Thursday, December 27, 2018

Home: Stress Less When Things Go Wrong

So picture this… or maybe you don’t have to. You’re relaxing in your home and suddenly all of the
lights go out. What do you do? Panic. Or picture this. You’re enjoying your nice warm shower,
singing away, and suddenly it runs ice cold. What do you do? Probably scream louder than you
ever have done before and dart out of the way, then proceed to panic. We always seem to stress
when things go wrong in our homes, but the things we’re stressing most about are often the
things that are the easiest to fix. Yes, we get that when something does go wrong, it’s easy to feel
like everything else in your house is going to come down with it. Or what’s worse, it’s easy enough
to think that it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg to fix, when in fact it might even be something
simple that you can fix. Which is why we’re going to encourage you to take some time to relax, and
have a read of the tips we’ve got below for you for coping with stress in your home.

A Simple Solution To Everything

There really is a solution to everything that goes wrong with your home. Yes, some might be a little
more expensive than others, but there is usually a simple solution to all of your problems. Some
need more promptly fixing than others, because the happiness of your day to day life literally
revolves around it. For example, if you have an air con unit that does both hot and cold, and you
live for the cool breeze that it gives you in the summer, and the warm air it gives you in the winter,
then last thing you want to be doing is leaving it to rot when it breaks! The best ac service will
have it fixed in no time, but if you want to keep things simple, you have to leave it up to the
professionals. It’s easy to think that because it’s your home, that you’re going to be able to fix
everything that goes wrong with it. Well, this is not always the case!

Keeping Your Home In Tip Top Shape

Sometimes just simply maintaining your home is going to stop the stress of something going
wrong. The stress of something going wrong could be because you just haven’t looked after your
home properly. A common example of this can be in the bathroom. If you don’t properly ventilate
the room, and let all of that moisture just soak into the wall, it’s only a matter of time before you
have to deal with mould! Simple solutions really could save you a lot of trouble!!

Making The Most Of Your Home

Finally, we think it’s really important that you stress less about your home. If you’re always
spending so much time worrying about issues, or worrying about issues that might be to come,
how are you ever going to get to the point where you’re actually enjoying your home!

How To Instantly Improve Your Life

There may come a time in your life when you stop and look around and notice you’re not as happy as you once were or think you could be. This is a normal experience or revelation to have and one you should certainly address and give more attention to.

The upside to having these feelings is that there are practical ways for how you can quickly improve your life and get to a better place. Avoid worrying so much about what others are up to or think of you and take this time to concentrate on you and your goals for once.

Identify & Follow Your Passion

Instantly improve your life by securing a job you love and hobbies you actually enjoy doing. Take time to figure out what is and follow your passion so you can be happy once and for all. Your job is a big part of your life, and if you’re working in a dead-end position, you may quickly feel fairly miserable about your life and situation in general. Life is too short to be spending your time in places and at companies that don’t appreciate you or where your skills aren’t being put to good use. This is one of the most important areas you should invest your time and energy into because it’s what takes up the majority of your schedule. 

Fit in Daily Exercise

If there’s one habit that’s worth adopting that will immediately improve your life it’s to fit in daily exercise. Having a more active lifestyle in general versus being sedentary all the time will help you to have more energy in general. Working out lifts your mood, helps you tone your physique and allows you to reduce your stress in a healthy manner.

It’s worth scheduling in activities that get your heart rate up and will help you to burn more calories on a regular basis. Below is a list of options you might want to consider as you get started:

·         Walking
·         Running
·         Playing sports
·         Practicing yoga
·         Weight lifting

Give it a try and in no time at all you’ll likely feel like a new person and wonder why you didn’t start exercising earlier on in your life. Another idea is to find a workout buddy so you can hold each other accountable and make working out more of a social activity as well.

Make Time for Fun & Laughter

It’s important to remember how having fun and laughing is good for your health and well-being. For instance, take a vacation, spend time with your spouse or play a game such as Kalah with your kids. These types of experiences will allow you to loosen up a bit and enjoy life and the people around you more. There’s a time and a place to be serious but it’s also necessary you make it a priority to laugh and have fun when it’s appropriate as well. This is a healthy way to spend your free moments and will allow you to refresh and rejuvenate so you feel better when tackling your other commitments.

Keep A Journal & To-Do Lists

You can also instantly improve your life by getting better about keeping a journal to record down your emotions. It’s a great tool for putting down all that’s floating around in your head on paper and being able to work through certain feelings that are top of mind for you. You’ll quickly be able to recognize what issues in your life are bothering you the most so you can address them right away and feel better fast.

