Wednesday, November 25, 2015

9 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Internet

by Aleksandre McMenamin

Few things are as frustrating as having internet that is as slow as molasses. Not only can it be quite stressful, but it may even impact your work and personal life. In today’s day and age, with all of the advancements in technology that we’ve made, there’s little reason that anyone has to suffer through the feeling that they’re still on dial-up. Here are some tips on how to speed up your internet and get the most of your network.


1. Check speed regularly

Every now and then, it’s a good idea to run a speed test on your network so that you can compare the speed you should be getting from your service to the actual speed you are experiencing. Take multiple tests for more accurate results. This will help you gauge how what you are doing is helping your speed.

2. Reset frequently

If your internet is beginning to slow down for no foreseeable reason, then it may just be time to restart your modem and router. There’s nothing technically difficult about this process, and it will usually help your internet regain some of its speed. Just unplug the devices for about 30 seconds and then plug them back in. This will refresh any connectivity issues.

internet speed

3. Check network signals

Make sure that there aren’t conflicting network signals existing in your home or workspace. There are times when wireless phones and cameras can interfere. Most routers are often either 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz. At the same time most cordless phones use a 2.4 GHz signal (same with wireless security cameras). This means that both will operate poorly, if used at the same time.

4. Know your data cap

Internet providers will oftentimes have an invisible data cap that they enact if you use too much data. While they won’t fine you (unless it’s in the contract), they will give you a decreased internet speed for the rest of the billing period. It may be hard to find out exactly what this data cap is, and how close you are to reaching it. Check your account page, and if it’s not there then call your provider and ask for the information.

5. Watch for abusers

Regularly check your network for foreign devices that aren’t yours. Someone could be using your network for their own personal internet access. These moochers will usually take up a lot of data, as they may be downloading large files, perhaps even illegally. This will use up your available bandwidth, making your own internet speed much slower.

6. Make your router accessible

While it may seem like a good idea to put your router in a back closet so it's out of the way, it may actually be slowing your internet down. You want to keep your modem and router in an open area so that they can get a good signal. A poor signal will lead to decreased internet speeds. If you can, try and use your computer as close to the router as possible and make sure that the router is in a ventilated area to prevent overheating.

7. Scan for viruses and malware

Make sure to do a good scan for viruses routinely. Once a week is an ideal frequency. Viruses will slow down your connection and can put your personal information at risk. Keeping your computer free of viruses and malware will also keep it fresh and active for a much longer period of time.

internet speed tips

8. Use a good browser

If your internet is continuously slow, despite everything else, then you might want to look at getting a new browser. Browsers like Chrome are generally quicker than browsers like Internet Explorer. Look up which browser is the fastest. Browsers are continuously updating and getting better, so the best one for you might change every now and then.

9. Use Ethernet cables

Instead of depending on Wi-Fi to spread internet throughout your entire house, use Ethernet cables to hardwire as many of your devices as possible. These cables are much quicker than wireless and can drastically speed up your internet service. It will also cause less wireless interference for other devices, such as phones and tablets. Make sure you get high-rated Ethernet cables for the fastest speeds possible. For more information, check out this useful site here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Apple Crumb Bars

Mmm I love apple desserts.  I took the kids apple picking this fall and made an apple pie with the apples we picked.  There's something about apples that says fall and I love it!

This dessert I'm sharing today is a great apple dessert that gives you an apple pie taste without having to go through all the work of an apple pie.  And they're easy to grab and eat - which could be good or bad.  Bad because then I eat more.  I can't help myself.  

Right now I have the "pregnant excuse."  I always allow myself a little extra dessert when I'm pregnant.  ;-)  It's the one time I can gain weight and not worry about it!

Anyway, this recipe is delicious and super easy!

apples, apple crumb bar


3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter cut into small pieces
1 egg
3 cups peeled and sliced apples
2 TBSP flour
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Mix together 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour.
3. Then cut in the butter and egg using a pastry cutter or 2 knives if you don't have one. 
4. Put a little more than half of your dough into your pan and press down with your hands until it is well packed.
5. In a separate bowl, stir together the apples, remaining brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
6. Pour the apple mix over the top of the dough in the pan and create an even layer of apples.
7. Then sprinkle the remaining dough over the top of the apples.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until your bars are a nice golden brown. You can eat them as is (which is delicious!) or add some vanilla ice cream!

Recipe adapted from One Sweet Appetite.

fall, apple crumb bars

Monday, November 16, 2015

How to Stage Your Home Like a Model Home

By: Maurine Anderson

Even if you’re not preparing to sell your home anytime soon, it’s still a great idea to stage your home almost as if you are preparing it for sale in order to give it that extra inviting appeal. Here are 11 quick tips on how you can stage your home to look just like a well-designed model home.

home decor

Clean and de-clutter.

As this article details, a truly well-staged home begins with a deep clean and de-cluttering. If you want your home to resemble a model home, you’ll want to polish every surface and dust the things that most people forget to, such as ceiling fans, window treatments, and lighting. Be sure to sweep and vacuum, and mop and spot-clean any areas as needed. Air out every room in your home, and wash all of your linens so that your home smells extra fresh. De-cluttering is important as well—get rid of any unused or duplicate items that are only taking up space in your home. A true model-looking home will host all of the essentials while still maintaining a good amount of open storage space.

Move furniture away from the walls.

Keeping furniture positioned up against the walls can make it look stale and uninviting. When you move furniture away from the walls, meanwhile, you will give your furniture some breathing room and will overall make the space appear more inviting. And for extra large spaces, you can use floating furniture to create two distinct, smaller spaces.

