How LED’s Are Changing The Holiday Season

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Every year, millions of cities, towns, villages, stores and homes get decorated for Christmas and the other holidays happening at this time of year. But did you realize that over the last decade there has been a seismic shift in how we decorate? It’s a change you might not have noticed, but is certainly affecting how we see the season nonetheless.

The change is happening due to the emergence, and new dominance of LED lighting. LED stands for light emitting diode. This technology has been around for decades, in fact, they were invented in the 1960’s and are now over 50 years old. However, it’s taken decades for them to get established as a real option for homes, businesses, governments and organizational use. This is mainly because the technology was expensive to produce when in its infancy. However, in the last decade or so, the initially high price of LED lights has come down substantially, making it comparable to other lighting sources. Thanks to this, and the many other advantages and benefits of LED lights, like space saving, energy saving, durability and customization, LED’s have finally earned their place in the lighting arena.

One place that these lights have come to dominate is holiday decorating. When you pass homes in your neighborhood that are lighted up with thousands of holiday lights, there’s a strong chance most of them, or even all of them are LED based lights. One big reason for the switch is that LED lights cost less to run than the old fashioned and traditional lights of yesteryear. Also, many people are finding that they need to replace those old lights, and the best options for resplacement are LED based lights.

The more advanced technology in LED lighting also allows for much more technical light displays. Instead of just having one color in a single bulb, there are lighting strings available that incorporate all of the lights in the string in every single bulb. This makes for a fantastic light show. Not only that, but the lights are much brighter, making the displays more vibrant than those traditional bulbs of yesteryear. The switch to LED’s for Christmas tree lights may also be saving lives. Did you know that LED’s are cool to the touch when on? You can’t say that for the old bulb style of light. This makes for a dramatically lessened fire hazard wherever you place the lights. LED’s save energy and might even be saving lives during the holidays!

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Xbox One – A Great Choice This Holiday Season

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Christmas, Christmas time is here. Time for toys and time for cheers! Yes, that’s right! Christmas is just a month away. We are no in November and we are starting the count down until we all get the great (or not so great) gifts that we have been wanting all year long. Hot on this list is game consoles.

With Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all having next gen gaming consoles on the market, not to mention the slew of new twisty, bendy laptops and other gadgets, what is the best gaming platform?

I have always been a PlayStation man, however I did briefly own an Xbox 360 before the red ring of death got it. Then about 6 months ago, my PS3 blew up. What was a gamer to do? I did a lot of research. I found that the GPU, the unit that drives the graphics behind the 2 machines, PS4 and Xbox One, were both created by my favorite CPU/GPU creator, AMD. When AMD makes a chipset then you know it is built right. Therefore, that did not help me much in deciding.

The PlayStation 4 (PS4) does have a faster, higher grade of ram memory in it as it utilizes DDR5 and the Xbox One still uses the standard DDR4. Therefore, I was jumping at the bit to get my hands on the PS4. I am glad I did not, however.

I found a great bundle deal that had the Xbox One console, the Kinect camera, and a $60 game thrown in for the giggles. This bundle cost me $450 at Walmart and that was not during a sale such as Black Friday. That was the everyday bundle price at that time. Heck, without the game that system was running $499. By the way, Titanfall alone was worth buying the Xbox One when I did.

For starters, what may not be learned off the box the Xbox One comes with, is that the Xbox One is designed to use the cloud created by Microsoft called Azure. Being able to utilize this cloud (many, many different servers systems hooked up together) the Xbox One can harness the power of the servers it is connected to, giving the console the ability to be 4 times stronger than the hardware that is enclosed in this console. This was the icing on the cake for me.

Throw in that the Xbox One has both an HDMI out as well as HDMI in so that you can plug up your high def cable box to this console, so that you can control what you watch on TV through voice command and hand gestures, this console just gets more exciting! With a slew of Xbox One Apps now on the market for free, yes free, as of a couple months ago you no longer have to pay for a Gold Live account as you can now use the apps and play the games online for FREE!!

