How to Write Product Descriptions Like a Pro

Whenever you sell any type of product or have a blog, you have seconds in which have to be used to convince someone why they should make a purchase or keep reading. You need to get your product description right in order to do this. You can hire a product description writing service or you can tackle it yourself.  We believe that writing compelling copy is the key

Here’s how to write product descriptions like a pro.

Read the Best Copy

You can’t write a description until you know how the experts are doing it. Look at your chosen field and find the best-sellers. Using Amazon is an ideal method to find the best-sellers in your category. If they’ve reached the list of best-sellers they’re doing something right.

Beware of the Competition

It’s always good to know what your competitors are doing, but you don’t want to focus on them too much. You have to be careful of always looking at the competition because you could find yourself in a situation where you’re copying what they do since it’s the safest course of action to follow.

How can you be original when all you’re doing is copying word-for-word what your competitors are?

Cut Down

Instead of writing a 50-word product description immediately, write what you want. It doesn’t matter if you produce a 500-word story about how smooth the materials are or how the product is created in detail. It’s always easier to cut everything down.

Write a long-form piece of copy and cut it down by extracting all the major points from it, which is what will form the meat of your 50-word product description.

Finding the Narrative

Here’s a step-by-step guide for coming up with ideas.

  1. Brainstorm the angles you can take.
  2. Walk away and return to the list for another session.
  3. Speak to someone you trust about your ideas and ask for their ideas.
  4. Begin the first draft.
  5. Review what you’ve written.

If what you come up with isn’t good enough, start this process all over again.

Grill the Manufacturer

If someone hands you a product you need to write copy for, the specifications provided by the manufacturer aren’t enough. They give you the bare facts about the product and nothing else. There’s no soul to these statistics.

Ask the manufacturer to talk to you about their product. Get the facts from a human and you’ll discover the heart behind the product. This is what you need to bottle and present to potential customers.

Does it fulfil a Need?

Talking to someone about a new washing machine is fine, but it must fulfil a need. If it does not nobody is going to buy it. Your number one priority is to convince someone they have to have this product now.

Think about what a new washing machine would do for someone. Weave these benefits into the copy and you will always get better results.

It Takes Practice

It always takes practice to get this right. Writing an enticing product description requires a lot of time and effort. Multiple drafts are often needed to find the best words for the job.



How to Give Your Home a Hollywood Shine

Pick up any celebrity gossip magazine or flick through the Daily Mail and you’ll typically find countless glossy images of multi-millionaire movie stars or musicians showing off their fine-looking homes and ostensibly wonderful lifestyles.

Typically nestled among the striking Hollywood Hills or along Malibu’s glorious sandy beaches, the celeb homes are examples of some of the world’s most arresting architectural behemoths, jam-packed with priceless artwork and expensive furniture …

… and you can’t help but feel just a teeny-weeny bit jealous.

Whilst it’s easy resent their obvious wealth and seemingly never-ending throng of pricey fixtures, it’s much simpler to bottle this envy and use the energy to add a few items to your own home that’d put the Kardashian’s to shame.


Add an Iconic Recliner

It’s impossible to feel like a superstar in your own home if you don’t have the furniture to match – which is why splashing out on Celebrity recliner chairs is guaranteed to add a much needed sprinkle of glitz and glamour to any room in the home.

Available in a wide range of sizes and styles, these iconic recliners are perfect for taking the weight off your feet after a long day spent dodging the paparazzi – or for having a cup of tea before heading off to the supermarket.

Give the Front a Facelift

In the same way that no self-respecting Hollywood icon would be seen dead with flaking makeup or tired-looking skin, the front of your home should be an immaculate gateway, on hand to welcome friends, family and tourists on open top buses.

Some of the easiest ways to freshen up your facade include painting the front door a bold colour, giving your windows some TLC and making sure your front garden – and the pathway – looks like Alan Titchmarsh has had his hands on it.

Clear Out Your Clutter

Flick through OK! Magazine and it’s unlikely you’ll spot a rogue ironing board or child’s toy sneaking into the picture, as the stars’ homes are usually cleaner than a bar of soap taking a shower under an antibacterial waterfall.

