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6/2/2015

The world people live in today entails an avalanche of to-do list items that are demanding to be ticked off. Amid these urgent tasks you may have a family with whom you want to spend time, as well as a job that provides for you and your loved ones. Finding a work-life balance is important for attaining happiness, personally and professionally. It can seem like a tough act to pull off, but learning how to balance work and family life is not impossible. Follow these tips for the best results. 

Family Priorities
Photo courtesy Lord Monark Larion, via Flickr/Creative Commons

Know Your Priorities and Stick To Them

No one can have it all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set priorities for the work-family life that you want to achieve. When the Philippine Star asked busy mothers who juggle work and family what their secret was, sticking to one’s priorities emerged as one of the top-credited secrets.

Make a mental list of what matters to you, and bring out this list whenever you are confronted with decisions. It may be hard at first, especially if you’re wired or pressured to excel in both, but it will get easier over time. It will also ensure that you stop, or at least spend less time on, the trivial things and focus on what’s most important.

Use Your Work Schedule to Your Advantage

For example, most call center employees follow Western time zones. This can result in night shifts, clocking out in the morning when the rest of the country is just starting their day. Make the best out of such a situation by using low-peak hours to complete errands such as grocery shopping, paying the bills, and so on. You could also avoid the traffic to and from the office by commuting when the streets and vehicles and not that jam-packed, and you might even want to take a power nap in the sleeping quarters if you arrive early at work.


Photo courtesy amrufm, via Flickr/Creative Commons

Enjoy at Least One Meal a Day with Your Family, Every Day

It may be a simple act, but it’s the simple things like these that shape and nurture relationships at home. If you’re a parent struggling to create a work-life balance, you know all too well how precious each moment is with your children. Time flies fast, and before you know it your kids are no longer the babies you once cradled in your arms.

Sit down and enjoy a nice meal with your family upon getting home or before leaving for work. When you do gather at the dining table, put away cell phones and other gadgets so you can ask them how their day went, among the many other things that you want to know as a parent.

Use Your Lunch Hour Wisely

Why head out and wait in lines when you can sit at the pantry with your packed lunch? Aside from saving money and sparing you from unhealthy food choices, bringing your own lunch gives you more precious minutes that add up.

Consider taking shorter lunches so you can ease your busy schedule. For example, put notes on accounts you handle; look up call procedures that you need to refresh; ask your supervisor about work concerns. Basically, strive to compress your schedule so you won’t have to stay in the office long after your shift ends.


Photo courtesy herotype0, via Flickr/Creative Commons

Schedule a Day to Bond with Your Family and Coworkers

Although you get to see them every day, it’s not necessarily the same as spending quality time with them. A healthy camaraderie at the office strengthens teamwork and makes work more enjoyable. Share in team-building sessions.

On the other hand, a satisfying life at home brings you a different kind of fulfillment. Pencil in a movie marathon or family vacation. Such activities will bring you closer to the people you’re surrounded with every day, as well as relieve stress.

Plan Your Schedule and Activities for the Week

Devote one day a week to sit down, think about everything you need to do, and organize these tasks. Group tasks geographically as much as possible to avoid circling the entire metropolitan.

Special Dates
Photo courtesy Jesslee Cuizon, via Flickr/Creative Commons

Go On Dates with Your Significant Other

Don’t forget to make time for your significant other. Even the simplest of dates will do as long as you assure him or her that you’re making your relationship a priority. Don’t let a day pass by without talking with one another, even if your job left you dead tired. It doesn’t take much to send a text message or make a short call. Chill out together on your rest day. Go to a spa or explore a new place together.

Think About How Every Change Could Affect Your Work and Family Life

Change is inevitable, and unfortunately it can be a major source of work and family stress. Fret not. Take it as an opportunity—or a challenge—to make things better than before. Does a change in your work schedule pose a family conflict? Try talking with your team leader as soon as you learn about it. Perhaps you can swap schedules with a teammate or file for a leave.