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A Glimpse of Jewelry That Will Glitz Life This Festive and Holiday Season

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Jewelry design ideas may be elegant and simple such that keeping to minimal appears chic. The jewelry designs present a distinct style than merely hanging as a pendant or a charm. Now being a Christmas gift and holiday season, the jewelry iconic pieces can be unique gifts than gifting a watch or some engraved pendant. Regardless of whether one loves hair jewels or stacked rings, there are some best baubles, stones and beads that will certainly glitz life this Christmas.

Birthstone Jewelry

These are special and personalized jewelry as everyone’s birthstone is different. Gifting birthstone jewelry offers more meaning especially in the festive and holiday seasons. There are endless choices and this includes right from bracelets to rings, necklaces to earrings. If you can afford and it is a very special person, you can gift this in combination.

Bar Necklaces

This is a style that is latest and raging that it will be soon seen everywhere. This can be worn alone or also in association with shorter and longer necklaces or even with your layered style of necklaces or chains. A bar necklace gifted to your loved one is sure to ensure the festival is very special. This trendy jewelry piece can be personalized and if you personalize, it becomes absolutely perfect. It can be engraved also with meaningful phrases, initial or their pet names.

Y Necklaces

Y necklaces certainly are fashion statements but in a subtle style. These necklaces highlight the feminine look and make a lovable gift as it adds elegance to any stylish woman. The added advantage is that it can be worn with other layered necklaces or alone, however it will show its presence and mark its place.

Cocktail Rings

These are definitely a sophisticated addition offering a cool bling to your look. It suits all the outfits and the cocktail rings now are available in different metals, styles and looks. They have been for years, but now young women can wear it even with their most comfortable jeans and t-shirt and also their other fancy dresses. You will not go wrong on wearing it any of these outfits.

Layering Necklaces

The layering styles in earrings, hand rings to necklaces are going really strong. It is fun to wear one and create different looks. The layering necklace can be one or several chains, the choice is entirely yours. It is sure to complement your looks and style.

Braid and beard cuffs

Cuffs are adapted into hair accessories and have received a strong following. The braid cuffs are also around for decades. It offers a variation expressing a sophisticated style in eccentric ways. These jewelry pieces cater to anyone and you can appear outstanding even in a crowd.

Cuffs are worn in different ways making it diverse jewelry pieces. Right from ear to arm cuffs, it is observed that even celebrities love wearing it even on the red carpet. This is a simple sleek piece of jewelry that highlights the entire ensemble pop. Even if the cuffs are chunky they make statement pieces.

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Bringing Peace Back to the Holiday Season Through Mindfulness

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Peace, joy, and gratitude – these are things that we wish for during the holiday season and throughout the year. But those feelings are sometimes hard to come by in our stressful world, particularly around Christmas time, as we’re bombarded with our thoughts that may not be comforting or joyful.

I’ve been working with Charlotte, a mother in her forties, who usually becomes anxious and depressed during the holidays. She focuses on her negative thoughts and ends up being unable to enjoy or rejoice in the season. Each year, she finds herself in a prison made of her own ideas and thoughts, far from the blessings of her family and the celebration.

When Charlotte came to me, filled with self-blame and harsh judgments, I asked her what she would say if a friend came to her with such negativity towards herself. Charlotte said that she would show compassion and understanding. She would listen to her friend. “Why don’t we start there with you then?” I asked.

The first step for Charlotte was to learn and practice mindfulness or attention to the moment. This awareness can provide a connection between you and your surroundings, as well as the people around you. It is the act of just being – not judging.

I asked Charlotte to begin this practice of mindfulness by focusing on the simple pleasures of the holidays: the scent of the pine needles on the tree, the stocking fabric’s velveteen feel on her fingers, and the taste and texture of the Christmas cookie as she slowly and she thoughtfully chews. I asked her to be present, to experience those sensations as they occurred. And, should a negative thought find its way through, to simply notice the thought, acknowledge it, and then return to the moment: the scent, the touch, the taste.

The effect of happiness has a biological basis, something unique to humans. Research has shown that a focus on kindness and appreciation actually promotes the release, the secretion, of two chemicals that help us feel pleasure and wellbeing: oxytocin and dopamine. This helps us feel connected to others.

