Ask Away...: November 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

New Years Resolutions: Better Start Thinking Of Some!


The new year is well on its way, and with it should come a new and improved you. The new year is an annual milestone and a great place to start introducing changes into your life with a fresh outlook on life in the new year. If you’ve kept telling yourself that you will get started on something “tomorrow”, and throughout the whole year “tomorrow” was always tomorrow, then maybe this ceremonious occasion will be just the thing you need to push you over the edge. With a mere month left until new year’s eve, it is time to start thinking about your new year’s resolutions. Prepare to think big, and think smart, because life is short, and nothing gets done by itself. If you still cannot think of anything, or maybe need some inspiration, then keep reading as we go through three things you can finally catch up on in the new year that you’ve been delaying for way too long.



Image source: Pexels


Take that one holiday you always wanted


Might seem like a strange thing to think about in December, but no one said new year’s resolutions have to be taken care of in the immediate future. If there was that one place you’ve always wanted to go but have been held off either due to work or money constraints, start planning for it now. The world is beautiful, and not seeing it during your lifetime is probably a sin, because you might be seriously missing out. Maybe you will fall in love with your holiday destination and even decide to move there, who knows. New opportunities often show themselves in the most unlikely scenarios.


Change of workplace


Not happy with your current job? Is your boss giving you a hard time? Are you having not having weekends off despite asking for them for the past year? Is your wallet feeling emptier by the minute? Studies have shown that most people are not actually happy with their job, but continue going to the office regardless. It might be time to finally pull the trigger on your job search or career change and do something about it. Have you always wanted to be a nurse?  You can even get started with some msn fnp programs online much sooner than you think. Want to launch a career in IT hardware and networking? There’s a course for that as well. What better time to get started than now?



Image source: Pexels


Get fit!


It would be safe to say that the large majority of people living on this planet have at one point thought to themselves, “I should really start taking care of myself.”. The majority of people have also completely disregarded that prophetic thought, and decided to go and get pizza. If you are one of those people, the new year is a great time to start introducing positive lifestyle changes which could easily help you get in shape. Better sleeping habits, better dietary choices, and most importantly, at least some exercise. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything at once, so just take it step by step, but please, do actually get started.













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Tips for Throwing a Casual Gathering + A Giveaway!

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It's that time of year where everyone is throwing parties or attending sit down meals.  But in between there are plenty of opportunities for casual gatherings with friends and family.  


Ever since I became a homeowner I LOVE having people over.  I get sad when they leave and I look forward to the next time people will be a guest in my home.  We tend to think of getting together with friends as a big ordeal that requires hosting a big shindig with fancy foods, lots of drinks, and some sort of theme.  That doesn't always have to be the case.  Sometimes a gathering can be as impromptu and informal as walking over to your neighbors houses and asking if they have any plans that afternoon.  

Getting together with those closest to you doesn't have to be a major project of deep cleaning every crevice of the house or preparing a 4 course dinner.  Instead, just gather.  After all, isn't that what a gathering is? Getting together with people and enjoying some food and laughter is surely a great stress relief in the midst of the holiday chaos.  So here are some of my best tips for throwing a casual gathering.



[Invite the Right Crowd]
Nothing is more discouraging then inviting a few people and only 2 can show up.  Know your friends and know your crowd. If you want to throw a successful impromptu get together, make sure you invite enough people that even if several can't make it, plenty will still show up.  Also make sure you know who generally would be able to attend.  If your friend just gave birth to twins, it's probably not the best idea to invite her as she is probably busy and may not want to leave her babies just yet. 

That being said, if there's anyone that gets too rowdy don't feel bad if you pass them over.  Casual gatherings are meant to be fun but also stress free. If there's someone that always take the party too far, drinks in excess, or gets too loud maybe pass on them at this time.

[Pick an Appropriate Date and Time]
No matter how impromptu your get together is, you still need to plan it for an acceptable date and time.  Weekends are obviously best and late afternoon/early evening is perfect if you don't want to cook an actual meal.  This allows you to provide light refreshments and snacks which we'll get to later.

[Have an Activity]
While getting together is fun, sitting around talking can be boring to some.  It's always a great idea to have party games and cards around.  Or if there's a sports game on TV that's an even better reason to gather everyone together so you can all watch and cheer together.

