Friday, October 28, 2011

The Regulation Modifications That Can Help You Start a Business in Latin America Countries

When it comes to starting a new business in Latin America, the general misconception on the part of the potential investors is that the legislative limitations of the countries situated in this area outweigh the benefits. It is fairly true that in the past many governments imposed restrictive laws which deemed the business environment constraining.
However, nowadays, business in Latin America seems to be picking up the pace quickly due to several favorable modifications of the legal system and new regulations that favor development and the expansions of companies in the region. Although the following article will exemplify the highlights of these changes, it is advisable to employ the services of specialized consultants if you are not familiar with the Latin America market.
For Brazil, the most notable modification comes from the tax system, which has now synchronized the federal and the state taxes, for the convenience of the companies. It is necessary to point out that the old system of taxes made it very complicated and confusing for businesses to stay up to date with the full array of taxes in order to avoid penalties. Furthermore, those interested in the Chilean market will be happy to learn that the authorities have implemented an online business registration method as well as one that allows you to file publication requests.
Moreover, Chile now promotes corporate transparency and regulates the transaction approval, all in the interest of investors.
In Colombia it is much easier now to obtain construction permits, as the pre-building certificates are verified by the authorities online. There is no other notable achievement for Ecuador except for the implementation of the online system that manages social security registrations. In Mexico, on the other hand, several changes have been made, the first one being the one-stop shops which allow companies to register their business. At the same time, it is now much easier to obtain construction permits, as two major services (utilities and zoning) have been merged and streamlined. However, corporate taxes in this country have been increased, although the administrative tasks are much simpler due to the widespread popularity of online payment methods and high usage rate of accounting software programs.
Nicaragua, while it has regrettably imposed several new taxes (10 percent withholding taxes for the gross interest generated by a deposit) on companies and increased the preexisting ones has substantially improved the trade using innovative electronic data transfer systems for the department of customs and one-stop shops for goods exports. In addition, the investments made in the equipments for Corinto, one of the major ports of the country will also facilitate exports and imports trading.
In Uruguay, entrepreneurs will find it easier to register properties due to the elimination of the preemption rights waivers, which was required up to now. At the same time, Paraguay also allowed companies to obtain a construction permit with less hassle thanks to the improved administrative structures and the superior tracking systems which eliminated a great deal of bureaucracy. In a nutshell, many countries are striving to make business in Latin America enchanting for investors and many more changes are yet to come.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fun, Quirky Children's Pillows That Adults Will Also Love

It's not all the time that when you see something, it immediately grabs your attention and when you come for a closer look, you actually fall in love it. When that happens, you just can't let it go. I'm talking about attention-grabbing, earth-loving, unique children's pillows. They look so good that kids and adults alike would surely love them!

If you're a pillow loving person who loves to play around and experiment with cool, unique, funky designs, then why not look around online? Sometimes, all a room needs is a change of accessories. You don't have to spend so much on redecorating and one of the ways you can give a room a fresh new look is with pillows! If, say, you're thinking of giving your child's bedroom a new look, then check out some pillows we recommend.

The k studio Crying Pillow for example has this really cool design. It looks like a chic rendition of a child's sketch of a crying girl. The chicness comes from the simplicity of the design and it can be used in children's or adult's rooms. And because k studio believes in taking care of our environment, this pillow has a 100% organic cotton case. You don't need a tearful night to hug this pillow but if you do, the cute design is sure to make you smile.

Another fun pillow from k studio is their Rain Pillow. The delightful design is handmade in black stitch and white opaque applique. Again, it is made of organic cotton and just like the other pillows from k studio, it is filled with feather/down insert for that cushy softness. This pillow is just too cute for words.

I just can't over the designs of the k studio pillows. They have other choices and all of them have that fun, quirky designs which are really appealing. Pillows are always nice to have around because of the comfort factor, but those with really unique designs are sure to become favorites.

These fun and quirky children's pillows are so unique that you might want to have them for your own too! We're pretty sure mommies will like these quirky pillows. Grab a couple for your kids and a few more for you. They will perk up any room as well as your mood. It doesn't hurt either that these are made from organic materials. What a way to marry style and social responsibility.

How Parents Can Help Baby Sitters Deal With Kids Who Don't Want Baby Sitters!

Baby sitter wanted: parents want someone who is qualified, experienced and loves kids. If you have these traits, then great. But what can parents do if their kids despise the babysitter?
Resisting Authority

They can always say they don't like the sitter's hair or the way the babysitter dresses. The truth is, they just don't like anyone else "telling them what to do" besides their mum or dad. The reality is, kids will be kids.
The children need to feel emotionally secure around the babysitter. As parents, we can help them understand that the purpose of having a babysitter around is not to have someone to boss over them but to have someone to make sure they are safe. Another thing that parents can do is that they can also look for babysitters who have great rapport with kids. A baby sitter wanted should be a baby sitter who naturally loves kids.

Mature Baby Sitter Wanted

The demand for a mature baby sitter who can handle negative behaviors from children then can never be stressed too highly enough. One way of getting babysitters who are well-trained in child psychology is by joining parent support groups and online babysitting agencies.
Here are some tips that parents can give their babysitters:
  1. As long as the child is not doing anything to harm himself/herself during a tantrum, it is advisable to simply pretend to ignore the child. Eventually, he or she will stop is he or she is not getting the attention from the babysitter.
  2. Build rapport with the child. Take interest in his or her interest and engage him or her in an activity which he or she is interested in.
  3. Show a good example to the child and use positive reinforcement always. 
  4. A good baby sitter wanted should leave the household with encouraging and positive words to the child. You could share some exciting activities you plan to do with them next time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

5 Secrets to Developing Social Skills

We should start developing social skills when we are young children. This is the best way to guarantee the skills will be inculcated in us. It begins at home and should be observed and practiced there. Parents have a social duty to take the lead in training their children to have social skills. This is because parents are the first people a child gets to socialize with.
Teaching social skills to your children gives them the confidence that they could stand up on their own two feet in the future. Therefore, parents must be equipped with knowing the proper way of developing social skills in their children.
The following are basic social skills that little children need.

  • Train your child to be polite. Being polite is not simply taught, it must be seen and practiced at home. Train the child to use the basic and important words in life.
- Thank you.
- I'm sorry.
- I forgive you.
- Excuse me.

These are the set of words that must be easily said when needed. It should be practiced daily at home. Being able to say thank you verbalizes your appreciation for the good gesture shown by another. However, children being children, they naturally show only what they feel. It is sometimes hard for them to say the words when they do not really appreciate something done for them. Have the patience to explain to them that they should always thank the other person, no matter what it was that was done for them.
Train them to say I am sorry. These may be the most difficult words to say but is healing for both the speaker and the receiver. It is part of building up the child to be normal, someone who could make mistakes and accepts corrections. Likewise, your child will also grow up to accept that people make mistakes.
We cannot protect our children from being hurt, but we could teach them the virtue of forgiving. This is a very important phase in their social development. In that way, I forgive you, could sincerely be said.
We often tell our to kids to say excuse me when they sneeze or are trying to reach for something between other people. You must painstakingly train your child to do so. It is part of developing their social skills.

  • Train them in table manners. You must be able to practice table manners at home so that your child will get used to it. Using the word please is basic and it should be practiced religiously. There is no need to enroll your child in a sophisticated school. As children grow up they get to join you in different social gatherings. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your child practice what he learned from your home.

  • Always dress your children according to the occasion. Some parents tend to overdress their children to make them the center of attraction. This may have a negative effect on the child. It is still best to have the child dressed appropriately.

