A Fresh Tailgate Menu

Quick and tasty ideas for game day

(Family Features) Take your tailgating game to new heights this season with fresh dishes that are easy to make and serve, whether your tailgating tradition takes place at the game or at home.

Fast prep times and short ingredient lists make these recipes a cinch to prepare in advance and have ready to go as soon as you reach the parking lot or before guests arrive. The star ingredients are naturally hardwood-smoked sausages and seasoned deli meats from Eckrich, which offers a variety of smoked sausage flavors in traditional ropes and bun-length links as well as gluten-free deli meats such as Black Forest ham and oven-roasted turkey, all with just the right blend of seasonings for a rich, savory taste.

You can switch up the flavors of these recipes by subbing in different varieties of smoked sausage, such as replacing the original rope-style smoked sausage with Eckrich Jalapeno & Cheddar Links. The roll-ups are also easy to customize for guests using any type of deli meat, and they’re easy to enjoy on the go if you need a quick bite on the way to the stadium.

Tailgate Like a Pro

Try New Toppings
Smoked sausage and deli meats are easy to add to a bun for an instant meal, and there’s plenty of ways to dress your tailgate menu up or down based upon the preferences of your guests. Be sure to keep some basics on hand for those who prefer traditional preparation, but for the more adventurous types, try out these ideas for toppings that create a new dimension of flavor.

  • Grilled onion
  • Grilled peppers
  • Grilled, roasted or sauteed mushrooms
  • Spicy mustard
  • Flavored ketchup (think spicy, fruity or sweet)
  • Ethnic flavors like curry or marinara sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Roasted corn relish
  • Crumbled or shredded cheese
  • Bacon crumbles

Handy Hacks

  • Repurpose coffee filters as holders for your sandwiches. They’re easy to hold and help keep your favorite toppings contained.
  • Up-cycle an empty six-pack container into a convenient cookout caddy to hold napkins, condiments and utensils. Not only is it quick to grab and place on the table, but it helps keep napkins from blowing away in a breeze.
  • For kabobs, keep wooden skewers from charring by soaking them in water before threading on ingredients.
  • Prepare toppings the night before and arrange them in a disposable foil pan for a quick and easy DIY topping bar.

Million Dollar Moment

This season, Eckrich – the official smoked sausage and deli meat sponsor of the College Football Playoff – is once again hosting the Road to the National Championship sweepstakes. Fans around the country will have the chance to make a 20-yard throw for $1 million at some of the biggest college football games of the season, including the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship in Atlanta. Visit EckrichFootball.com for your chance to win.

Find more game-day recipes at Eckrich.com.

Grilled Sausage Skewer Sandwiches

Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 1          regular size package Eckrich Smoked Sausage
  • 1          small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1          red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6          wooden skewers, 10 inches long
  • 1/2       cup Italian salad dressing, divided
  • 6          bolillo or sandwich rolls, split
  • 1          avocado, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/4       cup cilantro leaves
  1. Heat grill to medium-high.
  2. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch thick slices. Thread sausage, onion and bell peppers alternately onto skewers. Brush 1/4 cup salad dressing on skewered sausage and vegetables.
  3. Grill until sausage is golden brown and vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes, turning once.
  4. Brush remaining salad dressing on rolls. Fill rolls with grilled sausage and vegetables. Divide avocado and cilantro onto each.

Tip: To broil sausage rather than grill, heat broiler to medium-high, follow the same skewer preparation instructions and broil about 10 minutes, or until sausage is golden brown and vegetables are crisp-tender.

Ham and Turkey Roll-ups

Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

  • 4          ounces Eckrich Deli Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
  • 4          ounces Eckrich Deli Black Forest Ham
  • lettuce leaves
  • 2          tablespoons chunky guacamole
  • 1/4       cup chopped cucumbers
  • 1          tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2          slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  1. Layer turkey and ham slices. Layer lettuce, guacamole, cucumber, cheese and bacon crumbles. Roll meat and secure with toothpick.

Potato Salad with Smoked Sausage

Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 3/4       regular size package Eckrich Smoked Sausage, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3          small red potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), cooked and quartered
  • 1          can (4 ounces) pitted ripe olives, drained and halved
  • 2          cups Italian dressing
  • 1          green onion, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1          clove garlic, minced
  • 2          teaspoons ground black pepper
  1. In large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in potatoes; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  2. Add olives, dressing, onions, garlic and pepper; mix lightly.

SOURCE:
Eckrich

Trick-or-Treat for a New Kind of Thrill

(Family Features) For most kids, Halloween is all about costumes and candy, but it can also be a chance to demonstrate how helping others brings its own set of rewards.

This October, children, families and schools across the country will join in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, a month-long celebration of the power and impact of kids helping kids. Throughout the month, kids, parents and teachers can add purpose to their Halloween activities by collecting donations in support of vulnerable children.

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF encourages children to be “scary good” this Halloween and help their peers around the world. Equipped with iconic orange collection boxes, kids can raise funds that add up to lifesaving change: $8 can buy a kit to give one family clean water to drink; $15 can buy a box of five mosquito nets to protect kids from deadly malaria; and $55 can buy one box of therapeutic food treatment to save a child from severe acute malnutrition.

Sharing the caring
In addition, a series of partners and supporters are also making it easy to help.

