Monday, August 31, 2020

Starting a Small Business?



Hey neighbors!!

Today many people are working from home.  They might work for a large company or perhaps they have started a home business.  I am presently working on a home business.  I found a site GrowThink that has information that can help someone who is starting a new business of their own.  They have an article that lists 10 components to your business plans.  I read through, and although not all of them would apply to me personally there are several points I need to consider. when setting up my own plan.

For example, they mention Customer Analysis.  I am presently trying to explore different ways of reaching customers of different ages.  I need to choose a target audience, and focus on products/methods that will meet their needs and appeal to them.  I think I am presently trying to reach everyone, instead of focusing on a specific group.  I don't want to narrow it too much, but at the same time I do need to set some guidelines that will keep me focused.  It will make my choices easier and remove some stress of trying to reach everyone.



Another topic is Analysis of the Competition.  I don't really have direct competition here, but a couple of companies do offer a different style or version of some of my items.  They are more indirect competitors rather than direct.  I want to make sure that what I offer is a good product at a reasonable price.  I personally want quality yet with a moderate price tag.

Since I am still basically in the setup and beginning stages, I am slowly finding my way and working through what I need to do to make this a successful venture.  If you are starting a small business, or perhaps you already have a small business you might want to take a little time and work or revamp your business plan.  Wherever your new adventure leads I wish you the best!  Thank you for stopping by today!!

4 Things You Didn't Know About German Shepherd Dogs


German Shepherds are one of the most recognizable dogs in the world. Prized for their intelligence and loyalty, they're a popular and beloved breed. If you're brand new to the world of German Shepherds, there are more lovable things about them you might not know. If you're looking to adopt, here are four interesting traits you might see in your German Shepherd.

They Love Windows
As soon as you realize your German Shepherd is the prince, or princess, of your castle, you'll see that they enjoy surveying all they own. This includes keeping an eye on things happening outside your window. German Shepherds need to know exactly what's going on with passersby, the mailman and any feline that dares to set a paw on your property. You don't need to discourage this behavior as they're just doing their job, so enjoy the added security.


They Want To Be Trained
When you select one of many German Shepherd puppies Miami for adoption, sign them up for training. German Shepherds are highly intelligent and should always be professionally-trained whenever possible. Even after they've graduated from obedience school, keep teaching them new tricks. This breed needs mental stimulation and will become depressed if they don't get it. They want to be trained and are anxious to make you proud.
They'll Herd Your Family
German Shepherds are herding class dogs and they love to complete tasks. If you notice your German Shepherd is circling you and your family, it's because they're herding you! Your pet wants to keep you in line so everyone is safe and together. If you're walking behind them, you'll also notice a German Shepherd looking back for you so they know exactly where everyone is.

They Come in Different Colors
Most people recognize German Shepherds by their black and tan colors, but they also exist in black and red, pure black, sable and white. There's also the very rare blue German Shepherd which is really a bluish-gray color and simply stunning. These dogs have two different hair lengths; the classic short and the long-haired. Whichever you own, they both love and need to be brushed every day.
Endearing Qualities
Any dog you adopt will have its own irresistible personality. German Shepherds in general possess noble qualities such as loyalty and intelligence. However, adorable little quirks like staring out windows and herding the family will soon become endearing characteristics that you love most about your dog.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Ways To Help Raise Responsible, Mature Children

The older generation is often lamenting the behavior of youth. They don't act right. The kids are too self-centered. As parents, a main role, though, is helping the younger generation grow up, ready to tackle the challenges thrown at them. It's not simple, and it takes time. Therefore, in order to develop responsibility and maturity, adults should model and teach lessons about character, especially putting kindness thoughts first.


Look for Opportunities To Volunteer
Many in the middle class don't understand the plight of those below them. Living in a nice house and having food on the table is simply a given, yet, for other households, this doesn't hold true. This gap leads to a distorted reality. Witnessing the dearth of others hits home. Is there a soup kitchen in the area? Do you have any organizations that pairs teens with younger less privileged kids? If so, these opportunities permit interactions, possibly instilling some appreciation and humbleness.