[Take Simple Steps to Prepare]
Again, this doesn't have to be a HUGE production.  Make sure your floors are swept and wipe down the counters in the kitchen.  Of course make sure your bathroom is presentable but don't go out of your way and take hours and hours to deep clean your house.  No one is going to be milling about swiping a finger on your mantel to see how much dust there is.  If you have a fun activity planned, people will surely be more focused on that. 




[Provide Easy & Appetizing Snacks]
My go to snack for a casual gathering are HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays.  These  are an easy appetizer that are ready-made so you can save the time and energy of having to prepare a meat and cheese tray yourself.  There are two different types of trays - Honey Ham & Turkey and Hard Salami & Pepperoni.  In each tray you get cubed cheese, meats, and crackers.  This is a low-mess choice that will be very easy on yourself as the hostess.  Plus, if you ever get invited to a party and need to bring something - HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays are an ideal option!


Sometimes I keep the food in the tray but other times I get fancy and throw it on a wooden cutting board.  Either way, your guests will love to snack on meat and cheese while they play cards, laugh, or watch the big game!

[Plan for Easy Cleanup]
Disposable plates and cups are a great idea for a bigger crowd so that you don't have to do many dishes.  And choose the right party snack like HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays make for VERY easy cleanup. 





Now to help you master the art of throwing a casual gathering, I'm giving away a coupon voucher for a free HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Tray!  Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway








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3 Things You Can Do with a Liberal Studies Degree


Liberal studies, sometimes known as liberal arts, are comprised of a diverse range of subjects which encompasses both social and natural sciences, as well as the humanities and arts. The broad nature of the degree makes it a popular choice for students who are looking for a varied course of study and who enjoy being challenged on several different fronts simultaneously.
It might sound like a relatively modern subject, but in fact liberal arts studies is one of the oldest educational subjects still in existence. In fact, students have been studying liberal studies since the days of Ancient Greece, when it was viewed as the subject of choice for the most educated in society.
Liberal studies are also proving to be an increasingly popular degree option because of the many career paths which become accessible with the qualification. Among subjects which are interdisciplinary, meaning that they require students to make use of knowledge and skills from several different disciplines or subjects simultaneously, liberal studies stands out as being one of the most well rounded subjects to study.
Many liberal studies courses offer a number of options for students to customize and personalize the course contents so that they are relevant to each individual student’s interests and hopes for the future.

Journalist

A liberal studies degree is a great start point for those who would like to forge a career in journalism. Although there are many different subject areas that journalists can specialize in, there are some core skills which are required of all journalists, regardless of their specialty. Liberal studies will provide an excellent grounding in many of these, especially the need for journalists to engage with and understand the societies which they work within.
If you are interested in pursuing a liberal studies degree as a pathway to a career in journalism, then you might want to consider studying an online master in liberal studies degree. An online master in liberal studies program will be cheaper than the campus equivalent.

Policy Analyst

Policy analysis is exactly what it sounds like, analyzing policy proposals, and is a skill which is considered valuable in a number of different areas. There is the obvious example of politics, be it the local, state, or even federal level, but policy analysis is also often used by non-governmental organizations such as charities.
When analyzing the merits of any given policy, a policy analyst must be able to consider the matter in relation to a number of different considerations. For example, if a charity is considering using some of their money in order to fund the opening of a community garden, then they will want a policy analyst to consider whether the allocated funds are enough, whether the necessary infrastructure is in place to manage and maintain the project, and whether the project overall will satisfy the charity’s objectives.

Speech Writer

Speech writing is an excellent career choice for those who enjoy writing, in particular persuasive writing, and would relish the challenge to use their writing abilities in order to help politicians and other individuals to get their message across and to inspire confidence.
A liberal studies degree is an excellent way to open up a number of different options for your future simultaneously and is worth considering for anyone who is looking for a well-rounded challenge.










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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Searching for the Ultimate Companion Vehicle to Your Car

Most of us are fine with just one car. If you only drive around occasionally and do it just for certain purposes (such as driving the kids the school or commuting to work) then your vehicle probably feels more like a necessity than a luxury. Despite improvements to public transportation and the lower costs, having a car can be an amazing convenience that most of us would find hard to give up.

However, that doesn’t mean we can only stick to one type of vehicle. If you’re even the slightest bit conscious about your carbon footprint, then you’ve probably made a few questionable travels in the past. For example, maybe you drove no more than a few hundred metres when you could’ve just walked, or perhaps you’ve completely neglected your carbon emissions and drove to work for years despite there being a perfectly acceptable and cheap public transport route.

