All posts by Amy Lignor

Vacation Locations: Knowledge is Fun Too!

 

Vacation Locations: Knowledge is Fun Too!

by Amy Lignor

 

Most children (and adults, too) will either roll their eyes or sigh when, while speaking about vacation locations, the word “learning” just happens to be mentioned. Yes, it is a fact that school trips take all of us during our younger years to everything from museums to libraries to historic locations in order to teach us things we should know. But when thinking about your vacation, you should know that by considering journeying to a particular place that just happens to register high on the historical or educational meter, you could have even more fun.

Smithsonian, historical battles, Mount Rushmore, Gettysburg, Statue of Liberty, Memorials, Monuments, America

One of the greatest trips this writer ever had as a child was to Washington, D.C. From the Smithsonian to the monuments…the place was buzzing with activity, cool things to look at, and was so much fun you didn’t even notice all that learning that was being soaked up by your brain as you were having a good time.

 

So make sure that if you’re looking up beach getaways, you also take the time to look up some truly awesome areas of the U.S. that you and the family can head to, have fun at, and even learn a few things as a bonus to the cool trip.

 

For those interested in historical battles, taking the family to Fort McHenry (located in Baltimore Harbor) is a whole lot of fun and education rolled into one. This star-shaped Fort has seen it all since its creation in 1794-1805. Famous for the crucial battles it held up against, it also played as the backdrop for an American named Francis Scott Key as he composed what would become the national anthem of the United States: “The Star Spangled Banner.”

 

In South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is there in all its glory, with a ton of things to do for those who love nature, hiking, sightseeing and more. Those glorious faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are certainly a sight to see. Meticulously chiseled, these were four men who not only created the U.S. but changed it under their reigns in government and should not be missed by anyone.

 

Coming to my favorite, D.C., that Smithsonian Institution is one of the biggest and most amazing creations in the world. Everything from Lincoln’s car where he stood and delivered his famous “Four-Score” speech, to the history of flight, to the technology and amazing inventions that only this country can claim, there is something for everyone to gape at as they learn. But, of course, D.C. has far more for both adults and children in the way of learning and fun.

 

The massive marble temple that houses the stunning likeness of America’s 16th President, the Lincoln Memorial, is dedicated to one of America’s most beloved presidents and humans. Opened in 1922, this is one that cannot be missed by anyone’s gaze.

 

From the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the JeffersonMemorial to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial – there is a list of ‘must-sees’ that only America’s capital can boast. And when it comes to tall structures that mean something to every citizen of this country, The Washington Monument, erected for the first President of the United States, is something to be seen up close and not only on the Internet. Although construction began on this stunning obelisk in 1848, the structure was not actually completed until 1884, due in large part to the years in which the country was fighting the Civil War (1861 – 1865). Today, the 554-foot tall structure (the world’s tallest structure made of stone) stands within Washington D.C.’s National Mall.

 

Last, but certainly not least (for this article) is that lady that stands for everything this country (once) stood for and should stand for to this day. Given as a gift by the French in 1886, the Statue of Liberty stands 151 feet tall and is considered by most to be the epitome of freedom. Located off the southern tip of Manhattan, with Ellis Island yet another sight to see close by, Lady Liberty to this day greets all ships and vessels entering New York City. Some passengers still have dreams in their minds and hope for better lives in their hearts. Let us hope that remains for a good long time to come.

 

There are thousands of memorials, structures, forts, and cities that bring about awe – such as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – that all families should venture to on their summer vacations. Not only will you have fun and make lasting memories, but that extra knowledge never hurts either. Enjoy!

 

Source:  Baret News

 

This Summer the RV Gets an A+

 

This Summer the RV Gets an A+

by Amy Lignor

 

When it comes to summer vacation (and vacation plans for the fall, by the way) it is a fact that almost *80% of Americans are planning to get in their RVs and hit the highways for a road trip in 2017. (*Statistics provided from AAA). No, it’s not just those who love to camp, or hunt, or fish, or be a part of the Great Outdoors – choosing the RV comes from low gas prices, great weather, and being provided with some of the coolest places on the map to visit.

summer vacation, road trip, adventure, explore, family fun, American freedom, AAA, RVing, fall foliage, destinations

Hitting the road is part of American freedom, in a way. By living in your own ‘motel,’ you experience an easier ride, so to speak, than other travelers: Taking any road you want, traveling anywhere you wish to go, not having to worry about plane rides and delays, not having to pay big money at restaurants, because you’re able to eat inside your own RV ‘motel,’ and the list goes on. You also experience more fun by putting together a plan that allows you to hit as many tourist destinations as you want.

 

Recently, AAA, and other travel sites, have put together their own lists when it comes to the perfect places for RVers to go and take a gander at. These are places most researched on the Internet, as well as places that some may not even know about but that are perfect for the RV traveler.

