Last Updated December 31st, 2017

Home With The Kids Top Posts For 2017

Home With The Kids Top Posts For 2017

2017. Not one of my best years, but that’s just how things go sometimes. I’m ready to move on from the problems of the year and keep things moving forward. There were some good times, after all, and I would like to focus on that by sharing some of the top posts I shared here on Home With The Kids in 2017.

Work At Home Jobs Top Posts 2017

Amazon announcing in April that they would be adding 5000 work at home jobs was big news this year. The jobs were part time positions in their Virtual Customer Service program. The jobs weren’t available in every state, but such a great opportunity to those who could get the jobs.

Medical coding is a fairly popular work at home job, so it’s not surprising that there has been interest in my post about getting into medical coding.  I’ve been keeping this one updated. You have to get training before you can apply for jobs in medical coding, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you spend money on it. I also added a post on whether medical transcription is still a viable career.

Posts about work at home jobs here are usually popular, so the post about 115 freelance writing jobs naturally got some attention. Freelance writing is one of those gigs many people feel they can do, but it’s really a lot of work to do it right.

Finding a solid work at home job is hard, so people liked hearing about ways to earn money at home when you can’t find a work at home job. There are a lot of ways to earn money while still looking for something more stable. Most don’t pay as well as a regular job, but others can be turned into something pretty good.

Your social media accounts can help you to find a work at home job, but if you aren’t careful, they can also be a liability. Check out my social media checklist for job seekers before you start looking for work.

Work At Home Advice Top Posts 2017

You know what’s really fun about working at home sometimes? You don’t have to be stuck in your home office all of the time with some jobs. There are jobs where you really need to stay in your home office, but others give you a lot of flexibility to work where you’re comfortable. That said, there are times when a home office is your best choice for working at home.

There is so much work at home advice I can give, and some of it can be given quickly, so I shared 100 simple work at home tips in a post this year. Sometimes a few sentences is enough to get the idea across for each tip.

One of the great things about freelancing is how flexible it is. You can start a freelance career even while working another job in many cases.  If you really work at it, it might just become the work at home job that you create for yourself.

Working at home isn’t as simple as finding a work at home job in some ways. You need to make sure you’re ready for how different it can be from working outside the home. These questions can help you get ready to work at home.

One of the huge problems I see a lot of people have with working at home is their dreams of how it will be. They think it will be easier to work at home than it actually is, or that it will be more flexible. The realities can be far different from what many people expect.  It’s better to get a dose of reality before you start working at home than to have your dreams shattered when the reality hits.

Then there’s one of my favorite posts from this year, about how to distract your cats while working at home. If you have cats, you know what I’m talking about. Some of them are worse distractions than kids or even husbands!

Online Business Top Posts 2017

One of those things you need to expect when you run an online business is that sometimes your computer will give you trouble. It’s just one of those things. If you can handle some basic troubleshooting on your own equipment, these problems will be much less of a setback than they would be otherwise.

I contacted some online business owners this year about their best social media advice. Five were kind enough to share with me. I think it’s pretty good advice.

When you have a home business, there are a lot of little things you need. If you aren’t sure what to ask for, check out my gift ideas for entrepreneurs list. There might be something you hadn’t considered.

Everyone makes mistakes when starting a home business online. These are some of the most common.

Parenting Top Posts 2017

Not everything is about working at home here. When you’re a parent, sometimes you need free or cheap ways to play with your kids. More time with the kids is one of the big reasons moms and dads like to work at home, after all.

Sending the kids off to school can mean preparing lunches for them to bring along. I shared a bunch of recipes from other bloggers to make preparing school lunches for the kids a little easier.

I love to give kids gifts that encourage them to be more creative. Kids sometimes don’t get enough time to express themselves creatively, but if you give them the tools, they’ll go at it.

Blogging Top Posts 2017

Blogging is one of the most popular ways to work at home, so I shared a lot of advice about it. The most popular post was about free image editing tools. Great images help great posts do well on social media.

