Friday, August 22, 2014

Mealtime Magic: Crustless Quiche

This recipe is courtesy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, out in theaters October 10th.


Contest: Helicopter of the Future

For the fourth consecutive year, Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., is giving kids, ages 9 -  16, a chance to compete for a $1,000 scholarship through the Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Program and Challenge.
The national program, which challenges kids to design a Helicopter of the Future, kicked off June 1 and will run through September 30, 2014. Contestants will design a helicopter that addresses the potential challenges of 2050 and plan for how their Helicopters of the Future would overcome those challenges.
The competition is part of Sikorsky’s commitment to encouraging hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for students throughout the country and gives the corporation an opportunity to develop long-term relationships with tomorrow’s engineers.
The winner of the 2014 competition will receive the Igor Sikorsky Youth Innovator Award along with the scholarship. In addition, the young innovator will be flown to Sikorsky’s headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut, to tour the assembly line of the iconic BLACK HAWK AND SEAHAWK® military helicopters and meet with Sikorsky rotorcraft engineers.
Sikorsky is co-sponsor of the annual challenge with By Kids For Kids, a Connecticut-based organization whose educational content inspires kids to become successful inventors. The Challenge honors company founder Igor Sikorsky who, in 1939, led an engineering team that developed a vertical lift machine with a core design that is still used in 95 percent of helicopters flying today.
Museums throughout the country will use fun, hands-on activities to help students imagine the environmental future and challenges of helicopters. Teachers and museum staff can sign up at www.helicopter2050.com to receive free program materials. Students can enter the competition at www.helicopter2050.com

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Connecticut, is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Connecticut, provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

By Kids For Kids® (BKFK®) is a platform that empowers youth invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. BKFK promotes youth social innovation and partners with leading corporations to inspire product development, crucial technology skills, invention, and innovation in young people. BKFK provides a unique platform for young people to develop, showcase, and commercialize their products, inventions and entrepreneurship. BKFK’s “cycle of innovation” develops critical 21st Century skills in our nation’s youth. The company provides educational resources, curriculum and challenges that promote social change, product development and entrepreneurial endeavors. For more about BKFK visit www.bkfk.com.  

Parenting Pointers: Women and Financial Influence.

I recently had a chance to interview Jennifer Openshaw, executive director, Financial Women’s Association, and columnist, Dow Jones’ MarketWatch. She also serves as chair of Consumer Action’s Corporate Advisory Board. She is the author of three books, including The Socially Savvy Advisor: Compliant Social Media for the Financial Industry (Wiley), due out this fall.
 
Are there any particular challenges women face in the financial industry?
Just as in any industry, women want to rise to the top and reach their potential – not just in the positions they hold but in the income they earn. The odd thing is: Women make up only 19% of senior positions and only 2% of CEOs in the financial industry (PwC), despite the fact that women control half of the wealth in our country.  So helping women succeed and reach their potential in this industry – from insurance to banking to wealth management – is what the FWA is all about. We do this through networking, access to industry leaders, and events that keep them ahead of the game.

Why is it important to recognize the financial influence of women?
Women hold enormous collective and individual power.  Stop and think about it: Who’s making the buying decisions – whether it’s cars, cameras or coats? Women. Who’s taking on the family wealth after the first spouse passes on? Women. And who’s increasingly the chief financial officer in the home? Women.

Women may not realize the financial power they wield, but together -- whether they’re single, married or divorced -- they are quite a force. Women control over 51% of US stocks and they contribute $7 trillion towards spending overall. They are starting businesses, creating jobs and doing it quite successfully. That doesn’t mean it’s easy but it does mean we have influence, and companies are paying attention as a result.

How can parents encourage their daughters to gain a solid background in STEM, which prepares them for careers in not just finance, but any tech-, science-, or math-related field?
That’s a great question because I have a four-year-old and I’ve been focused on that. Last year, at just three, I watched my daughter on the playground play banker and customer with another girl standing behind what looked like a mock desk (it was part of the playground equipment). I went up to them and asked what she was going to do with the money the banker was giving her. “It’s for my piggy bank,” she answered. The other girl said she was going to “buy dresses.”

Here’s my advice:
  •       First, you don’t have to wait until your kids are 10 or even 5 to start teaching them money and math. Counting with cheerios or engaging them in buying decisions at the grocery store can turn into wonderful financial lessons.
  •       Second, consider supplemental educational programs. We tried a local program with young tutors to take my daughter’s math to another level, and she’s enjoyed it. Parents need to remember that sometimes it’s about making it fun and investing the time to engage them. If you’re not able to provide this, look to the community or other programs that can help. This is what the FWA is now doing with working women: providing education specifically devoted to technology and career skills that will build her worth on the job. We’re all about having impact on the financial industry – one woman at a time.
  • ·     Finally, proactively select games and movies that are in the field of math and science. There are plenty that are both fun and educational. Even letting your child experience with their own hands what it’s like to build something or to create their own video is teaching them early STEM skills.

