Safe online Holiday ordering

Safe Online Shopping – A Must for the Holidays

It’s one of the busiest shopping weekends ushering in the busiest shopping season of the year, but what if you aren’t up for getting out in all the chaos or what if your life (or the little ones at home with you) make it where you don’t feel like it’s worth the effort? Never fear! You aren’t alone if you decide to avoid the crowds and stay hold up at home. In fact, you are part of what is becoming more and more of a popular trend in this day and age… the online shopping experience!

BUT, if you decide to do your shopping online, make sure you are taking steps to stay safe!

Who is it?

Is this a reputable company you are purchasing from or are you going with some obscure company because they are offering you a deal that is way better than anything you can find elsewhere? It may not be a scam, but if it sounds too good to be true, it may be. Play it safe and make sure you are ordering from a website/company that has a good reputation.

What is it?

What have you ordered and how much did you pay? Make sure to keep records of your transactions, as well as any confirmation numbers. Check your credit card statements or bank account to make sure it is showing up properly. If it is not, address it immediately.

Where is it?

Make sure you are using a secure network and a computer you trust. Avoid using a public computer or free, public Wi-Fi, where hackers can easily break into your system and quickly access your information. Unless you have a program installed that can protect you, it’s better to wait until you are on a secure network to shop.

And how?

How does the company have its payment form set up? If it is not encrypted, you may want to purchase from somewhere else. In the post 9 Tips for Safe Online Shopping it states, “Before you purchase anything from a web site, verify that the vendor has encrypted its payment form. Many sites use SSL (secure sockets layer) technology to encrypt information flowing between your computer and the store’s server.”

Whether you feel calm as you approach holiday shopping or anxious for waiting too long, make your online shopping experience stress-free as possible. Use these common sense precautions to avoid potential pitfalls of shopping online for the holidays.

Are you looking for a company that cares about protecting your online identity, and that can help you find gifts for everyone on your shopping list? AddvantageUSA is able to do just that. Visit us today and let us help you cross off the items you are looking for with ease and peace of mind!

Tired Mom

A Tired Mom’s Guide to Feeling Refreshed

I have an almost five-year old and a just turned three-year old, and nobody told me that interrupted nighttime sleep would come back to haunt me at this stage in the game. I thought that was a thing for parents of newborns only, but my three-year-old is determined to stay dry all night, so with his little bladder, that means wake up calls every night. And somehow my four-year old got the memo that this was happening and didn’t want to be left out, so she has been waking us up after bad dreams.

So how does a tired mom ever feel refreshed? Here are a few tips to help out, whether you are exhausted from the newborn months or are having a relapse a few years down the road.

Eat Regularly and Drink Water

Make sure you are eating regularly throughout the day and not skipping meals. This is imperative in keeping energy high. It’s easy to skip a meal, especially breakfast when you’re busy with the kids in the morning, or when you’re just too tired to think about what you may want to eat, but don’t fall into this temptation. Keep your body fueled up with healthy food.

Also remember to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water all day long. This not only can give you energy, but it is also good for your skin.

Let Dad Help

Sometimes as moms, we feel like we have to do it all. Other times our kids insist we do it all. Don’t let either one of these thoughts rule your life. Not only are dads capable of helping, but they often want to help, but sometimes they need to be given permission. So, step back and let Dad lend his helping hand and enjoy some time alone, whether you need a nap, time out of the house away from everyone, or just a nice, relaxing bath.

Fresh Air and Sunshine

If possible, get outside and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine every day. As stated in the post 6 Tips for Tired Moms, “Head outside or open the windows…The fresh air & sunshine makes everyone feel a little happier and revived! If it’s raining or just simply too hot to play outside, I will open the windows.  The sounds of nature & the slight breeze makes us all feel a little happier, even if we are stuck inside the house.”

Eye Cream

If all else fails, invest in some good eye cream. We all have days when we feel like those bags under our eyes couldn’t be puffier or the dark circles make us look like raccoons. Why not pamper yourself with a nice hydrating cream or gel that helps reduce that puffiness and makes us feel better about facing the tough days?

