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No Fail Whale here! Twitter is soaring

Business News - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 7:08am
Read full story for latest details.

Look at me! 16 selfies of the week

CNN - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 6:45am
Categories: National News

Look at me! 16 selfies of the week

CNN World - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 6:42am
Categories: International News

Chevy Volt is insurance group's Top Safety Pick

Business News - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:12am
What's the safest car on the road? It's the one that can avoid getting into a crash all together.

Going back to school? Tips to choose the right degree

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - For many, earning a college degree opened the door to the working world; it may have even been instrumental in landing your current job. But are you applying what you learned in college to your current career field? A recent survey suggests this might not be the case.

Only 35 percent of college-educated workers consider all or most of what they learned in college to be applicable to their current jobs, according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix.

Today, many working adults are returning to college to either complete a degree that better aligns with the skills required for their current job or earn a second degree to gain additional experience for a potential career change. The National Center for Education Statistics reports an estimated 8.7 million adults over the age of 25 were planning to enroll in college in 2013, up nearly 37 percent from 2000.

“There is significant progress being made in higher education to adapt to the needs of the employment market and tie curriculum to careers earlier in a student’s education,” says University of Phoenix School of Business Executive Dean Ruth Veloria. “It is critical to choose the right degree program so you know the knowledge you glean from coursework can be applied to the career you desire.”

Veloria offers these tips to help you get the most out of your educational experience:

* Research degree programs with a career in mind – Don’t wait until you are enrolled in college to determine your career path. Research specific positions, develop learning plans with an academic advisor and take career and skills assessments. Phoenix Career Guidance System is designed to help any student – from those just starting to those looking to advance their careers – research jobs related to different degree programs and discover which fields best fit their interests and personalities.

* Go straight to the source - If you know someone currently working in the career field in which you are interested, schedule an informational interview to learn more about the skills and experience required for that line of work. Don’t know anyone? Veloria recommends joining industry associations and attending networking events as a way to make new contacts and learn more about a new career field or job.

* Communicate with your boss – Your return to school will most likely benefit your company, so share your education plans with your boss, including how your classroom learning can benefit colleagues and special projects in the workplace. If your manager feels invested in your goals, it could be a source of support and motivation for you. Additionally, contact your human resources department to see if the company offers education reimbursement benefits to help pay for school.

* Consider certificate programs that lead to a degree – Many working adults balance school with workplace and family priorities, so it can take additional time to earn a college degree. University of Phoenix’s StackTrack certificate option allows you to move core courses toward the front of your degree program as you earn your degree. This program allows you to earn certificates along the way to degree completion to help you gain the knowledge needed to elevate your career.

“Researching and planning the education path you need to achieve your career goals is very important,” says Veloria. “You want to know that the skills you learn in college are the skills you need to advance your career to the next level.”

Categories: Lifestyle

Healthy lunch and snack ideas for back to school

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - If schools and parents received report cards on the lunches they’re serving kids, most wouldn’t receive a passing score. Many lunches, whether served at school or brought from home, are made with bleached flour, artificial sweeteners, food coloring, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, hormones and trans fats. Studies have shown that these ingredients are linked to weight gain, defects in insulin and lipid metabolism, hyperactivity, increased risk of tumors, cancer, digestive issues, asthma, premature heart attacks, diabetes, and overexposure and resistance to antibiotics. Some of these ingredients are even banned in other countries.

As a parent, what can you do to keep your child healthy? Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company, suggests checking in with your child’s school to learn where foods are sourced, the nutritional values and ingredients in order to make informed decisions.

“The more highly processed foods are, the more likely they are to contain the seven unsavory ingredients. Meaning they are foods it’s best to find alternatives for,” says Laura Burbank, a registered dietitian with the Life Time Foundation.

“We encourage parents to speak with school nutrition directors and cafeteria managers about reducing the amount of highly processed and artificial items served in their lunch rooms, in favor of wholesome, real foods, and we’re able to help parents throughout that process,” Burbank says.

Until changes are made, Burbank advises actively engaging kids - starting when they’re young - in packing lunch at home. “Getting kids involved in packing their lunches makes them more likely to eat and enjoy them,” says Burbank. “They feel helpful and they’re learning along the way.” She says it’s important to include a protein, whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy fats with every meal, and provides some ideas below.

