Family * Travel * Food

The Top Six Apps & Resources For Home Schooled Students

We are in the final stretch of finishing of fifth grade, and our fourth year of virtual school. It has worked so well for us, and William feels ready for the next chapter: middle school. I am trying not to panic over the fact that the workload with be much heavier and harder. Fifth grade was a tough one. I am not ashamed to admit that I have to Google things all the time, because I simply do not always know the answers or solutions to problems, especially in math.

Over the last couple of years, I have found some life-saving extremely helpful apps and sites that have been a vital part on my side of things. Even if you don't home school or do virtual school, homework help is essential for all parents.

Here are some of my go-to sites for Math:

Hack Math is so good when you need to check over answers. I love that you can type in complicated math problems, and in most cases, find the solution.

Photomath is an app that you have to download on your smartphone. This app is especially helpful since they have a feature where you can use your camera to scan a math problem. The app solves the problem and gives step-by-step explanations. I tend to use Photomath so I can learn different ways to solve a problem. If you don't have this app on your phone, go get it now! Of course, it's free.

Math Antics is another great resource that offers videos for all levels of math. William has this one bookmarked on his computer and uses it frequently.

For Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies:

Quizlet has really been so good for all of the subjects outside of Math. If you Google a specific question and add the word Quizlet on the end, it will give you all the information you need. It works so well when you need a study guide for a specific unit, especially for Social Studies and Science.

Kiddle is a must-have for kids to do safe searches.

Khan Academy is one of our favorites for practicing and studying. The videos are a good way to have your student see a problem being done step-by-step. You can watch a video as many times as you need until you really understand.

Aside from the sites and apps listed above, we have found that Minecraft has been the secret weapon to help with improved keyboarding skills. It isn't always easy for elementary aged students to type out a paper in a short time. With Minecraft, we find that William is so engaged in the game that he doesn't realize how much typing he does.

If you have any useful resources that help with homework, feel free to leave a comment. Thank you so much for stopping by today!

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10 Tips for RVing With Kids

Going on an RV trip can be a fun experience with children. You can have a great time traveling together on an adventure and also help instill a love for the outdoors in them. However, to have the best experience, it will take some planning and organization. Here are 10 tips to take note of when RVing with kids.

1. Explain That Everyone Will Have a Job
If you have children that are old enough to accept responsibilities, then you need to let them know ahead of time what they will be responsible for doing. Setting up and taking down camp in an RV takes time, and older children can definitely help.

Other tasks will need to be done as well such as taking the trash to the dumpster, making beds and washing dishes. Make it easier on yourself while RVing by enlisting the children’s help.

2. Designate a Storage Space for Kids’ Items
Kids like to bring along all sorts of things on trips, such as toys, books, electronics and games. Designate a space for them to put their belongings where they will stay neat and organized when not in use. Otherwise, the RV will become cluttered in no time. Oh, and don't forget the Car Seats!

3. Designate a Living Space for Kids
Everyone needs his or her own personal space — including kids. In RVs beds often double as dining room or living area seating. At a certain time of the evening, the space might be assigned to a child or two.

4. Let Your Kids Work With a Paper Map
Even though GPS installed in your vehicle or on your phone is the way most people navigate nowadays, it might be interesting for you to hand your children a map and ask them to highlight your route to your destination. You might need to give them a little direction on reading a map first, however.

You can also show them how to determine how many miles are between each town on the map. As you’re traveling, your children can consult the map instead of saying “Are we there yet?”

5. Have a System for Dirty Shoes or Feet
If you’re not proactive and you don’t take the time to let children now that coming inside the RV with dirty shoes or feet is unacceptable, it won’t be long until you have dirt, mud, sand and water all over the floors.

Require everyone to remove their shoes before coming inside. Keep a doormat at the entrance. Make a rule that if a child’s bare feet or dirty or muddy, they need to wash them off and dry them before coming inside. Keep a jug of water and a towel right next to the steps for this purpose.

6. Make Sure Someone Is Always Watching the Youngest Children in the Group
Never assume that someone will keep on eye on a baby, toddler or young child that needs constant supervision. Other people traveling with you might also assume that someone else is watching the child or children and that’s when accidents can occur. If you’re not able to watch your children yourself, then you need to ask someone else and get a confirmation that the person will watch the children.

7. Bring Entertainment
Although you’ll likely spend tons of time outdoors while on an RV trip, there will be times that you will be hanging out at the campsite. Bring entertaining items for children like kid-friendly board games, bubbles, movies, coloring books or arts and crafts supplies.

8. Bring Bicycles
RV campgrounds offer a great opportunity for kids to ride their bikes, so pack them. Once you get to the campground, go over some bicycling safety rules and make sure the children know where they can and can’t ride. Also, don’t forget to pack helmets.

During busy arrival times, such as a Friday or Saturday evening, you might want to keep children off their bikes until the campground settles down.

9. Do Traditional Activities
Don’t discount traditional activities. Even though you might not like eating s’mores, your children will likely be delighted to participate in this decades-old camping tradition. Other traditional activities are sitting around the campfire telling scary stories.

Or you can come up with a new tradition of your own. For example, you could plan a scavenger hunt for your children by making a list of 10 to 50 things they have to find and cross off during your trip.

10. Have a Plan for Mechanical Emergencies
Anything can happen out on the road or at a campground with your vehicle or RV, so it makes sense to have a service plan in place. Check the Good Sam website for extended service plans for your vehicle and/or your RV, which you can purchase for an affordable price. Such a plan will give tremendous peace of mind and will keep you and the children from being stranded indefinitely.

