Monday, March 29, 2010

15-Carb Candy Filled Easter Eggs for Diabetic Children

Our 9-year-old granddaughter was recently diagnosed with juvenile onset (type 1) diabetes, which makes the typical sweet-treat holiday festivities less enjoyable. She is allowed a 15-carb snack a couple of times a day, however, so I got the idea to fill plastic eggs with exactly 15 carbs worth of Easter candy. While it would be unwise and unhealthy to eat candy as a snack on a regular basis, I figured this was a way for her to not be left out and not have to calculate carbs in candy that she might eat.

To make these eggs, I bought a variety of Easter candies and did all the calculations to determine how many carbs were in each kind. I then filled a bunch of eggs with exactly 15 carbs worth. I did include some marshmallow candies in a couple of eggs but am afraid they may get sticky so probably would advise against that. It seems best to use candies that are individually wrapped but that isn't how favorites like jellybeans are packaged. So we'll have to take our chances and try to ensure that the plastic eggs don't draw moisture.

It was somewhat of a challenge to figure the carbs so better to have it all done ahead of time. The amount of candy in each egg is rather small but at least none go over the 15-carb limit. What really surprised me is that sugar free jellybeans had the same amount of carbs as regular ones. So don’t assume that sugar free means a diabetic can eat all they want!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hypertension Basics – Who, Why and What?

Omron HEM-712C Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor with IntelliSenseOne of the sites where I am published online is Suite101. They’re having a couple of contests right now, which has prompted me to get busy writing more articles. As hypertension is an issue that affects many in my family, I published an article yesterday on high blood pressure basics. I’m actually planning to do a series – home monitoring how-to, lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure, etc. – if my adult onset ADD doesn’t get the better of me and send me off in another direction! Hey – maybe I should do an article on that?

Anyway . . . What was I saying? Oh, yeah – there are a variety of blood pressure monitors available for home use. Some are designed especially for women, some have larger cuffs, and others even fit on your wrist! If you have hypertension or prehypertension, it is advised to monitor your blood pressure at home. Here are a few Amazon affiliate links to blood pressure monitors you might want to consider. Be sure to ask your doctor which type is best for you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Choosing the Right Structure for Your Home-based Business

Many retirees start home-based businesses, either to make money at home to supplement retirement income or to stay active – or both! Often these entrepreneurial endeavors just sort of “evolve” without any real planning. But did you know that the type of entity you choose (or fail to choose) for your home-based business can have serious tax and legal ramifications?

Basically, there are just a handful of structures from which to choose. But the differences between them are significant. An individual or married couple may choose to go the easiest route and operate as a sole proprietor. Two or more individuals who desire to conduct business together must form a partnership of some sort – unless they get way more formalized and set up a corporation or Limited Liability Company. This can all be so confusing!

Well, I’ve written an article on Suite101 on this very topic. For more information, see Small or Home-based Business Ownership Options. In addition, here are a couple of Amazon links to Home-Based Business for Dummies and Best Home Businesses for People 50+, both by Paul and Sarah Edwards.

Please Note: These are affiliate links and I will receive a little kickback should you click and order.

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's Tax Time!

As the old saying goes, there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes. And what time of year is it? Why, tax time, of course! The time when accountants across the land are busily crunching numbers and good old John Q. Public is busy biting his nails. How much more fun could you ask for?

I’m the resident income tax preparer in our little group. I actually don’t mind – which is good beings no one else wants to do it! I only take care of the personal taxes, however, and not the taxes for Horn's Jewelry. But between all of us and a few friends and relatives, I stay plenty busy. Here are a couple of tips to make tax time less stressful.

Keep Good Records

It may be too late for the 2009 tax year but certainly not for 2010. Especially if you’ve started a new home based business, keeping good records is crucial. In a previous post, I talked about but I’d like to mention them again. After discovering them in January, I entered all my 2009 info for both my freelance writing and custom memorial quilt businesses. When it came time to fill out my federal tax return, actually generated the needed Schedule C forms for me! It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Don’t Make It Harder Than It Has To Be

I also use TurboTax Home & Business for all our tax prep. I used to buy the H&R Block or J.K. Lassiter tax guide each year and study like crazy but now I let the software do all that for me. I still stay on top of tax changes and double check the completed forms to make sure nothing is amiss but it sure is nice to just enter the info and have the program put it all in the right place and make all the calculations. Pretty much eliminates the inevitable human errors that tend to occur when using a calculator and filling forms out by hand.

The IRS also has a terrific website where you can access all the forms and publications and more info than you’ll ever want to read. Anything you need to know about your federal taxes is right there, neatly organized and readily available 24/7. Have fun!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Refocusing My Freelance Writing Efforts

One of the great things about being your own boss is the ability to re-evaluate and make adjustments as the need arises. In my quest to make money at home during retirement, I’ve tried a few different freelance-writing options – both up-front pay and residual income opportunities. Based on my experience with each and my future goals, I’ve recently concluded that I need to refocus my writing efforts.

