Friday, November 30, 2018

What Tragedy Can Teach Us About the Benefit of Facial Recognition

Last month, Las Vegas marked one year since the tragic and unforgettable mass shooting that targeted an enormous country music festival and became the deadliest in modern US history. On Sunday, October 1, 2017, gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. A massive 58 people were killed, including 36 women and 22 men.  Another 851 were injured, both by gunfire and during the panic that resulted in the crowded space on the Las Vegas Strip, even though the shooting occurred in a short ten-minute span, from 10:05 to 10:15 PDT.

Paddock, a 64-year-old who was once an auditor and real estate businessman, had little interaction with law enforcement, except for traffic citations. He was, reportedly, a heavy drinker and a solitary soul who, as a high-stakes gambler, placed bets at a high enough level to generate free benefits such as rooms and meals. He had lost a significant amount of his wealth in the two years leading to the tragedy, due to his familiarity with casinos in Las Vegas. His exploits and his background quickly became the stuff of Twitter tweets and Instagram and Facebook posts and was widely proliferated, even without the assistance of an engagement service like Social Gone Viral.

What can the Las Vegas tragedy teach us?

Such tragedies have, unfortunately, become more commonplace than we might like to admit. The question is, in the absence of changes to gun control regulations, are there alternative solutions to thwarting potential acts of domestic terrorism and large-scale safety threats? Is there a way that governmental agencies can immediately assess and subsequently respond to potential issues? What if surveillance efforts at large-scale events were made safer and easier through the use of intelligent image searches and facial recognition software that allow for improved safety measures?

From sporting events to casino surveillance, from entering a music event to crossing the threshold of a hotel, biometric analysis can recognize distinct faces in a crowd and help law enforcement identify suspect individuals as soon as they enter an area or a building. Utilizing the expertise of artificial intelligence designers and security specialists, technology is allowing a one-to-many facial recognition process that will provide consistent, on-demand, and real-time service to governments, law enforcement agencies, and others.

Not only can facial recognition software help prevent catastrophic events, but it may also help investigators catch criminals after the fact.  As the use of facial recognition software becomes more prevalent, the hope is that potential criminals, knowing that the chances of getting away with it are becoming more and more limited, won’t attempt any wrongdoing in the first place. But even if a tragedy occurs, a facial recognition system can save law enforcement countless hours of manual video and comparative analysis. It can capture and evaluate as many as 100 facial profiles in a single image, speeding up investigatory procedures. These facts indicate that artificial intelligence is easily leveraged for both governmental and security needs.

Where might facial recognition be used?

Facial recognition technology is more common than many realize and when used widely and wisely, it is capable of protecting innocent individuals and deterring would-be criminals. Banks, for example, could easily benefit from the implementation of cameras in physical locations that would allow investigators to apprehend criminals if robberies occur and to discourage them.

Facial recognition can also be used online in a mobile banking capacity, allowing transactions to be secured at a glance rather than through a more traditional format. In this way, imposters attempting to access consumer accounts or assume someone else’s identity will be unable to complete fraudulent transactions, even if they have the customer’s credentials such as account numbers or passwords or PINs. The analysis systems will scan faces, turn them into a code, and determine the validity of a person’s identity based on factors such as eye shape, eye width, jaw shape and size, and nose position.

Casinos, too, have found value in the use of facial recognition software. In places where significant amounts of money exchange hands and flow easily, criminals can be found en masse. In gambling cities like Las Vegas where criminals like Stephen Paddock lurk, reports that many types of crimes, including burglary, robbery, assault, arson, and murder are prevalent. Traditional cameras may capture some events, but facial recognition software can help detect individuals who have cheated casinos before or who frequent them regularly. Installing systems in areas like these can deter crimes like theft or assault if criminals are aware that they are more likely to be caught- not only on tape that can be analyzed manually but by the use of sophisticated software that examines and evaluates hundreds of faces quickly and easily.

Do you feel that such tragedies warrant the use of facial recognition software in public places? Share your opinion here.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Common Questions About CBD Oil, Answered!

CBD oil has become more and more popular in recent years. It is an extract of the marijuana plant, known as Cannabis Sativa, and it is perfectly legal to use for different purposes. There are a lot of uses for the extract indeed, including treating anxiety issues and helping to strengthen cells in the body.