Lunch box option one:

* Lunch: turkey or ham sandwich with avocado and spinach on whole grain bread. Look for meat that is free of hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, artificial preservatives and other additives.

* Snack: orange slices and string cheese.

Lunch box option two:

* Lunch: grilled chicken breast, avocado and roasted bell pepper or shredded carrots in a whole grain pita with a Greek yogurt based dressing or pesto.

* Snack: apple slices and almond butter. If your child’s school has a strict nut-free lunchroom guideline, include Greek yogurt with vanilla and/or honey.

Lunch box option three:

* Lunch: a wholesome PB&J made with almond butter and 100 percent fruit preserves on whole grain bread.

* Snack: hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers with Greek yogurt based vegetable dipping sauce, or pita chips and peppers with hummus.

Healthier lunch room choices

Burbank notes that sometimes making lunch at home isn’t a viable option. If that’s the case, she suggests parents discuss healthy lunch room options with their kids, as studies have shown that in addition to nutritional benefits, healthier diets also associate with higher academic performance. Things to consider include:

* Choose a salad when available to include more vegetables in the meal.

* Choose white milk over chocolate milk to cut down on sugar intake.

* Choose 1 percent milk over skim or non-fat milk, the higher fat content is more satiating.

* Choose whole grain pasta over bread which may contain bleached flour and preservatives.

* Choose red pasta sauce (vegetable-based) over cream sauce (high in fat).

* Choose fresh fruit over canned fruit which may contain artificial colors, preservatives and sweeteners.

Parents should also be encouraged to talk to the nutrition directors and cafeteria managers about reducing the amount of highly processed and artificial items in the school meals. The Life Time Foundation is a great resource for more information on this.

The Life Time Foundation partners with schools to help them remove highly processed and artificial ingredients from school meals by providing resources and assisting with menu development. For more information on how your school can get involved, visit www.ltffoundation.org.

Categories: Lifestyle

Going home again: A great office is a key to success for new home-based workers

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Whoever first said, “You can’t go home again,” probably wasn’t considering the 38 million home-based businesses in the United States, or the approximately 37 million households that have active home offices. More workers are plying their trade from home, as employers recognize the value of flexibility for their work force and more employees decide to enter the ranks of American entrepreneurship.

It’s not just small business owners or lucky full-time employees who are working from home, either; the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 24 percent of people employed outside the home work at home at least some of the time. If you’re poised to become home-based, here are some things to consider as you’re putting your home office in order:

Location is key

Without the need to fight rush-hour traffic during a twice-daily commute, you may think the location of your home office isn’t that important. Actually, it is. Where your office is located in your home can affect your productivity and even your personal life.

Choose a room that’s in your home’s heavy traffic lanes, and you could face frequent interruptions. Park your desk in the game room over the garage and you may feel isolated from the rest of the house. Try to stuff a desk in a corner of your bedroom and you’ll spend most of your life stuck in the same room – you may even feel less inclined to sleep there if you’re always working in your bedroom.

You’ll need to balance personal and professional priorities in order to decide which room in the house makes the most sense for your home office.

Good lighting sets the stage for success

The harshness of artificial lighting is a common complaint among people working in offices outside the home. A window in one’s office has long been a sign of prestige in cities across the country, and having abundant natural light in a home office is one of the many advantages of working from home. Natural lighting has a mood-boosting impact that’s been well-documented, making office workers feel happier, healthier and more productive. What’s more, use of natural light can help reduce reliance on artificial lighting and trim utility bills accordingly.

If the space you’ve chosen for your home office is short on windows and adding them isn’t practical, skylights can be a good alternative, not only for lighting but also to save valuable wall space for other uses. Adding Energy Star-qualified skylights, like those manufactured by VELUX America, can be as cost-effective as installing quality vertical windows, without creating the hassle of opening a wall. If you opt for a remote-controlled fresh air skylight, you can also use it to enhance the indoor air quality of your home office. Additionally, many of the features that make skylights appealing in other areas of the house – such as privacy in a bathroom or space conservation in a small bedroom – also make them a good choice for a home office.