  • Communicate frequently with your child. Parent-child communication gives the child a feeling of importance. This communication serves as the basis for exchange of knowledge and bonding. This way, a child grows up communicating well with others.

  • Provide your child with the opportunity to play with other children in their social circle. Intervene only when needed.
Often times, pre-school teachers are left with the problem of teaching kids how to socialize with the other students. As a child enters the classroom, a seasoned teacher can easily detect someone who has been nurtured and trained with love at home. Developing social skills in your children is the best gift you could give your child in facing the real world.

Bring Out the Best in You and Your Kids!

Even though we need a license to do many things in life -- everything from driving and operating a forklift to practicing medicine and fishing -- there is no license required to become a parent and this is often the trickiest of all of the above activities!
Parenting today is far more difficult than it was, even a generation ago. Many well-intentioned parents are using outdated and ineffective parenting styles. As a result, they experience daily frustration and stress in their home.

Below you will find my top 7 tips for good parenting. These tips inspire children to want to be well behaved, can reduce family fights and boost family joy.
Good Parenting Tip #1 - If you love your kids--put yourself first!
One of the best things we can do for our children is to give them a foundation for becoming a happy and healthy adult. Self-care should not be a luxury for parents--it needs to become a necessity. You need self-care both for being a good parent and a healthy and balanced human being. Far too many children are living with parents who are stressed out and frankly, not at all fun to be around. If you are repeatedly burning the midnight oil, you may be on the brink of parent burnout--not a pleasant thing for you or your family to experience.

Good Parenting Tip #2 - If married--put your marriage before your kids!
Most of us have heard of Generation X and Generation Y. But did you realize that Generation S--Generation Spoiled--is on the rise? Many children today are raised with an unhealthy sense of entitlement because their parents have made them the center of the universe. With divorce statistics still hovering around 50%, children are far too often coping with unhappy, failing marriages and divorce- much worse for them than missing out on a couple of toys or brand name jeans. Take a stand and put some time into your marriage (like go on a date night)--for your whole family's sake!

Good Parenting Tip #3 - Cherish your children
No matter what your situation--no matter how often your children drive you crazy--know there are thousands of people in this world who would gladly trade places with you. There are couples who would give anything to just have a child. Strive to remember how truly fortunate you are. Hug your children at least three times a day. Regularly tell them how grateful you are to have the opportunity to be their parent.

Good Parenting Tip #4 - Teach your kids to fish--don't fish for them!
Many parents do everything for their kids. This only robs their children of the opportunity to learn self-reliance--which is vital to building their self-esteem. One of the best things you can do is to help your kids learn how to do things for themselves. One of the chapters of my first book on effective parenting is called "How To Get Your Kids Doing Their Chores Smiling". Some parents think I am from another planet when I even suggest that kids can learn to do chores with a smile on their face. These same doubting parents are often happily surprised when they see it is possible--in their own home and in this century! Household chores teach basic life skills everyone needs to know. Also, chores give children the opportunity to contribute to the household in a positive and meaningful way.

Good Parenting Tip #5 - Focus on what you like, not on what you don't
If children aren't being appreciated and aren't getting attention for what they do well--and when they behave well--you better believe they will learn to get attention for not behaving well. The more you notice what you like about what they're doing, the less likely they are to morph into destructive little terrors and the more likely you will inspire your child to repeat the good behaviors and achievements you love.

Good Parenting Tip #6 - Give respect and expect it in return
Don't do anything to your child that you wouldn't want your child to do to you. The list of things you don't want to be doing includes: yelling, hitting, spitting, and put downs. There are far better ways for you to handle conflict, stress and common misbehaviors. Commit to learning these "Ultimate Parenting" tools that are based on mutual respect--not fear based punishment that only teaches our kids to not get caught next time!

Good Parenting Tip #7 - A family that plays together stays together!
Have fun--play with your kids. Laughing, tickling, and enjoying one another's company is the foundation of a happy home. Having fun can go a long way towards preventing much of the needless conflict and behaviors that drive you crazy. It also provides your family with much needed quality time.

These seven effective parenting tips above are child-proofed, effective and fun. By taking the time to learn how to bring out the best in you and in your children, you will reap the rewards that come from the peace of mind--knowing that you did all you could to support and nurture a happy and healthy family life.

You may also read

Parenting For Teens - 10 Tips to Keep in Touch

Help Your Children to Live a Healthy and Happy Life by Setting the Example For Them

Our children learn from what their parents do. Children want so much to be like their parents that they will do what their parents do rather than what they are told to do. Children are observant and learn how to do things first by watching their parents. So what are you doing that you don't want your own kids to do?
If you are eating badly, don't you think that will have an influence on your children? Sure it will.
Everything parents do count. Too many parents have let go of their responsibility to their children. And is that responsibility? Well it is to raise a happy, healthy, and emotionally fit adult that is self-sufficient. If you are self-indulgent, then your child will learn that being self-indulgent is okay. If you smoke, then it is okay for them to do so too.
When I was in the Marine Corps, we were told that part of leadership is to set the example. It is no different being a parent and probably more important. You are their leader. Lead by example, okay? What are some of the ways that will help you to do this?
1. Never argue in front of your children. This includes any arguments you have with your spouse or significant other. Make sure that those arguments are settled by the time your children come home from school. Use rational thinking whenever an argument occurs. This will help to settle things down fast.
2. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same wavelength when punishing or giving any task to your children. Your children will pick up this.
3. Make sure that you have a loving relationship with your spouse or significant other. This is vital for your children. They learn how to have a relationship by observing how yours is going. If it is a destructive relationship, then your children will believe that is what a real relationship is all about and do the same.
4. Give your children chores to do. This will instill in them a sense of worth. Make sure that you also do the things that you should be doing around the house. And do it with a sense of enjoyment. You could even use that time as a way of exercising. Make it fun.
5. Keep yourself healthy and fit. Eat right and do a lot of self-care. Your children will learn that it is important for them to do the same - especially when they become adults.

6. Give all in your household unconditional love. This is vitally important for your children to learn. Too many times parents will only give love conditionally. I've seen some parents hold off any hugging to their children unless their child performs a certain way. This is completely wrong. Practice unconditional love all the time.
7. Finally, love yourself. Give yourself unconditional love too. Forgive any mistakes you may have made. Your children will learn the same. Accept yourself unconditionally too. Dr. Albert Ellis refers to this as "unconditional self-acceptance."
Be a parent to your children. You are not their friend. Your only role is to be a parent. Once they are grown and completely self-sufficient, then and only then can you move from parent to friendship.
I wish you and your children a lot of happiness and health as you move through life and the changes it will bring.
Helping You to a Higher Level of Performance and Fitness by Training the Mind and Body
Bob Choat, MS, CH.t., CTNLP, NASM-CPT does Peak Performance Coaching & Training and also works as personal trainer in Southern California. His training in hypnosis, psychology, and fitness enables him to best help in both mind and body towards complete fitness. He has a Masters in Psychology and degrees in business and leadership. He also completed leadership training from Rapport Leadership International and the U.S. Marines.

