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…To start planning your Christmas Wishlist.

I find most of the gifts I ask  for from this beauty of a publication:

THE NEIMAN MARCUS CHRISTMAS BOOK

 

MY TOP PICKS:

These adorable Kendra Scott earrings – and a steal at only $90.00

This cashmere robe. Talk about luxurious. Too bad it doesn’t get below 90 degrees in Austin.

But above all else….

A walk-on role in the Broadway production of Annie. I would die and go to heaven. I am going to try to convince James to buy this one – but don’t hold your breath.

 

So ladies (or gentlemen), if you want to make your own Neiman Marcus wishlist to give to loved ones, view the online catalog here.  You’re welcome.

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The average American man works 8.73 hours per day. If you feel like you need 87 hours in a day just to meet all of your deadlines, then you have a bigger problem than drowning under your inbox: You’re setting yourself up for heart disease, finds a new study published online today in The Lancet.

The study looked at workers under “job strain.” That’s just a fancy way of saying that you 1) have piles of work to do, and 2) feel like you have zero control over your workload, your promotion chances, or the brain-numbing assignments your boss slaps on your desk.

The findings: Men who experience job strain have a 29 percent greater chance of developing heart disease than men without these demands. Even guys who had very high workloads were in the clear as long as they felt like they had some control over their fate.

Strain leads to stress, which increases your blood pressure–the number one risk for heart disease–and could lead to a long list of other heart-damaging side effects, researchers explain.

Are you strained? Answer these two questions:

Do you feel constantly overloaded at work? Do you feel like there’s jack you can do about it? If yes to both–congratulations!–you have job strain.

But even if you can’t control your workload, you can beat the heart-damaging effects of stress. Step 1: Sweat. A lot. A University of Missouri at Columbia study found that 33 minutes of high-intensity exercise helps lower stress levels more than working out at a moderate pace. What’s more, the benefits last as long as 90 minutes afterward. For a fast-paced, muscle-building, fat-torching workout that’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before, check out Speed Shred from Men’s Health DeltaFIT. The eight follow-along DVDs will change your life, one 30-minute workout at a time.

Steps 2 through 15: These easy tips to turn your workplace into a palace of zen.

Take Your Calls Standing Up

Here’s what happens when you flick on your iMac: “Your breathing rate goes up 30 percent, your blinking rate goes way down, and you tend to tighten your arms and shoulders without knowing it,” says Erik Peper, Ph.D., of the Institute for Holistic Healing at San Francisco State University. Your remedy: Change your body position every half hour or so–simply standing while talking on the phone can improve bloodflow and ease muscle strain. (Is your office chair killing you? Find out in the Men’s Health special report Sentenced to the Chair.)

Visit Cracked.com

Each hour, spend a minute perusing a funny blog. Periodic breaks help you process and absorb new information, increasing your efficiency, says Cleveland Clinic psychologist Michael McKee, Ph.D. During your hiatus, take 10-second breaths–inhale 4 seconds, exhale 6–to bolster your heart’s ability to recover from stress.

Enforce the Three-Second Rule

The average working professional spends roughly 23 percent of his workday on email and glances at his inbox about 36 times an hour, finds a study from the University of Glasgow. It takes you an average of 64 seconds to return to a task once you’ve stopped to read a new email, according to another study from Loughborough University. Allow yourself no more than 3 seconds to decide whether a message is worthy of your immediate attention, says John Grohol, Psy.D. (Here’s an email you’ll look forward to receiving every day: The Men’s Health Daily Dose newsletter. It’s full of tons of useful stuff!)

Put a Green Dot on Your Phone

This is your secret reminder to take one deep breath before you answer a call, says Susan Siegel, of the Program on Integrative Medicine at the University of North Carolina school of medicine. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll sound more confident.

Go to Starbucks–with Your Coworkers

Researchers at the University of Bristol in England discovered that when stressed-out men consumed caffeine by themselves, they remained nervous and jittery. But when anxious men caffeine-loaded as part of a group, their feelings of stress subsided. Just make sure you avoid The 6 Worst Coffee Drinks in America.

Play Pandora at Work

A study in Nature Neuroscience found that listening to favorite tunes or anticipating a certain point in a song can cause a pleasurable flood of dopamine. Listen to a few songs in a row several times a day.

Try the Office Chair Workout

An Australian study published last month found that just 15 minutes of yoga–practiced right from an office chair–can reduce stress. Got a chair? Sitting in it right now? Great–try The Office Chair Workout.

Be Fashionably Late to Happy Hour

If you’re looking forward to unwinding after a grueling work week with a cold brew, hold off on happy hour for 30 minutes: Drinking while stressed out actually prolongs your anxiety–even when you limit yourself to two–according to a study at the University of Chicago. The easy fix: Tell the crew you need to run errands before hitting the bar. Then take a quick walk, browse Best Buy’s new releases, or flip to SportsCenter to check the scores.

