Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tips for Starting a Drop-Shipping Business from Home

The Internet has made drop-shipping a much more feasible option for consumers. Rather than buying their goods from a retailer that has been forced to add a large markup, they can arrange to make the purchase from the manufacturer. A number of home based businesses connect manufacturers with end consumers. If you are interested in starting your own home based drop-shipping business, then the following facts will help you out.

Quit Making Excuses!

A lot of people are hesitant to take the plunge and create their own drop-shipping business. You will probably hear them make a lot of excuses, such as not having the time or money.
The truth is that it doesn’t take a lot of money to get started. Maneesh Sethi of Hack The System put together an epic blog post about it and showed that it’s possible to create a drop-shipping business in one day by spending less than $30.
Of course, his feedback is a bit optimistic. Some people need to spend more on advertising to meet their goals if they struggle to build an organic following from social media and other online platforms. However, he is absolutely right that anyone can create a drop-shipping business. You need to put the negative mindset behind you and make things happen.

What Do You Need to Get Started?

You need to do some good prep work before you can get your drop-shipping business off the ground. Here are some things that you will need to do.

Find Some Manufacturers

You will need to identify some great manufacturers to work with. Make sure that you work with reputable partners, because your own reputation hinges on your ability to deliver quality products to your customers. You can consider creating a drop-shipping business with Amazon or eBay, but make sure that you find good merchants to work with.

Identify Your Target Customers

Who do you expect to market your products to? You will need to come up with a list of customers so that you can know how to target them effectively.

Make Sure that the Manufacturer has a Good Supply Chain Strategy

Customers are depending on you to deliver goods on time. They will be just as unforgiving towards you as the manufacturer if you can’t deliver on your promise. Therefore, it is imperative that you make sure that the manufacturer has a good supply chain system in place.
Find out how long it takes for them to make deliveries. If they are selling low ticket items, then you may want to make a purchase yourself to test their order to delivery turnaround. You should also find out if they are using a supply chain solutions provider, such as Landstar, because these companies are generally going to be more reliable than companies that handle their supply chain strategy entirely in-house.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

WW Homecoming

Last week was #spiritweek at my daughter's high school. Every day they could dress up in different things. I should have gotten a pic of her "Rock & Roll" one.

but I got a pic of her on the school colors day

Friday, October 23, 2015

Experts Warn of Cold Winter for SoCal

The official first day of winter is more than two months away. However, experts predict that the United States may be at risk of an unusually cold winter, despite previous speculation that El Nino would lift temperatures. The bitter winter could strike many unexpected parts of the country, including Southern California. Residents should be prepared before the beginning of winter.

Southwest Should Expect Cold Front

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been tracking weather patterns for over two centuries. The publisher is among the group of experts that speculate the winter will be unusually brutal.
“Winter will be cold again in much of the nation, with below-normal temperatures along most of the Atlantic seaboard and in the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, and southwestern states."
The most interesting part of their prediction is that it includes California, Arizona and other Southwestern states. Citizens in these areas will need to take steps to prepare for the winter while they still have time. The first cold front could be only a couple weeks away.

Preparing for the Winter

Lifelong residents of California may have the most difficult time adjusting to a sudden cold front. While the cold may not be as severe as other parts of the country, it may catch people off guard if they have never been accustomed to it before. There are several things that should be done to prepare for the coming winter.

Check Your House for Drafts

Does your home have any drafts in it? You should consider having those patched before the first months of winter. California homes are newer than those on the East Coast, but they are still susceptible to drafts, so you should have those looked at. The money that you spend fixing a draft could save you three to four times as much in heating costs over the course of a single winter.

Speak to Your Local Heating Contractor

You will want to have your local heating contractor come by to check your heating system. They may find that there are some issues with the central heating system that need to be resolved. The experts at ABC Heating and Cooling offer exceptional services for citizens throughout Fresno and the surrounding community.