Also, you’ll feel more organized and less chaotic when you create to-do lists for all that you’re responsible for completing. Trying to remember every single item that you’re in charge of in your head will likely cause you a lot of frustration and you’ll forget to attend to important matters. For example, make a list of work tasks, your weekly grocery store purchases and upcoming obligations that will require your time.

Slow Down

Rushing around and not taking the time to enjoy life and what it is you’re doing at the time is likely keeping you from feeling happy. Instantly improve your life by practicing mindfulness and living in the moment and appreciating all that surrounds you as it unfolds. Pay attention to what you’re doing and avoid multi-tasking and you’ll discover you’re more productive and feel less frantic as you take care of your daily responsibilities. Your days will seem that much more special when you’re fully present and attentive to what’s in front of you. Slow down and you’ll likely sleep better at night as well because your mind won’t be racing all around. It’s also a wise idea to practice gratitude, which will help you to appreciate all the little miracles happening in your life.

Nurture Your Relationships

It’s important to connect with others on a consistent basis and nurture your relationships with others. You can instantly improve your life by spending more quality time with the people who you love and adore. Be there for those who you care about the most and open up and let them in to what’s happening in your days. Do this by picking up the phone, asking someone to coffee or lunch and simply having more availability in your schedule for others. Life won’t feel so cumbersome or demanding when you’re bonding and participating in enjoyable activities with others.   


Your life isn’t going to get better all on its own and it will take an extra effort on your part if you want to experience brighter days ahead. These tips are going to help you instantly improve your situation and find more peace and happiness overall. Give them a try and see what areas have the greatest impact and do more of that going forward. Put taking care of yourself and your own needs at the top of your priority list and you’ll find that you aren’t so stressed out and anxious.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

How to Get Published (and Paid!) Writing About Your Kids

How to Get Published (and Paid!) Writing About Your Kids PRAISE

Have files of article reprints that you own but have no clue where to start reselling them? Have ideas for some fantastic new pieces but no idea who might want them? Check out my 386-page PDF of tips, tricks, and insider information, as well as 384 paying parenting and family markets for only $9.99! Just head to this page to download How to Get Published (and Paid!) Writing About Your Kids and get started immediately!

Sign up for an email subscription to The Published Parent and get two amazing freebies: 10 Parenting Markets That Pay $100+ and 10 Markets That Pay Writers to Write About Writing! And join my Facebook group called Parenting Magazine Writers ... it's FREE and full of tips and tricks and markets and like-minded writer friends!

The following praise is from way back when I first published this book. It has honestly gotten bigger and better with time. It's now the most helpful it can be and includes more markets, separated by regional versus national/online magazine markets.

"This is the JACKPOT for writers of parenting articles. Until now, I’d been limited to the 30 markets I could dredge up from the Google depths.  Not only does Kerrie include dozens of markets and writer’s guidelines – she also includes detailed information about RPM submissions (that I still hadn’t learned!), like needing to mention in your query that an article is “for purchase”. Reading this ebook feels almost like peering over the shoulder of a successful, professional writer: seeing her submission charts, time sheets, emails to editors and marketing tricks. I wish I’d had this when I started a few years back—I might be on to the national magazines by now!" Colleen Wright, writer

"Your parenting e-book for writers is truly awesome!You have re-motivated me to get on a regular schedule of sending out my reprints. I feel like I'm not working alone when I have your book as an excellent resource and source of support. It's a plus that you are funny, too. :) Thank you again for all you do for us parenting writers!" - Kim Seidel, specializing in parenting and health,

"I purchased the book in March and I recouped my investment in the first week." Stephanie Vozza

"Kerrie's book has been a springboard for my writing career! I wish I had known this information when I started. I would be so much further along! I'm so grateful that Kerrie is willing to share the secret to her success!  When I was in training to become a stockbroker, I had to take a crash course right before the Series 7 licensing exam. Kerrie's book is the crash course for getting published in regional parenting magazines! I wish I had found it years ago!" Kelly Stilwell, writer

Kerrie McLoughlin's book Get Published in Parenting & Family Magazines: Make Money to Write About Your Kids! packs a multitude of tips, sage advice and is a valuable, worthwhile investment for those wishing to be published in parenting magazines. The best part is that the book is packed with writers' guidelines and free updates are sent out regularly to those who've purchased the book. Thanks for writing this book, Kerrie - it's a fantastic resource! Christine Bernier Lienke, a writer based in Minnesota - find out more about Christine, read her clips and check out Inspired Writing products and jewelry at: 

