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Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Sure It Looks Cool, But Does It Really Work?

In Your Guest Writers, Your Home on August 29, 2010 at 1:52 PM

 

If someone told me they’ve never been tempted late at night to pick up the phone and order whatever unbelievably innovative product they saw on TV, I would have a hard time believing it.  The infomercials are so convincing in presenting a product that will literally change your life, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who hasn’t been sucked in at one point or another.  The problem though is it seems so risky.  I’m sure we’ve all heard the horror stories of the hidden $30 shipping and handling fees or worse yet reoccurring billing only disclosed in extremely small print.  Even more, what if the product doesn’t work?  To return something purchased on TV you usually have to pay the shipping charges to you and back, so no matter what it always ends up costing you something.  To be an educated buyer and save ourselves time and money, we must do our research.
 
Just the other night I saw an infomercial for a product called the Shake Weight.  Now this product is a little suggestive and borderline inappropriate for television so I wasn’t so much tempted to buy it as I was intrigued to know if it really works.  Like the millions of other young people in America, I turned to the internet to do a little research.  I quickly discovered there are dozens of websites that claim to objectively review these kinds of products.  However, when you read between the lines you can hear the tone of a sales person.  Usually these types of reviews are sneakily written by the product owner or someone working for them disguised as a regular Joe Shmoe, and it’s highly unlikely they will say their product is a piece of junk if it is. 
 
After a little more searching I found a decent website that rates and reviews As Seen on TV products called TVTopTen.  Not only do they have actual customer reviews, but they also have a slew of different videos including product demonstrations and the actual commercial.  They post real customer reviews, both positive and negative.  Using websites like these and taking the information objectively, you can avoid making costly investments into products that suck.  Doing this kind of research will save time and money, and who doesn’t need more of both these days? 
 
About the Author:

S. Sparks is a writer for small businesses and online stores with an emphasis on health and beauty. Some of her most recent work includes articles for Ace Carpet Cleaning  San Diego.

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Who is Jennifer Brown-Banks?

In You on August 24, 2010 at 11:53 PM

 

Editor,  author, prolific blogger, consultant, advice columnist – Jennifer Brown-Banks, AKA Superwoman, shed her superpowers just long enough to “gossip” with LWFL.  

LWFL: Welcome Jennifer and thanks for taking a moment to sit down and chat.  Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you.

Interesting question. I guess that would depend on whether it’s for business or non-business knowledge.:-)Let’s see…I have a passion for all things creative. I’ve lived a rich life with a lot of diversity. And I dig helping people.  

LWFL:  What inspires you to write?

I am inspired to write due to what I believe to be my divine “calling”. I can’t NOT write! (Excuse the double negative). Though I do find oddly enough that being broken-hearted or cash-challenged can be quite “inspiring” as well.:-)

LWFL:  How did your interest in writing begin? Have you always been a writer, if not what where your other occupations? 

I began writing (for “public consumption”) as a result of a requirement for a “gifted student” program I was chosen to participate in junior high. I didn’t realize it as a “gift” or even as a possible profession until my mom “guilted” me into it. (Thanks, mom)! Former occupations include numbers-crunching, teaching, managing, and telemarketing.

LWFL:  What are your two favorite books and why?  

 Anything written by poet Peter McWilliams, and The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. Why? Too many reasons to expound upon in this limited space and time. 

LWFL:  What advice do you have for new writers?

Don’t let your ego get in the way of your excellence. If you are writing for publication it’s important to keep your audience’s needs in mind. As such, check for typos, and spelling and grammatical errors. Writing is both a privilege and a responsibility. I also believe that excellence honors God and your “gift”. And last but not least, take advice from those who have ventured where you’re trying to go. Experience is a great teacher.    

LWFL:  Favorite films and music?

Again, too many to mention. I dig everything from Beethoven to Billy Joel, to country, to Reggae. Films? Romantic comedies, films based on true-life events, and typically films that have Keanu Reeves or Diana Keaton.

LWFL:  What projects are you working on?

What am I not working on? lol I’m doing guest blog posts, preparing for a speaking engagement in the next week or so, and client projects.

LWFL:  Tell us about your new position at Coffeehouse for Writers.

I am currently the Managing Editor of this great site that provides an array of resources to writers worldwide. We teach creative individuals how to “hone their craft and increase their cash”!