Sadly, even if we are of about the environmental effects of driving a car, it’s not like we can just get rid of it. Even if you only occasionally drive long distance, it’s still going to be a useful vehicle to keep around. However, the opposite also applies. What if you have a vehicle that’s great for short distances such as an electric car, but is absolutely terrible at going long distance? The answer to this is to buy yourself a companion vehicle. Unsure what that implies or what to pick? This article will have the answers.


What Is a Companion Vehicle?

A companion vehicle is essentially a second vehicle that goes with your main vehicle. Here are some examples to illustrate the point.

  • Bicycle - Bicycles are fantastic alternatives that can be used for fitness reasons as well. They’re easy to manoeuver and it’s not expensive or difficult to maintain them either.
  • Motorcycle - Motorcycles look fantastic, offer some exhilarating rides and offer more flexibility than most cars. Their designs are also appealing to the eye and many people would love to own a motorcycle just for the sake of looks and luxury. Take a look at an American motorcycle trading company and you’ll find many classic motorcycles that look amazing and are surprisingly affordable.
  • Scooter - Scooters are like smaller low-powered versions of motorcycles. They go slower but they’re generally safer and contain a bit more storage space. They’re also incredibly easy to pick up and learn and are inexpensive.
  • Electric Bicycle - If you like your bicycle then why not kick it up a notch with an electric bicycle? These are great for getting a little extra speed and if you do run out of power, you can always pedal instead. Most electric bicycles have hybrid modes that use both electricity and your pedalling for a great balance between speed and efficiency.
  • Electric Skateboard - For something a little wilder, consider an electric skateboard. These are great for adventurous people that want a little action in their daily commutes or travels, and it’s perfect for a quick drip down to the local store.
  • Electric Scooter - Electric scooters are an in-between for bicycles and skateboards. They’re not as open as skateboards but you still get some freedom of movement unlike a bicycle.
  • Road Vehicle - On the opposite end of the spectrum there are road vehicles. If you find that your car is too small for long-distance travelling and you want something more extravagant, then why not choose a road vehicle? They might be expensive but they’re fantastic for road trips thanks to all of the onboard amenities so it opens up a lot of options for weekend breaks and travelling.
  • Pickup Truck - Why not pair a smaller vehicle with a larger one that has more space? If you regularly find yourself moving around heavy items that can’t fit in your regular car, then getting yourself a pickup truck could save you plenty of effort and money in the future.
  • Another Car - Even cars can serve different purposes and they aren’t just limited to a single purpose. Some people purchase electric vehicles for short distances and compliment it with a more powerful or efficient vehicle for long distance drives.
  • Boats - For the rich and wealthy there’s always the option of a boat. Be it a small boat or a huge yacht, there are some situations where crossing a body of water could be a great alternative to driving, but this is an extreme scenario.

Now that you know some of the companion vehicles to your main car, let’s look at some reasons for why you’d want to buy another vehicle in the first place.


Why Purchase Another Vehicle?

The main reason to get another vehicle is for options. As mentioned already, it’s important to consider cost and efficiency when using your vehicle. If all you have is an expensive luxury car such as a sports car, then it’s going to be impractical to drive every day and it’s going to cost you a lot of money to run both in terms of insurance and maintenance. It goes without saying that having a single luxury car in your garage is foolish, and even the rich and famous know that luxury cars are about the experience and not the practicality.

Practicality is one of the main themes that we’ll be exploring. Let’s first discuss short-distance travels. The most cost-effective form of travel for short distances is to simply walk. However, it’s also considered one of the least practical because of several different reasons. For starters, it can be tiring for people especially if they’re not used to walking. You also can’t carry as many things with you, making it a bad choice for something like a weekly grocery run. You might also encounter accessibility issues, such as certain roads not having safe walkways. What you do get is a lot of convenience, a health form of exercise and also drastic savings because you’re not paying for anything.

If you want to strike a balance between cost and effectiveness then there are other options too. Cycling is a fantastic way to get around a city since it’s so flexible and parking your vehicle is fairly simple. It also offers you a great workout and can be used for longer distances than walking. You’re also able to carry more things with you if you purchase bags to place on your bike. However, it does introduce some maintenance concerns and is more expensive to maintain.

