Thursday, July 31, 2014

10 Things to Do for Recreation This Summer

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

Summer is just a sneeze away. Now's your chance to get out of the house for some much needed recreation and relaxation. Go ahead and make it one of your goals to try something different this year. With this list of 10 things to do for recreation this summer you don't have an excuse.

1. Hiking
Become at one with the great outdoors. See the sights. Take in the sounds. Acquaint yourself with nature.

2. Swimming
Break out that new swimsuit and hit the water! If you don't know how to swim, now is the perfect time to take lessons.

3. Fishing
Most folks who enjoy fishing report that it's good for reducing stress and that it's a good activity for facilitating meditation. There's just something about developing the patience to sit there and wait for a fish to take your bait.

4. Biking
Have fun and get in shape at the same time. Biking is great for toning and strengthening the leg muscles. Bike around and see the sights.

5. Archery
Interest in archery has resurged since the release of the "Hunger Games" movies. Making that arrow fly is a true test of skill. Why not give it a try?

6. Waterslide
This one will bring back memories of childhood past. What a wonderful way to hedge off the effects of the burning summer sun.

7. Boating and Water Sports
Canoeing, paddle boating, pontoon boating, sailing … take your pick. There are a number of different ways to take a boat out on the water.

8. Bowling
Fun for family and/or friends. Great for friendly competition. I just suggest that if you can work it into your budget that you bring your own ball and shoes.

9. Camping
Camping out under the stars is a wonderful experience. Or if lying on the ground isn't your thing, rent a camper or an RV. You'll be sure to create memories for years to come.

10. Golf
This pastime of the rich is now also available to the masses. It takes more skill than you can imagine to get that little ball to go into the hole. Traipsing across the greens is also an excellent form of exercise.

This list is by no means extensive. There's a recreational pursuit out there to fit every interest and every activity level. Find one or two that appeal to you … and enjoy!


*Photo: Scott Ableman via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/06/2014 (no longer published there).]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Started My Own Small Business ... and You Can Do It Too!

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

Even though we're told that the economy is on the upswing, many are finding that the jobs available to them aren't enough to meet the needs of their household. On taking these types of jobs, they join the ranks of the underemployed. If you are one of the folks who fall in this category, I want to tell you that there's another way to handle this challenge. I started my own small business, and you can do it too.

As the dynamics of my chosen career for the past 25 years or so continued to deteriorate, I finally became one of its casualties. I was laid off with no warning. And even though I held two degrees, one of them a graduate degree, I couldn't find any jobs that would provide a significant income for a 50+-year-old educated woman. So I decided if I couldn't find a job that would fill the need that I would create one.

I decided that I would partner with my husband, a graphic designer, to open a specialty greeting card shop. He would design the pictures, and I would write the words. It was a perfect pairing of skills.

These are the steps that I followed to get the shop going. If you duplicate my efforts it's possible that you can be up and running in the next two weeks with your own business.

  1. I found a location for the shop in a small strip mall that had a monthly rent that we could afford.
  2. I obtained a business license from the county that we would be operating in and applied for a tax ID number.
  3. I made a list of office equipment and supplies that we would need and purchased them.
  4. I worked along with my husband to decorate the shop and move in all of our equipment and supplies.
  5. We opened for business.
  6. We did small promotions to let everyone know that we were open, i.e., passing out and mailing flyers, passing out business cards, sending out email blasts, and asking friends and relatives to spread the word.
  7. We do our best to service our customers with excellence and quality, and in this way we encourage repeat and referral business.

So, you see, it doesn't have to be brain surgery. It really can be this simple. Don't allow the job market to determine whether or not you can make a decent living for your household. If the market doesn't offer opportunities that are in line with your goals, get out there and create an opportunity for yourself!

*Photo: via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/06/2014 (no longer published there).]