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How to Give a Good Impression to Clients - Premium Coworking Space Manila

The coworking space in Manila can provide your business with a number of benefits. One of the Philippines international business centers, Manila has a very diverse coworking landscape. It is no wonder that businesses are flocking to this convenient workspace, which provides businesses with the chance to lease comfortable, affordable workspace.

The spaces have become more than a trend because they provide a platform for social interaction. Business relationships flourish in an office that is fluid space providing businesses workspace and space to collaborate. Premium coworking space in Manila, Philippines can also be a platform for impressing fickle clients.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways you can impress clients in your coworking space.

Work In A Prestigious Location

The first way the coworking space can make an impressive impression on your clients is through location. Typically, offices in affluent areas, especially in the CBD, hold a certain prestige. Their reputations precede them, so being located in any one of the offices makes a statement about the overall businesses.

Unfortunately, for many start-ups and smaller business, the cost to lease space in these locations can be very expensive. However, the coworking space can provide your business with access to these locations because it costs less to lease workspace in one of these communities. You can rest assured the address will speak volumes to the world that you are a class act.

Stay Organized

More than working in a professional fit out, coworking professionals want to stay organized. Depending on the workspace you lease, you might have the chance to have storage space or desk space. In the chance that you choose the hot desk, professionals need to create an organizational plan to remain on top of things.

For one, ditch that filing cabinet and consider moving hard copy files to electronic storage. Online record-keeping and book-keeping apps and software make it easy and efficient to stay abreast of the books. If your clients ever need information, this information can be accessed from any device—if stored online.

Use New Tools

Again, new tools that can make work more efficient and make your day productive is very impressive to clients. For one, it shows that your business stays current with the latest technologies. Then, it also speaks to your commitment to stay abreast of changes within your industry.

More than just your standard office tools for business, consider purchasing technologies related to taking care of everyday tasks easily. Software that keeps track of records while syncing information is always relevant in today’s business. Apps that can keep you abreast of information related to a certain industry is also good. New gadgets that can make work more efficient hasten productivity and leave clients with the impression that you have made the effort to be connected to the current business environment.

Use The Conference Rooms

If you want to really make an impression, join a space that gives you access to conference rooms. These rooms usually are equipped with the latest technologies, and if you need to make a presentation, the comfortable seating and world-class fit out can be very impressive to clients. Video-conferencing capabilities can help you hold meetings when everyone cannot be in attendance. Ultimately, meeting in corporate space can have a lasting impression on clients, and in some cases, can be a deal breaker, as coffee house meeting offers little versatility.

Making A Lasting Impression

After meetings or presentations, consider giving your clients a follow-up call or card thanking them for their time. When they receive your message, they will instantly remember you, your office, and the fantastic meeting you hosted. In the coworking space, a professional fit out can translate into retaining clients or sealing the deal.

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New and Used Steel Shipping Containers on Sale - Buy One On Sale

Buyer’s guide for New and Used Steel Shipping Containers - factors to consider before you buy one on sale

assorted-color filed intermodal containers

No matter the purpose of purchasing a shipping container, like everything else getting a good deal requires you to know as much as you can about it. When trying to buy a shipping container here, it is important you get just the right one for your need. Also, you also need to get one well within your means. 

However, this will require you to be familiar with the different types and sizes of containers that there is. Their price and the other specs and features will also be considered in order to make the right choice. Here is a breakdown of the main factors to consider before you buy new and used shipping containers on sale. 

Types of Containers according to size
The most popular size options for shipping containers are the 20 footers and 40 footers. However, your options are not limited to these two. In fact, even with these two size ranges, there are also standard sizes as well as high cube containers. 

The major difference between the standard and high cube varieties is that you get one extra foot of height within the container. There may also be variations in the dimension even within the same size group from one manufacturer to the other. 

Read to learn more about buying shipping containers 

Making the choice between new and used containers

You might have probably heard the argument about whether buying a new or used container is a better choice. A new (or one-trip container as it is otherwise called) is a newly constructed container or one that has only been used to carry a cargo load to the destination at which it is to be sold. A used container, on the other hand, is one that has been used several times in the past but is still in good working condition. Some might be damaged to an extent and might simply require slight touch-ups to get it working again.
At the end of the day, the decision to purchase either a used or new container depends on how much you are planning or willing to spend. Since price varies based on how much use a container has seen, you should expect a new container to sell at a higher price compared to an old one as long as it is still in better shape. However, you might want to look into the history of an old container before you purchase especially if you are considering using it for storage or any other sensitive purpose. For example, a container which has been exposed to chemical contamination from hazardous pesticides or paints might not be palatable for certain purposes. Thus, even if it comes at a cheaper price, purchasing it is still a terrible choice. New or one-use containers, on the other hand, are less likely to be contaminated although they will cost more to purchase.

How to inspect used containers before purchase

brown and red shipping containers

This bit might not be important to you if you are going for a new container. However, for someone who is settling for an old already used one, you might need to look closely before making your purchase. Here are some major pointers to consider before you pay for that used container: 

Check for leaks: ensure that you are buying a watertight container. Look around the container and check for holes. While it is normal for a used container to have signs of wear and tears you should go for one with very minimal damage. Look around and check if you see any sign of sunlight seeping through holes in the roof or anywhere else in the container. 

Check the door: confirm if the doors open and close freely. Also, check the locking mechanisms to see if it works too.  

Check for signs of excessive corrosion: a little rust is normal on a used container. However, excessive corrosion will weaken the metal. If you detect too much corrosion on the container, it is advisable that you don’t purchase.     