LWFL:  What else would you like to share? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests and hobbies, your favorite ways to unwind — whatever comes to mind.

Favorite ways to unwind? Music, herbal tea, bubble baths, cooking shows divinity and nature, good food and good company!    

LWFL:  Where can our readers find your work? (Websites, blogs, Twitter, etc.)

Pen and Prosper

Coffeehouse for Writers

TWITTER JENPENS 2

This was fun!  It was great talking with you Jen.

Save One Life and Help to Create a Future for Children with Bleeding Disorders

In Your World on August 19, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Click Image to Read PDF

Did you know that many American teenagers living with hemophilia use over $60,000 in anti-hemophilia factor every month?  I do, because my son is one of those teens. 

Every once in a while you come across a compelling campaign that offers you a chance to truly improve the life of a child.   Save One Life is that campaign. 

Save One Life is your opportunity to help a  child that has a devastating inherited blood disorder like hemophilia.    A child living in a developing country like India, Pakistan or Africa, that has little or no access to life-saving factor and basic medical care.

Please take a moment to read “Help to Create a Future for Children with Bleeding Disorders”. Then take the next step.  And make the right decision to sponsor a child or adult that has a bleeding disorder. 

Thanks in advance.  You couldn’t have picked a better time to become a sponsor.  I did. 

P.S.  Please download, print and share this PDF with your friends and family.

Save One Life was founded by Laureen Kelley.  Author, educator, and mom to a son with hemophilia. Laureen spends many of her days traveling around the world delivering much-needed anti-hemophilia factor and ancillary supplies (needles, bandages, crutches, and syringes) to needy people in countries like Belize, the Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe, and Romania.

Phthalates: What Are They and Are They Making You Sick?

In Your Health on August 16, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Pronunciation:  THAL-ates

“More than ever, people are worried about how all the chemicals we’re exposed to are affecting our health: among them a family of chemicals known as phthalates, which are used in everyday plastics.”

-Phthalates:  Are They Safe? CBS/60 Minutes

Phthalates are chemicals that are commonly found in items made of soft plastics.  Examples include, medical and school supplies, and  household materials  like wires and cables.  They’re also found in your everyday beauty items like nail polish, shampoo, lip balms, and perfumes.    

This previously little known chemical is taking a lot of heat.  And advocates on both sides are talking to the press. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report stating that phthalates “may present a risk” to the environment and humans.  Some studies show that phthalates cause birth defects, increased risk of  cancer and disruptions in hormonal balances of pre-pubescent girls.  

Conversely, a study released on 5 August 10, by the American Chemistry Council  (ACC) found phthalates beneficial and safe to use in all current applications and dosages.  Steve Risotto, a senior director at ACC, made their position clear in a  YouTube press release.

While both sides agree that we all have phthalates cruising around our bodies, they can’t agree on whether this is good or bad. 

It’s up to you to decide what’s best and safe for your family. 

If you’re interested in reducing your “phthalate count” or just want more information, here are links to  videos and *sites that offer  phthalate-free products.

Burt’s Bees

Ecco Bella Organics

Aubrey Organics

Tom’s of Maine

Honeybee Gardens

Phthalates Are They Safe? – CBS News Video

Benefits of Phthalates – CBS News Video

Environmental Working Group  

How do you protect your health?  Do you use natural products?  Or does it really matter?

* Information courtesy of Big Green Purse

How to Reward Children

In Your Guest Writers on August 9, 2010 at 8:10 AM

 

Almost every parent will have to resort to bribing his or her child at some point in time. A bribe is typically used as a last resort when your child is acting up at the grocery store or when they won’t stop crying at a dinner party. A toy or a can of cola can have a drastic but temporary effect on your child’s behavior but is it good to use bribes like this?

If bribery becomes your sole technique then you’re in for some trouble. Although small bribes will help your child listen and behave in the short term, it can cause negative effects in the long term. When bribed constantly, your child will expect small prizes for doing ordinary tasks like brushing their teeth or doing their homework.

Small rewards, not bribes

You can use small rewards to help foster a positive role in your child’s upbringing. It could be as simple as a new pencil or even a compliment on a job well done. A new pencil or some verbal encouragement can be enough to give a small child the focus to complete daily tasks that they might not enjoy. As they grow older their internal motivations will increase and they will rely even less on your immediate support.