If you would like help finding the right eye cream for you, contact AddvantageUSA. We are happy to help!

Carving a Turkey

The Keys to Carving a Thanksgiving Turkey are the Presentation and the Cutlery

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo

If you do not see the relationship of this quote from Michelangelo to the carving of a Thanksgiving turkey, then say “no” when asked to do the honor of the final step in preparing the bird for the feast. Step away from the carving table and let someone whom appreciates the assignment to step in your place.

If you do appreciate the great honor of being front and center during the time of the evening when anticipation is at a crescendo, then read on.

All eyes are on you, judging your skill and watching for any lack of confidence. You must be prepared to embrace the moment. Preparation requires a previously established knowledge of the optimum steps. Never show a kink in your armor by looking up at your Uncle for reassurance in your decisions. Never.

Confidently pick up your carving knife, examine its blade for the appropriate sharpness, and masterfully run the blade across the honing steel. Actually, do this even if the blade is like a razor. You look good when you are doing it.

Now, the real work begins. There are many suggestions on how to carve a turkey. Many suggest that the parts are separated before the breast is carved. This seems logical. But, this is not about logic. This is all about the experience. The fact is that carving the limbs off of a very large bird can be visually disturbing to some people, and, at the very least, boring to most others.

Instead, slowly guide the blade across the breast meat allowing the juice to flow down the browned skin. Even the skirmish will find this action to be delectable. The goal is to have the observers eyes dilated as their mouths salivate.

Pile the juicy white meat slices high on a serving plate. You need only to do one side to achieve the effect desired. Pass the plate of cleanly sliced meat to the middle of the table. All eyes will go to that plate with human sounds announcing group approval. Then proceed to dismember the bird, breaking the thighs away from the body, the legs from the thighs and finishing with the wings. The dark meat eaters will gaze back at your activity in between their passing of the potatoes and vegetables. The dark meat should be piled high on a second plate for distribution. Conversation will be in full swing as you finish up by carving the remaining side of the breast to refill the now empty plate of white meat.

The guests anticipation has been met with your confident culinary skill and understanding of the presentation.

HenckelsThis traditional event of carving the Turkey began with a knife. There is no doubt that the carving knife must be of high quality for success to be achieved. Check out AddvantageUSA cutlery knives to ensure your success at the carving table this Thanksgiving.

 

 

Stay fit at home

Staying Fit During the Cold Holiday Season

It’s easy to be focused on getting in shape leading up to the summer months, but once the cooler weather arrives and we say goodbye to swimsuits and shorts, many people seem to lose that motivation. Even worse, the holiday season coincides with the cooler weather and we go from eating leftover Halloween candy to Thanksgiving meals to multiple holiday parties with rich food and irresistible sweets.

So what can you do to stay fit during the colder holiday months?

Water – You’ve heard it before, but drink LOTS of water. Besides the health benefits of drinking water, it can also suppress hunger leading you to eat less food at those holiday gatherings.

Endurance TF3i Folding TreadmillStay Active – Whatever you do, make sure that you keep moving. When it’s cold outside, it can be difficult to convince yourself to get out of your cozy bed in the morning to exercise. If it’s too cold outside, jump on a machine like the Endurance TF3i Folding Treadmill in the warmth of your own home.  Further, with holiday family gatherings, we quickly make excuses that we have no time, but don’t buy into these excuses. Make exercise a priority and schedule it into your routine so that it doesn’t get overlooked. In the post How I Stay FIT During the Holidays, Tara suggests working out in the morning to get it done. She says, “No one wants to miss out on family fun, games, treats, and memories so they can go hit up the local gym.  So, just make it happen first thing in the morning and then you get to forget about it the rest of the day!”

Moderation – Especially in the height of the holiday season, you may find yourself missing exercise more often than you’d like, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to give yourself a break sometimes. Of course moderation is key! In the post New Year’s Resolution Reboot, it states, “Generally, you will need to burn around 500 calories more than what you eat per day for a whole week to lose about a pound.” Be realistic and know that this may not be likely during Thanksgiving week, especially if you’re on the road or have more than one group with which you share a Thanksgiving meal. But at the same time, you can make good choices like stopping after your first plate of food instead of going back for seconds or deciding to drink water instead of soda.