Rainproof Your Home

Is your home capable of withstanding massive downpours? It better be, because the weather patterns may bring massive downpours and even possible floods to Southern California. Officials throughout the state have been warning about the possibility since the beginning of August, which should be a serious cause for concern for many homeowners.
Any leaks in your house should be carefully plugged. You also need to make sure that your homeowner’s insurance policy is updated to protect against flooding. These policies may take a couple of months to go into effect, so it’s important to get in touch with them immediately.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Improve the Quality of Your Photography with These Tips

Whether you’re a novice to photography or skilled at the craft, there’s always more to learn. Photography is something in which you can always improve. As you know, photography has a lot to do with decision-making and living in the moment. But besides living in the moment, there are always more tips to learn such as the more you take pictures, the better you’ll become. Here are some photography tips to work on so you can improve the quality of your photography.
Dream About Your Shot
The more you dream about your shot, the more likely it will be magical! Pre-visualize in your mind what you would like your shot to look like and think about the steps you need to take to get that shot. That way when it’s time to take that shot you’ll be ready to take a picture of exactly what you’ve been visualizing.
Keep the Background Clean
Keep in mind that your background has everything to do with your shot, so before you take your pictures think about where you plan to place your subject. For example, if you’re working on your California landscape photography, think about an ocean backdrop. The background is already simple and clutter free, so it will be the perfect location to shoot your subject, especially at sunset! Come up with the perfect background and everything should come into focus.
Enhance Your Shots with Light Trails  
Heard of light trails? Light trails are essentially added light to a shot in the form of a moving light that you can capture at both dawn and night. Use cars or any other moving light to add drama, mood and interest to your shots. These shots will come out fascinatingly!
Read Your Manual
Sounds boring, right? Camera manuals may not be that engaging, but they can teach you a lot about your camera. Spend ten minutes daily to read your manual and to learn as much as possible about your camera. That way when you take shots, you’ll be more familiar with your camera and will know how to answer any questions that come up. Most manuals are also available online so you can save it to your smartphone and read it on the go as well.
Shoot Daily
Just like any hobby or profession, the more you practice, the better you’ll become! Try to bring your camera with you everywhere, even if you’re using your cell phone. Photography is photography, so even if you don’t have your DSLR don’t be afraid to take that shot of the sunset or cute doggy. You don’t necessarily have to have your full DSLR kit to take great shots.
Clouds are Your Best Friend
Don’t ever be afraid of clouds. In fact, think of them as your photography best friend. Dramatic skies are stunning and the more fluffy white clouds, the better. If it’s overcast with a lot of clouds, the sky is now a giant softbox. If you want to take pictures of waterfalls or streams now is the time to do just that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tips for Stay At Home Moms to Run Their Own Businesses

Are you interested in becoming a mompreneur? A growing number of women are choosing to work from home after having their first child. Unfortunately, creating a work-life balance isn’t nearly as easy when you are trying to work from home. Here are some things that you will need to do to try to get off on the right foot.

Hire a Babysitter

Hiring a babysitter when you are a stay at home mom may sound like a ridiculous waste of money. However, it is completely necessary if you want to take your business seriously. You are going to need to give your business your undivided attention while you are working, which means that you need to remove all possible distractions. As much as you love your kids, they are a distraction, so it’s important to hire a babysitter to take care of them.

Choose the Right Business Model

You will need to take some time to decide what business model you want to follow. Do you want to be a freelance writer? A medical billing specialist? There are a lot of different ideas that you can try. Some of them require licensure, while others are available to anyone.
The most important thing is to find a business model that works for you. You are going to be dedicating a lot of time and energy to this, so make sure that you find something that you will enjoy.

Create Contracts Beforehand

You should always have a contract drafted before starting any type of work. You need to make sure that these contracts can be easily customized for the various clients you will be working for. They need to include all important pieces of information, including:
  • The duration of the project
  • The rates you will be paid
  • Clear specifics on the work you will be providing
  • Any applicable kill fees if the project needs to be stopped early
It may be a good idea to have a lawyer review your contract up front to make sure that it can hold up in court. Most people don’t expect to ever have to sue a client, but it has happened from time to time.

Have the Right Software

You can’t expect to compete in the 21st Century without the right software. Here are some things that you should keep:
  • Invoicing software such as Aynax, which can help you create estimates and invoices. You can download this professional estimate for free.
  • Trello is a good project management tool that you may want to consider using if you work on group projects, especially if you have any contractors under you.
  • StayFocused is a good application to keep you on task if you have a tendency to use different websites. You can use it to block you from different sites after a specified period of time.
These are all good tools to have, so you should at least consider using them.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cardinal Health Hospital Quality at Home products

Blog Disclosure: “Cardinal Health sent me this product to try, and donated to a charity of my choice.”

