Thursday, July 2, 2015

Keeping Your Identity Safe While Traveling

Keeping Your Identity Safe While Traveling
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I recently got a surprise phone call from a group of guys that called to inform me that my Debit Card had been hacked.  Not only that it had been hacked, but it had been hacked by them!  Shock and disgust came over me as I called my bank to inform them that my credit card and personal information had been compromised.  How did they get it?  What else did they have access to?  All of these questions ran through my mind quickly.  As I sat on hold with my bank, I saw transactions being posted to my account every minute.  Finally, my bank associate cancelled my debit card, just shy of the 3rd purchase.  Fortunately the hackers only got an average of $20.  My bank has since credited my funds and reissued a new card.  

One main question still remains, what did I do to expose my banking information?  Was it the purchase that I made a month before, a week before, or a day before?  Was it an online purchase or a purchase at a gas pump?  Well there are so many possibilities in this day and age, with online and mobile payment options increasing and the possibility of hackers to access major company information becoming increasingly possible.  

I set out to find ways to answer some of the questions that I had about my financial situation.  I was now a part of the millions of people that had been a victim of a cyber crime.  Some of the important options that I learned about included placing Credit Freezes and/or Fraud alerts on credit reports, utilizing credit protection programs, reporting the fraudulent activity to the authorities, and obtaining alternate forms of payment for online purchases.  Some of the aforementioned options require a form of payment, but can be a great tool in your arsenal of credit and identity protection.  

Here are a few suggestions for keeping your identity as safe as possible while traveling this summer:

1.  Download the Credit Karma app for your Android device.  The Credit Karma app is a fantastic way to easily, safely, and frequently access your credit information for free!  The app allows you to look at your credit report, positive payment options, credit history, credit inquiries, and more!  The Credit Karma website is also accessible on other devices.  Checking your credit information on the go is a great and convenient option for staying on top of what's going on while you are away.  

2.  Use secure web pages.  Make sure to look for the lock as well as the 'S' in HTTPS in the search bar at the top of a webpage when doing transactions online.  A lot of hackers have been able to redirect websites and have you to insert your precious information into their fraudulent website for easy picking.  Also, be mindful of any viruses on your devices and computers.  These are known as major ways for hackers to access your information while on the internet.  I, interestingly enough, also had a virus on my Safari browser a day before my debit card information was stolen.  This could possibly be a factor in my ordeal as well.  I had to buy software to remove this virus from my computer before being able to use it again.  Here is a video review if the software that I used:  Safari Browser Virus Remover App.

3.  Avoid using unsecured internet connections.  Make sure that you use secure internet while on the go.  It is so easy to hop onto "Free Wifi" while waiting for coffee at an internet cafe or staying online all evening while visiting in a hotel.  One of the better options is to use your own personal hotspot.  It is worth the investment for you and your family during travel season.   

4.  Use prepaid debit cards for purchases on the go.  Gas station gas pumps are notorious for having skimmers attached to them.  My advice is to use a prepaid card or better yet, cash to pay for gas.  If you have to use your personal debit card, then go inside to pay or use a pump that is closest to the cashier's window.  That way they have a less likely chance of being tampered with.   For online purchases, using a debit card is certainly a better option to avoid your personal information and account from being hacked.   

5.  Use a credit card instead of a debit card.  For the most part, most banks credit any missing debit card money within a few days, but who wants the headache of waiting for the process to take place while on vacation? Credit cards on the other hand is not your "personal money" so to speak, so the fortune of not having the burden of your personal funds wiped out is a better option.  Yet still a headache if accessed, credit card funds are insured and can be provided back to you with minimal hassle.  Mainly using a credit card for hotel and car reservations might allow you to keep up with your transactions a lot easier.  

There are so many ways to be safer while traveling this summer or during any family vacation time.    Keeping an eye on your finances by monitoring your purchases, paying more securely, and adding identity and credit protection can serve as a first line of defense against being a victim of fraud.  Although nothing is perfect, being more proactive can lead to less headache and more fun while traveling!  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Which Atlanta Metro Area School System is Best?