Grab Your Ears

Tug your lobes (lightly) and move them in circles in opposite directions for a count of 10, advises massage therapist Elizabeth Cornell. The motion moves the tentorium membrane in your head, which can relieve stress. You’ll also be in fighting shape for charades.

Take the Scenic Route

If it doesn’t add much time to your commute, drive on roads with more trees and grass–natural scenes decrease feelings of anger and frustration on the road, according to a study in the journal Environment and Behavior. Not an option? Put on your favorite band’s new album. Drivers who faced frustrating and irritating congestion felt less stressed when listening to music they enjoyed, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Put a Hole in a Tennis Ball and Squeeze

Let the tension build up in your hand and the rest of your body, then release. This increases relaxation, says Allen Elkin, Ph.D., director of the Stress Management and Counseling Center in New York City. Tennis balls are those yellowy things people hit around in the ’70s and ’80s.

Hold Your Tongue

When your annoying colleague decides to be annoying once again, tell yourself, I choose to be calm, says Siegel. Ah, now it’s a choice, and you choose to be master and commander of the ship.

Make a Schedule

If the boss suddenly dumps a big project on you, try not to say, “I can’t do this. I’m gonna get fired.” (Try particularly not to say this in front of your boss.) Instead, present him with a schedule outlining when things can be done. What was overwhelming is now under control and open to negotiation, says James Blumenthal, Ph.D., a psychologist at Duke University.

Laugh It Off

Think your job is stressful? Try taking a gig as a New York City firefighter. One study found that every time a fire alarm bell rings, a firefighter’s heart rate jumps up to 150 beats per minute–about the same rate as a moderate jog. Firefighter Matt Long says his fire station received between 4,000 and 5,000 calls like that each year. “After a bad day, we deal with things through laughter,” Long says. To land the perfect practical joke, make sure you know the person well, always help clean up, and be ready to have your target prank you back.

Pop This Pill

Frazzled medical students fed an omega-3 supplement for 12 weeks saw a 20 percent drop in stress compared to their placebo-taking peers, Ohio State University research shows. Click here for the 10 Best Supplements for Men.

Do you feel your blood pressure going down already?

 

 

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by:Editors of Men’s Health

Click here to view original article

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You know what your budget is, and you may even be a champion at getting the best possible deal, so why is it still so easy to go wrong?

 

Today’s shoppers have more choices than ever before, from grocery store coupons they can download directly onto their store savings card accounts to apps that help them find even more bargains. But modern technology also makes it easier to spend — turning us into a nation of rabid consumers, always on the prowl for the next big score.

The cure for our nationwide shopping fever starts with identifying and conquering our personal spending habits. If we’re successful, we end up with more savings and less debt, which is a financial goal that’s short on pain and long on gain.

Here are seven of the most common shopping traps and tips on how to avoid them.

1. Shopping as hobby or sport

There’s nothing to do, or you’re on vacation or planning an afternoon with some good friends. You opt for shopping. Why is spending money such a rush? Financial expert and newsletter editor Galia Gichon says Americans shop for three main reasons: There’s a sale, they’re bored, or it’s a habit.

“Very rarely do they shop because they truly need something,” Gichon says, adding that many times, these same consumers haven’t done the math to determine whether they can even afford their purchases. Gichon recommends combatting the urge to plug shopping into your empty hours by creating a budget that puts aside a weekly amount for such expenses. “You can spend that money on anything you like, but keep to that amount,” she says. Once you’ve spent out your allowance, says Gichon, you’re done for the week.

Another strategy that’s both simple and effective: Remove the source of your guilty pleasure by tossing those sales circulars, staying out of the mall during lunch hours and leaving your credit cards at home. Your bottom line will thank you.

2. Cruising for deals online

True shopaholics don’t quit simply because they can’t get to the store. Instead, the digital age keeps bringing temptation to your doorstep — or desktop. Financial author and speaker Peter Bielagus says the problem with the information superhighway is it keeps finding new inroads to our wallets.

“Websites are getting smarter and smarter. Tracking software is monitoring your purchases, as well as what people like you purchase, and constantly offering suggestions,” Bielagus says. As a result, he says, temptation increases.

“It’s a bit like trying to stick to a diet while keeping a fridge full of sweets,” he says. Bielagus says that in addition to online consumer reward programs, websites now send alerts when they’re running sales, which prompt consumers to buy with a simple click. He suggests taking active steps to shut down alerts and recommends that those looking to make permanent hard-core changes to their habits even close some of their online accounts. “The hassle of reopening an account just to buy something can be enough to deter an impulse purchase,” he says.

3. Having to own the latest technology

If you’re the type of person who thinks nothing of standing in line half the night to be the first to buy a new gadget or software, then you’re stuck in one of the deadliest of spending traps: having to own the latest technology.

While there’s fundamentally nothing wrong with being into gadgets, staying up to date on your purchases can shred your budget and doesn’t really make sense over the long haul. “The longer you wait for new technology, the better,” says Bielagus.

