Oct 26, 2016

Top 10 Christmas Gifts for the Special Guy On Your List

Women get a bad rap for being picky present-openers but, when it comes down to it, men can present their own challenges during the holidays. They certainly don’t drop as many—ahem—hints as women do about what they might want. Plus, men tend to be more the type to go ahead and buy themselves the things they think they need. If you’ve reached your “challenge accepted” moment in the relationship, we can help. Read on for 10 Christmas gifts for the special guy on your list.

1. Totally Ticket Time 

While something your man can physically open is great, an experiential gift can be equally as wonderful (if not more!). Get your main squeeze tickets to see his longtime sports team, his favorite band, or a play at your local theater. The huge bonus of going this route is that you get to go, too!

2. The Way to His Heart is Through His Tummy

You’ve heard this a million times and, unless you’ve found the exception, most men really love to eat. Hopefully you’ve scored one who loves to cook as well. Even if you have, though, you could turn the tables and make him a meal. Another alternative would be to hire a private chef to cook a romantic dinner in. Lastly, the health nut guy in your life would likely love a membership to a home meal service, like Blue Apron or Home Chef.

3. Accessories, Accessories, Accessories

These are the kinds of thing that men often forget to buy themselves. From a new watch that he’s wanted to replace for some time like this hyper masculine JORD wood watch to jewelry (personally, we think men don’t wear this enough), this will be something he’ll love because he likely wouldn’t have gotten it for himself. Allow him to let his personality shine through with a men’s underwear from Stance. These undies definitely put the “fun” in “functional”.

4. Trip the Light Fantastic

Have you been itching for a trip? Of course, buying your loved one a vacation is no small gift by any means, but if you’ve both been talking about it for a long time and you’ve got the means, there’s nothing better than a weekend (or week!) away together. Whether it’s a quick jaunt to the mountains or a trip overseas, this will be something you’ll both treasure forever.

5. Go for the Gadgets

Again with our sweeping generalizations, but there’s no denying that a lot of guys love their gadgets. A new iPod touch, a super sleek smart phone case, or an iPad mini are rarely, if ever, going to go to waste in the hands of a man. Need some inspiration? Simply head into your Sharper Image for gift ideas you might not have come up with on your own.

6. Man Crates

Have you heard about these things yet? This is the dude version of the gift basket. From the Grill Master Crate and NFL Barware Crate to the Personalized Whiskey Crate and the Slaughterhouse Crate (don’t ask), there literally is a man crate for everyone.

7. Clothes

Your man would likely prefer to watch whatever sporting event is being televised than go shopping, so buying him clothes is doubly awesome. You’ll not only help him to be more stylish (right, ladies?), but you’ll also save him from a chore he likely does not enjoy.

8.  Let Him Choose With Bespoke Post

A monthly subscription service like Birchbox for Men is already fantastic, but the reason Bespoke Post takes it to the next level as there are a number of different gifts that men can choose from. So you’re getting him a gift but he still gets the metaphorical remote. It’s a win/win, right?

9. Booze, Bro

While this probably isn’t recommended if you’ve been dating for years (when something a bit more intimate might be appropriate), booze is a great gift for guys when it’s early on in the relationship. If you’ve already done the whiskey thing, opt for tequila.

10. Grown Up Stuff

Let’s face it—many men are resistant to growing up, so they might still be carrying their money in a big wad of cash and their work papers in a backpack. Help your man move on to the next level with a stylish money clip and/or briefcase.

Have a special guy in your life? Get him one of these special gifts during the holidays this year and watch him react with delight.

Oct 24, 2016

4 Ways Your Cellphone Might Be Making You Ugly

Our cellphones have become so vital to our daily lives. Research has shown that the average person checks their phone 85 times a day and that we spend a total of five hours using our cellphones to browse the web or use apps. For many, our smartphone is the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we check at bedtime. Although quick glances at our phone may seem harmless, it can in fact be affecting us physically, mentally and emotionally. We caught up with some experts who help explain the ugly side of excessive cellphones use.

1. Ugly posture
When we look down at our cellphones we are straining our necks and slouching our shoulders. Doing this can cause some serious damage to our overall posture even leading us to lose up to an inch to an inch and a half of height. “I see up to 10 patients a week complaining of severe neck and shoulder pain. When asked how often they use their phones the typical response is all the time. When pain becomes chronic and severe, surgery has to be considered,” explains Dr. Richard Samperisi, CoFounder of Campus Chiropractic Center at Florida International University & Functional Medicine Practitioner.