Finally, skylights can be a good investment for your home-based business. Adding no-leak solar-powered fresh-air skylights and energy-efficient solar-powered blinds to your home office can qualify for a 30-percent federal tax credit on both products, including the installation costs. And from now until Aug. 15, there’s also a $200 cash rebate from VELUX on solar powered skylights. Visit www.veluxusa.com or energystar.gov to learn more about energy-efficient skylights.  Want to see how skylights would look in your home?  A free skylight planner app is available to show you, room by room, what’s possible with skylights.

Furnishings create a foundation

Considering how much time you’ll spend in your home office, it’s important to invest in furnishings that will be functional, comfortable, inspiring and in step with your lifestyle.

If you prefer to sit while you work on a computer, the comfort of your office chair will be key. Prefer to get in a bit of healthful exercise while you work? Consider an ergonomic desk that allows you to stand while you type. Many versions of standing desks also can be lowered for use while seated.

Desks should incorporate storage and easy access to electronic components. Office chairs should be comfortable and ergonomically correct. Be sure your furniture choices not only fit your needs, but the room’s, too. A huge desk may make you feel like a Wall Street CEO, but your enjoyment will evaporate if you don’t have space to walk around the desk in a small office. It’s important to keep office furniture appropriate to the scale of the room you’ll be working in.

The number of people working from home continues to grow, according to Census Bureau statistics. One study by a Chinese travel website found that working from home increased employee productivity by nearly 14 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review. Ensuring your home office is set up to inspire can help you achieve greater productivity and satisfaction as you work from home.

Categories: Lifestyle

4 reasons to make the move to a medical home

Community Cares - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - The American health care environment is rapidly changing. One model of health care that’s expanding across the country is the patient-centered medical home. A medical home is not a physical location, as the name implies, but a team-based model of health care delivery led by a physician or other qualified provider (for example, a physician assistant or nurse practitioner) that emphasizes a life-long, personal relationship between patient and physician from birth to old age.

“From sick visits to chronic conditions, patients really benefit from the team-based care approach,” says John Burke, PhD, president and CEO of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), an accrediting body for health care organizations. “However, there are a variety of aspects and options to consider when determining if a medical home is the best choice for you.”

Focus on the patient: Medical homes help patients and families to manage, organize and participate in health care decisions as fully informed partners in their care. This leads to patients seeking the right care, from the right place, at the right time.

“Whether visiting your primary care doctor or a specialist, your entire family’s health records are centrally located to be quickly and easily accessed by any provider, from childhood through old age,” says Burke. “As your needs and care changes, your primary care could co-locate with a specialist needed, like an OB/GYN.”

Comprehensive coordination: In a medical home, a team of care providers is wholly accountable for the patient’s physical and mental health care needs, which includes the entire spectrum of care from prevention and wellness to chronic, long-term care. Physicians and nurses ensure care is organized across the broader health care system, should patients require a hospital stay or visit to a specialist, like a cardiologist.

This level of comprehensive coordination means patients are less likely to seek care from emergency settings, delay care or leave conditions untreated. It also means providers are less likely to order duplicate tests or procedures, which can lead to lower costs and more efficient treatment for patients.

Accessibility: Medical homes have been shown to reduce wait times, increase patients’ access to their doctor and keep better electronic health records. A more accessible doctor means a patient is more likely to receive preventive care, reducing the incidences and severity of chronic diseases.

Commitment to quality and safety: Knowing how patients fare after leaving the doctor’s office results in fewer future hospitalizations and readmissions. So physicians and staff are tasked with monitoring quality improvement goals and using the data to track their patients’ outcomes.

Also, electronic health records and medication management allow doctors and staff to let patients know when it’s time for vaccinations, check-up appointments or physical exams. The result is a bigger focus on wellness and preventive care, instead of a patient only seeking care when they are sick or injured.

How do you know if a medical home is meeting quality standards and clinical outcomes? AAAHC offers a comprehensive medical home accreditation that grades providers on how well they meet standards of care – including continuity and accessibility of care, clinical records and health information and the quality care patients receive.

“We look for and evaluate requirements in a medical home, like the relationship among the patient and their providers,” says Burke. “Becoming a medical home is a transformative process, and the only true way to assess a medical home is at the point of care and from a patient perspective.”