Say No
Saying yes to everything may avoid excess tears and tantrums; however, the act does possibly cause some other issues. These kids never cope with a sense of disappointment. They don't realize that living continues without their wish granted. In fact, this policy of not saying no just keep things temporarily calm, diminishing the appreciation for material objects and sacrifice. Establish a goal to not give in to the whims. Create rules for bedtime and playtime. There may be fits of sadness, wrestling with feelings enable younger kiddos to develop emotionally.

Put Family Before Objects
Would your sons or daughters rather shop or spend time with the rest of the family? If sifting through online website or strolling down stores trumps game night, beaches and quality time, then priorities could be out of place. It's all good to enjoy a good shopping trip. If that's the only way to gain satisfaction, then shift gears. During adulthood, bills mount. Choices may be made about what to buy or put to the side. By showing children other avenues of happiness, you might ease those selections in the years to come.

Let Them Pay for Things
Part of being a reasonable grown-up is handling finances well. Write up a list of chores. When it's completed each week (to parent satisfaction), disburse an allowance. Encourage putting a certain percentage in a savings account. Splurges may happen, but it's on the kid's own dime.

Selfishness and generosity are learned behaviors. Spend time discussing manners and choices.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Man's Best Friend


You’ve decided your family needs a pet and you’ve settled on a dog rather than a fish, goat or howler monkey. You’re confident you’ve made the right decision, but you’re also sure you’re not really prepared to bring home your newest family member…yet.


Gear
Who knows dogs better than the American Kennel Club? They have a variety of resources available on their website, everything from help naming your pooch to local dog-friendly events. They also have a shop which will give you some ideas of what kind of things you’ll need to buy to be prepared to bring home your new 4-legged friend. Under their list of essentials, you’ll find items to help you feed, play with, walk and provide a restful space for your new dog. Even if you don’t buy from them, checking out those ideas before heading to your local pet store can help you prepare your list and your budget.


Health
It’s a great idea to check out referrals for veterinarians before you bring Fido home. You may discover that your closest vet deals best with small animals like rodents and reptiles or with large farm animals. It’s better to know that before you bring your precious pet to their first appointment. You may also wish to explore health insurance. The list of health problems your dog could possibly encounter is longer than you’d imagine. It’s much better to be prepared to face those problems head-on. You can check out Dog IVDD Boulder for ideas on why you may need pet insurance and what you can do to help your dog live it’s best life ever.

Space
Big dogs tend to need bigger spaces. Small dogs typically are fine with a smaller space. However, you want to pay attention to breed specifics. Two big breeds, Huskies and Greyhounds, definitely need an area in which to roam, but it must be fenced. Huskies wander and Greyhounds run so far so fast that they can quickly become lost. Some small dogs also require space to run especially if, like the Miniature Australian Cattle Dog, they’re dogs bred to herd other animals. Giving your Mini Aussie something like chickens to herd will also prevent them from herding the local children, too. The space doesn’t have to be yours, though. The local dog park will do provided you visit regularly.

One area you probably don’t have much prep work for is your heart. Dogs are easy to love and provide hours of enjoyment.

How To Tackle Your Taxes



Whether you're a single person with a day job or a married professional with a small business, knowing how to handle your tax paperwork can be a daunting task. It's important to ensure you're following the rules as well as not paying more than you need to.

Get Help
A tax professional can take some of the burden off your shoulders. Look for accounting firms specializing in tax return preparation. In addition to handling the paperwork and filing, these agencies may also provide advice and help with tax planning. Freelancers and small business owners can benefit tremendously from these tips. For instance, freelancers are considered both employers and employees by the IRS. A new 2018 law allows for a significant deduction with the right type of business filing, something a tax professional can take care of for you.
Choose the Right Professional
Tax preparers can hold a variety of credentials. Attorneys, certified public accountants or enrolled agents may prepare taxes and are all credentialed through different licensing boards. The IRS website offers these tips for taxpayers looking to verify tax professionals they are considering. Beware of ghost preparers – not the spooky kind of ghosts, the fly-by-night kind that will fail to properly file your return or steal your refund. Paid preparers have a PTIN and are required to include this information on your return. If your preparer doesn't include this consider it a red flag for fraud.
Pull Your Paperwork Together
Once you've chosen a tax advisor you'll want to pull together W-2s, 1099s and other tax forms. Your tax professional will know what you need to provide as long as you're giving them the correct information about your tax situation. Gather documentation regarding all your income sources as well as possible deductions like mortgage interest and charitable donations. Your preparer will know if itemizing is right for you and request information accordingly.
Plan Your Next Move
Take the time to do a little tax planning. Making retirement contributions with a goal in place will give you peace of mind and make it easier to set that money aside. When you know the tax advantages associated with strategic saving you'll be more likely to see your financial goals as attainable. If you freelance or own a business make sure you're keeping a record of expenses and income. Waiting for clients to send 1099s at the end of the year can be stressful and you should always rely on your own records first.