"Thanks for your wonderful ebook! If it wasn't for your wonderful advice, I wouldn't be getting these articles accepted!!!" Dr. Anne Zachry, writer

"Kerrie's book has been a go-to resource for me in finding out information about parenting magazines throughout the United States. One of her talents is a willingness to share what she's learned with other writers so that they can make progress in their careers." Liz Sheffield, writer

"A dandy book about a very specific topic and market (parenting) that should help lots of writers get in print and fatten their larder, modestly. I like that you explain reprints and why it makes huge sense to sell and sell good copy until it expires or you do. A fun book to read too, as is your website." Gordon Burgett, author of 40 published books and 1,700+ articles

"Kerrie has put together a fabulous resource for beginning as well as seasoned writers. She tells you all you need to know for pitching your work to publishers and editors. Her database is fantastic. And her tips for "behind the scenes," like keeping track of submissions are spot on." Jessica Fisher, freelance writer and author

"Get Published in Regional Parenting Magazines saved me tons of time in researching how and where to submit articles. After using the techniques and list provided, I got several positive replies. Thank you, Kerrie, for taking the legwork out of the process!" Laurie Davala, freelance writer

"Kerrie is very detail oriented and awesome to work with. She responds quickly to messages, resolves problems quickly and goes beyond the call of duty to make sure we - her clients - are taken care of. Do not be afraid to reach out to her if you experience a problem or have a question. This woman is awesome." Penny Lane, freelance writer

"I finally believed I could be a published writer. For people who know they can write but believe there is a huge gulf between their talent and the ability to publish, a book like this is a godsend. Easy, practical, and full of great suggestions, this is one how-to that really performs. Thanks, Kerrie" DeNae Handy, freelance writer

"You get so much more than just an ebook. I am SO glad I decided to buy this e-book I m just starting to explore the writing market, and Kerrie has been an AWESOME resource She is the real deal and really knows the market. She's on the frontline and and the bylines. Great read, great deal." Renny Fong, freelance writer

“For anyone wanting to write for the Regional Parenting Magazine market, Kerrie's book Get Published in Parenting and Family Magazines is a must have. I don't know how I would have managed without it. She has done all the legwork in compiling the writers guidelines, contact information, and rates of pay for you. The cost of the book includes free email updates and yearly revisions. She sends the book as a Word doc. so that when you receive changes, you can make them right in the book. She's also included a quick reference spread sheet, sample forms, and lots of tips and insider information. The book will pay for itself with one sale, so don't hesitate another minute.” Carol J. Alexander, freelance writer and ebook self-publisher

“I purchased Kerrie's ebook in 2009, and it has been extremely helpful to me as I pursue markets for my writing. I appreciate that she keeps it updated, and I enjoy reading her blog updates and tips. For me and for many freelance writers I know who write for the parent/family market, Kerrie's book is definitely a go-to resource.” Christa Hines, freelance writer

“Kerrie put together an exhaustive manual for writers looking to get published in regional parenting magazines. She makes it easy for writers to locate the editor with name and e-mail address whenever possible and to query the magazine with a story pitch. This is a great eBook for any writer with interest in writing for the regional parenting magazines. Kerrie's done the research, writers just need to pitch.” Pam Houghton, freelance writer

“Kerrie's book has been a terrific resource, not only for its database of regional parenting magazines, but for suggestions to follow when submitting work, and practical tools to manage the workflow and financial side of the business. I have contacted her a time or two for help, and she has quickly responded. Her loyalty to her readership is very impressive, and I feel fortunate having her as a colleague by my side.” Rhonda Franz, freelance writer

“I bought Kerrie's ebook in October 2010 and was immediately pleased with the results I've had from using it. Kerrie sends regular updates which alert her buyers to changes in PRM contact information plus tons of other publishing how-to's. She is accessible, down-to-earth, and honest. Her experience in the market is obvious.” Tanya Scherschel, freelance writer

“I recommend Kerrie's eBook as an entry point into publishing in regional parenting magazines. The information provided in her resource is a very good value for the freelance writer who wants to break into these markets.” Lela Davidson, freelance writer and author of Blacklisted by the PTA