Would you like to share a little bit about your book on industry-related social media?
If you have a financial advisor, chances are they’re trying to figure out how to use social media – Twitter and Facebook, for example – to communicate with you.  With millions of people – women especially – on social media, they’d be silly not to think of social media, right? The challenge is that the financial industry – unlike fashion and many other industries – has very strict laws that make it tough for an advisor to just leap into the social world. So this book – The Savvy Advisor – is designed to help them understand the rules of the game so that they can talk to investors while still remaining on the right side of the law.  It’s ideal for any financial professional who wants to understand how to use all the primary social media channels – whether to educate or provide customer service – and still remain compliant.



Healthy Habits: Protecting Eye Heal

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, which serves not only as a great reminder to  get your children’s eyes checked before school starts, but also to remember the importance of maintaining good eye health and safety throughout the year.
 
School is a place where ideas are freely exchanged, intellectual growth is nurtured and social interactions are shaped though experience. However, the school’s halls and classrooms so vital to our children’s development are also a hotbed of infectious bacteria and present various dangers to the eyes.
 
With kids busy running to class, staring endlessly at computer screens studying or training hard for their school’s athletics program, thinking about maintaining good eye health and safety may not be a top priority in their minds. By taking the time to teach them a few important safety tips, parents can ensure their kids will be able to focus on what really matters: education.
 
Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, a top Beverly Hills Ophthalmologist, has a few tips parents can use to help protect their kids’ eyes this school year:

1.       Get your child an eye exam before school starts: Problems with your children’s vision can be detected through a routine eye exam. It’s important to correct these issues, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, before they create more serious complications such as difficulty learning or the development of recurrent headaches.
2.       Kids should wash their hands regularly: According to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, more than 164 million school days are missed due to the spread of infectious diseases. Three million of those missed days are the direct result of acute conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. It’s important to remind your children to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their eyes as much as possible.
3.       Ensure children wear protective eyewear when playing sports: Most eye injuries among kids aged 11 to 14 occur while playing sports, with nearly 35,000 incidents per year according to the National Eye Institute. Protective eyewear, such as goggles or a helmet-mounted eye/face shield, can drastically reduce the risk of serious eye injury. As parents, a great way to help is by setting a good example whenever you participate in sports.
4.       Encourage kids to give their eyes a rest: With the school year in full swing, your children will likely be spending a lot of time with their nose stuck in books or staring at the computer screen. Over time, this can cause eye strain, headaches, blurred vision or even nearsightedness. Remind your children to give their eyes a rest every 20 to 30 minutes. It’s a good idea to minimize glare where they are working, as this can force the eyes to work harder than need be.
5.       Purchase your children high E-SPF glasses: A lot of activities that kids participate in after school expose them to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Over time, UV exposure can lead to a host of problems for the eyes, including the early development of cataracts. By purchasing protective, high E-SPF prescription glasses or sunglasses for your child, you’ll foster and encourage their good eye health years to come. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Soul Sustenance: Six Back-to-School Strategies to Help You Stress Less & Simplify Your Life