Obviously, real life often gets in the way and your home is always going to be subject to the mess of everyday life – but this needn’t mean unnecessary clutter. Consequently, make sure you get rid of items that serve no purpose by donating them to your local charity shop or having a car boot sale.

Now it’s your turn …

Can you think of any other ways our readers can keep up with the Kardashian’s and make their homes more Hollywood than Halifax? Please let us know by leaving a comment below – we’d love to hear from you.

8 Steps To Effective Conflict Management At The Office

If you have experienced working in an office for an extended period of time, you probably already know that conflict is a common occurrence. Professional and personnel conflicts can occur in even the most harmonious workplaces from time to time, and you know that many office environments are far from harmonious. It is important to realize that conflicts are often associated with stress. A stressful work environment may be caused by conflict, or may itself be the result of conflict. For this reason, some of the most effective methods for dealing conflict in the workplace involve addressing stress-related issues. Here are some tips that may help reduce stress and conflict in the workplace. face-622904_640   Keep an open mind

Keeping your mind open will help lay the groundwork for a positive and open exchange of ideas and opinions. This in turn can bring about a favorable resolution to the conflict. Being open to new directions and ideas will also help ensure a resolution that addresses the needs of everyone, whether they are directly involved in the conflict or even just affected by it.

Consider the factors that contributed to the conflict

Personal conflicts in the workplace tend to be fairly straightforward, but they can become quite complex and disruptive if the core issues remain unaddressed for a long time. This is why it is important to consider all the factors that any have contributed to the conflict. Be aware that even seemingly simple problems may have numerous mitigating factors, so don’t limit yourself to addressing only the surface issues.

Respect everyone’s differences

In the streamlined and oftentimes homogenous environment of the typical workplace, it is easy to forget that everyone has different personalities. This may be reflected in their way of working, how they communicate with others, and even how they choose to live their lives. One of the key steps to conflict resolution is acknowledging these differences and considering them when getting to the root of the issue. By simply recognizing how interpersonal differences could have contributed to the conflict, you may be one step closer to finding a solution.

Address the conflict as soon as possible

There are instances when it would be better to give it a day or two and let everyone involved in the conflict to cool down a bit. However, many incidences of workplace related conflict are best addressed as soon as possible. By addressing the problem quickly, you can prevent it from escalating any further. An early attempt at resolution will also help prevent any further disruption to your office routine.

Listen to all opinions and all points of view

There are at least two sides to every conflict, and you will find that most will actually involve even more opinions and points of view. As challenging as it may seem, you should make an effort to listen to the points of view of everyone involved in the conflict. You definitely don’t want to be thought of as taking sides, and considering all opinions is a good way to ‘democratize’ the conflict resolution process.

Speak diplomatically

If you are used to ordering people around, it may require some effort to tone down your delivery a bit. The days leading up to–and during–the conflict are stressful enough as it is without you causing any more friction. Keep calm and speak rationally to everyone involved, and don’t let your emotions get the better of you. By establishing the tone for a calm and rational discussion, you will hopefully be better able to work toward a favorable resolution.

Ask for assistance if necessary

At some point, you may have to throw in the towel and ask for more qualified help if your efforts at conflict resolution aren’t getting you anywhere. Don’t blame yourself; not everyone is suited to the task of getting two opposing forces to suddenly agree to start playing nice. In fact, it often requires the attention of a professional, which is why you might consider hiring a conflict resolution expert instead. You may also seek assistance from a superior at work or your human resources manager.

Make sure that the resolution is acceptable to everyone

Possibly the most challenging aspect of conflict resolution is ensuring that the solution is acceptable to everyone. It will require openness, honesty, maturity, and the willingness to work together to find a workable solution, but it can be done. Along with the steps outlined above, this will hopefully ensure a more harmonious and productive work environment with much less stress.

7 Jeep Accessories Every Off-Roader Must Have Immediately

jeep car accessories

Jeep people are different from normal people. That is to say: If you drive a Jeep, you tend to be more adventurous on your weekends and open to new experiences.

