Monday, October 16, 2017

Caring Causes: LightStream Forest of Dreams

Want to see you or your family featured on a Times Square billboard? Now is your chance! Go to LightStreamForests.com and upload your favorite photo. You may be featured on a Times Square billboard, and you’ll also have a tree planted in your honor!
So what’s the scoop?
On Wednesday, October 18, LightStream – the online lending division of SunTrust Bank that plants a tree for every loan it makes -- is creating a pop-up Forest of Dreams in Times Square. This lush forest, complete with live trees and rescued wildlife, celebrates the 1,000 acres of trees LightStream has already planted and boosts its effort to plant 500 more acres this year.

As part of a nationwide push, the company will plant a tree for the first 10,000 people who participate in the Forest of Dreams. A portion of the Forest of Dreams’ donations will benefit areas recently decimated by hurricanes, including Houston and Miami.
People across the country can help in one of three ways:

  • Visit the Forest of Dreams in Times Square - Have your photo taken against a forest background which will be shared on a Times Square billboard.
  • Go to LightStreamForests.com - Upload a photo that may be featured on the Times Square billboard.
  • Share on social media – If you submit a photo online, you will receive an email with your picture customized as if you were at the Forest of Dreams event and featured on a Times Square billboard. Share the image with others and encourage them to plant a tree, as well. (#lightstreamforests; #forestofdreams).

Consumer Critique: Hard Candy Holiday Kits

Hard Candy is introducing several new kits for holiday gift-giving later this year. Available at Walmart and Walmart.com, they make a great value and a fun way to try some new products. I had a chance to review the Bathing Beauties Bath & Body Collection, which came in a beautiful calming blue-green color. The scent combines citrus and tea leaf for a fresh, lightly tropical scent. It includes a variety of products: hand cream, body butter, body wash, body lotion, body mist, bath fizzer, and cosmetic bag.

There are a variety of other collections available, including a lip collection with twenty different colors, perfect for clearing out old used tubes; and a contour and glow collection with several different neutral palettes.

Check out Walmart and Walmart.com, or Hard Candy's website to see more available products.

Consumer Critique: L.R. Rice Raw & Unfiltered Honey

Founded in 1924 by L.R. Rice, Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey is a family owned company, and a leading producer of the highest quality raw and unfiltered honey in the U.S. Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey has established and nurtured long-standing relationships with beekeeper families, allowing for quality U.S. honey to be packed in every bottle of Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey. Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey recently debuted L.R. Rice Raw & Unfiltered Honey and Rice Family Raw and Unfiltered Honey.

I had a chance to try out L.R. Rice Raw & Unfiltered Honey fro mLocal Midwest and Local Great Lakes. Both were absolutely delicious. There was a very slight difference in taste between the two, but I wouldn't be able to describe it. All I know is that it's a great-tasting honey, an extremely versatile ingredients. I've used it in making marinades and barbecue sauces, beverages, desserts, breakfast dishes, and more. Honey also is naturally free of most common allergies, and has health benefits as well (it works just as well as cough syrup for night-time coughs in my kids). You can see a wide variety of delicious recipes here.

This 116-year-old American company has a strong commitment to local American beekeepers. The mission at Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey is not only to offer the all natural raw unfiltered honey, culled from local beehives for generations, but also to help sustain the source of these wholesome sources of honey, and the viability of the local American beekeepers.

Available nationwide and online, these products offer the highest quality of honey available on the market, all locally sourced, and completely raw and unfiltered. All of Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey products are raw and unfiltered, making them high in antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, and full of vitamins and minerals.

Available at locations from Whole Foods to Walmart, Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey works with local beekeepers to provide honey from select regions throughout the USA.

About Rice’s Lucky Honey:
L.R. Rice founded Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, in 1924. This women-owned, family operated company, now in its 5th generation, remains a leading producer of authentic, high quality, raw, and unfiltered honey. The company’s honey is 100% pure, local United States, raw and unfiltered honey.
Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey has generated significant brand equity through its commitment to producing high quality, premium, raw, and unfiltered honey at affordable prices.

Book Nook: Castle in Danger

My daughters love to read. The older one likes fantasy books and the younger likes books about ninjas and warriors. Both found something to enjoy in a book I recently got to review, Castle in Danger by Karen Rita Rautenberg.

This historical fiction novel is set during the Middle Ages in the 14th Century. Designed for children eight to twelve, it follows the story of Emma, who is sweet and pretty and lives in a castle with Baron Geoffrey. When this rich young girl is saved from an accident by a handsome young peasant, they have adventures along the way. The friendship develops as they try to keep the family jewels safe from thieves, search for a missing cousin, and witness battles and a siege at her uncle's castle.

As children read the novel, they'll be exposed to a variety of Medieval traditions, including jousting tournaments, town fairs, and holidays like Christmas and All Hallow's Eve. It was a well-written book - both of my children loved reading it, and I enjoyed it too!