Parenting For Teens - Clarifying Family Rules

Every organization, ranging from the family unit to large corporations, have rules that prevent anarchy and help establish harmony and functionality. It is always best to keep these rules to a minimum and ensure they have appropriate consequences when they are violated.
Some families have an extensive set of rules, others have very few. You have to decide which approach works best for you. My experience in our own family and in counseling many families is that it is best to keep rules to a minimum.
The problem with a long set of rules is that they can be forgotten by someone and then fights ensue over breaking or keeping them.
Here's a suggestion for 2 basic rules that serve as a general covering for all others.
  • Respect yourself and the other people in the room. Treat them with respect and don't lose respect by being disrespectful to any one in the room, parent, child or sibling. Rolling eyes at someone's contribution is disrespectful so it should not be permitted.
  • Respect yourself and the other people in the room. Treat them with respect and don't lose respect by being disrespectful to any one in the room, parent, child or sibling. Rolling eyes at someone's contribution is disrespectful so it should not be permitted.
  • No insults of any kind against anybody's beliefs, skills, abilities, appearance, job or school performance or anything else.
  • These two rules embody the Bible's summary of how to obey the law - love your neighbor as yourself and love God with all your heart. Those two dispositions eliminate a multitude or relational sins.
Now that you have established a general framework for the clarifying of family rules here are few suggestions that you might want to consider. This basic exercise should be done by the parents before any rules are discussed with the children.

  • Keep your rule list sparse; the fewer there are, the more power each rule will have.
  • Developing that list will not be done at one sitting. It will take time. Don't rush this part.
  • Once you've agreed write them down and review them the next day. You may want to reconsider some of them.
  • This process can lead to some very interesting discussions and avoid potential conflicts or resolve others. It can serve as a bonding exercise between parents.
  • Remember that family rules apply to everybody. If the rules are only for the kids, or if they're supposed to be for everybody but you break them, you're saying, "I'm the one in power (ha-ha, you're not)," "I'm an adult so I matter, you're a kid so you don't," and "Just wait until you grow up. Then you can break all the rules you want." For example, you agree to make a family rule that everybody's room has to be kept presentable. However, if your bedroom remains swallowed by piles of clothes, old papers, and dirty dishes, you're virtually assured that your child's will look the same.

Parenting For Teens - 10 Tips to Keep in Touch

Parenting for teens is a topic I think every parent should study before their kids are 1 year old. The foundation for good parenting begins from the moment the little cherub comes home from the hospital. But since that rarely happens here are some tips to keep in touch with your teen when they would rather be in touch with everyone else in their world.
  • Try taking your teenager along with you on your Saturday errand run. The car is a great place to talk! Be sure to leave the younger ones at home so you can spend time alone with your teen. Most teens want the feeling of of significance this one on one time creates. Share a coke before you return home.
  • If you can make it work schedule wise try driving your teen to school in the morning rather than take the bus. In our house mornings were a stressful time trying to get to school on time until we started preparing for morning the night before. We set the table for breakfast, decided what we would wear the next day and ended the day with a reminder that we would all wake up cheerful the next day. This simple act made mornings much more relaxed and enjoyable for all of us.
  • If your teen is bedtime talker make time in your schedule to talk before they go to bed. It's a time to tie up loose ends from the day, share pains and joys. Some of our most amazing conversations about boyfriends or girlfriends happened just before they went to bed. However, that meant we had to give up watching the news or CSI but it was a small price to pay for the relational dividends we got in return.
  • Go shopping! My wife and daughter connected during time spent shopping together, much of it window shopping. Sometimes they bought something but most of the time they just wandered through the malls. The conversations they had at those times created connections that still carry on now that she is married and has a family of her own.
  • Spend time away with your kids. Once a year my son and I attended a football or hockey game and my wife and daughter spent a weekend at a hotel. It cost us some money but we considered it an investment into our teens. It was great connecting time.
  • Share meals together. We established a rule early in their lives that meal times together was one of most important events of the day. Though my schedule was very busy I made it a point to be at home meals and we expected them to arrange their schedule to make that happen as well. Things changed when they got part time jobs but we could still make breakfast family time connecting time. Now that they are both married they still like to come home for Christmas brunch or breakfast.
  • Remember that very teen is truly different, as is every parent. The best way for you to find out what's going on in inside your teen is to listen and watch without judgment. This can be a challenge especially when they present you with ideas that are diametrically opposed to what you have teaching them. You'll begin to see the picture coming into focus as you pick up clues about what's going on in the lives of your kids.
  • During the teen years, it's the teens' job to pull away and our job to let them. Remember what it was like when you were a teen, trying to pull away from your parents controls. Start giving them more freedom to make decisions and let them face the consequences of their choices. Commend them when they do well but don't rescue them when they fail. This will help to help build trust and respect which are essential for good family connections.
  • Try communicating with your teen via email over issues that are hard to discuss in person. An example would be the conflicts that occur in many homes over the issue of keeping their room clean. By taking the time to write you give yourself time and space to think through your responses and reflect upon the reply you get back.
  • Lectures are not very effective for improving your connection to your teenager. When it comes to your kids as teenagers, you need to realize that most of what you have to lecture them about they've heard from you before, in earlier lectures. When they show signs of not listening it is best to stop, cut your losses and discuss the matter at another time.

Five Easy Steps to Asking Your Parents for Extra Money While at College

Have you seen this old joke of a university student writing a letter to his parents asking for some money?
The son :
The Parents :
In order to successful ask your parents for extra money while away at college, you need to have a strategy. You can't send off a silly note and expect your parents to send you money. Here's a simple outline of some steps to take to successfully ask your parents for extra money.

First, you should ask for extra money face-to-face whenever possible. If face-to-face isn't possible, you can ask for money over the phone. Asking for money by mail or email isn't recommended. We recommend face-to-face as parents will be able to see your body language ie: tears streaming down your face, begging on your knees, etc. It is more difficult for a parent to say 'NO' face-to-face than it is in an email.

Second, be specific about the amount of extra money that is being requested. If you simply say, "Mom, I need some extra money". She may be thinking you need only $20, but in fact you need $500.

Third, parents are more likely to hand out extra money if it's for a necessity, such as rent, food, clothes, or transportation. State that you need the money to cover one of these expenses and you'll soon have that extra money in the bank.

Fourth, if asking for some extra money backfires and your parents say 'NO' to your initial request, that's okay. This is just a step in the negotiation process. You need to have a come back if their response is 'NO'. If your parents say that the amount you are requesting is too much, you can suggest an alternative way of receiving money. You can suggest they pay for a certain bill such as the telephone bill so that you can communicate with them more often. You could suggest rather than getting a lump sum payment at once, that a monthly payment be set up.

Fifth, set out a repayment plan for the money that was received. Parents will love to see that you are responsible for money matters and that you are serious about the money that you are asking for. Most of the time parents will simply say, 'Don't worry about it' and will ask that you don't repay the money and that it's a gift.

Educational Toys for Infants and Children

Toys are an integral part of a child's life. The physical and mental development of a child, to a large extent, depends on the right choice of toys. The variety of toys available today, may confuse many parents about the selection of appropriate toys for their kids. Here is a guide to help parents choose educational toys for their children at the different stages of childhood.
Childhood is that stage of life, where you get fascinated with almost everything under the sun. Right from their birth, children are curious about everything and have an inborn tendency to explore and desire to learn. Toys play a key role in this process of learning and development of a child.

A general view is that a toy is something to be played with. It can be anything - a household item like a kitchen container or a set of building blocks. However, toys, which specifically help a child to learn about a particular subject or to develop a particular skill are known as educational toys. Educational toys should be selected carefully, according to the age of the child. As children are curious about learning new things, any toy or game is a learning experience for them. You can tap this natural curiosity and contribute to their knowledge in a better way, through education-oriented toys. Let us go through the different stages of development of a kid and the educational toys that suit each stage.

