 May 2010 .

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5 Cities that Should Recieve the Next Major League Soccer Franchise

America’s top professional soccer league is nearing the close of its 14th full season as the battle for playoff positioning reaches a never-before-seen intensity. Fueled by high-priced acquisitions and backed by a league leadership group that has made no bones about pushing the sport to new heights, the question of expansion has rested on the minds of the game’s ardent followers for several years. The 2011 Major League Soccer season will see the Portland Timbers, and Vancouver Whitecaps begin league play followed by the Montreal franchise in 2012.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has hinted at a next round of expansion taking place with several cities already in the running. There is no doubt that controversy and heartbreak will follow the rumor and selection process that lay ahead.

Here is a look at a few of the cities that the powers that be should consider in determining the next entrants into the league.

New York

Yes, New York. While the seemingly well-known current New York team with the prominent Austrian energy-drink sponsorship has made headlines with stadium construction and big-ticket player signings, the buzz surrounding a second New York franchise potentially entering the league has gained steam as the erstwhile ‘New York Cosmos’ franchise has been tapped for resurrection. Whether a second big apple team takes the form of the NASL flagship or not, the entry of second franchise in New York is no doubt good for MLS, and the current New York franchise

St Louis

The ‘home’ of American soccer has recently received a second-tier franchise in the form of AC St Louis. A new Major League Soccer entry in the Gateway City would share a natural rivalry with the recently resurgent Kansas City Wizards. Financing issues have held up what would surely be a swift inclusion into any expansion selection to date. An unfortunate occurrence for a city with a verifiably loyal and apparently soccer-mad fan base.


Yes. Detroit. The Motor City is a stalwart American sports town with a rich tradition of support and loyalty to its professional sports outfits. The possibility of a natural rivalry with the Toronto franchise would create an atmosphere undeniably unique when compared to any currently available with the league’s present make-up. A hockey town with strong NFL, MLB, and NBA tradition, the presence of an MLS franchise would signal a commitment to building a strong well represented league to the non-traditional soccer fan.


No doubt a controversial suggestion for expansion, the southern city would serve as a ‘gateway’ franchise for MLS’ return to the South. The close proximity to the state of Ohio gives any would be franchise a natural rival in the form of original franchise Columbus. The continued presence of the NHL in the city can realistically be seen as a step towards quieting the grumbling over southerly expansion prospects.

Puerto Rico

What!? Yes the US possession has tremendous potential in growing the MLS brand in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Logistically similar to travel to the Northwest of the country, the island destination has seen a steady rise in soccer interest with the recent Champion’s League success of the second-tier Puerto Rico Islanders. A recently built full-capacity stadium is currently in use, along with known data regarding soccer acceptance on the island. Expansion to Puerto Rico is sure to be a solid move for both MLS and soccer in the region.

Honorable mention

Northern California

Need more sports? Check out these articles

2010-2011 NBA Season Preview: 5 Best Current Players Without a Championship Ring

Can MLS Find Success With ‘Designated Players?’


WV Hooligan


Sign on San Diego

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5 Cheap Decorating Ideas for Your Home

With three kids, kids’ sports, school clothes, electronics for the tween (and dad of course), toys for the little ones and after school activities there is little money left to spend on home decorating. The only way to go in this household is cheap! But that doesn’t mean that I want the house to look cheap. So, I am constantly finding new and cheap home decorating ideas that can make the home over without making it look tacky.

Some of the best and most inexpensive home decorating ideas that I have been able to come up with so far are a combination of something I saw somewhere and wanted–but couldn’t afford–and something that I created on my own (imagination inspired)! Here are some cheap home decorating ideas that will compliment nearly any home décor.

Cheap Home Decorating Ideas: Beach Themed Décor

Beach décor is the ultimate in cheap decorating ideas if you happen to be fortunate enough to live near the beach. For me, living less than a block to the beach lends my home to some beautiful home decorating that is very inexpensive. A quick walk to the beach, sending the kids on a hunt for some shells and voila–inexpensive decorating at it’s finest! Use sea shells to create table centerpieces that are ocean inspired.

Ocean inspired elements from the sea are also perfect for mantles and shelving. Use large coral pieces or conch shells to decorate bookshelves in between books or to create mantle showcases.

