It’s Grilling Time!

Well, it’s now “officially” BBQ season! Our family had our first BBQ on Memorial Day, and it was fantastic! If you also had or attended a BBQ this past weekend, I hope you enjoyed some tasty treats.

Unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian, meat is surely going to be on your BBQ menu. During the summer months, sales of certain BBQ-able (yes, I think I just made the word up!) meats go up.

In fact, beef, franks and dinner sausage marked above-average sales from Memorial Day through the week of the Fourth of July in 2015, according to the Nielsen Company. Still while hot dogs are an easy go-to choice for grilling, ground beef, pork and chicken were the most popular by total dollars sold for Memorial Day 2015.

Memorial Day Top Meat Sales
While meat isn’t always thought of as being especially healthy, it is typically loaded with protein. Protein claims on packaging are driving sales growth in a number of different product categories. For example, while overall frozen entrée sales declined, sales of frozen entree items that list “protein” as a claim on the package actually grew by 20% in 2015, according to Nielsen.

When you go shopping for meat, you’ll be sure to see more items promoting protein, since many consumers may not be aware of just how much protein is in some meat. For example, in a recent NCP survey less than 40% of consumers realized that pork and chicken each contain more than 20 grams of protein for just three ounces of meat.

Now for those of you who are not into eating meat, don’t forget you can also grill vegetables and even certain fruits.

So whether you BBQ meat and/or vegetables and fruits, make sure to light up your grill and get cooking!

Happy grilling!

Memorial Day Weekend Travels

Monday is Memorial Day, a day where we remember those who sacrificed their lives on behalf of our country in the name of freedom.

It’s also traditionally the unofficial start of summer.

Many people spend the holiday weekend traveling to see friends and family, BBQing, or viewing parades, among many other things.

Speaking of traveling, AAA forecasts that 38 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend. That is the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record and the most since 2005.

According to AAA, nearly 34 million (89%) holiday travelers will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, an increase of 2.1% over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6% over last year, with 2.6 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day weekend.

These travelers are expected to spend a total of $12 billion during their trips, an increase of 1.2% from last year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Those going on Memorial Day weekend road trips will spend an average of $220 each on lodging, restaurants and entertainment, stated the U.S. Travel Association. Meanwhile, air travelers will spend, on average, $990 each.

Where are people going? Well, based on AAA.com and AAA travel agency sales, the top destinations this Memorial Day weekend are:

  1. Orlando
  2. Myrtle Beach
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. New York
  5. Miami
  6. San Francisco
  7. Boston
  8. Honolulu
  9. Los Angeles
  10. South Padre Island, Texas

Reminder: In commemoration of Memorial Day, the Panel Support Center will be closed on Monday, May 30. The PSC will reopen on Tuesday, May 31, at 9 a.m. ET.

Enjoy your long weekend, and please remember those men and women who fought and died for our freedom.

It’s Graduation Time!

Several of the associates here at NCP have children who are graduating college, which made me think back to my own college days … ah, those were fun days.

Although it’s been a few years since my own graduation, I’ve been thinking a lot about college lately. (For one thing, I have to make sure to keep saving for my own kids!)

Here’s some interesting info on college graduates.

Top College Majors
Here are the top college majors, along with the average starting salary for those with a bachelor’s degree in that major, according to USA Today.

  1. Business Administration & Management (average starting salary of $41,200)
  2. General Psychology (average starting salary of $34,700)
  3. Nursing (average starting salary of $53,300)
  4. General Biology (average starting salary of $37,500)
  5. Teacher Education and Professional Development (general education majors report average starting salaries of $33,800)
  6. Criminal Justice and Corrections (average starting salary is $35,300)
  7. Accounting (average starting salary is $44,500)
  8. Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities (average starting salary is $36,500)
  9. English Language and Literature (average starting salary of $36,200)
  10. History (average starting salary of $36,900)

Student Debt
About seven in 10 seniors set to graduate this spring borrowed for their educations, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Estimates on the precise amount of debt vary. According to an analysis by higher-education expert Mark Kantrowitz, the average student debt of 2016 college graduates has reached $37,172, well above last year’s class, which owed just over $35,000, on average

On the other hand, the Institute for College Access & Success believes seniors are leaving college with an average debt of $28,950.

Gifts For College Grads
Do you have a college grad in your life? If so, here are some great gift ideas, according to universityparent.com.

  • Diploma frame
  • College memorabilia (sweatshirt, alumni license plate frame, coffee mug)
  • Professional photos of graduation ceremony
  • Briefcase or leather portfolio
  • Suit (or gift certificate to a professional clothing store)
  • Elegant professional accessories — tie, belt, scarf, jewelry
  • New phone, tablet, or laptop
  • Business card holder
  • Session with a career coach or resume-writing service
  • Gift cards to clothing or home furnishing store
  • Restaurant and grocery store gift cards
  • Gift card to salon or barber shop

Have a great day!