How to Make Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist a Fun One by Being Proactive

by A. L. Woods, Staff Writer

Yay! One of your child’s first rites of passage has arrived: his first trip to the dentist. And how you handle this situation will make all of the difference in whether or not this will be a good first experience or a bad one. Here are a few tips to mitigate any potential stress and make his appointment fun, comfortable, and pleasant.

Be proactive. Small children operate better under these types of circumstances when they can still find some connection with their comfort zone. Book an appointment with a children’s dentist and make arrangements to take the child to the office in advance of his appointment. This alone will help fend off many potential challenges as most children’s dental offices are well trained on how to make a child feel comfortable.

Introduce your child to the staff and facilitate their interaction with him. See if the dentist can take just a couple of minutes (get this approved beforehand so that you don’t interrupt his office schedule) to come out and introduce himself to the child. If possible, allow the child to go back to one of the examining rooms, let him sit in the dental chair, show him the equipment that may be used during his procedure and explain how each piece works.

Start talking about the child’s appointment a few days before the appointment. Emphasize in child-friendly terms how going to the dentist will benefit his teeth, explain a little about what a dentist does, and promise that the child will receive a special treat after all is said and done.

Does your child have a special stuffed animal or toy that he particularly favors? Great! Assure him that he will be able to take the toy with him and keep it by his side while he is getting his teeth serviced.

Play little games with your child, i.e., have little “tests” where he answers questions about some of the things that you’ve told him. For example, What is the name of the dentist that you’re going to? What does a dentist do? How will going to the dentist help your teeth?

Aside from all of the above, make sure that your child’s dentist is familiar with his health history and that he knows about any pre-existing conditions, allergies (very important!), or medications that your child is taking.

All in all, your child’s dental visit doesn’t have to be stressful or fearful. With just a little bit of proactivity you can make it both a fun and memorable experience and start him off on the road to good dental hygiene with a laugh and a smile. 

*Photo credit: Finizio via Flickr

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Best Camping Locations in Morrow, Georgia: Guide to Local Locales

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

Looking to create a new, or revive an old, happy camping memory and you live local to the Morrow, Georgia area? Here are three of the best camping locations where you can make your dreams come true. Most important of all, these areas are all within an hour's drive from Morrow, are located near major outdoor recreational venues, and report majority positive camper experiences.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your camping gear and let's get started!

Stone Mountain Campground
Location: 4003 Stonewall Jackson Dr; Stone Mountain Park; Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Phone: (770) 498-5710
Hours: Registration/check-in before 11:00pm.
Atmosphere: Cozy, well maintained. Great facilities and staff. Great view of the lake.
Parking or Public Transportation: Automobile and RV parking available.
What It's Known For: Historic Stone Mountain.
Why Locals Like It: Family friendly, many amenities.
Neighborhood Information: City of Stone Mountain
Additional Information: Stone Mountain Park

Shady Grove Campground
Location: 7800 Shadburn Ferry Rd; Cumming, GA 30041
Phone: (770) 205-6849
Hours: 7:00am-10:00pm
Atmosphere: Clean. Numerous wooded camp sites. Great lake views. Excellent facilities.
Parking or Public Transportation: Available for automobiles, RV's, and boat trailers.
What It's Known For: Located near Lake Lanier.
Why Locals Like It: Many amenities, including a boat dock and beach.
Neighborhood Information: City of Cumming
Additional Information: Shady Grove Campground

Chattahoochee Bend State Park Visitor Center
Location: 425 Bobwhite Way; Newnan, GA 30263
Phone: (770) 254-7271
Hours: 7:00am-10:00pm
Atmosphere: Recent reviews on this one are mixed, with most reviews leaning to the positive side. Majority report campground to be clean and well maintained while a few state just the opposite. Negative reviews are consistent in that they reflect that the success of their camper experience is tied in to just where they actually camp out in the park. Family friendly. Nice personnel.
Parking or Public Transportation: Available for automobiles and RV's.
What It's Known For: Situated on the Chattahoochee River.
Why Locals Like It: Great for boating, camping, and fishing. Lots of activities. One of Georgia's largest state parks.
Neighborhood Information: City of Newnan
Additional Information: Chattahoochee Bend State Park

All in all, if camping's your thing, at least one of these sites should be more than adequate to fit your needs and more than probably you'll have a great camper experience. Regardless of whether you're camping with family or friends, each campground offers a variety of woodland adventures and activities for your fun and enjoyment.