Involve ample lighting.

A true model home is well-lit and includes plenty of dimensional lighting. A truly well-lit room incorporates three types of lighting: ambient, accent, and task lighting. It will also feature evenly distributed light sources as well; if a lamp is placed at the bedside, for example, two other light sources will be strategically placed to create a lighting triangle that lights all four corners of the room.

decorating your home

Bring the outdoors in.

You may or may not have noticed that model homes tend to feature indoor trees and plants. If you’ve never decorated with indoor plants before, consider giving your home enough breathing room to host a decorative indoor plant or two.

Decorate with candles.

Candles are another staple decor piece in model homes, and they are extremely versatile. Pillar-style candles look great on bathroom vanities, as part of a dining room table centerpiece, or as decorative accents on an end table or wall cabinet.

Invest in area rugs.

You may have gotten by without them now, but area rugs truly give a home a “model home” feel. A few notes on area rugs: they should be large enough to fill a room; one should hold a dining room table and chairs with extra space for the chairs to move; and one should anchor an entire room full of furniture—not just the coffee table, for example.

model home characteristics

Give your bed a headboard.

An elegant headboard will take your bedroom from drab to design-conscious in an instant. Consider installing a large wooden, leather, or tufted headboard in your bedroom and adding elegant looking bedding to suit.

Artfully adorn your bookshelves.

A bookshelf makes for an elegant addition to any home, but in order for your home to resemble a model home, you’ll want to put some extra thought into how your adorn each bookshelf. A well-decorated bookshelf will feature books placed strategically, alongside well-sized decorative items and boxes. Books don’t have to stand straight up, either; oftentimes, a well-decorative bookshelf will feature books positioned both vertically and horizontally.

Frame your windows with curtains.

It’s important to install practical window treatments such as blinds or shades on your windows, but what really sets apart “model home” windows is how they are framed. To give your windows a “model home” feel, frame them with elegant curtains that are installed above the window yet still reach the floor.

Don’t forget the stairway.

A great way to give your home a model touch is to give your stairway some extra attention. Consider lightly adorning the walls along your main staircase picture frames or wall art.

Personalize—but not too much.

Of course you’ll want to personalize your home with photos and decorative items that speak to you and your family, but if you want your home to truly resemble a model home, you’ll want to hold off from making every space personalized in every possible way. Model homes, after all, are staged in such a way that potential home buyers can envision themselves living in the space; hence, they keep personalization to a minimum.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chocolate Pumpkin Pretzels | Cooking with Kids

Even with Halloween being over, pumpkins are still a fun way to celebrate fall!  This is a fun and easy treat that your kids will love and love to help with.  Even my 19 month old was loving it!  And he did a pretty good job too, I was impressed.  :-)

Chocolate Pumpkin Pretzels

pumpkin pretzels, chocolate

What you need:

White chocolate chips
Mini M&Ms
Orange food coloring
Parchment paper

Place the white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave them for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between until they are melted.  Make sure not to overcook them!  It will start to clump if you do.

Add your orange food coloring to the white chocolate.  I like to use Wilton food gel so it doesn't add extra liquid.

Then let your kids dip the pretzels into the chocolate and place them on the parchment paper.  Then add a green mini M&M to the top of each one to make them a pumpkin.  Really easy, a little messy, and something your kids can definitely do!  Mine kids definitely got creative with them.  :-)

cooking with kids

kids in the kitchen

chocolate covered pretzels

fall treats

Monday, November 9, 2015

How to Make Saving Money Fun for the Whole Family

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with A Digital Creative.

Saving money isn't always a fun activity, especially when it comes to having your kids recognize the importance of saving money.  It does take a lot of hard work and it needs a lot of dedication and persistence.  In this article, you will find some great tips you can use to get your whole family involved in making saving money a fun experience for everyone.

saving money, frugal living

Start volunteering
If you can’t think of any ideas on how to spend your leisure time with family without spending a dime, then volunteering can be a perfect fit for you!  Especially with the holidays coming up, there are many opportunities to get your family involved in a good cause.  You can search for programs in your local community and it also gives your children an opportunity to help others.

family activities

Start couponing
Everybody loves big discounts and savings and so you can make couponing a new hobby for your family! Gather everyone once a week and ask them to cut out, print or search for coupons on the internet.  Not only will you be able to find great deals you can use, but you will be spending more time with your kids as well.  If you are new to couponing, then start by checking out these JCPenney online coupons from Chameleonjohn. They can be a perfect place to start looking and will guarantee you instant savings!

Start a garden
Another fun and super frugal tip can be starting your own garden and growing vegetables, fruits or herbs by yourself! It can turn out to be quite an enjoyable hobby you and your kids will appreciate and it will save you money. You can start small by growing herbs in your kitchen and then start a garden in the spring.  You might be surprised how proud your children are of the vegetables they helped grow that end up in their dinner.

volunteering, gardening

Start shopping second-hand
Shopping second-hand is similar to treasure hunting. You look through a lot of things and suddenly find something fascinating and one of a kind. And the best part is that it's a lot cheaper than the regular stores! You can shop for various items at second-hand stores, garage sales, or thrift stores and can buy clothing, furniture, electronics or even unique d├ęcor elements and save a lot of money.

Start cooking more

Eating at home is a great way to save money.  Get your kids involved in the cooking too!  Eating out adds up really quickly, especially if you go out with the whole family.  If you start cooking more at home, everyone can get their tummies full without you emptying your wallet.