xmas table

It is that time of year again when you are sitting around the kitchen table, filling out Christmas cards, stuffing them into envelopes, and mailing them off to friends and family. As usual, you also find yourself scrambling for gift ideas for half the people on your Christmas list. There always seems to be a few people on that list that are next to impossible to buy for. When you can not think of the right gift, it makes buying christmas gifts quite a chore. To make matters worse, you are not looking forward to pushing your way through the crowds of people down at the mall, trying to finish your last minute shopping. It seems that they get increasingly nasty fighting over retail items with each passing year. Surely there has to be a better way to prepare for Christmas, but what would that be?

Rethinking How You Shop for Christmas

If you are tired of the crowds and the last minute crunch associated with shopping for Christmas gifts, then it is time to rethink how you shop for the people on your Christmas list. Trying to get gifts for everyone on your list at the last moment leads to a mad dash that can be totally avoided. One way to avoid this problem is to start buying Christmas gifts early in the year. Many retail stores have sales throughout the year, making these times a prime opportunity to take advantage of discounts and amazing deals. Plus, when you shop throughout the year, you are not racking up a huge mountain of credit card debt during the holiday season. Rather, by spreading the gift purchasing process on out through the year, this makes it possible to buy something for everyone on your list without breaking the bank.

Avoiding the Crowds

If you really hate the rudeness of people during the Christmas buying season, an alternative to shopping at retail stores is to purchase gifts online. Many websites carry millions of products that are suitable for Christmas gifts, and some sites even provide users with gift ideas, making it easier for the budgeting shopper to avoid facing the throngs of people at the store when doing their Christmas shopping. It is important that you plan to buy gifts early though, factoring in shipping times to make certain the gift reaches its destination on time. You would not want to be stuck getting a gift shipped to you, or someone else for that matter, that gets to its destination late. That could be potentially embarrassing, which is another reason to do your Christmas shopping earlier in the year if possible.

Gift Cards for Everyone

If you are not feeling particularly creative and you just want to make buying for everyone on your list a simple procedure, then gift cards may be the perfect gift. Usually, gift cards are located in one area in a store, and you can go down your list picking one up for each individual you have in mind. If you buy gift cards occasionally, this will not only help you avoid the Christmas crowd, but it will also keep you from crashing your budget as well. With a little creative thought, you too can avoid most of the hassles associated with purchasing gifts during the Christmas season.


In the past, painting a home was a job complete with unsettling fumes and curing times. Today’s paints are much more advanced, allowing contractors to apply them with relative ease and barely any scents. Painting the interior or exterior of the home is also better for the environment than ever before. Think about your home’s possible improvements and add some of these green ideas to make the neighborhood a nicer place to live.

Quality Painting Pros

Research your next painting contractor thoroughly and ask about green practices. Paint comes in numerous mixtures and textures. Consider a low-VOC paint type to reduce pollutants into the air and even within the home. A quality contractor will also clean up meticulously when the project is completed. Any waste or residues leftover from the paint job can actually harm gardens, groundwater and wildlife. Contractor reviews are often quite detailed, giving you a glimpse at their work ethic and green practices. A good painter isn’t shy to show off their hard work.

Preserves Your Siding

Along with low-VOC paint to decorate your home’s exterior, consider the investment you’re making on siding maintenance. Siding protects the home from weathering and temperature fluctuations. If you don’t care for it, the siding must be replaced more frequently. Your green habits aren’t effective when filling landfills with damaged siding. Keep those materials on your home with consistent paint jobs. You’ll reduce weathering and possible insect infiltration into the material core. With some effort and observation, you can keep the siding out of the trash and contribute to reduced waste across the region.

Consider Insulation

When you’re deciding on paint for the home, think a little further to the structure’s insulation. Replacing or simply adding new insulation to the home makes it greener as well. Allow a basic home improvement project to jog your mind about other ideas that could be incorporated easily. If you need to access inside a wall, for example, you can make a clean cut into the drywall to add insulation and paint the area afterward. Insulation reduces your use of HVAC systems, preserving the energy bill and using less oil to generate that power.

Opt for Amber LEDs

LED or light-emitting diodes are one of the best lighting choices on the market today. They’re known for their long-lasting light and quality illumination. However, extremely bright lights for the home’s exterior can actually harm natural wildlife rhythms. Consider some of the newer LEDs with an amber glow after painting the home. They have a softer illumination brilliance to light the way while preserving the natural world around the home. Homeowners are still green by helping wildlife and saving energy simultaneously. The less electricity used, the less oil it takes to produce that energy.