For more information, visit aaahc.org/medicalhome.

Categories: Lifestyle

Going home again: A great office is a key to success for new home-based workers

Business/Careers - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Whoever first said, “You can’t go home again,” probably wasn’t considering the 38 million home-based businesses in the United States, or the approximately 37 million households that have active home offices. More workers are plying their trade from home, as employers recognize the value of flexibility for their work force and more employees decide to enter the ranks of American entrepreneurship.

It’s not just small business owners or lucky full-time employees who are working from home, either; the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 24 percent of people employed outside the home work at home at least some of the time. If you’re poised to become home-based, here are some things to consider as you’re putting your home office in order:

Location is key

Without the need to fight rush-hour traffic during a twice-daily commute, you may think the location of your home office isn’t that important. Actually, it is. Where your office is located in your home can affect your productivity and even your personal life.

Choose a room that’s in your home’s heavy traffic lanes, and you could face frequent interruptions. Park your desk in the game room over the garage and you may feel isolated from the rest of the house. Try to stuff a desk in a corner of your bedroom and you’ll spend most of your life stuck in the same room – you may even feel less inclined to sleep there if you’re always working in your bedroom.

You’ll need to balance personal and professional priorities in order to decide which room in the house makes the most sense for your home office.

Good lighting sets the stage for success

The harshness of artificial lighting is a common complaint among people working in offices outside the home. A window in one’s office has long been a sign of prestige in cities across the country, and having abundant natural light in a home office is one of the many advantages of working from home. Natural lighting has a mood-boosting impact that’s been well-documented, making office workers feel happier, healthier and more productive. What’s more, use of natural light can help reduce reliance on artificial lighting and trim utility bills accordingly.

If the space you’ve chosen for your home office is short on windows and adding them isn’t practical, skylights can be a good alternative, not only for lighting but also to save valuable wall space for other uses. Adding Energy Star-qualified skylights, like those manufactured by VELUX America, can be as cost-effective as installing quality vertical windows, without creating the hassle of opening a wall. If you opt for a remote-controlled fresh air skylight, you can also use it to enhance the indoor air quality of your home office. Additionally, many of the features that make skylights appealing in other areas of the house – such as privacy in a bathroom or space conservation in a small bedroom – also make them a good choice for a home office.

Finally, skylights can be a good investment for your home-based business. Adding no-leak solar-powered fresh-air skylights and energy-efficient solar-powered blinds to your home office can qualify for a 30-percent federal tax credit on both products, including the installation costs. And from now until Aug. 15, there’s also a $200 cash rebate from VELUX on solar powered skylights. Visit www.veluxusa.com or energystar.gov to learn more about energy-efficient skylights.  Want to see how skylights would look in your home?  A free skylight planner app is available to show you, room by room, what’s possible with skylights.

Furnishings create a foundation

Considering how much time you’ll spend in your home office, it’s important to invest in furnishings that will be functional, comfortable, inspiring and in step with your lifestyle.

If you prefer to sit while you work on a computer, the comfort of your office chair will be key. Prefer to get in a bit of healthful exercise while you work? Consider an ergonomic desk that allows you to stand while you type. Many versions of standing desks also can be lowered for use while seated.

Desks should incorporate storage and easy access to electronic components. Office chairs should be comfortable and ergonomically correct. Be sure your furniture choices not only fit your needs, but the room’s, too. A huge desk may make you feel like a Wall Street CEO, but your enjoyment will evaporate if you don’t have space to walk around the desk in a small office. It’s important to keep office furniture appropriate to the scale of the room you’ll be working in.

The number of people working from home continues to grow, according to Census Bureau statistics. One study by a Chinese travel website found that working from home increased employee productivity by nearly 14 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review. Ensuring your home office is set up to inspire can help you achieve greater productivity and satisfaction as you work from home.

Categories: Lifestyle

Wedding smarts: Before the 'I do's' remember these important insurance to do's

Bridal - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Congratulations, you're engaged. Once the excitement of sharing the news with your loved ones and Facebook friends dies down, there are several important issues to consider. This includes building your guest list, setting a budget, picking a venue, DJ versus band and other to do’s. However, there are also some vital details pertaining to insurance that many prospective newlyweds overlook. True, it's not the most exciting topic, but it is, nonetheless, something that should be considered before marriage.

