Dec 28, 2013

Bash on a Budget: New Year’s Eve

Christmas is still around the corner, but if you’re having a New Year’s Eve party, you’ve got some extra holiday planning to do. Once that Yuletide carol has been sung, it’ll be time to ring in the new year with friends and family. It can tempting to get caught up in the festiveness of the holiday and want to throw a fancy party that people will be talking about until next New Year’s, but don’t let your bash break the bank. Here are some tips to starting the new year with a festive gathering and a little cash left in your pocket.
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Budget

First of all, decide how much you are comfortable spending—and stick to it. Factor in invites, food, drinks, decorations, and music. Then add about 10% extra for unforeseen expenses (like spilled wine on the rug or the disco ball you just have to have). If you find that you are going over your budget, reevaluate and see where you can cut costs.

Invites

To keep invites free, send a Facebook invite or an Evite. If you want to be more formal, send your New Year’s party invite with your Christmas card to save a stamp.

Food

The trick to saving on food is k.i.s.s.—keep it simple, um, silly. Don’t plan a huge meal or really fancy food. In fact, don’t plan a meal at all. New Year’s festivities start late enough that guests won’t expect dinner. Stick to simple hors d’oeuvres and punch. Or, go potluck. Spreading the cost is always the cheapest way to go.

As you decide what food to buy, look at grocery store deals and plan your treats around them. While you’re shopping, stock up on backup snacks like cheese, crackers, and veggies that won’t go to waste after the party’s over. Make some cookie dough and freeze it, just in case. Instead of buying fancy foreign treats, buy local fare—it will be cheaper and add some hometown flavor. If you order out, order things that would be too expensive to make anyway, like eggrolls. Want foods to look fancy, but don’t want to pay for caviar? Pomegranate seeds are a great substitute and they go a long way. Expect guests to have one or two of each hors d’oeuvre.

Drinks

Again, sharing the cost is cheapest; ask guests to bring their favorite drink. But if you are in charge of keeping guests hydrated, consider a festive holiday punch. It’s fun, refreshing, and a lot cheaper than buying several kinds of alcohol. If you are buying alcohol, stock up when there are sales, since it doesn’t spoil, or buy in bulk. Wassail is another great holiday drink. It’s warm and smells like citrus and cinnamon. Plan on guests having two drinks in the first hour, and one every hour after.

Décor

To keep décor simple and festive, choose one theme color. It will make picking out decorations easier and cheaper. If you use flowers, stick to one kind. And before you run out and buy decorations, look around your house. Have any white lights left over from Christmas? String these up and place some candles around the room, and you’ve got instant festive lighting.

Make as many of the decorations as you can. Glass bowls of citrus fruit are colorful and festive (and make for a good snack if the food runs out). For an aromatic treat, take a couple of oranges and slice them up in a pot of water, add cinnamon and vanilla, and boil on low to fill the room with a heavenly smell. To add some sparkle to the room, spray tea light candleholders with adhesive spray and roll in glitter. Put some extra glitter in balloons before blowing them up (being careful not to breathe it in). Add confetti to the balloons by shredding up used Christmas wrapping paper or old bills. Get small silver bowls from a dollar store and fill them with silver candy like Jordan almonds, M&Ms, or kisses. Or get clocks from the thrift store (they don’t even have to work) and put them all over the room to get everyone excited for the countdown.

There are several ways to spice up your food presentation for low cost too. Dollar stores sell cheap plates and glasses. To make a food display, take books and boxes that you already have on hand and stack them on the table before draping a table cloth over it. Place plates and bowls on the different levels you created and garnish the tablecloth with glitter or flowers.

Music

To save on music, make a soundtrack on your iPod. If you need to turn up the volume, try placing the iPod in a glass or buy speakers from a thrift store. If you have a little extra money, consider hiring local talent. Up-and-coming artists are always looking for places to play. Ask local coffee shops who they use.

Being prepared and keeping it simple are the tricks to prevent panic-spending for your New Year’s party. To be even more prepared for next year, check your local stores for on-sale New Year’s decorations. Make it your resolution to ring in every new year with a little celebrating and a lot of saving.

