Going Back in Time on the Ultimate Steamboat Vacation


Going Back in Time on the Ultimate Steamboat Vacation

by Amy Lignor


Many people love taking a cruise. But it is the river cruise on that glorious steamboat that not only offers all the benefits a big ocean liner offers, but also creates a more personalized, intimate vacation experience. It is a unique recipe: being able to witness stunning landscapes, mixed with amazing history, while dining on acclaimed regional cuisine and enjoying exceptional entertainment. It is also a true adventure to explore riverside port cities and then come back to the steamboat to find your own personal attendant is waiting to make sure you have everything you need and want during your trip.

river cruise, American Queen Steamboat Company, Hop-On/Hop-Off, shore excursions, Mississippi River, Ohio & Tennessee Rivers, Steamboat Vacation,  Lewis and Clark, adventure, Tom & Huck, Columbia & Snake River Cruises

Choosing the American Queen Steamboat Company for your river cruise is perfect. After all, the only thing you need to do is relax while the steamboat takes you on some of the most memorable river cruises in the U.S. Say you are a history buff, by traveling the Mississippi River you will explore the history, culture, and nature of the famous waterway. And that is just one of the unique and unforgettable river cruise packages you can choose from.


This is the ideal vacation – with all of the luxury and none of the hassles. With three magnificent and glorious vessels to choose from – the American Queen, American Duchess, or the American Empress – the abundance of luxurious amenities that come along with the signature benefits of pre-cruise deluxe hotel stays will literally have you spoiled by the time the vacation comes to a close. (So much so, you are not going to want to get off that boat!) Hop-On/Hop-Off shore excursions in each port, fabulous dining venues, nightly entertainment and dancing, 24-hour room service…you name it, it’s yours. And whether you wish to explore the Heartland or wish to get those breathtaking views of the great Pacific Northwest, these journeys through ‘authentic America’ are like nothing you have ever experienced.


Choices that can be made include the Lower Mississippi River Cruises. You will witness antebellum plantations, cotton fields and Civil War memorials. River cruising through the rich history of the Old South is literally like taking a step back in time. When you explore the port cities, you will be enthralled by everything from the restored mansions that grace the Great River Road to the sidewalk cafes of New Orleans’ French Quarter to the sounds of the soulful blues streaming through the streets of Memphis.


If choosing one of the Upper Mississippi River Cruises, you will find yourself taken back in time as you cruise a river that became legendary through Mark Twain’s words. His beloved characters – from Tom Sawyer to Huck Finn to Becky Thatcher – are still alive and well in Hannibal, Missouri, Twain’s boyhood hometown. You will be swept away as you cruise aboard a classic, steam-powered vessel that includes stops at storybook American towns and vibrant, bustling cities.


River cruises are also available along the Ohio & Tennessee Rivers. On these particular cruises, a cultural mecca comes in the form of cities and towns along these two rivers. From Civil War battlefields, forts and homesteads to quaint Main Streets, this is one region that is alive with history. Cruising the Cumberland River takes you straight into Bluegrass Country. The Ohio River is a literal showcase of the best America has to offer. The Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers are a reminder of the wilderness that had to be conquered in order to make this nation great. So whether you are cruising through the wilderness or heading to attractions like Churchill Downs, there will never be a dull moment.


Another choice you can make for the ultimate September Steamboat Vacation comes in the form of the Columbia and Snake River Cruises. Talk about awe-inspiring. Natural, iconic destinations, every port along the journey includes vibrant history. Daring frontiersmen and adventurers came down these rivers and you will quite literally feast your own eyes upon the land just as it appeared in the days of Lewis and Clark when they first spotted it in 1805. The raw, still frightening power of Mount St. Helens; the unmatched beauty of Multnomah Falls; and even stops at the acclaimed wineries of the Pacific Northwest – this is a true corner of America that you do not want to miss.


So as you rack your brain trying to figure out a unique, thrilling, and luxurious vacation for you and the family to take, consider the mighty steamboat that will allow you to look at America from a whole new perspective…while being spoiled rotten at the same time.


Source:  Baret News


The “King” Will Take Center Stage at the 2017 Wildlife Conservation Expo


The “King” Will Take Center Stage at the 2017 Wildlife Conservation Expo

by Amy Lignor


Each and every year the Wildlife Conservation Expo is held to address situations out there that are harming our world and its animal inhabitants. This time around, WCN’s annual Fall Wildlife Conservation Expo in October, will be focusing on various issues, but it is the King of the Jungle who will be taking center stage.