 

We begin with…an island. The KOA Campground on South Padre Island is awesome. A long barrier island situated in the Gulf of Mexico, there are miles of beaches and other campgrounds that are incredible for the RV. Just think, you’re between Padre Island National Seashore and Port Isabel, which means you have all the time in the world to enjoy your ‘motel on wheels’ as you soak in the sun.

 

Ahhh…Florida. Key West, as most people know, is the ultimate vacation spot. Here is the end of the line when it comes to the U.S. of A., offering the most stunning sunsets and most delicious drinks in all the land. Being the very last town to hit in the long chain of islands that stretch into the Gulf, the campgrounds are just waiting for your RV to arrive so that you and the family can fish, snorkel, or just sit back and enjoy those drinks as you watch the fiery sun set.

 

A completely different view, but the same sort of awesomeness when it comes to vacationing in the RV, can be found at Horse Thief Lake in South Dakota. Yes, Mount Rushmore is the big money-maker up there for tourists, but Horse Thief Lake is ‘the’ spot for the perfect camping experience. The trails all around are inspiring, and investigating the Black Hills National Forest before returning to the RV every evening is something that will live in the memory banks for all time.

 

In southern Oregon, RVers have talked about the spectacular views around Crater Lake, which is a lake filled only with rainwater and snow that goes down 1,900 feet. Many RV parks are there to choose from, and heading out there to enjoy this deepest lake in the U.S. is the perfect choice if you want to bike, boat, swim and more.

 

We all know that RVers love Yellowstone, as well, and love to park their ‘motel’ in order to sit in this magnificent area and witness everything from Old Faithful spewing to the most amazing array of wildlife imaginable. But there are also other spots you may not know about.

 

Looking for a true historical journey in the RV? Well, then look no further than Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Stretching over 300+ acres, you are talking about exploring the past in your RV. Driving and walking, you will become a part of the 18th century as you explore hundreds of buildings and shops that have been reconstructed on their original foundations. This is one trip so cool that both adults and kids will find history to be a whole lot of fun!

 

If wanting to visit the West, Arches National Park in Utah is one that RVers will enjoy. Instead of historical buildings, you will discover 2,000 natural sandstone arches set among other incredible rock formations. Millions of years of geologic history can be found here, and while sitting outside the RV having dinner, watching the textures and colors of the desert all come together makes for the most incredible sights to witness.

 

Last, but certainly not least, if you’re an RVer looking to plan something for the cooler days of autumn, heading over the highways and roads of the small towns and historic locales located in the Northeast United States is absolutely perfect. Here is ‘the’ area that must be visited at least once in order to be a part of the incredible fall foliage season. Beginning in September in the northern regions and ending in early November in the southern locations of the Northeast, a fall foliage RV tour is a ‘bucket list’ must.

 

So forget those long lines at ticket counters and the uncomfortable beds in those hotel rooms. RVing is a national pastime that has once again become uber-popular with travelers and should be enjoyed!

 

Source:  Baret News

 

Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017

 
Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017

by Amy Lignor

 

The term ‘meteoric rise’ usually applies to something fun. Think: A Hollywood actor who has been ‘discovered.’) Unfortunately, when it comes to this article, ‘meteoric rise’ is something that will not bring a smile to one’s face. To put it simply, if you wish to refinance your home, you need to do it ASAP. If choosing to wait too much longer, homeowners across the country are going to miss out on saving huge amounts of money.

meteoric rise, money, mortgage rates, politics, Federal Reserve, interest rate, adjustable-rate mortgage, economy

Although mortgage rates are still near historic lows, no one could possibly believe that they will stay that way. And with the politics being what it is at this time (and showing no signs of changing in a positive way whatsoever) real estate will be changing and so will banking. Trump and the Federal Reserve are setting up the country (according to experts in both the banking and real estate industries) for higher interest rates. With millions of Americans eligible to refinance in 2017, but haven’t yet, it is highly important to note that these interest rates will experience a meteoric rise – rising so fast that if you don’t refinance now, you may not have another time to do so.

 

Mortgage rates are tied to the economy, and economic uncertainty is what you’re looking at from now on. From weak job reports to current military action causing concern, economists are being very realistic when saying that they have no idea what’s going to happen next. Uncertainty, as the past has proven to everyone, throws mortgage rates out of control, causing them to suddenly skyrocket to the highest levels ever seen. The low refinance rates that smart homeowners have taken advantage of thus far have provided them with reduced monthly mortgage payments.

 

So, how do you go about refinancing in 2017, so you can take advantage of the low interest rates ASAP? Here are the steps to take:

 

First of all, move fast. Though rates won’t rise immediately, that steady upward movement they will have is not going to change direction and will hit that ‘meteoric rise’ moment. According to Consumer Reports, the historically low rates that we have experienced are not going to go any lower, which means now is the time to refinance.