Hey guys, I've got some information for you today. It is from Cardinal Health

Please read the following:

After giving birth, undergoing surgery or recovering from an illness or injury, the scramble to obtain the best medical supplies for home care proves a difficult task. With a list of necessities from a physician or nurse in hand, one may find themselves bouncing from pharmacy to drugstore in search of the right products, amongst a sea of varieties and brands.

Cardinal Health Hospital Quality at Home products make the transition from hospital to home recovery a smoother and more successful one. With products that aim to give you professional quality with the ease of at-home use, the focus remains on healing and recovery. 

Here's some pictures of the Cardinal Health products I got:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Safety Issues While Traveling to Budapest

Budapest has an undeserved reputation for being a dangerous city. It is actually a bit safer than most other large cities in Europe. However, a few major scandals have caused some concern. While you shouldn’t be paranoid about traveling to this lovely city, you should still be on your guard.

Travel Safety Tips

Tourists that know the city and take proper precautions are less likely to be injured or robbed. Here are some general safety tips that you should follow.

Be Cautious Around Certain Districts

Some districts are known for having a lot more crime than others. According to several travelers on VirtualTourist, the 8th and 9th Pest districts tend to have the highest crime rates. You don’t necessarily need to avoid these areas altogether, but should minimize the amount of time that you spend in them. You should try finding accommodations in a different part of the city if possible.

Be Aware of Tourist Traps

There is a share of legal but unscrupulous business owners in Budapest that try to take advantage of unwitting tourists. You can read about one of these experiences on Trip Advisor. A guy walked into a bar and had a couple of girls flirt with him, asking him to buy them drinks. The total bill was about twenty times what it would otherwise have been.
Some of these tourist traps actually employ cute girls to help unsuspecting men ring their bills up. You need to always check the prices of the drinks beforehand and be cautious about what you are ordering.
You should also be careful when looking for events in Budapest. Do your research and make sure there are no hidden fees first.

Fake Cops

The laws in the Hungary aren’t all that strict, but you still need to be careful about following them. As long as you abide by the laws, you shouldn’t have any problems with the local authorities. The bigger problem is that there are some crooks that pretend to be police officers so that they can extort tourists. You need to pay attention to see if they are doing anything that a regular police officer wouldn’t do.

Pick Pockets

Your garden variety pick pockets are a risk that tourists face in any part of the world.  Sadly, Budapest is no exception. Here are some tips to minimize the risk of being pickpocketed:
  • You will need to always keep your wallet and purse close to you.
  • It’s best to limit the amount of money that you carry.
  • Avoid using large purses or purses with drawstrings.
  • Keep your wallet in the front of your pants instead of your back pocket.
  • Consider placing a small comb sticking out of your wallet so that it will catch on your pants if someone tries to steal it.
The risks of being pickpocketed are much lower if you take these precautions.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Unraveling Mysterious Spending Behaviors of Earthlings Known as Teens

She sulks. She texts. There’s not an episode of the Kardashians she hasn’t discussed with friends, and when it comes to her spending behaviors, you can throw predictability out the window. Such is the world of today’s teen and if you happen to have more than one living under your roof, we want you to know that we feel your pain.

You already know that your opinions about dudes, fashion and peers are not just outdated but cause for dramatic eye rolls when expressed, but you also know that when it comes to turning on the charm because your teen needs some cash, she’s the Madeleine Albright of diplomacy. How can you stay ahead of current teen spending trends so you stand a chance of surviving these years with your sanity intact? Remembering that, “this, too, shall pass.”

photo credit: Photo

But, everyone is wearing it!

You know the drill. Taylor Swift wore a hot new number at the Teen Choice Awards and your daughter has promised to do something drastic if she can’t get her hands on something similar by prom. You’re busy juggling a household budget that could be helped by a degree in economics, but you also know that like all commodities, clothing prices tend to escalate, so you pray for a happy compromise and venture forth. What can you expect? According to a reliable annual study conducted by the firm Piper Jaffray, spending on teen fashion climbed from $995 in 2013 to $1069 a year later—just about the time spring collections for 2015 were rolled out. And if your big girl is brand loyal, good luck talking her into a Playtex bra when, in her words, "Everyone on the planet wears Victoria’s Secret." That said, teen shoppers are looking more for deals than they used to and are keeping reviews (especially online reviews) and customer service in mind before shopping and buying.