Wildlife Conservation Expo, Dr. Colleen Begg, Fall Wildlife Conservation Expo, conservation, endangered species, wildlife supporters, Dr. Shivani Bhalla,  Niassa Lion Project

For those who are not aware, the Wildlife Conservation Expos are unique opportunities for all wildlife lovers to come together as a community and hear, first-hand, stories from the mouths of the conservation heroes. They travel from all over the world to the expo with tales about how endangered species are being saved, and what still must be done to make sure they do not disappear from the earth forever.


The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) that holds this event is an organization engaged in protecting all endangered species as well as preserving their natural habitats. They do this by offering their support to entrepreneurial conservationists who constantly pursue innovative strategies and ideas that allow both people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive.


Making these connections – bringing together conservationists with passionate wildlife supporters – has enabled the WCN to raise more than $50 million for wildlife conservation. When it comes to the annual expo held in San Francisco, several guest conservationists attend in order to share their work with the public and share their knowledge among their peers. Over 40 environmental organizations exhibit at the event, and this time out there are speakers focusing on the mighty lion and what is being done to protect and attempt to save the literal “king” before one of the most beloved creatures goes the way of the Dodo.


Dr. Shivani Bhalla with the Ewaso Lions (EL) will speak about the wilds of northern Kenya, where people must live alongside many predators, the biggest of which is the lion. With only 2,000 lions left in Kenya, this region serves as an essential habitat for the big cats. Attendees will learn about the Ewaso Lions and how the organization uses community outreach and education programs to engage locals in conservation, and how those locals receive help in return.


With the Niassa Lion Project (NLP), Dr. Colleen Begg will be at the event speaking about the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique. This is one of the last great wild places on Earth, and an important stronghold for African lions. The Niassa Lion Project draws together scientific study with passion and empathy for the disappearing creatures, and sound management practices. For them, conservation is as much about people as it is about the magnificent lions.


This is one spot in the world that would literally take your breath away if you were to see it. The dramatic landscapes play home to wildlife populations that remain largely untouched, while also being one of the dwindling few ‘safety zones’ left for the African lion.


Take note that lions have disappeared from 83% of their historical range on the continent, so every remaining viable habitat is crucial. The greatest threat to lions comes from a disgusting growth in trade of lion skins, claws and teeth. What the Niassa Lion Project is striving to do on a daily basis is to build a sustainable lion-friendly community. They do this by working closely with community members, government officials, reserve management teams and even tourism operators because everyone who does their part is considered a very necessary cog in the wheel.


The attendees to the expo will be intrigued to learn about the lions who live with some of the world’s poorest people. NLP’s goals are to reduce food insecurity and provide alternative livelihoods and income for people living inside Niassa Reserve. These “alternative livelihoods” programs are active in five villages and include small livestock breeding, conservation agriculture, elephant beehive fences with honey production, and crafts groups. And a team of 26 wildlife guardians are working in 30 villages to monitor the lions, stay aware of both mortality and conflict issues, and remain the direct link between conservation programs and communities.


Tickets go on sale this week, August 15th, and it will be an extremely educational and fun trip for you and the family. Learning about this true wildlife corridor and these “wildlife guardians” that work every single day to stop poaching, spread community outreach and institute ongoing camera trapping programs to assess wildlife densities, is an experience you will not forget. If you are a passionate wildlife lover, the WCN Expo being held on Saturday, October 14, 2017 (10am-6pm) at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, CA, is one “must-do” that “must” go on your list.


Take the time to learn about the African lions and the work that is being done (and still needs to be done) in order to make sure the King of the Jungle remains on his throne.


Source:  Baret News


Get Your Groove On! Visit Music City U.S.A.


Get Your Groove On! Visit Music City U.S.A.

by Amy Lignor


For some, it seems like choosing a vacation destination is extremely difficult. However, if you’re looking for a perfect “menu” that includes: sites to see, history to be learned, the best restaurants imaginable, and enjoying the heck out of each and every day while listening to the ‘best of the best’ music imaginable, then there is only one choice…Nashville!