 

Second, you need to make sure that your credit score is in good shape. You must remember, even though rates are low does not mean you quality for them. Seeing as that your credit score is a large part of getting these rates, check your report for any errors that have been made, then make sure to pay your bills on time, and use those credit cards sparingly. Make a budget and stick to it in order to reap the benefits of refinancing.

 

Thirdly, think about refinancing into an adjustable-rate mortgage. In an unstable environment where the interest rates will rise, ARM’s make sense since these loans will come with lower initial rates than fixed mortgages. They’re especially the ones to choose if you already know you plan on staying in your home no longer than the fixed term of the loan. The other side of this comes when refinancing out of an ARM. If you’re concerned about the interest rate rising on your adjustable-rate mortgage, refinancing to a fixed-rate product can allow you to lock in a new rate to make your monthly payments more predictable. This is better to use when already having the knowledge that your home is going to be the one that lasts a lifetime.

 

In addition, refinancing to a shorter term fixed-rate loan can save you cash. Not only is the interest rate lower than with a thirty-year fixed-rate loan, but the shorter term also means you’ll save more cash over the life of the loan by paying less interest.

 

In the end, the facts ring true: experts ranging from economists to financial advisors to real estate agents state that this historically low interest rate level will rise (meteorically) one day soon. Therefore, the time to refinance is now in order to save your money before it disappears completely.

 

Source:  Baret News

 

Esports on a Meteoric Rise in 2017

 

Esports on a Meteoric Rise in 2017

by Amy Lignor

 

Okay…we all know that football is America’s favorite sport. Or…is it? NASCAR has a wide following. People still love to go to the ballpark in the lazy summer days to watch a Yankee hit a homerun. There are those who love to practically melt in the summer watching the Williams’ sisters prove that tennis is a ‘cool’ sport. And, there are gazillions of soccer fans all over the globe that make up a huge fan base that rivals that of football.

big screens, esports, Dota 2, multiplayer online battle arena, advertising, sponsorship dollars, professional gaming, Team Apex, Team Dignitas

In 2017, however, sold-out crowds are packing arenas all across the U.S. to see a completely different sport play out than any of the ones mentioned above. The only difference in these arenas is that absolutely no fan donning the jersey of their ‘favorite’ looks at the floor/turf to see the game. Instead…they look up.

 

The main attraction in this sport is shown to the patrons on the big screens that hang from the ceiling of the arenas. We are talking about esports. For those who do not know, there is an International Dota 2 Championship which is the richest esports tournament in all the world. To “gamers,” Dota 2 is known as a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. Yes, in essence we are simply talking about a battle in a computer game, nothing more. But for the major gamers screaming their excitement, it is an actual sport. And for the gamers who are playing in the Championship, it is their professional career.

big screens, esports, Dota 2, multiplayer online battle arena, advertising, sponsorship dollars, professional gaming, Team Apex, Team Dignitas

Worldwide popularity for esports has skyrocketed! There are currently over 150 million “esports enthusiasts” on the earth in 2017, according to many market research firms who specialize in sports as well as gaming. Estimates have been made that 22% of American male millennials watch esports, putting it on the same tier as both baseball and hockey in terms of viewership. It was just last year that showed esports events had sold out everything from the Staples Center in Los Angeles to the beloved Madison Square Garden in NY.

 

Bringing in an estimated $493 million in revenue in 2016—up 51.7% from 2015—projections have been made that by 2019, esports revenue will race by the $1 billion mark. When it comes to evaluating the current industry, advertising and sponsorship dollars are out of this world. Sponsorship mainly comes in the form of game publishers who use this esports craze as a means to increase their own games’ popularity. However, when it comes to advertising, household-name brands are throwing money into the esports ‘arena’ in order to reach out to the younger digital gamers out there; names like, Coca-Cola, who actually sponsors the ‘League of Legends World Championships.’

 

Not to be left in the dust, traditional sports’ franchises have also struck up partnerships with the esports’ franchises in order to stay afloat with sports lovers. Examples of this come from the Philadelphia 76ers buying Team Apex and Team Dignitas; as well as the Miami Heat that struck up a partnership with the esports’ club Misfits whose teams compete in multiple games.

 

Although some diehard sports fans will roll their eyes, it has been stated by many that in esports, there are most definitely real athletes…even though they don’t have to be tackled on the gridiron by someone resembling a semi. These athletes have to own the best skill and eye/hand coordination in the world if they wish to be at the top of their game. This is not a ‘recreational’ sport by any means, and the events prove that to everyone who decides to come to the arena and cheer.

