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Best free fitness and diet apps

A smart phone as a platform for fitnessIn modern society, it is easy to become decadent and forget that we have to be strong for ourselves and for future generations. That is why we need to show the new generations that we can live happy, healthy lives in this fast-paced world. Here are a few of the highest rated and most effective free fitness and diet iOS and Android applications to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Nike has been a pillar of the fitness community for years, so it only makes sense that they would invest in a free app to help people gain control of their bodies. The Nike+ Training Club is an iOS and Android app that consists of over one hundred different workouts for beginners and veterans. Each workout is complete with a video tutorial, so any user can effectively use Nike+ to the maximum potential.

Another iOS and Android app that can help is Fitnet. This app puts a smartphone's camera to good use by enabling the user to actually watch the exercise experience. It will alert the user to ways they can improve and also provide feedback so the user can have a personal experience that resembles using their own personal trainer.

A fairly new app, Endomondo, begins with a test that shows the user's specific stage of fitness and then suggests forms of exercise that are appropriate. This app is specialized to create motivation. It is built to keep track of personal records and alerts the user when levels of fitness are achieved or exceeded. If personal records are inadequate, there is also a community connected to the app that one can compete against to get higher scores.

Many running apps exist, but few also take cycling into account. Strava Cycling and Running does both. Strava is not only focused on individual fitness, but it also strives to connect cyclists to others by adding unique challenges, such as a competition to see who can capture the best photo, which can be used to add motivation to a workout.

Fitness is an important part of a healthy life, but nutrition is equally important. MyFitnessPal can help count calories and log meals with minimal effort. This app can save time and help the user understand what they do right and wrong with their diet. This app would make a helpful addition to any of the other fitness apps listed.

Before a meal is recorded, the right food needs to be found and OpenTable can do just that. OpenTable can help the user find the right restaurant in the user's price range. Not only does the app help find the right place to eat, but it can also set reservations for those special nights.

Kitchen Stories
If going out to eat adds too little excitement, then the Kitchen Stories app can create an adventure in the kitchen. Kitchen Stories gives detailed instructions, alongside pictures, to help users craft any of the healthy meals listed. Detailed nutritional information will help the decision process, along with information on how difficult the recipe is and the time necessary to make it.

All of these iOS and Android apps can help start the journey to a healthier and brighter lifestyle, from fitness to food. These apps can help make each day an adventure and show new generations that a fit and healthy life is possible.

Copyright © Jonathan on 2017

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How to do push ups correctly

A man doing push upsWith proper form, push ups can be a great exercise for the chest, arms and core. With poor form, they can cause shoulder and elbow issues in some people. Here's the correct form for push ups that will reduce the stress on the joints and reduce the risk of injury.

Hand Position

  • Your hand position should not be high and wide. They should be roughly in line with your ribs so that your elbows are close to your body.
  • That is, if someone was standing above you and looking down while you did your push ups, your arms and body should create an arrow shape "->" not a "T" shape. This will reduce the stress on your shoulders.
  • Also avoid push ups where the hands are close together in front of the face or body, as this places undue stress on the elbows. The hands should be no closer than shoulder width apart.

Hand Rotation
  • Your hands should face forwards or be turned outwards slightly so that the index fingers are pointing to 11 and 1 o'clock.
  • Don't rotate the hands inwards, as this also over-stresses the elbow.

  • Keep your core tight and your body in a straight line, as if you were doing the plank.
  • Don't allow your hips to sag down, and don't create an "arch" shape by raising the hips. If you can't keep this straight plank position, it means your core is weak and you need to work on this.

Maintain good form
  • Be wary of doing too many push ups. If you can't do them with proper form, keeping the body straight, the arms tucked in and the hands facing forwards, you've reached failure. Just stop, rest, and start a new set in a few minutes.
  • Don't continue a set with poor form, or move the hands out to the "T" position just to knock out a few more reps. If you really want to continue, drop your knees to the ground and finish off the set from there.

Push ups are a highly versatile exercise that you can do no matter where you are, but just because you're not holding an iron plate doesn't mean there's no risk of injury. If you follow these guidelines, you'll go a long way toward keeping your shoulders and elbows healthy.