What’s Growing In Your Garden?

By now, in most places of the country it’s gardening season!

To me, nothing says spring like being in the garden. It’s one of my favorite things to do. My favorite flower is the rose; we have a lot of climbing roses in our garden.

What about you? What’s growing in your garden? Take our survey below and let us know! (You may select more than one of the choices.)


Vovici survey software

As I’m sure you know, gardening has been associated with mental clarity and feelings of reward, and it has many physical benefits as well, according to the Michigan State University Extension.

Gardening has also emerged in recent years as a scientifically proven stress reliever.

In addition to health benefits, gardens are also known to increase property values and if you have a vegetable garden, it can save you money when grocery shopping, according to MSU.

Scan Your Garden-Related Purchases!
I want to remind you to scan all your lawn and garden purchases. Many of the items you might buy for your garden or lawn are large or come in big, bulky packages or containers, such as topsoil, fertilizer, wood chips, rakes, wagons, wheelbarrows, and so on. These types of items are typically stored away in garages or sheds before and after use, so before you store these don’t forget to scan them.

Thanks, and have a great day in the garden!

Be Good To Your Mom

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and what better time to celebrate the moms in your life. We’ll be taking my mom and mother-in-law out to dinner. (My kids have made a special gift for each of them.) Can’t wait to celebrate!

Mother’s Day is a day when people do a lot of splurging, with flowers, meals, and special gifts. So what are people going to be spending on their moms?

  • Consumers are expected to spend an average of $172.22 for Mother’s Day, compared with $172.63 last year
  • Total spending is expected to reach $21.4 billion, up a bit from last year’s $21.2 billion

Consumers plan to spend …

  • $4.2 billion on jewelry
  • $4.1 billion on special outings such as dinner or brunch
  • $2.4 billion on flowers
  • $2.2 billion on gift cards
  • $1.9 billion on clothing
  • $1.9 billion on consumer electronics
  • $1.6 billion on personal services, like a day at the spa

Greeting cards are the most commonly purchased gift at 78.4 % and account for $792 million of the projected spending.

Source: National Retail Federation

Oh, and in case you were curious, there are 43.5 million women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 50 who have children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

So be extra nice to the moms in your life this Sunday – and every day!

Have a great day!

Achoo!

It’s the dreaded allergy season. Everyone in my family has been sneezing for weeks! So I thought it would be a good time to look into what are some of the best-selling over-the-counter meds, as well as give you some tips to minimize the suffering.

Top 10 OTC brands for cough, cold, allergy and sinus in the U.S., by revenue in 2014.

  • Zyrtec
  • Claritin
  • Alka Seltzer Plus
  • Allegra
  • Vicks NyQuil
  • Mucinex DM
  • Mucinex
  • Claritin D
  • Abreva
  • Nasacort

Source: statisa.com

Here are some tips that might help with allergies, from mayoclinic.org:

Reduce Your Exposure To Allergy Triggers

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Delegate lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Don’t hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • Wear a pollen mask if you do outside chores.

Take Extra Steps When Pollen Counts Are High

  • Check your local TV or radio station, your local newspaper, or the Internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels.
  • If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
  • Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.

Keep Your Indoor Air Clean

  • Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
  • If you have forced air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules.
  • Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
  • Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
  • Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter

Try An Over-The-Counter Remedy

  • Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes.
  • Decongestants. Oral decongestants can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Only use nasal decongestants for a few days in a row. Longer-term use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms (rebound congestion).
  • Nasal spray. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray can ease allergy symptoms and doesn’t have serious side effects, though it’s most effective when you begin using it before your symptoms start.
  • Combination medications. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant.

Rinse Your Sinuses

  • Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution (nasal irrigation) is a quick, inexpensive and effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose.

I hope that helps. I’ve used some of these tips with my own family.

I also wanted to mention that we had our first live Facebook chat this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, we may not have picked the best time for it. We’ll have some news on other things we’ll be trying in the very near future. Stay tuned!

Have a great day.

Celebrate The Earth!

Today is Earth Day! I hope you do your part today and every day to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. The Earth – and all of its inhabitants! – is counting on you.

To celebrate Earth Day, the NCP team will be having a special event later today. We’ll try to take some photos to show you next time.

Here are some tips to reduce, reuse, and recycle, according to livegreenhoward.com:

  • If your town or city has a recy­cling pro­gram, participate in it!
  • Choose wisely before pur­chas­ing: Repair and mend items rather than replac­ing them, and buy used items instead of new when appropriate.
  • Sell, give away or donate reusable items instead of throw­ing them away.
  • Carry your own reusable shop­ping bags.
  • Buy respon­si­bly:  Avoid over-packaged prod­ucts and choose prod­ucts with recy­cled content.
  • Drink tap water or fil­tered water rather than bot­tled water and fill reusable bot­tles for bev­erages to go.
  • Use reusable (wash­able) dishes and uten­sils and cloth tow­els and nap­kins instead of sty­ro­foam, plas­tic or paper products.
  • Can­cel unwanted sub­scrip­tions and opt out of junk-mail.