The increasing popularity of CBD oil means more people are now looking into CBD oil as a way to treat different medical conditions. Some of you may have questions about CBD oil regarding how it is best used in different situations. We are going to try to answer some of those questions in this article.

What is CBD oil exactly?

Until recently, there has been a big misconception about CBD oil and its relation to the marijuana plant. While CBD oil is derived from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa, it doesn’t have the same properties as the dry version of marijuana that is now used for medicinal purposes.

For starters, the CBD oil contains a compound called cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is what produces the health benefits of CBD oil – and marijuana in general – but it is different than tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in one important respect: CBD does not produce psychoactive effects. THC, on the other hand, is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, which causes a high, and other psychological effects.

Since CBD-based products do not contain THC, they are not classified under the same category as defined by the DEA. This is why CBD oil is legal across the United States, while other marijuana-based products – including medical ones – are classified differently in different states.

Is it legal?

In short, yes. As mentioned before, CBD oil and products derived from it don’t contain THC, which is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. You can buy CBD oil and CBD-based products without having to worry about them being illegal.

What are the CBD products available today?

Depending on your preferences, CBD oil can be consumed in different ways. For starters, there is CBD oil in its liquid form. This is something you can consume directly or use as an ointment to get the health benefits it offers.

Keep in mind that you cannot diffuse CBD oil. You will still get the aroma of CBD oil when you add drops of CBD oil to the diffuser, but it is not how you gain the health benefits of this product.
Aside from CBD oil in its liquid form, there are also products that package CBD oil in easy-to-consume forms like tablets and capsules. CBD oil capsules are certainly easier to take, because you can take them after your meals in the same way that you would take other health supplements.
What's great about the popularity of CBD oil is the new range of products that are now available on the market. CBD gummies, for example, make consuming CBD oil orally more enjoyable. You can consume CBD oil without dealing with its unique and distinct aroma or taste.

Other forms are also available. Be sure to learn more about the different CBD-based products to find one that suits your personal preferences best.

What benefits can I get from consuming CBD oil?

There is a long list of proven and tested benefits you can gain from consuming CBD oil. At the top of that list, there is the fact that CBD oil helps ease pain in a relatively short amount of time. The lack of THC doesn’t mean CBD is any less effective in relieving pain. Oral consumption is best if pain relief is the benefit you want to get from CBD oil.

CBD oil is also an effective treatment for inflammation. CBD itself has anti-inflammatory properties known to be effective; various studies have proven just how well CBD works when used to treat inflammations and similar health problems. At the same time, CBD also promotes the growth of new neurons and protects existing ones from stress.

In most cases, however, CBD oil is used to treat mood disorders and anxiety. CBD oil in its different forms is known to be highly effective as a treatment for anxiety disorders. You will not only feel calmer and more in control, but you can also benefit from the long-term improvement CBD oil brings to the table. Combined with treatments such as behavioral therapy, CBD oil can be very effective in treating stress.

The benefits of CBD also include everyday benefits you can surely appreciate. If you have trouble sleeping, for instance, consuming CBD oil regularly can help eliminate that problem once and for all. It is also recommended for REM behavior disorder, and it alleviates some of the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Are there side effects to worry about?

Just like other treatments, there are some side effects produced by CBD oil and its consumption. That said, the side effects are negligible compared to the health benefits you can gain from the consumption.

For starters, CBD oil may cause nausea and a dry mouth, mainly because the aroma and the distinct taste of CBD oil are not for everyone. The latter is also due to the nature of CBD oil; it contains a high concentration of CBD extracted from Cannabis Sativa. You can remedy this side effect by drinking more water.

In some cases, CBD oil may also cause diarrhea. To avoid this particular side effect, it is always recommended to try CBD oil in small doses and test your body’s ability to absorb the compound first.

Are there other potential benefits?

Aside from the proven benefits we discussed earlier, there are also known benefits of CBD oil that haven’t been thoroughly tested yet. You can deal with things such as acne and prevent diabetes with regular consumption of CBD oil. There are even studies exploring the links between CBD oil and cancer risk reduction.

What’s best about using CBD oil as a treatment is that you can now get the CBD oil products that suit you easily. With so many benefits to offer and little to no side effects to worry about, it is easy to see where today’s immense popularity of CBD oil stems from.

The Value of Adding Creative Comforts to Your Home

As a busy parent with kids of various ages that you need to shuttle off to school before going to work yourself, every weekday can be tiring. The weekends are then filled with activities for the children, preparing more elaborate meals, spending time with your significant other, chores and running errands. It’s totally exhausting!