Check for chemical contamination: as mentioned, chemical contamination is bad news especially if you are considering using the container for sensitive purposes. Musty, pungent or even any odd odor or any kind is an indicator that the container has been used for something of that nature in the past. This isn’t always a problem unless the chemical contaminant has left irreparable damage to the container. 

Identifying the container: one final check before you go ahead and purchase a container on sale is to identify it. To identify a container, you need to find the identification code on the body. This is an 11-digit number that consists of an owner code, product group code, a serial number, and the check digits all of which serve differing purposes. 

The first three letters of the identification code tell you who owns the container. The next capital letter is one of letters U, J or Z which represent the product group of the container. A container with letter U has the product code is a shipping container. Letter J means you can attach a piece of equipment such as a power unit for example to the container. While the letter means it is a trailer used to carry a container.     

The product code is usually followed by a six-digit serial number usually assigned by the previous owner of the container. Finally, there is a check digit which is important for cross verifying whether the identification code is correct or not.

One final question every prospective buyer asks is where to find good quality containers on sale. A simple search online will turn up quite a number of options for you. Alternatively, you can check our merchant sites like Alibaba or eBay. You should be able to find manufacturers online and you can check the various available options in order to find the best deals. Click here for more on how to where to find containers on sale online.
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Kitchen Updates That Will Make Your Life Easier

You spend a lot of time in your kitchen, so you want the time that you spend in there to be simple and convenient. Nobody wants to come home from work and have to struggle to prepare dinner in an inconvenient kitchen. So, if you’re struggling with awkward faucets or sticking drawers, it’s time to make some updates to this all-important room that will definitely make your life a lot easier.

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Adding A Peg Rail
This is a very simple and quick update but it could make an enormous difference to the functionality of your kitchen. Choose a convenient wall on which to install your peg rail, or you may even prefer to fit it onto the edge of your cabinets. You’ll find that the pegs come in extremely useful for hanging up tea towels, washcloths, aprons, and oven mitts. You’ll have all these key essentials to hand so you won’t have to look for them when you’re in a hurry.

Choose A Pedal Bin
No doubt you already have a trash can in your kitchen, however, getting the design right is key to convenience and functionality in your kitchen. If you have an under-counter garbage bin this might be streamlined and fit nicely into the design of your kitchen, however, it isn’t the most convenient option if you have your hands full of trash that needs to be thrown away. Choose a free-standing pedal bin instead which you can operate with your feet, leaving your hands completely free. You’ll be amazed by the difference that it can make.

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Change Your Faucets

One way to make your kitchen more convenient is to think about switching your standard faucet for a hands-free model. How many times have your hands been covered in food or sauce and you’ve had to turn on the faucet leaving a mess everywhere? With a hands-free faucet, you won’t need to worry about this problem. You’ll be able to get the water running through movement alone. Perfect! Check this site to find out more about how to choose the right faucet for you.

Get A Noticeboard
If you find that you’re always forgetting important things in your life, putting up a noticeboard in your kitchen can really help to streamline your life. You can pin up all the important letters you receive, the bills which need to be paid, appointment cards for upcoming meetings or appointments and any other important items that you need to deal with imminently. Never again will you forget about something vital.

Add Some Shelving
If you’re lacking storage in your kitchen, it can be very difficult to keep the room tidy and clutter-free. Nobody wants a kitchen that has items piling up on all the countertops and surfaces, so adding more storage couldn’t be more important. If you have spare space on your kitchen walls, why not install some shelving? You’ll find it a useful place to store items which would otherwise have ended up on your countertops like coffee and tea jars. If you have some free-standing space, why not consider adding a butcher’s block? This will not only give you some additional storage below in the form of drawers, shelves or wire baskets, but it will also give you an extra work surface when there’s a lot going on in your kitchen.
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Add A Utensil Rail

If you’re always having to leave pots and pans bubbling on the stove while you search out a spatula or spoon in the drawer, it’s definitely time to add a utensil rail. By fitting one of these useful rails over your stove, you can hang up all your essential utensils where you can easily reach them. Never again will food burn while you seek out the right utensil to get the job done – everything will be right there in your eyeline!

These simple changes are quick and easy to make but can make your kitchen a more convenient and functional place to work and spend time. By adding a few simple additions and switching a few key items around, you’ll find that you start to love being in the heart of your home!

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Espresso vs. Drip Coffee

How do you like your morning coffee? Some people opt for a latte whereas some go for a cup of Americano to wake them up. When it comes to coffee, there’s drip coffee and then there’s espresso. They’re both made from coffee and are similar in appearance— so, what’s the difference between the two?

Pour Over or Press?

Drip coffee is made by pouring boiling water on top of the coffee grind, letting the flavor seep in as it makes its way to the bottom of the cup. A filter is required to make drip coffee, which separated the coffee grind from the cup.

This brewing method is perfect for preserving the flavors and aroma of the coffee grind. So, if you’re into a strong and bold flavored cup of joe, then drip coffee is your best bet.

Espresso, on the other hand, is made by pressing pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee beans. This is also known as “pulling a shot” since espresso is served in ‘shots’ which measures 1 ounce each.

Textures Matter

Drip coffee has a coarser grind compared to espresso. The textured grounds make for a fresh and flavorful brew. It is recommended that medium grind should be used for drip coffee.

Espresso is often made with a smoother and fine ground. The finer the ground is, the better the espresso. However, grounds that are too fine can actually clog the brewing process. So, it’s wise to aim between small and medium grounds when making an espresso.

The folks at Coffee In My Veins made this infographic which has more information on the difference between espresso and drip coffee. Check it out below.

