Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Healthy Habits: Work and the Flu – What Should You Do?

This is the final installment of a three-part series highlighting the theme of community immunity this flu season. Because preventing the spread of flu extends to the office and your community at large. 

After weeks of widespread activity, it looks like we’re finally seeing a light at the end of the influenza tunnel. The CDC now says the flu season has peaked for the year. But it’s still not time to sound the all clear. Flu activity remains high in 21 states, with 15 states reporting moderate levels of the flu. 
So, even though it looks like the worst is over, it’s not time to let your guard down, especially for the nation’s businesses. Sick employees remain a major concern this time of year. 
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu can be a significant burden for businesses. In a typical year, in between employee sick days and lost productivity, the estimated cost of the flu is a staggering $7 billion. 
Maintaining a healthier workforce can lower direct costs such as insurance premiums and worker’s compensation claims. It will also positively impact many indirect costs such as absenteeism and worker productivity. 
You can also take precautions to avoid getting infected as you make your way to the office. For starters, don’t be a contagious commuter. If you use public transportation, frequently-touched surfaces can harbor the flu virus, like handrails, grab handles and straps.  After touching these areas, avoid touching your face, eyes, or nose to prevent infection. For car commuters, the gas station is laden with risks. The buttons on the ATM machine and gas pump handles are particularly germy. So play it safe and wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after you touch any contaminated objects.
Once you’ve dodged the influenza virus on the way to the office, make sure to keep up the good work at the workplace. Personal steps you can take include disinfecting commonly shared areas –for example, if you share a desk, a tablet or a phone, wipe them down with sanitizer.  If you shake hands with someone, wash your hands immediately afterwards. And if a co-worker in your office is coughing or sneezing, steer clear!  Better yet, encourage your fellow employee to take a sick day to prevent spreading the illness to others.
Employers can also do their part to foster a healthy workplace by providing employees with hand sanitizer and tissues, and having the cleaning crews regularly wipe down commonly shared surfaces. 
BUT – as mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series -- do your office a favor this flu season – if you think you’re getting sick, stay at home! 
Of course, the best way to be a team player this flu season is to get the flu shot – it’s the single, most effective way to avoid getting sick.  Families Fighting Flu wants to remind the public that the flu is a serious illness, and if the sobering news headlines spotlighting the extent of influenza-related deaths this season were not enough to make you take precautions, you’ll want to check out the video below for more reasons on why it’s critical to get vaccinated, even this late in the season.

YouTube embed code: 

A few fast flu facts….
Did you know that influenza virus can remain on surfaces for up to 48 hours? And did you know that people can remain infectious for 5 to 7 days after getting sick? In fact, you can spread the flu virus 1 day before you even start to feel sick.
So, if you do get the flu, take one for the team and do the right thing by staying home until at least 24-hours after your fever ends. To learn more about flu and how to protect yourself and your co-workers, visit 

Sweepstakes: Ace Hardware Color of the Year

This Saturday (3/24), Ace is calling on readers nationwide to come in-store and custom mix/create their own paint color for a chance to win Ace's Color of the Year contest. Stores will be hosting paint demos, exclusive paint sales and teaching consumers first-hand how to mix and create paint colors - so the color you've always wanted for your home, you can now have! A nationwide vote of the top colors (and names) will be crowned Ace’s Color of the Year in the coming months. No other hardware retailer has offered consumers the chance to mix and name their own paint color, so thought you’d be interested in sharing this experience with your readers. 

Below are full details on the in-store event and nationwide “Color of the Year” contest for your easy reference: 
  • WHAT: Ace Neighborhood Paint Party + Color of the Year Contest
  • WHEN: Saturday, March 24th, 2019, 11am - 2pm
  • WHERE: Participating Ace Hardware stores nationwide 
  • EVENT DETAILS: Customers are invited to come in-store to hand-mix and name their very own custom paint color for the chance to be crowned Ace’s first-ever Color of the Year winner. All colors created at Neighborhood Paint Parties nationwide will be entered into a national vote, taking place on Ace’s social media channels this spring. Food + beverages to be served at participating locations, in addition to live paint demonstrations and the opportunity to shop Ace’ BOGO free sale on exclusive paints.

Book Nook: The Art of Hand Lettering

Dover Publications is releasing several art books this month that look like great titles depending on your interest.