“Kerrie's "Get Published in Parenting and Family Magazines" e-book is a must-have for writers looking to explore regional parenting magazine markets. Without Kerri's e-book I would be spending untold hours researching markets and editors. Instead, I spend my time submitting and getting published.” Kimberlee Murray, freelance writer

“Kerrie's book gives step-be-step guidance on how to get published in the parenting market. Her writing style is conversational and easy to understand, and she gives valuable insight from being in the trenches herself.” Julie Laviolette, freelance writer

References and Recommendations for Kerrie as a writer:
"Kerrie may not be from the same part of the country as my publication but she made her story have a local angle that put everything together. Since then she has continued to send story ideas that are compelling and interesting. I look forward to using her work again in the future." Karyn Bowman, editor, Family Time Magazine

"Kerrie is a wonderfully interesting, inventive, energetic, and prolific writer. She can take on more projects and get them more effectively accomplished than anyone else I know. Just waiting for her first best seller." Penny Rush-Valladares, writer

"Kerrie is an excellent writer who brings her own skills to the table as she interprets research and experiences so that they can be understood by any reader. I would recommend Kerrie for any position involving writing and would gladly work with her on a variety of levels." Kathy Foust, Freelance Writer

"I have used Kerrie's reprints in my monthly parenting newspaper. She is thorough, concise, and professional in her work. I will continue to turn to her for articles on topics of interest." Susan Holson, Owner of Kids VT Newspaper

"Kerrie is a strong writer, and we love getting her submissions." Gretchen W. Cook, Editor and Publisher of Parents & Kids Magazine

"Kerrie has been an extremely dedicated blogger for the WM Network. Kerrie always fulfilled her duties with the highest quality of content. She is full of fresh ideas and a unique writing style, which adds personality and value to the content she creates. Kerrie ensures satisfaction and I highly recommend her." Alyssa Ast, Freelance Writer, Journalist and Author

"Great writer, thinker and person. I would recommend her anytime, to anyone who wants a competent and professional writer/marketer." Robert Ramey, Owner of Cinah Media

“Kerrie was a blogger for The WM Freelance Writers Connection for more than a year. Her posts were always done on time and she was a definite reader favorite. She is the kind of writer who is fun to work with, but who still maintains a professional attitude and gets the job done right. We were very sorry to see her leave the network, but she is always welcome to come back and we wish her well in her future endeavors. If you hire Kerrie, she will work to ensure that your expectations are exceeded. Highly recommended!” Angela Atkinson, freelance writer

“Kerrie is an insightful and entertaining writer. She manages to write pieces that real moms like herself want to read while still giving her all to her beautiful and growing family.” Eva Gavin, freelance writer

“We have used Kerrie's work on several occasions, most recently as our cover article. She is wonderful to work with— cooperative, flexible and professional. I highly recommend her.” Gerri Friscia, editor of SI Parent

“Kerrie is very nice and she is easy to work with. She is quick to answer an email and has lots of ideas. She loves to write and her writing appeals to a broad parenting audience.” Vicki Girard, editor of Kalamazoo Parent

“Kerrie is a very strong writer. She is able to take a topic, make it her own, and turn it into a great read. She meets deadlines, is very thorough with her work and is always willing to take on assignments. I highly recommend Kerrie's work.” Megan Kirschner, editor of Cincinnati Parent and Indy's Child

Throw a Super Simple (and Cheap) #Birthday Party for Your Kid!!!

It seems like kids’ birthday parties are getting out of hand these days, with parents trying to top each other for the Most Elaborate Party award! Why break the bank for an off-site birthday party for your child when you can do it yourself on the cheap?  This year, consider giving your child the Ultimate Birthday Party, one where he can play, have fun and just be a kid.  The added bonus is that you get to keep your sanity and money.  Follow these steps (some of which go against everything you’ve ever read about birthday parties!), and you’ll have a stress-free celebration everyone can enjoy.

1. Either call or family and friends to save the cost of invitations and stamps. Invite them to your home or maybe even to a park shelter that you reserve in advance. Set the party time for 1 p.m. so guests know lunch won’t be served (think of the cost plus set-up and clean-up!). Make the pick-up time clear; a couple of hours is usually plenty of time for a good shindig.

2. The night before the party, bake the cake (from a box, of course!) or cupcakes. Feel free to get fancy on the cake if you have that talent; otherwise, most kids are just thrilled to have sugar in any form. You could even bake a special small cake (maybe heart-shaped!) just for the Birthday Kid and let him decorate it himself.