Jeeps are superlatively excellent vehicles for plenty of reasons. Jeeps always have eye-catching design, which makes them some of the most desirable cars on the road, and one of the most recognizable. Jeeps are safe, with more protection against rolling and stronger restraints than other vehicles of their class. Jeeps are made in the United States, which means that whenever you purchase a Jeep from a local dealer, you are putting money back into the American economy. And, as most Jeep-lovers know all too well, Jeeps are rugged, which means they can withstand the ordeals of off-roading with ease.

However, that doesn’t mean Jeeps couldn’t do with a few custom upgrades to make the Jeep off-roading experience even more thrilling. Here are a handful of Jeep accessories that make off-roading more exhilarating, more comfortable — and easier to clean up afterwards.

1. Door Hanger

One reason so many drivers gravitate toward Jeeps is its removable doors, which add to the sense of freedom and risk during off-road adventures. Yet, it feels sacrilegious to toss a Jeep’s doors on the garage floor. Instead, a strong and sturdy hanger can store the precious doors while off-roaders are away, keeping the doors scratch-free and safe.

2. Washable Seat Covers

Off-roading is dirty work; off-roading in a Jeep with the doors removed is even dirtier. While a mud-covered vehicle is a badge of honor for the days following a fulfilling off-road excursion, most off-roaders don’t want to find that dirt and dust all over their clothing come Monday morning. Thankfully, off-roaders can purchase washable, stain-resistant seat covers to protect their Jeeps’ interior upholstery for times when muddiness isn’t a source of pride.

3. Device Mount

Keeping both hands firmly on the wheel is important no matter the terrain, but when a track is riddled with ruts and rocks, maintaining control of a vehicle is absolutely paramount. That’s why off-roaders need a dashboard mount for any devices they need during their excursions. Plenty of new model Jeeps come standard with excellent technology panels, and most allow for easy connection with devices. With a properly installed mount, devices are near enough to check navigation guides or quickly switch songs, but they are far enough to prevent distraction when the road gets rough.

4. Exhaust Jack

Wheels and tires are some of the most integral parts of any vehicle, but is particularly important to keep them rolling during an off-road adventure. When Jeeps become mired in the mud or a tire pops from the pressure, off-roaders need a fast and easy way to get going again. Exhaust jacks connect to a vehicle’s exhaust and inflate to lift it out of ruts or off the ground. The balloons can withstand 8,800 pounds of pressure and work fast, so off-roaders can get back to business in no time.

5. Switch Panel

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 8.04.02 PMMost avid off-roaders augment their rigs with extra lights, speakers, and compartments to suit their special needs. Unfortunately, in most vehicles (sadly, Jeeps included) unused dashboard space is at a minimum, so there are precious few spaces to add auxiliary controls. Switch panels are excellent space savers and attractive on the dash, so they provide the perfect solution to control conundrums. Plus, off-roaders with a sense of humor can add novelty switches to make passengers chuckle.

6. Heavy Duty Floor Liner

Off-roading, when done properly, results in a mess that make mothers everywhere tear out their hair. Mud gets places most people don’t know exist, and when (not if) it gets inside, it can be nearly impossible to eradicate. The more durable an off-roader’s liners, the easier it is to clean up most of the mess.

7. Hammock

After a long excursion, most off-roaders just want to lie back and relax, and most Jeep lovers will attest that the world holds no more peaceful place than their vehicles. Fortunately, one savvy company created a hammock that is easily hung from the cage of the Jeep. When the day is won, off-roaders can start to unwind without even leaving their vehicles.

3 Tips for a Great Home Entertainment System on a Budget

Who doesn’t want a great home entertainment system? Technology has improved significantly in the last few years, making it possible to get that movie theater experience in the comfort of your own home. It feels great to skip the crowds and overpriced popcorn and enjoy an evening with the family while the car stays parked in the driveway.

The biggest hurdle to this experience, though, is getting the right setup without getting a second mortgage. With a little due diligence, it’s definitely possible to build a great home theater without breaking the budget. Here are 3 tips to getting the most bang for your buck on a home entertainment system.

1) Skip the Smart TV

Smart TVs are all the rage today. Practically every major brand is pushing the ability to stream online content directly to your TV without the need for external devices. It is a great feature, but it increases the cost of the television significantly. The cost of smart TVs are typically 25% – 30% higher than their “dumb” counterparts. That means you are paying hundreds of dollars in order to watch Netflix and YouTube on your TV.