Accountability – Finally, don’t try to go at it alone. Find someone who shares your desire to stay healthy no matter what the season and encourage one another in your journey.

Don’t be intimidated by what this holiday season can do to your health. Rather set yourself up to enjoy the season and stay healthy while doing so.

If you’re interested in learning more about in-home exercise equipment that can help you stay fit, talk with AddvantageUSA. We have agents ready to help you find equipment to meet your needs!

 

Halloween day

4 Tips for a Happy Halloween Night (for adults too)

October has finally arrived, which means Halloween decorations are coming out on houses and fall festivals are popping up everywhere. Candy will practically be thrown at you every place you look, but are you ready for a fun Halloween night?

Consider these four tips to turn Halloween into a night for everyone, not just the kids.

Make it a Party

A party always makes a holiday more fun and is an instant way to involve your adult friends in this night which is often dedicated just to kids. Set up the party at a friend’s house in a neighborhood with houses close together. If you have kids, the trick or treating will be fantastic. If you are kid free, you will still have fun getting to see all of the little tykes coming through with their costumes. You can keep the menu simple with a big soup to share or some of these fun Ghastly Ghoulish Recipes. Everyone can chip in and bring an item so that the host doesn’t have to be responsible for it all.

Dress Up

Whether you are a kid or an adult, everyone can have a little fun playing dress up on Halloween. The kids may not need much encouragement to participate, but to make it more fun for everyone, have contests like best dressed, most creative/original, scariest, etc. for kids and adults. Encourage everyone to participate at least to some degree. Even those who are a little shy to jump in can find something to wear like these Darth Vader socks. It doesn’t have to be lavish, but dressing up helps get everyone in the Halloween spirit.

Spike (I mean Spice) it Up

A nice seasonal drink can always add to the fun. Be sure to have kid friendly drinks around, like apple cider or soda, but for the adults, have an adult friendly fall beverage around as well. Try one of these Pumpkin Cocktails or this Apple Cinnamon Fall Sangria for something festive, easy, and delicious.

Stay Safe

Finally, be safe while you’re having fun, especially if you’re taking your kids out to trick or treat through the neighborhood. Make sure everyone in your group knows the rules for safety and fun. Is everyone staying together or is it okay for them to run ahead? What’s the plan if someone gets separated from the group? How do they know which houses to visit and which ones to skip? Do they have on reflectors or lights (maybe glow sticks) so they can be spotted easily by cars driving by or by the adults in your group? Are they allowed to eat the candy before getting back to the house?

Halloween is a holiday that can be fun for all ages, so get ready to enjoy it like you did when you were a kid.

AddvantageUSA hopes you have a happy and safe Halloween this year, whether you are young or old!

Halloween Recipes

Ghastly Ghoulish Recipes for Halloween

Halloween is sometimes overlooked for its opportunity to be a great time for creative fun in the kitchen. We tend to think of Halloween only as a time for trick or treat, candy, and costume parties. These are all good fun, but at our house we like to add a gastronomic dimension to Halloween celebrations.

Of course, we didn’t do all of this on Halloween night when the kids were young and trick or treating. Then we would do one fun food thing before we went out to spook the neighbors. Now that the kids are older (some off to college) we do the big spread and have a party. (Warning: shameless commercial plug: this is a blog post about cooking. You know that great cutlery makes cooking more fun. Did you also know you can also use them to scare away Halloween psychos? Yes, you can.)

Anyway, here are some of the favorite appetizers from years past. Starting with appetizers: We’ve done dancing pretzel broomsticks for appetizers. Wrap your favorite pretzel sticks with a string cheese skirt. It’s easy, all you need is some string cheese, green onion, and pretzel sticks. Cut the string cheese in half and slice it long ways to make the broom. Punch a small hole at the top and push the pretzel through the hole. Wrap a bit of onion around it. Delicious.