by, Renée Peterson Trudeau

In the Native American tradition, September signifies the start of a new year. It certainly feels this way to me. Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, the start of the school year signifies opportunity, a time for a fresh start and a chance to do things differently. If you're feeling some anxiety around the all the transitions, scheduling and driving that usually accompany a new school year, take a deep breath, pause, and consider the following ideas for a simpler, less stressful school year. Adopting even one of these ideas could make a huge difference in how you experience this potentially hectic time. Begin with compassion and baby steps as you consider the following:
1.       Identify what's #1 for your family this fall. What values or new ways of being are most important to you in the upcoming months? Is it having calm mornings, eating dinner together, saying "no," and not overscheduling, having dedicated family time, a good homework routine, or a game plan for regular communication? Consider creating a vision board together around your shared values.
2.       Set yourself up for success by enlisting a support team. What type of support do you and your family need to feel nourished and nurtured as you transition into the new season? Perhaps a parenting coach or counselor to support a special need, a new carpool team, a source for ready-made healthy meals, or a couple of backup baby sitters for monthly dates with your partner? Line up support now and post your "support team" list in your kitchen where the whole family can see it.
3.       Schedule replenishing nature respites. Being in nature elicits a relaxation response; it helps us shed worries and restore and replenish our bodies and minds like nothing else. Pull out your calendar and schedule some family hikes, a father/son camping trip, a visit to a country cabin over a holiday break, or a potluck in a state or city park with your neighbors or friends.
4.       Do less to experience more. In our office, we love the mantra, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." A key cause of stress is ambition and trying to do too much. Researchers in the field of positive psychology say we're happiest when we have fewer options and decisions to make. What can you say "no" to so that you can simplify your family's life? Our quality of life is enhanced not by adding things, but by letting go of that which we don't need.
5.       Be mindful of technology. In a recent survey I did, families across the United States said overuse of media was the top culprit for derailing their family's emotional well-being and sense of connectedness. Consider doing an informal family media use survey (include phones, computers, tablets, TV) and create some clear guidelines for how and when your kids can be online, play video games, or use other devices. I recommend having a "home base" — such as the kitchen — where the phones and digital devices rest at night while everyone in the family gets their sleep.
6.       Designate weekends for rest and relaxation (as best you can!). It's easy to pack our weekends with errands, household cleaning, social activities, sports, and more—but remember that weekend time is sacred. The primary purpose of this 48-hour break is to rejuvenate and restore your energy reserves so you can return to work and school on Monday with a fresh, excited outlook -- ready to learn and take on new projects. While spending the entire weekend in a hammock may be unrealistic, realize rest and relaxation are essential to problem solving, idea generation, and creativity. At least a portion of your weekend -- and maybe all day Sunday -- should be devoted to physical and emotional renewal.

Decide now how you'll communicate as a family during the busy fall months. Regular, open, heartfelt communication is key to people feeling heard, seen, safe, and secure, and knowing their ideas matter -- especially when schedules are full. Some opt for weekly family meetings (post an agenda on the fridge and have your children add items to the list during the week), some parents have Sunday evening planning meetings after the kids go to bed, and others adopt practices as simple as everyone sharing a "thumbs up and thumbs down" at dinner each night. What would work best for you?


Now's a great time to mindfully reflect on what has worked and not worked in the past for your family and to explore how you might implement some of these strategies now, so you enter the new school year feeling cool, calm, and connected.

More ideas, exercises, monthly meditations and inspiration on how to reconnect, stress less and experience more balance and harmony in everyday life in Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life (New World Library 2013) by Renée Peterson Trudeau. Learn more about upcoming events on 
her website, including her new fall tele-course Permission Granted: The Art of Extreme Self-Care. Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally recognized life balance coach, speaker, and author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, US News and World Report, Good Housekeeping, AARP and more. She is the author of the award-winning The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. Thousands of women around the globe are participating in self-renewal groups for women based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. Renée lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son.

Pet Pointers: General Pet Tips

Proper pet care may seem very basic - our pets need food, water, medical care and lots of love. However, they have other needs too, such as ample physical exercise and mental stimulation to lead a long, happy and healthy life. It is important for pet owners to take the proper steps to ensure their furry friends are happy and healthy. As such, Heidi Ganahl, CEO and Founder of Camp Bow Wow, the nation's largest pet care franchise, has created a series of useful tips regarding general pet wellness.

  1. Regular Health Checks - Even if you think your pet is healthy, make sure to take your pet to your veterinarian at least once a year for a checkup. Getting a regular checkup will ensure that any potential issues are detected early.
  2. Healthy Diet - Many dog foods contain sugar and other ingredients that can cause obesity and health issues for your pet. Work with your veterinarian or other trusted sources to determine the food that will fit your pet's needs while keeping them healthy. Also, follow the feeding instructions on the food's bag to ensure you are not overfeeding your pet.
  3. Exercise - Taking your pet for a daily brisk walk or a fun run goes a long way in keeping your pet healthy. Exercise keeps your pet's weight down, reduces digestive issues, and decreases problem behaviors (like chewing, digging and barking).
  4. Healthy Weight - Approximately 54% of pets are overweight, according to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. If your dog becomes overweight, it creates stress on their joints and can lead to additional health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and a decreased life expectancy. To tell if your pet is at a good weight, you should be able to look at them from above and see a waist, as well as run your fingers over their body while pressing down lightly and be able to feel their ribs.
  5. Vaccinate Your Pet - There are deadly diseases that your pet can contract, so keeping all of their vaccinations up-to-date will help ensure your pet is safe and healthy.
  6. Teeth Cleaning - Plaque and tartar build up on your dog's teeth can lead to serious health issues. Start preventative care early on, including brushing their teeth, providing dental treats, or giving them a rubber toy (like a KONG®) to chew on. Your vet will check your dog's teeth at their yearly checkup, and it's important to get them professionally cleaned when your veterinarian says it's time.