Infographic: The Difference Between Espresso and Drip Coffee

Espresso vs Coffee Head To Head Comparison [Infographic]
Courtesy of: Coffee in My Veins

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4 Finger Food Ideas for Parties and Fussy Eaters

Hosting a great party can be lots of fun and very rewarding, but it can take a lot of hard work too. One of the keys to a successful party is to have high-quality food available, and that means food which looks good and tastes even better. You can't cook while the party is in full swing, so finger food is the perfect solution as you can prepare it well in advance. When creating finger food, it's important to think of all the guests, including fussy eaters, but here are four finger food ideas which are sure to prove a hit with guests young and old.

1. Cucumber Sandwiches

This may sound too simple, but in fact, they're also simply delicious, which is why cucumber sandwiches are still a staple part of a traditional afternoon tea. Simply cut up cucumbers and place between some high-quality bread. We recommend the use of the best wooden cutting boards for all food preparation purposes, as you can quickly wipe them down and they make chopping, cutting and slicing a quick and easy process. Cucumber sandwiches are great for cleansing the palate after spicy food as well, and they're vegan-friendly which can be an important consideration.

2. Sticky Chicken Wings

Sticky food is always a popular choice for a finger food buffet, as it's always satisfying to lick your own fingers clean afterward. Sticky chicken wings are a perfect choice for this purpose, and they're incredibly easy to prepare. One marinade that even the fussiest eater will appreciate is honey and soy sauce. Simply mix these two ingredients together in a bowl so that it forms a clear yet dark-colored liquid and then coat the wings in it before transferring to the oven or frying pan. Ten minutes is all it takes to create a snack that's delicious and full of flavor.

3. Avocado Toast

Avocado is possibly the most fashionable ingredient of them all at the moment, and it's perfectly suited to a finger food environment. It has the added advantage of being supremely tasty too, which is why avocado toast is always the sign of a high-quality buffet. Presentation is the key here, so cut slices of toast into alluring triangles, before spreading mashed avocado onto the surface. To add an extra texture and flavor, you can then further top the toast with a slice of boiled egg; quail's egg is a great option here if you're really trying to impress your guests, but a standard hen's egg will be fine as long as the portion size fits daintily atop the avocado.

4. Lettuce Wrapped Steak

Steak and salad are a classic mealtime combination, but this can easily be adapted for finger food purposes with individual steak slices wrapped inside a lettuce leaf. Simply fry or grill the steak until cooked (be careful not to overcook it or it can become tough), slice into small pieces and then place one piece inside the cupped leaf of a baby gem lettuce. You can serve a mayo or chili sauce to accompany it. This is finger food that looks superbly inviting, it tastes great and the lettuce and steak slice combined with crunchy lettuce gives a satisfying textural contrast as well. Be sure to prepare plenty of these, because they always prove to be the most popular item in a buffet.

Steak wrapped in lettuce, avocado toast, cucumber sandwiches, and marinated chicken wings all look as good as they taste, and there's nothing in them that will make a fussy eater turn up their nose. Remember to prepare more food than you think you'll need rather than taking the risk of running out and always have vegetarian and vegan options available, as well as suitable desserts. It's a good idea to check for special dietary requirements beforehand, such as gluten intolerance, so that you can plan the buffet accordingly. With all this in place, you'll have happy guests and you'll be a happy host.

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Poison Prevention for Pets

A lady holding a cat at a veterinary hospital.

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As a pet owner, it is important to know and understand the items that are considered poisonous for pets. While there are literally hundreds of things that could cause problems for our beloved pets, there are a few common foods, household items, and plants that are known trouble-makers. We believe that you should know about these items so that you can do your best to protect your pet from accidental poisoning.

Foods Considered Poisonous to Pets

You’ve probably heard of a few different foods that are problematic for pets, such as chocolate and grapes. However, there is a fairly large list of foods that shouldn’t be given to pets. Here is a list of common foods that should never be given to dogs and cats:
Dog with sign of poisons foods for animals

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  • Alcohol: Alcohol, which can also be consumed in the form of yeast in uncooked bread dough, can cause intoxication in pets. Common alcohol poisoning symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and central nervous problems that can lead to coma and death.
  • Candy, Gum, and Xylitol: Xylitol is often found in sugar-free candy and gum. This artificial sweetener can lead to acute liver failure and is considered toxic to pets.
  • Chives, Garlic, and Onions: These foods, which are all part of the Allium family, are known to cause upset stomach and red blood cell damage. Cats are more prone to issues with these food items, but dogs can still encounter problems.
  • Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine: These foods contain methylxanthines that can lead to tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, and more. 
  • Coconut and Coconut Oil: Coconut oil can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Coconut water should also be avoided because it is high in potassium.
  • Grapes and Raisins: Both of these foods can lead to kidney failure.
  • Mushrooms: Only a few different kinds of mushrooms are toxic to pets, but it is best to prevent your pet from eating any mushrooms so that they are safe. Poisonous mushrooms can lead to liver failure in pets.
  • Nuts: Nuts, especially macadamia nuts, can lead to serious health problems for pets including hyperthermia and pancreatitis.
  • Potato Leaves and Stems: Potato greens are toxic to cats.
  • Raw Meat: While many people believe that animals can eat raw meat, the bacteria in raw meat can lead to salmonella and E. coli.
  • Rhubarb: In pets, rhubarb can cause weakness, tremors, bloody urine, and more.
  • Salt: Excess amounts of salt can lead to salt poisoning. Symptoms of salt poisoning include seizures, coma, kidney damage, and death. Salt is generally found in high concentrations in cured meats and paintballs.
  • Tomato Leaves and Stems: Tomatoes are safe for dog and cat consumption, but the leaves and stems can lead to weakness, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Yeast and Yeast Dough: Yeast can cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s system. This can lead to bloat and twist, as well as intoxication.