For many people, taxes are a scary prospect. With the right help, they don't have to be.

Raccoons, Rodents and Other Home Invaders

Hey All!!

All too often we experience home invaders that can damage our homes.  I am not talking thieves, although they may steal more than just your peace of mind.  I am talking those furry critters that somehow manage to find their way inside your home, or perhaps into your trash.  Since living in this home we have experienced, raccoons, mice, snakes, deer, opossums, and groundhogs.  Let me share a little bit with you.

You may know we have had an ongoing battle with raccoons in our home.  It started over a year ago when we heard something scratching, clawing and fighting in the ceiling of our new addition.  After some research we decided we had a raccoon problem.  Everyone recommended humane traps and relocating the cute little pests.  We caught 2 and 1 random opossum that investigated the trap.  My husband relocated them to a nice wooded area about 5 miles from our home.  Guess what? 5 miles is not far enough.  Within days we had noises above us again.  We set up the traps, but nothing seemed interested in the food in the traps, or they managed to steal it without getting caught.  Need I tell you they are reasonably crafty!!  Next thing we know they apparently decided above our bedroom was the perfect spot to raise a family.  We started hearing fighting between the siblings.

So, a friend of ours drove 2 hours and came over and inspected the roof to find out where they were getting in.  By that time we had trapped at least 3 more and had taken them on a much longer trip to find their new home.  All of this was done under the advice of our local wildlife management.  On the roof they found 2 spots where it appeared that they had torn through to gain access.  They ran to the local hardware store and picked up some sheet metal, that they used to block the raccoons entryways into the home.  Sounded good.  Two whole days of total silence....but somehow another one entered and set up house.  We caught him after about 5 days.  We think we may still have one.  We will see what happens.

On top of all this a groundhog decided to move in.  He has built many, beautiful tunnels around our backyard, many of which go under the house or outbuildings.  Unfortunately for him, he came out one day and entered an area where our Toy Aussies play.  He ended up cornered in a hollow at the base of a tree.  I never realized how mean those groundhogs can look until I saw him baring his teeth at my dog.  We managed to call Buddy off with no one getting injured and my husband tried to encourage him to come out.  He stayed in the hollow until quite a bit later that day and as far as I know has never returned. Hopefully this battle is over.


Last of all we have been dealing with the random mouse.  We have been using glue pads to catch them, but we have to make sure to place them where none of the dogs can reach them.  Have you ever tried to remove one of those sticky pads from a dogs foot or fur?  I have, and it is not fun at all.  So we try to place them out of reach, or only in rooms the dogs can not access.  We believe they are coming in from the basement, but can not locate exactly where.  Fortunately it is only one very 4-5 months.

So, what type of home invaders have you experienced? What did you do to deal with the problem? If you have any advice on how to stop ours, please leave a comment.  I am willing to try other options.  Did you hire someone to come in?  We are going forward with the humane traps and our friend is coming back to inspect the roof.  My husband is checking out the basement for ways they may be gaining access, and we are trying to seal off anywhere they may enter.  We are also trying to use deterrents like essential oils they do not like.  Hopefully all of this combined will help.  Be sure to share your information or story.  Thanks for stopping by!! See you soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Deals and Shopping at Nordstrom Rack

Hey neighbors!!

Until I had teenage boys, I had never ever shopped at Nordstrom Rack.  You would think it would be girls that  brought the store to my attention, but... it was definitely the boys.  I will admit, that it was an older gentleman friend of my husbands that first introduced the family to Nordstrom.  He is a bit older and came from that generation that always wears button-up dress clothes no matter where he is going or what he is doing.  That includes doing the yard work. He told the boys that it is better to spend a little more to get a higher quality, well made piece of clothing.  My boys quickly followed and became clothing experts!!  A little difficult at times, but definitely nice to have them interested in good clothing.