One major problem with bribes is that your child will start expecting a bribe for everything they do and other personal satisfaction type rewards will be overshadowed by the desire for more bribes. It can be a nasty habit to break and one that can be easily avoided in the first place.

Suspicious Kids

Another effect of bribery is that your child may become suspicious of any activities or chores associated with a bribe. For example, you might tell your child they can have ice cream if they try the quinoa salad you’ve made for dinner. Your child will get the sense that quinoa salad must taste bad if you’re willing to bribe them with ice cream.

When your child helps with the dishes they should get the feeling that they’re contributing to the household. If they are bribed for doing most chores around the house then those bribes will become their motivation for doing them.

Chances are that an occasional bribe won’t lead to major problems but don’t use bribes as the main way to get your child to pitch in or to try new things. When you do reward them, make sure it’s the smallest reward to get the job done.

Breaking the bribe habit

If you feel like you’ve been bribing your child too much you can try telling them that you’re aware of the feelings they have about chores and that you respect their opinion. Tell them that doing the dishes isn’t fun but that they need to do their part around the house. Trying to make the task interesting or fun isn’t going to work but telling your child the truth can make them understand how they can contribute. You can even explain to your child some of the things that you do each week that you don’t enjoy.

Don’t forget that some extra attention from parents can have a drastic effect on your child’s behavior. Instead of trying to find more expensive rewards to appease your small ones, spend some more time with them.

This is a guest post from Donald Farber from the Canadian life insurance website LifeCover.ca

Character Development and Teens: A Winning Combination!

In Your Guest Writers, Your Health on August 5, 2010 at 8:14 AM

by Traci S. Campbell 

The road to adulthood for most teens is a challenging one. Puberty, mood swings, insecurities, and peer pressure are just some of the hurdles young people encounter as they prepare to face the even bigger challenges lying ahead for them because of the pressure to fit in and be “popular”.  I can clearly remember when the dilemma to wear my IZOD polo shirt versus my off the shoulder sweatshirt (you gotta love the 80’s) was one of my most major decisions of the day!

However, when I look back, I also remember traits and habits that were instilled in me that served as “tools” I have used to weather the storms I have faced in adulthood. These traits and habits can be summed up in two words …. Great Character. This may sound like a trivial (maybe even slightly abstract) concept on the surface, when we talk about practical life skills. But, the effect of having and being mindful of one’s character has far-reaching benefits. Character determines the course of our lives because it is simply the application of certain habits that become “fixed” in our psyche. We then begin to act like we think. And the sooner we develop those certain habits, the better off we are on the road of life.

Just think if character development was just as important and emphasized in school as, say, history or math?  We could change the whole shape of future generations, and ultimately the future of us all, by taking the issue of character development in teens more seriously. But, the good news is that we CAN take baby steps and start with the character development of your own tween or teen at home. And what’s even more good news….the road to instilling great character in your tween or teen is very simple to do:

1. Be a Character MODEL: Your teens and tweens are around you more often than anyone … well … if you exclude the time they spend on the phone or at the mall. 😉  And what they regularly see will surely rub off. Practice good character yourself and they will soak it in like a sponge!  Also practice, and openly discuss your values and morals. It will set up a firm foundation of not only being conscientious of what they do, but it will help to foster open communication between parent and teen as well.

2. Training Begins at Home:  The basic things we all learn to do at home at 10 will affect our lives at 30. Saying thank you, opening the door for an older person or lady, or making up  beds, etc.  sounds insignificant. But the enforcement of these very basic things have long reaching effects later, on how a teen or tween may view life and/or treat others.

3.  Practice Prayer Power: Regardless of your chosen religion or faith, the need for a spiritual foundation is vital to you and your teens (or tweens) mental and emotional health, (and studies have shown that those who practice some form of spirituality have a lower incident of heart disease and depression). So, why not make this an activity you do together on a regular basis?  This provides two benefits: not only will you spend quality time together, but you can grow together spiritually too.

 3. Take Action…Together:  While my own mother is no longer with me, the times I spent doing things with her as a teenager are some of my fondest memories. Make it a point to carve out a specific day and time on a regular basis to do fun things together. Make it a top priority and stick to it…no excuses and no cancellations. Memories will be captured for a lifetime and the bond between you and your teen or tween will be strengthened.