It’s at that point that you realize adding any kind of creature comforts to your life not only makes it more pleasant, it’s often necessary to stay sane.

Dehumidifier for Your Sanity

When you live in a part of the country that’s hot and humid for several months of the year, it’s sensible to use a dehumidifier. It removes some of the moisture in the air, so you perspire less than you otherwise would.

Living in a place that is humid and sticky, you’re fighting a losing battle with dehydration when the humidity levels get to be too much. Unless you are drinking water regularly, it’s all too easy to find your energy going on a continual rollercoaster ride as a result.  

Remember that it’s still handy to have a handheld fan to use when the humidity is reduced. There are several models reviewed at Unhumid to give you a better idea about features.

Automatic Pet Feeders for Convenience

Remembering to feed the cat or dog when you’re rushing around is difficult. If you’re likely to be out running errands or shuttling the kids to different activities while the dog or cat stays home, they will get hungry. Their food can easily run out without you realizing it too. It becomes unfair on your furry friends when you forget about them in your haste to complete your other parental duties.

An automatic pet feeder is a useful little gadget to solve this problem. It ensures that your four-legged friends never get forgotten about on busy days. It will need cleaning and new food added periodically, but it helps manage those days when you are out of the house for extended periods. There are even models fitted with cameras to see when your pet grabs a bite, and a microchip version to only let the right pets eat the right food.

Massage Chair for Recovery

A massage chair is a good alternative to paying for an expensive traditional massage. It takes away the aches and pains after a long day. This type of chair is an excellent alternative to a regular armchair while not sacrificing comfort when you just want to sit down and relax.

A single chair can provide massages to anyone in the family who feels the need. You’ll have to watch out for the kiddies who will probably think it’s more of a toy and could wear out the mechanism when playing with it too often. So, they may require supervision to keep the massage chair functional for longer.

Having a few well-chosen creative comforts at home just makes life more manageable. It doesn’t necessarily matter what they, are as long as they’re suitable for your family’s needs.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Hoping for a Christmas Proposal? Here's How to Celebrate in Style

Celebrate your news in style. Image via Pexels.

It’s a magical time of year - one that's all about togetherness, love, family and making magical memories.
And if you and your partner have been together a while, you may well be hoping that there is one extra
special present under the tree - an engagement ring! Or you could be planning to ask a special question
yourself underneath the mistletoe, excitedly planning and looking at all the celebrity engagements 2018.
If you do get engaged at Christmas, it will undoubtedly make the day extra special. However, sometimes
it can feel as if your life-changing news gets a little caught up on the tide of general festivities. So instead
of bundling it in with the Christmas and New Year celebrations, plan a unique way to celebrate your
engagement that is personal to you, once the festive fuss has died down. Here are some ideas on how
to celebrate your news:

Book In A Photo Shoot

Marking a milestone life event, it's a lovely idea to book a photographer to take some engagement pictures
to share with your loved ones and keep the memory for you. Winter provides some lovely opportunities
for romantic cozy settings - or even some snow and sparking frost if you're lucky! Doing an engagement
photo shoot is a great way to have a trial run with the photographer you're considering for your big day -
make sure you are comfortable around them, and that you like the way the pictures come out. It also
gives you a stock of images to use for your wedding website, engagement announcement or save the
date cards.

Recreate Your First Date

If all the winter festivities mean that you've spent a lot of time with friends and family but not a lot just the
two of you, it's nice to take the to celebrate together. Remember where your first date or the place you
met was, and plan something there. Revisiting the past is a lovely way to remind you each why you fell
for each other in the first place. Don't be afraid to get a little sentimental and share memories about the
start of your relationship to help you appreciate the moment.

Get Pampered

Your new year bridal beauty regime starts now! All of us want to look out best for our big day, but really
making big changes to our bodies, skin etc can take time. So get started on your regime early in the New
Year to give you plenty of time. All the festivities can leave you bloated, low energy, and with unwanted
extra pounds or dull, congested skin from the unhealthy living you've been indulging in over the holidays,
so get ahead of the game and start to tackle it now. Booking in for a few spa treatments to kick off 2019
is a lovely way to get on a roll with it, and you can usually find some great January deals on in salons, or
reduced price pampering products in store if you want to do a little DIY. And you'll need a nice manicure
as you'll be showing your hands off to everyone with your engagement ring.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Swagbucks Pre-Black Friday Sales

As a pre-Black Friday warm up, Swagbucks is 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 December 1st! This site's a great way to extend your shopping budget, especially around the holidays!