Zero to Six Months

For a newborn, after spending nine months in the mother's womb, everything is new. It may sound absurd, if you talk about educational toys for a newborn, but, toys are a great medium through which you can make the newborns, familiar with their surroundings. At this stage, the primary role of toys is to help the babies develop their senses and reflexes.

It takes at least two months for newborns to adjust to their surroundings. They learn through their senses of hearing, sight, taste and touch. You can stimulate these senses through the right educational toys. A newborn baby has blurry vision and can recognize things within a distance of 10-12 inches. So, while selecting toys for this age group, you should go for colorful ones. Crib mobiles with soothing music, crib music boxes, soft toys and safety mirrors are some good options. Crib mobiles help the movement of eyes, which in turn strengthens eye muscles; music enhances the listening skills, and soft toys or dolls help the newborns in recognizing faces.

As a baby enters his second month, he starts kicking his legs and waving his arms. So, floor gyms with hanging parts, light and music proves to be more appealing for them. It helps to develop motor skills, as the babies reach for the hanging toys. The third and fourth months are characterized by
their attempts to grasp objects. Here, they need rattles and toys that make sounds. During the fifth month, you can select toys, which a baby can hold in his hands. Bat-at toys, squeeze toys, musical toys, teething rings, etc. help enhance hand-eye coordination. In the sixth month, babies need toys which encourage them to crawl. Colored balls and action-reaction toys will be perfect for this age.

Six to Twelve Months

A baby starts crawling and takes efforts to sit straight during its seventh and eighth months of age. The thinking ability of a baby starts developing around the eighth month. Toys like building blocks, sorting toys, bath toys, interlocking rings, etc. are good at this stage. During the eighth month, go for toys which enhance confidence and strength of the baby, as he may try to stand up, holding the furniture. Ninth and tenth months witness more physical activity, with the baby trying to walk. Walkers, link-together toys, play-telephones, language development toys, etc are excellent for this developmental stage of a baby. You can introduce outdoor toys like swings, during this period. Also try some push-pull toys, ride-on toys, simple musical instruments, pop-up toys, balls, etc. and see the happiness on your child's face, as he plays and learns.

One to Five Years

Almost all babies start walking between their twelfth and fifteenth month. During this period, they utter their first words, generally associated with food, parents, or pets. The educational toys in this period, should aim at helping them develop these skills. As they enter their second year, you can introduce more educational toys to enhance their vocabulary and creative skills. Get them books with pictures, crayons, play dough, etc. during this period. You can also choose soft alphabet blocks, stacking rings, solid letters and large balls.

A two-year-old can walk, jump and hop, has good hand-to-eye coordination and tries to speak full sentences. At this age, kids tend to observe and imitate the speech and mannerisms of the elders around them. So, it is advisable to get them sporty toys, role-play toys, water toys, wagons, dolls, stuffed animals and child-sized tables/chairs. You can also introduce educational toys, which help in counting. As a child enters his third year, he will want more sporty toys, simple board games, play sets, dolls with accessories, story books, picture books, realistic toys like animal sets, model cars and trains, and puzzles. Such learning toys help in preparing them for kindergarten.

During the fourth year, kids become proficient in almost everything expected from them at this age. They can walk well, carry their things, draw, write words, sing, dance, swim, skate, etc. Try to indulge them in more creative projects and in toys that can help them with their reading and writing skills. You can get them educational toys like drawing toys, electronic games, board games, simple musical instruments, etc. These toys help them build self-confidence.

Above Five Years

Kids in this age group, make friends and spend more time playing with their peer group. They are active in hiking, swimming, biking and also start having hobbies. They enjoy board games, art kits, science kits, art materials, marbles, larger bicycles, construction sets, backyard gym equipment, kites, etc. Between the ages of six and nine, you can go for science experiment kits, junior versions of adult sporting equipment, pogo sticks, jump ropes, magic sets, tabletop sports and video games.

Kids in the age group of nine to twelve tend to develop skills and hobbies that usually last for their lifetime. Science kits, jigsaw puzzles, advanced construction sets, chess, playing cards, remote control vehicles, checkers, dominoes and books are beneficial for them.

Things to Remember

    * Choose appropriate educational toys for different age groups, considering your child's abilities and interests.
    * Always read the instructions before using the toy or game and keep the product literature safely, for future reference.
    * Educational toys for infants/toddlers should not have any sharp edges, and small parts.
    * Let the kids play under your supervision.
    * Don't allow the younger kids to use toys meant for the older ones.
    * Keep these toys in a safe place, away from very young children.
    * Check these toys at regular intervals for damage.

Playing, in general, helps children to develop their senses and motor skills in the early stages. It also helps the kids in enhancing their creativity, thinking, problem solving skills and language. So, playing with educational toys means learning and mastering various skills. Every parent should try to choose suitable educational toys for their children. Apart from buying these educational toys, it is important to spend quality time with your kids. At times, you may have to sit with your children and explain to them, the working of a particular toy, help them solve a puzzle or simply play with them. All this makes a difference in the overall development of your child, as your child is everything that matters to you.
By Sonia Nair

Is Halloween for Children Boring Now?

It seems they are starting to view this holiday as a repetitive, boring time of the year. Heck, many activities throughout the year to keep children occupied seem to be far and few between! We all know that the Holidays can bring about more stress, less time to accomplish tasks and less time to spend with the kids.

This doesn't have to mean that Halloween can't be any different. I have discovered a fun, educational, and very cheap way to entertain that includes games, coloring worksheets, puzzles and more! These are not the same activities found in your local store. With these printable Halloween activities, your children will be able to play, laugh, learn, and ultimately think and enhance their brain's motor skills.

Being a father of one, it is hard for me to imagine how some of the parents out there handle three or four kids on a daily basis! You are all angels in my book! I know that many of you out there look for ways to spend more time with them or just keep them occupied so they aren't destroying the couch or bedroom!

At the end of the day, kids just want to have fun and parents want to make sure it is safe, educational, and promotes quality time to be spent together. Our lives only continue to get busier and busier, so it is always recommended to step back and make some of that time well spent.

Growing up, Halloween was always one of the favorite holidays around the house. The costumes, spooky themes, and of course the candy were the main highlights! If we had access to these activities and puzzles when we were younger, that would have enhanced the experience that much more! Plus, it would have provided a much bigger interaction with my parents and family that was needed during this very busy time of the year.

I know as a parent we always want our children having fun and loving life, but we always want to ensure that they are learning in the process whenever we have control over it. One way to accomplish this is to have fun, educational material that can be used more than once that kids love! I even know of teachers that have used these Halloween activity kits in the classroom and have received much positive feedback from their students.
A happy, successful Holiday is right around the corner. Getting small ideas and activities to create time with your family is one sure way for everyone to enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lose Belly Fat With Green Tea! HOW!

I mean it! You may already be aware of some of the health benefits associated with green tea! But, this 1 is just AMAZING!
I simply have to let you know about it! ALL about it! You can get rid of that troublesome belly fat with this beverage! Even that stubborn belly fat that never seems to go no matter how much time you spend in the gym! Just how does this tea do that?
Let me explain! In all teas, there are beneficial chemicals know as polyphenols and catechins. It is these catechins that are actually responsible for the belly fat melting capabilities of the green! Green tea has high levels of catechins due to the tea preparation process. this tea is steamed not fermented at all. This causes the tea to retain high levels of catechins.
So, just how do these catechins do anything for fat loss and metabolism? Well, these catechins have a very unique ability. They are actually able to interfere with fat digesting enzymes in your stomach and intestine! The result? You have incomplete digestion of fat lipids. Yeah, so what?
This leads to less absorption of fat throughout the entire digestive tract! Yes, that's what we want! And......
You have more elimination of fat lipids. So, essentially, the catechins in the tea are stopping you from absorbing the fat. These catechins also cause the FAT to simply pass through your body! Now, that's what I'm talkin' about! How can you go wrong?
By just adding some green tea to your diet...... And not changing anything else at all...... What do you get?
Less fat absorption! No matter what! If you think anywhere along the same lines as I do......