Before you tie the knot, make sure you consider these options:

* Get your engagement ring appraised and insured.
Whether you’re traditionalists who believe an engagement ring should cost three months of the future husband’s salary or you’re a modern couple who opted to go Dutch and split the cost, an engagement ring is no small investment. Even if the ring is a family heirloom that didn’t cost anything, it’s a good idea to be protected against the unthinkable circumstance of losing your ring.

“Most renters or homeowners insurance policies offer riders for special or expensive items like engagement rings, costing on average $1 to $2 for every $100 to replace the ring,” says Doug Menges, chief claims officer for Mercury Insurance Group. “Show your insurance agent a receipt for the ring, as well as an appraisal, to assure you get sufficient coverage.”

* Compare your existing auto insurance providers.
Many couples don’t have the same carrier for auto insurance when they join together in holy matrimony, but keep in mind marriage can impact how much you pay for your premium.

“This is especially timely for me, because my daughter is getting married this summer,” says Menges. “I know that married couples tend to pay lower auto insurance premiums because, statistically, they’re safer drivers than single men and women. So, you can be sure I’ve already told her and my future son-in-law they should talk to their insurance agent, because they will most likely qualify for additional discounts that may lower their premium.”

Be sure to talk about accidents, outstanding tickets, coverage lapses and similar issues while you’re deciding if a joint policy is right for you. And don’t be afraid to reach out to a local insurance agent for advice on how to best proceed.

If you opt to combine policies, consider what’s most important to you when choosing a provider. Is it the cost of your policy or having a local agent with whom to build a relationship? What about insurance bundling options and the discount types offered? When you agree upon what you’re both seeking, you can choose to stay with one of your current providers or find a new company. Regardless of what you decide, however, it’s a good idea to shop around to see if you are getting the most for your money.

* Create and merge itemized household inventories.
Whether you cohabitate with your beloved before or after taking the marriage plunge, an important insurance lesson is to keep a detailed record of everything you own. Mashable lists several apps that will assist with the inventory process. This inventory keeps track of the belongings you’ve accumulated over the years and helps your homeowners or renters insurance provider determine the proper amount of coverage you’ll need if you fall victim to a burglary, fire, natural disaster or other loss requiring a claim to be filed.

When you move in together, be sure to combine your respective inventories into one master list, and remember to add all of the gifts you receive at your engagement party, bridal shower and the wedding.

* Relax.
Your wedding day is hopefully one of the best days of your life. Don’t get lost in the planning process because the most important detail is the person who’ll be standing next to you. Take a deep breath, relax and remember to enjoy every second on your journey to a shared future.

Ideas for awesome classroom enhancements

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - The approach of the school year has parents seeking out the best deals on back-to-school supplies, and teachers everywhere are preparing their classrooms to give students the best educational experience possible. From decorations designed to create engaging learning environments to having extra supplies on hand for students, the back-to-school shopping season requires a bit of planning by teachers.

On average, teachers spend more than $400 of their own money each year to purchase supplies and decorating materials for their classrooms. This year as they stock up on those needed materials, teachers can use them to create awesome rooms where students will love coming to learn.

* Elementary rooms – Picture books, numbers magazines, puzzle books and a large collection of crafting supplies are often needed in elementary school classrooms to create the perfect learning environment for younger children. Plastic containers, shelving dividers, colorful hanging tote bags and boxes – all decorated with fun shapes and colors – are the perfect way to keep the classroom organized. A teacher could create a puzzle corner to provide challenging word, mathematical or even scientific puzzles to stimulate their students’ minds. Keep extra paper, pencils and calculators in this area so students have the materials needed to stay engaged.

* Middle school rooms – In middle school, students tend to rotate from classroom to classroom to study different topics. It’s good to keep them moving in the classroom as well to engage their interest. Teaching history? Use media photos and crafting paper to create a timeline of historical events wrapping along the walls around the room. Are you an English teacher? Paint a door with chalkboard paint and provide colorful chalk for students to create short poems or words of inspiration for their classmates. Challenge them to create art with their words on the chalkboard and print out finished pictures of projects to decorate the board. At the end of the quarter or semester ask the students to vote on the most creative project.