Three Holidays and a Birthday: A Day in the Life of Our Peculiar Homeschool

We do not mess around at our country house here in Peculiar, Missouri. We multi-task like pros, and that's a fact. Take today, for instance. Today we covered no less than THREE holidays in one day plus one birthday, all while homeschooling, working, cooking, cleaning, going for a walk, watching the movie Christopher Robin, and doing a bunch of other stuff. I caught up with my mom on the phone, we FaceTimed with Daddy in Kuwait for a loooooong time, I ran to the grocery store for whipped cream for our hot chocolate, and more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Power of Murals

People love passing by big beautiful graffiti murals. They identify art in something that is considered to be vandalism. But that's an obsolete point of view. Today, large and small cities seem to be more colorful than in the older days. And it's not because of the colorful flowers in Spring or change of colors in Autumn. Municipalities learned how to transform blunt, boring, gray walls, and support local talent.

Graffiti is still considered to be vandalism in some cities. What they need to see is the power of graffiti murals. They need to realize how beautifying can colorful walls and streets be. Your local talent can easily transform a regular small city with these graffiti mural designs, into a huge public canvas that attracts attention.

Travelers and tourists often visit the cities for their graffiti sightseeing. Some neighborhoods even gained their popularity through graffiti murals. You may have heard about ETNIAS by Eduardo Kobra in  Port District in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The artist painted the mural in 2016, and it has gained global popularity in no time. What seems to be just a pretty painting on a paper, is a great attraction and transforming sightseeing on the walls. The mural has its' own idea sewn in. It represents the unity of the people and five Olympic rings. You might also know about the popular "My god, help me to survive this deadly love" mural. It's one of the most widely recognizable works of art. Now tourists visit Berlin even often to see this mural.

The power of graffiti murals is in attraction and beautification. Their power describes the simple joy of our eyes when they see colors. The power of graffiti shows how a simple, talented folk can change the way we see boring canvases.

Graffiti murals are not only for the joy of the eyes. They also deliver a great social message. Sometimes the message is satirical. A lot of artists use murals to describe the tragedy of society. They describe today's situation and problems. Even with this dark and socially troubling messages, graffiti murals can be astonishing to look at.

Murals build the sense of community and bond. Some neighborhoods decided to copy others that had murals on their walls. Murals seem so friendly, and welcoming, every community wants to have one.

It's a form of art, and art is what humanity carries since the dawn of our existence. We have old forms of art, and we can also develop the definition of art. Graffiti is one of the best examples of how humanity can upgrade the list of art forms. Our creativity lives on, and we improve our skills and adaption.

After realizing that graffiti is not destruction, but it's something that gives birth to a beautiful piece of art, cities started funding projects to create murals. Nowadays, talented painters get paid to create something memorizing. They can enter the competitions and get approval for funding. Our society is creating something amazing and powerful in the form of art.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Happy Birthday to My Amazing Husband, Aron McLoughlin

My husband is 52 today. I can't believe I met him when he was 28, almost 29, and I was 24. Time has been kind to my guy ... he is still a totally hot babe and gets finer with age! I can't believe how blessed I was to find him and how good God has been to our family. I feel like the luckiest woman alive when I think about our 20-year marriage and family.

I have instructed our daughters to marry a guy who is handy around the house and who can also catch AND cook dinner.

Aron, thank you for selflessly traveling for work across the world to support your family. You are a true man of God and a blessing to all those who know you. I love that you can work on cars and plumbing and fix anything and teach our kids how to do it also. I love how you taught Joel how to drive (and worked so many hours with him on his Eagle Scout plans) and are now teaching Michael (plus building that canoe with him) and will teach three more kids before that part of our parenting journey is done. I love the respect you show for our daughters and for me. I love that you take Sam out to fish and fix his bike tires. I love so many things about you and find more to love all the time. You are the best father to our kids I ever could have dreamed up in my mind, and the husband I always knew was out there for me.

KCI airport leaving for another long trip to Kuwait to support his family

DisneyWorld in Florida, 2017 October

My man, 20 years married. Back off, ladies.