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blue Grape Pancakes

Those of us living in Ontario or the northeastern United States have always been fortunate to be able to enjoy baskets of fresh Concord grapes every fall. Even more fortunate has been the arrival several years ago of a seedless variety known locally as "Coronation" or "Ontario Blue Grapes". Bursting with an unmistakeable sweet and tangy juice, I snack on these deep-blue-skinned grapes almost compulsively at this time of year, and both Concords and Coronations are great for jams, jellies, preserves, and even pies.

Blue Grape Pancakes

After the first basket or two disappeared from the snack bowls that I set out every day on the table, I knew I had to put these amazing Coronation grapes to use in a treat to share with my blog readers. I was delighted recently by Kevin's idea at Closet Cooking of freezing pieces of cream cheese to put into pancake batter for his Blueberry Cheesecake Pancakes, and then the idea of pancakes with a blue grape sauce struck me. If you like the flavour of Concord grape jellies, you'll be blown away with this blue grape sauce! Best of all, it makes plenty extra to store in a tight-sealed container for several days to pour over ice cream or other baked treats.

If you can't find Coronation grapes, Concords may be used if they are available in your area — follow the instructions below for seeding the grapes. Muscats would make an interesting option as well. If using other table grapes, add an extra tablespoon or two of sugar or honey to the sauce.

Blue Grape Pancake
Blue Grape Pancakes


4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Blue Grape Sauce:

2 cups blue grapes
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar or honey
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon warm water
juice from 1/2 lemon

The night before making the pancakes, cut the cream cheese into small pieces. Lay the pieces between two pieces of wax paper and freeze.

Prepare the blue grape sauce by mashing the blue grapes in a bowl. If using seeded grapes like Concords, first squeeze the end of each grape opposite the stem to separate the skins from the pulp and set the skins aside for the sauce. Mash the grapes well and press through a strainer to remove the seeds. Add the mashed grapes (and their skins if separated) to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat with the 1/4 cup of water and sugar or honey, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer gently, stirring occasionally. Mix the cornstarch with the tablespoon of warm water, and stir into the sauce. Keep the sauce at a low simmer while the pancakes are being prepared.

To make the pancakes, preheat an oven to 150°. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Beat the egg lightly in a small mixing bowl. Stir in the melted butter, honey, and milk.

Pour the egg and cream cheese mixture into the dry ingredients and mix the batter with the frozen pieces of cream cheese.

Butter a non-stick griddle or cast-iron frying pan and heat over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cups of the batter into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface and the bottom is golden brown. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute or two or until the bottom is golden brown. Keep the finished pancakes warm on an oven-safe plate in the preheated oven.

Finish the blue grape sauce by removing the pan from the heat and stirring in the lemon juice. Serve the pancakes warm topped with generous ladles of the blue grape sauce. Makes 8-9 4-inch pancakes.

Mixed Lentil Dal

A proper and nourishing vegetarian diet must consist of a balance of legumes, grains and vegetables for complete proteins. This dal is easy to prepare and just right with a dressed up rice dish on the side such as Indian Lemon Brown Rice. A creamy blend of split dals, and a most delectable blend of spices along with the paste that makes the dish full of flavor and just right.

Yet another recipe adapted from "Sukham Ayu" by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain. I highly recommend this cookbook to cooks who adore Indian cooking such as I do. If you want to learn about vegetarian Ayurvedic cooking, this is the book you must have on your shelf.

Mixed Lentil Dal
Mixed Lentil Dal

1/2 cup of red lentils (split masoor gram)
3 tablespoons of channa dal (bengal gram)
2 tablespoons of urad dal
2 tablespoons of split mung beans (split green gram)
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

1 small onion, finely chopped
dash of cayenne
dash of asafetida
sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon of amchur powder (dried mango powder)

ghee, butter or oil

For the paste:

2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
3 - 4 dried red chilies
2 fresh chilies, seeded and chopped
1 4 inch piece of cinnamon stick
4 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 small piece of garlic, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

fresh coriander or parsley for garnishing.

Rinse the dal well and soak in 3 cups of water for 1/2 hour - to an hour. Bring to a boil along with the turmeric, reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are tender - roughly 2 to 3 minutes. Blend a portion of the beans using a hand blender or food processor or blender. Set aside.

Grind or blend all of the ingredients for the paste with a wee bit of water.

Heat a few teaspoons of ghee over medium heat in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Toss in the onion, stir and fry for 5 - 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the paste, cayenne, asafetida and saute for another 9 - 5 minutes. Transfer to the pot with the dal, along with the mango powder, sea salt and 3/4 cup of warm water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, adding more water to achieve your desired consistency.

Garnish with fresh parsley or coriander and serve hot.

Serves 4 - 6.
Lentil Dal

What Are Skin Peels And Which One Is The Best

In the recent years fashion and looks have become a billion dollar industry and as expensive life altering procedures become less expensive and more affordable it looks like this trend will continue for many years to come. Everyone is questing for the fountain of youth and apparently it can be found in the field of plastic surgery. They can make your skin look younger, tighter and more youthful for a price. One of the most popular treatments is the skin peel. They consist of everything from light peels like fruit and sugar derived (glycolic) peels and deeper peels like TCA and phenol. These peels can reveal younger skin and rejuvenate your face. Some of them are quite literally even considered to be the fountain of youth in a bottle (like the TCA peel).
There are basically four different kinds of peels and they range from light and superficial peels like glycolic to deeper peels like the TCA peel and phenol peels. We will not discuss phenol peels as they are dangerous and are rarely ever used. The deepest peel doctors use today is the TCA peel, which is the most effective and safest of all the skin peels. The basic function of a chemical skin peel is to loosen bonds between cells in the top most layers of skin through a mild and controlled chemical burn to cause peeling and to reveal more youthful skin from underneath. This process when done regularly can result in a reduction of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots and other symptoms of aging skin. In the case of the TCA peel it is also been proven to be highly effective in the treatment of acne and resultant acne scarring.
The light or superficial peels are generally glycolic and salicylic acid. There are many off shoots of these like fruit acids, the pumpkin peel, etc... Any of these acids that you see available at your local store have a concentration or strength that is so low that it is basically ineffective. For these light peels to have any visual effect at all the concentrations must be in the range of at least 30 percent. Regardless, even when done in a doctors office they must be redone every 2-3 weeks for any lasting effect. And at $100 to $300 per peel it can become expensive quickly.
The salicylic peel is a little different from the rest of these lighter peels as it is oil soluble and the others are water soluble. This gives salicylic the distinct advantage of being able to migrate deeper into oil blocked pores and to help with pimples and very light acne. This is why it has recently been added to some current acne products like Murad. This is why Murad is more effective than Proactiv. The problem is that just like glycolic it must be used at a higher concentration to have lasting and visual effect. Low concentrations and strengths, like in most over the counter acne products, is ineffective in fighting acne. Concentrations of at least 10 percent are recommended by dermatologists.
Then there is the TCA peel. TCA stands for trichloroacetic acid. It is a synthetic acid that has the ability to do everything that all the lighter peels can and more. It can completely kill acne causing bacteria and rid the facial skin of it for good. It can reduce and minimize scarring, tighten the facial skin and rejuvenate the skin. It can treat more skin problems than any other skin peel. From skin blemishes, pigmentation problems, acne, aging skin, and even precancerous and cancerous skin legions. The TCA peel is offered in almost every dermatologist and plastic surgeons office as it is the most effective treatment outside of actual surgery. Its results also last the longest, up to 6 months or more depending on the strength and depth desired or achieved. It has even ben stated in numerous medical journals that the TCA peel is every bit as effective as Accutane, the strongest acne medicine available, without the bad and very serious side effects. The TCA peel normally runs between $300 and $500 per application at your doctors office, but can now be purchased for under $30 for in home use (see link below).
Skin peels can be very effective in treating both aging skin and acne and it is obvious that the TCA peel is the best of these.