This year, HSNi Cares, as a national partner, will continue to raise funds and awareness to support UNICEF through all of its brands: Ballard Designs, Frontgate, Garnet Hill, Grandin Road, HSN and Improvements. Throughout September, customers will be able make a donation to the children’s humanitarian organization online or over the phone at all brands.

Key Club International will participate by raising funds for The Eliminate Project, which seeks to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, a deadly disease that claims the lives of thousands of babies and mothers each year. Key Club International, a student-led service leadership program of Kiwanis International, is the oldest and largest service program for high school students. For more information, visit TheEliminateProject.org or KeyClub.org.

American Airlines will support the campaign through UNICEF’s Change for Good program, which converts customers’ donations of foreign and domestic currency into lifesaving services for children. From Oct.16-31, American Airlines flight attendant volunteers will make Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF-themed announcements and collect donations from customers on select international flights.

Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, will team up with Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its best-selling children’s book series “Goosebumps.” Popular character Slappy and his monstrous friends will be featured on the collection boxes as well as trickortreatforunicef.org.

Make it social
Families are invited to share their Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF story on social media with the hashtag #ScaryGood. Parents and teachers who participated when they were children are also invited to share their experience with the hashtag #TBTOT4UNICEF.

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF – the original kids helping kids campaign – has raised nearly $177 million since 1950 to help UNICEF provide children around the world with lifesaving nutrition, water, vaccines and more. For more information, visit trickortreatforunicef.org.

SOURCE:
UNICEF

Scary Good Seasonal Treats

(Family Features) Whether your tastes tend toward the spooky or spectacular, or maybe a little of both, this Halloween you can set the scene for a scary good time with a menu that entices goblins big and small.

You won’t have to scour a witch’s lair to find the right ingredients for these treats. All you need is Limited Edition TruMoo Orange Scream Milk, which is inspired by an orange frozen ice pop with vanilla ice cream. It’s tasty served on its own in a cold glass, or added to Halloween-inspired recipes perfect for hosting your fellow ghouls and goblins.

Try using it for non-traditional recipes, such as Orange-Cranberry Scones for hosting a scary fun Halloween get-together. Or for another creative snack option at your ghoulish gala, go for Bread Pudding to send guests home screaming with delight.

An added bonus, TruMoo Orange Scream Milk leaves out lots of things. It contains no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial growth hormones, no artificial sweeteners and no artificial flavors, so all that’s left is a nutritious, family-friendly and tasty fun time. TruMoo Orange Scream Milk has no GMO ingredients.

For more Halloween-inspired recipes, visit TruMoo.com, and find TruMoo Milk on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Orange-Cranberry Scones

Servings: 6 scones

Scones:

  • 2 1/4    cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4       cup granulated sugar
  • 2          teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2       teaspoon salt
  • 4          tablespoons cold butter
  • 2          large eggs
  • 1/2       cup TruMoo Orange Scream Milk
  • 1/2       cup dried cranberries
  • 1          tablespoon grated orange peel

Orange Glaze:

  • 1/2       cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1          tablespoon TruMoo Orange Scream Milk
  1. To prepare Scones: Heat oven to 425° F. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in eggs, one at a time, then milk, cranberries and orange peel.
  2. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or until firm. Pat dough into 8-inch round, about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into six wedges; carefully separate wedges and place on parchment-lined baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake about 15 minutes until lightly golden and crusty.
  3. To prepare Orange Glaze: In small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk until well blended. Cool scones slightly. Drizzle scones with glaze.

Orange Custard Bread Pudding

Servings: 6

  • 1          loaf (16 ounces) sliced raisin-cinnamon bread
  • 2          cups TruMoo Orange Scream Milk
  • 3          large eggs
  • 1/2       cup granulated sugar
  • 1          tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1/4       teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4       teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/8       teaspoon salt
  • confectioners’ sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Cut raisin bread into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups). In large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, orange peel, nutmeg, orange extract and salt. Toss with raisin bread to mix well.
  2. Butter 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Pour bread mixture into dish. Place in center of deep, ovenproof pan. Pour boiling water into pan until it reaches halfway up sides of dish. Place pan on center rack in oven. Bake until just set, about 40 minutes. Carefully remove from oven.
  3. To serve, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.

SOURCE:
TruMoo

Get Focused

Plan to make productivity a priority

(Family Features) Although there are many reasons to feel stressed in the workplace, productivity is often at the root. After all, productive employees are often perceived as the most valuable employees and when productivity fails, it tends to put everyone on edge.

Concerns about productivity are broadly founded. They may be related to your self-assessment of your own performance, or it could be that a manager is demanding more. Or maybe you’re collaborating with a team of peers and are struggling to find your footing, and collectively productivity is down.

Productivity is not only good for business; it’s good for worker morale, too. A productive work day can produce a sense of accomplishment and pride, and may result in a less stressful work environment. You can take a proactive role in improving your own productivity with these ideas.

 

1. Face a challenge head on. Procrastination can be the ultimate roadblock to productivity. For many, that means saving the least desired task on your to-do lists for the end of the day. However, by the end of the day, it’s too easy to delay the task until tomorrow. Instead, start the day with your least desired task. This is when you’ll have the most energy and you’ll kick off your day feeling accomplished, ready to tackle whatever comes next.