Common Household Items Considered Poisonous to Pets

You probably have a variety of chemicals and cleaners around your home that you don’t think much about. However, many of these products could be extremely dangerous to your pet. Here are a few of the most dangerous household items for pets:
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  • Antifreeze: Antifreeze, even in small amounts, can be deadly to pets. It contains ethylene glycol, which can cause vomiting, intoxication, lethargy, coma, and acute kidney failure.
  • Batteries: Many batteries contain alkaline, which can cause ulcers in the mouth, stomach, or intestines. Signs of alkaline poisoning including drooling, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and inability to defecate.
  • Bleach and Cleaners: Household cleaners can lead to mouth ulcers, drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and squinting of the eyes.
  • Citrus Acid and Oil: Citrus oil is a common ingredient found in potpourri. Both citrus acid and oil can lead to nervous system depression in large quantities.
  • Deicers: Deicers contain chemicals that your pet may lick off of their paws. These chemicals can cause illness. 
  • Detergents: Household detergents may cause drooling, vomiting, burns in the mouth and throat, inappetence, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. 
  • Lawn and Garden Chemicals: Both fertilizers and pest sprays contain chemicals that could lead to drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, discolored gums, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing.
  • Medications: Many human medications can cause problems for our pets. Pets should never be given human medications without prior consent from your veterinarian. Symptoms could include vomiting, seizures, hyperthermia, low blood pressure, and death.
  • Mothballs: Mothballs can lead to life-threatening symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, fluid accumulation in the body, tremors, seizures, kidney damage, and coma.

Plants Considered Poisonous to Pets

Many people love having plants in and around their homes because they are pretty and help clean the air. Some of your favorite plants could be hazardous to your pet, however. Here are a few of the most common poisonous plants to pets:
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  • Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera gel is edible, but the plant itself is not. It can lead to lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Azalea: Azaleas can lead to weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and cardiac failure.
  • Chamomile: While humans consume things like chamomile tea, the plant is dangerous for pets. It can cause dermatitis, anorexia, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Chrysanthemum: Chrysanthemums contain a variety of toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, dermatitis, and incoordination.
  • Daffodil: These flowers can cause gastrointestinal problems, convulsions, tremors, low blood pressure, and cardiac arrhythmias. While the whole plant can cause problems, the bulbs contain the highest concentration of toxins.
  • Daisy: Daisies can lead to dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, and incoordination.
  • Geranium: These plants contain toxins that can cause vomiting, dermatitis, depression, and anorexia.
  • Hydrangea: These flowers contain cyanide, which can be problematic in large quantities.
  • Lilies: Most dangerous to cats, lilies can lead to kidney failure. All parts of the plant are considered dangerous, and almost all varieties of lilies are harmful.
  • Poinsettia: These plants can irritate the mouth and stomach, which can cause vomiting.
  • Sago Palm: These palms can lead to vomiting, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, liver damage, liver failure, and death.
  • Tulips: Tulips can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and hypersalivation. Remember that the bulbs contain a higher concentration of the toxins that cause problems for pets.

Preventing Accidental Poisonings

While it is impossible to prevent all cases of accidental poisonings, you can do your best by knowing the items that could be a cause for concern and keeping them away from your pet. If you believe that your pet has gotten into a toxic substance or item, you should immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian.

None of the above lists are exhaustive, but the items listed are some of the most common poisonings that veterinarians see. To see a full list of items that are harmful to pets, check out Pet Poison Helpline’s Poisonous List.

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Be Prepared for Winter Driving by Doing These 5 Things

Today's conversation is sponsored. All opinions are my own as always. 

With cold weather on the way in many areas, it is essential to prepare your car, truck, or SUV for the winter months ahead. You also need to do this if you will be traveling through cold weather. If your vehicle is not ready for the drop in temperature, you could pay the price for not being prepared.

What should you do to get your car ready? Here are a few top tips.

1. Get your battery checked

There is nothing worse than being stranded during the holiday season at a shopping mall or on the side of a highway. It is important to get your vehicle’s battery checked, especially if it is over three years old.

An expert will see if there is any corrosion around the battery’s connection points and if it is up to the task of keeping your car going during winter.

2. Antifreeze

Your vehicle should have a 50-50 antifreeze and water mixture inside its radiator. Antifreeze may even “look healthy” but still need replacing. The antifreeze’s important additives could be worn out, which means it won’t protect your vehicle.

Experts say you should replace the antifreeze every two years, which should prevent any problems. It is always best to get your antifreeze checked when you get an oil change. Then, it can be replaced as soon as any signs of breakdown are identified and you can avoid any larger problems.

3. Tire pressure

When snow and ice hit the ground, it is difficult to get good traction on roads and highways. Having the correct tire pressure allows your vehicle to have the best possible traction in snow and ice.

With colder weather comes a drop in the air pressure of your tires. Look in the owner’s manual of your vehicle to see what the correct pressure is and make sure you top it up.

4. Oil change

It is important to make sure your car has the right oil for colder months and getting it replaced as the seasons change is important. Certain types of oil perform better in certain conditions. Your mechanic can let you know if a change is recommended. You need the correct thickness of oil as colder weather makes oil run thicker. Your vehicle’s life-blood can’t work properly if it is too thick, so make sure you get it changed if you are due.