Plus, says Bielagus, waiting before pouncing on the newest thing has advantages: Not only does the cost fall (for example, plasma televisions were pricier when they first came out), but the developers work out the kinks over time, and you get a better product.

4. Mistaking shortcuts for savings

This applies particularly to weekly purchases made at the grocery store. While it’s nice to have that salad already made and ready to drop into bowls, you can stretch your cash by purchasing ingredients that require a little elbow grease. “Food that has been ‘pre’ anything — chopped, cooked or marinated — is one of the most expensive ways to purchase (groceries),” says Ellie Kay, the author of “The 60-Minute Money Workout.”

Kay says a side-by-side comparison with “virgin” (uncut, uncooked) counterparts will show that you’re forking over lots of extra bucks in exchange for a little help in the kitchen. While that’s fine if your budget’s unlimited, most of us don’t have that luxury. Try going the more labor-intensive route for a change, and see how spending that extra 15 minutes in the kitchen can pay off.

As for bulk buying, do so only when the items are ones you know you will use before they expire. Bulk toilet paper for a household with multiple bathrooms and lots of family members might be a good investment, while a purchase of four dozen eggs may result in waste if you end up throwing some away.

5. Buying the brand

Sometimes it pays to buy brand names, and sometimes it doesn’t. The key is to know the difference. Kay says brand buying can torpedo a grocery budget, particularly when prices of staple products, such as milk, are climbing in double-digit increments.

“There are some exceptions, but brand-name buying is not always the best indicator of quality,” Kay says. She recommends buying generic at the grocery store and using common sense when it comes to other purchases, such as children’s clothes, especially when it comes to items you’ll hand down to your younger kids.

“We had four sons, and we could buy two pairs of cheap tennis shoes in six months or one pair of quality shoes for six months (until they outgrew them),” Kay says. She bought name brands when it came to her kids’ shoes because it made sense to buy a more durable product. But she buys generic fabric softener at the grocery store to save cash.

6. Getting clearance-sale fever

Even prudent shoppers seem to react differently to clearances, especially after Christmas. If you’ve ever found yourself the owner of matching 3-foot-tall wooden nutcrackers, you might be a victim of clearance-sale fever. The solution, says frugal shopper Sara Davis of Clayton, N.C., is to shop clearances only when you can match the clearance to your real needs.

Davis says she shops for necessities such as pillows and sheets during January white sales and picks up candles when they’re marked down for clearance, because these are items she would purchase anyway. “I don’t buy holiday decorations after the season because I don’t feel like storing the items,” she says. As for things she really wants, Davis stalks those items before making a purchase.

“I once waited two years to buy a pair of shoes I wanted just to make 100% sure they never went on clearance,” she says.

7. Taking couponing to the extreme

While reality television has turned couponing into a sport worthy of the Olympics, experts say improper coupon use can drain your finances, not help them.

“Good couponing is not buying something simply because you have a coupon; good couponing is buying something because it’s a good value,” says Kay. She says it’s a lure that can hurt your budget if it leads you to buy a brand that costs more or if you have to buy items in larger quantities, as in a coupon that requires the purchase of two items.

Davis avoids compulsive shopping by using coupons only for items she typically purchases — a good policy, according to Kay. To make the most of your coupons, sort and match them to your grocery list, then store sales circulars. Download store-generated coupons from the store’s website to add more coupons to the mix. Trade coupons with friends to maximize your savings — keep only the ones you’ll use, and pass along the coupons your friends will find handy. Finally, never assume anything is a bargain simply because you have a coupon for it.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article By: Carol Moore, Bankrate.com

See Original Article Here

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I simply couldn’t help but sharing this –

Check out this website for some adorable and stylish “Back-To-School” looks for Toddlers – Charles and Kate

http://glo.msn.com/style/back-to-school-style-for-every-age-8498.gallery

 

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I am watching the BCS National Championship and am mourning the fact that college football season is coming to an end.  I come from a football family.  My grandfather, Clint Small, played for the University of Texas, as did my father and brother in law; my brother played for Vanderbilt.  There is nothing greater than fall football in Austin, Texas.  I think about the time and physical commitment the young men make to be on a team. Makes me want to do the same for my own business.  Get to the National Championship like LSU and Alabama.

The company I work with has amazing tools- it is all in how you use them.  Consider the “Market Update”- up to date information about every zip code in this country.  I focus on 78703.  It is the neighborhood in which I grew up and currently live.  Click to put your own zip code in and find out (or confirm) why it is so great.  You can also compare zip codes.  Are you thinking of moving? Compare where you live now to your new zip code.

I like to set my business up 90 days out.  I know myself and can work with 4 to 5 buyers and 4 to 5 sellers at a time.  Do you need to be on my radar?

Congrats to Bey and Jay! Blue Ivy Carter!!!

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