Copyright © Darryl on 2017

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Tags: health, hobby, sport

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Why choose a niche for your blog

A computer displaying a niche blogIf you're starting a blog and you intend to make money from it, you should choose a niche topic rather than a general one. Instead of starting a travel blog - a very saturated space -start a blog about travel in Indonesia, traveling to do a particular sport, or the local cuisine in different places. If you're even considering starting a multi-topic or generalist blog, stop! Read these arguments for niche blogs first.

Back in 2003 the blogging world was pretty much wide open, and you could start a blog on broader topics. But now these topics are already covered by respected people and brands. Why would someone go to your technology blog, started this year with two posts to its name, when they could go to TechCrunch? They wouldn't. You're too late to the party. Niche areas, however, have less competition, perhaps even none, depending on how niche you go.

General topics are harder to monetize because your audience has a wider range of needs, wants and interests. Niche topics are better suited to monetization because it's easier to predict what your audience will buy. For example, say you want to run a seminar on overcoming procrastination. Would you get more sales if you had a personal development blog with 1,000 readers, or if you had a procrastination blog with 1,000 readers?

It should be very clear what your blog is about from every page. If you're covering gardening, dog grooming, and pottery, people will have to figure out what you're all about and why. They don't like that. A niche topic provides clarity and makes your site easier to brand. If you only cover dog grooming, people will think "Ah! I'm a dog person too! Subscribe!" In a way, this comes down to tribalism: we're drawn to people similar to ourselves. It should be easy for your reader to think "I'm like you."

Say you write an amazing viral post about French grammar, and you get a boatload of new subscribers. Then the next day you write one about Arabic conjugations because you're actually writing a general language learning blog. You might lose people because they already subscribe to six of those, they just needed extra French tips. A niche topic makes it easier to retain readers because you're less likely to post something that's irrelevant to them.

Hopefully, this has convinced you. But if not, and you still really, really want to write a blog about 17 different topics, at least try this experiment. Pick one of those topics, or a sub-topic of your main field, that's best suited for a monetized, niche blog and cover that topic on a separate site. Invest the same amount of time and money into both, and see for yourself which one does best.

Copyright © Gotter on 2017

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How to say farewell to a close friend

Girl waving goodbye to an airplaneFarewells can be difficult, especially when a close friend is moving to a different city. This can sometimes lead to avoidance -- people may end up not saying goodbye at all because they don't want to face the pain of it. However saying a proper farewell can make things easy for both of you, and give you chance to make proper arrangements to stay in touch. Here are some suggestions to help you say farewell. 

Of course, you need to see your friend off in style. This could certainly mean throwing a huge party and inviting everyone around, but it doesn't have to. What you do depends on your respective personalities and your relationship. Maybe the two of you would prefer a quiet evening, visiting your favorite places and talking about old times. However you do it, a leaving party can help you say what you want to say to each other and prepare you both for the next chapter.

Support your friend in their move
This will be difficult for your friend too, so do all you can to support them in their new life. See if they need help packing, and go over moving checklists online together to make sure all the necessary admin work is done. But most importantly, make sure you are there for them emotionally; they may have things that they need to say, so make sure you're available for that. You can help each other through a difficult time. 

Make a care package
As a leaving present, make a care package for your friend filled with thoughtful gifts for them. You could include reminders of your hometown, framed photographs of the two of you, and a goodbye card or letter. You could also throw in a stress ball or biscuits, since moving houses can be a stressful experience. Show your support by including something relating to their new town- for example if they are moving to New York, a model of the Statue of Liberty.

Arrange your first visit
When people move to different cities, it's very easy to lose contact and put off making trips to visit. You get busy with work, you need to arrange travel, or can't find someone to look after the cat. To avoid this, arrange your first visit before they leave. Arranges dates, times, and places, book the time off work and make travel arrangements. It will be easier to maintain your friendship over a long distance if you get into the right habits from the start. Besides, they will be adjusting to a new life too and will appreciate your visit. Bring the cat with you if you need to.