A better option is to buy the cheaper set and then purchase a streaming device separately. Companies like Amazon, Google and Roku have various options that cost $35 – $100 to add most if not all of the options you’ll find on a smart TV.

2) Over-the-top Sound Systems are Over-Rated

Next to the TV itself, the sound system will be the largest expense for a home theater. It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars if you’re not careful. Don’t get caught up in the marketing hype. Unless you’re trying to fill a very large room, a low to moderate-range sound system is more than adequate. In fact, once you move past the $1,000 price-point, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to distinguish the difference in sound quality.

3) Don’t Neglect the Content

So many people get caught up in the perfect equipment, but don’t give much consideration to how the content will be delivered to their home theater. If you don’t have high-quality content, it’s not going to look good no matter how much you spent on the equipment.

Consider the following:

  • If you have a 4k TV, you will need to see if you cable or satellite provider offers Ultra HD content.
  • Physical media, specifically Blu-ray Discs, will typically provide the most consistent quality.
  • If you are using internet based content, make sure that your internet connection is at least 25 Mbps.

With regards to cable and satellite providers, DirectTV is doing a great job making the switch to Ultra HD. Unless you have a fantastic internet connection, satellite is your best option for the highest quality content. Packages vary by region, so find DirectTV in your area and see what is available to you. It will likely be the best option for content.

Don’t feel like a great home entertainment experience is only available to those with thousands to spend. You can easily get a great experience on a budget.

Making the Modern Mattress: How Bedding Has Changed Through Time

While we continue to suffer from sleep disorders that make drifting to dreamland an incredibly difficult affair for some, it can be easy to forget how far bedding technology has come in even the last couple decades. The plush-top mattresses and neck-support pillows we rely so heavily on for a good night’s sleep are recent developments in a long line of uncomfortable and (in many cases) exceedingly harmful places that people have slept.

Learn to appreciate the wealth of healthful and soporific options available for modern sleepers as you journey through the incredible and preposterous history of bedding.

Before the Common Era

As long as people have fallen asleep, there have been beds; however, early beds looked vastly different from the pillow-tops and bed springs we see today. The very first beds anthropologists have found date from the Neolithic Age, which extended between about 10,000 B.C. and 4,500 B.C. For the first time in history, people raised their sleeping places off the ground on beds to avoid dirt and pests. Still, their mattresses were primarily leaves, grass, and straw covered with animal skins.

As civilization blossomed, richer and more innovative people toyed around with different bedding materials. The world’s first waterbed appeared in Persia in 3,600 BCE, as people slept on goat skins filled with water. There is evidence of common Egyptians in 3,400 BCE sleeping on palm boughs, which were typically springier than other plant materials; meanwhile, pharaohs slumbered on beds of ebony and gold. 

The Roman Empire

The Romans experimented heavily with different methods of achieving a good night’s sleep. Merchants sold the first “luxury beds” which were decorated with expensive metals like gold, silver, or bronze, and featured mattresses stuffed with feathers for ultimate comfort. Romans also had their own version of a water bed, where a sleeper would lounge in a bath of warm water until drowsy, at which time he or she would be removed to a cradle and rocked to sleep much like a modern baby. Less wealthy Romans continued to sleep on rudimentary mattresses stuffed with hay or wool, likely dreaming of the luxury bed owned by their betters.

The Renaissance

While people began leaping forward in science and the arts, they certainly lagged behind in bedding development. Not much changed between the 15th and 18th centuries, as people continued to sleep on rough mattresses stuffed with rough materials. Feathers and down began to be more commonplace outside rich royal homes, but it was by no means ubiquitous. Likewise, some families covered their beds in fine fabrics such as velvet, brocade, or even silk, but this was far from the norm. 

18th and 19th Centuries

It wasn’t until late in the 1700s that humanity developed the cast iron bed and cotton mattress. Together, these materials deterred typical pests like vermin and bugs, which had before been accepted as regular sleeping companions, even by royalty. With the advent of a more habitable environment for human slumber, bed makers began incorporating higher quality materials into all of their beds to make sleep ideal for everyone. 