On the other end, purchasing a vehicle that is more suitable for long distances is also a fantastic idea. Perhaps your current vehicle is already efficient and doesn’t cost much to run, but it’s not ideal for long distances. In this case, it might be worth investing in something with even better fuel efficiency or even a road vehicle to give you the opportunity to go on a road trip. While it’s more expensive, it offers you convenience and comfort that your regular vehicle won’t be able to provide.

In short, purchasing another vehicle is a great way to cover the weaknesses of your current car. Whether it’s needing a larger vehicle or a more efficient one, there are plenty of fantastic companion vehicles to consider.


Considerations Before Purchasing Another Vehicle

There are a couple of things you’ll need to think about before you invest in another vehicle.

  • Cost considerations - Owning another vehicle isn’t going to be cheap. Make sure you’re financially stable if you want to purchase a second vehicle. Keep in mind that you may need to purchase insurance, road tax, repairs, maintenance and other costs. There are a plethora of considerations to keep in mind before you invest in another vehicle, so make sure you can afford it before you regret it in the future.
  • Do you actually need it? - If you’re purchasing a vehicle just for luxury reasons then it probably isn’t the best idea unless you’re relatively wealthy or have saved up a lot of money. Ask yourself if buying another vehicle in your current situation is actually worth your time, effort and money investment.
  • Learning curve - Although learning how to ride a bicycle or drive an electric vehicle isn’t exactly difficult, there are going to be other things you need to learn in order to make the experience a lot more enjoyable. For instance, there may be certain rules that apply when you’re riding a motorcycle that you never knew before. Perhaps there are certain license requirements or maybe the way you approach the road is entirely different.
  • Maintenance requirements - Cleaning your vehicle, learning how it works so you can replace parts in the future and keep it in great condition will be your responsibility. If this sounds like extra work you could do without, then perhaps you should reconsider getting a companion vehicle.

To conclude, buying a companion vehicle is a great way to make up for the weaknesses of your current vehicle. It does, however, come with a number of considerations that need to be cleared before you put in your investment. Overall, it’s a great way to add more transportation options to your lifestyle.












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The Ultimate Amazon Gift Guide

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There are so many gift guides floating around anymore and they take you all over the interwebs.  I decided to do one that you can nail down in one place - Amazon! I love Amazon and they have such a huge selection of stuff so without further ado here is a gift guide for all of the people on your gift list this year!



Amazon Echo
How can you go wrong with the Amazon Echo? The Echo can be instructed by your voice to play music, make calls, set alarms and timers, answer questions, control other smart home devices and more.  It's like having a personal assistant in your home 24/7.  Echo can even hear your commands while music is playing!  You can easily check your calendar, sports scores, weather, and traffic simply by asking Alexa.  This is a great gift for anyone that needs a little assistance and organization in their life.   If the Echo isn't your thing check out the rest of the Amazon Echo and Alexa family here. Who to Buy For: A family gift, the disorganized person on your list that is always looking random things up on their phone, Your spouse (so you can reap the benefits too).
Price: This Echo is $99.99.


Amazon Prime
You can give the gift of Amazon Prime to the person on your list that is ALWAYS ordering stuff online.   It's also great for people that like to shop for anything and everything without going into a physical store - LIKE ME! You don't just get free shipping on qualifying items, but on-demand ad-free music streaming, unlimited reading on your Kindle or any other device you read from.  You also get instant access to video streaming


Who to Buy For: A family gift, shopaholic friends and family, small business owners
Price: $10.99 a month on a monthly basis  or $99 on a yearly basis.


Getting rid of cable? Then you'll definitely need one of these. You can also stream Netflix, watch Amazon videos that you purchase, and stream Live TV.  And yes, it literally just plugs into your TV!
Who To Buy For: Anyone that loves watching TV and movies or that wants to get rid of cable.
Price: The stick itself is just $39.99.

I once went to a blog conference in New York City by myself.   My phone died before the end of the day and I was lost on the street running in circles like a crazy person to try to find the train station.  I was so panicked and upset.  If I had a charging case on my phone I would have been in a much better mindset. 
Who To Buy For: The person whose phone is always dying, or anyone that enjoys being on their phone A LOT. 
Price: Varies but mine was just $45.