Amazing Origami Boxes

In this guide, origami master Tomoko Fuse presents 20 original designs for origami boxes — some simple, others more complex, all made from a single sheet of paper. Beautiful, full-color photographs accompany step-by-step instructions and diagrams for a splendid variety of completely functional boxes. They range from conventional square and rectangular shapes to those in the form of a bird, a basket, a cat's head, a flower, and other shapes. By varying the type of paper and color combinations, folders can create an endless variety of effects. Suitable for origami enthusiasts of all skill levels, this guide promises hours of creative joy.

Inspired Shawls

Knitters of all skill levels will rejoice in this colorful collection of 15 original shawl patterns. These stylish, versatile designs will complement any outfit, formal or casual, while offering the warmth and comfort of a cloak. Author Laura Zukaite was inspired in the creation of these shawls by the vibrant handicraft traditions she observed during her South American travels. Beautiful full-color photographs illustrate the patterns, which feature herringbone and cable stitches, ruffles, stripes, geometrics, and other eye-catching motifs in an array of gorgeous, hand-dyed yarns. The diversity and abundance of designs guarantee that this book is one that knitters will turn to time and time again for an inspiring range of patterns.

The Art of Hand Lettering

Author Helm Wotzkow begins with advice on the tools necessary to hand-lettering. He then proceeds to a detailed discussion and analysis of roman majuscule and minuscule characters, the lettering upon which most styles are based. Both pen and brush lettering are covered. Subsequent chapters explore italic, gothic, script, and block styles of lettering as well as negative lettering, perspective lettering, and lettering on curves. Each chapter is illustrated with scores of examples of fine lettering executed by Wotzkow and his students. Rather than presenting a series of hard-and-fast rules, the author helps readers analyze existing forms, discover new techniques, and develop their own critical faculties.

I had a chance to review The Art of Hand Lettering. It's not a tiny book! It has a wide variety of lettering, and is suitable for people of all skill levels. My daughter was able to learn from it to make fancy lettering for posters and cards, but there are some challenging techniques even for adults or those experienced at lettering.

If you're interested in art or craft books of any type, check out the Dover Publications Store

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Casting Call: Wife Swap Atlanta

Have you ever wondered if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?

Do you want to see what you can learn from a family that is different than your own?

Do you need to take a break from your own family because you feel under-appreciated?


If this sounds like you, APPLY NOW!

Thrifty Thinking: Toilet Flappers

In a new report today, the United Nations is projecting that 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies. The report coincides with World Water Day and EPA’s Fix a Leak Week taking place this week.

To help save valuable water and money all year long, intelligent-water industry leader Phyn conducted a national study. Key takeaways include:

·       10% of homes had leaks resulting from a faulty toilet flapper
·       Toilet flapper leaks waste 1,200 gallons of water per day, which is 4x the amount the average American family uses daily
·       This can add up to 36,000 gallons of water wasted every month

With rising water costs, a leaky toilet could add anywhere from $248 in Dallas, $182 in New York to more than $400 on your water bill every month in cities like LA and SF.

Toilet flushing is one of the highest uses of water in the average home. Replacing a $10 faulty toilet flapper is an easy fix for homeowners to help conserve water and save money. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Parenting Pointers: Americans Are Drowning in Credit Card Debt, Throw the Next Generation a Lifeline

By: Gregg Murset, CEO BusyKid

According to the Federal Reserve, American credit card debt hit a record high in 2017, rising to more than $1 trillion. Americans have gotten very comfortable with swiping at checkout or entering digits and clicking buy now online without worrying about the bill that will come later. According to a survey by CompareCards, 12 percent of credit and debit card users had at least one card declined in the last year. 32% were denied due to insufficient funds and 40% because the credit limit had been reached. And, a Bankrate survey found one in five Americans say they have more credit-card debt than they do in emergency savings. Another 12% said they had no credit card debt, but they also had no savings.

While some people are great at managing credit cards and pay off the balance every month, others are struggling. Parents can help their kids develop a healthy knowledge of credit cards and how to use them properly by introducing them to certain concepts early in life. Some of the personal finance topics and tools parents should cover include:

Use Rechargeable Debit Cards
Think of rechargeable debit cards as the preseason training for a credit card. Kids should spend some time learning to use and manage the money of a rechargeable card before ever graduating to a credit card.  Would you ever allow your child to drive a car without getting training? Of course not!