2. Be intentional with your time. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks can help you have a more productive day. When you feel your energy start to wane, give yourself a timeout. Take a 15-minute walk, run the stairs or spend some time drawing in your notebook. Over the course of a week, pay attention to your schedule and start to plan your meetings and tasks around breaks so you’re working during periods of the day when you’re the most energized.

3. Capture ideas when they come. Let’s face it: not every great idea arrives at the ideal moment. While it’s possible to key your ideas immediately into your smartphone, that can come with multiple obnoxious distractions. However, trying to recreate that flash of inspiration at a more opportune time more often than not falls short with missing details.

An option like the Bamboo Slate smartpad allows you to write naturally with pen on any paper without the social media notifications and email alerts. With the push of a button, you can then convert your handwritten notes into “living” digital files. With Wacom Inkspace, you can organize, edit and share your notes and sketches on your enabled smartphone, tablet or other devices. In case you’re not near your mobile device when inspiration strikes, you can store up to 100 pages on your smartpad and sync later. Learn more at bamboo.wacom.com.

4. Identify areas for collaboration. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The key is knowing yourself well enough to know when you need to ask for help to be more productive. Wasting time on tasks you don’t excel in can slow everyone down. Rather, find others whom you can collaborate with and learn from to help you improve your productivity over time.

5. Stay organized. When you’re working under continuous deadlines, things can really start to pile up – literally. Digging through a mess to find the report containing the data you need or the invoice to cross reference is a waste of precious time. Allow the clutter to build during the work day if you must, but make it a goal to never leave the office without bringing some order to the day’s chaos. Coming in each morning to a desk that is de-cluttered and ready for the day ahead can be a big productivity booster.

Learn to Make Lists with Purpose

List-making has long been revered as the classic time management tool, and technology makes it easier than ever to blend this analog task with your digital world by using smart notebooks like the Bamboo Slate to create an online to-do list.

Consider these three list styles to determine the approach that best fits your work style to put you on your way to more productive days:

Categorized lists. Most people start with a daily to-do list, focusing just on the most urgent tasks for the day. Once you’ve mastered that approach, try looking ahead to the future to help you meet your goals. For this technique, you might consider an annual list or even a life list to help put the big picture in perspective and make it more manageable to accomplish your desires. Others go so far as to categorize their time to focus their attention on different types of tasks on different days.

To-do vs. done lists. Another option is to use lists to catalog both the items you need to do and those you’ve already completed. A “done list” can be a motivating factor in pushing forward with your to-do list by letting you see your accomplishments in writing.

Bullet journaling. The bullet journal approach is a four-step process designed to make the to-do list less of a chore and more efficient. A step-by-step guide shows you how to create more productive lists you can easily reference in the future.

SOURCE:
Wacom

Earn an A+

(Family Features) Back-to-school season means it’s time to get back to the business of learning. This year you can ace your back-to-school shopping excursion with these time- and money-saving steps that can make getting the whole family ready for a new school year a breeze.

Start with a list.
Walking into the store without a list is an open invitation for impulse buys and forgotten items that end up costing you more time and money with a return trip. Create a thorough list by categorizing all the items you’ll shop for, such as supplies, electronics and clothing. If you want to take an extra-organized approach, try color coding items by the section of the store where you would expect to find them.

Set a budget.
Knowing what you can afford to spend ahead of time can save regret and returns after you shop. Calculate how much you’ll need to cover all the items your students truly need, then tack on some room for wants. One must-have is a high-quality backpack, like the High Sierra Access Backpack, which includes a dedicated storage area for your child’s laptop, among other features. If your total budgeted expenses exceed your available funds, consider browsing weekly circulars to keep your budget in check.

Explore your inventory.
It may be buried under a summer’s worth of knick-knacks, but digging out the supplies your child cast aside at the end of the last school year may be worth the effort. Items like scissors, rulers and protractors may not need to be replaced every year if they’re still in working condition. Assess what items you have that can be reused and those that need to be replaced for the new school year.

Cut extra stops.
Dashing all over town to find all the items on your supply list is not only time-consuming, it’s unnecessary. At stores like Office Depot and OfficeMax, you can find all the academic tools and supplies your student needs to head back to the classroom. What’s more, a store that specializes in school supplies will have a broad selection and ample stock of the essentials.

Try online shopping.
When you know exactly what you need, shopping online is a great time-saving solution. Online shopping makes it incredibly simple to keep tabs on your budget before you make purchases and easily keep track of the items in your shopping cart. If you need to hand-select a few items in person, you can always take advantage of a “buy online, pick-up in store” option. This service lets you do your shopping from home with just a quick stop in-store to pick-up your purchases.

Buy in bulk.
It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re trying to trim your spending, but if you can swing it, go ahead and buy extra items that you’ll likely need to replace mid-year. The sale prices during the back-to-school season aren’t likely to repeat during the school year, so in the long run you’ll save money and avoid a last-minute shopping trip on a busy school night in the future. Items like Stellar fashion notebooks, which give note-taking a fashionable twist, are great to have on hand throughout the school year.