Nashville, Songwriting Capital of the World, Queen of England, Music City, Country Music Hall of Fame, Parthenon, Grand Ole Opry, vacation

Nashville’s very first celebrity, believe or not, was the famous frontiersmen Davy Crockett, who was known far and wide for his colorful fiddle playing. As time moved forward, Nashville literally grew to become a national center for music publishing. So how did it get the nickname, “Music City?” Well…you’ll most likely be surprised. It came about when the first around-the-world tour by a musical act was made by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who happened to come from Nashville’s Fisk University. It was upon playing for the Queen of England that the queen stated the Fisk Jubilee Singers must come from “Music City.”


There is no question that any historian or visitor who simply wants to go to some of the coolest places located in the United States, will love traveling to Nashville. The historic venues that you and your family or friends can be a part of makes up a list a mile long.


Start your visit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Not only will you experience the evolution of one of the fastest growing music genres, but you will also see how country music influenced other genres of music, explaining why Nashville became and remains the epicenter of the country music industry.

Just up the street from there is the Parthenon at Centennial Park. Here, you’ll find a full scale replica of the Greek Parthenon (no, not kidding at all.) You’ll learn why Nashville was called the “Athens of the South” before British royalty ever dubbed it “Music City.”

Next…the Ryman Auditorium – the home of the Grand Ole Opry – awaits. Literally nicknamed “Carnegie Hall of the South,” the Ryman’s unrivaled acoustic qualities has caused it to receive the prestigious “Theater of the Year” award seven times. In other words, this is the best auditorium to experience live music. The Opry is still staged live every week and continues to ignite the careers of hundreds of rising stars.


On to Music Row. This is a true empire for musicians and visitors. Recording studios, record labels, entertainment offices – anything and everything you can think of make up this area and is a whole lot of fun to delve into.


As the “Songwriting Capital of the World,” when it comes to being “discovered” as a writer, the famous Bluebird Café still showcases songwriters performing their original music. Here you can be a part of it all as you walk through these doors, following in the steps of some of the most famous talent in the world. Sit, drink, eat, and listen to the music performed in a venue that continues to launch songs and writers each and every week.


Take in the Walk of Fame Park during your visit and have a blast! Nashville is not all country and western music; this city has literally become a hub for pop, rock, bluegrass, jazz, classical, and more. Artists galore have chosen to call Nashville home, and running into one of the best musicians on the planet is not unheard of when visiting the city.


Do not miss those world-famous honky-tonks, either. Live music can be seen and heard every day and night of the week in Nashville, and Lower Broadway – with those neon lights and music streaming out of doors and into the streets – cannot be missed. There’s no cover charge, but don’t forget that the bands need your tips.


“Music City” has proven for over 200 years that it is the place to go for music, while also soaking in the historic ambience and having a whole lot of fun. So…Get Your Groove On, America! Head to Nashville for your next vacation and discover a destination that you will want to visit again and again.


Source:  Baret News


Umbrella Insurance: The Safety Net You Need


Umbrella Insurance: The Safety Net You Need

by Amy Lignor


The realm of insurance is just about the most difficult maze to get through. Each and every day it seems the financial and insurance industries are changing. What is not changing, however, is the fact that lawsuits fill up the courts more and more – lawsuits that award cash to third parties even if you don’t happen to have that cash saved. More and more, the words “umbrella insurance” are coming up in both conversation and in advertising on TV. Before getting lost in another “maze,” it is best to look into exactly what umbrella insurance means and why you should consider it for yourself.

excess liability insurance policy, financial future, lawsuits, protection, coverage, peace of mind, assets, future income, risk

Umbrella insurance is a personal excess liability insurance policy; meaning that it protects you above and beyond the limits that already come on your homeowners insurance, car insurance and other personal insurance policies you already own. Umbrella insurance was specifically designed to give you added liability protection, and it is definitely an inexpensive way to protect your financial future or already established assets.


It is added insurance, which means to attain an umbrella policy you first need to have a primary policy in place. Your primary policy would first pay out on a claim before the umbrella coverage would go into effect. Take, for example, a home insurance policy that you own. If something occurs and you are liable (whether it be accident, roof damage, property damage, etc.), your primary policy will pay out. If and/or when the homeowner policy is exhausted or maxed out, the umbrella insurance would kick in, which means there is more protection for you and your family.


Umbrella insurance can help with a great many things, such as litigation arising from property damage or injury, as well as associated legal defense costs if you get sued for damages to other people’s property. People with established assets that they want to protect can lose significant amounts of money in a lawsuit, which means having the extra umbrella insurance gives them more peace of mind.