 

Take the salaries and prize money into consideration as well. The current state of professional gaming looks just like the beginning days of the NFL. However, there are 18 gamers that now make more than a half a million dollars per year, with 195 more earning upwards of a hundred thousand. And if the numbers keep skyrocketing like they have been, it will not be long before dozens of gamers make more than $1 million each and every year.

 

In 2017, we are taking a huge leap toward that reality. But…will esports take out traditional sports one day? Don’t worry. That won’t be the case. Even though it’s more than interesting as a sports industry all its own, those hits on the gridiron can never be replaced by great special effects on a big screen.

 

Source:  Baret News

Big Things in Small Packages Are Taking Over the Real Estate Market

 
Big Things in Small Packages Are Taking Over the Real Estate Market

by Amy Lignor

 

What began as a “tiny” trend – which some called a “passing fad” at first – has become one of the largest growing industries in the U.S.A. in the 21st century; with records being broken in 2017.

 

Despite what you would call having a niche appeal, in the real estate market tiny homes are selling the BIGGEST. In fact, their all-time low in sales was still over 100% (Coming in at 110%, per realtor.com). Not only are they popular with environmentalists who wish to save energy and natural resources, they are also becoming the desire of those out there who wish to save money by living in an easy-to-take-care-of house that, although compact, is highly stylish and gives them everything they’re looking for.

tiny houses, largest growing industries, trends, fads, lifestyle, simplicity, Tiny House Nation, manageable spaces

Just take a peek at a few of the lists out there on the Internet in regards to these ‘unique’ and ‘sophisticated’ homes. In Seabeck, Washington, ‘Little House’ (designed by MW Works), may only clock in at 20 square feet, but the exterior is stunning and far outranks most of the “standard” houses in is vicinity. Made from oxidized black cedar with blackened cement décor on the outside, the interior offers pine plywood and glass walls that truly give the homeowner peace and serenity. And that’s just one of many.

 

The full realm of real estate workers – including architects, agents and developers – are now showing everyone that ‘tiny houses’ can be perfect for one and all, stating that in 20 square feet to 400, an architect can do everything a client wants; all that needs to be done is to design the structure right.

 

A Phoenix-based architect, Jason Boyer, said that includes condominiums, “which can be the best small home option for many people and provide more amenities.” He further stated that in 2017: “What we’re seeing at every scale is people that were in 6-to-10,000 square feet are now moving to 3-to-4,000 square feet, and people that were in 3-to-4,000 square feet are now willing to go to 2,000.” The magic comes from the fact that these people who are shaving the feet and the costs off, rarely miss the extra space.

 

Not to mention, in 2017 these tiny homes are being placed in bigger cities. They still save the owner major cash while also allowing them to be in the exact area they want to be. Take, for example, a man who wished to live in the pricey suburbs of Long Island yet did not want to have to struggle to make ends meet by paying off an extraordinary mortgage. So, what he did was purchase a tiny home ‘shell’ from a builder for under $30,000, spent around $6,000 for upgrades, and then placed his 200-square-foot residence in a friend’s backyard, paying only $250 a month to lease the land and utilities. He lives in the locale he wants to and has the ability to explore new career opportunities.

 

As always, TV shows and social media have also aided these tiny houses by making them glamorous and showing them to potential buyers on shows like, “Tiny House, Big Living,” “Tiny House Nation” and “Tiny House Hunters.” The American desire to go smaller is growing bigger, which can be seen quite clearly when looking at how high the ratings have climbed for these particular shows.

 

From the agent perspective, demand is also rising quickly for small, more manageable spaces. It is a fact that homes less than 500 square feet are appreciating twice as fast as the overall market (realtor.com). In December, the median list price of tiny homes was $119,000, up 19 percent from last year, while the overall market median list price was up just 9 percent.

 

So what other unusual types of tiny homes have made the news that you should definitely look into if wanting to build in that direction? Here are a few to sink your teeth into:

 

In Leadville, Colorado (located in a stunning forest 10,000 feet above sea level), the college of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado constructed micro-cabins. These 21 little homes are beautiful to look at. With exteriors of hot-rolled steel rain screens that actually help to camouflage the homes against the trees, the interiors are beyond cozy – made from a prefabricated birch plywood. The best part just happens to be the many windows that look out upon some of the most magical wildlife and nature America has to offer.

 

One other that will blow the minds of many is “Lightbox” built in Point Roberts, Washington. Created for a photographer and his young family, this home and studio is a two-story glass ‘tiny’ house with exposed wood beams. In other words, when it comes to tiny houses, you can let your imagination run wild when you wish to build from the ground up.

 

As small lots continue to get bought up, more and more tiny homes are being built to save families money while also giving them a chance to live in a ‘free’ world that’s not ruled by having to pay big bills. If things continue as they have been, it looks like one day tiny homes may just put mansions completely out of business

 

 

Source:  Baret News

 

Is Social Media Still Growing?