How to Use Balinese Spa Treatments For Healthy Skin

Imagine a lush, beautiful island in the tropics where, for centuries, massage and skin treatments have been an integral part of everyday life. Such a paradise actually exists! Bali, a Hindu island that is part of Indonesia, gave the world the concept of day spas. Balinese spas are most often open to the lush gardens and fragrant blooms that inhabit the island. Spa treatments include the use of the spices and flowers that grow right on the island for massage, facial, and skin treatments. This use of nature's bounty for the body shows - many Balinese of all ages have beautiful, clear skin.
Balinese massage incorporates fragrant essential oils from native plants. While most of us are familiar with herbal mixtures to treat skin, in Bali the native spices are used in skin treatments. These spices are mixed together in various combination's, and are often used not only for skin treatments but for various health problems, as well.
One of the most famous Balinese skin treatments is called lulur. There are many different types of lulur, and the recipe varies slightly from spa to spa. Traditionally, a Balinese bride will receive a lulur treatment each day for several weeks before her wedding. Lulur exfoliates the skin, removing dead skin cells and allowing the skin to become fresh and glowing. The treatment begins with Balinese massage and continues with exfoliation of the skin using the lulur mixture. After the lulur is applied to the skin, yogurt is massaged into the mix. Then comes a thorough rinsing with warm water, and a long soak in a large stone tub, where you lay back and are steeped in rose, frangipani, and ylang-ylang petals, smelling the wonderful fragrances as you relax. Then comes a scrubbing with frangipani soap, toweling dry, and freshly made lotion applied to the skin. Sounds wonderful for the body and soul, doesn't it?
So, how can we bring a little bit of Bali to us? Massage can incorporate Balinese techniques and essential oils, often jasmine or ylang-ylang. Facials can use the rapid, short strokes for scalp and face typical to Bali. And, you can mix up a fair facsimile of lulur using this recipe:
Rice powder - 2 teaspoons
Ground sandalwood - 1/2 teaspoon
Tumeric - 2 teaspoons
Jasmine pure essential oil - 3 drops
A little water
2 cups of yogurt
Whether you are doing this yourself or having your massage therapist use it, make sure to test a small patch of skin to check for any reactions to the ingredients.
Another traditional Balinese spice-based treatment is known as boreh. Boreh has been used in Balinese villages for many years to increase warmth and relieve aching muscles. Please note that pregnant, nursing, or sunburned people should not use boreh. Here's a recipe for Balinese boreh:
Babakan powder (sometimes called kulit kagu, find this in an ethnic shop or the Internet) - 1 ounce
Rice powder - 1 tablespoon
Clove powder - 1 1/2 tablespoon
Grated ginger root - 1 slice
Cinnamon powder - 1 teaspoon
Blend these with water and apply to the skin. After treatment, rinse.
These treatments, while they are relaxing and wonderful, are not all we can do to bring the Balinese glowing skin and warm spirit to ourselves. In Bali, plenty of fruits, herbal teas, fresh air, and spiritual practices are part of daily life. These help to create physically strong bodies, smiling faces, and a community-based culture that provides mutual support and a sense of belonging - all part of a bountiful life. Try incorporating some of the Balinese treatments and daily practices into your life. Your skin will benefit, and your spirit, as well!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Preparing a Loan Application

Obtaining a business loan has become more difficult as the economy, regulations, and lendig policies become more stringent.  I took the following notes during a recent staff training presentation and hope they will help you to understadn what lenders need to see in a business loan appllication. 

I. Understanding the Lender

It is much easier to find a business lender if you understand what a lender needs in order to process your loan application. I recommend starting with the lender you are already doing business with but check for the most recent bank policies and procedures. Government regulation and bank policies are frequently updated. To prepare you application it is helpful if you know the following:

Bank Policies –
Loan portfolio mix, number of and type of loans they like to make.
Loan Programs they use? (SBA or USDA programs?)
Loan requirements – Minimum Credit score, Loan to Value, Collateral, Equity, Lending Ratios -- Liquidity, Debt Coverage, others
Risk tolerance – some banks are more liberal, others more conservative.
Lender’s experience with customers in your industry?
Recent changes in the bank’s corporate structure that effect lending policies.
Banking regulations that affect the bank’s lending policies.
Average time to close a loan.

• Loan Underwriting – The lender will only know what you provide, incomplete applications get denied. Your loan officer will need to justify a loan approval based on due diligence review of you and your business. Information they are looking for includes:

Is the loan purpose consistent with the type of loan?

Credit Standing (score and credit report)

Cash Flow, is the business be profitable?
.... Are losses explained?
.... How were losses funded?

.... Quality and value
.... Collateral value covers loan?

Equity/Net Worth
.... Has equity increased or decrease over last three years?
.... Amount of contributed equity and earned equity (retained earnings)

Financial ratios
.... Exceed lenders minimum target?
.... Ratio trends over last three years

Business condition – Strengths, Weaknesses, Issues

.... Other business owned
.... Other sources of income
.... Personal Financial history

II. Preparing a loan package
Presenting the lender with a complete package is critical. Your package must demonstrate your capacity to manage the business, your capacity to produce stated outcomes, and the market place capacity to buy your service/product. Incomplete packages slow review and errors or misstated information will result in a denied application. Lenders will be examining:

1. Financial Statements – History
• Profit Loss Statements- YTD  Revenue, margins, profit
 • Cash Flow: EBITDA and Working Capital needs, Owner draws, distributions, When you spent cash, when you received cash

• Last three years of Tax records, Explain differences between tax records and Profit & Loss Statements. Explain any expenses made for tax purposes

• Balance Sheets – current liquidity, asset quality, leverage, capital structure, retained earnings, Aging of A/R and A/P

• Budget Projections with assumptions

• Break Even analysis

• Ratio analysis - Liquidity, leverage, performance over time has been consistent and is sustainable Sales to Assets, ROI, ROA, A/R Turnover, Average Collection period A/P turnover, average payment period Inventory Turnover, Inventory on hand

2. Management
Character of top management, resume of management experience, experience as management in this business/industry. Team depth, who does the tasks of CEO, CFO, A/R and A/P. Succession (who runs the business if you can’t be there?) Performance as compared to industry standards and trends

3. Business Plans
• Supports and explains how you will accomplish what you claim in your budget. How you meet the five C’s of credit. (Character, Capacity, Capital, Conditions, Collateral)
• Explains market opportunity
• Provides budget assumptions.
• Describe the business, how you make money
• Describe the service/product, provide pictures, marketing materials, samples
• Associated documents, Articles of Incorporation (Partnership), Leases, Contracts, firm estimates on major purchases, Collateral

III. Presentation Tips
• Be enthusiastic
• Be professional
• Be prepared
• Make an appointment, be early and ready
• Be organized and bring copies of all the document to leave with the lender

IV. Deal Breakers
Some issues in your history can be deal killers, there must be extenuating circumstances before a lender can consider proceeding with an application. Other problems could result in a loan application being considered as a higher risk. If a loan were to be approved, these issues could result in higher interest rates and more conditions and restrictions.