Consumer Critique: Jarlsberg Cheese Snacks

My kids love cheese, my husband and I like crackers, and we enjoy giving fancier crackers as part of a larger gift as well. We recently had a chance to try out some new snacks from Jarlsberg, including individually wrapped chunks of cheese (perfect size for lunchboxes) and new Cheese Crisps

The Crisps are a little thinner than traditional crackers, and have a great crunch. They made a delicious topping for soup, and I liked using the crumbs at the bottom to add crunch to salads. The crackers have thinly shredded cheese on top to add a nice cheesy taste, and they come in a variety of flavors in resealable bags: Chipotle, Rosemary & Olive Oil, Garlic & Herb, Mediterranean Sea Salt.

The sea salt was a nice neutral flavor that would work well with anything. I liked the garlic - not too garlicky but still there. The rosemary was also fairly neutral with just a little different flavor from plain crackers. My favorite was the chipotle - it had a zing to it, but not so spicy that my kids wouldn't eat it.

Jarlsberg products are sold at a wide variety of food stores; the crisps have a suggested price of $3.99-$4.99. Get recipes and ideas for this delicious cheese on the website.

Smart Safety: National Teen Driver Safety Week

It’s one of the biggest milestones in a teen’s life – getting his or her driver’s license. However, this step toward independence and freedom also means a greater responsibility for you and your teen. As part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs from October 15-21, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging parents to start a conversation about safety with their teen driver. Let your young driver know that obeying the rules of the road is a prerequisite for the privilege of driving.
If you're unsure of where to start, what driving patterns are riskiest for teens, or just want some general information about teen driving, join us as we partner with the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety for a #TeenDriver Twitter Chat. We'll have experts available to answer your questions. Make sure to use the hashtag #TeenDriver and tag us @NHTSAgov. Teen driving affects everyone on the road, so if you have a teen in your life, it's the perfect place to gather information, or serve as a reminder to talk to your teens daily about the importance of safety behind the wheel. 
Who: NHTSA and NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety
What: #TeenDriver 
When: Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 3-4 p.m. ET
How: Follow the conversation using the hashtag #TeenDriver. Feel free to mention @NHTSAgov in any of your tweets and we will return as many questions and comments as we can! 

Caring Causes: Cleaning for a Reason

Dusting, mopping and vacuuming are never fun, but all can be simply overwhelming if you must do it in the middle of chemotherapy while struggling with fatigue and nausea.   
Luckily, throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, local mothers who are in treatment are getting free house cleaningservices, so they can concentrate on getting better and spend more quality time with their families.
Women & Breast Cancer
(source: American Cancer Society)
  • This year, it's estimated more than 250,000 women will hear the words:  “You have breast cancer.”
  • 40,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year.
  • Many women endure more than one kind of treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. 
Sharan Chase of Nashville, Tennessee is one of hundreds of women across the country who has experienced the free cleaning services. “I was sick as a dog at the time due to a chemotherapy medication, I could not get off of my couch,” said Chase. “The folks at Two Maids & A Mop have made me feel great, especially knowing that the heavy stuff that needs to be done will get done. When you have people who care, it makes all the difference in the world.”
The staff at the local Two Maids & A Mop office works with Cleaning for a Reason, a national non-profit organization, to find patients like Sharan. Almost always these women feel like they are either a bad mom or wife – if they can’t continue to play the role of “caregiver in chief.”   Two Maids & A Mop goes in and does the work over a four-month period.

Healthy Habits: Secondary Infertility

In the U.S., more than 5 million people of childbearing age – or one in every ten couples – have infertility. While primary fertility typically receives attention, approximately more than 1 million couples in the U.S. have secondary infertility struggles.

I had a chance to interview Dr. Jane Frederick, an internationally noted fertility specialist located in Orange County, CA, to learn more.

Many couples are left in shock and disbelief when they find themselves unable to conceive a second child, especially if they became pregnant so easily or perhaps even accidentally the first time.  

According to statistics, more than 1 million couples are struggling with secondary infertility.  The more common explanations are couples trying to have a child with a new spouse or have developed a fertility problem since the last child was conceived.  Many women might have developed endometriosis, irregular ovulation or fallopian tube dysfunction.  A man might have a decline in their sperm causing concentration or motility issues.  Other factors for both men and women can involve age, prior health issues or even stress. There are fertility tests that can be performed on both the male and female to determine the causes of secondary infertility and the best course of treatment

With secondary infertility, one mistake by couples is they wait too long to seek help hoping that they will achieve a pregnancy on their own. The same rules should apply for all couples – if you are ages 35- 40 and trying for 6 months without success you should seek a fertility specialist for evaluation. If you are under 35 and trying for a year, then you should seek help and patients over 40 should get started on evaluation immediately.