 

Is Social Media Still Growing?

by Amy Lignor

 

It was in 1999, Bill Gates wrote a book titled, “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” Within these pages, the man who became the computer world’s wizard made massively bold predictions that, at the time, sounded ridiculous and outrageous to those who read them. But when you look at how the social media realm has grown over the past few decades, it is important to take note that not only did his predictions from 1999 come true, but they are also responsible for seeing social media continue to grow by leaps and bounds to this day.

Business @ the Speed of Thought, social media, entrepreneurs, Chatbots, social messaging platforms, OTT apps, smart advertising

“Automated price comparison services will be developed, allowing people to see prices across multiple websites, making it effortless to find the cheapest product for all industries.” This was one prediction that was scoffed at by many who, of course, had their own ‘reasons’ for why this would not occur. Now, of course, you can easily search for a product on Google, Amazon, and a slew of others to get different prices for the same product. More and more sites are coming about in 2017, allowing comparison shopping across all industries, adding to the growth of social media.

 

Gates also stated: “People will carry around small devices that allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are. They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.”

 

What should be a shock to anyone out there is that any ‘professional’ came out of the woodwork back in 1999 to say Gates was foolish about this prediction. However, experts did. What do we see this day? The list is long. From Smartphones to smartwatches to actual headphones you can wear while driving to check your news, email and more – technology and social media joined together and exploded.

 

From constant video feeds that are now installed in homes that actually inform the owner of who visited while they were away; to the inventions of Facebook, Snapchat, and a million more, Gates hit the nail on the head with all of his “bold” predictions back in 1999. And each and every one of these products and services that were created made social media a ‘must have’ for consumers and businesses.

 

If you are a seller of products or services, social media is a must. From having websites to setting up businesses on Facebook, to social advertising across all networks so your product or service will most likely end up on Pinterest – and other avenues where consumers are speaking to each other – social media is a winding road that the businessperson must learn and utilize in order to grow their company.

 

It is a fact that Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and tons more have already called out to two billion people across the globe, with even more signing up on a daily basis. They are even searching for smaller social networks where they can become members. What’s behind all this is ‘smart advertising.’ With smart advertising in 2017, businesses view purchasing trends to create advertisements tailored to the consumer’s preferences. Advertisers are utilizing all of this new technology to target users based on everything from click history to personal interests to purchasing patterns.

 

Social media is not only still growing in 2017, however, it remains to be one of the fastest changing industries out there. The social media trends that have dominated 2017, thus far, include the world of social messaging. Over-the-top messaging (OTT) and SMS messaging are what millennials prefer when it comes to communication. Over 60% are more loyal to brands that engage them via social media channels and it has been estimated that two billion users will be messaging through OTT apps by 2018.

 

Another social media area that is growing bigger this year comes from businesses taking advantage of the huge audience base found on social messaging platforms. As more brands start to realize the value of social messaging compared to regular social networks, they are making more and more effort to make sure their presence is known by all consumers.

 

Social media is also changing in 2017 with the explosion of live video. YouTube was built on this premise, but now social media is taking it to the next level by offering content in real-time. Social videos have been responsible for a lot of growth on Facebook this year, and even news sources are citing Facebook Live videos when covering major events.

 

Chatbots are also becoming the next ‘big craze’. Artificial intelligence that allows people to have a conversation with someone else, Facebook integrated Chatbots within Facebook Messenger, and businesses are now using them to communicate with customers. Because of the latter, these Chatbots are already helping businesses improve customer service by being able to quickly respond to all comments and questions. Fast, efficient and brief, the popularity of Chatbots in 2017 is growing exponentially.

 

With each day bringing new inventions and entrepreneurs to the marketplace, social media shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Source:  Baret News

 

The B&B’s Offer A+ Service for Your Vacation

 

The B&B’s Offer A+ Service for Your Vacation

by Amy Lignor

 

When it comes to vacations people always think and worry about the locale. Where will they go? Does it have something for the kids? Are they looking at a camping trip, a historical location where they can treasure hunt through the museums, or simply that relaxing by the beach vacation that has everything to do with getting the right tan while sipping those amazing cocktails with the bright, colorful umbrellas? However…there is definitely another thing to think about. The location is a big deal, true, but what about the choice of lodging?

Bed & Breakfasts, Travel, Summer, Vacation, lodging, comfort, personal attention, delectable meals

There are hotels and motels all over the place in this country (and others). Everywhere across the highways of America you will find those familiar signs that offer a place to stay. But when it comes to pure luxury, there are also those lodgings out there called Bed & Breakfasts that give far more in the way of comfort and amenities than any old hotel/motel you can think of – not to mention, offer up lasting memories where the lodging is actually more beautiful and fun than the actual location where it sits.