3. On party day, don’t worry about setting up a craft or handing out costly goodie bags for the kids. Most parents these days are into de-cluttering and find their kids have way too much junk. Craft and goodie bag paraphernalia will likely just get thrown away later. Parents will appreciate not having to take home anything except for their child, and won’t feel guilty because you spent more on a goodie bag than they did on your child’s gift.

4. To kill some time, consider a piñata (filled with something quickly disposed of like candy or fruit snacks instead of junky toys). Otherwise, kids don’t need every minute of their day scheduled for them … running wild is what they are best at, especially at a birthday party!

5. Assign one adult party-goer to take pictures and one to take video of all the fun (including the opening of gifts and blowing out of candles) so you can concentrate on celebrating with your child and keeping track of the other kids.

6. Make the decorations simple, especially for younger kids who probably don’t watch enough television to even have a favorite cartoon character. Colored paper plates work great, as do regular plastic forks (recycle those forks if you’re going green!). Rather than buy expensive Mylar balloons, blow up some store-bought colored balloons yourself and tape them to walls and doorways or leave them loose on the floor.

7. Have a basic order of events in place to keep things moving along.  For instance, you could have the kids play until everyone has arrived, then open gifts, sing “Happy Birthday” and eat cake and ice cream, which would lead into the piñata, and end with more play until the party’s over.

8. Make sure your child thanks each gift-giver as she opens her gifts. If your child is running around as everyone leaves and can’t thank everyone a second time, go ahead and do it for her. This way, you don’t have to send thank you notes after the party, which just takes more time and money and is yet another thing that ends up in the garbage.

9. Speaking of gifts, are you tired of your kid receiving so many gifts at a birthday party that you can’t even find a place to put them all? Melissa, mom of one, said she (or was this her kids’ idea?) asked guests (when her kids were little?) to bring canned goods for Harvesters instead of gifts. What a way to teach the Birthday Boy or Girl, as well as his or her guests, about gratitude and going green!

10. If you have older kids (ah, tweens!), Jen Wood, mom of 2, thinks pizza and a movie at home, followed by a sleepover, is a great bet.

Party Shopping List:
Cake mix
Sprinkles and/or decorating gel
Candles and matches
Ice cream
Juice boxes or pouches
Pinata and stuff to fill it with

Rope to string up the piñata

Want more mom fun? Sign up for an email subscription and get me in your inbox!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

How to Master Typing

In typing class, many people struggle to keep their eyes on the drill book. The temptation to glance down at the keys is enormous. Who hasn’t typed like a parrot plays the piano in the first days of typing class? Believe it or not, this one-finger malady plagues typing students today, so is there a quick solution to the problem?

Look Away

The real trick is to start typing without being visually guided by letters or numbers. It forces a student to learn the keys from memory. This skill is developed with motor learning. In typing, that means repeated instances of hitting the keys without looking. It commits to memory where a letter or number lay in the keyboard. That way, the students can benefit from the best typing software in the market. All these programs want to see the student use all ten fingers on the keyboard.

Type with Ten Fingers

By learning or relearning the right placement of fingers on the keyboard, a student is taking the first step toward the successful act of typing. It can happen fast too. Some programs assert that they can get you typing 50 words per minute or more in one day! Unfortunately, if you cheat and glance at the keyboard, your progress will slow.

Pays Dividends

By memorizing the location of the letter and numbers on the keyboard, the student can quickly progress from finger placement to touch typing. They will begin to enjoy the superior technology that many keyboards present to us every day. Everybody benefits from the shortcuts found in software applications, and touch typing makes the process of using shortcuts faster. With that level of keyboard skill mastered, the student will get the most out of today’s computer applications.

The motor learning required in typing class will make a difference because without ever looking at your keyboard, you will continue to type for minutes or even hours whether you’re typing from a source or from your imagination. It's the first step toward keyboard competency.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

How to Write a Fantastic Welcome Email (plus 10 Email Marketing Dos and Don'ts)

I found this great post on called "5 Elements of the Perfect Welcome Email" and wanted to share it today. If you have a blog, book, product, website, or business, and I know some of my readers do, you want to have an email list. You want subscribers. And you don't want to annoy them or drive them away. We all get way too much email these days, and you want to provide value for your readers.