Research specials and promotions.
For many stores, the back-to-school shopping season is second only to the holidays. This means you can expect widespread sales, promotions and special deals, such as “deals as low as a penny.” Some states also offer tax-free holidays near the beginning of the school year, which are honored at multiple retailers and generally restricted to school-related purchases like clothing, supplies and some technology.

Weigh quality vs. quantity.
When you have a lengthy list of items to purchase for each child, it can be tempting to cut corners and skimp on spending. In some cases, being cost-efficient is smart, but do your research beforehand to avoid selecting items based solely on price. Value and quality don’t always go hand-in-hand and if you buy an item that falls apart or breaks down quickly, you may end up spending more to replace the items later. While it may be simpler for students to use printers and other machines at school, an all-in-one Epson Expression EcoTank Wireless Printer at home can be a convenient solution when late-night homework is bearing down.

Make dollars do double duty.
While most families expect to spend a sizable amount on back-to-school purchases (nearly $700, according to a 2016 survey by the National Retail Federation), making that money go a little further can soften the blow. You can help improve education in your community by shopping at stores that give a percentage of proceeds back to local schools. Programs vary; in some cases, you can even designate proceeds to the school district of your choice.

Take more notes on smart back-to-school shopping ideas and deals at officedepot.com.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
Office Depot

Fire Up the Fourth with Tasty Backyard Recipes

(Family Features) Fireworks, family and food are what the Fourth of July is all about. This year, add some spark to backyard staples like grilled chicken and potato salad with a little help from tangy condiments, smoky rubs and your cast-iron skillet.

For a main dish that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, smother grilled chicken with a white barbecue sauce – the South’s tangy little secret. It’s made with simple pantry ingredients like mayonnaise, cider vinegar and mustard.

Make a one-pan side dish next to the cooking chicken by placing your cast-iron skillet directly on the grates. Smash whole potatoes in the pan then top with bacon, cheese and a chipotle seasoning. Let it all melt together and then top with sour cream for a smoking side.

Round out the meal with a festive cake that looks as impressive as it tastes. Dye white cake mix batter red and blue using food color then assemble in a flag shape with whipped cream and berries.

Find more recipes and ideas to fire up your Fourth of July at McCormick.com.

White Barbecue Sauce with Smoky Chicken

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6

White Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1          cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2       cup cider vinegar
  • 2          tablespoons Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
  • 1          teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2       teaspoon McCormick Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2       teaspoon McCormick Garlic Powder
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt

Smoky Chicken:

  • 1          cup hickory wood chips
  • 2          pounds bone-in chicken parts
  • 2          tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub
  1. To make sauce: In medium bowl, mix mayonnaise, vinegar, creole mustard, horseradish, black pepper, garlic and salt until well blended. Cover. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to blend flavors.
  2. To make chicken: Cover wood chips in water and soak 30 minutes. Season chicken with rub. Drain wood chips. Fill smoker box with wet wood chips. Place smoker box under grill rack on one side of grill before lighting. Close grill.
  3. Prepare grill for indirect medium heat (350-375° F). Heat grill by turning all burners to medium. Once cooking temperature is reached, turn off burner(s) on one side. Place chicken on unlit side of grill. Close grill cover.
  4. Grill, turning occasionally, 30-40 minutes, or until internal temperature of thickest part of chicken is 165 F. Move chicken to lit side of grill with skin side down. Turn lit side of grill to high.
  5. Grill, uncovered, 3-5 minutes longer, or until chicken is charred. Serve chicken with White Barbecue Sauce.

Test Kitchen Tip: Refrigerate any leftover sauce and use as salad dressing, condiment for burgers or dipping sauce for pretzels and vegetables.

Grilled and Loaded Smashed Potatoes

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12

  • 1 1/2    pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1          tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5          teaspoons McCormick Grill Mates Bacon Chipotle Seasoning, divided
  • 6          slices Applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1          cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2       cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2       cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2          tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4       cup sour cream
  1. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Place potatoes on microwavable plate. Pierce potatoes with fork several times. Microwave on high 5-6 minutes, or until fork-tender but still firm. Let stand until cool enough to handle. In large bowl, toss potatoes, oil and 3 teaspoons seasoning until well coated.
  3. Place potatoes on grill and cook, turning frequently, 4-5 minutes or until skin is crispy. In large cast-iron skillet on grill, cook and stir bacon 8-10 minutes, or until crisp. Add yellow onion and bell pepper; cook and stir 2-3 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
  4. Push bacon mixture to one side of skillet. Add potatoes to other side of skillet. Smash each potato with heavy spatula, bottom of small sturdy bowl or meat pounder. Sprinkle potatoes with remaining seasoning. Spoon bacon mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Cover pan or close grill. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. To serve, sprinkle with green onions and dollops of sour cream.

Test Kitchen Tip: Cooking potatoes before grilling reduces overall grill time.