Happy camping!

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 05/20/2014.]

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Is the Amazon Fire Phone the Phone for You?

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

Last week, Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, announced its latest foray into the tech world - a first attempt at a smartphone. By all indications at first view, it boasts a dazzling array of specs and features. So the question of the day right now is: Is the Amazon Fire Phone the phone for you?


In terms of specs, the Fire Phone really is a superphone among smartphones:
  • Available in both 32GB and 64GB
  • 4.7" LCD display
  • Quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM
  • 13 MP rear-facing camera/2.1 MP front-facing camera
  • Fire OS 3.5
  • 2400mAh battery
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Dual stereo speakers

From $199 on contract to $649 off contract.


This phone boasts an unbelievable number of features not seen in other smartphones which include 3D viewing, live onboard customer assistance, and the ability to scan all kinds of material - print, video, music, etc. - and provide instant information and purchasing details for the user. Amazon has even included a full free year of its popular Prime service for phone buyers.


I'm a diehard Android gal who loves Samsung phones. Although the Fire Phone operates on a highly customized version of Android, it almost feels like too much is going on. Let me disclaim that I've formed my opinion solely from reading and watching online reviews and I haven't had the opportunity yet to 'hands on' it.

Also, in an echo from the iPhone past, the phone will initially only be made available on AT&T.

Specific details

The Fire Phone's major claim to fame is its awesome display with 3D rendering and multi-cameras which enable the 3D experience. This is probably the first time that this technology has operated smoothly on a smartphone without appearing gimmicky and without having to use an extra accessory, such as 3D glasses.

Product selection/availability

As stated above, the phone is available in two models: 32GB and 64GB. Amazon is accepting preorders right now both directly through its website and through AT&T, its chosen carrier.


One of the major benefits of using Amazon devices is that they're so user friendly that even your grandmother can use them without a steep learning curve. To enhance this concept, Amazon has included its now famous Mayday service on the phone, a video chat application where a live customer service representative will assist you with any problems that you are having.

Overall quality

The phone appears to be of excellent quality, both in design build and construction materials.

Ideal market

The ideal market for this phone is clearly long-time, diehard, loyal customers. With the specs and features that it offers though this target market may be easily expanded to include techies and those who are looking for an alternative to the iPhone.


As much as I love experimenting with and upgrading to new smartphones I think that I'm going to continue to hold on to my Galaxy Note 3 for a while. You all be the guinea pigs and come back and let me know how your user experience goes.

Amazon Fire Phone

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices 06/26/214.]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Kim Kardashian Wedding Day News: Bride-to-Be Gets a High-End Facial

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

As I was researching a prospective topic for today's article, I couldn't help but to stumble and wade through the ever-growing mire of news and gossip surrounding the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Finally, in an act of surrender, I conceded that the Internet Powers That Be had ordained that a Kim Kardashian wedding day news story was meant to be.

As many of you know, Ms. Kardashian and Mr. West tied the proverbial knot this past weekend in Italy, and the festivities were launched with a number of pre-wedding day rituals. Shopping, quality time, couple gym sessions, social events and tours with friends and family, and pampering have been the focus in the days leading up to the big event.

One bit of "news," if you can truly call it that, is that the bride-to-be splurged on a $550 stem cell facial to ensure that she looked her most radiant as she made her elegant glide down the aisle in a magnificently expensive custom-made wedding gown. The procedure was said to firm and lift the skin.