Cheap Home Decorating Ideas: Paint an Accent Wall in Every Room

You can make over the entire home for less than $50 by painting an accent wall in every room of the home. Paint has got to be one of the most elaborate and inexpensive decorating techniques that can be used in the home. A quart of paint should do for most rooms to create an accent wall that pops and makes the room stand out!

Cheap Home Decorating Ideas: Bring the Outdoors In

Maybe you don’t live near the beach, but no matter where you live there is something that you can bring inside the home to use in home decorating. From twigs to rocks, there’s something that you can bring in from outside. Use twigs to create floral centerpieces for tables. Pair the twigs with silk flowers for a totally unique look. You can also use rocks that have a tumbled look to create candle gardens with large pillar candles, river rocks and a flat colored solid plate. These little accents look great on table tops, countertops, and even shelves.

Cheap Home Decorating Ideas: Photo Collages

Photos can quickly add up and before you know it (especially if you have kids) you will have tons of photos. A great way to decorate a family room or the dining room is to create a photo collage of all those family snapshots and portraits. Don’t just hang the photos in a straight line! Create a collage of different sized framed photos along the wall that creates depth and is artistically appealing. You can even add in some framed mirrors to break the look up a bit!

Cheap Home Decorating Ideas: Bedroom Escape

Cheap home decorating doesn’t end in the living room. The bedroom is a great place to incorporate some cheap home decorating ideas. Create a bedroom escape by hanging two simple three foot long curtain rods on the ceiling above the bed. Using sheer fabric that is at least 12 feet long you can create a drape that runs from the ceiling above the bed and drapes along side the bed to the floor. Hang another rod across the back length of the bed on the wall above the bed and drape sheer fabric from that as well. The final look–a canopy type dreaming oasis that you spent mere pennies to create!

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5 of My Classic Movie Reviews

I wanted to share some of my favorite movies which may not have made much hoopla when they came out. Some of them are old and some are even older, but they are fun, frightening and dramatic. I know everytime we go to the video store we are not going to be that thrilled when they tell us we have free rentals available as long as they are from the older sections. Yippee! It seems as though I’ve seen everything there is and what I haven’t, I don’t know about. Hope this helps someone out there make a decision what to rent one evening.

The Falcon and the Snowman – (1984 – 2 hrs 20 min) – First off let me start by saying that I will not pay five dollars to rent a movie that is less than 90 minutes long. So this is a good movie to rent for the money. Sean Penn stars as Andrew Daulton Lee, a drug dealer and user. He’s trying to talk his friend, Chris Boyce, played by Timothy Hutton, to sell secret documents to the Soviets. It is an edgy gritty film and Penn is great as the self-sabotaging druggie. (If you like Sean Penn, I would also recommend catching “At Close Range” also with Penn’s late brother, Chris Penn and Christopher Walken. I would also suggest renting “Turk 182” for another Timothy Hutton film.)

The Long Riders – (1980 – 1 hour 39 minutes) – Okay, so this one is close on the time. However, definitely worth it. This is a classic group of actors that make this movie well worth the rent. Probably more well know among some of the youngins out there are Dennis Quaid and his brother Randy. The plus side for the rest of us are all the Carradines — David, Robert and Keith. Also you cannot miss Stacy and James Keach. Toss in one more set of brothers being Christopher and Nicholas Guest and you’ve got one good movie about the James-Younger gang of outlaws that robbed banks, stagecoaches and trains during post Civil War times.

The Cotton Club – (1984 – 2 hours 9 minutes) – Gotta love it love it love it. Richard Gere with a near perfect pencil thin mustache, Diane Lane playing a sexy sultry moll and James Remar as the infamous Dutch Schultz. Set in 1928 New York you will get your fill of nightclubs and music, intense acting and lots of tension. It can be a little campy, but its loads of fun.