Less than a century later, a brilliant inventor proposed using a coil spring as a cushion in chairs and beds. Though he died before profiting from his creation, the inner-spring mattress took the world by storm and remains the most popular mattress.

 The Digital Age

Orange BedWhile many of our modern mattresses continue to have their roots in the coil springs that appeared in the 19th century, we now have dozens of options when it comes to bedding. Box springs don’t necessarily provide the most comfort or healthiest sleep possible (in fact, it is crucial to find the perfect mattress or you risk real health problems), which is why many people opt for foam, water, or adjustable beds, which provide enhanced technology for the best night’s sleep. Mattress companies are more numerous than ever, which gives buyers the opportunity to shop around for the best deal; for example, the Personal Comfort Bed is a value alternative to the adjustable Sleep Number beds.

As technology continues to progress, it is likely that more research and better engineering will produce more and more comfortable mattresses. Sleep continues to be the final frontier in the human body, and legions of sleepers eagerly look forward to the next big bedding breakthrough.

6 Cool Christmas Gifts for the Person Who Never Rests

We all know at least one person who never has time to sit down. With a schedule bursting with meetings, kids’ activities, social gatherings, and more, these people are always go-go-go, meaning they have very little room in their lives for extraneous and time-wasting junk. However, every year when the holidays roll around, we have to find something practical and heartwarming to give them, just the same. If you’re struggling to come up with a pleasant present for your busy recipient, here are some excellent and useful ideas for this Christmas.

1. Quick and Simple Cookbooks

Just because your recipient is busy doesn’t mean she should have to suffer through fast food and microwave meals. The benefits of cooking one’s own meals are countless and varied, from increased nutrition and safety to stronger connections with one’s friends and family. There are plenty of cookbooks available that provide simple instructions for quick and filling meals with few ingredients and steps. You should find one that offers recipes for the more important meals in the day — breakfast and dinner — to encourage your recipient to pay closer attention to their diet. You might even cook one of the meals together to demonstrate just how little a home-cooked meal intrudes on a busy schedule.

2. A Disposable E-Cigarette Kit

Many busy people take up smoking as a way to enjoy small breaks throughout the day. A smoke break is a short, calming period perfect for gaining temporary distance from the task at hand. However, smoking traditional cigarettes takes more time and money than most hardworking individuals have in a day. Not only must they find a location where smoking is permitted, but they must locate and purchase their perfect pack as often as once a day, which can become expensive. 

You can save your recipient this hassle by starting him or her off with their very own e-cigarette. These handy tobacco-less devices are gaining popularity as they are more customizable and potentially healthier than traditional cigarettes. A disposable e-cig is ideal for an on-the-go person who doesn’t have time to tinker with all the modifications and settings of a more complicated model; however, if he appreciates the experience an electronic nicotine device provides, he can further explore the world on his own.

3. Of-the-Month Clubs

Everyone has a pet interest, be it make-up, books, or fancy cheese, and for the most part, these fascinations aren’t substantial enough to take up time in a busy person’s schedule. You can encourage your recipient to indulge in her minor attraction throughout the year by giving any of the myriad of-the-month packages available for purchase. This present includes a shipment of samples once a month for a selected period, providing your recipient more than one opportunity to indulge in her neglected pastime. Plus, the gift is delivered right to her door, so she doesn’t have to worry about picking it up or seeking it out.

4. Stylish Notebooks or Covers

Pen and PaperBusy schedules tend to include weeks upon weeks of meetings, which means your recipient never has enough notebook space to keep track of everything. If you know just what kind of notebook your recipient uses, go ahead and purchase a few to add to their supply; the more fashionable or luxurious the notebooks, the better. 

However, if you aren’t sure what type of notebook they prefer it might be smarter to buy a stylish notebook cover instead. Notebook covers provide more durability and protection to their most important information while adding a touch of flair to separate him or her from the rest.