* High school rooms – At high school, students need less action, but they still appreciate stimulation. Math students can use graphing calculators to create graphs of different trig functions, and then print those graphs on paper to create colorful and beautiful wall designs. Physics teachers can set up plastic boxes of problems featuring subjects their students are interested in. Namely, the cars they drive to and from school or the sports teams they support on Friday nights. Fill the boxes with different situations related to these subjects, and have the students apply the laws of physics to calculate what will happen to the car, or if the sports player will make the play.

Teachers can save money on their classroom supplies and decor by enrolling in the Staples Teacher Rewards program. Those who are enrolled will receive a coupon for 25 percent off any purchase of $10 or more to be redeemed during the Teacher Appreciation Event Aug. 1 – 3, alternatively they can provide their Staples Teacher Rewards Number at checkout. These savings are only available for teachers, and exclude any technology items. Educators who are not currently Teacher Rewards members can sign up at any Staples store, Aug. 1-3, and receive 25 percent back in rewards during this special Teacher Appreciation event. Exclusions apply, see store for details. Visit StaplesRewardsCenter.com to learn more.

The school bell will be ringing soon, which means teachers need to get their classrooms in order for a great year of learning. Whether they’re looking for materials to support a room theme or extra supplies to have on hand for student use, Staples has the school supplies needed.

Categories: Lifestyle

Help your kids make the grade with healthy back-to-school snacks

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - School means big adjustments and big demands for everyone involved: shopping for supplies, shuttling here and there, studying – or overseeing the studying – special projects, and more. It’s easy to forget nutrition in all the hustle and bustle.

Make a pact to embrace healthful eating, whether breakfast on the run, packed lunches or after-school snacks. In other words, plan now to fuel those little bodies with something better than potato chips and cookies and to nourish at regular intervals to avoid big dips in energy and focus.

The first step is to start the day off right. Eating breakfast helps the brain to function and has been shown to improve performance in school. In fact, children who eat breakfast score higher on cognitive tests than those who don’t. With a little forethought, you can stock your pantry with breakfast staples, and orchestrate a fresh and healthful breakfast that is also tasty and quick.

One of the easiest options is to simply mix yogurt with granola and top with California grapes for a balanced and nourishing boost to the morning. Pump up the good stuff even more with a Yogurt Power Bowl.  This breakfast-in-a-bowl combines Greek yogurt, fresh grapes, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds with a touch of cinnamon. The yogurt serves as a great source of protein, the walnuts, flax and chia seeds offer healthy omega-3 fatty acids, while the fresh grapes offer a fresh flavor boost and contribute beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols that support a healthy heart.

Yogurt Power Bowl with California Grapes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon flax seeds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups red, black or green seedless California grapes, halved

Directions:

Mix the yogurt, walnuts, chia, flax and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss the grapes into the mixture to coat. Serve chilled.

Next, keep your child’s brain-power on a roll at lunch time by offering a balanced variety of foods. Grapes from California are an easy component of packed lunches; they complement sandwiches, salads and soups as well. Plump, juicy clusters of grapes help to hydrate and refresh, and won’t likely be traded off for something else. Grapes are easy to share, so you might just want to pack extra.

After school, kids need to refuel and recharge to accomplish the slate of afternoon activities, whether homework, sports, enrichment classes or simply a playdate. They aren’t alone, actually: according to a recent study by Technomic, 71 percent of people enjoy a snack in the mid-afternoon, with some 50 percent stating that healthfulness is important to them in a snack.

Fresh grapes are the quintessential healthy, but oh-so-tasty snack. They are the perfect finger food, easy to eat, convenient and portable. Grapes play well with other foods too, complementing cheese, crackers, nuts, yogurts and granola bars. Grapes from California are available May through January, with a wide selection of grape varieties available throughout the fall.

Consider these super snack ideas:

* Let the kids make their own no-brainer burritos: Spread a tortilla with whipped cream cheese, a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, and line the center with grapes. Roll up for a tasty fruit-filled burrito.

* For a savory roll-up, spread cream cheese on a sun-dried-tomato tortilla, and top with sliced turkey.  Roll it up and slice to enjoy.