Parenting Pointers: Biased Views of Girls Begin as Early as Fourth Grade, New Save the Children Survey Reveals

Biased views on the value of girls and their roles within the classroom and society begin to show as early as fourth grade, according to new data released today by Save the Children. The global humanitarian organization, which surveyed boys and girls in the United States and the West African nations of Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire, found that a striking number of young boys – and even many girls – believe fathers rule the household, boys are smarter than girls and girls need less school than boys.

The new data indicates that girls are significantly less valued than their male peers, even in these very different regions of the world. 

In the survey, Save the Children asked fourth graders whether or not they agree with a series of questions about education and power dynamics between males and females. In the United States, 37 percent of fourth-grade boys believe that boys are smarter than girls, whereas in the districts in Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire where these data were collected, two out of three fourth-grade boys surveyed agreed with this sentiment. Surprisingly, in both the United States and the sites surveyed in West Africa, more than one in five fourth-grade girls report needing less school than boys (22 percent in the U.S., 25 percent in Sierra Leone). 

These stereotypes carry over to the role women play within their families and communities as well. The overwhelming majority of boys (94 percent) and girls (92 percent) surveyed in Sierra Leone think that the father is in charge of the home, compared with more than one-third of American fourth graders who agree. In regions of Côte d’Ivoire surveyed as well as across the United States, approximately two-thirds of fourth graders report that moms are more responsible than dads for taking care of the children. In the United States, the research found that these views not only apply to the home, but also the workplace, with 17 percent of American fourth graders believing a man would make a better boss than a woman.

"Girls are worth far more than what the world tells them,” said Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children. “Globally, we know that girls are more likely than boys to miss out on school, experience violence and live in poverty. That is why we need to invest in their education and do everything possible to delay early marriage and motherhood. By providing children equal opportunities and access to learning, every girl can realize what she’s truly worth.”

In 2017, girls around the world are still frequently marginalized in their families, communities and societies because of who they are or where they were born. They face discrimination, lack equal opportunities and earn less money – their lives and futures aren’t given the value they deserve. Save the Children analysis revealed that a girl under 15 is married every seven seconds. International Day of the Girl is a day dedicated to highlighting barriers and empowering girls to reach their full potential.

Parents of fourth graders in the United States also were surveyed about their perceptions on gender. These additional findings were alarming and revealed that 50 percent of parents believe the father controls the household. More than one-fifth think that men should make more money than women and more than a quarter of fathers think it is more important for boys to get an education than girls.

Added Miles, “If girls are ever going to truly value themselves – and be valued – the same as boys, the U.S. government, nonprofits, corporations and everyday citizens need to advocate together on their behalf. On International Day of the Girl, Save the Children is calling on everyone to prioritize equal education for every last girl, and to help bring an end to child marriage and gender discrimination. Because a girl who knows her own value can change the course of her life, her family’s life and the future of her community.”

Save the Children is releasing the survey findings ahead of an African-led conference on ending child marriage later this month in Dakar, Senegal. The West and Central Africa High-Level Meeting on Ending Child Marriage (Oct. 23-25) will see government leaders, traditional, religious and other influential leaders, child rights organizations, youth and UN agencies come together to discuss solutions to end this harmful practice, such as legal reforms and targeted interventions to enable girls to remain in school as a viable alternative to marriage.

To learn more about Save the Children’s investment in girls, visitwww.savethechildren.org/girls

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Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Money Makers: Etsy Micro-Influencers

Is it possible to leave your office job and go Etsy full-time?

Short answer? Yes.

Imagine this:
Your Etsy business is your passion, but sales are low. If you could just get your crafts into the hands of a few influential people, your income would skyrocket. But you've heard influencer budgets start at $25,000—an expense you can't swing.

How are you supposed to get your business off the ground?

According to Unity [http://www.unityinfluence.com/]—a Silicon Valley-based startup that uses AI to power micro-influencer programs at scale—there is a way. Unity shares 4 secrets to turning your Etsy business into more than a side project:

#1: THINK SMALL TO GET BIG RESULTS
It's a little-known fact that micro-influencers have the highest engagement rates—making their posts much more effective than Kim Kardashian's. They're also about 1,250X less expensive than celebrity influencers.

#2: DON'T PAINT YOUR AUDIENCE WITH A BROAD BRUSH
Because micro-influencers are more niche, it's possible to connect with a more highly targeted audience—meaning more people will buy your product for less spend on your part.

#3: IT'S OKAY TO BE PICKY
Influencer content is unique and personal, just like your Etsy goods—and by asking your influencer to produce multiple content options from which you can choose, you up your chances of audience conversion.

#4: NAME YOUR OWN PRICE—DON'T LET SOMEONE ELSE DICTATE THE TERMS
There’s no price standard for what influencers earn for sponsored content—Kim Kardashian might earn $250,000 for a post, while another influencer might earn $90. Over- or under-paying for influencer services is the quickest path to wasting ad budget.

After realizing how cost prohibitive and sophisticated influencer marketing can be for small businesses, Unity created the first end-to-end influencer marketing solution and platform that allows businesses to name their own price—starting at just $200.