Paint is still one of the most common improvements added by homeowners each year. A fresh color gives the entire property an update while saving money across the board. Try to stay green when adding improvements to make the changes better for everyone.

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If you want to look as if you walked straight off the runway, or if you are just someone who stays on top of fashion, you will want to take a look at the new trends of this fall and winter season. There are a few old favorites and some new and exciting ideas. All can be coordinated with jewelry, a trendy bag, or a great pair of shoes. Here are some of the trending fashions for the 2014/2015 season.

Animal Print

Leopard, cheetah, zebra, giraffe and snake-skin prints have been in the spotlight for a few years now, but they are out and about more than ever. The print is a little more subtle than it has been in the past by pairing the print with a light background color in cream, tan or beige hues instead of bold colors. The print is somewhat smaller in nature this season, as well.

Green In All Ways

Anything green is popular this season. The hues of the green are not a bright Kermit the Frog green, but rather a toned down hue either resembling an evergreen tree, an aqua tinged green, or a deep emerald-green. Use your pieces matched with black or gold to enhance the look of the green. If you have cool toned skin, you will want to go with a green with a bluish tinge. If you have warmer tones, you will want to stay with the brighter greens. Green is used in everything this season, from accessories to dresses to pantsuits. Do not shy away from this color, everyone will be wearing it.

The Look Of Yarn

It is the season of cooler weather, so winter knits are in season with abundance. The trend says to wear all kinds of knitted materials. Cable knit sweaters, cardigans, knitted dresses and accessories made with yarn are all in this season. All colors are recommended, as long as it is a knitted look, it will be trendy.

Bold Lines

The newest trend for autumn and winter is that of bold, symmetrical lined patterned pieces. The lines are mostly in dark colors off-setting a lighter background. The lines are also in all kinds of crazy wavy patterns. The more eye-catching the better. When wearing this new fad, don’t overdo it by pairing pieces that both have lines. Use one piece and then couple with solid-colored accompaniments. Should the sound of the lined look scary you a little, try incorporating the trend into your wardrobe using only accessories with lines. A sleek lined pair of pumps matched with a lined clutch can spruce up any outfit by giving it a pop of flair.

Enjoy Your Fashion

There you have it! Some of this season’s best looks for you to give a try. When storing all you new pieces, make sure you keep them fresh, clean and organized by hanging like trends together for easy finding. The more organized your wardrobe is, the more diversity you can incorporate by being able to look through your pieces easily. Have fun this season and try to use some of these trends!


If you own or manage a business and think your first in-person impression depends on your employees, you’re wrong. Your first impression is your curb appeal if clients or customers are coming to you. Whether you own or lease commercial space, it’s crucial that the first impression a client forms is a favorable one. There’s not much you can do about the architecture or types of cars in the parking lot, but landscaping might be fully in your control. Are you capitalizing on it?

In some instances, business owners might think it’s a good idea to form a community garden to encourage camaraderie. However, that’s often not allowed by management or, if it is, you simply can’t deliver the kind of skills and dedication to maximize the beauty of curb appeal. Relying on a reputable property and landscape maintenance crew can bring in more customers, satiate the expectations of current customers, and drive more business your way:

1. It encourages walk-ins

Regardless of the type of business you manage, scoring walk-ins is always a bonus. There’s no telling who might be walking, biking or driving by and your beautiful building catches their eye. Maybe they’ve been on the hunt for a new apartment or software development company, and your location is perfect. What makes the difference between them stopping and moving on might just be the quality of your space.

2. It instantly improves everyone’s mood

What would you prefer: Walking into a colorless, barren building every day or enjoying a lush landscape and maybe some blossoms? Plants, greenery and flowers are linked to better work ethic, self-esteem, optimistic outlooks and better health. From your employees to your customers, why wouldn’t you want to prioritize that? It sets the mood for the entire day.

3. It automatically heightens the property value

If you own or manage commercial property and want to ensure happy tenants and low vacancy rates, one of the easiest and most affordable ways to do this is with landscaping. If someone is deciding between your property and another very similar one, all it might take to push the odds in your favor is a little landscaping. It’s instant curb appeal that makes your space more desirable.

4. It adds value to the neighborhood

A good local business cares about the neighborhood at a local and hyperlocal level. Improve your neighborhood with a little greenery and you might be surprised by the new connections you make.