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest – (1975 – 2 hours 10 minutes) – Jack Nicholson at his best. Then again he’s been there before and since. I feel this film has sort of become a cult classic, just maybe not in the usual sense. After seeing this film many many times, I am still not sure whether Nicholson’s character, RP McMurphy was actually crazy when he entered the mental institution though we are led to believe he wasn’t and had himself declared insane to reduce a short prison term he was to serve. Whether he was or not it’s obvious the affects spending time in one of these hospitals. Louis Fletcher plays the unyielding tyrant nurse who basically runs the floor and the patients. You may find several recognizable faces in this film and its always fun to see Jack, well, acting crazy.

Silverado – (1985 – 2 hours 7 minutes) – Just fun, fun and more fun. Who wouldn’t like Kevin Costner playing Jake and Scott Glenn as his older brother, Emmet. Top the group off with Kevin Kline and Danny Glover for more fun. They all come together to take back the town of Silverado and make it a safe place for all to live again. Brian Dennehy plays Sheriff Cobb who runs the town a little crooked and doesn’t seem to care when the bad guys are in town. Several other memorable faces make their way through this film. Costner is just adorable and I understand he was offered this role by the writer, Lawrence Kasden, for being cut out of the movie “The Big Chill.” This is a must see for lovers of westerns. And though Mr. Costner ended up on the cutting room floor for The Big Chill, I would rent that one too. Lots of other great actors and actresses in that film.

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5 Coffee Shop Business Tips

I frequently write articles about coffee shops because my dad owns a local coffee shop here in Northern Greece. I try to “steal” some of his tips every now and then. And I write articles like this one in order to help people open or maintain their own coffee shops.

Let’s have a look at 5 important tips on how to open and maintain a successful cafe:

1. I am sure you’ve heard this but it is important so I want to say it again. Success with this business is all about location, location, location. Your coffee shop needs to be opened in the right place so it will attract more customers and offer a great experience.

2. As technology progresses more and more coffee shops add free wireless internet access for their customers. If you don’t have a wireless network in your own shop, have one installed immediately and try to let people know about it e.g. mention it clearly with a message in the front door.

3. Always spy on your competition. Learn how they attract people, what offers they have. Learn at what prices they sell the coffee and the other drinks or beverages. When you know the secrets of your competitors you can learn from them and improve their tactics to attract more clients.

4. This is pretty common sense. Your shop must be comfortable and a nice play to be in and hang around with your friends or your date. The chairs must be comfortable, the wall colors and general decoration plays an important part. And of course the music must be right.

5. Invest in cleaning. This is one of the best tips in my opinion. Keep everything clean and especially the toilet rooms. Ladies will almost always visit the toilets and least once when in your shop. Everything in your cafe must be neat and in order. The chairs, the ashtrays, the bottles in the bar, everything. Clean and organized environment equals a more pleasant and unforgettable experience.

And that’s all I had to share with you today. Next time I exploit some tips from my father, I will write another article.

But I will not leave you without a gift. If you plan to open your own coffee shop business (or maintain an existing one) and you don’t know where to start e.g. you don’t have a business plan, then please continue reading these 5 coffee shop business tips.

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5 Common Misconceptions About Pagan Beliefs

While there are many connotations to the word Pagan, it typically refers to people who follow ancient religious beliefs and practices. It is only in modern times that the word pagan has come to mean “not Christian.” A good comparison is to look at Christianity, where Catholics and Protestants are both separate religions, but they are both Christian. Likewise, there are any number of ancient religions that are grouped together under the umbrella of Paganism. Druids, Wiccans, and Shamans are all followers of Paganism, or ancient belief systems. They are also considered to be “Earth religions” since their spiritual practices tend to reflect nature and the cycle of life. Modern day Pagans refer to themselves as “Neopaganists” which literally means “New Pagans.”

Pagans are typically vilified for their beliefs, as though they are less important than modern day religious beliefs. The lack of understanding of Pagan beliefs has led to many misconceptions. Here is a look at a few of them:

1. Pagans are polytheists. That means that they believe in many gods, instead of one god. While the ancient Greeks were polytheists, that does not mean that all Pagans are polytheists. Many people consider the Christian faith to have adopted many Pagan beliefs, and to have based their practices on them. Many Pagans are monotheists or pantheists.

2. Pagans are witches, or Satan worshipers. While Wicca is considered to be a Pagan religion, Wiccans do not believe in Satan, so would hardly worship him. Most “Satan worship” is actually a myth.