* Smoothies are a great way to add wholesome fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. Enhance it with a spoonful of nut butter for extra staying power.

* Set out a platter of hummus, pita bread and fruit. Remember that hummus, while traditionally made from chickpeas, can be made from any type of bean, from black beans to white beans to pinto beans, and edamame (soybeans).

* Top an open-face peanut butter sandwich with bananas and grapes.

* Create a fresh trail mix with nuts, cheese cubes, chocolate chips and fresh grapes instead of raisins.

* Pair almond butter with fruit. Spread directly on apple slices or mix with a little honey for a peanut dip for colorful grape skewers.

* Frozen grapes are always a cool treat.

* Sometimes it is OK to play with your food! Create some grape caterpillars by threading green grapes onto bamboo skewers. To make eyes on the end grape, place a dot of cake icing on the back of each of two mini chocolate chips and stick them to the grape.

Categories: Lifestyle

Teenager danger: Five rules for young drivers

Education - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - If you’re feeling nervous about handing the car keys to your teenager for the first time, you’re not alone. It’s a common sentiment given some sobering statistics. According to teendriversource.org, 20 percent of all 16-year-old drivers will be involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel.  And studies show more teenage motor vehicle fatalities happen during the summer than any other time of year. But there are some things you can do to help keep your teenager from becoming a statistic. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has some tips and tools to keep your teen safe.

Though auto accidents are a fact of life for most drivers, even a minor fender bender can impact insurance rates, costing parents and teens for years to come. The good news is research shows teen drivers who follow rules are half as likely to get in an accident. Before your teen hits the road, consider establishing some simple guidelines to protect his or her safety and your wallet:

1. Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Set a curfew to keep your teen off the road during these times.

2. Limit passengers. A teen’s relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases with each additional passenger. More passengers equal more potential distractions.

3. Make the cell phone off limits while driving. Talking and texting can double the likelihood of an accident. If your teen must use the phone, instruct him or her to pull over before doing so and be sure to set a good example when you are behind the wheel.

4. Empower your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Remind your teens they are just as vulnerable in an accident as the driver, so they should speak up if they feel unsafe.

5. Be Prepared. Arm your teens with the knowledge of what they should do if they do get into an accident. Mobile apps such as WreckCheck can help take the guesswork out of a tense situation, guiding users through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. WreckCheck uses your device’s location service, camera and audio recorder to document all pertinent information about the incident and provides tips on how to file and follow up on a claim.

A Teen Driver Contract is a simple way to keep your teen accountable. It establishes basic driving ground rules and clearly lays out the consequences associated with driving privileges. The NAIC has developed an online tool to guide parents through building a customized Teen Driver Contract. There’s also a downloadable sample contract to help get you started.

Educating yourself and your new driver about the risks and insurance implications of unsafe driving can save lives and money. As your teen begins his or her journey on the roadways, take time to speak openly and candidly about your expectations for behind-the-wheel behavior.

Categories: Lifestyle

Teenager danger: Five rules for young drivers

Automotive - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - If you’re feeling nervous about handing the car keys to your teenager for the first time, you’re not alone. It’s a common sentiment given some sobering statistics. According to teendriversource.org, 20 percent of all 16-year-old drivers will be involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel.  And studies show more teenage motor vehicle fatalities happen during the summer than any other time of year. But there are some things you can do to help keep your teenager from becoming a statistic. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has some tips and tools to keep your teen safe.

Though auto accidents are a fact of life for most drivers, even a minor fender bender can impact insurance rates, costing parents and teens for years to come. The good news is research shows teen drivers who follow rules are half as likely to get in an accident. Before your teen hits the road, consider establishing some simple guidelines to protect his or her safety and your wallet:

1. Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Set a curfew to keep your teen off the road during these times.

2. Limit passengers. A teen’s relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases with each additional passenger. More passengers equal more potential distractions.

3. Make the cell phone off limits while driving. Talking and texting can double the likelihood of an accident. If your teen must use the phone, instruct him or her to pull over before doing so and be sure to set a good example when you are behind the wheel.

4. Empower your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Remind your teens they are just as vulnerable in an accident as the driver, so they should speak up if they feel unsafe.