5. Instant Coffee

Drip coffee machines take forever, and more often than not, they still fail to provide a satisfying coffee experience. That’s why so many people are turning to quicker methods of achieving their caffeine high. If your busy recipient is still relying on good old Mr. Coffee for her daily (or hourly) caffeine fix, it’s time to encourage her to upgrade. The Keurig is the drip coffee machine for the 21st century, which eliminates the need for filters or coffee beans in favor of simple and handy K-cups filled with the good stuff. However, Keurigs can be costly, so if your budget doesn’t allow a coffee machine, opt for packages of instant coffee, instead. Starbucks’ Via is a popular and beloved choice for instant caffeine, but there are plenty of brands and varieties to choose from for your recipient.

6. A Vacation Package

When a busy person’s schedule becomes concerning, there is only one present that will slow them down: a prepaid vacation. Everyone has an ideal travel destination, and it’s likely your recipient has mentioned more than once just how much he wants to see Niagara Falls or spend time on a river cruise. There are plenty of affordable vacation packages that include world-class amenities and experiences, and if your recipient works as hard as you think, he deserves to relax in style. 

Game-Day Food: Be the MVP of Your Sports Parties  

Game-Day Recipes to Make Your Party a Hit

Host the perfect party with these tips for game-day foods your guests will love! Whether you’re having friends over for regular season games, championships or playoffs, it’s a good bet your sports fans will have the munchies. With a little planning, you can create delicious game day grub for your sports parties without going over your budget. Open a bank account online to plan for the different sports-viewing parties you’ll throw by depositing a small amount each month leading up to the Big Game. Check out these five popular game-day recipes to create something more unique than the admittedly delicious standard fare of pizza and wings.

1. Meaty Main Dishes

Looking for a health-conscious main dish that’s still delicious? Try making chili with ground turkey instead of beef. With this simple game-day recipe for Lean, Mean, White Meat, White Bean Chili, you can sauté the turkey and onions, then toss everything in the crock pot and let it simmer while preparing the other appetizers, side dishes and desserts. Simmer for about an hour or until heated through and bubbling. Serve with the chopped green onion, tortilla chips and cheddar cheese. 

  • 1lb 95% lean ground turkey
  • 2 cans great northern beans
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon red hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark molasses
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes – no salt added
  • Two 11-ounce jars medium salsa
  • One 11-ounce jar mild salsa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • Dash cloves
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped green onion for garnish

Looking to stick with more traditional game-day food? You can still mix it up by making your own specialty pizza and wings. Pork, beef or chicken sliders are other fan favorites. 

2. Delightful Dips

The Food Network has a list of 50 Game-Day Dips your friends and family will love to dive into. These crowd-pleasing dips are simple game-day recipes to keep your guests snacking until the main course is ready. Our favorite is the pizza dip:

  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • basil
  • olive oil
  • diced mozzarella
  • sliced pepperoni

Simmer the tomato sauce in a small, ovenproof skillet and add the ricotta in dollops until it is warmed through. Top it with the diced mozzarella and pepperoni and bake at 350 degrees until bubbling. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with basil, then serve with soft bread or crostini.  

3. Simple Salads and Sides

Have guests who are trying to eat a lighter fare? There’s no need to neglect game-day grilling with this recipe from Emeril Lagasse for Grilled Chicken Salad. Here are the ingredients you’ll need, just follow the link for instructions!

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4-ounce portions
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 4 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground Szechuan pepper or crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint leaves
  • 8 large butter lettuce leaves
  • 6 ounces diced mango
  • 6 ounces diced papaya
  • 6 ounces diced pineapple
  • 20 toasted, lightly salted Marcona almonds
  • 1 recipe Lemon-Ginger Vinaigrette

If you’re planning vegetarian sports parties, leave out the chicken and increase the almonds for more protein. Or if you’re looking for an even simpler salad, you can mix up the vinaigrette and drizzle it over mixed greens, sliced strawberries and almonds.

And of course, what party is complete without side dishes? From deviled eggs to loaded baked potatoes, make sure you include something small, yet hearty, on the side to score with your game-day food. Guy Fieri of the Food Network has a recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp in a Chipotle Barbeque Sauce that pairs perfectly with main dishes of chicken or beef.