Take Time to Relax

Don’t let work-life stress take its toll on you. The bad vibes will just rub off on the people around you, which can in turn result in an even more negative atmosphere. So do something about your situation, and if things cannot be changed, the best that you could do is to take a hint from a famous song and shake it off. Shower even for a few minutes to wash it all down. Breathe in and breathe out. Then go on with your day and take everything in stride.

Take Care Of Your Health
Photo courtesy Andrew Kalat, via Flickr/Creative Commons

Take Care of Your Health

There is no better way to cope with managing a work-family balance than by having a sound mind and body. With more energy and less illness, you’ll be able to strike a balance for success. Eat well, drink plenty of water and take your vitamins. Aim to be active every day, as sitting too much at work can add to a sedentary lifestyle. Indulge in your hobbies that make you fit and sharp. More importantly, keep a healthy and positive outlook no matter what circumstance you find yourself in.

These tips for gaining career and family life leverage will help you cultivate happiness by finding the key to a balanced life. Soon enough, you will be garnering excellent feedback, especially if you work in a company like IBEX that recognizes its employees, while being committed to your family and loved ones. Now, that’s the best of both worlds.


Aby League is a medical practitioner and an Elite Daily writer. She also writes about business and other topics of great interest. She also writes a blog, About Possibilities. Follow her @abyleague and circle her on Google+.



5/18/2015

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average US household spends around $2,700 a year on gasoline. And that’s only if the gas prices stay where they are now and don't rise.

Making your car as eco-friendly as possible makes sense both for your pocketbook and for the environment. Not only does driving more fuel-efficiently often save you gas money, but you’ll also be doing some good for the planet. Check out these simple, easy-to-begin strategies that you can use to make your car even more eco-friendly.

drive eco-friendly
Image by Split Shire.

Drive with a Feather Foot

According to Popular Mechanics, one of the best ways to improve your gas mileage is by changing the way you drive. Basically, drive smoothly, lower your speed and avoid those “jack rabbit starts.”

Check Air Pressure

The US Department of Energy states that keeping your tires inflated to the manufacturer's suggested levels can increase your gas mileage as much as 3.3 percent. For example, if your tire pressure drops by just one psi, you'll lose 0.4 percent on your gas mileage. To find the ideal pressure for your vehicle, consult your driver's manual or the sticker inside your driver's door.

Upgrade to a More Fuel Efficient Engine

Look into upgrading to a more fuel efficient engine for your vehicle. For example, eco-friendly sports car engines can help traditional sports cars gain better mileage without losing performance. Depending on the kind of car that you own, similar options may be available for your make and model.

Add an App

Simply being more aware of your driving habits can impact how you drive and help you change bad driving habits. Adding an app such as Automatic will provide you with a report of your weekly driving habits and offer suggestions for changes you can make to improve eco-friendliness. Just install the app, and when your phone is plugged into the data port in your car it will track different aspects of your travel habits.

Make Maintenance a Habit

The US Department of Energy also points to regular maintenance as an indicator of how many miles per gallon your car might get. Make repairs quickly and get tune-ups on schedule. The Department of Energy mentions that an oxygen sensor that needs repaired can impact your fuel efficiency by 40 percent, and more minor things like an out-of-tune engine can cost you 4 percent in fuel efficiency.

Plan Errands in a Circuit

One simple way to save fuel is to reduce the amount of actual travel you’re doing. When running errands, complete as many tasks as possible in one trip. Look at the places you need to drive to ahead of time and plan your route in a circuit. By planning this way you’re not backtracking and wasting miles driving through the same areas. While this may not always be convenient, you can overcome issues like keeping items refrigerated by planning ahead and taking along a cooler with ice.

Carpool When You Can

Do you see your best friend at the grocery store every Saturday when you go? Make a mundane task into a fun outing and ride together, taking turns driving Not only will you save fuel and the environment, but you’ll spend some quality time with your best friend. Look into options for carpools to and from work, as well.

Some outlying suburbs have programs where you can park your car and ride the bus into the city. See what is available where you live and how much you can save in the course of a year. While you may not save a lot of money after paying for bus fare, you’ll be saving the environment for future generations and that is worth more than cash.