Stay in touch on social media
Saying farewell today isn't the same as it was 15 or so years ago. Back then you exchanged phone numbers and addresses, and you talked over the phone occasionally. Now things are different. By staying in touch on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you'll keep up to date on everything new in each others' lives. You'll see photos of their vacations, you'll celebrate their birthdays, and you'll know when their baby is due. You may not be in their presence, but you'll still be in their lives.

Accept your emotions
Saying farewell can trigger a huge range of emotions. There will be the sadness of knowing your friend is leaving, happiness as you reminisce on good times past, and everything in between. This is your mind's way of processing the experience. Whatever you feel, positive or negative, just accept your emotions and allow them to be there. See them as guests in your home -- they will come, stay for a while, and they will leave.

Realize that this is not the end
Although goodbyes are a part of life, they generally don't feel too "good." Even so, you should not try to avoid them because they can help you deal with the separation more easily. It will take some time to adjust to your new situation, so allow yourself this time. But be sure to remind yourself that this is not a permanent separation. Many strong friendships are maintained over long distances and you can do it too.

Copyright © Warren on 2017

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New Year's party Ideas

Fireworks at New Year's eveDon’t host another New Year’s Eve Party without these tips for a fun and safe celebration.  Learn about easy food and decoration ideas that require minimal planning.  Explore inexpensive entertainment options using photos of friends and the internet.

Hosting a New Year’s Eve Party
It’s never too early to start planning an unforgettable New Year’s Eve Party.  Whether hosting a full dinner party or appetizers followed by drinks, guests will appreciate the effort you put into hosting.  After a full season of holiday dinners with family, friends are ready to get together and let loose with less stress.  Keep this in mind when planning the party and don’t ask guests to bring anything unless they insist.
While there is nothing wrong with using Evite or social media for announcing your party, hand-written invitations are always a classy touch.  In addition to the date, place and time, include whether you have space for friends to crash for the night.  Offering your place to crash is your best bet for keeping your friends safe on New Year’s Eve.

Food and Drinks
Serve drinks and champagne in unbreakable, disposable plastic glasses and flutes.  Offer non-alcoholic drinks and gifts for designated drivers to take home and enjoy later.  If serving a large dinner, offer small, simple finger foods that do not need heating, such as pretzels and chips.  For parties that involve appetizers only, make mozzarella cheese sticks, jalapeno poppers and pizza rolls in the oven.

It is not necessary to spend a large amount of money on decorating for a New Year’s Eve party.  Reuse shiny silver or gold garlands from other holiday celebrations.  Use simple white tea light candles in glass votives or on small glass plates.  Have guests help decorate.  Print out a banner online, hang it up, and ask guests to write their New Year’s resolution on it as they arrive at the party.

Ring in the New Year without breaking the bank on entertainment.  Instead of hiring a DJ, set your satellite television to a music channel, plug in an iPod, or stream music online for the right party atmosphere.  Show a slide show of photos of friends and their accomplishments that year.  If you are lacking time or technical skills, ask friends to bring several photos each and display them where you are serving snacks and drinks.  

Copyright © Lorraine on 2017

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The importance of Crafting in North America

Man using a pottery wheelThe history
In the early 1800s in North America, people had to make their furniture and the decorations they placed in their homes with their hands. When the Industrial Revolution was in its prime at the end of the 19th century, craft-making and handmade items began to dwindle. But at the beginning of the 1900s, well-crafted furniture, decor, and architecture became relevant again and was inspired by the school of art known as Arts and Crafts.

During World War II and the Great Depression, workers were paid to create murals and other crafts to keep their families fed, and in the 1950s, pottery and ceramics were made by many artists, while women sewed their families' clothing, crocheted, knitted, and embroidered.

In the '60s and '70s, macrame', tie dye, and weaving projects were all the rage. Keri Cunningham, director of marketing for the Craft and Hobby Association in 2011 said the one idea that ties all types of arts and crafts together is that:

  • Quote:  "People are creating personalized things rather than going out and spending money on the same items. When life is crazy, it's good to take time to do something that relaxes them."