 

For those who are unaware, or feel that staying at a Bed & Breakfast would take more money out of the wallet than your standard hotel/motel, there are things you need to know. There are actually B&B’s that can be found almost anywhere you go, in any location you choose, that provide much more bang for your buck. You receive personal attention and delectable meals. When it comes to a motel/hotel, you receive a room that’s normally on the small side. And as far as “extras,” you’d be lucky to receive free parking. And that good old continental breakfast they serve is always sub-standard. You also end up having to pay for things like snacks, and if you open up that wine bar, the word ‘complimentary’ no longer applies.

 

There are many differences between the B&B and the standard hotel room. At a B&B the room is more than comfortable and the décor is amazing. Some even pride themselves on having ‘themes’ for each of their rooms in order to appeal to all guest’s individual tastes. Whether or not you wish to stay in a place that “feels like home” or has the fun and exuberance that home may be missing, there is a B&B out there just as unique as you are.

 

A majority of the B&Bs also offer everything from free parking to free snacks, and one of the greatest ‘gifts’ is a real complimentary breakfast every morning that literally is more delicious than a home-cooked meal. None of that ‘cereal in a box’ stuff or doughnuts and muffins that are a week old. Some B&B’s also offer discounts on the local attractions.

 

If you’re looking for history, there are lists of B&B’s that boast exciting histories; there are some B&B’s that are restored buildings hundreds of years old. In the Deep South of the U.S. you will find some B&B’s that were once plantation houses that are stunningly beautiful. In France you can stay in historical authentic chateaus. And in the U.K., there are B&B’s that were actual castles that played a large part in Britain’s history. So make sure that no matter where you go you ask the innkeeper about the background of the inn. You may be extremely surprised by what you learn.

 

Another thing B&B’s offer that hotels and motels have no interest in providing is personal attention. At a B&B the staff goes above and beyond to make sure the guests are comfortable, feel welcome, and have all the amenities they require (and more). You are not simply a ‘person staying in a single room with a double bed’. At the B&B you have an actual name and they make sure you know up front that they are available to help you when you need it. If you want tips on what to do in the area, or have questions about the B&B itself, those innkeepers are always there to answer your questions.

 

Little extras will always be found at the B&B, as well. There are those that leave out freshly baked bread or cookies in the dining area for their guests, while others have a Happy Hour where wine and appetizers are served. Some even offer a library of books and/or DVDs for the guests who wish to curl up in their comfortable room for the evening.

 

There is even a competition run every year for the best “dish” served at a B&B that features some of the most intriguing and innovative recipes ever seen. Innkeepers from all over enter this contest with this year’s winner coming from the Chestnut Street Inn in Sheffield, Illinois, with their breakfast offering: Elvis Toast with Candied Bacon. Now, really, are you ever going to find anything that cool at the Motel 6, 8 (or whatever number you wish to place in here) that looms on the side of the highway? I think not, my friends.

 

So when you’re thinking about the location of your trip, make sure to think long and hard about the wonderful lodging that you can have by simply turning to those Bed & Breakfasts across the land just waiting to welcome you to their neck of the woods.

 

Source:  Baret News

 

Is Coin Collecting a Lost Art?

 

Is Coin Collecting a Lost Art?

by Amy Lignor

 

Once upon a time collecting coins was a beloved hobby that a great many people liked to do. Before the art of scrapbooking became big, coin collecting (numismatics) was the choice for those who wanted an activity to do during their leisure time that would provide pure entertainment.

coin collecting, hobbies, counterfeit, risk, historical, value, Pawn Stars, metal detector, treasure hunt

Some will say that coin collecting became ‘lost’ in the shuffle. However, with the highly-rated list of TV shows (Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, American Pickers, etc.), people are seeing coin collections being discovered in old barns and storage lockers and are becoming excited about numismatics once again.

 

A hobby allows you to have fun, and be creative. Coin collecting is not a hobby, however, that the wallet can take if you are a person who takes hobbies far too seriously and looks at them as being competitive. There are those in coin collecting that shell out hundreds – even thousands – of dollars to purchase a single coin. But it still remains true that the coin you spend the least amount to own, or that cool coin you find buried in the back yard that perhaps was dropped by an actual Yankee or Confederate soldier, is the one coin that will have the most value to you.

 

It didn’t help coin collecting either when, back in 2009, hobby periodicals were reporting that more than a million counterfeit coins were being discovered; coins that people actually ‘lost their shirts on’ when they believed they were ‘special’ and ended up being worthless.

 

If you actually wish to be a coin collector, you need to look at the big picture. Coin collecting should begin at a beginner’s level, much like stamp collecting. This level is a great deal of fun, will build your collection over time, and not give you a heart attack over how much money you may be taking out of your wallet.