So…what if you do not fit that criteria? Umbrella insurance is still something to give careful consideration to even if you have no established assets. We live in a world that loves to bring lawsuits, and if you are just starting out, don’t think for one moment that a court won’t award benefits if you are held liable for damages. They really are uninterested how many assets you have; if you’re at fault, you will still be obligated to pay off the damages awarded – which means your future income is already at risk.


And you’re really not talking about a large added cost when it comes to purchasing a personal liability umbrella insurance policy. Depending on how much coverage you decide to purchase, it could cost as little as one hundred dollars annually for 1 million dollars of coverage, and would increase depending on how much coverage you have. It is literally the cheapest “million dollars” you could ever buy. And it is important to note that some companies can double or even triple the coverage you receive, yet the cost of the coverage does not double or triple. Getting quotes from various companies is a must.


When it comes to trying to establish how much coverage you should put in place, there are three very simple questions you need to ask yourself: What are the value of your assets? What is your potential loss of future income? What risks do you think you might face? Once you do this and research policies that are out there, it will be easier to find the policy that will work best for you.


Just remember, in order for the umbrella policy to start paying out coverages, a primary liability policy must be in place, and have maxed out on payments. With the more assets you have, the greater the requirements you have to protect yourself, so make sure that the policy you choose is the right one.


Lawsuits aren’t going away anytime soon. You will need a safety net now and in the future, and the “umbrella policy” is the best net possible.


Source:  Baret News



College Football Arriving Soon!


College Football Arriving Soon!

by Amy Lignor


Ask any college football fan and they will tell you that it seems like an eternity waiting for the season to begin. But, have no fear, the kick-off to the college season is almost here, with Colorado State and Oregon State hitting the field on Saturday, August 26th at 2:30 p.m. ET. On the same day, fans of Oregon State and Colorado State will see an active match-up, and Portland State vs. BYU will also be a huge viewer draw. Add in the 6:00 p.m. game of Hawaii at UMass and the 7:30 p.m. game of South Florida vs. San Jose State – and you are most definitely looking at a full, much-needed, long-awaited day of the colleges you love getting back to gridiron business.

kick-off, college football, Colorado, Oregon, Portland State vs. BYU, Hawaii at UMass, August 26, Deondre Francois, Michigan, Crimson Tide, Wilton Speight, Penn State,

So…already have all the answers? Will there be a repeat? Will teams like Penn State come out still riding high on what was most definitely their late-season momentum that fans loved? Many already have answers to these (or, at least, they have their hopes and dreams where these answers are concerned). But it remains that it is far too early to say “this will happen.” It is not too early, however, to take a look at the teams that many experts say are the top contenders this season.


Let us start with the Crimson Tide. Alabama has many positive things going for them. With a phenomenal young QB, a RB that is truly a “hit” on the field, and an elite defense, Alabama is in more than just “good” shape this time out.


When it comes to Oklahoma, the latest news is that Chris Robison (QB) has been dismissed from the team following a violation of team rules. A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April for public intoxication the night after Oklahoma’s spring game. Will it matter? Not at all, actually. Sooners’ fans were already rejoicing that QB Baker Mayfield chose to return to Norman for this, his senior year. Mayfield just needs a new target to throw to, seeing as Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook said so long to Norman on graduation day. Running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are also gone this time around. But even with those departures, Oklahoma was on a proverbial hot streak down the stretch last season, with ten straight wins. Anything can happen.


When it comes to Florida State, all eyes are on that freshman QB star Deondre Francois. Ending with a win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl, the Florida State Seminoles’ QB is surrounded by a talented offensive line. Even though losing all-time leading rusher Dalvin Cook will be hard to overcome, they will. And it also helps that the majority of starters on defense will be back.


Penn State is truly back to “Happy Valley” status after a remarkable 2016 season that almost ended in a Rose Bowl title. A second-straight Big Ten title is most definitely on their radar, especially with the incredible duo of McSorley and Barkley within a now experienced offense.

Yes, the defense will have to step it up, and the offense has to put a halt to those slow starts that cause them trouble.


