Find Your Roots: Ireland’s ‘The Gathering’ Beckons

Don’t be surprised if you get an unexpected e-mail or postcard from someone you know – or possibly don’t know – in Ireland in the coming months asking you to “come home to visit.”

It’s part of the unique outreach tied to the year-long extravaganza called “The Gathering: Ireland 2013,” and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. So intense is Americans’ interest in exploring their roots – beginning, often, with immigrant grandparents who passed through Ellis Island – that the National Archives’ website recently crashed after getting 37 million hits on its newly released 1940 census.

How Parents Can Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Recent surveys show that teens are abusing prescription medications in record numbers. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 70 percent of children age 12 and older say they got prescription drugs, not from a drug dealer, but from a friend or relative.

For teens, peer pressure or wanting to escape emotional stress can lead to experimentation, which can in turn lead to abuse, addiction and sometimes to a drug overdose.

How to Prep Your Lawn and Garden for Autumn

As autumn colors set in this season, make sure your all-important home and garden upkeep checklist is ready.

Although the lawn is often overlooked during the fall, it’s actually the perfect time to make sure everything is organized before the harsher winter elements take hold. Paul James, host of HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard,” advises homeowners to start early – approximately six weeks before the first good freeze.

Here is a list of some of the tasks and items you should add to your fall checklist this year:

Tips to Keep Fido From Feasting on Your Stuff

Pet owners love being greeted at the door by their furry companions – but coming home to see the sofa in chunks on the floor amid the smiling jowls of our pet isn’t the welcome we hope for.

“We all love spending time with our dogs, but we need to leave them at home alone sometimes,” says certified dog trainer Laura Roach from the nationally trusted pet care franchise Camp Bow Wow. “Nobody wants to come home to chewed-up shoes or ripped furniture. A tired dog is a good dog, so it’s important to get them out for exercise and socialization.”

Which Home Improvement Projects Are Worth the Fix?

Okay, don’t panic.

If you’re one of those homeowners who’s been moaning about how hard it’s been trying to sell your house, your bargaining power (you remember that concept, right?) hasn’t been devastated just because a flood of new foreclosures is expected to hit the market as a result of the recent $25 billion “robo-signing” mortgage settlement.

In fact, while studies have shown your own property value could take up to another 4 percent hit if you’re within a quarter mile of a foreclosure ultimately snapped up at auction or taken back by the lender, the thing to remember is this: Most buyers today are only interested in homes that are “move-in-ready,” so if yours isn’t … well, there’s your problem.

3 Tools Every Small Business Should Use

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – With regards to technology, small businesses and entrepreneurs working out of a home office used to be at a competitive disadvantage. But the abundance of productivity tools and online resources for small businesses has changed all that. Being small doesn’t have to look small — now you can run your business from beaches and terraces of the world with just a cell phone or a tablet.
Now, smartphones are practically office computers in and of themselves, allowing you to stay connected 33,000 feet up in the air or stuck in gridlocked traffic. Not surprisingly, a Small Business Technology Poll taken by AT&T reports a steady increase in the use of tablets, 4G devices and mobile apps for business purposes. The next step for the 85 percent of small businesses using smartphones is utilizing the variety of tools available online.
Here are three inexpensive resources offered online that help small businesses and the one-person team working from home — and your business shouldn’t be without them.
1. Virtual phone system. This system allows companies of all sizes to have a business-class virtual phone system designed to help small and home-based business owners build the same strong, professional image as larger competitors. It comes with toll-free numbers, Internet fax, voice mailboxes and more.
2. Payroll software. Depending on the size of your business, it may not be pragmatic to have a full-time accountant, and outsourcing can be pricey. But payroll software can be optimized for all payment methods, and accuracy is based on a money-back guarantee. Software of this nature tends to be very user-friendly and extremely secure.
3. Email marketing software. Social media marketing is all the rage right now, but according to SmallBizTechnology.com, email marketing software remains more effective. An email marketing software tool will track who opens, reads and forwards your emails, design more targeted newsletters, increase referrals and get quicker results.
One last word of advice, which may be the most crucial of all: Type TestThis4Free.com into your browser and bookmark it. The website is a one-stop shop for online productivity tools, including virtual phone systems, payroll software, email marketing software and more. The best part? It offers free trials of various software and services to make sure users will use and benefit from a tool before buying it.
With these tools offered for free online, small businesses actually stand a chance against large companies and big budgets.