The opposite is also true. If we think negatively, attacking ourselves and others with negative thoughts, our brain triggers the release of adrenaline and dopamine, two substances that can increase agitation. This drives us away from others.

After a while, Charlotte began to notice just how often those negative and destructive thoughts interfered with the simple pleasures of the holiday season. At one point, she said that she now realized that negativity had somehow become her “default” way of thinking, that she had been moving through life on autopilot. This made her miss out on much of the world around her.

The next step came once Charlotte realized how she had been thinking and that she had control. She then began to judge herself harshly when she wasn’t being mindful. At that point, we needed to go back to the idea of helping a friend. “What would you say or do if this was a friend saying these things to you?”

Charlotte’s withdrawal into autopilot began in childhood, as she grew up in an alcoholic home. This past needed to be accepted before she could truly embrace her present. I worked with Charlotte to label the negative thoughts as judgment, fear, or hopelessness. As Charlotte went through this exercise whenever the thoughts occurred, she began to see how she had been so successfully programmed in that negative way of thinking. Even better, she began to see how she had choices.

Why is it important to share Charlotte’s story with you now? Because learning mindfulness is possible and the holiday season, with its ups and downs, joys and stresses, and hopes and expectations, is a good time to learn to take care of yourself and your thoughts. As neuroscientist Dr. Wayne Drevets observes “In the brain, practice makes permanent.” We can begin to change how we think, to change our perceptions during the holidays. This time of year gives us the opportunity to redefine how we think about ourselves and those around us.

If you would like to try some practices to foster your peace of mind during the holidays, here are some suggestions:

1. Focus on your breathing. When breathing in, thinK “be.” When breathing out, think “calm.” Breathe in and out slowly and purposefully.

2. Spend 30 seconds (or more) to allow your attention and senses to be fully in the present, IN here and the now.

3. Label your negative thoughts. Label them as “judgment,” “fear,” or “reliving the past,” as they pass through your mind. Then, redirect your attention back to the here and now.

4. Work on generating those positive chemicals, the oxytocin and dopamine. Called Loving Kindness Meditation, repeat in your mind:

• May I be at peace

• May I be healed

• May I send out living kindness to others

• May you be at peace

• May you be healed

• May you be filled with loving kindness

5. Notice when you feel moments of joy. Notice when you feel joyful towards someone else.

6. Notice when you feel jealous or resentful and ask yourself why that happened.

7. Forgive yourself. Say, “For the ways I was jealous or resentful, may I forgive myself.”

8. Offer appreciation to yourself. Appreciate when you have offered kindness and love to others.

9. Allow yourself to focus on what brings joy to you and those around you.

10. Remind yourself of the here and now. Notice the many blessing around you. Consider writing down these blessings as the day ends.

11. Intend to look for joy, love, and miracles around you. If you have trouble noticing such things, ask yourself why.

Charlotte is learning to notice the abundance of gifts around her and now finds the holidays offer a myriad of opportunities to practice mindful awareness.

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Tis the Season to be Curly – Holiday Hair Care Tips

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With the holiday season fast approaching, and countless parties and festive social events you might have to attend – you want to make sure your hair is fabulous! Remember our hair is as delicate as it is beautiful, therefore it is imperative that you treat your hair like you would a fine silk blouse – with extra care. Regular conditioning, daily moisturizing and quality hair care products are a must!

Winter Hair Care Tips:

Winter is the season that wrecks the most havoc on curly tresses. From the seemingly instant change in climate to the daily assault of dry, brittle wind and frizz-producing rain — a curly girl just doesn’t have a chance! However, you can counter the evils of winter by incorporating a good hair regime and using only quality products for your hair. Product choice is paramount. Look for moisturizing cleansers and conditioners and hydrating stylers and leave in products.

 Over shampooing and under conditioning are common culprits for dry, frizzy hair. Winter weather further exacerbates the issue. Therefore, shampooing more than 1x a week is not recommended. I recommend shampooing 2-3x a month, for dry and/or damaged hair, and 1x a week for undamaged curly hair.