You can’t write a college football article without mentioning the name Harbaugh in it – fans have proved that to be a fact, so we must mention Michigan. QB Wilton Speight was “good enough” under center for Michigan, before getting hurt, of course, late in the season. But just for fans to wear smiles on their faces once again, which hadn’t happened in a long time until Coach Jim Harbaugh arrived two years ago, is a great thing to see. But Harbaugh will not have an easy time of it. He has some hurdles to jump, seeing as that 10 out of 11 starters on Michigan’s defense are on the departure list, including their weapon, Jabrill Peppers. But it’s not out of the ballpark to say that Michigan could literally do their roster overhaul extremely well and make it to the CFP semifinals. Speight will be back under center, and if they can just best those Buckeyes and get over that rivalry hurdle, Michigan will have a shot at its first conference title in more than a decade.


When it comes to a repeat, Clemson is definitely a bet people are already making. Ferrell returns, even though the loss of Deshaun Watson is a big hit. Clemson’s offense shouldn’t fall too far behind, but it is really the gleam of that uber-experienced defense that makes Clemson a prime contender.


But whatever happens, all that’s frustrating fans right now is how far away August 26th feels.


Source:  Baret News



Leaf-Peeping is Around Every Corner in the Northeast


Leaf-Peeping is Around Every Corner in the Northeast

by Amy Lignor


Believe it or not, leaf-peeping is just around the corner – every corner when you’re talking about the North East section of the United States. And even though you may still be sweating and enjoying the last lazy days of summer, it is right now when you have to plan that ultimate vacation that is all about slowing down and, quite literally, taking in the view.

Autumn, United States, vacation, New England, Vermont, Maine, Stephen King, prime viewing, Connecticut Yankee,  Upstate New York, New Hampshire, fall foliage, United States Forest Service

Great Smokey Mountains National Park – Most Breathtaking National Parks to Visit for Fall Colors

Although plenty of other states sport leaves and trees, New England has always been and still, to this day, reigns supreme for having the most beautiful fall-foliage viewing. When you think of the word “picturesque,” the landscapes of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Upstate New York in the autumn are the best definition of the word. Autumn leaves are not unique, but with these areas’ rolling hills, forested terrain, and quaint little towns nestled in between, you can enjoy the brilliant, vivid, colorful sites that define the true “leaf-peeping experience.” Here are the best spots to take a good “look” at while you prepare to choose where you will go for this relaxing, stunning trip.


When it comes to Maine, the top road trip entails getting on Route 17 and staying there. Beginning from the coastal city of Rockland all the way to Augusta, the state capital, this route is breathtaking, traveling around Sebago Lake and Baxter State Park. Perhaps you can even stop by Stephen King’s house and say hello.


In Vermont, you can enjoy a stunning ride along the 88-mile loop set dead center in the state, with Routes 100, 107, 12 and 106 as choices that will take you through Gaysville, Barnard, Woodstock, and more. You will also have the added-extra bonus of stopping (every five minutes, mind you) for some of the best maple syrup candy you have ever eaten.


The Hudson River Valley in New York State is one of the top choices for leaf-peepers everywhere. From the elevated panoramic view at the famous Point Lookout Inn located on the Palisades Interstate Parkway, you can literally see five states when the skies are blue. The “blanket” of leaves is stunning, offering every color of the rainbow.


The Connecticut Yankee is beyond proud of their old time country roads, including US Route 44 that heads through Natchaug State Forest. In addition, State Route 154 through Old Saybrook is a “can’t miss” ride that will have you stopping at a wealth of antique stores and historical sites as you go.


Just in this area alone, make sure to stay at that perfect Bed & Breakfast set in New Hampshire’s brilliant White Mountains, New York’s Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, or even the Finger Lakes region. There is literally no “bad” spots where leaf-peeping is concerned when heading straight through the North East.


Mother Nature seems to have taken a shine to these locations. They are always areas you want to bring your camera to in order to document the loveliness all around – before the heavy-duty winter hits, of course; then you want your skis. Prime viewing dates vary yearly based on weather. However, when thinking about your trip, make sure to keep in mind that autumn – on average – makes its first appearance in New England in early September. To keep track, the United States Forest Service offers regular updates on its website on when and where to catch the ‘best of the best’ in fall foliage.


Leaf-peeping is serious business here, folks, so expect crowds on those peak weekends, and plan now in order to secure those lodging and dinner reservations that you want to indulge in while you have the experience of a lifetime.