So, I had to start searching for ways to cut corners a bit when it came to clothing shopping.  Of course we signed up with our email so we would be notified of any specials or sales.  Clearance became one of my favorite tabs on their website, and I started looking for Nordstrom Rack Coupons and Deals.  Oh, we also tried to order more items at one time when online shopping, so we would receive free shipping.  Online was our main way to shop since we live in a very small town where the nearest Nordstrom Rack is over 3 hours away.  The family did like to stop in an actual store when we took the random trip to Chicago since they could actually try things on first.

Of course the girls began to find some wonderful clothing as well. They loved some of the dresses and blouses. I personally love their selection of skirts and cardigans, especially with fall approaching.  I do not like heavy long sleeved clothing, but the occasional cardigan or cape is perfect when it cools off.


Especially during the times we are in it is so nice to be able to shop online from the comfort of your home and find quality clothing for GREAT prices delivered to your door. If you are looking for coupons and codes to use while shopping, be sure to visit Slickdeals to find some of the best discounts available.


If you are looking for some great back to school clothing I recommend you check out Nordstrom Rack.  Whether your children are going back to a physical school or if they are doing virtual school or homeschool, you can find an amazing variety of clothes on their online site. Personally we liked to dress up a bit for homeschool, but if you prefer to wear PJs, they have those too!  Below is just a sample of the kids' clothing you will find at Nordstrom Rack.


So when you need to go clothing shopping again for yourself or the family, be sure to check out the deals and bargains you can find at Nordstrom Rack.  You will be so glad you did. Thanks for stopping in for a visit today!! See you again soon!!


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Types of Ticks in Florida




Ticks are disease carriers and can pass illnesses on to humans and animals. There are a number of types of ticks that live in Florida. It is important to be aware of ticks and to control their presence in your environment.
Florida Tick Types and the Diseases They Carry

The University of Florida IFAS Extension recognizes several species of ticks in Florida. They include:
Brown Dog Tick
American Dog Tick
Lone Star Tick
Gulf Coast Tick, and
Black-legged Tick

Ticks can carry several harmful diseases including
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, the most severe tick-borne disease in the United States,
Lyme Disease, which is much more common in the Northeast United States,
Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis, carried by the lone star tick and the black-legged tick, respectively,
Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), carried by the lone star tick, and
Rickettsia parkeri, transmitted by the gulf coast tick.


If you are bitten by a tick and become sick, seek medical help. If possible, collect the tick and bring it with you to the health center.
How To Control Ticks in Florida

The key to not getting sick from tick bites is awareness and control. Avoid outdoor areas of tall grass and brush where ticks live. Wear light-colored clothes so that you can spot ticks easily. Apply good quality tick repellent. Upon coming home, remove clothing and dry them at high temperature for 10 minutes or so, which will kill ticks.

If you are looking for professional tick control Fort Myers, you will have a number of choices. Make sure you select a local firm that has been in business for a number of years and has excellent reviews. Be careful to not choose the lowest price firm without evaluating the work they can do. You'll want to ensure that the folks you employ are certified and use the highest-quality pest-control products.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Reflections on At the Fence



Hey all!!

During this time of quarantine and mask wearing I have taken some time to look back on my experiences with At the Fence and the changes that have come over the years.  When I started out I had 6 children all at home with the oldest being 24.  My youngest is now 19!!  With that being said, I started out my site with the intent of reviewing products and sharing my opinions with my neighbors (followers).  I chose At the Fence because that is where neighbors have shared information over the years.  When I first began it was reasonably easy to review things for children and teens.  I also homeschooled, so that was part of the products I reviewed.

Then, the children grew up.  I was no longer reviewing as many toys and games.  We managed to continue receiving books, cooking and baking items, jewelry, sporting goods, and clothing.  I also had seasonal themes where I did different Gift Guides.  Things sort of leveled out for awhile.

I also received paid posts.  This is where a company or individual contacts me with a pre-written post with links back to their site.  This is where I actually managed to see some income from my website.  I had a few paid ads in the sidebar, but not an abundance.