4. Divine Desserts

Game-day desserts give you the opportunity to get creative with the day’s menu. From dessert nachos to football and basketball shaped cakes, confectionery game-day recipes are the perfect way to sweeten a defeat or celebrate a win – if your guests have room, that is! Find the ingredients you’ll need for the Nacho Normal Cheesecake recipe from the Food Network below:

For the cheesecake:

  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • Yellow and red food coloring
  • Cooking spray, for the pan
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the chips:

  • 1 roll refrigerated pie dough
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

For the salsa and garnishes:

  • 8 red candy fish
  • 1 cup low-sugar strawberry jam
  • 3 strands green licorice twists
  • 6 black licorice dots
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • Yellow and red food coloring
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate-covered raisins

Save money on game-day food

When planning your game-day budget, you may be able to find ways to save with coupons or by shopping at the local farmer’s market. Or, turn your sports-viewing parties into money-saving potlucks to sample your friends’ favorites and reduce your time in the kitchen. Sports parties may not be something you naturally think to save for, but creating a short-term budget to plan ahead can help avoid overspending. If you didn’t budget for the party, you can also easily transfer funds from a rainy day savings account to your checking account before running to the store – or even while you’re in the checkout line with mobile apps. Just be sure you have funds for your necessary expenses and you have a plan to replenish your checking account quickly.

Sponsored content was created and provided by Citizens Financial Group.

How to Rebuild Your Life After Heroin Addiction

A heroin addict considering entering methadone maintenance may wonder if it’s even possible to live a normal, happy, and productive life after struggling with something as demoralizing and stigmatizing as heroin addiction. For many addicts, the answer is yes. However, rebuilding your life after heroin addiction means dedicating yourself to continuing the work of recovery forever — not just during your methadone maintenance program.

In order to repair your life in the wake of addiction, you’re going to need social support and professional skills. You’ll need to make maintaining your mental health a priority. You should always be mindful of the possibility of relapse — even years or decades after you get clean — and take steps to prevent it.

Make New Friends

Many people recovering from substance addiction — whether it’s an addiction to alcohol or other drugs or heroin — find that they no longer have much in common with the old friends of their using days. It’s not so much that these people aren’t really your friends, it’s more that they remain caught up in the drama of addiction and preoccupied with getting and using the substance of choice at any cost. If you continue to hang around these people after you start methadone maintenance, you’re going to feel tempted to use heroin again, and eventually you’re going to give in to that temptation.

But you can’t isolate yourself either. Isolation will lead to loneliness, which will lead you right back to your actively using friends, and back into active addiction yourself. Sober social support is a huge component of all methadone success stories, because friends allow you to have fun without relying on substances. They help you manage stress by giving you a shoulder to cry on when things get rough. Friends who are recovering addicts themselves can even give you tips on how to deal with cravings to use. If you don’t know where to find sober friends, start by looking for a Narcotics Anonymous group in your area. 

Revitalize Your Career

Some addicts who are entering methadone maintenance may already have jobs; many heroin addicts manage to hide their habit for years while maintaining an outwardly normal life. If you already have a job that you enjoy and that doesn’t trigger you to use substances, you’re in luck. You can both improve your life and distract yourself from cravings by throwing yourself into your work. 

 Don’t work yourself too hard; overwork can result in stress that leads to relapse. But do take advantage of any opportunities to enhance your skills and make yourself a more valuable member of the work force. 

If you don’t already have a job, now is the time to begin looking for one. If addiction has kept you from being an active member of the workforce, you may want to stick with working an entry-level position that will allow you to build job skills, obtain references, and boost your confidence without overwhelming you with responsibility. 

If you don’t have a job and can’t find one, don’t panic. Take a volunteer position. While you should ideally find a volunteer position that will help you learn skills you can use in the workforce, a regular commitment to any volunteer program will show that you’re dependable and motivated and will help you get references for your resume. If you’ve not yet completed your education, now is the time to go back to school or enter an apprenticeship program and get training that will help you find a good job.  

Be on Guard Against Relapse

When you’re in recovery from addiction, relapse is always a possibility, even if it’s been years since you last got high. Even addicts who have been in recovery for decades will still feel an occasional craving. That’s why you need to take steps to protect yourself from relapse, no matter how long it’s been since you finished treatment. In the beginning, this will mean sticking with your program, but as time passes, relapse prevention will become more focused on managing stress and avoiding triggers. 