2. Ugly eye strain, bags and wrinkles
Not only can staring at your phone all day cause serious neck and shoulder pain, the extreme use of our phones is leading to various eye conditions such as blurred vision, eye strain, headaches and dry eyes as well as to a condition they like to call “tech neck.” For those concerned with cosmetics and eye appearance constant squinting leads to wrinkles and under eye bags. New Bern, North Carolina plastic surgeon Dr. John Zannis explains that a combination of surgical and non-surgical procedures that address under eye bags, drooping and sagging usually range from 5 - $10,000 with a recovery time of up to 2 weeks. He’s also seen a rise in complaints about neck lines and wrinkling skin attributed to excessive cell phone use.

3. Ugly skin
Are you constantly struggling with breakouts around your cheeks or chin? Instead of blaming hormones, junk food or a bad skincare routine consider looking at the device in your hand. “Our cellphones are filled with bacteria. We are continuously touching them with dirty hands, throwing them in our bags, stuffing them in our pockets or putting them on counter tops. Then without even thinking twice we put our phones right up to our ears where all of that bacterium from those dirty areas wreak havoc on our face,” offers Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Kaly Papantoniou.  She suggests frequently wiping the phone screen and using a face wash with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to rid bacteria from building up.

4. Ugly Manners
We see people at restaurants who are more focused on snapping a pic of their meal than enjoying each other’s company. Our persistent use of our cellphones can be affecting our relationships with the people and world around us. “When we focus more on our digital lives rather than the individuals we are with; we are not only giving off the impression that we do not care about what they have to say, we are also letting valuable and meaningful moments pass us by,” explains Dr. Sanam Hafeez a New York City based neuropsychologist and teaching faculty at Columbia University. She suggests putting the phone down and even going cell free twice a week.

Give it a try and see how cutting down on your phone use can also cut down on the ugly.

This article is courtesy of Dr. John Zannis. Follow him on Twitter and check out his website at http://www.zannisplasticsurgery.com/

Give The Gift Of Home Chef For The Holidays ($50 Giveaway)

One thing I feel we can all agree on is that we know that one person who seems to have everything. When it comes to buying a gift for them you are left with a huge burden of giving something meaningful that they will actually like or have use for. I have the ideal solution for that-- A Home Chef gift certificate. I did a full review last month in case you missed it. I think that anyone would love the gift of high quality ingredients that are pre-measured and ready to go to cook up your own gourmet meal at home.

You can personalize your tastes according to dietary needs or allergies to assure you get exactly what you want. This is such a great way to be able to experience new dishes you might not otherwise think to try. I absolutely loved the dishes I 'cheffed' up!

Parisian Bistro Steak with dauphinoise potatoes and green beans

Thai Red Curry Shrimp with jasmine rice and snow peas
Giving a Home Chef gift certificate makes the perfect gift for the holidays. I'm sure the recipient would be delighted. Who wouldn't want the gift of good food?
How would you like to try out Home Chef for yourself? I am thrilled to be able offer my wonderful readers the chance to win a Home Chef gift certificate valued at $50. This will cover the cost of 2 gourmet meals for 2 people. You can keep it for yourself or give it as a gift. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and will end on Nov 7, 2016. Follow Rafflecopter rules for entries to count. One winner will be selected and contacted via email to be awarded prize. Good luck!

Gift code for winner is provided by Home Chef. All opinions are my own as always.

Brain Food: Tips For Studying

The moments are very crucial at the time of studying. Your brain is considered as a king of your body and sometimes does not show stability when the pressure of failure is somewhat on the higher side. Recently, research has proven that over-thinking on the respective subject will lead you nowhere and you will be left empty-handed. Instead of stressing, there are other methods that can help you find a way out as suggested by the experts. If college classes or school is an issue, you can get some paper writing help which would be an ideal to reform your study material and give your brain a break. With the right guidance, you can get back on track. Below are some of the precautions and actions you need to consider in terms of achieving big and overcoming the stress. 

The Consumption of Healthy Food

It has been noticed that when the time crunch of studying comes along, 80% of students give up their regular diet in order to cope up with their studies. That is the biggest mistake they commit. Always remember consuming appropriate food is the only way out and the food is your best buddy during the this time. For stimulating the proper functionality of your body, you need to consume more of the food that contains high in protein, vitamin and minerals as well. For example, the quantity of food like eggs, fish, chicken or meat are very rich in protein. Mornings can always be started with fruits like apple, guava and fresh oranges with an energetic glass of fresh juice. Always keep space for the rich food during the lunchtime, as studies show that the level of heat of the sun is on the higher side and whatever the amount of food gets consumed during this time gets easily digested. As soon the night arrives,  make it habit of consuming small meals because during the night the power of our immune system is somewhat on the lower side. The less you eat, the better you will feel for your next day. Make sure that you consume at least 3 liters of water a day as the water is the best source of minerals for the human body. 

Have An Organized Agenda 

Eating nutritional food will help you meet your goal of success. Instead of being in the stage of panic, all you have to do is take some time out to build an appropriate timetable for your respective studies. This will help you to focus and have more positive energy towards your studies. Students who prepare well-planned and well-organized form of structure in regards to their studies are set up for success.