 

To begin, start your own coin collection with the change you receive on a daily basis while you’re learning all the ins-and-outs of the hobby. The State Quarters are the most often chosen series for people who want to start that coin collection. In circulation all over the country, the series has a great deal of interesting coins, with each state having their own unique design. And by collecting these, you take no risk whatsoever. If you learn that coin collecting is not for you, than you can simply spend the coins – no cash lost whatsoever.

 

Another great series to choose at the beginning is the Presidential Dollar series. This is the next step up, seeing as that this particular series of coins is not as widely available as the State Quarters. But you can go to your local bank and see which coins they have available, or even do a search on eBay or Amazon. (NOTE: Presidential Dollar coins for the current year can be found on the U.S. Mint’s site.)

 

Your next step would be to find an inexpensive album to utilize in order to keep the coins organized. There are ‘special’ albums already made for those State Quarters as well as other particular series. When one is filled, you can move on to the next series that catches your eye and gets those creative juices flowing.

 

When it comes to coin collecting, just remember that the one key to being good at the hobby while also having a good time is knowledge. Knowing the history about the coins you’re searching for is a must, and learning the history is extremely cool. And, by all means, never get discouraged. If your collection isn’t growing as quickly as you want it to, you can go back to the bank, take the “duplicates” you have and trade them in for a roll of new quarters. In that roll you most likely will find one you don’t have as of yet. Look at it as a treasure hunt. A little “Indiana Jones” to make the hobby even more adventurous.

 

And speaking of adventure…get out there with your metal detector or borrow a friend’s and get to work. If you live in the Deep South, the West that was being “won” long before you came into the world, or in New England – an area that is filled with history – you have a very good chance of finding historical objects in the ground. Coins can certainly be among them just waiting for you to dig up and bring back into the world.

 

By starting small and working your way up to more valuable coins, your knowledge will increase each and every day. But, above all, make sure that coin collecting is fun for you, because that’s what a hobby is all about. Have a great time while learning more about something that really interests you!

 

Source:  Baret News

 

 

 

Healthy Living: The Cellphone Guide

 

Healthy Living: The Cellphone Guide

by Amy Lignor

 

Much like the political realm, there will always be debates and disagreements when it comes to the technological realm—especially when it comes to your health versus the almighty cellphone. Now, it is a fact that communication in the 21st century literally brought about a revolution. Mobile devices are being used and will remain at the top of “must have” lists for all ages technology, cellphone, health, Mobile devices, stress, teens, bacteria, eye strain, posture, car accidents, nomophobiafor the rest of time. By giving the world immediate access to help, navigation systems for their cars, the ‘best’ lists when it comes to everything from where to dine out to where to shop for the latest dog dish, the cellphone has become all powerful. Heck, there is literally an app for just about everything you can think of on this planet now. Add in the music and entertainment industries and the cellphone hits on all cylinders. However, even though we are in a world where we all know the cellphone will never go the way of the dinosaurs, there is still a great many arguments when it comes to how and when the cellphone should be used.

Good health is on peoples’ minds. And since the most popular cellphone out there is referred to as a “smartphone,” it seems appropriate to talk about the “smartest” reasons in the world why you have to stop looking at that phone of yours 24/7, in order to gain good health. Reasons, by the way, that have been proven.

 

If and when the act of using your phone becomes way too frequent, you put yourself at risk for numerous health issues. Although the teens in America probably don’t care about this, it is a fact that you will care as the years pass on by.

 

First, we address stress. Cellphone use has shown negative effects on stress levels because of the constant ringing, reminders, beeping, alerts, etc. Just as it was with the regular home phone, where you got on a list and salespeople called every night after you got home from a busy day of work just to bother you, cellphones have the exact same effect. Yet that effect is increased ten-fold by the constant texts as well as emails that are being received.

 

More and more sicknesses are occurring because of the touching and spreading of bacteria that comes with constant phone use. No matter how many times you wash your hands, germs are always being placed on that phone of yours.

 

One of the biggest problems you will have to deal with later in life is the constant eye strain from your cellphone. The blue light (HEV) emitted through smartphones has been shown to damage eyes and may even harm them permanently. And not only are the eyes being harmed, but the cellphone also makes your memory fade. These smartphones we use are the process by which we now remember important dates and events, as well as using it as an alarm clock and to store phone numbers, addresses, names, birthdays and so on…leaving our own memory to go lax.

 

When it comes to the body, cellphones are most definitely destroying posture. We text, read, check emails and more, and when we do, we find ourselves in a “hunched over” position. This is most definitely not good for the spine or neck later in life. Not only that, but your hands suffer when you overuse that smartphone of yours. Texting seems to be the leading cause of arthritic conditions as life moves forward, and that can hurt a person severely in their later years.