A security camera can save your life at times and really help you out if something happens at home when you aren't there. It's got crisp clear images, and you can monitor everything in realtime.  Plus you can set it up to send you notifications when doors open, etc.   This will give ANYONE peace of mind!
Who To Buy For: Anyone that owns a home and needs a security camera.  It's also great if you just want to be able to watch what happens at your home if you travel a lot and have a house sitter. 
Price: $199.99 

These are awesome for when you just need something comfortable when you are lounging around, reading, or writing.   It's super plushy, super plump, and if you need to move it out of the way because you have guests coming over, you can do so easily.
Who To Buy For: Teens, adults, ANYONE really.
Price: $39.99


This is ideal because you can feed your pet even when you can't be there physically. There's a built in voice recorder that you can use to call out for your pet when it's dinner time.  It does a great job with portion control and you can schedule it for up to 6 meals a day.
Who To Buy For: The pet owner that loves to travel and always has to ask someone to come in to feed their pet.
Price: $65.44


This awesome kit comes with face wash, scrub, shave oil, face balm, and an awesome box.  There's no synthetic colors, fragrances, or ingredients.  If your recipient doesn't like it, Thrive will refund your purchase.
Who To Buy For: Your dad, grandfather, son, husband, etc.
Price: $50




This awesome planter has a self-sustaining design and fits perfect with busy lifestyles.  It's self-watering and lets you know when it needs to be refilled.  You can collect several of them and then stack them horizontally or vertically so you have an even fuller look. 
Who To Buy For: Anyone that loves planting things but also great for people who live in apartments and don't have outdoor space for a garden.
Price: $55.99



This diffuser is not only beautiful and has gorgeous colors of light but it improves air quality, allergies, sleep patterns, skin health, and much more.  It vaporizes without the use of heat since it's ultrasonic.  The mist is cool and soothing and has three working modes of continuous, intermittent, or lights-only.
Who To Buy For: Anyone that loves home d├ęcor and loves aromatherapy.
Price: $19.99



These are just a few of the many great gifts over at Amazon!   Which is your favorite and which are you adding to YOUR list this year?









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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

3 Life Hacks That Help You Spend Less (They Really Work!)

Spending too much money is something we’re all guilty of doing. Which is why I thought you could all do with some help in the form of these three lifehacks that I recently discovered. Check them out down below:

Shop alone to limit temptations. Source

Go Shopping On Your Own

Shopping can be quite boring when you’re on your own. There’s no fun going around loads of shops alone, it starts to feel more like a chore than a fun day out. This is why we tend to go shopping with our friends, so we enjoy it more. However, as it explains in this article http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/, we might want to reconsider our shopping habits. Apparently, we tend to spend more when we shop with someone else. This is because we often feel obliged to buy things, or our friends influence our decisions. Therefore, if you want to start spending less, try this simple trick; shop on your own from now on! Meet your friends for coffee instead, or have them round for brunch, stop making shopping an event with your pals, and start doing it alone.

A credit card makes you more money-conscious. Credit

Make A Credit Card You Primary Mode Of Purchase

A lot of people think that credit cards are only used to pay for things you can’t really afford. On the contrary, they’re a key financial tool, and this little hack will help you spend a lot less. If you use your credit card as your primary way of paying for things, then you’ll see two immediate benefits. Firstly, as it details on www.gobear.com/my/credit-card, your provider will offer a variety of different rewards that you can collect with every purchase. By using it as your main way of paying for things, you can gain more points or cash back. Secondly, credit cards have limits that you can’t go over. As such, this makes you more conscious of your spending as you need to ensure you don’t max out your card each month. It’ll make you spend less, but the money you spend will also benefit you in the form of rewards!

Small bills are more likely to get spent. Source

Don’t Carry Small Bills In Your Purse

This is a hack I recently found out about, and I have to say, I love it. The idea is very clever; you don’t carry small bills in your purse. Instead, you only have large bills, say, $50 or more. Why? Because you’re less likely to spend money when you have big bills to hand. If you’ve got a tenner in your purse, then you’ll easily pick up a few things from the shop that you don’t really need. But, when the bill is big, it makes you think; is it worth all the change? No one likes carrying change around, and you feel like you’re wasting the bill when you spend it on something smaller than its value. As a result, you’ve cleverly limited your reckless spending and made it easier to stick to a budget.

I really like these three life hacks, and I think they’ll definitely help you spend less. The first one gets rid of outside influences making you spend more money. The second one helps you become more conscious of your spending, and the third stops you from buying small things you don’t need.














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