Making small changes now will pay off big in the long run. Start using these tips today and you’ll be on the road to getting the best gas mileage possible.


Kayla Matthews is a health and wellness blogger who loves jogging, yoga and hiking. Follow Kayla on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.



5/13/2015

I grew up in a family that would, in today's vernacular, be considered green. My parents were older and had lived in homes where their parents either made or grew everything they needed—and if they didn't or couldn't, they didn't need it! Throughout my childhood, we always did the same thing. My mom made most of my clothes, we recycled and reused as many things as we possibly could, and my dad planted a huge garden so we could can or freeze food. There were multiple fruit trees, livestock animals and plenty of family members with cows and chickens—in other words, we were very organic.

During my younger years, I remember complaining about all the work I was forced to do. I mean, what 10-year-old wants to get up at 7am on a Saturday morning to pick cucumbers and okra? And why did I need to know how to sew? Or crochet? Because of my irritation, I begrudgingly worked and didn't learn nearly as much as I should have.

homemade dishcloth
My latest foray into "make my own"—crocheted dishcloth. Photo by Amy Greene.

Fast forward to present day. After being married for almost 30 years and having four children, I can look back on those years fondly and with gratitude. Although I didn't learn what I could have or should have, I still learned enough to help make a strong start on our journey to becoming self-sufficient. Much of what I learned all those years ago—canning, freezing and dehydrating—have been put to good use during my adult life and our efforts toward having our own mini-farm.

One of my favorite things to do is walk out to my storage shelves and look at all the delicious canned goods, and realize that I made those. Yes, the grocery store might be convenient. Yes, it is hard work. But the satisfaction of seeing the finished product, and serving it to my family or giving it as gifts to friends, is worth more than any amount of money.

canned produce
Some of the canned produce from our garden—green beans and pickled peppers. Photo by Amy Greene.

I am now passing along my knowledge to my children—boys and girls alike. I want them to know how to preserve food they harvest from a garden; how to fix things themselves without immediately calling a repairman; how to make things from scratch whether it is food or clothes; in short, I want them to be self-sufficient. Right now, they sound about as enthusiastic as I did all those years ago, but at least, if they need the information at any point in the future, they will have it and be able to utilize should the time come.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you, my successes and my failures, the latter in hopes that you won't have to make the same mistakes. Be sure and leave any comments below—feedback is always great!


Amy GreeneAmy Greene is a wife, mother of four children and three dogs, and homesteader from North Carolina. She loves to learn about homesteading and self-sufficiency. Her family plants a large garden, preserves as much as possible, and has high hopes of someday fulfilling their wildest homesteading dreams!








4/29/2015

Many people dream of living off the grid and creating their own homestead that doesn’t depend on someone else. But, for those that attempt it, there are some serious hurdles that lie in front of them. For starters, you need to know how to grow some common food items, like vegetables and herbs. Here’s how to get it done.

small homestead
Photo by Fotolia

Have a Backup Plan

First things first: There are times when food will be scarce. If you’ve never been a farmer before, be prepared for these times by keeping emergency food stocked in your pantry. You will want something that’s high-quality, ready to eat, and can be prepared with a minimum amount of fuss at a moment’s notice.

There’s nothing worse than not having any crops to harvest, no chickens to slaughter, and no eggs to eat. A food backup plan will help prevent starvation in dire times.

Be Willing to Learn From Experience

Homesteading and farming are trial and error sorts of gigs, so be prepared to learn from experience. The land that you tend will be slightly different depending on your location, and other farmers’ experiences may or may not help you, but basic guidance will.

If you choose to raise livestock, your animals will inevitably get sick and you may not know how to treat them. You could read in a book how to treat cows that are sick, in a book, but that won’t help you in the field the first time you see it. You may end up losing livestock. If you’re not comfortable with that, this might not be the right lifestyle for you.

Work with Someone Who’s Already Doing It

Of course, you don’t have to learn everything the hard way. You should learn from other farmers as much as you can. Consider working on a farm before you decide to start your own, even if all you’re planning on is starting a hobby farm.