 

Everyone already knows that car accidents have increased because of the cellphone. For the first time, alcoholism dropped to the number two reason for car accidents in this nation since alcohol was created because of the usage of cellphones while behind the wheel. But there is even a new disease called nomophobia. There are those out there who have become truly scared of being without their smartphone; so scared, in fact, that they are developing this disorder that causes extreme anxiety and nervousness. (A study done by Psychology Today of 2,163 people found that 58% of men and 47% of women already suffer from this phobia.)

 

Loss of sleep occurs because of the constant need to be on the smartphone, as well as the loss of social and communication skills. In this world – even though we are talking about a technology revolution – face-to-face communication skills are necessary. You must be able to apply for a job in person. You must be able to hold an educated conversation with someone. Yet the more people turn to their texting abilities, the farther they move away from being comfortable with talking in person.

 

The list of reasons to put that cellphone down in order to gain better health will grow longer. So think first: Be smarter and get healthier now by putting that smartphone down.

 

Source:  Baret News

The Ultimate Vacations for the Ultimate Animal Lover

 

The Ultimate Vacations for the Ultimate Animal Lover

by Amy Lignor

 

The numbers may still shock some, but I sincerely doubt it. It is a fact that 79.7 million people living in the U.S. own and absolutely love their pet. (The Humane Society). Oddly enough, however, there are also millions who want to view unique wildlife with their own eyes. Yes, the dog and cat are fine for the home, but being able to satisfy the urge to go out to these exotic locales and see how extraordinary animals live is something that’s most definitely appearing on ‘bucket lists’ across the country. From national reserves to safaris to guided excursions into the extreme outback, here are just a few that more and more animal lovers are choosing as their 2017 vacation.

Image Credit: Dee Ann

There are so many in this world who want to get a good, up-close view of the mighty elephant before they perhaps become an extinct species. In Maputaland, South Africa, however, at the Tembe Elephant Park, this is one species that will not go extinct anytime soon. First set up in order to protect the elephants migrating between Maputaland and Mozambique, the park now boasts over 250 of the largest elephants in the world. You can be a part of these elephant’s lives and be awestruck at the regal stature of these creatures.

 

Yet another elephant paradise can be found at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. Through the hard work of both visitors and volunteers these elephants were rescued from neglect and deprivation and brought to this elephant rescue and rehabilitation center that you will absolutely love to see!

 

The mighty gorilla is also an animal that other animal lovers want to set eyes upon. This they can easily do by Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda, Africa. Said to be one of the greatest experiences for animal lovers anywhere across the globe, it is here that small groups are guided across mountains and through forests in order to observe the gorillas in their natural habitat. Sadly, when it comes to extinction, being that the gorillas are numbering less than 700 in this entire world, taking this trip could soon become a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.

Gorilla Trekking
Image Credit: Hjalmar Gislason

If you’re more into life “under the sea,” Kaikoura, New Zealand is the place where you can swim with the dolphins and remember it forever. You will truly find yourself in an ocean filled with hundreds of these adorable, intelligent creatures right beside you – close enough to touch.

 

If wishing to enlarge that aquatic experience, you can also head on to Kadavu, Fiji and go swimming with the Manta’s. A bit more exciting (AKA: frightening) than the dolphins, the Manta Ray’s in Fiji’s famous Manta Reef are large in size. But once the heart beat slows down from the thrill of it all, you can sit next to the reef and lay eyes on the most beautiful sunrise in the world.

 

Looking for the perfect safari? Look no further than Tanzania. An exclusive and unique retreat called the Singita Serengeti House, built on the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is waiting for you and your family. Offering twelve lodges and camps in five separate wilderness regions that span three African countries, it is the perfect destination for an animal lover looking for the ultimate animal adventure.

 

If you wish to see the tallest of all animals in their natural habitat, head to Giraffe Manor in Kenya. There is no hotel as unique as this one. Set on a dozen acres of private land, the giraffes roam freely, even poking their necks through the open windows of the hotel to personally welcome you and the family to Kenya.

 

Now, we do have a special one for those millions of dog loves out there. In Invernesshire, Scotland, a true puppy celebration can be found at the Golden Retriever Festival. But if in the mood for a more adventurous experience, in Finnmark, Norway, you can have your very own dog sledding experience. As the pups do the work, you will also be able to explore the incredible landscapes that play home to everything from seals to polar foxes and polar bears.

 

If you wish to stay in the U.S. for your vacation, the National Elk Refuge in Kelly, Wyoming offers a thrilling adventure for the animal lover in you. A refuge that has been in business for over a century, the refuge consists of almost 25,000 acres playing home to 47 different mammals and 150+ species of birds. Here the animal lover in you can witness everything from elk to bison to mule deer to so much more.

 

And after that awesome trip has been had, you can then head home to share your pictures with your absolute favorite “best friend.”

 

Source:  Baret News