Source:  Baret News



Need a Job in 2017? Feel “Free” to Make One for Yourself



Need a Job in 2017? Feel “Free” to Make One for Yourself

by Amy Lignor


One truth in the business world, when it comes to careers, is that being a “freelancer” is what most people want to do. In fact, it has become one of the most popular career choices in 2017. Not really a shock, seeing as that job security has basically gone out the window. There are lists of industries that want freelancers (and, no, you do not have to be a computer genius for most of them.)

Do you like dealing with people and have an attention to detail that borders on being a general in the U.S. Army…why not be a wedding planner? Do you have this skill, talent and need to correct people who spell wrong and can’t seem to understand what freelancer,  personal freedom, talent, personal brand, careers, finance, money, resume, freelance work, digital ageconstitutes bad grammar? Be a freelance editor for either publishing companies or authors, themselves. And, yes, if you are a computer genius, there are a slew of companies who want freelancers: everything from graphic designers who can help build their brand to software developers who can set up and maintain programs. If you have both – computer knowledge as well as being a detail lover who communicates and works extremely well with others – then the fairly new freelance job of virtual assistant (VA) would be perfect for you.


It’s no surprise that freelancers are in high demand. Any business who seeks to hire a freelancer, and lands one who can do the job and do it correctly, not only earns an “employee” they trust, but also an “employee” they don’t need to worry about paying sick time, vacation time, or overtime to; nor do they have to worry about covering them under the dreaded healthcare plan that is given to an on-staff, full-time worker.

The business owner lucks out, but so do you, the freelancer. You may not receive that healthcare plan, but you will receive good wages that you will set yourself based on the industry and your own talents. You will also achieve the one thing everyone wants in their daily lives: absolute personal freedom. You still have deadlines and still have to get projects done right and within the required time frame to be a success, but you do not have a boss staring over your shoulder, or co-workers that you can’t stand yapping over by the water-cooler while you’re trying to get your work done.


The first step down this freelancing path is the most vital step of all: You have to decide if freelancing is actually right for you. Plain and simple. If you decide this is the right career choice, then start making a list of your own skills. Remember, just because you work in the field of…say, accounting right now, you do not have to become a freelance bookkeeper. After taking stock of your skills, you may see that you own expertise is better for another industry – one that will also be more creative and that you will enjoy doing a great deal more.


Now, it’s time to change the resume. Your new freelancer resume has to be so unique that it hits the business owner right between the eyes. You are creating, after all, your own personal brand that is relevant for the industry you have chosen. And, of course, share this resume – unleash this personal brand of yours onto the world. This is the digital age, so use the thousands of social media sites out there to build your name in the industry, make connections, and begin landing clients. You also should invest your time and energy in making a website that buries the competition. That way, prospective buyers will see your site and not need to see anyone else’s for the job, because you fit the bill perfectly.


If you want to change your career path, try something new. With the financial and political worlds being what they are, full-time employees may not even be required by businesses in the future. But don’t worry. With hard work, determination, and the ability to meet the needs of clients, you can be the next successful freelancer.


freelancer,  personal freedom, talent, personal brand, careers, finance, money, resume, freelance work, digital age


Source:  Baret News

Jack Frost Will Arrive…So Plan Your Fall Garden Now


Jack Frost Will Arrive…So Plan Your Fall Garden Now

by Amy Lignor


Time waits for no one…even a gardener. These supposedly “lazy” summer days are flying past at a rapid pace, so if you want to continue to harvest fresh vegetables and make those neighbors of yours envious because they missed the bus on this one, you need to plan and plant your fall garden as soon as you can.

fresh vegetables, fall garden, tips and ideas,  maturity time, harvest, crops, soil temperature

It is a fact of nature that cool-season veggies actually help to extend the gardening season, especially those that can be ready for harvest in two to three months. Now, although the easiest way to begin your fall garden is to purchase transplants of fall crops, seeds work just as well for a variety of veggies that you will love to add to the autumn dinner table.


The most important key to having a complete success when it comes to your fall garden is to select the vegetables that have the shortest maturity time. Then, time the planting of these vegetables so that your goal of being able to harvest these crops before Jack Frost arrives will be met. The easiest way to plan the exact time to begin planting, is to take your calendar and count back from the date of the “average” time period that the first frost rears its ugly head in your location. Then, simply match that to the number of maturity days your vegetables need to reach perfection before the cold weather comes knocking at your door.