Thrifty Thinking: Common Credit Card Mistakes

5 Credit Card Mistakes Everyone Makes

By Julie Myhre of NextAdvisor.com

There are millions and millions of credit cards in circulation in this country. Most people have more than one, which means that most people in the country are familiar with how credit cards work. Sadly, myths and misinformation have made our knowledge of credit cards a little muddy. Most of us are making some serious mistakes when it comes to using our credit cards. If you find yourself making any of these common credit card mistakes, it might be a good idea to adjust how you are using your cards:


1. Only paying the minimum payment

This seems like the easiest way to make a payment on a credit card, however there are some major drawbacks to only paying the minimum payment. The biggest drawback is that you're paying more money overtime in interest. Paying an additional $15 to $20 each month may not seem like it'll make a huge difference, but that additional money begins to add up and soon you are paying hundreds of dollars in interest.

An additional drawback to only paying the minimum balance is that it may impact your creditworthiness. If you aren't paying your balance off completely each month, lenders might think that you've taken on more debt than you can handle. It's important to maintain your creditworthiness if you intend to apply for a loan or credit card. On top of paying more than the monthly payment, you should also make sure that you're making the payment on time because it accounts for 35 percent of your credit score, according to FICO, and can have a negative impact on your credit scores, which is also an important factor to opening a new loan or credit card.

2. Closing old credit cards

This is a bad habit that most credit card holders are guilty of. Most think that once they pay off a credit card, it's in their best interest to close the card so they don't have the temptation to build up a balance again. Even though it seems like a good idea to remove the temptation, closing the card can impact your credit utilization ratio, which can negatively impact your credit scores.

The credit utilization ratio compares the total used credit to the total available credit to provide a percentage that helps determine how risky it is to loan you money. A higher ratio has more of a negative impact on a credit score. The credit utilization ratio is calculated by adding up the total used credit and dividing it by the total available credit. For example, if you have a total of $700 in credit card debt and a total of $2,100 in available credit, then you have a credit utilization ratio of about 33 percent.

Most experts recommend that it's best to keep your credit utilization ratio between 10 and 30 percent. It should be noted that the credit utilization is only calculated with revolving debt (credit cards), as opposed to installment debt that has a fixed number of payments, such as auto loans or mortgages.

3. Maxing out credit cards

Even though there are circumstances when you may need to use most or all of your available credit, it's best if you pay down the balance as quickly as you can. If you don't, it can have a negative impact on your credit scores. Similar to closing old credit cards, maxing out your credit cards or carrying a hefty balance raises your credit utilization ratio.

In addition to impacting your credit scores, maxing out your credit cards also puts you at risk of accidentally going over the credit limit either with interest or accidental charges. It also makes it harder for you to pay the balance off, especially if you're only making the minimum payment.

4. Applying for multiple credit cards at once

Opening new credit cards is one way to positively impact your credit scores because it adds to your total available credit, which lowers your credit utilization score. That being said, applying for multiple credit cards at once may have the reverse effect on your credit scores. Too many hard inquiries on your credit report can negatively impact your scores, which will make you seem desperate for more credit.

What's a hard inquiry? Each time you apply to a credit card (or any other type of loan) and a lender pulls your credit report, it shows up on your report as a hard credit inquiry. Having too many inquiries at one time has a negative impact on your scores since it can look like you are desperate to get more credit, which deters creditors from giving you more. It's best to apply to a credit card that you know you'll get approved for. If you don't know which credit cards you are eligible for with your current credit score, here is a couple for options for those with good and average credit:

Best card for good credit: Chase Freedom Credit Card  

If you have good credit, then the Chase Freedom Credit Card is the best option you. With this card you'll earn 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back — up to $1,500 — within certain bonus categories that rotate on a quarterly basis. On top of that, Chase Freedom also offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months and doesn't charge any annual fee.


On top of being the best card for average credit, the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard offers top-notch rewards. You will earn 2 points per $1 on gas, grocery and utilities as well as 1 point per $1 on every other purchase. On top of the generous rewards, this card has no annual fee, no blackout dates, no redemption fees and no limits on the points you can earn.

Want more credit card options? Learn all of the best credit cards for excellent, good, average and bad credit scores here.