Teaching Confirmation class at our church. We weren't sure how to fit one more thing in, but he is so great at it, the kids love him, and we are both learning cool things and feel blessed by the whole experience.

With Sam on his birthday this year

With Eva on her birthday last year with her new haircut.
We love you, Aron McLoughlin!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Pulling Women Together

Joining or starting a ministry for women can lead to encouragement for each other, as well as friendship and a show of love for the Lord. There are a few ideas to consider for a women's ministry that are full of energy while keeping the faith that women usually want to pass along to others. 
One of the things that you need to keep in mind is that all women aren't designed the same. There are some who are opinionated while others are quiet and reserved, waiting to follow the lead of someone else. 
There are different lifestyles. Women have different lives at home, some who have children, some who are dealing with abusive relationships, some who are facing challenges with getting pregnant or raising their children. 
You need to keep an open mind about the women who are involved in the ministry so that everyone can be successful while feeling like they have a place to call home. The knowledge that is given about the Lord can stretch far and wide if you pay attention to the intellects of the women involved in the ministry. If you only focus on helping the emotional desires and needs of the women, then you likely won't succeed in the ministry. It needs to be a ministry that seeks to grow the knowledge of each woman while focusing on each woman's strengths. 
While there are some women who are married and have a home life, there are also women who don't have this kind of life and focus more on a career. They might want to find a spouse and start a family, but they aren't ready at the moment and are happy with discovering who they are in the world. Consider a few community projects that everyone can get involved with while instilling the love of God in the women who are involved in the ministry.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Natural Wonders of India

When we mention natural wonders in India, names like Mount Everest, the Amazon rainforest, the barrier reef, and the grand canyon will always click into our mind. But, there are a lot of natural wonders in India.  The most varied nation when it comes to geographical diversification is India with astonishing arrays of natural phenomenon.  Some of the Indian wonders are well known while others are not popular. But they all have one similarity: they will attract you.

The Indian nation offers the best landscape around the world along with some other amazing natural scenery and wonders. This article takes you through the natural wonders of India that you must know. You can also go to the India e-visa portal and apply for an e-visa if you wish to travel to India to witness the wonders of the world. Read about the wonderful attractions and get an India e-visa.

Lonar Lake

Lonar Lake is the best and the youngest preserved crater lake which is found in basalt rock, and it is 52,000 years old. This lake is the only one of its kind in the whole world, and it was formed when a gigantic meteor crashed down into the planet Earth at a high speed which was estimated at ninety kilometers per hour.

Over a  long period of time, the jungle was over and above the deep and great depression and later a stream transformed that crater lake into the tranquil space which is an emerald lake. Currently, the fringed lake, which is located around the Buldhana, is a wildlife habitat with an ecology which is different from its surrounding landscape. The water of this lake supports some of the rare micro-organisms which are rarely found in other parts of the world. Its surroundings have fragments containing some unique expensive minerals such as maskelynite.

Borra Caves

Most people around the world are not lucky enough to come across real caves in their lifetime. The formation of Borra Caves, which are based around the Ananthagiri hills, are proof that great and attracting things can develop when water comes into contact with the limestone.

Borra Caves are some of the deepest caves in India and the whole world. Borra Caves were formed many years ago due to the karstic actions of the river Gosthani. Some of the local tribes associate several and different myths associated with the cave. Borra Caves are recognized for anthropological study with excavations stone tools of  Paleolithic culture which confirms that there were people who were living there for many years ago to date back to 30,000 - 50,000 years ago.

Loktak Lake

This is the largest freshwater lake with natural water around the northern-eastern part of India. It is a lake of a unique ecosystem called phumdi meaning vegetation, organic matter and floating nets of soil. Phumdis appear in different forms which float on the freshwater lake serving as a lifeline for all the societies living around the lake.

The Kabul national park is located in the western region of this lake, which makes the lake to be more special. Lamjao National Park is the only floating park in the whole world. It is a home of the Manipuris brow-antlered deer in sangria. This area is also a home of more than 235 brands of aquatic plants, 430 breeds of animals and 120 species of birds.

Marble Rocks
This is a wonder of nature found in Jabalpur district. This is a common tourist attraction in India. The rocks are found on river Narmada, which is three km long.