Portion Control: The Key to Weight Loss

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – The rigors of appearing on the reality TV show The Biggest Loser led Lisa Mosley to the emotional breakthrough that empowered her to lose almost 100 pounds. But it was portion control that kept her losing weight when she returned home from the set.
“I live on the motto “Moderation not deprivation,” she says. “As soon as I got home from the ranch, I started using a small plate instead of big dinner plates. It has been extremely successful for me.”
Mosley didn’t start gaining weight until she was about 20, when she began taking medication for a chronic anxiety disorder. The medication made her feel like a new person, but within six months she began to gain weight. Over the next 10 years she gained about 120 pounds.
By 2010, Lisa had suffered several personal setbacks. She had been laid off from her job, had lost her home and had no prospects to find work. The defining moment in her struggle to lose weight came when she discovered that her daughter had stopped eating and drinking because she didn’t want to be heavy like her mom.
That spurred Lisa to take action, including her willingness to bare her soul on The Biggest Loser.
When Lisa left the show, she had dropped 60 pounds. But she continued to lose weight, dropping another 37 pounds at home after she learned to control the size of her portions.
She recently became the national spokeswoman for Yum Yum Dishes, sets of hand-painted 4-ounce ceramic bowls. Tracy Adler, mother of two and former restaurant owner, created the bowls to help parents and kids control the size of their snacks.
“The idea for these dishes is what got me through this,” Mosley says. “A lot of times when I have entered into diets in the past, I went into it thinking I am never going to get a cookie, ice cream, or a piece of cake again. I was never successful with that,” she adds. “These dishes remind you that your life isn’t over and you are not going to be missing out.”
Today Mosley works as a fitness boot camp instructor and personal trainer. She weighs about 190 pounds, wears a size 12 and is happy with herself.
“I am literally a different person,” she says, “not just in how I feel physically but also how I feel mentally and emotionally.”
For more information, visit www.yumyumdishes.com.

Insider Look at Leadership Roles for Women

By Linda Verba
For NewsUSA

One of the advancements in women’s rights that we celebrate during Women’s History Month is the freedom to work in any field, and the ability to pursue leadership roles within the companies we work.

It’s a very different story from the 1970s, when women worked in limited fields and earned significantly less than men. While we still have barriers in equal earnings, we do have control over where we choose to grow professionally.

TLC Tips for Lawn and Garden Maintenance

Whether you’re considering the resale value of your home or are simply resigned to doing maintenance projects to keep your house in good condition, your lawn and garden could certainly benefit from some TLC of the home improvement variety.

The exterior of your house commands most first impressions, and even mild winters inflict seasonal damage. If you don’t know where to start, a home improvement project checklist may help. Consider the following lawn and garden maintenance tips from home and garden experts at HGTV and MarthaStewart.com:

Spring Checklist for Home and Lawn Care

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Whether you’re considering the resale value of your home or are simply resigned to doing maintenance projects to keep your house in good condition, your lawn and garden could certainly benefit from some TLC of the home- and lawn-improvement variety this spring.
The exterior of your house commands most first impressions, and even mild winters inflict seasonal damage. If you don’t know where to start, a home-improvement project checklist may help. Consider the following lawn- and garden-maintenance tips from home and garden experts at HGTV and MarthaStewart.com:
* Remove piles of dead leaves from the lawn. Not only will your grass grow greener, a clean lawn helps maximize fertilizers and pesticides. Don’t make the mistake of fertilizing your grass too early though. April is the general benchmark; any sooner might result in yellow spots and dried-out patches of grass.
* Check gutters for leaks and debris. Loose gutters cause improper drainage, so water can collect in basements and crawl spaces. Downspouts should point away from the foundation of the house and must be clear of all debris.
* Start a roof fund. It’s a good rule of thumb to check your roof for rotted, buckled, loose or missing shingles after winter because summer sun will only worsen the damage. Since roof maintenance is so expensive, it’s also smart to start a fund before you need it.
* Remove piles of wood or debris stacked near the home. Firewood should be kept far away from the foundation, and stacked 18 inches off the ground. These preventative measures help keep insect pests from exploring your home.
* Don’t strain yourself, and stay hydrated. This might be the first time you’ve done any heavy lifting or spent hours in the sun for months. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, take breaks and stretch your muscles. If you suffer from backaches and muscle strains, keep some relief like Absorbine Jr. (www.absorbinejr.com) on hand. Its herbal ingredients and uncanny ability to ease muscle and back pain make it a must-have for yard work.
* Call a professional to clean your AC unit. Heating and cooling experts recommend an annual servicing since clean coils work more efficiently. When the summer’s blazing heat drives you indoors, your family will appreciate having an AC operating at peak levels.