4. Credit Card 101:  While is it “trendy” to sport the latest fashions and “hip” to have the latest cell phone model, the bill that comes later is FAR from trendy or hip! Teach your teens to be a wiser consumer. Limit their spending and at the same time, teach them money management skills. And remember, how you spend and manage your money will truly influence your teen or tween. Help them to understand that they can still have SOME of the newest material things out there…but they surely don’t need to have ALL of them.  🙂

5. More Chores, Please:  Another way of looking at chores is to “assign responsibilities”.  The assignment and completion of these “responsibilities” will set the stage in your teen and tween’s mind that they have obligations to not only themselves, but to others as well.  This will go a long way in how they view their responsibilities in the future. And, like most things, responsibility begins at home, first.

6. Mean What You Say…:   especially when the answer is “NO!”  As a parent, you will be tested by your teen. All parents have experienced this phenomenon. However, stick to your guns and do not back down when your answer of “NO” is truly in their best interest. Sometimes saying “no” is actually saying “yes” to their overall safety and well being and at the same time, instilling true respect for authority.

7. Be the Boss:  Teens really WANT someone they can look up to (whether they admit it or not). They want and need someone that will make them feel protected. And they want and need someone they can get guidance from, especially during the trials and tribulations of adolescence. Establish your ground as a parent and boss…first.

Character development does not have to be complicated or difficult. But it must be consistent and made a priority in your tween’s or teen’s life. Years down the road, they will reflect (as I have) on these teachings and be eternally grateful for the positive impact it will have on their lives.

Traci S. Campbell is an author, public speaker, coach and creator of  The C.H.A.M.P Within, an interactive program that fosters strong mental, and emotional health in young people.  She  also hosts, Heros At Home Radio, a site dedicated to helping and “Celebrating Single Parent Success”.

12 Simple Separates: Your Guide to Lookin’ Good and Feeling Great!

In Your Fashion, Your Guest Writers on August 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

 by Heather Claus of 365 Days of Style

 

 

It’s a tough economy and times are tight. Everyone wants to cut expenses without giving up quality of life.

I do, too.

In fact, I’ve been learning to “tightwad” for over a decade. Sadly, I’ve not mastered it, but I have found a balance in my life. I prefer to spend money on priorities, rather than having it just dribble away with each purchase.

Thing is, I love fashion.

Well, not fashion, exactly. I love style. Personal style. I love to create my own style from what’s in fashion, what’s out of fashion (I’ve been a fan of vintage for 25 years), fun accessories, and even garments I design and sew myself. All that can get expensive.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

Add on top of that many of us live multiple lives. Home life, mommy life, social life, business life… that’s a lot of wardrobe – and a lot of moolah, if you’re not careful.

That’s why I created 12 Simple Separates. The goal behind this PDF is to teach you to purchase (or thrift or sew) just 12 basic garments that can be combined into 80 combinations. That’s FOUR MONTHS of work weeks without duplication. 12 garments make 90% of a work wardrobe. Just add shoes and accessories.

It’s not just about money, though. It’s also about time. Having a million options every morning can make getting dressed MORE complicated, not less. Having a set of clothing that you know fits, looks good and will work for the office makes hectic AM dressing a breeze.

Of course, this doesn’t just work for the office. A wardrobe for SAHM duty would use the same combinations of tops and bottoms, just in a more comfortable, casual style.

Are you a small business owner? It’s easy to put together a professional wardrobe on a budget, even when most of your time is spent working at home in your yoga pants (guilty!).

Thing is, getting your 12 basics together is cost-effective, and once you have them, you’ll have the time and money to put towards other priorities – like cute shoes! *smiles* Or gorgeous jewelry, a family vacation, car repairs…

This PDF will get you started. If you have questions, feel free to ask me here, or to email me directly at info@365daysofstyle.com. You can also visit and register at my site for weekly style lessons and new PDF files as I add them!

I’m Heather Claus, and I love style. I didn’t always, but once I learned I knew anyone could, so I taught. Register at 365DaysofStyle.com for weekly style lessons, fashion giveaways, and daily style resources – and don’t forget to follow me on twitter! *smiles*