Edson Senna is a freelance writer who focuses on finance, law, and business. He enjoys applying what he has learned by writing about investing, finance, entrepreneurship, and other business-related topics. He sometimes does consulting for Infinite Wealth Advisors, financial planners in Charleston, North Carolina.

Dec 26, 2013

The New Social Acceptance of Electronic Cigarettes

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It used to be everywhere in Hollywood stars would take "iconic" photos smoking their cig and would be seen at their latest movie taking a break while smoking. Actually, I still see a lot of these photos crop up today. The same has gone for a large part of our population. For years smoking has been deemed a way to look cool, fit in, stay relaxed, and take "the edge off" whatever life ails you. The act of smoking and not to mention this look has most definitely gone through the decades as something that is trendy, acceptable, and common.

Recently there has been an alternative to smoking and there now is a way to get nicotine without smoking traditional cigarettes. Today a new wider social acceptance of electronic cigarettes aka vapor smoking has taken place. I've never tried smoking and I've yet to try electronic cigarettes from www.21stcenturysmoke.com, but I think it's interesting that people are using electronic cigarettes today more than ever.

Let's discuss the benefits of electronic cigarettes:

Ditch the "Smokey" Smell

A scent from cigarette smoke seems to cling to about anything it comes in contact with, such as your hair, car, clothes, and everything. If you're a seasoned smoker then over time the smell may not be prevalent to you, but it's definitely noticeable to others. On the other hand electronic cigarettes do not have this odor because instead of inhaling smoke, you're exhaling a vapor that evaporates. Many non-smokers have reported that the smell from an e-cig does not exist and that it even smells like pop tarts and not to mention they also offer vapor flavors such as strawberry mist!

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Stay Safe

When people smoke they are "burning" tobacco and also use an open flame to light it. Due to this factor cigarettes are easy serious fire hazards. Did you know that fires started by lighting a cigarette cause 10% of all fire-related deaths? With e-cigarettes you're not burning an open flame which means you can't get burned and a fire will not start. You're staying safe and not subjecting your loved ones to smoke and potential flames.

Cleanliness

Using e-cigs from 21st Century Smoke are much cleaner than using traditional cigarettes. As stated earlier, with e-cigs you don't have to worry about smoke getting into your hair, clothes, and basically everything that happens when using traditional cigarettes. The vapor from e-cigs evaporates almost immediately and there is no smell. What's more, e-cigs not only are cleaner, but they are more affordable as well.

Have you used e-cigarettes before and what do you think of this new social acceptance?


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Dec 19, 2013

Stylish Solutions for Every Body Type

With seasons changing and winter right around the corner, take the time to arm yourself with some helpful knowledge to pick out the right cold-weather clothes for your body type. We’re all shaped differently, and if you’re spending money, why not spend it the smart way on clothes that fit you, look great and make you feel confident.

Top Heavy


Photo by ...love Maegan from Flickr

If you’re top heavy, the first thing you want to do is make sure you are wearing the right bra (this actually goes for any body type). Many retailers offer bra fittings for free to help you find the most comfortable fit and make your silhouette the best it can be. Next, choose shirts that are structured and form fitting. Baggy, flowy and loose-fitting shirts will only make you look larger and won’t show off your curves. A form-fitting sequin tank is great for top heavy girls because it gives you holiday sparkle, and looks great under a jacket or cardigan. Also, don't be afraid of shapewear. You would be surprised how many women swear by it — including celebs! — and you can find camisoles that look nothing like traditional shapewear that match almost any outfit.

Bottom Heavy


Photo by The Integer from Flickr

For bottom-heavy girls, it’s all about showing off your waist! Take the tips from top-heavy girls for shirts and go with form-fitting. As for bottoms, pencil skirts are flattering and will create an elongated figure. Stay away from frilly skirts that add more volume. If you're not particularly fond of skirts, try a tailored pant. If you choose a cropped style, it’s important to have a little bit of a heel to keep the legs looking longer and leaner. For casual Friday, try a skinny jean in a dark wash that has some stretch with a cute pair of printed flats. There are a vast array of affordable women’s shoes online you can match perfectly with the pant you choose.

Photo of leopard flat from Target

Bring eyes up by wearing a statement necklace or a scarf to balance everything out. Remember, it's not about hiding any part of your body, it's about drawing attention to your best features.