Yes, you can count your blessings

Your son is as brand- and status-focused as your daughter, but thankfully, you needn’t despair when it comes to his shopping habits. Grab the collars of guys strolling malls anywhere in the U.S. and you’ll see identical labels, reflecting the herd mentality social scientists invoke from time-to-time: Nike, Ralph Lauren, Urban Outfitters, Pacsun and American Eagle, to name a few. The good news is that these brands can be found at discounters like TJ Maxx and sister store, Marshalls, and lo and behold, there’s no stigma attached to shopping at either since teens consider both Mecca. According to the aforementioned Piper Jaffray study, your kid spent around 21-percent of his cash on clothing during an average of 29 shopping excursions annually. Sure, it seems like more, and if you watched the recent CNN news special “Being 13,” we don’t have to tell you that those mall trips might be under-reported.

I don’t get it; he eats like crazy at home

Stand-up comedians with teens at home don’t need much fodder beyond their ‘fridges to riff nonstop about the relationship between their teens and food. She’s on a perpetual diet. He’s cleaning out your freezer at a rate worthy of a doctor’s appointment to see whether tapeworms exist these days. Dare we mention the wrestler upstairs who lives on water and lettuce before weighing in? There’s a disparity between food spending when kids from high- and low-income families are compared, but if your household is the former, your child probably spends about 20-percent of his disposable cash on food—which leads to the quintessential question: “If a fast food restaurant falls in the forest, would you still hear the sound of your child eating you out of house and home?”

She’s wired. What’s new?

Here’s the punchline of a joke circulated recently at a parent get-together sponsored by a high school: “I’m pretty sure his eyes are still blue, but since I haven’t seen them for a year, I’m not sure.” Welcome to the world of devices. As the aforementioned CNN special pointed out, kids can’t stop checking their electronic devices for more than a few minutes without stressing out. Factors related to habituated cell checking behavior are of our own making because most of us wouldn’t think of sending our kid out the door without a communications device, and since teens wish lists are usually comprised of iPhones, iPads, iPad minis, Android tablets and the occasional Kindle Fire, we're reinforcing behavior by heading straight for the Apple Store when the occasion arises.

Need a little good news? Research conducted by prestigious institutions agree that kids who show up at the dinner table without their phones (house rules) are much healthier than those who bring nothing but their eyelids to mealtime. Setting limits has always been important in parenting, so this is probably nothing new, but is positive proof that the family that eats together has been known to survive teen years in better shape together!

Bio -

This guest post is courtesy of Sentry Marketing Group located outside of Dallas, Texas. SMG handles retail mystery shopping as well as competitive analysis and other services for businesses.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


here's the 3rd installment in our Harlequin blog tour

read other 2 here and here 

Q&A with Hope White – Christmas Undercover

  1. Can you bring us up to speed with the characters in Christmas Undercover?
Sure!  Will Rankin is a widower and father of two young girls.  He struggles with shame, feeling like he failed his wife because she shut him out during the last months of her battle with cancer.  Will is also frustrated by her parents, who are critical of his parenting style. While out on a hike to clear his head, Will runs into FBI agent Sara Vaughn who defied her boss’s order to take time off.  Instead she goes rogue and pursues suspected criminals in the rugged Cascade Mountains.  She witnesses two of the suspects shoot their business partner and she becomes a target.  In her attempt to escape danger she falls down a mountainside and is found the next morning by Will.  Injured and paranoid, Sara thinks he’s an assassin hired to kill her and she threatens him with a gun!  Not a great way to start a relationship.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Blog Tour, 'High Country Hideout"

As promised here is the next installment in the blog tour.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Blog Tour: "The Professional"

Hi, this week I have 3 books to tell you about  for the next Harlequin blog tour. The first one is, "The Professional," by Addison Fox

Following is a Q&A with the Author about the book:

Art Museum again WW

My son is taking art  class again and has to write a paper. So we went to the VMFA again. Here's some pics.