5. Ignoring monthly credit card statements

This is a habit that far too many credit card holders have grown accustomed to. You receive the statement in the mail and drop it into the shredder before you even open it. Even though shredding it is the safest route, it's still essential that you open the statement and thoroughly look through it before you throw it out. Verify that you completed each of the transactions yourself and report any unknown transactions to your bank as possible fraud. This is an important habit to get used to, especially with all of the store data breaches that have occurred since the end of 2013, including the Target breach that exposed 110 million of its customers. By simply checking your statements each month, you can know if you fell victim to a possible security breach and even catch fraudulent transactions before it's too late.

This blog originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com’s blog, found here: http://www.nextadvisor.com/blog/

Fun Freetime: Animal Explorations at Home

Fans of the Wild Kratts TV series on PBS KIDS will love this news - there's a brand-new Wild Kratts toy line that lets them bring home all the exciting wildlife explorations of the hit show for the very first time! The new Wild Kratts toy line from Wicked Cool Toys will leap, bounce and soar to Toys“R”Us stores nationwide and toysrus.com this month. The imagination-inspiring new assortment of collectable action figures, plush, power suits and more, encourages young animal adventurers to role play and “activate” their own “creature powers” – just like the stars of the show, Chris and Martin Kratt!


Plus, the first ever Wild Kratts book, “Wild Sea Creatures: Sharks, Whales and Dolphins!” (SRP: $3.99) is now available for even more imaginative adventures! The brand-new title from Random House Kids follows Chris and Martin as they travel to animal habitats all around the globe! 

To encourage you to learn more about the wildlife in your own backyard, I'm posting this Wild Kratts-inspired tip sheet, full of creative ways for kids and families to set out on their own animal explorations! 

Healthy Habits: Immunity-Boosting Tips

As school starts, we head straight into the cold and flu season - and whether you're in an office, waiting on line or in a classroom, germs can easily be spread if we're not well protected! Doctors and health experts remind us to wash hands frequently and cover sneezes, but prepping yourself at home and before the season starts will help everyone in the family your immune system and keep you safe.  
Leading health MD Dr. Christopher Hobbs from Rainbow Light has created his top 10 tips to boost your immune system and give you an edge on fighting flu this fall. With over 30 years in the fields of holistic, natural health, Dr. Hobbs helps his patients and readers look and feel their best every day.

  1. Get regular exercise. Regular exercise helps condition resistance to infections by circulating blood and immune cells.
  2. Practice hydrotherapy. After exercise, get into a cool swimming pool or shower to help circulate surface immunity. Hydrotherapy has been practiced in many cultures for at least 2,000 years to help maintain and restore health.
  3. Sleep is vital. In one study, the cold virus was swabbed into two groups of volunteers. One group was allowed eight hours sleep, while the other was restricted to less than seven hours. The latter group was three times more likely to contract a respiratory infection (Cohen et al, 2009).
  4. Address symptoms early. If you start feeling under the weather, try an herbal remedy with herbs researched for immune support (elderberry, andrographis, berberine) like Rainbow Light® Counter Attack™ Immuno-Response to bolster immunity and reduce symptom severity.
  5. Try adding immune-boosting products and nutrients into your diet.
  6. Limit sugar and processed foods. These items can have a negative effect on your health, especially when immunity is compromised.
  7. Incorporate garlic into dishes. Fresh garlic has natural immune-boosting qualities. Try to incorporate it into dishes, particularly if you aren't feeling well.
  8. Take a daily multivitamin. It's difficult to get all of our daily nutrients from food. Fill gaps in your diet through a multivitamin to get what you need for optimal health - Rainbow Light has a great variety of multivitamins for the entire family.
  9. Drink hot green tea. It contains compounds that help strengthen resistance.
  10. Get fresh air. Dress warmly and venture outdoors, even if only for a short, brisk walk. The fresh air invigorates and boosts natural defenses.
Dr. Christopher Hobbs, Ph.D., L.Ac., A.H.G., Director at Rainbow Light - With over 30 years of experience in the health space and as a licensed herbalist at Rainbow Light, Dr. Hobbs has immense experience in the specialties of vitamins, holistic health medicine, natural products, organic, wellness and diet/weight loss and has worked closely with clients to help them achieve optimal health. Following a "whole, simple and nutritious" diet approach, Dr. Hobbs actively motivates clients to participate in personally designed health plans while educating clients on the immense benefits of a clean diet outlook. Hobbs has authored 25 books, including Herbal Remedies for Dummies and Women's Herbs, Women's Health. He shares his knowledge of herbal medicine with consumers and educators all over the world through lectures, and utilized his expertise in this field to found the Institute for Natural Products Research. He also serves as a consultant to the herb industry.