Sangestar Lake
This lake was formed due to earthquake activities. The name of this lake is spelled as shoNgaseir by the local people after the shok community was transformed to the lake because of earthquake activities back in the year 1970. It is as well referred to as Madhuri Lake shortly after a famous actress took a video around here for the famous film Koyla and it is revered by Buddhists for both the Tibet and India. Many rotten tree trunks that were one time alive before the activities of the earthquake emerged from the waters of this lake to create haunting imagery before the visitors. It is very important to remember that you require special permission from the district commissioner's office which is approximately 30 kilometers away to be granted a permission to visit the Sangestar Lake.

Seek and Hide Beach

This beach is located around the Balasore district in Odisha and it is a home to a wonder which is rarely found in other areas around the world. Each day, the lake here recedes at ebb until it almost goes and then it comes back afterward to fill up the void during the high tide.

Note that this seek and hide of this lake appears only twice during the day and this is the purpose why this beach is a home that hosts unique and various species such as the red crabs and the horseshoe crabs. It is a good experience to see and watch the waters disappearing and coming back.

Magnetic Hill

This is a hill where Isaac Newton’s law of gravity does not apply. This hill is 14,000 feet high above the sea level and it is based on the Leh national highway, which is about 35 km from the Leh. As you reach the venue, a certain indication along the highway will invite you to stop over a marked square on the road before you switch off your car while in a neutral gear. When you can follow those instructions, the motor car will appear to roll up the hill without being driven at a low speed of between 10 and 20 kilometers per 60 minutes. The reason for it to happen is nothing strange but due to an illusion that the down to the hill highway is an up mountain road. This situation can also be seen at Kalo mountains of Bhuj.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Why Give Money to Churches?

Keep in mind this was originally posted 7/20/09 ... a long time ago and I had a lot more energy to be feisty. Oh, and I was pregnant.

I always hear people complaining about churches being money-hungry. But do they consider what it takes to actually run a church? They need money to pay their staff, pay for the air conditioning, someone to mow the grass, fix the parking lot, trim the bushes, mow, clean it, you name it.

Here in Overland Park, Kansas we have churches that are always struggling, like mine, for things like paying the bills, etc. BUT then they do a capital campaign to raise like 3 million dollars for crap they don't even need, like new carpet. The carpet is FINE! Fix the freaking front walk that I see kids falling down on and getting bloody on every week! Fix the air conditioning at the school first, people, and do it preferably BEFORE school starts in August!

Churches, like schools (don't get me started on that one), need to run themselves like we have to run our homes … in a thrifty manner, wasting as little as possible and recycling as much as possible for money.

Then there are churches just a few miles away that are RICH RICH RICH ... rolling in it. Why can't they all spread it out? Take what they NEED and put the rest in a kitty to share ... and to help parishioners out when they need it (job loss, health issues, fire).

What do you think about a big Catholic pot o’ money that can be put to good use? But then you have the problem of finding someone trustworthy to run the account. Those people are among us, but there are too many who would have trouble actually doing the TRUSTING.

Updated 11/5/18: We've moved since I posted this and we go to a church in Missouri that seems to know how to run itself very well. They take donations of items and sell them throughout the year at a Christmas shop and a garage sale. My family teaches Confirmation because we can't tithe right now. People at church help clean bathrooms, the Confirmation kids will rake leaves to help pay for their Confirmation workbooks, others chip in to clean up, paint, etc. It's a real community that runs in a frugal and impressive way.

Recipe Round-up at Kerrie the Kitchen Queen

It's no secret that I have other blogs. Our lives got too big to be contained here at The Kerrie Show, and I had to branch out with food at Kerrie the Kitchen Queen, education at Homeschooling Mommybot (working on a rename), and writing, proofreading and self-publishing at The Published Parent.

Now, those who know me know that I am not really a kitchen queen, but I am striving to do better. I have to cook and bake so I may as well try to enjoy it. It saves money, and my family enjoys it. It's nice to sit down to the dining room table for our dinnertime, pray, talk and eat.

Today I want to share with you some recipes I have parked over there. Enjoy!