Let’s skip the jokes about “taking care of business” and get serious about the bathroom cum in-home spa for a moment. While every nook and cranny of your home is important (after all, you pay the same for every square foot no matter where it’s located), some rooms are “trending” more than others. There was a time when the kitchen got all the attention, but in an era where few people have time for epic home cooking sessions, it’s moved to the back burner.

Now, homeowners and renters alike are indulging in the finest accoutrements for bathrooms because it’s their relaxation zone. It’s where bubble baths are taken, where you get ready for a night out, and more and more bathrooms are enjoying music piped in. If you want to create your own Zen experience, try focusing on the most peaceful part of your home. Here’s why the bathroom is kind for upgrades and flipping:

1. It’s where you feel your best

Whether it’s decompressing after a long day or simply getting ready for an exciting first date, a lot happens in the bathroom. You want to feel your best and look your best here, which is tough to do when you don’t love your space. The addition of a new sink, fixtures or heated towel rack can make all the difference in the world. For most homeowners, little splurges here can set the tone for the entire day.

2. It’s where you start and end each day

Brushing your teeth, putting on makeup, showers and skin regimens; most people start and end their waking hours in the bathroom. Who wouldn’t want to open and end the chapter of the day in a place where they’re comfortable and a little pampered? By upgrading a few key bathroom pieces, you can ensure a day’s full circle that’s full of luxe.

3. You need to balance that “heat to clean” feeling

Everyone has a different household chore they loathe, but for many people it’s cleaning the bathroom. Toilet scrubbings, getting rid of soap scum and hard water stains, the bleach-induced headaches; who actually enjoys this task? To counterbalance that negative energy, you can do one of two things: Hire a weekly cleaning crew or make your bathroom more inviting on non-cleaning hours.

Ready to make the most of your personal spa? A few touches might be all it takes.


One thing you need to know is that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is growing very fast. It has given many firms a cost advantage over on-premise software installation and use. This service differs from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) in that you can consume the service directly as an end user. The term “end-user” in this case refers to your employees and customers who have access to the service. According to this website, what makes SaaS distinctive is its characteristics and client-specific benefits.

SaaS Characteristics

Accessed via a Browser on Demand

You access all the services you need in your business over the internet. The software is available globally over the internet through a top browser.

Usage Based

You can install the software per user. You pay for this service on a recurring basis.

Vendor-Monitored and Maintained

The vendor monitors and maintains all aspects of the software and the service. This is regardless of your area of operation and different components that make up the service you subscribed to. This makes it easier for you to have standard services spread across all your branches.


Due to reduced distribution, monitoring, and maintenance costs, you will end up spending less on installing SaaS as compared to having in-house hardware.

Automated Support

Previously, you had to call a vendor to come and install upgrades, updates, and latest patches for installed programs. SaaS applications feature automated service changes without the vendor being on site. This means rolling out of changes is much faster. This reduces the downtime that could otherwise reduce your business performance.

Multiple User Support

This system supports multiple users. Each user accesses the same version of the software regardless of the location. The service gives you a shared data model through a single-instance multi-tenancy model that allows hundreds of users to work on a task from the same software. This is suitable if you have an extensive workforce handling the same project for you.

Specific Benefits to you as a SaaS Client

SaaS provides benefits for both the client and the vendor. Here are some benefits that will allow your business to go to the next level when you subscribe as a client.

Eliminate the Upfront Fee

Traditional purchased software requires an upfront fee for installation. On the other hand, SaaS is installed in a subscription model. Here, you pay monthly, yearly, per seating or per the service you want from the vendor. This allows you to access only relevant services at any particular time. You also don’t pay upfront for eventual long-term needs.


Your business is constantly changing. This change can be up or down. It would therefore be inappropriate and detrimental to the business for instance if the business expands and the services are stagnant. It would be wasteful if the business cuts down on operations and services are same as before.

With this platform, it is easy to add or remove some components of the service to suit your business requirements at any particular time.


A sedentary lifestyle can lead to significant health issues, including poor cardiovascular health, muscle entropy, and decreased stamina. Forcing yourself to hold certain positions at your desk can also lead to repetitive stress injuries, such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome. If you constantly work at a desk, you can make certain lifestyle changes that will improve your overall health and wellness. Take a look at these four ways for office workers to get in better shape.

Standing Desks

Stretch out your back, neck, and all of those aching muscles with a standing desk at work. You can quickly modify your current desk with simple shelving units or purchase a custom standing desk that automatically adjusts itself to different heights. Talk to your supervisor and see what options you have. Make sure that the standing desk is high enough so that you’re looking straight on at the monitor, rather than bending your neck to see information.