Preparing a quality loan application package will help identify potential deal breakers and provide you the opportunity to explain what happened and what you have done to correct the situation. Remember, it is safer for the lender to say no if there is any doubt or perception that your loan is a higher risk than the lender wants to accept.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jalapeño Frittata

My jalapeño crop is growing like crazy this year and what better way to use up a bunch than to a make a nourishing and filling frittata. Perfect for breakfast and a good dinner too. I know 12 peppers sounds crazy, but when they are baked with eggs and cheese, the heat is not unbearable. This is an easy frittata to make because you cook it in the oven and don't have to worry about flipping it onto a plate from the frying pan. Stress free. I do so love my cast iron skillet and consider it an essential cookery item for a well stocked kitchen. Now, if only I could find more room for all my staple food stuff and cookery.

Fall is setting in, and I don't like it one bit, especially considering there has been nothing but days and days of constant rain and high winds here in Ontario. I much prefer warm sunshine and fresh air without having to bundle up. Let us hope winter holds off for a good few months at least, or maybe "global warming" or "climate change" will fix the problem of all the snow we get here in Ontario. I suppose more cooking will be going on to warm me up.

Jalapeño Frittata

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, torn
8 large eggs
12 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced into rounds
1 1/2 cups extra old grated Cheddar cheese

Heat a large wok over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, wait a few seconds, then swirl around to coat the pan. Toss in the grape tomatoes and stir for just 30 seconds or so to blister the skins. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onions to the hot oil and sauté for 5 minutes until soft. Toss in the basil, stir quickly, and remove the pan from heat.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat well with a whisk. Add the grape tomatoes, onions, basil, jalapeños, and 1 cup of the grated Cheddar cheese. Mix until combined.

Preheat an oven to 350°. Meanwhile, heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or oven-safe frying pan with straight sides over medium heat. When hot, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, wait a few seconds, then swirl around to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour in the egg mixture and let cook undisturbed for 4 minutes to let the bottom set.

Transfer the frying pan to the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are set in the centre, which you can test with a cake tester. As soon as the frittata is set, turn on the broiler and move the oven rack up to the top level. Remove the frittata from the oven, sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of Cheddar cheese over the top, and return the pan under the broiler for another couple of minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the top is nicely browned.

Remove the pan from the oven. Run a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the sides, then slide onto a large serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot. Serves 4-6.

Wrap any leftovers in aluminum foil and reheat later at 350° for 12-15 minutes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Your Guide for Hiring a Good Baby Sitter

Most parents sometimes need to find a baby sitter while they are at work or when they feel like taking a break for a while. There is no doubt that being a parent is very hard and the best way to ease the stress you experience while taking care of your baby is to get a trustworthy baby sitter to help you out. I'm sure that most parents realize that child care might sometimes be the only option, especially when you cannot take off from work every time your child sneezes or can't go to school. However, parents who are fulltime taking care of their children also need some extra childcare because they badly need to recharge mentally as well as physically. So, if you need a break but have no one to turn to, then you should consider hiring a baby sitter you can trust.
I would first recommend you ask around to some other parents if they know anyone suitable for this highly responsible job. Of course, you might also find a neighbour who is willing to give you a hand with child care from time to time. Even though it is quite clear that finding a good baby sitter is a difficult thing, you should not think that only because a close friend of your neighbours watches their children this means that this baby sitter will take good care of your own little ones. What any parent should do is to interview baby sitters and check their references. There are some parents who expect the baby sitter to be an exact copy of themselves. This is hard to find and it is actually not that good.

The real qualities any babysitter should possess are flexibility, kindness and consciousness. Of course, we should not underestimate the value of education, experience to interact with kids, and knowledge how to act in case of emergency. While conducting an interview it is a good idea for parents to talk about hourly rates and ways of transportation. Of course, in case you hire a baby sitter living in the neighborhood, transportation would not be a problem, but what if they live across the town and don't have a driver's license?

When taking a baby sitter to watch your kids you should not allow her to give meditations as she is not a nurse. All she should give is simple first aid for minor bruises and swellings. Parents should remember to always give the baby sitter their phone numbers, address to contact them or nearest relatives, too. Information including emergency services in case of emergency should also be provided. If you have never had previous experience with baby sitters or you have just got a new one, then it is best to arrange a meeting between the children and the baby sitter with your presence.

That way the children will get used to the new person and the latter will know what to expect from the kids and how to deal with them. From my point of view, there are certain issues that should also be mentioned when interviewing baby sitters. First of all, they should not be allowed to have friends over because the latter distract them. Secondly, making random phone calls should be forbidden, only phone calls approved by the parent are allowed. Last but not least, the baby sitter should never answer the door to strangers, only the parents. After all, what is really important is the safety and security of the children.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Curried Quinoa Salad with Lentils and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Inspired by Valerie of City Life Eats who was one the winners of the August No Croutons Required Challenge featuring lentils, I adapted this recipe based on her Curried Quinoa Salad with Lentils. I just couldn't wait to try it as it contains some of my favorite ingredients and I never can resist the goodness and nutty flavor of quinoa. Known to the ancient Incans as the "mother of all grains," quinoa is not really a cereal grass but is used just like a grain, with the important difference that is contains a food value that no grain can match. With an almost perfect balance of essential amino acids, quinoa is an unusually complete source of proteins in the plant kingdom, and is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins and vitamin E.

This tantalizing salad is perfect for a summer meal. I served it to my family along with a leafy green salad. A crowd pleaser for sure. An interesting range of textures and flavors all in one dish, the crunch of the vegetables, the nutty fluffiness of the quinoa combined with lentils, the flavors all come together with the spices and cashew dressing. Refreshing, perfectly balanced, making this dish an excellent choice for vegetarians.

Instead of the curry powder and other spices, you can use 2 teaspoons of fresh curry powder made up of a dash of asafetida, 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 - 2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom, a pinch of saffron, freshly cracked black pepper and 3 tablespoons of dried fenugreek leaves and also 2 teaspoons of garam masala.

Feel free to reduce the recipe for a smaller serving and do increase the spices if you like it hot like I do. I was a bit more modest with the spicing than usual as I was serving it to my family who are not used to the heat like I am.
Curried Quinoa Salad with Lentils and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Adapted from City Life Cooks

1 cup of uncooked quinoa, rinsed and soaked overnight in two cups of water
1 cup of green lentils (or brown lentils)
3/4 cups of raw cashews, broken into pieces, and dry roasted
juice from two lemons
1 teaspoon of curry powder
dash of mustard powder
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of water
1 - 2 teaspoons of honey
1 large red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 - 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/2 cup of scallions, both green parts and white parts, finely chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and finely chopped

Bring the quinoa to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed - roughly 15 minutes. Rinse the lentils, transfer to a medium pot and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer until the lentils are tender - roughly 20 to 30 minutes. Drain off any excess water. Combine the cooked quinoa and lentils in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, blend the cashews, lemon juice, water, honey, spices and salt in a blender or food processor until creamy. Add some of the dressing to the quinoa and lentils and toss. Now add the red pepper, jalapenos, scallions and sun-dried tomatoes. Add the rest of the dressing and stir well to combine.