How Big Families Can Save Big Money

With a big family comes a ballooning set of expenses. From soccer cleats to piano lessons to putting enough food on the table, you have to make the most of the money you have and stretch it as far as it can go. Luckily, there are a number of financial steps you can take to save money and make each dollar go farther. No matter how many people are in your household, these steps will help you better reach your financial goals.
Get Your Budget on Track
Most people have a budget, but not everyone accurately updates or follows it and instead lets it languish in a dusty Excel file somewhere. Dave Ramsey, the well-known family financial guru, has a quick start paper budget and an online budget tool called EveryDollar.
Use whichever one works for you to set up your budget, know how much you are spending and follow through on saving money.
Start Shaving Expenses
Once you lay out your budget, you might be shocked at what you actually spend. A 2012 Accounting Principle's Workonomix study revealed the average American worker spent a whopping average of nearly $1,100 a year on coffee alone. In addition, the average magazine and newspaper subscription costs between $5 and $35, according to Magazine Cost. If you have several subscriptions, consider letting a few lapse. Some phone apps also require a weekly or monthly renewal subscription, as do credit monitoring services and data protection services. The NPD Group predicted that by 2015, the average family was also spending $123 a year on TV service subscriptions, such as Netflix and Vudu.
Look at your bank or credit card statement for these small fees that might be adding up. If you follow the average, you’ll save a giant $1,250 a year, or $100 a month, just by cutting these three categories.
Attack the Large Budget Categories
For many families, the monthly food bill is the most expensive line item. There are many tips for saving money at the grocery store. If you spend $1,500 a month on groceries, challenge your family to eat well on less, such as $1,200. Withdraw the budget amount in cash and divide it into two envelopes. Each time you go shopping, only take cash. You’d be surprised the choices you make when you know you have a limited amount you can spend.
Then there are restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, the average household spends $2,678 a year on dining out. Whatever your average is, consider whether you can cut it in half by preparing healthy meals at home.
Pay yourself for your hard work by putting your extra money back into your savings account. Use the money to take a family vacation or to buy necessities such as school clothes or lessons for the kids.
Treat Money Like a Business Arrangement
You can’t cut everything, so you need to analyze your cost versus value. For example, it may make sense to get a newer, but not the newest, model of a cellphone, like the iPhone 5c, for your teenager that can be passed down to his or her siblings in the future. You also should scrutinize the hidden plan fees and look carefully at different types of plans, such as family plans and pay-as-you-go plans, to make sure you are paying the lowest possible costs.
Get creative. Can you offer something as a swap for goods or services, such as watching your hairdresser’s kids in exchange for haircuts? Can your kids chip in and care for pets in exchange for homegrown eggs? Talk to other parents about what skills or services they have that can be offered in exchange for talents in your family.

Finally, look at unconventional places for conventional items, such as school supplies. Your local office supply store or drug store might be the cheapest, but online stores, such as Discount School Supply, will price match and beat any other online retailer by 10 percent. Look for similar price match guarantees online for clothing, books and toiletries.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Little Passports Travel Tips

I've written before about how much we loved Little Passports when we had the subscription. The kids loved getting them in the mail, and they are great for all ages. Sam and Eva got their little suitcase starter kits and carried everything in them. The older kids got their bigger-kid kits and learned geography and all sorts of other fun things. Today Little Passports is bringing you some travel tips for the upcoming holidays (or summer vacation, or just an hour-long trip to the apple orchard, like we took recently!). If you use my link to purchase, you get a great deal and a great learning activity for your kids. It's the perfect birthday or Christmas gift from grandparents or Santa!

Making the best of a road trip with Little Passports Travel Tips

“Are we there yet?” was a term coined by the family road trip! While new technology and toys may have silenced backseat conversations, spending time together in the car can still be a great opportunity for family bonding and learning. Even if you plan on bringing the latest gadget to pass the time, try saving them for the end of your trip when everyone is tired and cranky! 

Here are some ideas from Little Passports that are sure to make the time fly by (or at least go by a little faster):

Save your most recent Little Passports delivery from Sam and Sofia for your road trip so your kids to learn and explore during the car ride.

Say goodbye to your trusted GPS! Bring back the memory of car trips as a kid and use a map! The night before your trip bring out an actual map (if you can find one!) to show your intended route to your child. Even better, copy the map and pull out a highlighter so your child can follow along – and let you know when you missed a turn.

Build in time for pit stops – and if time allows, make short stops that incorporate fun activities along the way. Everyone will need a bathroom break and a meal, but if that happens at a place right off the highway and near playground it can be better for everyone! The kids will get fed – and burn off some energy.

Hit up a dollar store before you leave and stock up on small toys and activities to give to your kids along the way. Every hour let your child choose a surprise – a great incentive for good behavior! You can even wrap the toys for an added element of excitement.

Use this link to make your next road trip educational: Little Passports Travel Tips 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...