For example, I have a website called The Published Parent and I have an email subscriber list over there of almost 500 readers. After someone signs up, I send them a welcome email which includes their freebies they signed up for: two different mini-books that relate to writing. I also introduce myself and let them know how to get in touch on the Parenting Magazine Writers Facebook group, how to follow me on Twitter, etc. I try not to hard-sell on my book. I let them know how to get in touch with me. I don't want to scare them away and cause them to unsubscribe once they receive the freebie! Read on to find out more about creating the best possible welcome email for your readers, fans, etc. And you can find more fabulous resources over at Campaign Monitor!

We all know the importance of a good first impression, and a welcome email is your best opportunity to make one for your business.

After a subscriber signs up to receive your emails, you want to send them a message that introduces who you are and the value you'll add to their lives and inboxes. Not to mention how glad you are that they've signed up to receive your company's updates. 

Let’s not forget that it’s kind of a big deal to have someone sign up for your email list, especially with studies coming in that say office workers receive upwards of 120 emails per day. These people already receive an inbox full of emails and, yet, they have chosen to receive even more by subscribing to your list.

In turn, you don’t want to take your subscribers for granted and assume they'll stick around, regardless of what you send them.

That welcome email is your opportunity to show that you will add value to their email inbox. Of course, the question becomes, how do you actually deliver an exceptional welcome email that will excite your subscribers and make them look forward to receiving more emails from you?

In this article, we will look at some of the most important elements to include in your future welcome emails to new subscribers. Use these methods to make your emails stand out among the rest and increase subscriber engagement. 

What is a welcome email?

Depending on what kind of email list you are growing, a welcome email could come in many forms.

Some of these tips may be more relevant for certain businesses or niches. For example, an e-commerce store may send a welcome email when someone has made their first purchase. A thought leader for an industry, however, may send welcome emails when people opt-in to receive their regular content updates.

5 things every welcome email needs to do

In all cases, a welcome email is your first official email touchpoint with a new subscriber. This is your first impression and these tips will make sure your first impression is as strong as possible.

1. Offer easy-to-understand information for getting started.

A lot of welcome emails are sent after some type of purchase or initial interaction. This is great news because you know that you already have an engaged customer on the other end. You also know that they may have your product sitting in their home or, at the very least, it’s on its way.
This is your opportunity to share some great information that will enhance their customer experience and begin creating brand loyalty. 

Not only is this information helpful, but it also shows that your emails add value rather than simply push products or sales. Subscribers will appreciate that you want to help them enjoy their purchase as much as possible.

The welcome email for Google Home Mini, shown below, is a great example of how to offer a quick start guide inside a welcome email.

Google uses the opportunity of a welcome email to help new users navigate their way around features, and it also provides an overview for those who want to get the most out of their device.


2. Introduce the team to your subscribers.

Just because you aren't having a face-to-face interaction with each customer doesn't mean you can't have a personal interaction and introduce the faces behind your brand. After all, the people that make up your business are one of the most important pieces of your business.
Introducing certain team members may be a great way to kick off your email subscriber relationship. This is especially true if your subscribers will be interacting with these employees regularly. This helps break the ice and gives your business a warm and approachable personality.

A great example of this is the Peloton welcome email that introduces a subscriber's trainers they'll be working out with. 

On its way to becoming the year's biggest trend in fitness technology, Peloton—a fitness bike that comes equipped with live or prerecorded virtual classes, is also leading the way in personalized communication and approachable branding. They focus on the trainers who will be leading the classes, creating a connection with the people behind the brand from the get-go.

From their social media accounts to the welcome email that subscribers receive, Peloton wants users to feel personally connected to the people that will be representing their company on a daily basis. See how they do it in email form: 

(you can read the rest of this post here!)

Ready to create your new and improved welcome email campaign? Let us know!

BONUS: check out these 10 email marketing dos and don'ts from Campaign Monitor.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Impress Your Guests: Tips for Delicious Party Food on a Budget

How many parties have you ever been to that later became the talk of the town? Well, if not the town, at least those parties were the envy of your close circle of friends. How would you like to host a party like that? Perhaps you ‘think’ you don’t have the funds to do it up right. Actually, you can impress your guests even on a budget, as limited as it might be. Try these tips for delicious party food that will fit literally any budget whatsoever.