Cardio Workspaces

This is likely a modification that you’ll want to pursue at home. Look into attaching a desk surface to an exercise bike or an elliptical machine. This way, you can use your laptop while getting your cardio workout in for the day. Like standing desks, you can create this workspaces in a DIY fashion, or your can purchase specialized equipment to mount your computer onto a cardio machine.

Use Breaks Wisely

How are you utilizing your break time at work? Your lunch hour or your fifteen-minute breaks can be ideal times to stretch, walk, or even do some anaerobic exercises. Create mini workout routines so that you can stay invigorated throughout your work shift and get your blood flowing. These mini workouts might also help you avoid the post-lunch slump.

Get a Personal Trainer

Many people sign up for gyms, but then aren’t able to motivate themselves to reach new cardio and weightlifting goals. A personal trainer can help you develop effective training skills, so that you’ll remain committed to your health goals. They can also help you prevent injury during your workouts, so that you’ll be in shape to continue your fitness regimen.

Office life can incrementally take a toll on your health. If you neglect your personal fitness, you might discover that you can no longer run, stretch, or life weights like you could before. Don’t let your work life take a toll on your physical and mental well being. These steps can help you lead a more well balanced life.


Responsive design is an umbrella term that means a website is designed to “respond” well no matter what browser or device a person is using. A subcategory of responsive design is mobile readiness, which became a reality in 2014. This means that the majority of people use mobile devices to access the internet, which makes responsive design even more critical. Make sure your website(s) are responding well and mobile ready before the end of the year.

The reality is that responsive design will never be permanent; it will evolve as needs and devices evolve. Looking forward and predicting the future of responsive design can save you time, money and trouble in the long run. Here are some of the best, easiest and cheapest ways to improve your responsive design before the year comes to a close. Tick as many off your list as possible to ensure a prime website.

1. Ditch the flash, bells and whistles

The more accoutrements you have on a website such as mega-sized images, videos, pop-ups and ads, the slower your page load speed. Even one second longer of waiting will have people clicking away from your site. Plus, this can also lower your SEO success rate since it reads as spam and slow sites aren’t in keeping with quality designs.

2. Consider a mobile website version

While responsive design in and of itself should ensure that your site looks great no matter what device it’s being accessed on, it might be easier to have a mobile version created. Your consumers will have an option of going to the mobile version or “regular” version when visiting on a mobile devices. Mobile websites are simpler, cleaner and faster.

3. Think about an app

Does your website need a complementary app? It doesn’t work for every field or every business, but when it works it can really take off. This allows consumers to get the nuggets they need right on their device’s desktop and they can even access it offline. Apps are easier to create than ever, or they can be designed for you at a competitive rate.

4. Embrace neutrality and sans-serif fonts

If you use bright colors and kitschy fonts, your site will be outdated within a year. Instead, stick to classic designs that you can see lasting a lifetime. Responsive design is also about mass appeal, and it’s easy to go off track.

Is your site responding like you want? If not, it’s time to change things up.


A superfruit is essentially any fruit that furnishes superior health benefits that are beyond normal nutritional standards. To be honest, though, several fruits have enjoyed this title in the media without meriting it by providing those extra benefits.

To avoid wasting your money and time on fruits that don’t live up to their hype, you need to educate yourself on which are the real superfruits.

So what’s a superfruit?

The difficulty in determining which fruits actually qualify as a superfruit lies in the fact that there’s no authoritative classification system. People have pushed for one to be developed, but instead the list of fruits has only grown longer.

In the words of Paul Gross, Ph.D., “Superfruits are an important category for introducing healthful fruit formats to consumers; yet there is only a vague definition for what qualifies a fruit with ‘super’ status.”

He goes on: “During the past five years, almost every novel exotic fruit has been called a superfruit, a total now of about 36 called ‘super’ in industry media.” In his book Superfruits, Gross advocates for stricter classification criteria.

Six major superfruits

That being said, certain superfruits are generally accepted by nearly everyone. Here’s a look at six of these grocery-store heroes:

  • Acai. Acai trees are native to the Amazon rainforest region, and can grow more than 15 meters high. These towering trees produce tiny, dark-purple berries that Brazilian natives long ago discovered carry healing properties.

    When consumed on a regular basis, these berries are known to improve hair and skin texture, increase energy, and treat aches, pains, and ailments. Some say acai berries helped native Amazonians survive long periods of famine.