The benefits
Currently, crafting is one of the most popular ways to slow down the extremely fast pace many individuals around the world are experiencing. Neuroscientists are beginning to understand that crafting has some of the same benefits as following a meditation schedule. According to CNN's Jacque Wilson, crafting has the power to help individuals with anxiety disorders, depression, and even chronic pain. The acting of creating may increase levels of happiness and protect the brain from damage that comes with the aging process.

Whether it is to calm the mind, learn new skills, or create for the sake of creation, craft in North America is more popular than it has ever been. Makers museums aimed at preserving and displaying made object artifacts and handcraft's history are common in North America. Schools of Crafts also pepper the U.S. and Canada, along with the addition of craft workshops and courses to many North American traditional colleges and universities.

Crafting for money
The handmade, upcycling, DIY, vintage, and restoration community continues to grow regarding festivals for selling crafts, handmade and crafted retail stores, and online selling. The online locations dedicated to selling handmade crafts have become a phenomenon and include such sites as:
Many crafters create their art to decorate their homes, give as gifts, save on remodeling, or to add to holiday festivities. The motivation, whether it's saving money or making money, has emboldened others to take up crafting as well. Many have turned to "making" as a relief from computers and cell phones and also as a chance to meet others who also like the idea of creating with their hands.

Copyright © Sarah on 2017

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The history of Santa Claus

Santa Claus being watched by a happy childThe jolly and white bearded figure in the red fur coat slipping down the chimney and riding his sleigh is one we are all familiar with, although he has actually only looked like that for little over a century. However, whether you know him as Father Christmas, Santa Claus or St. Nick, he has actually been around for a lot longer than that.

St. Nicholas
The story of Santa can be traced back to a 4th-century bishop, St. Nicholas, who lived in what is today Turkey. Due to a large inheritance from his parents, he was extremely wealthy for much of his life and chose to share that wealth with the poor. Whether he started the custom of hanging up stockings is not certain, although one story has it that he anonymously left a bag of money in the house of three poor sisters while they were sleeping. In parts of Europe during the Middle Ages, children were given gifts in his memory, usually on December 6, supposedly the day he died.

St. Nick.
Saint Nicholas remained an important figure in parts of Europe, especially the Netherlands, where he was known as Sint Nikolaas. Dutch immigrants to America brought the name and the stories with them, and Sint Nikolaas inevitably became St. Nick. However, Christmas celebrations in 18th-century America were very different from today, consisting largely of rowdy and alcohol fueled gatherings. In some areas, such as New England, the celebration was largely ignored.

Father Christmas
The name Father Christmas has origins in 16th-century England, where he was generally seen as someone who embodied the good food, revelry and overall spirit of the Christmas period. Father Christmas gradually came to be associated with Christmas Day on December 25, as Protestant England no longer observed St. Nicholas Day or the other saints' days. During the 19th century, he was depicted as wearing a green fur lined coat and spreading good cheer throughout the land.

The Santa image evolves
The image that we have today of Santa Claus can be traced back to several poets, writers and illustrators during the early 19th century who decided that Santa should have a whole new look. An 1809 book by Washington Irving depicted him flying through the sky delivering gifts in a flying wagon, while an 1821 poem by an unknown author added a reindeer pulling the cart. And the following year, a poem by Clement Moore called 'The Night Before Christmas' was published, which helped to create the Santa image we have today - a fat, jolly man in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer.

The merging of Father Christmas and Santa Claus
Some of the earliest drawings of the modern Santa were published in the 1860s and '70s in the American magazine Harper's Weekly. The artist Thomas Nast was commissioned to draw Santa every year for 20 years, and he gradually changed the figure over time, making him fatter and jollier, and adding his distinctive red outfit. The English Father Christmas and the American Santa Claus gradually came to be regarded as the same person.

The modern Santa
By the late 19th century, Santa had acquired most of the trappings that we associate with him today, including a workshop at the North Pole. The introduction of Christmas cards helped to reinforce this image, and the modern image of Santa then spread back to Europe where he was known by different names in different countries; Pere Noel in France, Father Christmas in the UK, and Grandfather Frost in parts of eastern Europe.