Teachable Moments
Parenting is all about using teachable moments to leave lasting imprints for your child to use while becoming an adult. Preparing your child to use a credit card can provide many teachable moments, including the proper way to get a card in the first place. Eventually kids will be bombarded with offers so take the time now to help show them what card offers mean (or sometimes, don’t mean). Watch out for that APR!

Managing Invisible Money
Credit/Debit cards are perfect examples of invisible money that makes up about 90% of the world currency. It’s critical for kids (especially teens) to understand how invisible money works and how to manage it. Online payments, banking, shopping and entertainment are just some of the ways money moves without actual coins or paper. Since your kids won’t be carrying around a piggy bank, help them deal with money they can’t see.

Paying Their Part
If your child is going to have access to a credit card, then he/she should also be responsible for paying for whatever they buy. Handing over a card with no expectation of them paying for the items is like giving your children a blank check. Their spending needs to be based on budget.

Kids Should Earn It
Though some parents just prefer to give their kids a credit card to use however the need fits, kids should be earning the money they are spending in order to pay for what is bought. Just like in real life as an adult, it can be dangerous to keep using credit when you don’t have money coming in to cover the bills. Have your kids do projects around the house or weekly chores to earn an allowance. No income, no card.

Book Nook: Girlish - Growing Up in a Lesbian Home

There are a lot of stories rightfully celebrating great moms and what we learn from our own parents about how to be people and parents ourselves. There are fewer stories about what happens when our own upbringing teaches us what not do when we become parents ourselves. However, this is the reality for many mothers. It's not as upbeat and cheerful as recounting the fantastic example your own mom set, but neither does it need to be shameful or embarrassing. 

As a child, Lara Lillibridge found that in other people’s eyes, the most interesting thing about her wasn’t about her at all; it was about her parents. She has written Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home [April 2017; Skyhorse Publishing] to share the story about this and other aspects of her upbringing. 

The way she was parented shaped and scarred her at the same time, but not in the ways that people assume. While unconventional barely scratches the surface of describing Lillibridge’s upbringing, the strange and scarring aspects of her childhood have nothing to do with her mothers’ sexual orientation. It is rather her step-mother’s mental illness, her father’s “off the grid” lifestyle and serial divorces, and the fact that none of the adults in her life are equipped to raise a well-adjusted child. 

She is currently working on her next book which focuses on the upbringing of her own child. I had a chance to interview her to learn more.

Why did you decide to write your book?
It’s funny, I became passionate about writing after the birth of my second child and I went back to school, eventually earning a MFA in Creative Nonfiction. I wrote about almost every topic under the sun except for my mother. At my final thesis interview, the last day on was on campus, one of my advisors asked me, “when are you going to stop writing all this boring crap and write about growing up with lesbian parents?” I went home and started Girlish the next week. He wasn’t the first person who expressed interest—when people learn that my mom is a lesbian and my father has been married seven times, they often say, “you should write a book!” I felt as if I couldn’t focus on anything else until I got this story out of the way first. 

How will your book also resonate with people who didn't grow up in a lesbian home?
I think Girlish will appeal to anyone who felt as if they grew up on the outside—it’s a narrative of exile. So many of us feel like we don’t fit, for many different reasons. In the end, the reason doesn’t matter nearly as much as the feeling of exclusion. Girlish also resonates with people who wanted more from their parents than they received, for whatever reason. It’s a story of yearning. 

What lessons have you learned through your upbringing about resilience?
There were several times in my life when I had to hold my head up and walk past people who were yelling insults at me. Going through that and living taught me that no matter how terrible it feels at the time, it will not destroy me, and I’m proud of that strength.  I think I am much less concerned with what other people think than a lot of people. 
What advice do you have for parents who are raising children in what might be considered a "nontraditional" home?
I think the best thing that parents can do is to make friends in similar situations. There is a national support group called COLAGE, which connects children of LBGTQA families with each other. It’s really important for children to feel as if they aren’t the only one. 

For me, when I broke up with my husband, I went out of my way to seek out other divorced parents, so that my kids didn’t feel so strange about going back and forth between two houses. Whenever your family is different, people treat you as a tour guide for the group, or maybe a specimen: asking questions, offering sympathy, etc. But when you are around other children in the same boat, you can just talk about regular day-to-day things without having to examine life through that one lens. 

Kosher Wines for Passover

This Passover, spend your holiday in Israel, Italy and France, without ever leaving the Seder table.  This year NJ-based Royal Wine, the world’s largest purveyor of kosher wines & spirits, offers Passover selections from across the globe – including a new label from NBA All Star Amare Stoudemire - in a broad range of tastes and prices. 