Petites


Photo by daniel arnold from Wikimedia Commons

Slim cropped pants look great on petites along with long, wide-leg pants. If you’re petite, wide-leg pants create length and are a funky way to dress up a work or casual outfit. Petites can wear dark or light washes, depending on their mood, but with a dark wash, jeans can be dressed up or down for a variety of occasions. With wide-leg pants, make sure your top isn’t too long or baggy. A cute, form-fitting T-shirt is a great piece to have because you can layer it with a cardigan and scarf and it can also do double duty in the spring and summer when paired with a statement necklace.

Curvy


Photo by ...love Maegan from Flickr

You're a lucky lady because when you shop you're strictly looking for clothes that emphasize your hour glass figure. Just make sure not to take this too far and go too tight! If you do choose a tighter pant, make sure to wear a longer shirt to elongate your waist and proportion your top and bottom. If you want to go tighter up top, choose a wrap dress that cinches at the waist and flows out from there. The hardest part of dressing a curvy girl is making sure all items hit you where they should and nothing tugs or pulls, according to Harper's Bazaar. Your tailor will be your new best friend!

Molly Mulgrew
Molly always looks like a million bucks. Her sense of style is excelled only by her knack for finding the best deals.

Dec 18, 2013

Paul Fredrick - Men can be Fashionist(ers) too!

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My name is Valerie Williams and I am the content coordinator at Paul Fredrick. I write for our blog as well as keep in touch with members within the fashion community and I love my job! Paul Fredrick was founded 25 years ago, originally specializing on dress shirts, but has since then expanded their collection. They design manufacture and directly distribute every item in their collection. Paul Fredrick strives to stand out for 5 things; quality, style, size, price, and guarantee. To learn more about what we offer visit our site please visit www.paulfredrick.com
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The most recent article I wrote focuses on Men's fashion blunders. We all will make fashion mistakes in our lifetime, it's inevitable (you should have seen my prom dress circa 1989), but some of these are avoidable! My main inspiration for this article would be my lovely husband who I have caught making continuous fashion mishaps (disasters). The tips that I offer are fairly easy to follow and my hope is to inspire men to never commit any of these fashion crimes. Enjoy!

http://blog.paulfredrick.com/2013/12/13/rules/dressing-guidelines/easily-avoidable-mens-fashion-blunders/

Dec 17, 2013

New Year, New Hairstyle: How to Choose Your New Style for 2014

For many of us, our new year’s resolutions may include getting fit and looking great in 2014. Another great way to shake up your look and feel fabulous in is to change your look in the New Year – a change in hairstyle can knock 10 years off your appearance and leave you feeling like a new woman in the New Year! 

If you’re thinking of revamping your look, take a look at these simple steps to help you avoid any bad hair decisions:

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Take a trip down memory lane

A great way to decide your next look is to take a look at old photographs at your past hair styles. If you have been experimental in the past with your hair, look at the style and colours which suited you best and explore ways you can modernise these looks. 

Test it out 

Cutting your hair or changing colour? Test it out first with a wig or perhaps try hair extensions to test the look. This is a great way to see if you will suit a new style, colour or cut – and get a feel for the new style before making any permanent decisions in the hairdressers. 

Celebrity Inspirations 

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Look at your favourite celebrities for hair inspiration – but remember to choose celebrities around your age and of a similar skin tone. Remember to also think about maintenance, a short bob may look great on Charlize Theron, but could you maintain this look without the help of an on hand styling team? 

Test your look online 

there are a wide range of websites that allow you to upload your photo and test a wide range of colours and styles. This is a great way to see how you look, and also gives you the opportunity to compare numerous looks to see which the best style is for you. 

Get professional advice

the expert always knows best! Why not book in a consultation with an expert stylist at your local salon to discuss re-styling your hair. Expert hair stylists see a range of styles, cuts and hair colours each day, and would be able to thoroughly advise you on the best look for you. 

Guest post by Amy

Dec 15, 2013

Tips for Keeping Your House Warm in the Colder Months 

Winters can be long, cold, and expensive in many parts of the nation, and homeowners and renters alike bemoan the high cost of both gas and electric heating. Electricity and gas bills skyrocket nationwide every winter, and smart homeowners strive to find creative ways to lessen the cost of staying comfortably warm. If you’re feeling chilly and can’t seem to get you and your home to warm up, here are a few ideas to help make your house warm without spending a lot of money.