5. Wiper blades

It seems simple enough, but if you can’t see the road or vehicles in front of you, there’s a great risk of an accident. The more it rains, snows, and sleets, the more use your wipers will get. Extreme weather situations make it increasingly important to have wipers that have a significant amount of life left.

Experts say that wiper blades should be replaced after just one year. So, make sure you have new ones ready to go. Just a few steps can keep you safe during the winter months. It may cost a little bit of money up front, but it will save you much more in the long run.


Tips for Recycling the Right Way

While recycling is a great way to be environmentally friendly, you should know there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about recycling materials you use every day. The reason it’s best everyone knows how to go about recycling is so you don’t end up doing more harm than good. Here are a few tips to level up your Earth-saving endeavors.

Throw Away Disposable Coffee Cups

Before you toss the coffee cup from your favorite coffee shop into the recycling bin, know that those cups often cannot be recycled. This is due to the polyethylene film lining the cup, which is what makes it liquid proof. That said, you may live in an area that can now recycle such cups. Be sure you check with your local recycling program to know whether to toss these cups in the recycling bin or in the trash.

Plastic Bags Cannot Be Added to Recycling Bins

It may crush you to learn that all those thin plastic bags you get from the grocery store cannot be mixed in with other recyclable materials, but it’s true. It’s not that these plastic bags are impossible to recycle, just that it’s more trouble than it’s worth trying to run the bags through recycling equipment. It’s not unusual for them to jam equipment.

Rather than put plastic grocery bags with the rest of your recyclables, check to see if your city has a special recycling program for plastic bags. Your local grocery store may even collect plastic bags that are otherwise destined for the trash.

Be Careful With Pizza Boxes

After you finish devouring your pizza, think twice before tossing it into the recycling bin. Any grease that soaks into the cardboard essentially contaminates the material and makes is less viable than grease-free cardboard. That said, it’s okay to add the box to the recycle pile if it just has a few crumbs on it. You can also tear off the top of the box if it’s clean to put in the bin and toss the greasy bottom half into the trash.

Plastic Bottle Caps Are Okay

In the past, it was advised that you not try to recycle plastic bottle caps. This was mainly because caps and their bottles are made of two different types of plastic that don’t melt at the same temperature. Recent technology has changed that for the better. You’re now free to leave plastic caps screwed onto their bottles.

You May Not Be Able To Recycle Yogurt Caps

At one point, China took care of roughly half the world’s recycling, but they’ve dramatically scaled back their efforts. This has left a vacuum and resulted in more than a bit of confusion about what to do with certain plastics, like those used for yogurt cups. Plastics numbered three to seven may not qualify for your area’s recycling program. Before tossing butter tubs, yogurt cups and bottles of vegetable oil into your recyclables pile, look to see what number is in the triangle on the bottom. Do some digging to see what plastic numbers can be recycled. There may also be a renewable resource company like the Cadiz Water Project in your area making an effort to recycle yogurt cups and other plastics.  

Styrofoam Is Still Out of the Question

Frustrating as it may be to learn, but Styrofoam is still considered non-recyclable. The main reason is the material is easily contaminated. While it may be clean when you add it to the recycling bin, it can pick up contaminants on the way to the facility. Those contaminants don’t come out easily, and Styrofoam isn’t very marketable.

Do an occasional check so you always know whether you’re doing as good with recycling as you think. The right information goes a long way in saving resources and time. Hopefully, these tips can aid you in your quest to be more environmentally conscious.

How To Prevent Your Turkey From Looking Pale Without Overcooking It

We've all seen it all over social media. The curse of the pale turkey. It's not pretty at all. I admit that I panic every year when it comes to roasting a turkey. I have finally gotten a good handle on how to bake it to the perfect crisp, golden brown while making sure it's super juicy, and fully cooked.
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My first bit of advice it to ditch the baking bags or aluminum foil to cover the entire bird. Using either of those steams your turkey, and sometimes makes for a chewy, rubbery texture. The entire process really comes down to using the correct oven temperature, as well as baking your turkey with an oven-safe meat thermometer.

Here is the simple breakdown of what I do 

Start with a fresh or fully thawed turkey. Remove the giblets and neck, and discard. Next,  wash the turkey with citrus juice (usually lemon or lime) inside and out. Rinse it well, and dry with paper towels. I use a heavy turkey roasting pan with a rack so that the turkey sits up higher, and the underside gets brown as well. Heat your oven to 325 degrees.

I blend together a small bowl of dry seasonings such as salt, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, Complete seasoning, black pepper, cayenne, and a variety of dried herbs. I sprinkle the seasoning blend all over the outside of the turkey, as well as the cavity, and under the skin of the breast. I also rub some room temperature butter under the skin of the breast, and all over the bird. Next, you tuck your wings under the back, and insert your meat thermometer in the deepest part of the breast. Place your turkey on the rack breast side up, and pour one can of chicken or vegetable stock in the bottom of roasting pan. I also add some rough chopped onion and celery on bottom of roaster, and inside the cavity for extra flavor.

Now you place turkey in preheated oven and leave it for the first hour. Baste with the drippings from the bottom of pan every 30 minutes until your thermometer reaches the correct temperature for turkey which is 190 degrees. I tend to loosely cover the breast area and wings with foil to prevent over browning. For a turkey between 15-18 pounds, it should take around 3 and 3/4 to 4 hours to fully cook. When you remove your turkey from oven, cover completely with foil and let it rest for a good 15-20 minutes before carving. I use the drippings to make homemade gravy.

If you are planning to roast a turkey this holiday season, follow these directions. You will have a perfectly juicy, golden-brown masterpiece you will feel proud to serve your family and guests. I freeze the drumsticks, and wings for later use to make soup. I hope you and your family have a great holiday season! Thanks for stopping by.