Which Atlanta Metro Area School System is Best?

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I have been officially teaching in the Atlanta area for over 10 years.  I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a child.  After attending FAMU and FSU, I relocated to Georgia from Florida to snatch up one of the plentiful teaching jobs offered in the area.  I initially had no interest in moving to Georgia, but decided to try the move when I was unable to land a teaching job in my field (Special Education with a focus on Blindness) in Florida.  I attended a Teacher Recruiting fair at FAMU while I was working on my Graduate degree at FSU.  I spoke with representatives from counties in the Atlanta area.  Many in D.C., Virginia, Maryland, etc. were interested in hiring me right away, based on the need for the degree that I was working on.  Despite all of the interest, I decide to apply for teaching jobs in Florida for months, but was met with, "We already have a teacher in mind for the position." to "This is only a supply position." to, "We would love to hire you to work in a Behavior Disorder classroom."  The preceding made me decide to look outside of my preferred area.  I circled back and decided to look into the Atlanta area.  I started out by applying to two Metro Atlanta schools.  Out of both interviews, I was offered both jobs in my field. I decided to take the one that was just outside of the Atlanta area.

Since I have been working in the Atlanta area for years, I have come across the question, "Which Atlanta Metro Area School System is the Best?"  and " Which Metro Area School System Pays the most?"  Well as far as I know, based on hearsay, Gwinnett, Fulton, Atlanta Public Schools, and Cobb are among the top 50 school systems in the area.   The aforementioned school systems are among the larger counties in the area as well.  If you are interested in any of these school systems, ask teachers that work in the mentioned counties, look on the county's website, or do a Google search for more information.

If you are deciding on where to teach in the Atlanta Metro area, check out a few of the Salary Schedules below for the 2015-16 school year.









If you are using Salary, Location, or Programs to decide which school system to go with, do your research and see which option is best for you.  The information above is just for reference.  Have fun searching!





I Am Back!

I Am Back!


How time flies!  I have been away from my blog for 6 months.  Since my last post, I have officially started school at NCCU, am on the heels of the family reunion (July 2015) that I have been planning for over a year now.  I have been working on several family trees, a family website/blog, and several DNA tests.  Now what?  Well this blog is a great way for me to express my creativity and share valuable information.  My decision for this blog going forward is to use it as an outlet for my inspiration.  I will post on here when I am inspired or when I have a campaign to share, which means that it most likely won't be on a regular basis.  If you want to keep up with my posts, you can  sign up for email alerts ("Follow By Email") on the right side of this page or you can follow me on Twitter or any of my other Social Media outlets (see the "Swarthy Daisy Online" box on the right side of the page).  I thank you for your continued support!  See you next post!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hiatus

Hiatus 

Yes, you read that correctly.  I will be taking a Blogging Hiatus for 6 months.  My hiatus will begin on January 1, 2015 and will continue until June 2015.  

I have a LOT of personal projects coming up in 2015.    Beginning January 2015, I will be starting college again.  My program will require a lot of studying, reading, and practice of learned skills.  Because my schooling will require a significant amount of travel, I will need time to focus and stay on track.  
I am also hosting a family reunion for my maternal side of the family.  With that, I have been coined the family historian and am working on an ongoing family genealogy project.  That too requires a lot of travel and research.  

I have been maintaining this blog and my other Social Media channels non stop since 2009.  Lately trying to manage my Blogging and Personal life has been like trying to herd cats!  

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Since I have not "officially" had a break in all this time, I figure this break will allow me time to gather my thoughts on the future of this blog and my Social Media efforts.  

In the meantime, I will still update my Twitter and Instagram, pin Technology, Natural hairGenealogy, and Food on my Pinterest account, and post a video or two on my Youtube channel.  Also, I am contractually obligated to a few companies, as I am a Brand Ambassador for them.  Therefore  a post might pop up on here in-between time.  If so, I will post a link to the post on my Twitter account.  