Red, White and Blue Cake

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12

  • 1          package (2-layer size) white cake mix
  • 2          teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2       teaspoon Blue McCormick Assorted Neon Food Colors & Egg Dye
  • 2          tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2          teaspoons McCormick Red Food Color
  • nonstick spray
  • 1          container (16 ounces) white frosting
  • 1          cup raspberries
  • 1/2       cup blueberries
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding vanilla. Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to small bowl and tint with neon blue food color. Tint remaining batter red by adding cocoa powder and red food color. Pour each color batter into separate 9-by-5-inch loaf pans sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Bake blue-tinted cake 20-25 minutes; red-tinted cake 30-35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
  4. Trim cakes to remove rounded tops and edges. Slice red cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers. Place one layer on platter. Slice remaining red cake layer in half lengthwise. Slice blue cake in half lengthwise. (Blue and red cakes should be same dimensions.)
  5. Frost red cake layer on platter with 1/3 frosting. Top with lengthwise slices of red and blue cake side-by-side. Frost with 1/3 frosting. Repeat cake layer and frosting. Garnish with raspberries and blueberries to resemble flag.

SOURCE:
McCormick Spice

How Rural Women Can Make an Impact

(Family Features) For hundreds of years, women have been a key pillar of the agriculture industry, accounting for one-third of the country’s farmers according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

While not always thought of in a traditional “farmer” role, women make an impact in the industry and in helping feed the rapidly growing global population. These “farm moms” play vital and integral roles on the farm, with their families and in their communities.

Susan Brocksmith – named the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year, sponsored by Monsanto – has been involved in supporting Helping His Hands and both the North Knox and South Knox County FFA chapters for many years, and while she finds the experience incredibly rewarding, she also recognizes juggling these responsibilities on top of work and family can be difficult. She offers these tips to other women who are looking for simple ways to get involved in their communities:

  1. Start small. It’s easy to want to take on a lot of responsibilities to help nonprofit organizations in your community, but starting small can help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. Start by looking for small volunteer opportunities, such as volunteering to staff a local event, and then look for opportunities to take on a larger role.
  2. Involve the whole family. Volunteering should be a family affair. Bringing the kids along not only allows you to spend time with them, but also sets the example that giving back is an important responsibility for all.
  3. Find an impactful cause. Everyone brings a unique set of skills and perspectives to the table. Find an opportunity that fits you and values your contributions.

“I am humbled and blessed to be named the 2017 America’s Farmers Mom of Year,” Brocksmith said. “I was raised on a family farm and was able to raise my daughters on our family farm. I have strived to instill the core values of faith, family and agriculture into my daughters, as well as my college students. Thanks to the support I received from family, friends and the community, I was able to receive this award. This outpouring of support proves anything is possible. Thank you Monsanto for providing this outreach opportunity.”

Brocksmith’s America’s Farmers Mom of the Year award, which honors the significant contributions women make on their farms and in their families, communities and beyond, gifted  $4,000 to be divided among the three organizations she is involved with Helping His Hands is a disaster relief organization and local food pantry. Both North Knox FFA and South Knox FFA are long-standing chapters that make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

“Farm moms like Susan are not only respected leaders in the agriculture industry, but also a critical part of the ecosystem that supports rural communities across America,” said Jessica Lane Rommel, Monsanto business communications manager. “We’re excited to celebrate Susan and all of the women who play such a vital role in rural communities.”

Since the program began in 2010, America’s Farmers Mom of the Year program has recognized 40 individuals for their roles in American farms, families, rural communities and the agriculture industry. To learn more about the program, visit AmericasFarmers.com.

SOURCE:
Monsanto

Bring Your Idea to Life

(Family Features) Like any idea, the great ones come when you formulate a plan and turn that idea into action. Starting your own business can be stressful and demanding, but also both personally and professionally fulfilling. Getting a business up and running takes planning, smart financial decision-making and backing, and stacks of paperwork, but these tips can help guide you through the development stage and help you ready your idea for unveiling.

Create a Business Plan
To get started, create a simple overview of the business you intend to start. This plan will be your roadmap moving forward and should include a mission statement, a company executive summary, a list of services and/or products offered and their costs, a target market analysis, an organizational structure, financial projections and expected cost of operations. Remember, this is a fluid process, so keeping it simple at the beginning may be beneficial in the long run.

Finance Your Business
Whether you plan on self-funding your business – be it through savings, credit cards or personal loans – or looking for other sources of start-up income, i.e. grants or venture capitalists, you’re going to need funding to get your idea off the ground. If you don’t have the capital to fund the venture yourself, look for investors who share your passion and that you believe you can work with or aid in the form of research grants or small business loans backed by the government.

Determine the Legal Structure
Decide on which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company, corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative. Owning your own business comes with federal tax obligations related to the type of business entity you establish. Often, during the infantile stages of your business, it can best serve you to register as a sole proprietor – which comes with less paperwork and upfront expenses. Acting as a sole proprietor does carry personal risks, however, so be sure to consult an attorney prior to finalizing the ownership structure.

Choose a Name and Location
Regardless of whether your business will be brick and mortar or online, deciding on a name that best suits your product or service and appeals to your intended audience is an important step. Once you’ve picked a name, select a location that offers opportunity for growth, proximity to suppliers, accessibility to customers and an acceptable level of competition, then check to see if the domain name is available online and make sure it is usable in your county and state. If it’s available, register it with the county clerk, secure the domain name and register a trademark at both the state and federal levels.

Register for Taxes, Licenses and Permits
When starting your business, you need to account for city licensing, state incorporation, business entity fees and more. Conduct a thorough search beforehand to determine applicable filing fees. In addition to fees, your business will have to pay certain state, local and federal taxes, including income taxes and employment taxes, based on the legal structure of your company. You’ll also need to obtain any licenses or permits, potentially including city or county business permits, liquor licenses or zoning variances.