Santa may not be real, but you can still visit his workshop at the Arctic Circle in Finland, year round. And of course, millions of excited children all over the world would beg to differ when they wake up on Christmas morning to a full stocking.

Copyright © Henry on 2017

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How to enjoy Mijas Costa

Sunset at the beach, Mijas Costa, SpainMijas Costa is part of the municipality of Mijas in the province of Malaga, in Andalusia and lies at the heart of the Costa del Sol region. Andalusia lies along the southern coast of Spain and although once a major agricultural region, now relies on tourism as a major industry. The climate is Mediterranean and therefore has hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. You can reach the area via Malaga International Airport. One of the best ways to get there is to fly into Madrid and then take the TALGO train to Malaga. The train is very fast and the scenery is magnificent.

The town
Mijas Costa is the main commercial and residential area of Malaga and still has a lot of the old world charm of the pueblos blancos, or white villages. Once in town, you will want to take advantage of one of the old donkey taxis for a traditional view of the city. You can ride the taxi through the narrow cobblestone streets and view the old whitewashed houses with red tiled roofs lining the area. Mijas Costa joins together twelve kilometers of shoreline and includes El Chaparral, La Cala, El Combo and Calahonda.

The beach
The La Cala beaches are some of the best in southern Spain and are a major tourist destination. You can find jet and water skiing and para-sailing along the wide sandy beaches. There are also many beach restaurants along the way offering fresh seafood and the local beverage, tinto de verano. Even though La Cala has built up to a major commercial area, it still maintains a lot of its old world fishing village appeal. Many of the locals are British and German expatriates. Try to visit La Cala on Wednesday or Saturday to see the street markets full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, as well as local crafts and artwork. If you are there on Saturday in the summer, stick around for the Flamenco festivals.

Day trips
A nice day trip from Mijas Costa is to visit the white village of Mijas. There among the narrow streets are the Fuengirola Markets. The village sits high up in the mountains and commands a magnificent view of the villages and beaches below. Mijas also offers the famous donkey taxis. Another day trip, especially for the kids is to the Mijas Aquatic Park for a day of fun in the water slides and rides.

For the golfer, there are several beautiful golf courses in the area, over 60 in the Costa del Sol region. They all offer the local dry, sunny climate allowing golfers to play year round. One of the largest and most scenic is El Chaparral. For tennis, there are two beautiful tennis clubs in Mijas Costa, the Lew Hoad, and the Club del Sol Tennis Clubs. For local sports, check out lawn bowling at one of the three Lawn Bowls clubs in Malaga.

Although there are many local shops in Mijas Costa and plenty of places to shop, you can also venture back into Malaga to visit the many fashion boutiques along the Alameda. While there, be sure and visit the Plaza de la Constitucion where all the local cultural events and festivals are held. Of course, there are also more modern indoor shopping malls located in the city. If you visit Malaga, take a ride on the Malaga Tour Bus. This is a very inexpensive way to see the area and it takes about an hour and a half.

For the fun in the sun, Costa del Sol adventure of a lifetime, visit Mijas Costa for a vacation you will never forget.

Copyright © Darryl on 2017

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How to boost your motivation

A man has hiked to the top of a mountainThe human brain is wired to conserve energy. "If you've already got food, shelter, and warmth," the brain thinks, "what's the point of spending all this energy on a risky venture with unknown rewards?" To trigger motivation, you have to make a sales pitch to your brain, persuading it that your venture is not risky and that the rewards are real. The techniques below will do just that, and performed regularly will help give your motivation a boost.

Leverage Peer Pressure
Behaviors spread through social groups. You've seen this in action when people copy the hairstyles of celebrities. We are socially influenced by other people's behaviors and we feel an unconscious pressure to conform to them. Use this to your advantage by connecting and spending time with people who have already achieved the goal you are working towards.

Introduce Novelty
In novel situations, the brain becomes more alert and active. So every week, try to switch up your routine in some way. If the idea of running on a treadmill three times a week doesn't appeal to you, do dancing this week, tennis next week, martial arts the week after, and so on. Or if you're a writer, try writing from different locations every week. Introducing novelty will help you avoid boredom and give yourself additional stimulation

De-construct Tasks
Make challenging goals less daunting by breaking them down into smaller tasks. Your aim is to chart a step-by-step path from where you are now to where you want to be. For each stepping stone, always identify the specific actions you need to take. So you are not "building a business," a large, nebulous and daunting goal, you are "completing the business plan and attending the entrepreneur's workshop on Wednesday evening."