When it comes to fast-growing fall garden picks, there are a number of vegetables to choose from. The list includes carrots, radishes, beets, peas, and so much more. Do your research and look for selections that are well-promoted and well-known as being tolerant to the cold. One of the most popular choices with gardeners for their fall garden is winter cabbage. The one thing you have to make sure of with this selection, however, (as it is with your broccoli and cauliflower), is to watch out for those cabbage worms. By putting a mesh laundry bag over them, the sun and water will stay in, but the bugs will have to take a hike.


When it comes to planting, the steps are quite easy. Simply remove weeds and summer vegetables that are definitely past their prime. Loosen the soil to about 6-8 inches deep and work in an inch of compost. You have to remember that seeds can be planted deeper for the fall garden than in the spring in order to help them stay cool and moist. Offering a “dash” of fertilizer will keep production high and offer those plants a great start. When it comes to watering, make sure to water the area to reduce that warm soil temperature that summer creates, just before planting. A fully watered garden that is maintained well, with a light layer of mulch, is the perfect combination as the days of summer grow shorter and nighttime temps begin to dip.


And when they start dipping a little too low, cover the garden with row cover cloth so they can reach that harvest point before that full-fledged winter comes a calling!


Source:  Baret News


Food Vacations


Food Vacations

by Amy Lignor


It is a fact that many people out there in America base their vacation choices on nothing more than food. Oh, yes, it may be wonderful to have that perfect view or the buzzing nightlife of a certain locale, but being able to have those incredible aromas hovering all around, coming from literally the best meals in all of the United States, can top the list when planning that perfect vacation. So…how far would you travel for the perfect meal? Well…everyone knows about the elegant Parisian meals or the never-ending fare of Rome, but what if your bank account can only supply you with enough to stay in good, old America and visit the best cities here serving the most unforgettable cuisine? The U.S. most definitely has locations that can go head-to-head and even surpass anything France or Italy has to offer, and the first can be found in…Louisiana.

unforgettable cuisine, Louisiana, Charleston, San Francisco, NYC, Chicago, Chinatown, craft beer, wine

“The Big Easy” is all about slowing down and taking a time out from the chaos to enjoy the good life. And the best part is that when it comes to New Orleans, finding awesome restaurants is truly easy. Ranging from casual delis and sandwich shops that provide the best po’boy sandwiches imaginable; to literal American institutions that have legendary menus that include items like, turtle soup, New Orleans has it all. And let’s be honest, if you haven’t dug into spicy gumbo or crawfish or any other acclaimed Creole dishes, than you simply haven’t lived.


Another high-ranking vacation spot for food can be found in Charleston. This is a city that plays host to James Beard Award nominee chefs and their restaurants lining the streets. Seafood, country kitchens, southern soul – Charleston has it all ready for you to sink your teeth into. There are even a list of markets that offer quick bites that end up being written about on Internet sites all across the web. A boutique local wine & cheese favorite is Goat.Sheep.Cow. And the boutique markets of Bull Street Gourmet and Queen Street Gourmet cannot be missed.


Where is a hot spot for eating as well as seeing the most sites? “The Big Apple,” of course. Food is an obsession in NYC, which is why some of the best restaurants can be found there. And whether you are into casual dining or A+ top-rated fine dining, you can find everything that meets your desires on the streets of NYC. The only problem you will have is trying to choose between the gazillions of restaurants that have received 5 star ratings and deserved every star. Sating your every craving, you can enjoy smoked meat, ramen, authentic Chinese, Canadian-inspired poutine, the freshest sushi, to the best pizzas ever made. (But don’t tell Italy that.) Not to mention, with food in NYC comes a myriad of wine, cocktails, craft beer joints, microbreweries and more; As you feed you can also water, so to speak, and revel in both while in “The Big Apple.”


On the other coast, San Francisco awaits with all their ocean fare that remains unmatched. But it’s not just those fresh-shucked oysters that’ll make it the vacation of a lifetime. You also are provided with short rib tacos, market salads, pork and charred peaches—this city is renowned for its fantastic food. Being that it has more restaurants per capita than any other major city in North America, that’s not really a surprise. From fine dining to local cuisine to the intense Asian culture that provides a visitor with fresh sushi and dim sum throughout the city’s bustling Chinatown, the checklist is long. There is even North Beach, San Francisco’s Italian district, where pasta lovers unite.