Use What You Have for Starters

While you want to lay out a decorative spread, you really can’t afford all the special tablecloths and decorations you feel you need. Why not use what you have for starters? Perhaps you collect gadgets and kitchen tools because you love to cook. Pull out that lovely solid wood cutting board on which you can lay an assortment of finger foods which are quite cheap to prepare. That walnut wood cutting board would make even peanut butter and jelly finger sandwiches look delectable, so put it to good use! Any serving spoons, dishes and dishes you’ve gathered would do quite nicely. Again, instead of worrying about buying decorations, spend that money on ingredients for the lovely food you’ll work up!

Finger Sandwiches for the New Age

Finger sandwiches were mentioned above, only half-jokingly. These were made quite popular during Victorian England and typically they were cucumber sandwiches served with tea. While most Americans today frown upon cucumber finger sandwiches without meat or cheese, you can get a couple of pounds of cold cuts and some rather inexpensive cheeses. Cut these in triangles, corner to corner and serve them up in grand style on a special plate or serving board.

Finger Foods Galore

Instead of going to the frozen food section in your local supermarket for all those expensive pre-made appetizers, look instead for frozen pie crust, filo dough or pastry dough. These you can take home and create amazing finger foods to your heart’s content. Have you ever had smoked wienies wrapped in filo and baked until golden brown? Perhaps you can chop up fresh mushrooms, add a bit of mozzarella, and wrap them in pockets of filo or pastry dough before baking. From miniature pies to pockets of meats and cheeses, you can create gourmet finger foods for just a few dollars!

Buy in Bulk

If you have a local restaurant supply store nearby, you can often find large bags of ingredients at much cheaper prices than in a grocery store. Instead of paying $5 for a 16-ounce bag of frozen strawberries, why not get a five-pound bag for just over $10 at a restaurant supply chain? As a general rule of thumb, the cost per ounce goes significantly down as the amount you buy goes up. This is the same for anything from frozen foods to dry goods, so shop wisely and you will have what it takes to go gourmet.

A Few Final Thoughts

As a final note, take the time to search the Web for interesting recipes you can easily prepare at home. The fewer items you buy pre-made or packaged, the lower your costs will be. You might need to start prepping and cooking your foods a day or two in advance, but many of the items you’ll be serving can easily be refrigerated to be brought out the day of your party. Also, remember that the prettier you make your presentation, the more appetizing your food will appear. Start with what you have and work up from there. It may not always be what you serve but how you serve it. That’s the bottom line.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Benefits of Montessori Preschool

If you are looking for a Redmond preschool, you may want to consider a Montessori education. You may not realize that Montessori started as a preschool program. There are several things that make Montessori preschool programs beneficial. 

Free to Move 
One of the things many children find challenging about preschool is the need to sit still and quiet while listening to the teacher. In a Montessori classroom, there are traditional desks and chairs, but there are also floor mats and other smaller, more casual work areas. The students can choose where they feel most comfortable to sit, lay or stand. They can also move around the classroom, getting a snack, or moving to the quiet section to page through a book.

Student-Led Learning
In a Montessori preschool, the children have a great deal of control over what they learn. The study is also self-paced, ensuring the children spend as much time as they like with the things that interest them.

Classroom Structure
The classroom structure in Montessori allows children of multiple ages to share one room. This structure allows older children to act as mentors to younger children and encourages group collaboration.

Although children can begin classes at any time between the ages of 3 and 6, the Montessori program is set up on a 3-year cycle. This allows the children to develop strong bonds with their peers and teachers at this vulnerable age. The teachers get to know their students intimately, which allows them to accurately gauge their progress.

Classroom Design
Montessori classrooms are designed with children in mind, with furniture size for them and shelves at their eye level. The rooms are not cluttered with unnecessary items, and natural materials, such as wood and fabric, are used whenever possible. Hands-on activities, such as gardening and cooking, are a regular part of the curriculum.

Selecting the Montessori option when looking for a Redmond preschool is a great way to ensure your child gets a well-rounded, child-centered start to his or her educational career. Children who begin their education in Montessori programs have improved concentration, coordination, independence, and self-regulation. They gain these skills while becoming part of a close-knit community.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Earn Big Cash Back on your Christmas Shopping #Swagbucks

As we quickly approach Christmas, Swagbucks knows you still have lots of shopping to do, and they're offering big cash back for shopping online at several of your favorite retailers right now!

Just go to this page to see all of the deals available and get the jump on your holiday shopping.               
In order to take advantage of the cash back, just create your Swagbucks account when prompted (it takes less than 30 seconds) and then you're all set!

Your cash back comes in the form of SB points, which you can redeem for gift cards to places like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, or get PayPal cash!                 