Build Competence
Psychologists have discovered that we are more motivated to complete tasks when we perceive ourselves to be good at them. Whatever you are aiming towards, identify skills or an area of knowledge that will aid you, and develop in that area. For example, if you're trying to start a business, you could buy and read the three best-rated marketing books of the moment.

Develop Relationships
Generally speaking,we are more motivated to take part in activities if they help us to build positive relationships, so seek out supportive people to work alongside. This could take the form of having a workout buddy, going to meet-ups or workshops, or even joining online communities. You could even find a "goal buddy," and have regular meetings to discuss your progress.

Identify Benefits
Making the positive impacts of your goal more salient in your mind will give you a boost in motivation. To do this, imagine you have fully achieved your goal. Then write for 20 minutes about what your life is like and how reaching this goal has benefited you. After that, write down the top five benefits, the ones that excite you the most, and review them every day.

Start Small
Motivation increases after you start taking action, so if you're not motivated, start small. If you can't be bothered writing, tell yourself you'll just do two pages. If you're not motivated to exercise, just do a five-minute workout. You'll find that after you get started, your motivation will increase and you'll end up doing more.

As sales guru Zig Ziglar said, "Motivation doesn't last. Neither does bathing. That's why we recommend it daily." These techniques are not permanent solutions, you need to do them consistently and regularly. But if you do, you'll find it easier to take action towards your goals.

Copyright © Warren on 2017

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Tags: lifestyle

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How to plan a Christmas celebration

A family Christmas celebrationPlanning a Christmas celebration can be tough for even the most organized of planners. After all, it seems like there is always one more gift to buy, one more present to wrap, one more RSVP to get, and one more hotel reservation to organize. Whether this is your first time planning a Christmas dinner or you're 20th, there are a few ways you can make sure that your celebration goes off without a hitch. Careful organization and preparation goes a long way in making sure you keep your sanity while making sure that your guests have a great time.

Write it down
First off, make a list of what you need to do and when you need to do it. Do the flowers need to be ordered by December 1st? Write it down. Does Uncle Rick still need to RSVP? Write it down. Do you need to pick up the turkey? Write it down. The more thorough and complete your list is, the better prepared you'll be as Christmas approaches. Make sure you keep track of everything you need to do, when you need to do it, and how much you'll be spending. Try to prepare as many things ahead of time as possible to avoid last-minute rushing around. For example, consider buying your turkey a few weeks advance instead of a few days.

It's also important that you remember to delegate responsibilities whenever possible. Do you really need to be the one to pick up Grandma from the airport? Is it something that your teenage son can handle? Do you really have to be in charge of baking all of the pies or can your nieces help out? Whenever possible, ask your relatives to assist you with tasks. This not only enables them to feel included, but it also gives you the opportunity to take a break from handling everything. Remember that being in charge doesn't have to mean you're in charge of everything.

Minimize gift-giving
Consider minimizing gift-giving as a way to reduce stress surrounding the holiday. Sure, gifts are an important and exciting part of Christmas, but it's not the only important part. Instead of getting a gift for everyone on your list, consider doing a Secret Santa or a White Elephant gift exchange. You could assign each person someone to shop for or you could have each guest bring a gift and then trade presents during the party. This will cut down on anxiety for everyone, but it will also reduce the financial burden of the Christmas season.

Remember that no matter how busy or overwhelmed you feel, Christmas is a time to celebrate with your family. Take the time to stop worrying about whether you have enough cookies and instead focus on having a good time. Your family comes to your celebration to enjoy your company, not simply to eat your food, so don't be embarrassed or ashamed to take some time to just have fun hanging out with them.