It came as no surprise to me that when I posted about how to start a blog, the two most popular sections were about brainstorming ideas and making money off your blog. Those are two of the most important and sometimes most challenging parts.

One thing I’ve had to learn through the years is how to get a quick bit of work in even when I know I’m going to be distracted. That was the inspiration for my blog post, Quick Blog Tasks For When You Know You’re Going To Be Interrupted. Not everything you do for your blog has to take a lot of time.

Despite the problems I had in 2017, I will continue to work so that 2018 become a much better year. I’ve put a lot of thought into where things went wrong, so hopefully I can make things far, far better in the future.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 6th, 2016

Amazon Bans Outside Incentivized Reviews

Amazon Bans Outside Incentivized Reviews

Amazon has allowed people to receive free or discounted products in exchange for review for a long time. As of October 3, 2016, they have banned that practice, with the exception of their own Vine program. Simply put, they had concerns about the quality of reviews these giveaways were generating.

The exception here is books. Reviewers have long been able to receive free copies of books in exchange for a review, and Amazon will continue to allow that.

Paid reviews for anything have never been allowed, and of course this has not changed. Amazon has banned reviewers for posting paid reviews. This is another step Amazon is taking to try to keep the quality of posted reviews up.

What Does This Mean For Incentivized Reviewers

I know a number of people who have been doing incentivized reviews of products, and there are a number of websites that help reviewers find products they would be willing to try at a discount or free. These businesses have to change their rules – if a seller wants to offer a product free or cheap through them, they can no longer insist upon a review on Amazon.

This may change how easy it is to get such products through these websites – we’ll just have to wait and see who still takes a chance on offering their products in the hopes that a review will happen without requiring one.

The basic problem is that there was a feeling that incentivized reviews were biased – more likely to be positive than a regular review. Everyone knows that the businesses offering the discounted products want a positive review, and it’s easy for reviewers to feel that there’s some level of obligation to provide one. This was making product reviews on Amazon less trustworthy, a huge problem considering how many people use product reviews there to decide whether or not to buy an unfamiliar product.

Of course, if you can get chosen for the Vine program, you can still do reviews, but it’s not as easy to get into as those websites which all pretty much anyone to review products. Amazon has to pick you as a trusted reviewer.

It will be interesting to see if Amazon monitors reviews to watch for reviews posted by people who did receive the product at a discount, but no longer disclose because it’s against the rules. If the discounted purchase is done through Amazon, this would be very easy to track. It would be harder to determine if items were sent to reviewers through some other website. Of course, Amazon often labels verified purchases on reviews, so they can also tell if someone tends to review things they did not buy there.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 10th, 2014

Have You Installed a Carbon Monoxide Detector In Your Home?

Have You Installed a Carbon Monoxide Detector In Your Home?

A Facebook friend of mine recently had a big scare, one that could have killed her and her family. A carbon monoxide detector saved their lives. Their furnace and stove were both blamed for the problem, after they had the fire department, gas company and building inspector check things out. Especially this time of year, as people start to use heaters and generators more, it’s important to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home and that it’s working.

This doesn’t have to be a big deal. There are a variety of ways to get one. Some are combined with smoke detectors, but make sure you know for certain that your detector has both; don’t assume a smoke detector handles carbon monoxide as many do not. There are also models that simply plug into the wall.

On hearing my friend’s story, I took a look at my carbon monoxide detector. It was plugged into the wall upstairs, near the kids’ bedroom. Now, detectors are only good for a limited number of years, usually 5-7 years. Mine was almost 10 years old, so I am quite grateful for the reminder to replace it, as it probably wasn’t really working anymore.

I selected the Kidde KN-COPP-3 Nighthawk Plug-In Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Battery Backup and Digital Display, and bought two of them. Not in the two pack but individually, as the two pack at the time was not the better deal. One is for upstairs, the other for downstairs. I like that it has a display where you can see how much CO it’s detecting. It’s easy to mount up on the wall while still leaving it plugged in, or you can have it down at the outlet. There’s battery backup, so you can count on it even during an outage (so long as you replace the battery regularly) – vital if you ever need to use a generator during a power outage!