 Proper conditioning is one of the most important steps for maintaining a head of radiantly health hair. Unfortunately, most of us do not take the time to adequately do so. Deep conditioning, with heat, is recommended,

 On the other “shampoo-less” days do a conditioning rinse – rinse hair to remove styling products (this is where using the right products that are water soluble come in….such as our products), apply an ample amount of conditioner comb through, rinse and proceed with styling. Doing so will pump much needed moisture back into your hair without stripping away essential nutrients, rinse away unnecessary dirt and oil and give you a fresh clean start.

 Avoid products that contain mineral and/or petrolatum oil as an ingredient. Do not use products with these ingredients for your curly hair or scalp. Both of these synthetic oils coat and suffocate the hair shaft blocking moisture out. Further, they clog pores in your scalp and can retard hair growth. Read your labels. Remember, the ingredients are listed in order of volume. If you hair requires an oil, use only natural oils that penetrate the hair shaft (e.g. coconut, almond, olive, pomegranate seed oil).

Holiday Hair Do’s

 Give your hair a pre-holiday deep treatment, with heat, especially if you plan to heat style your hair. This extra step will help protect the cuticle from damage.

 Nothing is more unattractive then sparse, stringy ends, especially on girls/women with curly hair. Regular trims should be a part of your hair care regimen. Curly hair should be trimmed at least every 3 months, and 1 week before a major event or party. But don’t just trust anyone with your gorgeous locks. Ensure that your stylist is familiar with styling and cutting curly hair.

 Use the right tools when styling your hair. Always opt for natural boar bristle brushes and not nylon brushes, as they tend to break the hair especially during winter months.

 Don’t overdo the heat styling. Excessive blow drying, flat ironing and curly will perpetuate dryness and encourage breakage.

 Go natural! Explore you hair and its glory. Go for the sexy, messy look. Cleanse, condition, moisturize your curly tresses and let them be.

STYLE TIP: Once your hair is dry, gently secure various ringlets tautly to your scalp with bobby pins. Allow a few curly tresses to dangle in your face.

Let the sparkle and shimmer of the holiday season inspire you to have fun with your hairstyle. A little red dress, stunning stilettos, accessories to die for and a hot handbag are just what a woman needs to turn heads at any holiday bash. Top it all off with the perfect hairstyle and you’ve got a look that’s simply stunning!

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Avoid Plastic Pitfalls This Holiday Season

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The holiday shopping season has commenced! Merchants aren’t the only ones who want to capitalize on all the holiday spending. Credit card companies will make even more money than the retailers. To attract your business, credit card companies aggressively promote low rates and special offers. While there are some legitimate good deals to be found, there are also a host of pitfalls in the fine print. Be sure to keep your credit sanity in check by avoiding these potential credit hazards.

The first of those is found in the words “interest-free.” A favorite of retailers who promote their in-store cards, they promise you can buy something “interest-free until 2018.” While it is true that you won’t pay interest, the monthly statement usually encourages a minimum payment that won’t have you paying off the purchase by the time your interest-free period runs out. This leaves you a high interest rate on the remaining balance at the end of the promotional period. Even worse, sometimes-retroactive interest is applied to your debt if not paid off in a certain time period.

Beware of store credit cards. Even though they may come with tempting coupons or purchasing discounts, they probably come with a high interest rate – sometimes as much as 21%.

Watch out for balance transfer fees. Most major card issuers charge 3% on average for transferring a balance. For example, if you transfer a $5,000 balance, you could pay as much as $150 fee.

Always read the fine print. Make sure you know the terms of your credit card. Does it offer a low introductory rate and hit you with a higher rate at a later date? What about cash advances? Do they come at a higher interest rate than normal purchases? Don’t overlook those costly details that hide in the fine print.

Thousands of Americans use credit cards as a way to finance their holiday spending, and then aren’t able to pay it off. With high interest rates, that can be the start of a vicious cycle of bad spending and credit habits.

Instead of potentially becoming a victim of the problems of plastic, take out a low-interest holiday loan from your local credit union. If you are short on money this year, start saving for next year by putting money away in a Christmas Club account. Both of these options make you less dependent on plastic, affording you peace of mind that you’ll avoid all of the pitfalls over the holiday season.

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Going On a Cruise Vacation This Holiday Season?