Ghoulish Recipes

There is a desert variation on this theme. If you are headed out to trick or treat, you probably won’t want to add even more sugar to the meal. But, if you are having a party, try making Reeses broomsticks. Push a pretzel into the bottom of a mini Reeses peanut butter cup. Warning: these go fast, so make sure you make plenty!

Another fun finger food is the ever popular spider egg. Use your favorite recipe for deviled eggs. If you want some really orange yolk, add a few drops of food color. Don’t start with all of the yolk. Color small amounts until you get the right formula, which will be slightly different every time you do this. When you get it the perfect orange, add it to the whole bowl of creamy egg yolk. Stuff the eggs and set on a platter. Now take black olives and cut the spider parts. Place them on top of the eggs. You can decorate these with a mixture of mashed olive and mustard.

Ghoulish Recipes

All of our Halloween meal is finger food. For a salad we eat goofy ghouls on a slice of tomato. It’s a twist on the caprese salad, which is about as easy to make as anything you can do in the kitchen. Drizzle some good olive oil on a plate, something with fresh flavor. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and black pepper. Toss some basil leaves on top. Slice some plum or roma tomatoes and put a slice on each leaf of basil. Make some globes of fresh mozzarella di  bufala with a melon baller. Cut them in half and put the eyeballs on the tomato slice. To add the iris, slice some pitted olives. You can use green or black for the iris. For the pupil, punch a hole in the olive color you did not use for the iris with a straw. (As an alternative, you can slice stuffed olives.) Put the iris and the pupil on the white of the eye. Hello! Your salad is looking at you. I promise, a plateful of these goofy ghouls will give you the giggles.

Halloween Recipes

Finally, if you are doing a whole sit down to family dinner on Halloween, then you want to check this out. I want to give a shout out to a really creative chef whose idea I found while preparing to write this post. I think this is one of the best ways to present a Halloween meatloaf I have ever seen. And, you cooks out there know: presentation is essential to the imagination that is at the heart of a good kitchen. Great job, Megan at NotMartha.org. I think the meat hand looks like it was taken from Frankenstein’s creature after the fire.

Not Martha - Meat Hand

From AddvantageUSA, we wish you have a Happy Halloween. Trick or treat!

Mom and the Holidays

It’s Never Too Early to Start Thinking About the Holidays

Autumn is here, and the start of the new season ushers in many exciting things to come. Kids have settled into their routines at school, along with their many after-school activities. But beyond cooler weather, football games, and pumpkin spice lattes, autumn is full of excitement with holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Let’s be honest though, before the Halloween candy has been removed from store shelves, we start seeing Christmas trees and other holiday decorations overtaking stores in anticipation of the big holiday rush. Why wait for the big rush, when you can start buying gifts for your loved ones now?

In the recent post, One More Thing About Why We Love Our Moms, it discusses how moms are always thinking forward about what is to come. It says, “When the kids are trick or treating, mom is having a great time. But, she is also planning Thanksgiving and Christmas. Kids will be opening Christmas presents. Mom will be there, heart and soul. But, she also has an eye on the fact that school will start again soon and she has things she wants ready for that.”

So yes, Mom may be thinking ahead about the holidays and what needs to be done, but so can you. In fact it’s never too early to start getting ready for the holidays. How great would it be to have all of your gifts bought ahead and then be able to relax and enjoy the fun of the holiday season!  It would be so much better than feeling the stress of waiting too late and not being able to find the right gifts for the people you love most. In the post, Take the Stress out of Christmas by Planning Ahead, [email protected] agrees. She states, “By making some positive steps toward getting your holiday plans and needs in order now, you can spend more time enjoying family and friends when the season actually arrives.”

So go ahead and start thinking through your lists of who you will be buying for and what you would like to get them. Does your son want the Xbox 360 or has your wife been dropping hints for some time that she would love some diamond stud earrings? Just think how impressed she will be when you surprise her with them and even better when she finds out you put so much thought into it that you bought them months ahead. And again, the more you can get done now, the more time you will have to really take in the true joys the holiday season brings.

Visit AddvantageUSA and see the broad range of gifts we have for all of the people you will be buying for this holiday season. Or talk with one of our representatives to learn about our gifts for children, men, and/or women.  (888-601-5527)