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Top 6 Benefits To Visiting Japan

Japan, the land of the rising sun, is a nation that was rich for its warriors, spirituality, and technological marvels even when the rest of the world was still technologically impaired.

Even today, Japan is a country rich in culture and history unlike any other nation in the world. Thankfully, travel has never been easier, or cheaper than it is today, so if you’re craving intrigue and adventure, Japan may be where you seek.

Here are the top six benefits to visiting Japan:

Tradition Meets Modern

From the very second a tourist steps off the plane, one may find themselves both captivated and alluded by the unseeing marriage of ancient traditions of perfectionism and honor married with modern technology and pop culture.

What may appear as a chaotic combination, you’ll soon come to realize that japan is anything but, everything serves a purpose, often rooted deeply in tradition but designed to fit the constructs of the 21st century.

Cherry Blossoms

In the early weeks of April, both natives and foreigners alike come to Maruyama-Kōen park in Southern area of Higashiyama to witness the blossoms of Japan’s legendary yet beautiful pink cherry blossoms.

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Visitors will be graced with the simplistic and understated elegance of nature on the small footpaths that lead through the parks forest to a small pond in the parks center which is guaranteed to lend a moment of silent meditation and the possibility of sudden enlightenment.

Mount Fuji

If you wind yourself in Japan during its optimal cloning months, ranging from early July to the end of August, one may consider attempting the historic and mysterious mountain of Fuji. 

The mountain itself has ten levels to reach the summit, starting at the base of the mountain, and spanning to the tenth level at the summit. For first time climbers, there are plenty of buses and tours that will take you half way up the mountain to the Yoshida Trail, which is a moderate level trail that gives adventurous hikers five to six hours of unparalleled beauty high above the clouds to the summit of the mountain.

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For more seasoned hikers and adventurers, there is the old Yoshidaguchi trial which is a 19 kilometer hike from the town of Yoshida to the summit.

There are several other paths you can take depending on if you’re coming from Osaka or Kyoto but it’s advisable to start small and work your way up a more populated pathway until you’re familiar with the terrain.


For the spirituality and philosophically minded, the temple of Oku-No-In is said to be one of the most beautiful and spiritual places in all of Japan.

A center of Japanese Buddhists, visitors are greater by a massive alpine forest where the ancient stone path begins, bordered by a seemingly endless amount of stone lamps, also know as stupas, all of which lead to a massive Shingon Buddhist temple which houses the remains of what the Japanese call “the waiting spirits”, which also is home to over 200,000 graves, some of which are the final resting places of feudalistic warlords and legendary monks who were a part of the spiritual revolution of japan.

If you’re feeling adventurous, once at the temple, just off the path, visitors are greeted by the Miroku Stone, which is housed in a small cage.

It is said that if a visitor can lift the stone from the lower tier to the upper platform with one hand, the purer the soul of the person, as it is stated in legend that the heavier the stone, the more malevolent the soul.


Jigokudani, translated to “Hell’s Valley” due to its boiling hot springs and steam vents that emit from the surrounding landscapes, situated in a frozen valley surrounded by steep and jagged cliffs.

Aside from the hot springs and vents, Jigokudani is home to a native species of Japanese snow monkey that move down from the heights during the freezing winter weather to warm themselves in the parks hot springs before retiring to the cliffs after they get their fill.

Himeji Castle

A classic example of ancient Japanese architecture, Himeji castle is considered one of the most beautiful and preserved structures of antiquity from the feudal era of Japan.

The castle has survived and been rebuilt after countless attacks over the centuries, it and its fortifications still stand over the surrounding landscape like a bird of the prey.

Visiting Japan

Japan is an island nation is blossoming with culture, history, and beauty where a traveler won’t find anywhere else. So take a step back and forget what you thought you knew, because this is a land unlike no other.

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Is Your Home as Energy Efficient as it Could Be?

If you've never considered an energy audit for your home, you might be surprised to find that it's well worth your time and effort. After all, drafts and air leaks cost the average American homeowner hundreds of dollars every year.  Finding out how your home uses energy is one way to find out if you need upgrades to your heating and cooling system or elsewhere in your home. Check out these three tips for learning more about your home's energy efficiency. 

Check for Faulty Insulation

Image via Flickr by ryochiji

Insulation can deteriorate over time, leaving gaps that cause air loss. If the insulation in your attic is below the level of the floor joists, add insulation to compensate. Check the insulation's depth with a measuring tape to find out if it meets the manufacturer's recommended levels. 

Check wall insulation by turning off the electrical breaker in each section of your house. Remove the electrical outlet cover to probe the interior wall using a screw driver. If you don't feel resistance, consider installing more insulation.

Seek Out Air Leaks

Air leaks pull air out of your home, causing your HVAC system to work harder in the summer and winter. The incense test is one of the easiest ways to locate problem areas that can drain your wallet. To do this test, close all doors and windows. Turn off appliances, water heaters, and exhaust fans to reduce the airflow in the home. This will help to identify the pesky leaks that you want to plug.

Burn the incense in areas that you suspect are drafty, including near fireplace dampers, outlets, baseboards, foundation seals, and windows. The incense will waver or disappear into leaky areas. Seal these areas to ensure that your home's warm or cool air stays inside.
Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash
Leaks often occur through windows and doors, so you'll want to make sure that your windows are airtight. Installing energy-efficient windows can save you a lot of money in heating and cooling costs. If the incense test reveals air leaks around the doors, adjusting the door on the hinges will ensure a tighter seal.