Feel free to read some of my previous posts.  You might be interested in my 23andme Genealogy Journey...

Or you might be looking for some Work-at-home opportunities...

Or you too might be looking for ways to Unplug for a while...

Make sure to follow me on my Social Media Channels for periodic updates on what I am up to!

If you want to contact me or just say hello, check out the 'Contact Me' box on the right side of this post.  

Thank you all for being awesome supporters! 
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Monday, December 1, 2014

The 10 things that I love about Atlanta!

The 10 things that I love about Atlanta!
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Small Businesses
Since living in the Atlanta area, I have easily started 3 small businesses.  I sold everything from Educational materials to t-shirts.  The ability to start and obtain a business license in Georgia was very easy.  There were also so many opportunities to market and sell my products.  

Social Media Events and Blogging
Since I am into Social Media, as you can see, I am really happy to be a part of the blogging community in Atlanta.  It is very easy to locate bloggers in the area because there are so many conferences and networking events held here on a regular basis.  A simple search on Google or Twitter search will reveal the vast community and opportunities.

T.V./Celebrities
I personally know over 5 local people that I have seen on T.V. lately as a result of opportunities for individuals to appear on game shows, reality shows, and news programs.  I have actually attended a few live tapings of shows such as Family Feud, and more. I have also met celebrities as a result of attending events in Atlanta.  The celebrities mix and mingle with guests with ease.  Over the years, I have met Malinda Williams, Kim Coles, and Nicci Gilbert to name a few.  

Restaurants
There are so many restaurants in the Atlanta area.  I have yet to try a fraction of them, but am looking forward to trying a lot more.  Some of my favorites include Two Urban Licks, Pure Taqueria, Jim N Nicks, Social Vinings, and The Vortex to name a mere fraction of them.  

Housing
The housing in the Atlanta area is very affordable.  I was able to buy a house at the tender age of 25.  Although I had to look into areas just outside of Atlanta, I was able to find something within a half hour or so from the city center.  The ability to find a brand new house that you can build to suit is one major perk of buying a house in the Atlanta area.  

Shopping
There are several Outlet malls and mega malls in the Atlanta area.  The North Georgia, Tanger, and Woodstock Outlets are a few of the more popular Outlet malls in the Atlanta area.  Lenox, Perimeter, and the Mall of Georgia offer plenty of shopping options.   

Hair Salons
The women in Atlanta believe in beautiful hair.  There are hundreds of hair salons in the area.  There are even salons in malls, Walmart stores, etc.  You can throw a stone and find a hair salon within a short drive or even walking distance.  

Concerts
Atlanta is home of several performance venues.  The Atlanta Symphony Hall, The Fabulous Fox theatre, and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre are a few of the most well known.  For individuals that enjoy Indie artists, places like Center Stage Live, The Tabernacle, and the Variety Playhouse have concerts all year long for lovers of underground and Indie music.  For even smaller venues, The Loft and Moods Music host up and coming artists and listening parties on a regular basis.  

Amusement Parks
The Atlanta area has plenty to do for families with children (or the kid in you).  The more popular amusement parks include Six Flags over Georgia and White Water.  There are also smaller attractions that include Lego Land and Stone Mountain Park.

Nature
There are abundant amounts of outdoor activities in the Atlanta area.  I particularly like Amicalola Falls,  apple picking at Mercier Farms, and the hiking trails at Kennesaw Mountain.  The summer time offers a wealth of options for things to do that really are not very expensive.

-In Conclusion 
If you are looking to live in the Atlanta area, or just plan to visit, make sure to take in one of the above attractions.  The reasons above, and more, make Atlanta a nice place to live!



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This Goes Way Beyond Meat!

This Goes Way Beyond Meat!