    The berries contain an estimated 50 nutrients that have yet to be clearly determined. Of those that have been identified, there are proteins, omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, antioxidants, and immune-boosting nutrients. Consumption of even a few berries has been shown to improve overall well-being.

  • Pomegranate. Not only does pomegranate taste good, it’s also extremely nutritious. The juice from pomegranates has been shown to improve blood flow, reduce stress, discourage the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels, and slow the growth of prostate cancer.

    The fruit grows on small trees or shrubs and is typically found in the northern hemisphere. It’s usually harvested between September and February in the northern hemisphere and March through May in the southern hemisphere.

  • Blueberry. Did you know that blueberries are the most widely consumed superfruit in the United States? While much of that is a result of their beguiling color and wonderful taste, people are also interested in the nutrients packed inside.

    With one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegies, and spices, these berries benefit the nervous system and brain. Studies have shown that blueberries aid memory and delay the onset of cognitive problems associated with aging.

    Some of the phytonutrients found in blueberries (prepare to be amazed) are: malvidins, delphinidins, pelargonidins, cyanidins, peonidins, caffeic acids, ferulic acids, coumaric acids, gallic acids, protocatechuic acids, kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, pterostilbene, and resveratrol.

  • Goji Berry. Don’t let a strange name scare you off. Goji berries have been consumed in the Eastern hemisphere for centuries, and are only recently catching on in Western nations. These powerful berries grow on trees found in the Himalayan Mountains, and are commonly referred to as “the key to eternal youth.”

    Goji berries offer a number of health benefits, including protecting the liver, assisting eyesight, improving fertility, increasing circulation, promoting weight loss, and raising overall well-being.

    When applied to the skin in the form of creams, such as L’dara, the nutrients found in goji berries help prevent aging and can smooth out the skin.

  • Cherries. Cherries are another very popular superfruit. A staple American fruit, cherries are easy to find and cheap to buy. They have been shown to ease arthritis pain, fight free radicals that cause cancer, aid sleep, and lower blood pressure in certain people. Some fans report success in losing weight by eating cherries instead of fatty foods.

  • Avocado. Over the past few years, avocado has been a hot topic in the arena of superfruits. Many people love these bright green fruits for their texture and taste, but others include them in the diet for health benefits such as lower levels of cholesterol, controlled blood pressure, prevention of birth defects, and more.

Are you taking advantage of all these superfruits have to offer?


Anyone and everyone can be a candidate for rehab. When you have endless connections, money, fame and opportunities, it can be more tempting to get into a dangerous and addictive lifestyle. Whether it’s alcohol and drugs, food restriction addiction or another life-threatening habit, celebrities also have the means to afford the “best” rehab clinics. Plus, it looks much more glamorous than going to jail or community services.

The good news is that there are quality and affordable drug rehabilitation options for everyone. Follow in the (positive) steps of these celebrities who recognized when they were ready to get outside help. Nobody can help an addict who’s not ready, but a little evidence that A-listers are people, too, can be motivation.

1. Ke$ha

This pop star went into rehab for an eating disorder, which she only went public about after taking that first step. The demands on any person to look a certain way can be devastating, and for celebrities it can be even more extreme. When she debuted her new, healthier self at an awards show, the support for the singer poured in from around the interwebs.

2. Lindsay Lohan

She’s been in rehab more times than she’s had hit movies, but that’s actually pretty common. There’s no “cure” to an addiction and it’s common to slip back into old habits. Instead, dealing with addiction is more like dealing with a chronic disease. There will be good days, bad days, and what’s crucial is to keep moving forward. Rarely does a single stay in rehab stick for life.

3. Charlie Sheen

The poster boy for drug and alcohol addiction, Sheen is an extreme celebrity example. While every type of addiction is dangerous, involving chemicals can make it even tougher to get healthy. There are some instances where “chronic rehab” becomes a cycle and perhaps the only thing keeping severe addicts relatively safe.

4. Selena Gomez

What you go into rehab for is nobody’s business, and Gomez’s reps have strongly denied that her two-week stint had anything to do with drugs or alcohol. However, they also kept mum on what the real reasons were. There have been rumors spreading that she was partying hard, but given the confidentiality surrounding such clinics, fans may never know.

5. Demo Lovato

Eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, depression and cutting were all reasons for Lovato checking in to rehab. Now that she’s in recovery, she’s become exceptionally vocal about the importance of self-care.

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