Inspect and Maintain Appliances

Your home's appliances and systems can also cause serious efficiency issues. Analyze your home's energy usage with an energy calculator. Many online calculators help homeowners perform DIY audits for refrigerators, lighting systems, dishwashers, and other appliances. Schedule maintenance for appliances that are wasting energy or take advantage of tax credits by installing energy-efficient machines.

Regularly inspect your outdoor HVAC unit to make sure that it is free of plants, weeds, and other debris. Call your local heating and air conditioning technician for annual tuneups and efficiency checks.

If your current HVAC system isn't efficient enough, consider an upgrade. A ductless system can help you save energy while still keeping your family comfortable, no matter the season.

These easy steps for improving your home's energy efficiency can make a world of difference when it's time to pay the bills. Small changes and a little effort can decrease your household energy consumption and save you money.
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5 Things No One Told You About Shopping for a Home

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Buying a new home is exciting, but if you’ve never gone through the process before, you may be in for a big surprise – and probably more than a few. When you aren’t experienced with the ins and out, your excitement can quickly turn into frustration. The National Association Realtors recently released some of the latest numbers related to home-buying transactions showing that of all homebuyers, 34% are purchasing a home for the first time. If you’re thinking about becoming a part of that statistic, knowing what most were never told about shopping for a home can prevent learning the hard way.

It’s Going to Cost You Lots More Than You Think

If you’re renting, paying say, $1200 a month, plus perhaps utility costs, you have a pretty good idea of what you have to pay each month. If utilities are included, you know exactly what you’ll be shelling out when rent is due. But when you’re shopping for a house and the lender says the mortgage payment will be only $1400 a month, you might think, “Well, that’s only $200 more, I can easily handle that.” But you’re wrong. There are lots of other things to consider in addition to that payment plus utilities. You’ll need to pay for homeowners insurance, maintenance and repairs (something that’s inevitable), property taxes, and perhaps home association dues and even appliances.

That makes it difficult to determine your exact monthly costs as you never know when something is going to break, and there’s no doubt that total figure is going to be a lot more than just the mortgage payment.

You’ll Need to Limit Your Credit Card Use

Before you start shopping for a new home, you’ll need to hold off on purchasing any big items on credit cards, opening any new lines of credit, obtaining a car loan, etc. In fact, the more you can pay down your debt the better as the ability to get approved for a mortgage, and a good interest rate depends largely on your credit score.

Even If You Don’t Have Kids or Plan on Having Any, Considering Are Schools is Important

Singles and couples who don’t have children and don’t plan to often overlook the schools in the area when shopping for a home. While you probably think it doesn’t matter, it will if you ever decide to sell your home. That’s an important aspect to buyers, with homes in neighborhoods that have access to good schools generally appreciating in value faster than homes in neighborhoods where schools are average are worse, whether you’re purchasing a house among Charleston real estate or any other town in the country.

You Won’t Be Able to Resist Looking at Homes Higher Than Your Price Range

It’s only human nature to want something you can’t have, and nearly all people who shop for homes ended up looking at places that are out of their price range. While that’s all well and good, just don’t move forward with it. What’s even worse than living in a house that may need a few minor repairs is living in a nice home that you can’t really afford and eventually having to sell it when you don’t want to, or even worse, going through a foreclosure.

You’ll Probably Get Outbid

In a sellers’ market, or in areas that are hotter than others and likely to have cash buyers, you’ll probably get outbid, and more than once. While getting your offer rejected isn’t fun, keep trying - odds are that you will succeed.
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How to Take Care of Your Mental Health this Winter

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It is no secret that there has been a spiraling mental health epidemic in recent years. Unfortunately, in winter months people are more at risk of illnesses like Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the dark nights can feel a little more than scary for some people. It is easy to dread this season when you have had bad experiences in the past. However, there is nothing to say it can’t be different this time around. Luckily, lots more tips and tricks are making their way out into the open now that the stigma around mental health is being broken down. To ensure you have the right help, make sure you take note of a select few.
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Eat a balanced diet

When winter is just around the corner, it can be much easier to turn to comfort food as a way of helping you to feel comforted during dark nights. Although indulging in your favorite snack in moderation is a great addition to your diet, you should also make sure you are eating enough vitamins and nutrients. In fact, there are some foods that are both easy to put into every meal, but which are also full of the vitamins your brain needs to help fight depression. It should also be noted that there are also substances that should be avoided, such as excess amounts of caffeine, alcohol, and drugs. If you feel as though you have slipped into a drug dependency at this time, it’s best to see help from a trusted drug addiction center to get you back on track.

Keep your exercise routine

It is widely regarded that having a good exercise routine can do wonders for both your physical and mental well-being. Colder and shorter days can make it feel impossible to keep on top of your current exercise schedule. The gym may seem like a world away, and your regular morning runs will be less appealing when it’s still dark outside. This is where many people decide to make the most of home exercises, as it removes a lot of the stress involved with making it to the gym n harsh weather conditions. While it is recommended that you complete some higher intensity workouts using equipment such as dumbbells, there are some exercises which have been proven to work better for your mental health. For example, yoga has been linked to lowering rates of depression and anxiety, and is a great way to handle excess stress around the holiday season.
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Make use of natural light

In winter, the levels of natural light only take up a short space of the day. This is mainly which leads to problems like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Ideally, you should be outdoors as much as you can, so that you can soak up all the vitamin D your body needs. Taking long walks are a great way to do this. However, there will be days where being outside is not what you need. When this happens, you can maximize the natural light in your home, or you can invest in a special UV lamp so that your body can keep producing the vitamin D it needs to keep your mind healthy.

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