Thirty-five-year-old former NBA All-Star Amare Stoudemire this week unveiled three varieties of Israeli wine whose labels bear his name, produced at the “Stoudemire Cellars” of Kfar Tikva in the Upper Galilee, imported and distributed by the Royal Wine Corp.
It’s no surprise that many of today’s kosher wines are winning international competitions in top award categories. Bottom line: there’s no reason the quality of wine at your Seder can’t stand up to a glorious meal and your best crystal goblets. 
Royal has released a range of notable wines and spirits to fit virtually everyone’s budget, from $5.00 to $500.00. This Passover, don’t be plagued by kosher wines……now those four cups can be something to be savored, not endured. 

 Ten Things to Know About Kosher Wine
1) Kosher wine is made in precisely the same way as ‘regular’ wine. The only difference is that there is rabbinical oversight during the process and that the wine is handled by Sabbath-observant Jews.
2) Not all Israeli wines are kosher. Only about 30% of Israeli wine brands are certified kosher, but the kosher wineries produce over 90% of the Israel wine industry’s output.
3) In the 1980s, there were very few kosher wines. Buchsbaum says that Royal Wine only imported three kosher wines from Bordeaux back then.
4) The number of producers of kosher wines has dramatically increased in the past 10 to 20 years.  To date, Royal Wine Corp. represents more than 60 kosher wine producers. This is due to an increase in interest from consumers who are adding to their kosher wine portfolios, and in some cases building actual kosher wine cellars in their homes, a rare sight just two decades ago.
5) While a number of well-known wineries in countries from all over the world including France, Spain, Italy, and Argentina are crafting special runs of kosher wine, California is not. With the exception of Marciano Estate, which produces a kosher run of their Terra Gratia, a high-end Napa Valley Blend, all kosher California wine is made by fully kosher wineries such as Herzog Wine Cellars, Covenant and Hagafen.
6) The reason many Passover dinners feature red wine is because there’s a rabbinic opinion that red wine is preferable since it’s the same variety that Jews used during their Seders after they escaped Egypt.
7) Kosher wines can range in price from $5.00 a bottle to $500. The average price for a bottle of good kosher wine is $25.
8) The most popular Moscato in the U.S. happens to be kosher. Bartenura produces the largest selling imported Italian Moscato in the U.S. The Moscato in the famous blue bottle sells over 5,000,000 bottles annually, only a fraction of which goes to the kosher market.
9) Currently there is a steady increase in total wine consumption and great interest specifically in high-end Israeli wines, as well as the better French wines.
10) Drinking wine can be a Mitzvah (good deed). Kosher wine is prescribed for use in many Jewish rituals: Bris Milah (circumcision), the wedding chuppa (canopy), and the Kiddush that starts all Sabbath and holiday meals. While most occasions call for just one cup, on the holiday of Purim, wine (in abundance) is the beverage of choice for the festive meal. On Passover, Jews are required to drink four cups of wine at the Seder.
I had a chance to interview to learn more.
Why did Amare Stoudemire decide to launch a new line of wines?
He’s a member of the Hebrew Israelites community. He loves Israel. He loves wine. He loves Israeli wine. It was a long time dream of his to make his own Israeli Wines.

Why is kosher wine becoming more popular for vineyards?
It’s an experience for them, allowing them to reach a new market niche.

How can consumers find the right wine options?
There are nowadays several popular blogs, websites and social media groups dedicated to kosher wine where consumers can find recommendations from experts and fellow amateurs.

  • Stoudemire Private Collection, a unique blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Petit Verdot, from NBA All Star Amare Stoudemire’s new wine collection, SRP: $244.99
  • Stoudemire Reserve, a glittering maroon red with aromas of black fruits that characterize the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, from the Upper Galilee, SRP: $59.99
  • Stoudemire Grand Reserve, this unique blend is full body with aromas of black fruits, tobacco, toasted oak and ripe pepper, from Kfar Tikva, SRP: $99.99
  • Château Remo, a new boutique winery from Israel’s Galilee region ($24.99 - $34.99).
  • Gush Etzion, a great boutique winery from the Judean Hills returns to America with an impressive array of high quality wines ($22.99 - $59.99).
  • Domaine du Castel La Viea selection of well-priced, high-quality red and white wines ($24.99).
  • Jezreel Levanim and Adumim – approachable and affordable, these are wines that reflect the Israeli terroir ($22.99 - $28.99).
  • Barkan Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that’s practically unmatched in quality for the price ($19.99).
  • Covenant Israel Blue C Viognier, a delicious white wine made by Covenant’s Jeff Morgan, famous for his highly-rated California Cabernet, at his Israeli winery ($32.99)