And if you’re wishing to experience the “melting pot” of the Midwest on your vacation, Chicago is all about down-home comfort food, mixed with authentic ethnic cuisine, and Michelin-starred fine dining. The best restaurants in Chicago can range from wine bars hidden to the naked eye, to bustling gastropubs, to formal locations that have to be booked months in advance. But…it is so worth it. Chicago’s citizens are all about diversity, and the restaurants mimic that as well. Casual cuisine from the best deep-dish pizza on the planet to a web of restaurants run by celebrity chefs are there for the taking.


So if planning your vacation based on filling your stomach with the best while having a blast, make sure these cities are at the top of your list.


Source:  Baret News


Tax Tips for Gifting in 2017


Tax Tips for Gifting in 2017

by Amy Lignor


It may seem silly to be speaking about contributions, donations to charity, and holiday gifting when the temperature gauges in some areas of the U.S. are still reading three digits. However, as anyone can see when they go to retrieve their mail, more and more envelopes, newsletters, magazines and promotional material is being sent out by organizations requesting donations. From the beautiful 2018 calendars being sent from places like the National Parks Conservation Association; to the lovely Christmas card samples being sent by the National Wildlife Federation, more and more mail is headed to your house from truly great organizations needing help to continue their work.

Tax benefit, gifting, money, charitable contribution, deduction, qualified organizations,

Tax season may also seem a million years away. However, when it comes to these organizations asking you to contribute, tax season has to be taken into consideration. By giving money, not only will you be ‘saving’ something or someone, you will also (in most cases) be able to receive a tax benefit because of the charitable contribution you make.


But how do you know which donations qualify for a deduction? What are the pros and cons when it comes to distributing your money as contributions, and how do you know which are actually qualified organizations? This is information you need to know – even when the lazy days of summer have yet to fade away.


1) When wondering what defines a qualified organization, in general, all government, religious, and non-profit organizations qualify for charitable deduction purposes. Examples include: churches, money given to a federal, state or local government to be used for public purposes, a non-profit organization, a war veteran’s organization, a volunteer fire company, a civil defense organization and more. On the other hand, types of organizations that will never qualify for the charitable deduction include: sports clubs, labor unions, and donations to politicians, among others. (*see the IRS’s complete rules for the full details)


2) If you find that organization you truly wish to support, and make a donation, the rules when it comes to your tax deduction are straightforward. If you do not receive anything in return, you simply deduct the entire donation amount. If you do receive something in return for your donation, you can deduct the donation amount, minus the reasonable market value of whatever you received.


It’s important to note that there are a slew of major charities out there, big names that a great many millions of people donate to every year (i.e., The Salvation Army) that will provide you with a donation guide. It is also important to remember that there is an annual limit for charitable contributions which is no more than 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).


3) Last, but not least, the biggest thing when it comes to contributing money to an organization is making sure that the organization is definitely exactly what it claims to be. Make sure to follow a checklist when it comes to this. If you’re not sure whether donations to a particular charity are tax-deductible, make sure to confirm an organization’s tax-exempt status by checking with the group or by going straight to the IRS website.


When this is done, make sure to give directly to the charity you want to support, and not to a professional fundraiser who may contact you on the phone. In addition, request privacy in regards to your donation. You can and should tell all groups you’re supporting that you do not want your name and contact information to be sold, exchanged, or rented to other groups or for-profit companies, which can be a common practice among some charities. Always check a charity’s privacy policy before giving.


And, always understand that there are “sound-alikes” out there. What this means is that some charities have pronounced themselves with names that are almost duplicates of high-rated charities out there in the U.S. Groups may be just fine and only have similar names because they are focusing on the same cause as another charity; however, there are others that simply adopted an almost duplicate name in order to deceive donors.


To narrow things down, some top organizations to donate to when it comes to the environment or conservation causes (which is one of the largest industries that request donations), are; The Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Natural Resources Defense Council, The Sierra Club Foundation, as well as the Trust for Public Land. These are all great organizations with missions that focus on everything from protecting national parks to cleaning-up wildlife habitats, to bringing back to life the land and the oceans that are necessary for both human and animal survival. And if you’re looking to delve into other areas that you wish to support, check out CharityWatch (www.charitywatch.org) and you will find the ones that perfectly match your own mission in life.


Giving is a wonderful way to support the best of humanity, and receiving a tax deduction for your kindness is an added bonus.


Source:  Baret News