Kardashian is well known for her public displays of a unique fashion and style sense, so it's no surprise that she would avail herself of this kind of treatment in preparation for her special day.
The bride received the treatment stateside at the office of celebrity dermatology practice Lancer Dermatology before leaving for Paris for pre-wedding festivities. An unknown source indicates that she has been receiving stem cell facials for many years.

The stem cells are extracted from a marine plant. The procedure consists of a cleansing, an exfoliation, and an extraction. A mask coated with rose oil is then applied. After this the stem cells are applied and an LED light is used to assist with skin absorption. Results typically last for approximately a week.

No doubt Kardashian fans will be descending on their dermatology practices and aesthetician salons in droves upon hearing this news trying to emulate the procedure and achieve the same results as the famed starlet. I, on the other hand, have more important things in mind, such as watching paint dry or, even better, taking a nap.


[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 05/27/2014.]

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer 2014 Job Fairs: Morrow, Georgia

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

If you're in the job market right now, good news may be just around the corner. Many employers are gearing up for an increase in summer sales by adding additional staff. Regardless of whether the employment offers are permanent or short-term, the extra dollars that a new job will bring into your household can make a lot of difference. If you're local to Morrow, Georgia, there are three summer 2014 job fairs that may open up new doors of opportunity for you.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
2014 Black Greek & HBCU Diversity Career Expo and AGP Seminar Series
Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Where: Marriott Marquis; 265 Peachtree Center Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30303
Cost: Free.
Additional information/registration: REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Career Fair Registration. Bring your resume.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Atlanta Job Fair
Time: 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Hotel Capitol Park; 450 Capitol Avenue, SE, Atlanta, GA 30312
Cost: Free.
Additional info/registration: Atlanta Job Fair Registration. Bring your resume. Meet hiring managers face to face.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Job Fair of Atlanta
Time: 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Embassy Suites Hotel Atlanta Galleria; 2815 Akers Mill Road, SE, Atlanta, GA 30339
Cost: Free.
Additional info/registration: Job Fair of Atlanta Registration. Bring your resume.
  • Arrive early. Get to the venue early so that you can be among the first in line and can scout out which employers are present and where they are situated. 
  • Attitude is everything. Come expecting to get positive results and let that attitude shine through.
  • Dress to impress. Dress in the same manner that you would dress for the position that you're seeking.
  • Take special care to craft your resume. Make sure that everything is up to date and that it is free from spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Have references on hand. Have a list of references with up-to-date contact info ready and available.
  • Exude confidence. Make sure that you speak confidently of your qualifications, make direct eye contact, and give a firm handshake after speaking with the recruiter.
  • Get the recruiter's business card. Follow up in three to five business days with a thank-you note and a short reminder of your qualifications and interest.
Mark your calendar and start preparing now to attend one of these events. It's never too early and you can never be too prepared.

Good luck in your job search. I'm rooting for you!

Personal experience

*Photo: bpsusf via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 05/22/2014.]

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Do Women Drive Dodge Vehicles?

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

I love Jeep brand vehicles. The Jeep just seems to capture the total essence of my personality, and when I drive one I feel strangely 'linked' in to its character. Recently I decided that I wanted to upgrade my model but on going to the dealership I allowed the salesman to talk me into going an alternate route - with a Dodge. I had a little trepidation over that, and the first question that I asked him when he made the suggestion was, do women drive Dodge vehicles?

At the risk of sounding sexist, I don't think it's a stretch to say that over the years Dodge's primary target market has been males - alpha males to be exact. Everything about a Dodge screams muscle car, power, and aggression. Even the design lines are muscular and broad, like a man's broad shoulders.

I ended up buying a 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad. So why did I break down and allow the salesman to talk me into ditching my beloved Jeep and taking on this cherry red beautiful icon of power?


The cabin in this vehicle is cavernous. It seats five comfortably and seven in a pinch. With a tribe of nieces, nephews, godchildren, and stepchildren, this kind of space is a blessing. Transporting is now a breeze.