Farmers possess skills that have taken them a lifetime to learn. Some of these skills were passed down from generations and knowledge like that can’t be found in any book. For example, how do you care for cows that live on pasture but end up being milked inside, on a concrete floor? Will their hooves crack? How do you prevent that from happening? You can pasteurize the milk, but what if you want to drink it raw? How do you go about this safely?

Farmers have been doing these very things for hundreds of years. But if you don’t know the proper techniques and sanitation practices, you could make yourself and your family deathly ill.

What about tending a vegetable garden? What should you do to keep it from failing? There are tricks with fertilizer, but beyond that, what can you do? A farmer can teach you how to properly rotate crops, use cover crops,  and if your farm is big enough, how to leave fields fallow and then make them productive again.

Do What You Can, When You Can

Don’t feel overwhelmed. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to homesteading. What you need to do is get comfortable with the idea of living off the land, on your own productive efforts, possibly get used to living without electricity or with reduced electricity, and how to dig your own well for water.

You may want bees, chickens, cows, horses, and all manner of animals, but you can’t just jump into all of it without knowing what you’re doing —not without making very expensive mistakes. Take it slow. Start with a small number of chickens, for example. Then, when you get the hang of them, being learning about beekeeping or how to take care of larger livestock animals. Keep building on that foundation until you’ve built yourself a self-sustaining farm.

What Kind of Lifestyle Do You Value?

At the end of the day, cultivating a lifestyle is what it’s all about. Being a homesteader isn’t for everyone. You have to be the kind of self-reliant individual who never gives up, doesn’t like depending on others, doesn’t care for authority figures telling them what to do, and you must be motivated enough to stick with it when things get tough—and they will.

Sometimes, the land doesn’t cooperate, your plants die, or you don’t get the harvest you thought you would for any number of reasons.

It can sometimes be a spartan lifestyle. Other times, you’re swimming in food that has to be processed quickly. If you’ve never grown up on or around a farm, it can be a challenging and, at times, frustrating experience. Tenacity is a character trait that all homesteaders have.


Allen Baler is a partner at 4Patriots LLC, a Tennessee based small business that provides products to help people be more self-reliant and more independent.  He resides in Nashville with his wife and 3 daughters.



4/27/2015

Earth lovers know that summer is one of the best times to revel in nature. Cultivate a bright, cheery and unique garden in your own backyard. There’s only one catch: What happens when your colorful plants stop blooming?

Whether you’re a green thumb or not, it’s easy to ensure that your backyard oasis stays as beautiful as you envision for the entirety of summer. Read on to learn more about seven flowers that will keep their color all season long. After that, all you have left to do is grab a glass of lemonade, your favorite book and relax among the cheery garden you’ve cultivated yourself.

Hibiscus
Photo via PlantDelights.com

1. Perennial Hibiscus

If you’re looking to make a big statement this summer, look no further than a perennial hibiscus. Their blooms measure up to 1 foot wide, so it’s no surprise that their stems reach anywhere from 2 to 8 feet in height. All they ask for is regular sunlight and lots of water in return.

Shasta Daisies
Photo via Monrovia.com

2. Shasta Daisies

The Becky Shasta Daisy looks small and fragile, but don’t be fooled: They’re extremely durable and long-lasting perennials. They burst forth with crisp white petals in June and stick around until July. They’re also a great option for dry areas, as they’re drought-resistant.

wavy purple petunia
Photo via GlacialRidgeGrowers.com

3. Wavy Petunias

Get creative with the purple wave petunia: Unlike many other flowers on the list, this one grows downward, upward and out, like a vine. That makes it an ideal addition to your next hanging basket.

lavender flowers
Photo by GraphicStock.com

4. Lovely Lavender

We all know that lavender smells great, but it looks beautiful, too. It’s got woody stems, which means that it’s technically a shrub, but all we can see are its light purple flowers. Butterflies will stop by your garden more often with lavender around, too.