Find more tips for starting and managing a small business at eLivingToday.com.

Cultivating Connections

How networking can build your business

Business is built on relationships. For many entrepreneurs whose small businesses are thriving, successful networking is one of the most common threads.

Making connections and building relationships are among the most beneficial aspects of networking with other small businesses, according to more than half of the respondents in a survey by The UPS Store. This is especially true among younger business owners, who are more likely than their older counterparts to take advantage of networking opportunities with fellow small business owners.

Not only do they crave these connections, 61 percent of small business owners say they want to establish in-person relationships. Attending networking and meetup events is a great way for entrepreneurs to form new relationships, share experiences and celebrate their hard work. In honor of National Small Business Week, The UPS Store will offer several networking events to facilitate small business connections. The following tips can help small business owners make the most of networking events.

Practice your “elevator pitch.” When introducing yourself, be prepared to give a brief explanation of your business, boiled down to a couple of sentences. Be sure to include your business name, the solution you provide and anything that makes you unique. The key is to deliver enough context that others can engage in meaningful conversation, while keeping it succinct enough that you have plenty of time to listen. If you think your elevator pitch is perfected, submit a 90-second video describing the business or idea to enter The UPS Store national Pitch Off contest at theupsstore.com/pitchoff for a chance to win $10,000.

Embrace the competition. It may feel counterintuitive to forge a relationship with a direct competitor, but there’s some obvious benefit to trading notes with someone who is operating in your market from a similar vantage point. Remember, while neither of you is going to give up proprietary information, a respectful dialogue may get your wheels turning to think about solving a problem in a new way.

Represent your brand well. A networking event is intended to be social, but it shouldn’t be treated casually. You are every bit the face of your business in this setting as you are within your business walls. Dress the part and present yourself as you would to potential customers. Make sure you have updated business cards, as 75 percent of survey respondents said they are the most common marketing tool used to promote their business, and any other printed materials such as brochures or fliers that showcase your business.

Find networking opportunities and more ideas to grow your small business at theupsstore.com/smallbizsalute.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
eLivingToday.com

Building a Successful Budget

(Family Features) Whether you’re trying to pay off bills, save for a dream vacation or create a nest egg for retirement, having a sound budget is often the first step toward bringing your financial goals to fruition. While budgeting is often associated with finding places to curb your spending, creating and sticking to a budget can be a fairly painless process with the right plan in place.

These guidelines can help you build, manage and maintain a realistic budget that will set you on the path toward reaching your financial aspirations.

Set Goals
When setting your budget, you should also set goals you want to achieve by a certain deadline, even if that’s simply having your income and expenses balance out each month. Goals can be short-term, like saving for a weekend getaway within a month; medium-term, such as saving for a down payment on a house in a year or two; or long-term, like paying off your mortgage in 15 years.

Calculate Earnings
Your monthly budget should be based on your take-home pay, so make sure to know exactly how much income you bring in after taxes and other expenses that are automatically deducted from your check, such as health insurance and your retirement plan contribution.

Track Expenses
Once you know exactly how much money you bring in each month, track your spending – every purchase, no matter how small – for at least one month to clearly see where your money goes and what expenses are required and which ones are optional.

Categorize Spending
After a month of tracking your spending, you’ve probably learned something about your habits, but you also have enough data to begin categorizing your expenses based on what is required each month and what is extra. Required expenses can include rent, insurance, student loan payments, utilities, gasoline and food. While some of these bills may change month-to-month, you can use bank statements to find an average. Extra expenses are ones you can live without, such as cable, internet, dining out, movies and more.

Write It Down
Start with pen and paper if you have to, but writing out your monthly budget and being able to track spending month-to-month is often key to sticking to your plan. Include columns for income, each required expense, every extra expense and savings, and analyze monthly where you fell short or where you could improve in the coming months. There are also computer programs and smartphone apps available to help make budgeting easier.

Stick to It
Once you’ve set your budget, be wary of temptation that could drive you off-track. Always remind yourself of your goal and know that small sacrifices will pay dividends in the future. Make decisions before you make a purchase by asking yourself if you’ll use it often or if you can do without. If you’re afraid you might be tempted, use cash or leave your credit card at home.

Make Necessary Adjustments
There may come a point when your budget no longer meets your financial needs or expectations. Rather than scrap the budget altogether, revisit it and adjust accordingly to meet your needs. Know that along the way, new expenses may arise or problems may occur that require a shift in how you reach your goals.

Find more tips for reaching your financial goals at eLivingToday.com.

Take a Holistic Approach to Retirement Planning

Although retirement is a milestone for all working adults, decades of hard work may not pay off if you haven’t planned for your financial needs once a regular paycheck stops coming.

According to research by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), millions of Baby Boomers stepping into their retirement years have unrealistic expectations and lack a full understanding of the danger of running out of money during retirement. However, the challenges do not stop with Baby Boomers. A recent study indicated 47 percent of Gen-Xers and more than half of Millennials believe a secure retirement is beyond their reach.

Experts generally concur that it’s never too early to begin planning for retirement, but depending on your stage of life, your approach may vary. Consider this advice from the experts at IRI to get on a path toward financially secure retirement.