Why Soft Drinks Are So Bad For Your Body - Part Three

In part two of this article we talked about the negative consequences of diet soft drinks in the diet of many Americans. The article continues.

Carbonated Beverages Deplete Calcium Levels
Soft drinks that contain bubbles have an ingredient called phosphoric acid, which has been known to seriously deplete the blood calcium levels in the body. Calcium is a critical component to healthy bones. If there is a lower amount of calcium in an individual's body for a sustained period of time this can reduce bone mass causing lower bone density. Therefore, drinking large quantities of soft drinks and even carbonated water adds to an increased risk of suffering from osteoporosis.

The Negative Effects Of Caffeine
When you add in the additional caffeine that is contained in soft drinks you're adding even more problems to your health. It is well known that caffeine has the potential to decrease calcium in the body, in addition to affecting the central nervous system adversely, which can result in additional stress, difficulty concentrating, and even some medical conditions such as insomnia and anxiety.

Plain Old Freshwater
The most basic and essential beverage that is good for your health is water. Every cell in your body requires water to carry out its primary functions. Unfortunately, there have been many studies that prove that typical tap water contains all types of contaminants including antibiotics, low traces of medications and other substances that are not good for your health. To make sure your water is pure you should consider purchasing a carbon-based water filter that would render your tap water pure.

Pure Fruit Juices
If you enjoy drinking juice you might want to consider cutting it with water so that it reduces the sugar content. Make sure you get 100% organic juice such as pomegranate, acai berry, or cranberry and dilute the juice by one part juice to three parts filtered water. This will provide you with a mild sweet taste plus you will receive the additional benefits of the added antioxidants. In a matter of weeks, you will be free of the need to have sweet sugary juices.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Hot popovers slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper fresh out of the oven have long been among my favourite late-night treats — provided I've got the patience to wait the half hour that they take to bake, time that's usually spent gazing through the oven door with anticipation. But any patience exhausted by waiting on baking time is compensated for by a quick and easy preparation, and rewarded by light and fluffy treats with a delicious egg-y flavour. A perfect Thanksgiving treat to go along with your meal.

A close relative of yorkshire pudding, popovers are not only a great snack but also make a great addition to any number of meal ideas. Like yorkshire pudding, popovers are simple to make but are very sensitive to precise mixing techniques, temperature and timing. The instructions below should guide you through the process of making perfect popovers, among which perhaps the most important is DON'T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR! I can pretty much guarantee that once you've made popovers the first time you'll be making them again soon. You will find it hard to resist eating the whole batch once they come out of the oven.

Note that the instructions call for filling alternating cups in muffin trays. There is a product available in kitchen stores called a popover tray. If you have a popover tray, disregard the instructions about alternating cups and filling empty cups with water.

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
1 cup milk

Preheat an oven to 450°. Using two 12-cup muffin trays, butter five alternating cups of one tray and four alternating cups of the second tray. Warm the trays in the oven while preparing the popover batter.

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk until light and foamy. Whisk the egg and milk mixture into the flour mixture until just blended. Do not overmix.

Sprinkle a little flour into the buttered cups and fill the empty cups 2/3-full with water. Fill the buttered and floured muffin cups 2/3-full with the batter. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° without opening the oven door. Continue baking for 10-15 minutes or until the popovers are a deep golden brown. Do not underbake.

Remove from the oven and remove the popovers immediately onto wire racks. Smother with butter and sprinkle with a little salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve hot.

Yields 9 popovers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Safe Breasts With Breast Self Exam

Most lumps in the breasts are not a cancer. In fact, nine out of 10 lumps that women may feel in their breasts or around are benign. They are due to fibrocystic changes in the breast tissue corresponding to hormonal changes over the menstrual cycle. Cancerous lumps can develop in ducts that carry the milk to the nipple or in the lobules that make it or in other parts of the breast tissue. Most of the times, it starts in the milk channels and spreads into the breast tissue.

Breast cancer is the most pervasive type of cancer around the world. Because of its non-visible symptoms in its early stage, it's sometimes known as a silent killer. Early detection of this disease is a key to its successful treatment and enhances your chances of immortality. So, it's strongly recommended that every woman should be aware of her own breasts before it catches the fatal malady. The most prescribed and easy way to make these lumps less frightening for you is to carry out your monthly breast self exam (BSE) in order to know what your breasts normally look and feel like. Once you get familiar with your breasts, once you start knowing the normal look and feel of your breasts, you will start feeling confident of your observations and any unusual change during your BSE may alarm you of the disease.

Many women are frightened, uncertain or just uncomfortable in performing BSE, they are aware of the benefits, though. Beth Mairs writes in 'A Handbook for Women with Disabilities' that about 70% women do not perform BSE regularly. Although the author counts the reasons of not performing BSE among women with disabilities, the following are common among their normal and healthy counterparts:

    * you may think that it will never happen to you.
    * you may feel uncomfortable touching your breasts or having someone else touch your breasts.
    * Your mammogram was negative so you feel safe.
    * you may feel that it is out of control.
    * you may be avoiding something which would be dangerous.
    * you may not even want to know if a tumor is growing inside you.

Think and re-think about your own worry and see if you are one among those who make such lame excuses! After making this great decision, see how BSE makes you aware of the structure, shape and growth of your breasts. If it any moment you come to find a dark spot, shadow or any other change, contact your health care professional immediately for further tests. Most of the times, it will not be a cancerous lump but it's good to be on the safe side.

Article Source:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Why Soft Drinks Are So Bad For Your Body - Part Two

In part one of this article we talked about how sugar is a major culprit in the diet of most Americans. The article continues.
One of the results of taking in excessive amounts of simple sugars is that your insulin levels are raised as a result. When insulin is raised beyond normal levels this can cause medical conditions such as immune system depression, which has the effect of weakening your ability to fight off certain diseases.
Another thing to take into consideration is that all of this excess sugar is stored as fat in your body tissues, which ends up resulting in weight gain and other conditions such as a higher risk for heart disease and cancer. One documented study showed that when participants received certain amounts of refined sugar, as a result they had a significant decrease in white blood cell levels for many hours afterwards. An additional study showed that when rats were fed a diet high in sugar they were at higher risk for breast cancer as compared to the control group, which was not given sugar.

Diet Soda Has Negative Health Consequences
Most people believe that drinking diet or sugar-free soft drinks is a better choice than drinking regular soft drinks. Mass marketing of these products ingrains this type of thinking into the American public. However, one particular scientific research study found that ingesting one or more soft drinks daily, regardless of whether it was regular or diet, increases the incidence by 30% that weight would be gained in the belly region.
Diet soft drinks are loaded with sweeteners that are artificial in nature such as sucralose, aspartame or saccharine. It has been documented that these types of artificial sweeteners have a negative impact on your health. For example, saccharine has been determined to be a carcinogenic substance, and scientific research has indicated that it can produce bladder cancer in rats.
One of the new artificial sweeteners aspartame, better known by its trade name as NutraSweet, is an artificial chemical that tricks the brain into thinking food is sweet. Chemically, aspartame is broken down to aspartic acid, methanol and phenylalanine when they reach a temperature of 86°F (your stomach temperature is approximately 90°F). A University of Texas research article has recently found that obesity results from the use of aspartame. In a convoluted process, aspartame ends up stimulating the brain in a way that causes an individual to crave more sweets than normal and it also induces a condition known as carbohydrate loading.

Part Three will continue the discussion.