Copyright © Lorraine on 2017

Editor's Note: Find below links on other related Christmas topics;
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The best study tips

A group of students sitting around an outdoor tableStudying is imperative for students who want to do well in a class, but many students struggle developing solid studying skills. If you think your study routine is holding you back, here are eight simple things you can do to improve it.

1. Make a list of your assignments. It helps to write down everything you have to do so you don't forget anything. Having many different things to do can get overwhelming. Breaking tasks up into smaller subtasks can make them seem more manageable, so you can start doing them instead of thinking about how much work you have to do. Go through your tasks one by one, checking them off as you complete them for a sweet feeling of accomplishment.

2. Have a set study time. Sit down and plan out when you're going to do your homework, then stick to that time. For example, you could say that you're going to study every Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m., every Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m., and every Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. Treat all of your study sessions like a class that you absolutely have to attend.

3. Remove all distractions. It's hard enough to focus on studying, but it can be much harder if your phone is ringing and your friends are talking and your TV is making noise. It can be helpful to play some quiet music, especially if it's instrumental, but anything more will just keep you from your work. If your phone keeps ringing, you can choose to put it on Do Not Disturb mode or airplane mode, or just turn your phone off and put it away.

4. Time yourself. It's difficult for anyone to focus for hours on end, so it's good to take breaks so you don't burn out. Make sure that these breaks aren't too long, though; otherwise, you'll never get your work done. One popular way of timing your work and break times is the Pomodoro method: work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Every third break should be longer (15 or 20 minutes instead of five) so you can relax and get ready for the next set.

5. Use active study methods. Passive studying, like reading from a textbook, gets boring, which means you're more likely to get distracted. Instead, try making flashcards, doing practice problems, or creating a study guide. If you absolutely have to read out of a textbook, then make it engaging by annotating (not just highlighting) the text.

6. Study with others. Collaborating with classmates can make studying easier because you can work together on difficult problems. Explaining content to other students can help you learn it better too. To make sure the study session doesn't get too distracting, you can use some of the other techniques, like making goals and timing work/break periods, to keep yourself and your group on track.

7. Space out your study time. You can make your studying time much more productive just by spreading it out over multiple days. Studying for 12 hours in one stretch will just tire you out. If you study for two hours a day for six days, or one hour a day for 12 days, you'll spend the same amount of time but it will be much more effective.

8. Stay healthy. Don't worry too much about getting perfect grades; studying is great because it helps you learn. But don't forget to take care of yourself. Make sure you eat right and sleep enough. This keeps you healthy and helps you get better grades too.

Copyright © Henry on 2017

Editor's Note: Find below more information on studying;
Tips on creating a study schedule
How to avoid distractions while studying
How to take a study break
Getting the most out of studying with others

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Finding the perfect present

A Christmas giftFinding the perfect present for the Christmas holidays is rarely an easy task. The right item for the right budget often seems impossible. Too often, the gifts are returned or enjoyed only for a short time. They are never really appreciated for the long term. Here are some ideas to find a gift that is a keepsake worth treasuring.

A book
Order a personalized book for your special someone. Even young children can appreciate a book that caters to them. You can start with something as simple as a bound photo book with images of the individual’s past and loved ones. Write quotes, expressions, dates and other tidbits in the book to make it even more special. If a photo book isn’t appealing, have a storybook custom ordered. These books take the photo and name of the individual involved and write them into the story. The recipient then has his own book to cherish. You can even submit the friends’ names to be included in the story. Companies that produce these books offer stories for both girls and boys and consider their ages for the different tales. Another idea is to have a family tree made into a book. Software is available to create these books and you can organize it to suit your needs. Add family photos, dates and extra information, such as birth city or anniversaries, for a special touch. When spending money on a personalized book, always get a hardcover version that is printed on archive quality paper to ensure it lasts for years.

Keepsake ornaments are an excellent way to commemorate the holidays. These are special ornaments that are brought out each year and you can even pass them on to the next generation. Look for ornaments where you can add photos so you can include images of the individual. Ornaments that record sounds are a great way to either send an oral message to the recipient or record a baby’s voice for them to enjoy when they are grown. Some ornaments are also small boxes where you can add your own token, such as a lock of hair, and make them into a little treasure chest for you to enjoy for years.