Fast forward now to 2020.  The quarantine really put a dent in my reviews.  More companies had fewer employees actually at their business to handle influencer requests.  Many were working from home and of course making less themselves, so sending out product was not the best choice for them.  I did mange to get a few companies that had games and things for families to do together during quarantine to work with us. I have noticed though, that more and more companies are focusing on the social media marketing posts, rather than actual website posts.  I am having to re-evaluate again how and where I want At the Fence to go.  Questions come up like - Is it worth keeping the website up?  Should I change over to strictly social media?  Will website traffic go back up once the quarantine and Covid are over? Many people are now shopping online rather than in store, how will this affect my site?  There is so much to consider as I am mapping out the future of At the Fence.

I have actually considered starting all over with new branding on social media.  I would have to do some research on different ways to reach people with social media during the pandemic.  Some changes I see myself having to make:
1. Instead of sharing links to stores, I would have to link to online shopping sites.
2. I would want to be sure to relate to people during this time of financial instability as well as all the stress they are under.
3. Needs have changed, so researching the different types of products and services people need now is a must.
4. I also have to motivate myself, because I am finding myself dragging at times instead of enjoying what I am doing.

Is social media going to be the best way to market now?  I am beginning to think so.  No one goes anywhere without their smart phone or electronic tablet of some sort.  Everyone is on social media and are looking for ways to connect.

So, while I have time I am going to consider my options as to where to go from here.  I have come a long way from when I first started At the Fence, but I would still like to continue in some way with what I have been doing.  Hopefully I can come up with some good ideas and go from there.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and as always thanks for stopping by, where neighbors share!!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Pigly and Your Finances



Hey all,

Found this really neat website called Pigly.  I am pretty excited about it, because as a homeschooling parent, I have realized over the years that we do not do enough teaching in school about handling finances.  My son who was a loan officer at a local credit union said he was amazed at how many people had no clue how to fill out a check, figure what they could afford for a loan, and how to do a simple budget.  All of my children were taught about finances before they graduated.  Mainly the simple stuff like creating a budget, saving towards a larger item, managing a savings or checking account, was required knowledge for my children. I went to public school and definitely was not taught any of these skills necessary for daily life and learned many of them by trial and error. I was an A/B Honor Roll student, yet there were no courses on day to day finances.

So, back to Pigly, this is a really informative website with many different calculators designed to help you with your budget, loans, retirement, investments and many other financial issues.  This would be a great tool for homeschoolers to incorporate in to their curriculum for the school year.  Beyond that though, is the ability for individuals who realize they are in need of help, in one or more of these areas, to use one of the Pigly Calculators to help gain control of their personal finances.  USA Today had an article regarding how Americans are presently struggling with finances due to the Covid virus.


Pigly is free to use and there are no annoying ads to distract you.  Along with the calculators, you will find general information in each area of finance to help you make wise choices about your money and how you will choose to apply your new knowledge.  From Pigly: A 2018 survey by the Federal Reserve indicated 40% of Americans would not be able to cover a $400 emergency with cash, savings, or a credit card they could quickly pay off.

If you have children ages 12 or older, show them how to use the savings calculator.  Plan some time to teach them ways to save a portion of their allowance or birthday money and let them see the results of saving.  For older teens who have jobs or who do extra chores for spending money, have them plug in some numbers to see how much they can save by putting away a portion each week/month. The American Bankers Associate has a special program TCTS, Teach Children To Save.

For those of us who are already adults, take advantage of these easily accessible calculators to help you find different ways to cut corners, change your spending, and how you can invest or save your money.  I personally will be utilizing a couple of the calculators to help with my new business to figure out the best way to reinvest in my business as well as putting some away for a rainy day!!


Thanks for stopping by today and take a minute to check out Pigly!! See you soon!

PS - They also have an online game!!


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Finding a New Apartment in Chicago


Hey neighbors!!

I understand right now many of us are experiencing a lot of turmoil and unsettling experiences.  If on top of all this you are moving to Chicago for a new job, to be closer to family or for college, you may find yourself stressing trying to find a place to live in an unfamiliar town or city that you are feel totally lost in.  I want to share a few tips with you on ways to find that new apartment that will help relieve some of the stress.