3. Pagans are uneducated. This is actually a comical misconception, since the topic of religion was typically discussed in the realm of philosophy, which is one of the oldest areas of study in human history. Many of today’s fields of science stemmed from philosophy, which was introduced to society by the Greeks, who were Pagans and Polytheists.

4. Pagans are immoral. Pagans are often thought of as immoral because they do not believe in the Bible. I don’t have an explanation for that, although I don’t think that there is a valid argument for it. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a complex social justice system, upon which ours is based.

5. Pagans believe in magic. Pagans base their religion on living in harmony with the earth. I am pretty sure that they don’t believe in magic any more than followers of other religions do.

Those are just a few misconceptions about Pagan beliefs, but there are many more, about pagans as well as followers of other faiths. One thing that they all appear to teach is tolerance, so take that to heart, and let people follow the faith that they will.

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5 College Football Underachievers for the 2006 College Football Season

The college football regular season has finally come to an end. It has been 13 weeks of non stop action on the gridiron. There are many of you out there who are happy with your favorite team’s accomplishments this season while there are others of you who are wondering what the heck happened to my team, we were supposed to be good. Well I am here to hand out an award. This award is not something you will want to brag about to your fellow fans, but it is something worth recognition. For those teams who were major underachievers this year, this award is for you. Here is a list of the top 5 most disappointing teams in the 2006 college football season in no particular order…

1. Florida State – The Seminoles were ranked number 11 in the preseason polls and opened the season with a win over the number 12 Miami Hurricanes. After this game that featured absolutely no offense, and supposedly was a game between two powerhouses, people were raving about FloridaState and their defense. Well, the lack of a running game and an inconsistent quarterback led FSU to a less than spectacular 6-6 record. Bobby Bowden is already hearing to rumbles for his resignation. Nice season FloridaState.

2. Miami – There really isn’t a word to describe what kind of condition this program is in. Miami was supposed to fight for a chance to play in the ACC title game this season, but instead they finished 6-6 in a season that included a melee versus Florida International, the shooting death of one of their players, and ultimately the firing of one Larry Coker. The Miami Hurricanes are in shambles. There have already been many people rumored to be the next head coach at Miami, but all of those candidates have said they want no part of that job, and I can’t blame them.

3. Iowa – Drew Tate was supposed to lead a Hawkeye team that was supposed to be near the top of the Big Ten this season. With a senior quarterback running the show, there were many people that had the preseason #16 Iowa Hawkeyes challenging the likes of a Michigan and OhioState for the league championship. However, Iowa could not win any big games and finished a pathetic 6-6 on the season finishing a solid 8th in the Big Ten.

4. California – Some of you may not agree with this one, but California has to be in this spot. California was a preseason top 10 team and was picked by many to challenge USC in the Pac-10 and even make a run at the national championship. With a high powered offense, the expectations for the Cal Bears were through the roof. All of this was shattered in their first game of the season when Cal was throttled by a rejuvenated Tennessee team. California was a solid team this year, but to me they failed to meet expectations. They finished 9-3 and lost two out of three down the stretch including losing to USC 23-9 and weren’t even competitive. Wasn’t a complete failure as a season, but wasn’t what the Cal faithful was looking for.

5. Clemson – Now for those of you who are die-hard Clemson fans (I’m a student at Clemson by the way) this news will be a shock to you. Clemson fans will gladly accept an 8 win season. Come on guys! Clemson was 7-1 through eight games and their only loss was a fluke mistake in the kicking game which lost Clemson the game by one point. After beat Georgia Tech 31-7 there were many people who claimed Clemson as the best one loss team in the country. Ha, that was funny. Clemson lost three of its last four games, including two at home to inferior opponents. Quarterback play really hurt the Tigers this year, but 8-4 is underachieving with the amount of talent on the depth chart and after starting 7-1. Enjoy the Music City Bowl (yay?!?)

There you have it. Here are five teams who can all officially begin the cry “there’s always next year.” These teams were supposed to be good this year and all stumbled along to mediocre seasons at best this year. Congratulations to these five schools for being awarded the 5 most underachieving teams this season!

Tags:5 College Football Underachievers for the 2006 College Football Season

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