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me you get a 300 SB ($3) bonus when you earn your first 300 SB before January 1st! This site's a great way to extend your shopping budget, especially around the holidays! I've been doing it for years, and it's great to have that extra money stockpiled when you need it for gifts! AND your money comes back to you AGAIN in the form of more Swagbucks!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Winterfest at Worlds of Fun is the Ultimate Family Experience!

Some of you may remember this post where I talked about the First Ever Winterfest at Worlds of Fun here in Kansas City. Well, friends, my family got to go again because the rockin' Kansas City Parent joined forces with Worlds of Fun and hooked us up with tickets! And not only tickets, but some sweet merch you are going to covet, as well as Taste of Winterfest (more on that later).

I can't even believe we have such a neat thing in Kansas City to do in the WINTER, when normally we are huddled inside our houses on screens or in front of the fire or in our vehicles driving driving driving. If you do one important and lasting memory "thing" for and with your family this winter, go to WINTERFEST on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening! You will truly be transported to a Winter Wonderland!

Q: Is it cold there?
A: Depends on what the weather is like when you go. It was in the 30s when we went, so we bundled up (my youngest son NEVER is seen out of flip flops and shorts, so this was a huge thing for him and you know it was cold). Worlds of Fun has little "warming stations" with little firepit-type things where you can warm your hands. We went in the bathrooms and restaurants to get warm if we needed to. YES, it was cold that night, and that's what WINTER is like, so yeah, it was perfect. I love living in the Midwest, where we actually get to experience WINTER!

This girl had a plan for the night, and it included going on the carousel first!

Let's go on a tour of the Taste of Winterfest because I love food and fun drinks
(only $25 to try 8 fun items!)

This is the Loaded Fried Yams, consisting of fried waffle sweet potato fries covered with cheese, sliced Brussels sprouts, cranberries and chicken. My kids scarfed it down. I was amazed at the originality!

This is us with our Hot Chocolate Truffle Bomb with Warm Milk and our Loaded Fried Yams. Scrumptious and different! 
Holiday Pot Roast Slider? I could have eaten like 10 of them! Those are cheesy hash browns on there, friend.

Tuxedo Chocolate-Dipped Bacon? Yes! And yum.

Bubble Tea. Callie had seen this on YouTube, shared by some of her favorite vloggers, and was anxious to try it. We all loved it. Little gummy balls in the bottom with chai tea (or you could get pumpkin spice).
We were not able to try EVERYTHING because we were having way too much fun at Planet Snoopy (go figure ... yes, we range in age from 9 to 52 and we rode those rides like there was no tomorrow)

Okay, now let's get back to the rides and fun we had!

Le Taxi Tour (it's French, peeps) ... Michael drove me this time; Eva drove me the next for "Driving Miss Crazy"

Eva sat out during the Flying Dutchman but I got this great pic of her in WINTER WONDERLAND. Seriously, that song makes total sense to me now since I've been here.

Flying Dutchman is a classic!

Bumper cars are a must for my family!

It's a life-sized snow globe that you can put your family in!

Yes. Just yes. A 1950s diner fuels my love for life.

Michael and Aron warming up at the diner.

My other four awesome people warming at the diner.


Then we headed to Planet Snoopy to ride more rides than I knew were possible, and I ran into a fellow KC Parent writer, Sarah Lyons! She has 6 kids, including twins, and is a writing rockstar. I love her!

I think we rode the race cars 5 times in a row! Who knew
Planet Snoopy would be so fun for us all?

I love these people and I love this place!

Worlds of Fun is super classy and gave us all kinds of fun
stuff, like this gorgeous glass ornament we will have
forever :-)
My suggestion to you is to get the Gold Pass (my oldest son has one). Free parking and you can go all year as often as you like to Worlds on Fun, including the Haunt and Winterfest. Go when it's cold to avoid the crowds. Go whenever it is convenient for you! There are just too many experiences to go only once.

Take your time! Enjoy the food, the music, the performers, the rides, the warming areas, the lights, ice skating, everything! Step inside the massive snow globe so you can have your picture taken. Do the snow angel cube. Do half the park and then come back another time and do the other half. The come again to see what you missed because THERE IS SO MUCH.

Listen, people. We paid about $1,000 for my family to go to Disney World one day and $1,000 to go to Universal theme park another day ... my family agrees that Worlds of Fun is just as great FOR WAY CHEAPER and we don't have to drive for two days to get there.


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