1. If at all possible, visit the Chicago area or surrounding suburbs ahead of time.  Drive around and get a feel for just what the new location has to offer.  Do you prefer to live close to downtown near the loop, or are you wanting to be out in the suburbs? You should take time to check out the nearest gym, library, or the local shops. If you have children be sure to locate the schools.  Make sure you choose an area you and your family will be comfortable living in.


2. Once you figure out which areas of Chicago will be most beneficial to all your needs try to stick as close to your goals as possible.  Make sure you include the needs of all the members of your family in your decision making.

3. You might want to visit the local chamber of commerce, or if you can not visit, ask them to send you information about Chicago and the surrounding areas.  They will often be able to supply brochures regarding local utilities, trash, schools, and other interesting information including museums and zoos.  They will provide a fountain of information.


4. Next you might want to consider using an Apartment Search resource like Zumper that can help you find that perfect new home.  We have visited Chicago several times over the past few years, and with all the apartments available having a resource like Zumper narrow down the search to find that perfect apartment would be a huge benefit.  You will be able to accomplish much of your research from the comfort of your home online using your computer.

Utilizing Zumper you can search for an apartment or home.  Zumper gives you the ability to submit applications and credit information digitally.  Their listing information is updated in real time so you will find the newest listings first.  You can filter your search by whatever is most important to you.  Search by the amount of bedrooms you need, find a pad that is pet friendly or which Chicago apartments fit in to your specific price range. Keep your search focused on the right home for you.   Zumper puts apartment hunting at your finger tips. They have 79 neighborhoods in their search with over 16,000 listings just in the Chicago area.  Knowing you have this resource available before you move will help take some of the stress and pressure off the upcoming move.

So, try to consider and implement some of our points to help make this move easier and more stress free.  We have enough on our plates right now, without making moving more of a hassle than it needs to be.  Thanks for stopping by today!!



Tuesday, August 4, 2020

NQC Announcement



PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (August 4, 2020) – The NQC Board of Directors announced today plans for NQC 2020, and provisional plans if NQC 2020 is not allowed to take place as scheduled due to state and government orders. 
 
If state orders allow, NQC 2020 will occur as scheduled. However, if state orders for September include any kind of social distancing, it will mean that NQC 2020 will have to be suspended.
 
If NQC 2020 is suspended, due to state orders, NQC will move forward with an alternative event on the same dates. This event will be the NQC Fall Festival.  
 
Further information about the event and logistics are as follows:
  • The NQC Fall Festival will take place September 27 – October 3, 2020 if social distancing orders prevent NQC 2020 from occurring
  • The LeConte Center will be set with 1,500 chairs socially distanced 6’ apart by pairs
  • The main stage of the Fall Festival will be set up at one end instead of in the round.
  • Admission for the NQC Fall Festival will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. The event is currently on sale and will be a general admission event. 
  • NQC recommends people who know they will be in Pigeon Forge for NQC week to purchase Fall Festival tickets now. If state orders allow NQC, all NQC Fall Festival admissions will be refunded.
  • If the NQC Fall Festival occurs, NQC customers will either have their admission refunded or applied to next year.  It will be each customer’s choice.
  • Artists who perform in the Fall Festival will have displays set up in the Greenbriar ballroom, and the displays will be sufficiently distanced apart.  There is plentiful space in the Greenbriar to allow for distancing between and in front of the displays.
  • The NQC Fan Festival will feature around 10 artists per night.
  • For either NQC or NQC Fall Festival, a live only webcast will be made available to subscribers.
“We did not want to preemptively suspend NQC in advance of the state orders being issued for September,” states Clarke Beasley, NQC Executive Vice President. "However, if state orders prevents NQC from occuring as planned, we wanted to have an alternative ready to go that would be in compliance with all existing state orders for the benefit of NQC attendees as well as the NQC artists.”
 
A complete schedule of the NQC Fall Festival option is available on www.nqconline.com.
 
ABOUT NQC:
NQC - the National Quartet Convention - was founded in 1957 by gospel music legend and former backup vocalist for Elvis Presley, J.D. Sumner who co-produced the event with James Blackwood. The annual convention was moved in later years to Nashville, TN and then to Louisville, KY where it was held for 20 years.