Handmade gifts
Handmade gifts are a traditional keepsake present. A rag doll that a child can carry throughout adulthood, a scrapbook of family memories or a collection of Grandma’s recipes are all special items that you can craft yourself. The recipient knows that you spent time thinking about him while you were making the gift, which makes it all the more precious. If you have a collection of old baby clothes or blankets, you can use the fabric to convert it into a quilt. If you aren’t handy with a needle, a local crafter can put the fabric pieces together for you.

Whatever you choose for your holiday keepsake gift, remember that it should not take up too much room when it is stored. Books, quilts and ornaments all pack easily into drawers, making them ideal for people who move or don’t have a lot of space. Gifts are often discarded if they are in the way or easily damaged during a move. Keepsakes should be easy to keep and evoke warm memories in order for them to last.

Copyright © Lorraine on 2017

Editor's Note: Find below links to help in choosing or making that perfect gift;
More tips on finding the perfect gift
Homemade holiday gift ideas
How to choose the perfect gift

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How to enjoy the French Riviera

The water feature in Nice, FranceThe world-famous Cannes film festival takes place every May in the stylish and glamorous seaside resort in the south of France. But if you visit the Cote d'Azur at other times of the year, this almost legendary stretch of the French coast offers plenty to see and do. Mention the Cote d'Azur, or French Riviera, to someone, and it conjures up a picture of beautiful beaches, stylish resorts, movie stars and luxury yachts. This part of the French coast, which stretches between Toulon and the Italian border, is home to some of France's most famous resorts and most beautiful beaches.

Most visitors to the Cote d'Azur concentrate on the larger resorts of Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo. Many people begin their trip in Nice which has the region's largest airport and easy access to the rest of the Cote d'Azur, as well as nearby Italy. For those of us who aren't movie stars, Nice is a little bit less glamorous and less expensive than some of the other resorts. The main attraction in Nice is the old town with its narrow winding streets, colorful eating places, and the weekly flower market.

Apart from its annual film festival, Cannes is famous for its beautiful curving seafront, known as the Promenade de la Croisette, lined with flowers and palm trees. Cannes also makes a good base for taking a ferry ride to the nearby Lerins Islands, on one of which you can see the cell where the "Man in the Iron Mask" was imprisoned.

The principality of Monaco is one of the richest square miles on earth and Europe's second smallest country. The most famous attraction is the casino, where vast fortunes have been won and lost over the years. Monaco also has an excellent museum of oceanography; with over 90 tanks of fish and sea creatures, it's one of the best in Europe. Motor racing fans can also walk the route of the Monaco Grand Prix, which winds its way through the city.

Places to relax
The above-mentioned towns can be extremely crowded during the summer, and you can often find a more relaxed atmosphere in some of the smaller towns and villages along the coast. The beaches are noticeably less crowded too if you visit during the spring or fall. Antibes is a charming town which sits on the site of a 4th century BC Greek city and the excellent museum of History and Archaeology displays Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artifacts. There is also a Picasso museum, paying tribute to the painter who lived in the town during the 1940s. Another small town worth a visit is Villefranche-Sur-Mer with its narrow cobblestone streets, the castle overlooking the village and bustling waterfront. A highlight of any visit here is a trip to the Chapel of St Pierre with its spectacular interior.

Inland from the coast
The Cote d'Azur is justifiably famous for its beaches. But if you venture inland, you'll discover some of France's loveliest scenery. There are many charming villages in the hills overlooking the Mediterranean that are worth a visit. St. Paul is full of shops selling work by local artists and craftsmen; Vence has a bustling daily market and a cathedral with lovely stained glass windows.

People have been flocking to the Cote d'Azur for over a century for the glamour, and simply to see and be seen. But away from the expensive yachts and boutiques, you will find one of the loveliest parts of France - it's no wonder that many of the greatest artists of all time, including Matisse, Picasso and Chagall chose to paint here.

Copyright © Darryl on 2017

Editor's Note: Find below links to some more information;
Tourist information on Nice
Information on smaller towns on the French Riviera
More information on Antibes
Travel links in the directory

Tags: France, travel

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