Building a career
Once you have a solid budget, stick to it and set aside some money to save. Compound interest adds up over time and the earlier you start compounding, the better. Credit will also start to play more of a factor in your life, as major expenses like buying a house or car, or starting a business rely greatly on your credit.

Mid-career
This mid-career life stage is a good time to set a retirement savings goal, and now is also the time to consider hiring a financial advisor. A professional can help you explore less understood but worthwhile approaches to holistic retirement planning such as annuities. Annuities are essentially insurance contracts that come in different types and offer several options to meet a variety of financial objectives. They are a guarantee of income as you age.

Late career
At this stage, you probably have a better idea as to when you will be able to retire, but it’s important to review your savings on an annual basis and make adjustments, if needed, to stay on track.

Ready for retirement
This is the time to start making some choices, such as whether you will downsize your home and how to eliminate as much debt as possible. One of the more complex aspects surrounding retirement can be determining which of your accounts to tap and in what order, and a professional can help guide you.

Explore more resources and tools to aid your retirement planning at retireonyourterms.org.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
eLivingToday.com

4 Tips for Summer Tire Safety

(Family Features) As temperatures start to rise, checking your tires’ air pressure can help protect them from the heat when hitting the road this summer. Whether you’re trekking cross-country or simply to and from work, the more heat your tires are exposed to could mean potential trouble on the road.

The friction from your tires rolling, turning and braking combined with higher pavement temperatures and worn tires can lead to tire blowouts. Knowing the condition of your tires can help keep your vehicle well-maintained as well as you and your family safe on the road. When it comes to tire safety, it pays to know your numbers.

“Customer safety is our No. 1 priority,” said Mark Marrufo, vice president of brand marketing at Discount Tire. “Drivers should know how to maintain their tires and when to replace them when worn to ensure they don’t compromise safety when driving in summer temperatures.”

To help stay safe on the road this summer, know your numbers and follow these easy T.I.R.E. tips: tread depth, inflation pressure, rotation, education.

  1. Don’t forget to check your tire’s tread before hitting the road. Tread depth refers to the amount of tread on a tire, which can impact handling, traction and stopping distance, especially on wet roads. Most new car tires start with 11/32 inches of tread. If your tires don’t have at least 2/32 inches, it’s time to replace them. Use the “penny test” by sticking a penny upside-down in a tread groove. If Lincoln’s entire head is visible, your tread is worn beyond the legal minimum requirement and it’s time to replace your tires.
  1. Check your tire inflation pressure at least once a month to make sure they are at the appropriate inflation pressure. Low tire pressure leads to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Temperature changes affect tire pressure. For every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 PSI (pound per square inch).
  1. To increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops.
  1. Stay educated on your tires and what you need to do to keep them safe. Inspect your spare and consider a roadside assistance plan. Some cars come with run-flat tires, which enable continued driving with no air pressure for up to 60 miles at speeds up to 55 mph, but most vehicles are equipped with either a space-saver spare or tire repair kit. Check your trunk to see what your vehicle contains. Drivers unsure of the condition of their tires should consult an expert, and visiting a Discount Tire location for a free safety inspection is a good place to start.

To locate a store near you, schedule tire service appointments or search tires and wheels by size, brand and style, or by vehicle year, make and model, visit discounttire.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
Discount Tire

Weather Through Unexpected Events

(Family Features) As temperatures heat up across the country, it’s a reminder that severe weather – thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes – can strike at any time.

When these unexpected situations occur, there are time-sensitive needs before and after them. A few simple steps and tips, such as tapping into local resources and businesses efficiently in an effort to regroup, can go a long way toward ensuring you and your family navigate these situations quickly, safely and deftly.

In preparation

  • Create an emergency plan. Talk through possible scenarios and how to respond with your entire family. For example, if a severe thunderstorm occurs, who is responsible for securing outdoor items like lawn chairs and who will grab flashlights in case the power fails? Or if there’s a tornado, where’s the safest place in the house to hunker down? Once you answer these important questions, practice and fine tune your plan.
  • Keep close tabs on emerging weather situations. This improves the likelihood that you are aware and able to take steps to protect your loved ones and possessions before a storm. There are numerous apps that provide emergency alerts, and adding these to your smartphone takes just a few minutes.
  • Consider special needs. If you have circumstances that would create an extreme hardship in a power outage or other storm-related incident, gather materials to minimize the impact. For example, a cooler may be necessary to keep medications chilled. Also remember to keep a supply of non-perishable food items available, and consider other necessities like access to toilets during an extended sheltering period.

Post-event checklist

  • Check for damage. Once the threat has passed, assessing the damage is a crucial next step. It’s important to know whether your home, vehicles or other property and belongings have been damaged or destroyed. Take photos and write down as much detail as possible, including when and how the damage occurred. It’s also a good idea to gather documentation related to damaged items, such as appraisals and insurance policies.
  • Contact friends and family. Don’t forget to let friends and family know you’re OK. If they’re local and may have also been impacted, it’s important to verify their safety once yours is ensured and work with them to clean up as best as you can.
  • Take advantage of local resources. Assessing the damage early allows you to quickly contact professionals who can help, whether it’s a roof repair company, water damage experts or anything in between. Knowing whom to trust and use as a service provider can be challenging, but to help consumers find businesses that meet their needs, YP, The Real Yellow Pages® works closely with local businesses to ensure their information is correct, complete and consistent online and in print. In addition, the information found in search results on yellowpages.com and via the YP app is tailored to help consumers find local businesses, saving precious time, which is critical following a storm.