Do you like modern art? This is titled something like Buddha watching itself on TV. hehe

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Save Money on Hotel Accommodations in Niagara Falls

The population of Niagara Falls is under 50,000, but it remains one of the busiest holiday destinations in the world. An estimated 12 million travelers visit the region each year, which means prices of accommodations are high since there is a lot of demand for hotel rooms. You will need to find different ways to minimize hotel costs. Here are some tips to take into consideration.

Hold Yourself to a (Realistic) Budget

You need to set a realistic budget before your trip. Try to stick to this budget as well as you can. However, you will also need to make sure that your budget is realistic, because the costs of visiting Niagara Falls may be higher than you would expect.
Create an itinerary for your trip and compare costs. If some of the activities you want to partake in go outside your budget, then you will need to consider altering your plans or raising your budget.

Consider Staying Near the Falls

Many people would like to be in the heart of the city. However, you may actually find better rates by the falls themselves. You can find a room at Sheraton on the Falls for only a little over $100 a night.
Of course, it is always necessary to compare prices to find the best deals. Most hotels have different packages and some may offer high prices for one plan, but reasonable quotes for another. You will have to look around to save money.

Use the Same Hotel You Stayed at in the Past

Have you traveled to Niagara Falls in the past? You should consider staying at the same hotel, because you will often get great discounts for being a repeat customer. You may be eligible for a similar discount if you are staying at a hotel chain that you have used before.
You should also ask to join the hotel’s email program. They may offer seasonal discounts if you remain a subscriber.

Don’t Rely on U.S. Sites for Your Search

Many people use U.S. travel sites to start their search for hotels. Unfortunately, they aren’t always keyed in on the best opportunities available.
You will want to try using Canadian hotel review sites as well, since they tend to have access to the most up-to-date prices and deals. You should also try reaching out to the hotels themselves, since they may inform you about special discounts that aren’t listed anywhere else.

Join Different Rewards Programs

There are a number of great rewards programs that are worth looking into. You may want to look at Travelocity and other programs to see if they have any specials on hotels. It is a good idea to sign up well before your trip, because some of the coupons they email are valid for months afterwards.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tips for Competing in a Ju Jitsu Tournament

Brazilian ju jitsu is becoming one of the world’s most popular martial arts. Many people are interested in learning this style for self-defense, while others are interested in competing in tournaments. Competing in a tournament can be pretty intimidating for white belts that have never trained before. Here are some tips to improve your odds of winning matches.

Preparing for Your First Tournament

If you have never competed in a martial arts tournament before, then you will need to familiarize yourself with the setup first. Different tournaments have different rules regarding scoring and the types of techniques that are allowed. Here are some differences that you will need to be aware of:
  • Some tournaments use three point scoring systems. This means that the first person to score three points wins the fight. Other tournaments have timed matches, so the person that scores the most points wins the match.
  • Some techniques that are allowed in some tournaments are prohibited in others. For example, some tournaments allow or even require grappling techniques, while others ban them. It often depends on whether the tournament is exclusive for ju jitsu practitioners or includes people from a variety of other martial arts. You may be at a disadvantage in tournaments that allow multiple styles, because they tend to base their rules around karate and taekwondo participants, since they make up the majority of attendees.  
You will need to read the rules of competition before registering. You should ask the judges for clarification before the match if you aren’t sure how scoring works or what types of contact are prohibited.

Studying Your Opponents

Understanding the style of your competitors is a major part of competing. You have probably noticed this while sparring against other students in your own Brazilian Ju Jitsu class. Maybe someone telegraphs a certain move by turning their left foot or blinking twice. You have probably already used this to your advantage after sparring against them many times.
Of course, you don’t have the same experience with fighters in a tournament unless you have competed against them before. You will want to watch their fights against other competitors and monitor them training to get a sense of their style and know when they telegraph.

Learn to Break Your Opponent’s Guard

Breaking your opponent’s defenses is one of the most important things that you need to do to win a ju jitsu competition. Here are some things that you need to do:
  • Take advantage of angles to throw them off balance.
  • Know how to trap their wrists while sweeping their legs.
  • Constantly move around them to keep them from maintaining a static posture.
Throwing your opponent off will make it much easier to break their guard and take them down. You will need to exert more effort if your opponent is highly agile or has a strong guard, but you can eventually wear them down if you are persistent enough.