Placement is important for CO detectors. You don’t want to put it right by something that might make carbon monoxide – that can cause too many false alarms. It’s usually not advised to put one in your garage, especially if you park your car in there. Such places will sometimes have a bit of carbon monoxide buildup for a short time, but it should go away quickly.

You also don’t want to put one in a place where the air doesn’t circulate much. Don’t hide one away behind the furniture or near a vaulted ceiling if you can help it. You want it testing the air you breathe.

Make sure your kids don’t play with your detectors. They probably won’t damage it as such, but you don’t want it to come loose from where you’ve plugged it in, or have the battery come loose if it’s battery powered.

You should test your CO detectors the same times you test your smoke detectors – that is, when you change your clocks each year. It only takes a moment, but could be vital to your family.

Some states require homes to have carbon monoxide detectors. You can get more information at http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/carbon-monoxide-detectors-state-statutes.aspx or from your state or local housing department.

Carbon Monoxide Facts

Carbon monoxide (CO) in the home can be created by anything that burns fuel such as hot water heaters, stoves, ovens, grills or furnaces. This includes anything that burns wood, charcoal, propane, natural gas, kerosene, etc. Visit http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Carbon-Monoxide-Information-Center/Carbon-Monoxide-Questions-and-Answers-/ for more information.

CO is colorless and odorless, that’s why you need a detector for it. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu, and include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Symptoms will be more severe if the levels of carbon monoxide get too high, and may also include mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and death. If you’re concerned about your symptoms but don’t have a CO detector or aren’t sure it’s working, get outside and seek medical attention. You will also want to have the gas company test your home for problems.

Portable generators are a major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is why they should never be used indoors or in any enclosed space. If you use one, consider the information in this infographic, created by the CPSC:

COInfographic_600wide

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated March 13th, 2013

Google Preparing to Drop Google Reader – What Are the Alternatives?

So long, Google Reader

I’m not pleased. Google is discontinuing Google Reader as of July 1, 2013.  I’ve happily used Reader for years now. Finding a replacement is not something I look forward to.

I’m looking at Feedly as an alternative, but I’m really not sure yet. They’re offering a nice import option, though. I suspect I’ll have to try a few alternatives before settling on one. The trick will be finding one with all the features I want, preferably free.

I prefer my feed reader to be web based rather than something I have to run on each machine. I mostly read from my laptop, but when I move to a desktop or iPad, I don’t want to get different results on each or have to keep individual things updated.

You can use Google Takeout to get all your data from Reader (or other Google products, but this is the relevant one now) if necessary. Download the ZIP file and import it into the new feed reader you’ve selected. Not all options will require you to export your data from Google Reader then import it; some allow you to sync your accounts or otherwise get the data for you.

This is of course the problem with any free service. Sometimes they vanish, even when backed by someone as big as Google. At least they’re giving warning so we can get away.

Google Reader Alternatives

I don’t have a favorite yet, as I’m still researching, but here are some alternatives to try before Google Reader shuts down.

Feedly – available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, phones, tablets, etc. as an app or browser extension. I don’t think it supports IE at this time. They’re trying to make it easy for Google Reader users to come over. They also allow you to share items on social networks, Evernote and so forth.

Pulse – Available for web use or as an app. Pulse allows you to save favorites to Evernote and other services to read later.

The Old Reader – The Old Reader’s focus is on being like the old version of Google Reader.

NewsBlur – Free up to 64 sites, after that $1 a month to feed poor Shiloh, and you get more features when you pay.

Bloglines – They’re baaack! There was a time when people switched from Bloglines to Google Reader, now some are going back to Bloglines’ Reader. They have a new system that existing users need to migrate to, but they aren’t currently planning on going anywhere.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 7th, 2012

TED Talks – Louie Schwartzberg on Gratitude

Whether the election went the way you hoped or not, there’s a lot in your life to be grateful for. Today I thought I’d share a TED Talk video on that subject.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXDMoiEkyuQ]

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.