To find more information about what local businesses are near you and ready to help, visit yellowpages.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
YP, The Real Yellow Pages

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Mattress

(Family Features) When it comes to buying a mattress, individual needs and preferences vary across the board. Just like there is no “one size fits all” for jeans, there is not one mattress for everyone. What might be comfortable and supportive for one person may not be the best fit for someone else.

Having a wide variety of options is key to picking out your new mattress because you can mix and match different levels of comfort with size and adjust your pick based on your sleeping position and surrounding factors. When choosing the mattress that’s best for you, consider these factors.

Size
The basic mattress sizes include twin, full, queen, king and California king. Choosing a size depends on the amount of space you have available, whether or not you share your bed with a significant other and personal preference. Think about your current sleeping situation and if you’re happy with the amount of space you have to sleep. If you’re fighting for space with your partner, it might be time to think about upgrading to a larger size. If your room is small and your bed is taking over the space, downsizing might be a good option.

Comfort Level
Mattresses come in all different levels of comfort ranging from firm to plush to pillow top as well as contoured and personalized. To provide a variety of comfort levels for mattress shoppers, Mattress Firm offers a Comfort by Color system that categorizes levels of comfort to help customers shop in their comfort zone.

“The Comfort by Color system makes it easy for customers to come into a store and immediately see which mattresses fall into the category they’re looking for,” Mattress Firm CEO Ken Murphy said. “Whether they’re looking for a pillow top or a firm mattress, the variety of options helps customers pick a bed that’s specifically tailored to their needs.”

Sleeping Position
Another important factor to consider when choosing a mattress is your sleep position. Knowing whether you are a front, back, stomach or side sleeper, or move around frequently throughout the night, will help you narrow down your options and choose a mattress that accommodates your needs. For example, side sleepers might get better sleep with a plush or pillow top mattress that supports the spine’s natural curve versus a mattress with a firmer comfort level.

Temperature
Temperature plays a role in how you sleep, and it’s not limited to hot summer temperatures. Heavy comforters, heat settings and even your mattress can affect the quality of your sleep. While pillow tops and traditional memory foam can make for a warmer night’s sleep, Serta’s iComfort mattresses contain cooling technology to help you sleep at a comfortable temperature all night long. If you naturally heat up in your sleep, cooling technology may be something to consider.

Pain
If you experience any sort of pain – especially while you sleep – your mattress can either help or hurt that pain. For example, if you have lower back pain, you may need a firmer mattress to help keep your back aligned. By identifying any pain you have and being transparent when shopping, you can find the right mattress to help alleviate discomfort and improve your sleep.

For more information, visit MattressFirm.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
Mattress Firm

5 Time-Savers for Busy Teens

(Family Features) A break from the regular school routine may be a welcome change, but for many teens, summer is just as busy as the school year. Jobs, athletic activities and social events can keep that so-called “break” jam-packed with action.

Time management is essential, but there are some other easy steps teens can take to save time and make sure there’s at least a little room left to kick back and enjoy all that summer has to offer.

  1. Get organized. Precious minutes tick away while searching for lost keys or phones, or finding the perfect shirt for a night out with friends. Taking a little time to get organized will pay off in the long run. Create a specific place, such as a shelf or basket, to hold items that get used every day so you always know where to look. Also take time to put away laundry and hang clothes, and skip the wasteful rummaging that results from an untidy room and closet.
  1. Be prepared. Even when you’re on the go, taking care of yourself is important. Create a portable pack, whether you’re headed out for a day at the beach or an impromptu camping trip, because pimples are unpredictable and can appear at a moment’s notice. Make sure your skin stays clean and clear by including an easy-to-use, mess-free OXY On-The-Go Acne Stick, which is conveniently packaged in a slim, solid form and clinically proven to kill acne-causing bacteria so you can spot-treat acne at any time. Learn more at oxyskincare.com.
  1. Use screen time wisely. It’s easy to get sucked into hours of catching up on social media or pulled into a game where you’re trying to conquer just one more achievement. Avoid getting yourself into a time crunch by simply setting down your phone or controller when you have other obligations. Save the screen time for a break or treat it as a reward for accomplishing a task.
  1. Keep a schedule. Flitting from one spot to the next all summer long can make it tough to keep track of where you’re supposed to be and when. Writing down details like your work schedule and game times can help ensure you never miss a beat. You can also use your schedule to keep track of to-dos like registering for fall classes or chores around the house.
  1. Make time for meals. Skipping meals isn’t only unhealthy, it’s likely to slow you down when you get hungry and have to stop for a snack at an inconvenient time. Look for healthy on-the-go foods that you can eat in transit, or dedicate a little time one day a week to prepare snacks and meals for the week ahead so you can still stay nourished when you’re in a time crunch.

A busy summer may not feel like much of a vacation, but if you work to manage and save time where you can, you’ll be able to carve out some much needed rest and relaxation.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
OXY Skincare