A Consultation 

Recent studies show that the human race is not able to utilize the brain power at the utmost. Even one of the greatest scientists of history, Albert Einstein used only 6% of his brain during his lifetime. This proves that we do carry the capability, but aren’t always aware how and when to implement it. One of the best things students need to implement is getting the session of consultation with a counselor, as it will help them a lot truly recognize of their capability and they will learn skills to kill the negative vibes. Positivity leads to success. Getting some extra help won’t hurt.

Getting Appropriate Sleep 

A human mind is just not made of nerves; in fact, the hidden things reside inside somewhere that we are not able to recognize. The power of thinking, sense of feeling, and ability to choose between right and wrong go hand-in-hand with the amount of sleep you get. To improve memory and to increase brain function in the healthier way all you need to do is take enough sleep, around 6 to 8 hours each night. We know you might be thinking how I am going to do that as l have to memorize the entire syllabus? Don’t worry, if you get the appropriate amount of sleep, you would not be forcing or pushing your mind to store the entire syllabus in your mind. In fact, things will work in more accurate and sharp manner because of the enough sleep. 

Heal With Music

Music is the most authentic and best way to shift your brain from stress to relief. Music is the best mind diet recommended by the expert. Not only moments of relaxation, but the power of regaining positive energy are some of its advantages you can take.

Oct 18, 2016

How Having Kids Changes Your Taxes

Having a child changes everything. Your relationship with your partner, your work schedule, your sleeping patterns—there are few things a new baby doesn’t have an effect on. Many parents are prepared for the sleepless nights, the need to switch to the minivan, and the decrease in social hours with friends, but have you thought about how your new little bundle of joy will affect your taxes? While you often hear how expensive it can be to raise a child, there are also numerous tax breaks and credits to take advantage of. Keep the following facets of the tax system in mind and give your finances the boost they need, from your little one’s birth to their college days.

Use Exemptions to Your Favor

After having a child, you’re allowed to claim them as a dependent on your taxes to receive an extra exemption. This can help reduce your AGI, or adjusted gross income. The government uses your AGI to determine how much you owe, therefore, the lower your income (after exemptions), the lower your tax bill. There are limitations to this, but most can look to save thousands of dollars. Siphon those saved dollars into a college savings account and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in paying for your child’s upcoming educational career.

In the Case of Adoption

Perhaps you’re adopting a child. This process is not an inexpensive one, but the IRS recognizes these costly expenses by offering the opportunity to claim these expenses on your income taxes. Last year, any adoptions completed in 2015 allowed a federal adoption tax credit of up to a $13,400 per child. The amount you receive depends on your income. If you and your spouse make less than $291,919, you’re eligible. However, there are limitations. Because this is a tax credit, it isn’t refundable. That means you must owe the federal government some type of income tax, and you won’t be paid out the extra money left over, if any. The adopted child cannot be a stepchild, and they must be under the age of 18 or unable to take care of themselves to qualify.

Child Tax Credit

This refundable credit is designed to reduce the taxes you’re liable for, and can be awarded in amounts up to $1,000 per child. The amount of the credit awarded depends on income and the number of children living in your home. If you claim singly or as the head of the household, you’re ineligible for this credit if you make above $75,000. If you’re married, filing jointly, you must make less than $110,000 to qualify. If you’re confused about what will best work in your financial favor, speak with a professional who can help you determine your filing status.

When it Comes to College

If your child is already in college, take advantage of the American Opportunity Credit. This credit covers certain expenses associated with the first four years of college. There are regulations about how and who qualifies for this tax credit: your child must be in pursuit of a credential or a degree, and must be enrolled as a half-time student at least for tax year. They must also have no felony drug convictions on their record. For each student, the maximum credit you can procure annually is $2,500.

You should also keep the Lifetime Learning Credit in mind. This can help cover undergraduate costs for a student that does not qualify for the American Opportunity Credit, whether that be because they have a limited course load (are enrolled in school less than half-time status) or they’ve already completed their first four years of college credit. This credit can cover expenses including tuition and enrollment fees, along with books and course materials.
Child Care Credit

If you work full time and you must enroll your child in day care, most of those expenses are deductible on your income taxes. This is a nonrefundable tax credit. In order to qualify for the Child Care Credit, you must show proof of payment to a licensed childcare provider while you’re working or in search of employment. The child must be under 13 years old, and you cannot claim this credit if you’re married, but filing separately. This credit can award more than $3,000 per child per year.

The ins and outs of the tax process become more convoluted after having a child. If you’re unsure about which credits and exemptions you qualify for, don’t be afraid to talk with a professional to discover how you can get on the right financial foot- there are probably more than you think!

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