Over the past seven months, I’ve spent the bulk of my time writing for up-front pay. While this is good for right now, it does nothing to secure the future. When I made my New Year’s goals this year, I’d planned to continue the paid writing at the same pace while working toward financial freedom by simultaneously developing the residual income side of things. Well, guess what? I can’t do it all!

Then to top it off, I started the Rugged Canyon Jewelry blog last month. It’s a lot of fun and really important for our business but does take a bit of creative energy and time. And then there’s this blog and my contributions to Spilled on this Earth. Anyway, I was feeling the need to let some things go and have fewer deadlines from clients.

Since making this slightly overdue decision, I actually feel as if a large weight has been lifted from me. I’m wrapping up my current obligations and will be able to start really focusing on publishing articles that generate residual income later this week. I recently purchased an ebook to help me with key word research so am anxious to read that first thing. I’ve really enjoyed my writing journey thus far and am looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the next few months!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Etsy Update – Back in Business!

Well, I have to admit it – I didn’t do a single thing with my Wilderness Crafter Etsy shop during the month of February. Nothing. Well, I looked at it a few times but I didn’t add a single item until the 28th and that doesn’t really count for February, as it was merely a jump-start on March.

I also didn’t make a single sale in February. Hmm. Think there’s a connection? If so, you’re right. I decided to post one item daily during March and was rewarded with my first sale today! For three items! Apparently you get more business when you actually show up for work! So lesson learned – if I want to have any success with Etsy, I need to maintain my shop.

Another interesting Etsy happening this week was a question I got from a customer in Australia. She wanted to verify the shipping amount on a book, as it seemed high to her. I use the USPS for all my shipping and have everything but Canada set to International flat rate priority which is over $13 for a 9”x12” envelope. Well, I discovered that the book in question wouldn’t quite fit into that envelope, as it is 2” thick.

Not to be deterred, I began researching other options. The silly book weighs over 3 pounds and the cheapest I can send it USPS to Australia is over $25! So I checked UPS figuring I could go to the extra trouble of shipping through an alternate carrier if it would make the item affordable for her. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? UPS was over $100! Needless to say, she’s no longer interested in the book.

Bottom line is that shipping out of the US is expensive when things get over a pound or so. Patterns can be sent first class pretty reasonably. But once you get into global priority, watch out! Makes me really thankful for media mail beings a lot of the stuff in my shop at present is craft books.

So that’s the Etsy update. I’m still hoping to destash all my stuff and make money at home in the process. Now that I’m “back to work” it looks like I may meet my goal yet!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Take a Virtual Vacation

There are many places I will never visit in person but I can easily take a virtual vacation anytime I want. I have a particular fascination for the castles and old churches that are scattered across Europe. Maybe it’s because we don’t have any buildings that are really old over here in the USA. Or maybe it’s because I’ve never lived with the cold and damp that I imagine accompanies life within these beautiful structures. Whatever the reason, I am drawn to them.

Today I happened upon a site called Sacred Destinations that has beautiful photos and history and other detailed info on numerous sacred sites around the world. I haven’t indulged in a lengthy virtual vacation as I have writing assignments that need to be finished. But I did tour the Kilpeck Church in England and the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. I plan to continue my virtual tour as time allows. Care to join me?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Great Resource for Entrepreneurs!

Update 2/25/2011 - I'm no longer recommending and have removed the link. See Goodbye Outright for my reasons why.

I have found the coolest FREE bookkeeping system online and thought I’d share. provides a very nice bookkeeping system that also generates a Schedule C at the end of the year! How cool is that? All you do in input your income and expenses (correctly categorized, of course) and the program will create exactly what you need for your tax return.

I found out about shortly after starting my Etsy shop. It was a fortuitous discovery as I had on my calendar for THAT VERY DAY to develop a bookkeeping system. I was going to create my own in Excel and was dreading it. See how procrastination pays?

Not only have I used the Outright system for my Etsy shop, I also set up separate accounts for my freelance writing and custom memorial quilts business. For those of you who have your taxes done by an accountant or CPA, this may not seem that exciting. But I do all the personal taxes around here and I’m telling you, I’m thrilled to have found this! (Can you tell?)

Of interest to anyone with a business will be the YTD Profit feature. On the top right of the page, the system tracks your profits for the year as you input income and expenses. (This would be of especial benefit to my brother-in-law if I could just get him to sign up.) For folks that don’t have a business, I can see that this could also be a really good way to track personal or family expenditures. So check it out and sign up if you feel it might be of benefit.

Please Note – I have no affiliation with other than being a happy user of the system.