Layer, Layer, Layer
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Clothing choice obviously makes a big difference in how warm you are, and inside is no different than outside. If the temperature in your house is still bearable, simply put on more layers of clothing before reaching for the thermostat. A thick pair of socks, a warm robe, a cozy blanket, and even a down vest are great and comfortable options to keep you toasty. It may seem annoying but if you’re trying to save money this is an easy solution. If you feel temped to turn the temp up, remind yourself that an investment in these clothing items will be far less expensive in the long run than running your heat at a higher temperature.

Consider the Least Expensive Option
Space heaters can be a quick fix for a cold room, but if you use a space heater for more than a few hours every month, your electric bill can quickly increase. If your home lacks a central heating system, or much of a heating system at all, invest in a space heater that uses power efficiently and can quickly warm a room. Older homes are often drafty, but they often have fireplaces and wood stoves. If you don’t want to deal with the wood and soot of a conventional fireplace, have it replaced with a gas fireplace that you can flip on with a switch. Gas fire places are easier to maintain and control, and they do quickly fill a room with warmth. Gas is also typically less expensive than electricity. Check these guys out for great fireplace options. 

Think Old-Fashioned
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Generations of people have been enduring winters for years, and even before electricity was an option, many folks were able to keep warm. Consider what your ancestors did to keep warm – many of these items are still available for your use. Hot water bottles keep the feet warm at night, cooking dinner in the oven will help heat the kitchen, heavy quilts, and hot baths are all great options for warming up when the weather gets cold. Use the money you save toward a warm, sunny beach vacation.

About the author: Samantha enjoys writing about ways to keep a family’s home warm during the winter since she recently purchased a home of her own.

Dec 6, 2013

How Cable and DVR Gets Me Through the Winter (Plus I Love Holiday Movies!)

What are some of your favorite television shows? I happen to love this time of year because there are so many great shows on TV, and when it gets cold outside it’s the perfect time to bundle up with a blanket and catch up on my favorite shows. Right now it’s a bit chilly and I’m taking advantage of my TV watching time. I admit that I also have too many shows that I watch (I can’t count them all!), which is why Time Warner Cable is ideal. You can watch, record, and catch up on all of your favorite shows whenever you want! I know I couldn’t survive without my cable. Well, I know I could if I had to, but I happen to love to watch TV and in particular my favorite shows, especially when it’s cold outside or I need a distraction after a long day of working.

Want to know what some of my favorite shows are? Before I jump into my list, I have to tell you that even though I spend a lot of time working away on my business, I manage to squeeze in time to catch up on my favorite shows and plus, that’s what DVR is for!! When I can’t watch a show live I always record it on my DVR. I also don’t have to worry about running out of space since DVR is getting more and more efficient with storage space. Not to mention there is also Charter on Demand. Don’t you think it’s amazing or is it just me?! Sorry, I get a little excited about my TV shows. ;)

In fact, I’m so impressed with DVR and the cable services that are available these days that it’s kind of impossible not to have it in your home or apartment. Seriously. So back to my fave TV shows…a few of them include The Vampire Diaries, Castle, The Voice, Pretty Little Liars, Grey’s Anatomy, and of course Parenthood.  Oh and when I’m not watching TV shows I love watching the latest movies on Hallmark and ABC Family. 
In fact I’ve been watching a lot of holiday movies on Hallmark as of late. There are so many adorable movies that are keeping me entertained! And don’t get me started on the new movies that are coming out…I am very excited about When Calls The Heart that will be on the Hallmark channel in January. It’s based off of a Christian book series by Janette Oke and I read them all several years ago. It will be so much fun to see these book characters come to live on Hallmark!
In addition to cable since I work in my apartment I have to have internet to run my business and Time Warner Internet is a reliable service that keeps your internet running smoothly and quickly. Having a fast and efficient internet service is essential for me to get work done in a timely manner, and that combined with cable works well for me. Now all I need is a dog and I’ll be all set! ;)

So ocean dreamers, what TV shows 
are on your must watch list?
Do you have both cable and internet 
or just one or the other?

I personally think that both are hard to live without, which is why I have both! Happy TV watching and Internet surfing! 




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