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The month of December brings with it many changes including a change in topics of discussion. Already talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations has begun. Millions of Americans will be celebrating the holiday season in their own special way. Some will spend it at home with family and loved ones. Others will celebrate it in another country. Some will take a holiday cruise.

When it comes to cruises, special considerations are required. Unlike air travel that lasts mere hours, cruises last for days and weeks. Passengers on board need to have everything they need to ensure their time is properly spent and any needs that might arise are taken care of either by themselves or by the cruiser liner. With that being said, there are certain things passengers can’t pack for themselves. This is where companies that provide special needs services truly shine.

These companies in the very basic sense are your very own concierge service that provides access to vital equipment during a cruise. Almost all of these items are vital in the sense they cater to a specific need medical or otherwise. These items include

On-board Transport

Don’t get on a cruise unless they offer these! Unless of course you love walking for miles. A cruise ship by all means won’t extend that long however the many decks and the passages within it can seemingly go on forever. To cover that much terrain will require the use of mobility scooters and wheelchairs, both of which should be readily available on the cruise liner. For people who have trouble walking or those with a medical condition that requires those to sit and not stand for extended hours will definitely benefits from this feature.

Facilities for Children and Toddlers

Just because you have a toddler doesn’t mean you can’t get on a cruise vacation. Cribs are a welcome sight for most vacationers going on a cruise. They provide a nice safe spot for the little ones. They are sturdily built and well balanced so as to not lose balance and fall. Now everyone can enjoy a cruise vacation and won’t have to put it off until the kids have grown some!

Oxygen Tanks

The sea air is not for everyone. Far from the pollution effects of land air, the ocean air can be a pleasant and at times intense experience for some; thereby requiring them to use oxygen tanks. If not that, travellers who have asthma or any condition that could hinder in their breathing would require the steady of use oxygen masks and tanks. Since they can’t be packed in a travel suitcase, cruise liners take the initiative to provide them for their passengers.

If you are going on a cruise, one of the first things to do is to inquire about all the services that it offers. Be sure to consult with a special needs group before making reservations. Knowing what all is offered is a great way to ensure you get to make the most of your holiday vacation.

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12 Simple Ways to Support a Grieving Friend This Holiday Season

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The holidays are upon us and it seems that many people have decided to simplify their holiday traditions this year. Instead of spending hours shopping and getting frustrated at the mall, they have decided to spend quality time with friends and family.

In the spirit of simplicity and kindness, we have compiled a list of 12 simple and memorable ways to support a grieving loved one this holiday season. This list comes from the suggestions submitted by our online community. So take a minute to check your holiday To Do List and be sure you have added your grieving loved ones to the list.

1. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the loss. One of the most important things you can do for a friend that is grieving is to understand that special occasions and holidays may be filled with both sorrow and joy. A message as simple as “I know the holidays may be difficult for you. I want you to know that I am thinking about you.” will let them know you care.

2. Listen and allow the tears to flow. Allow your friend the opportunity to feel all the feelings he or she is experiencing this time of year.

3. Allow the person to set the pace. Grief is a little like a roller coaster with many ups and downs. Your friend may want to cry one minute, talk about fun memories the next and then the next may want to have some time alone. Respect their needs and understand that their change in mood is not about you.

4. Encourage your friend to talk about the person that has passed away. If you knew the person, share your fond memories too.

5. Invite your friend to join your holiday gathering. As family members pass away, traditions change and a loved one may not be able to spend the holidays with their family. Including them in your family festivities will help ease the loneliness they may be feeling this time of year.

6. Send a card and be sure to acknowledge the loss. Don’t be afraid to mention the person’s name or to include your own personal memories of the person that has passed away.

7. Visit the cemetery with your friend or leave flowers with a note for the family at the gravesite.

8. Prepare your friend’s favorite holiday treat or a favorite food of the person that has passed away. Each year I prepare my mother’s holiday cookies to remember her love for the holidays.

9. Create a scrapbook of memories. Ask friends and family to write down their memories of the loved one that has passed away and put together a scrapbook of pictures and stories to give to your grieving friend.