Blue Sea Holly
Photo via Paghat.com

5. Sea Holly

The sea holly might not be as pretty as some of the other plants on this list, but, boy, is it interesting to look at. Its spiky leaves and thistle-like center provide great contrast to traditional blossoms, whether they’re sprouting in your garden or sitting in a vase on your kitchen counter top.

Marigold
Photo via Almanac.com

6. Marigold

Did you ever put marigold seeds in a cup and give the small sprouts to your mom as a Mother’s Day gift? If so, you gave her a long-lasting addition to her garden. These bright orange or yellow blooms add pep to any garden bed. They also come with a distinct smell that’s been known to keep otherwise hungry pests at bay. Now, you can really enjoy your garden for the whole season!

candytuft
Photo via FineGardening.com

7. Evergreen Candytuft

The evergreen candytuft is particularly beautiful in summer, when its whitish blooms emerge. Despite the fact that the flowers will wilt come fall, you’ll be able to enjoy your evergreen candytuft year-round; they hold onto their dark green leaves no matter what season it is.


Alicia is a kombucha-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog, Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in PR, Pilates, and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties.



4/22/2015

Every year, nearly 2 million deaths occur from contaminated food or water sources and there are more than 200 diseases that can result. Some of these harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses are more dangerous than others. Many cases of foodborne illness will clear up on their own within 48 hours, but for more serious cases medical attention and a round of antibiotics or other medications may be necessary to help eliminate your symptoms. Although you may be feeling unwell, don’t jeopardize your health further by not asking your health care provider some very important questions about the medicine(s) you’re being prescribed.

Prescription drugs 

Aside from knowing how and when to take your medicine, there are a few more pressing questions you may not always think to ask.

1. Are there any side effects? If so, what are they and how likely is it that they’ll occur?
All medications can cause a host of unwanted side effects, from dizziness and nausea to more serious problems such as blood clots. By asking these questions you will know what to expect. You’ll also have a better idea whether what you’re experiencing is normal, and should you have any unexplained reactions your doctor can treat them accordingly.

2. Can I take herbal remedies with this medicine?
Certain herbs, although natural, contain chemical compounds that act similarly or in opposition to those found in prescribed medications. If combined, herbal remedies and prescription drugs may result in unwanted, and potentially harmful, side effects. The only way to know whether your current medications—natural, over-the-counter or otherwise—are going to affect your new prescription is to ask.

3. Have there been any recalls?
The FDA has noted that if a drug lands on the recall list there is “reasonable probability” that it will cause serious adverse effects, including death. The good news: If you’ve recently been given a recalled prescription, most pharmacies have a return/refund policy.

Don’t forget about properly disposing of unused or expired medications! For more tips on safely handling prescription drugs check out the infographic below.

Safely Handle Medication
Courtesy recallcenter.com


Ashley Houk is the web editor for Mother Earth Living. When she’s not producing online content, she’s probably reading or writing blog posts of her own. Find her on and .



4/9/2015

April 22, 2015, will mark the 45th anniversary of Earth Day’s founding. Rachel Carson’s 1962 work Silent Spring, which exposed the harmful effects of chemical pesticides on the environment, fueled a growing momentum of environmental rights activists and preservationists concerned about the plight of earth’s natural resources.

In 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson brought voice and vision to a grassroots environmental awareness movement that would become Earth Day. “Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation’s campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam,” noted a November 30, 1969, New York Times story.

And yet, clear cutting of forest land continues. The burning of fossil fuels has not let up. Millions of gallons of oil have entered our waterways. The timeline shown here is evidence enough that successes and setbacks continue to be a part of this environmental story.

Earth Day shouldn’t be a one-day commemoration. Think of Earth Day as a continuing conversation of environmental stewardship, a core value of the curriculum at Vermont Law School. It’s your turn to lead. What will you say and do to positively impact our environment?

Earth Day Graphic 


Miles YoungMiles Young is a freelance writer, designer and outdoorsman. He’s worked as a roof contractor and part-time engine mechanic. He spends his free time fishing and tinkering in his garage. You can follow him on Twitter @MrMilesYoung.



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