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When I attended the TechMunch conference here in Atlanta in September of this year, I had the pleasure of meeting the reps from Beyond Meat.  They had great samples of their food to share which included "Beef" Nachos and  Classic "Chicken" Salad   Beyond Meat gave attendees of the conference free coupons to try their products.  I decided to reach out to my Veggie Lovin' Social Media buddies to try Beyond Meat as well.

Here is what Dalia from Eating Beautiful had to say:


Dalia's Yummy Salad with Beyond Meat's "Chicken" Strips


"I made a grilled chicken salad using the Beyond Chicken Grilled Strips, a honey mustard dressing, and a romaine iceberg mix.  It was delicious.  I thought the beyond meat chicken actually tasted better than chicken. It had a savory kind of creamy texture.  It was very filling.  I'd definitely use it again to turn a salad into a main dish."


For more awesome meal ideas, visit Dalia's website at http://eatingbeautiful.com.


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My music lovin' Vegetarian friend Kenya shared the following photos of the meals that she made with Beyond Meat:

Veggie Chilli & Chicken Philly

Kenya mentioned that she was an avid Boca product customer, but mentioned that after experimenting with various seasonings, the Beyond Meat products made great meat alternatives.  

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I also tried Beyond Meat and made baked potatoes.  I had to compare the Vegetarian product against actual chicken strips by Tyson.  Here is my creation:


Overall, I thought the product was very close to chicken.  The texture was similar and with some doctoring, the flavor was similar as well.  

If you are looking to try a meat substitute, I suggest Beyond meat.  


Monday, November 3, 2014

Warby Parker Eyeglasses

Warby Parker Eyeglasses


I recently visited the Warby Parker Eyewear store in Buckhead (Atlanta).  I was amazed at how nicely the store was laid out.  There were so many trendy frames and the price was right on point!  

Here is a video of my find!




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Who knew Marriage Would Take this Much Work?

Who knew Marriage Would Take this Much Work?


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Marriage is NOT for the faint of heart.  Marriage is a commitment and a partnership that takes WORK!  I have been married for just over 4 years.  I can tell you that there are plenty of ups and downs.  But what is most important is to nurture and continue to work on your relationship.  The Bible has excellent guidance as far as how to treat your mate (1 Peter 3:1, Ephesians 5:22-28) and the role of the husband and the wife. There are also other resources online, in print, video, and workshop form that is very helpful.  I want to let you all know about this FREE marital resource that will help you to get your marriage on the right track today!  Black and Married with Kids is bringing you a 3 Part Video Series called:  Transform Your Marriage!  Make sure to click this link to get access to the free resource-->Transform Your Marriage.

They also have other resources that are valuable to families from various backgrounds!  My husband and I have this awesome workbook:

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There are also DVDs for relationships that have survived marital challenges:

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Hope and love for their mates:

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Topic of Manhood:

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There are so many excellent resources by Black and Married with Kids.  Check out the links above to get your marriage moving in the right direction today!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

At a Crossroads Again!

At a Crossroads Again!

Today makes 1 year since I last buzz cut my hair.  For the previous 6 years I have enjoyed the freedom of wearing a low maintenance buzz cut or TWA.  They were such fun and low maintenance styles.    This time last year when I was at the Blogalicious conference here in Atlanta, I marked that time as a time to set out on a different path.  This was a path that I had not ventured on in years.  I decided to grow my hair out.  I decided to join the millions of women on their Natural Hair growth journey.  As I reflect on this past year, I fondly remember the many years that I experimented and tried style after style trying to get a perfect routine.  Here are a few shots of the many styles that I experimented with between 2005 and now:

Coils, Twists, and Puffs

Faux Pieces

Short hair
Now my current dilemma is figuring out if I forge ahead taking the path once traveled and try style after style, spending hour after hour, and visiting salon after salon.  Or will my decision be to venture off to a salon to get a fresh TWA and some color, and having the freedom to truly wash and go?  
I would love a little feedback.  Let me know what you think!  Make sure to stay connected with me on my Instagram to see what my eventual decision will be.  

Should I go with the TWA or continue my grow out?
 
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