10. Make a donation to their favorite charity in memory of the person that has passed away.

11. Encourage them to take care of themselves. Self care is very important to the healing process. Give a gift of pampering at a spa or prepare a care package that includes a relaxation CD, bath salts, and an aromatherapy candle. If going to a spa is not their way of relaxing, find an activity that brings them joy and relaxation.

12. Don’t run for the hills. Many people are afraid to be around a person that is grieving. They often treat the grieving person as though they have a contagious disease. A true friend is the one that stands by their friend and allows them the space to feel all the feelings they are going through…the good and the bad.

Offering your support, understanding and companionship during the holidays will be a cherished gift. Be sure to listen to your friend’s wishes and do not force him or her to participate in activities that may be overwhelming. Be sure to only offer your support if you know you can truly follow through. And remember, it is the simple acts of kindness that are delivered with an open heart that are remembered year after year.

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Heartburn Diet for the Holiday Season

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The holiday season is upon us, joyous festivities surrounded by family and an abundance of good food. Unfortunately, for those of us that suffer from chronic heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD, it is a time of potential discomfort and pain. Fear not! A heartburn diet for the holiday season need not be overly restrictive. You may be surprised at the foods you can enjoy in this festive season.

I love the holidays. The colors of autumn signal the abundance of the harvested fields. We all partake of the bountiful summer harvest and fill our bellies with its many delicacies. It is as if we must fill our bodies with sustenance in anticipation of the cold blue wintry winds that strip the land of its life.

Fats and Cholesterol

Those of us that suffer from indigestion and acid reflux know all to well the consequences of our feasting. But, there are holiday foods that we can safely ingest that are beneficial to our condition and that reduce our suffering.

We all know that lowering our cholesterol levels is good for reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and diabetes, but it also helps curb gastroesophageal reflux causes as well. Do not confuse cholesterol with fat. It is not a fat. Cholesterol is vital to producing some of the body’s hormones and cells.

Many of the foods we consume during the holidays are high in fats and some are high in cholesterol. Fried foods and foods high in fat content tend to slow digestion and increase the potential for acid reflux and heartburn.

Yet, we must consume some fats, if only to protect us from those long cold winter months ahead. Our bodies require the intake of fats. Fats are essential for some vitamins to dissolve in and for building cells in the body.

Saturated and Unsaturated

Fats are a combination of carbon and hydrogen atoms. If all the carbon atoms are linked to hydrogen atoms the fats are said to be “saturated”. If some of the carbon atoms are not linked to hydrogen atoms the fats are known as “unsaturated”. Not surprisingly, most foods contain both kinds of fat, saturated and unsaturated.

So, which fats are good and which are bad?

Generally, foods with unsaturated fats are more helpful for your body. Many processed foods and oils contain “hydrogenated” fats. These are unsaturated fats that have been artificially forced into a saturated state or into a state with more hydrogen atoms than normal (partial hydrogenation).

Partial hydrogenation results in “trans” fats that are not healthy at all. Avoid synthetically created trans fat foods like margarine, potato chips, and other processed foods.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that your total consumption of dietary fats be limited to no more than 20-35% of your total calorie intake based on a recommended intake of 2000 calories per day.

Foods To Eat

Foods with saturated fats also contain cholesterol. It is best to limit your intake of these fats to no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.

Saturated fats are found in foods like butter, cheese, lard, bacon, ham, and tropical oils.

The remainder of your daily consumption of dietary fats should be from unsaturated fats.

Foods that contain unsaturated fats include almonds, walnuts, and turkey (a Thanksgiving Day staple).

All fruits and vegetables contain some fat, but the fat content is of such negligible amounts that the benefits of the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables far outweigh any concerns about fat content.

Check the labels of store bought food. Hydrogenated oils (bad fat) used to produce these items must be listed in the ingredients.

Any heartburn diet for the holidays should consider the fat content. It is more a matter of common sense. You can enjoy the holidays, be festive and enjoy good food, just be mindful of your indigestion and acid reflux condition. It all comes down to moderation.

One of the many temptations during the holiday season is the abundance of leftovers and that tempting late night snack. Not a good idea for a reflux diet! Eating late night snacks is a major contributor of acid reflux. If you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with that burning in the middle of your chest, don’t be tempted by that fridge full of delectable goodies.