  • Champagne Barons De Rothschild, an elegant and classic champagne from this famed family of wines ($79.99)
  • Chateau Trijet, Bordeaux 2015.  This is a wine made from organically-grown grapes which proves that quality Bordeaux wines can also be inexpensive (SRP $12.99) 
  • Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac 2015. This is the first kosher cuvee of Michel Rolland’s very own winery in the Fronsac appellation in Bordeaux.  Michel Rolland is arguably the world’s most sought-after consultant winemaker, overseeing the production of wines at hundreds of wineries all over the globe (SRP $54.99) 
  • Chateau LascombesA Grand Cru from Margaux 2015 made kosher for the first time (SRP $124.99)

  • Herzog Lineage, the brand-new series of top-value wines from Herzog Wine Cellars ($19.99) that includes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc as well as a Rose. 
  • Hagafen, 36th Anniversary Winemaker’s Reserve (SRP $109.99) 

  • Bartenura, Sparkling Moscato Rosé, beautifully packaged for gift giving and celebration (SRP $21.99)
  • Bartenura, Limited Edition Demi Sec, a unique and festive blend of Glera and Moscato (SRP $24.99)

  • Teal Lake, Sauvignon Blanc, a great and inexpensive refreshing white from Australia (SRP $11.99)

  • Celler de Capçanes Peraj Ha’abib Special Edition Pinot Noir 2015, a superb Pinot Noir from Catalonia’s cult Spanish winery ($31.99)

  • Alfasi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, top QPR Cabernet from this booming New World region (SRP $11.99)

  • Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec, an amazing Malbec from a world-famous winery that is part of the Rothchild wine estates (SPR $29.99)

The spirit of Passover won’t stop at wines, thanks to these new releases:
  • LVOV Vodka distilled from beets (MSRP $20)
  • Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Plata Tequila (MSRP $37)
  • Reposado, distilled from wild agave harvested in the Chihuahuan desert of northern Mexico (similar to its Mexican cousins tequila, mezcal, and sotol) (MSRP $40)
About Royal Wine/Kedem
Founded in 1848, Royal Wine Corp. has been owned and operated in the United States by the Herzog family, whose winemaking roots go back eight generations to its origin in Czechoslovakia. 
Today, Royal Wine's portfolio of domestic and international wines range from traditional wine producing regions of France, Italy and Spain, as well as Israel, New Zealand and Argentina. 
The company owns and operates the Kedem Winery in upstate New York, as well as Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, California, a state-of-the-art-facility featuring guided wine tours, a fully staffed modern tasting room, gift shop and catering facilities. Additionally, the winery houses the award-winning restaurant Tierra Sur, serving the finest, Mediterranean-inspired, contemporary Californian Cuisine.


Photos: LVOV Vodka distilled from beets, and Chateau Remo Grand Blend, are two new offerings from Royal Wine Corporation that are Kosher for Passover (OU-P).

Website Spotlight: Voleo

Voleo is a new platform where users gather friends and family to invest as a group – a new kind of ‘crowd investing’. It allows new investors to save money by splitting trading costs with others and make better decisions using their combined knowledge.

Shopping Savings: Enchanted Diamonds

Enchanted Diamonds, a leading online jeweler specializing in bespoke engagement rings and quality diamonds, brings the heat just in time for spring with the debut of NEW! Enchanted Diamonds Limited-Edition Red Silk Diamond Solitaire Bracelets! This brand new launch features a handcrafted .20 ct fine white diamond set in a beautifully polished 14K bezel set at the center of a fine red silk string and elegantly pieced together with a 14K lobster clasp.

​Perfect for everyday wear, this elegant beauty wows with the season’s hottest hue, and is designed to be worn on it’s own or stacked with other bracelets. The red-hot pop of color exudes heat, energy, and power, while the solitaire diamond sparkles and shines from every angle, having you feeling fancy in no time.... 
This hot new addition retails for $500 and can be purchased at, while supplies last.

I have a chance to share a unique promo code so you can enjoy $250 off any purchase from  if interested. It's a great time to buy these beautiful pieces of jewelry. Use code BEKAH250 for savings!