Look After Your Mental Health 

Taking care of your mental health is an important part of avoiding relapse and maintaining long-term happiness in addiction recovery. If you have another mental illness, like depression or anxiety, seek therapy to treat it. It’s okay to take antidepressants or other medication to treat a mental illness, even if you have a history of addiction. Therapy can also be helpful. 

Even if you don’t have another mental illness, regular exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, stress management techniques, social support, and other things that keep you healthy and make you happy are important to maintaining psychological health. You could develop depression or anxiety if you become overwhelmed by stress or loneliness or your physical health deteriorates. Make a special point of practicing good self-care during stressful times, like job loss, bereavement, or other difficult life changes.

It’s not easy to rebuild your life after heroin addiction, but it can be done. Try to forgo dwelling on the past in order to focus on the life you want in the future, and before you know it, that life will be yours.

Tips for First Time Loan Borrower

Thinking of availing a home loan or mortgage for the very first time?

First time home loan shoppers are highly likely to fall for the sugar words and marketing tactics of banks or home loan providers. The following tips may help you strike the best deal without having to sulk over potential mistakes usually committed by inexperienced borrowers.

For your First Time Home Loan…

(Please note that these are just a few guidelines and there may be a lot more that you might want to check out with respect your specific scenario in your country or state)

1. Shop around for the best deal

You may want to compare the loan offers – in terms of rates, monthly installment as well as overall mortgage package – from at least four to five different financial institutions before arriving at a final decision. In addition, you may want to discuss with your friends or relatives who might have had experience with each of these banks. Please note that the lowest interest rates do not mean the best deal. You have to know exactly how they calculate the interest (daily reducing balance, monthly reducing, quarterly reducing etc) and if there are additional charges. In addition, understand if there are any processing fee or lawyer fees along with the rules for prepayment or foreclosure.

Click here for some loan ideas!

2. Negotiate for a discount rate

It might sound odd but most of the banks have the flexibility of offering 0.5% or 0.75% (might vary in certain countries) less interest than the standard advertised rate. This is particularly true if you are having a stable and high earning profession (e.g. doctors, lawyers,…). In addition to these so-called ‘professional packages’ there are also corporate discounts available from some banks targeting specifically people from certain high profile corporates. Hence don’t be ashamed to negotiate.

3. Plan the rest of your life ahead

Never take a home mortgage assuming certain raise in salary or additional income that ‘might’ come in the future. Instead, plan from the point of view of additional financial burdens that you might encounter in the coming years (or the tenure of the loan). This may include wedding expenses, child education, purchase of vehicles or even expensive vacations.

4. Insurance, riders and deposits

It is highly advisable that you take home mortgage insurance for 25% to 30% of your home loan value to avert any risk of non-payment due to critical illness, accidents, job loss due to the above or even death. Mortgage insurance is mandatory (from the lender’s point of view) in most countries if the home purchase contribution from your side is less than 20% or so. If you do not wish to take mortgage insurance, set aside 10% to 15% (or even 20%) of your loan amount towards a term deposit or low risk bank investment. This will indeed help to repay your loan in the case of temporary no-income situations. This will also help in reducing your monthly outflow towards loan.

(You can have both the deposit as well as mortgage insurance which can help you with a little bit of tax planning as well)

5. Go for it ONLY when you are ready!

A home loan is a lifelong burden for most people. Hence before taking a loan, do a readiness and feasibility check from your end to see if it’s the right time to go for such a financial commitment. Also chew only as much as you can swallow – a huge home may be your dream but you have to really think whether you can afford it.

The other aspect of readiness check is to have a good credit history and stable background. Building your credit history by paying back your credit card bills on time, not withholding tax dues, not having several loans etc will boost your credit record. In addition, you may jump jobs and rented homes as little as possible to establish a good history. Frequent address changes are not considered good by financial institution in certain countries.

I hope these tips for first time home buyers were interesting to you. You may want to share this page with your friend who is in the lookout of a home loan.