The opportunities for storage here are amazing and have to be seen to be believed: under the passenger seat, on both sides of the driver's console, front and rear of the console, on the floor in front of each of the second-row passenger seats, and even in the cargo hatch.


The tech in this Dodge is breathtaking and was the deal maker for me. The driver's cockpit makes you feel like you're in a spaceship (an experience that I love). There are lights, bells, and whistles, and an 8.4" info/communications center that controls the car, accesses your phone, and gets temperature and traffic readings. All this and more.


When you hit the accelerator on this baby, it moves! I love how confident it is. To add to the experience, the driver sits up high and has excellent visibility all around. I feel like the queen of the road when I'm driving.


All kinds of safety features are built in, not the least of which are additional airbags which deploy between the passenger and driver in addition to all of the standard positions.


As stated, the communications center allows you to stay connected to your smartphone and to volumes of information normally found on the Web, i.e., navigation, temperature, traffic, and reviews. You can even purchase a subscription that will allow you to surf the Net while in the vehicle if you so desire.


I don't like getting lost - ever. With the Dodge I have two choices: use the navigation system or use Google Maps on my smartphone.

Cargo space

Transporting and moving are no longer a problem with the huge span of cargo space available on this vehicle. In addition, I can fold down the third row, second row, and front passenger seat to expand it even further.

Built-in booster seats (optional)

Some moms may have infants and toddlers who need booster seats in order to ride. Dodge has an option for booster seats to be built directly into the second-row seats.

Talk back to me! Any other ladies out there who get where I'm coming from? If so, what made you disregard the Dodge "image" and push forward and purchase one?
I'm feeling pretty certain right now that there other women beside me who drive a Dodge.

Personal experience

*Photo: Chuck Coker via Flickr

4th of July 2014 Events: Morrow, Georgia

Summer is here, and the 4th of July is coming! It's not too early to begin making your plans for your holiday celebration if you don't want to stay home this year. Here are a few 4th of July events to choose from for those who live in or near the Morrow, Georgia area.

4th of July Ice Cream Social

This is the kind of social event that echoes from the past. Who doesn't like ice cream? Bring the family out, even consider bringing a few friends, and spend the evening socializing with each other and just taking it easy. McDonough is one of Morrow's sister cities and so only a few minutes' drive away. This would be a perfect end to the evening after enjoying barbecue at your own house.

When: 07/04/2014
Time: 7-9pm
Where: Historic McDonough Square, 5 Griffin St, McDonough, GA 30253
Phone: 770-898-9311
Additional information: Both admission and parking are free. You can also bring your pets.

Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine

Hampton, Georgia is well known for its Atlanta Motor Speedway just off of I-75 S. There's something at this event for both the daring at heart and the laid back spectator. Events will be taking place almost every Friday night during the specified date range. Come out and drive your car in one of the exciting drag races or just have a seat and cheer somebody on. Drivers will have show vehicles set up for viewing pre the race events. This will be a very different way for some of you to spend the holiday!

When: 07/04 to 07/25/2014
Time: 6:30pm
Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1500 Hwy 19/41, Hampton, GA 30228
Phone: 770-946-3950
Additional information: Admission is $8 for adults and $20 for those who wish to compete in the drag race events. Parking is free.

4th of July Celebration

If you don't mind the drive to Alpharetta (roughly 45 minutes or so), this may be a worthwhile holiday event. There'll be lots going on, plenty of new people to meet, and tons of fun taking place. Make it a family event or a romantic interlude for two. The fireworks display alone should make this celebration well worth the drive.

Time: 5-10pm
Where: Wills Park, 1825 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta, GA
Phone: 678-297-6100
Additional information: Both admission and parking are free. Bring your own food or purchase food at the park. There'll be entertainment, activities for the kiddos, and a fireworks display.

These are just three of the events taking place in and around Morrow, Georgia this year. Don't be a stick in the mud. Choose one of them and make this 4th of July a year to remember.

City of McDonough
Atlanta Motor Speedway
*Photo: Hammerin Man via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices.]