5. Be Prepared. Arm your teens with the knowledge of what they should do if they do get into an accident. Mobile apps such as WreckCheck can help take the guesswork out of a tense situation, guiding users through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. WreckCheck uses your device’s location service, camera and audio recorder to document all pertinent information about the incident and provides tips on how to file and follow up on a claim.

A Teen Driver Contract is a simple way to keep your teen accountable. It establishes basic driving ground rules and clearly lays out the consequences associated with driving privileges. The NAIC has developed an online tool to guide parents through building a customized Teen Driver Contract. There’s also a downloadable sample contract to help get you started.

Educating yourself and your new driver about the risks and insurance implications of unsafe driving can save lives and money. As your teen begins his or her journey on the roadways, take time to speak openly and candidly about your expectations for behind-the-wheel behavior.

Categories: Lifestyle

Turn your fantasy fairytale wedding into reality

Bridal - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Every girl dreams of her fantasy wedding. It usually includes a Prince Charming standing next to her at the altar, saying “I do,” while surrounding by friends and family in a fairytale atmosphere.

Now it’s time to turn that fantasy dream into reality. And while Prince Charming has been replaced with Mr. Right, the rest of the fairytale doesn’t have to change. Every bride should feel like a princess, and here are some ways to pull off the special wedding:

* The dress: The right wedding dress and accessories can make any bride look like a princess. A strand of pearls around the neck for a Cinderella look or a long, decorative braid down one side of the head completes the Rapunzel look. Many brides love the look of a simple tiara woven into an elegant hairstyle. And the dress can have a full or puffy skirt, or long flowing tresses to really bring out the princess style. Disney also has a collection of designer princess cut dresses based on several of the Disney princesses.

* The invitations: Set the tone for your fairytale wedding right from the start with Disney Princess Wedding Invitations from Invitations by Dawn. The collection features eight elegant princess invitations inspired by Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Tiana and Snow White. You’ll love the deep embossing, the shimmer paper and the raised print that looks like an invitation from royalty. The flowers and motifs will capture the eyes of your guests and evoke a sense of fairytale nostalgia, having them anticipating the wedding itself.

* The decorations: Shimmery gossamer, twinkle lights and decorative candles provide beautiful touches to help make the fairytale a reality when it comes to your wedding and reception. If you are a crafty person, use DIY crafting sites like Pinterest to find centerpiece and table decoration ideas you can make yourself. Also ask your florist and cake decorator if they have any suggestions on decorating your reception and the wedding hall in a fairytale theme. They may suggest a fountain centerpiece, or creating a forest backdrop behind the cake to help enhance the theme.

If you’ve been dreaming about your wedding for many years, you probably already have some ideas for those special romantic touches that will make your wedding memorable and special. Share those ideas with the wedding specialist helping you plan your special day, and let the magic happen. Your guests will be awed by how you pulled together the entire fairytale theme, from the invitations to the special gifts they’ll take home to remember your special day.

Report: Dozens killed, injured in China terror attack

CNN World - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 8:52pm
A gang wielding knives and axes attacked civilians, a police station, government offices and smashed vehicles, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday, citing local police.
Categories: International News

Witness: Mom went 50 MPH with son on car

CNN - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 8:29pm
Two Ohio men say they recorded a mother driving down the street with her 19-year-old son on the roof of her car.
Categories: National News

McDonald's may be liable for worker lawsuits

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 7:30pm
Read full story for latest details.

Football Set To Report For Camp Wednesday

Bulldog Beat - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 6:16pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Mississippi State football team officially reports for 2014 preseason camp Wednesday morning as sixth-year head coach Dan Mullen will welcome 105 players to campus with the start of practice set for the following day.

Sick leave policies pick up steam

Business News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 6:07pm
Biviana Lagunas must skip class or her part-time job when her 4-year-old germ-magnet brother Derik is running a fever, because their mother has no paid time off.
Just a few years ago, LeBron James was the darling of the NBA world as a member of the Cleveland...
Teams from 14 different schools assembled at Malvern High School on Wednesday for the second James...
Correction: In today's sports section (Tuesday, July 1 edition), which will be out in a few hours,...
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