Now, here are some interesting stats from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • 716: The number of wind, geothermal, biomass, solar and other electric power generation business establishments in 2012, more than double the number of establishments (312) in 2007.
  • 26 minutes: The estimated average time workers age 16 and older across the country spent getting to work in 2014, up from 25.8 minutes in 2013 and 25.7 minutes in 2012.
  • 904,463: The estimated number of people who rode a bicycle to work in 2014. This comes out to about 0.6 percent of the American workforce.
  • 4,011,094: The estimated number of people who walked to work in 2014. This comes out to about 2.7 percent of the American workforce.

Don’t forget to join us for our first Facebook chat on Tuesday, April 26, at 2 p.m. ET.

Remember to Be Green! Have a great day.

A Taxing Time

Happy tax day! OK, I’m kidding. April 15 is the traditional day your income taxes are due, although this year that date has been extended to Monday, April 18.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Although we all try to avoid both of those, in the end, as Franklin said, we can’t. (Sorry, I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer!)

I’ve been thinking about taxes this week, which led me to find some interesting info:

  • The week of April 15 is the busiest single week for tax filings, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Nearly 13 percent of taxpayers put off filing until the last week possible, more than double the 5 percent average through the month of March.
  • Three percent of filers get around to it in the weeks after the April filing deadline and another 9 percent file for extensions and finish up in October and November each year.
  • The average refund issued to date is $3,053, which is $5 more than last year.
  • In 2014, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $4.7 trillion in taxes, or an average of $38,317 for every household in the U.S.

How do people file their taxes? According to GoBankingRates.com:

  • 34.5% use tax-prep software or an online program
  • 28.5% use an accountant
  • 10.9% get a friend or family member to do it
  • 8.5% file by hand, using the IRS forms and entering in everything themselves
  • 8.3% go to a tax-preparation service company
  • 9.2% don’t file taxes. (Some of these people have earned less than $10,300 in 2015 and aren’t required to file a return. In addition, there are 7 million people who are required to file a return but fail to do so each year.)

So with that, I wish you many happy “returns”!

Play Ball!

Baseball season has finally started, and I’m really excited. I’m a big Mets fan, so it was great to see them make it to the World Series last year. I’m hoping they go all the way this year! (What is your favorite team? Make sure to comment and let me know!)

Since this is the beginning of baseball season, I thought I’d dedicate this blog to the summer game. We are a New York-based company, so most of the people here are either a Mets or a Yankees fan. I was curious how people felt, so we polled all of our NCP staff, asking them if they preferred the Mets or the Yankees.

Well, I’m psyched to say that the Mets won the internal (and somewhat unscientific) vote by 67% to 33% over the Yankees. (Full disclosure: My husband is a HUGE Yankees fan, who practically wears only Yankees stuff, at least at home and on the weekends. At least it’s easy to buy him a present! LOL)

Here are some interesting stats about the business of baseball:

Average ticket price by team in 2015 (highest and lowest three teams)

  • Boston Red Sox: $52.34
  • New York Yankees: $51.55
  • Chicago Cubs: $44.81
  • Major League average: $28.94
  • Tampa Bay Rays: $21.90
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: $17.98
  • San Diego Padres: $16.37

Average price for a hot dog at Major League Baseball games in 2015 (highest and lowest three teams)

  • New York Mets: $6.25
  • Miami Marlins: $6
  • Chicago Cubs: $5.75
  • Major League average: $4.39
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: $2.75
  • Baltimore Orioles: $1.50
  • Cincinnati Reds: $1

Average price for a beer at Major League Baseball games in 2015 (highest and lowest three teams)

  • Boston Red Sox: $7.75
  • Chicago Cubs: $7.75
  • Philadelphia Phillies: $7.75
  • Major League average: $5.98
  • Los Angeles Angels: $4.50
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: $4.00
  • Cleveland Indians: $4.00

Source: Statista.com

I will be saving up my money to try and get to a game or two this year. What about you? Are you planning to go to some games this year? What do you think about the price of going to a game? Comment and let me know what you think.

Thanks, and have a great day!

March Madness Is Almost Over: Who Do You Think Will Win The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament?

Have you been watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? There sure have been a lot of upsets! My husband watched a lot of the games, and he said they were really exciting. (I like watching the women’s tournament. Can anyone stop UConn?)

Now that we’re down to the Final Four, we were wondering who YOU thought would win the championship. So please select one of the choices below and see what your fellow panelists have to say.





Powered by Vovici: Conduct your own online surveys

Baseball season starts soon. What teams do you follow? Do you follow any other sports teams? Let me know!

Have a great day!