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9 E-Commerce Tips for the Holiday Shopping Season

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It hardly seems possible that we’re entering yet another holiday shopping season. Year after year, advertisers start campaigning to win over early-bird shoppers earlier and earlier. Christmas decorations emerge in retail stores before some families are even planning for Halloween. So in light of preparing well in advance, here are some tips to prepare your e-commerce site for the 2013 holiday shopping season.

Use Holiday Terms in Your Campaigns

You can capitalize on early-bird shoppers by using those keywords in some of your campaigns. Do your due diligence first to analyze the potential in your particular niche, but incorporating key phrases related to the holiday shopping season could tap into the early-shopper market. Terms such as “early holiday discounts,” “pre-holiday sale,” “Christmas shopping,” and similar terms combined with your niche keywords can be effective in the pre-season with early shoppers.

Promote Pre-Season Prices on Hot-Ticket Items

Some shoppers specifically seek out early deals on hot items. The Skylanders video game is popular among children and teens right now, for example, and parents may be looking to buy game systems and characters before the prices start creeping up in time for the busy shopping season. If you’re offering a hot seller at discounted prices, let shoppers know.

Analyze Last Year’s Performance

Now’s the time when you should be carefully analyzing last year’s performance. What marketing tactics did you use, and how well did they perform? Should you allocate more of your budget to PPC or organic SEO this year? If you’re using content marketing, start planning your efforts and getting the ball rolling.

Get your plans in place now. If you need to hire a copywriter to spice up your product descriptions or run a branding campaign, you have the time to do so. But if you wait until holiday shopping season is in full swing, you’ll be chasing your tail.

Ramp Up Your Product Descriptions

Your product descriptions are what will sell your inventory at the end of the day. You can get visitors to your site by optimizing and using PPC – but your product descriptions are what will drive conversions. Take a close look at your product copy and revitalize it. Run some A/B tests to drill down to the most effective headlines and descriptions. You can also start planning how you’ll incorporate holiday-relevant copy in your descriptions, such as “must-have 2013 Christmas item for teens,” or “on the 2013 holiday hot list.”

Take Advantage of Google+

Google is really pushing Google+, so you should be using it to your advantage. Make sure your physical location information is up to date, and make sure you’re sharing your compelling content there. There’s a definite SEO benefit to Google+, not to mention you can drive additional traffic through your connections.

Fine-Tune Your Local Business Presence

If you also have a brick-and-mortar location, make sure your local business presence is solid. Local customers will find you online this holiday season. Update your hours, contact information, physical address, and description. Make sure your description is relevant and keyword-rich, including the main products you sell. Give directions if your location is tough to find.

Use Retargeting

Now is the perfect time to start using retargeting. Because shoppers are browsing the web for ideas, they may spend some time on your site and then leave without making a purchase. After all, they have plenty of time to place orders before the holidays.

But you can make sure you stay top-of-mind in consumers’ minds – and give them an incentive to buy – by using retargeting. Hit up visitors with special offers and deep discounts on items that are sure to be best-sellers, and offer some motivation by letting them know the items they looked at are in low supply at the current prices.

Be a Resource

Everyone has at least one difficult-to-buy-for person on their holiday gift-giving list, and shoppers are always looking for great gift ideas. Be a resource to your visitors by offering tips on finding the best deals, what’s hot on this year’s wish lists for different recipients, ages, and so on, and other fun and informative information. The more valuable content you provide, the better your organic rankings and the more likely visitors are to share your content.

Pay Attention to Mobile

More people are shopping via mobile devices than ever, so it’s critically important to ensure your site is mobile-optimized. This is particularly difficult with e-commerce, as the many product listings and the check-out process are often difficult to make mobile-friendly. But if you neglect the mobile audience, you’re going to lose valuable conversions. Your PPC ads are going to show up for mobile users, too, but they’ll bounce quickly when they realize how difficult it’s going to be to complete the checkout process from a smartphone.

It’s not too early to start thinking about the holiday shopping season. Retail stores already have holiday inventory on the shelves, and shoppers are going to be scouring the web for ideas and deals soon. Tap into the opportunity by heading into this year’s holiday season armed with your best marketing efforts.

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