Thursday, November 16, 2017

How to Genuinely Enjoy a Road Trip

Lots of people have planned a road trip absolutely thinking that they will enjoy every second of the trip, only to actually get out on the road and find out things aren't exactly as they envisioned. Now the only thing they want is to get to their destination as quickly as possible and just get this trip over with.

Here are a few things that can help you genuinely enjoy a road trip:

It is important to strike a balance between planning too much and not planning enough. If you over-plan, you will get frustrated if everything doesn't work out according to the plan you have set up. However, if you do not plan enough, you may end up having to stay in nasty hotels, eat unhealthy and gross food, or even get lost on the way to your destination. It is good to have an overall idea of which route you will take, which hotel and restaurant options are available, and also what kind of entertainment you could enjoy along the way while still being flexible and able to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves.
Donuts
The amount of time that you have designated for the road trip (and other factors) will determine how much you can see along the way. No matter how much or how little time you have, it is always a good idea to take a little bit of time to relax, see something new, and enjoy yourself. This will make the road trip genuinely enjoyable. It may be something like taking a detour and staying in a relaxing hotel for a couple of days. Or it may be as simple as stopping at a unique bakery Chicago IL in order to enjoy a fresh doughnut - as opposed to just stopping at any old convenience store to grab a snack. Do at least a couple of things along the way that you will truly enjoy and that will make the road trip memorable.

are we there yet?
Consider the individuals who will be traveling with you. If this is a family road trip, make sure that there is plenty of entertainment (and plenty of snacks) for the children. Otherwise, you are practically guaranteed to hear, "Are we there yet?" coming repeatedly from the back seat. Many vehicles nowadays come equipped with DVD players, so don't forget to pack the movies! Or, for some family fun, check out this handy list of games to play in the car.  If you need to get to a destination quickly, consider driving at night so that the kids can sleep most of the way. Take into consideration the preferences of each individual in the car so that everyone stays happy and enjoys the trip.

And last but definitely not least, make sure your vehicle is in good condition.  This cannot be overstated. Dealing with car trouble along the way can turn a trip that could have been quite enjoyable into a nightmare. A few weeks before your trip, have your mechanic check the vehicle over. If you do all you can to prepare your car beforehand, you will likely avoid car issues along the way.

So, who's ready for a road trip?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?

I recently finished one of the books on my reading list - When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?: Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife by Jennifer Grant.
Jennifer Grant is a writer, editor, and speaker. A former health and family columnist for the Chicago Tribune, she is the author of four previous books, including the adoption memoir Love You More. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, four children, and two rescue dogs. Find her online at jennifergrant.com or on Twitter @jennifercgrant.
I received this one in exchange for a review, so I bumped it to the top of my ever-growing reading list.

This is a fairly quick read, and I saw glimpses of myself and my life in Jennifer Grant's. No, we're not all the same, but chances are if you're in that same time of life, you'll find glimpses of yourself in there too.

She takes us through the changes as our children grow up and get ready to move on into their own lives, starting college and moving out. After all that time of singular focus on the children, the questions emerge - What now? Who am I besides mom? 

Jennifer shares her insights and the things she learned, simply by living it, not without a bit of humor thrown in, sometimes at her own expense. And, yes, she even talks about S-E-X.

I read some reviews from people who laughed out loud and cried when reading this book. I didn't experience any of that, but I did come away with a strong sense that everything is going to be OK as perhaps we're all old (and wise) enough to accept our lives and ourselves as we are. And maybe this next phase has plenty to offer, too. 

Overall, a very enjoyable book, and I especially liked many of the quotes from books she had read and her special take on them. I plan to troll her Notes section for some additional reading. (like I really need any more books on my to-read list)

Thanks to Herald Press for the review copy of the book.

What Should I Look For In A Landscaping Company?

In today's world, many residential and commercial property owners find themselves in need of excellent landscaping services. If you're currently looking for landscapers in Toronto, it's important to know what to look for when choosing a service provider. To ensure that you obtain the cutting edge, customized landscaping services that will get your property in stellar condition, make sure that the company in question possesses all of the following attributes:
    IMG_0462
  1. Extensive Experience In The Landscaping Industry.
    One of the first attributes you should seek out in a landscaping company is extensive industry experience. This is immensely important because it ensures that the professionals of the firm will have a great deal of knowledge regarding the industry. It will also ensure that the landscapers in question have plenty of hands-on experience enabling them to handle a wide range of landscaping issues with ease and precision. Typically, you can learn how long a landscaping company has been in operation by reviewing their website.
  2. Stellar Feedback From Clients.
    In addition to seeking out a landscaping company that has been operating for an extended period of time, make sure that you find a team of professionals who regularly receive stellar feedback from their clients. Taking this step is important because it will ensure that you're selecting a team of professionals who are known for doing a great job. One great resource you can utilize to see what people are saying about a particular landscaping company is online reviews. Note that over 80% of consumers now believe that these online reviews are just as valuable and accurate as a conventional, word-of-mouth recommendation.
    In addition to reading through online reviews, be sure to take the time to look at the customer testimonials that appear on a landscaping company's website. These testimonials can provide you with even more information regarding the specific reasons that a certain team of professionals can be trusted. At the same time that you may find customer testimonials valuable and accurate, note that many businesses will refrain from posting testimonials that do not put their company in a positive light. Therefore, you may need to take these testimonials with a grain of salt.
  3. Comprehensive Services.
    Another trait you should seek out in a landscaping company is comprehensive services. This attribute is important because it ensures that you won't have to go through multiple companies to obtain all of the landscaping services you need to keep your residential or commercial property in exemplary condition. Some of the key services you may want to look for include:
  4. Up the garden path.
    • Interlocking Stone Installation
    • Flagstone Installation
    • Gardening Design
    • Fencing/Decking Installation and Repair
    • Sod Fertilization
    • Grass Trimming and Hedging
    • Snow Removal 
  5. A Great Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating.
    When you start looking for the right landscaping company, note that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a wonderful resource to use for the purpose of learning more about the organization in question. Specifically, the BBB is known for producing ratings about businesses that provide the public with a clear, accurate, up-to-date understanding of how effective they are in serving the public. If you find that a specific landscaping company has been rated and maintains a rating of A or higher, it's safe to say that you can count on attaining effective, expedient services from the organization. 
  6. Complimentary Consultations.
    One final attribute you should seek out in a landscaping firm is complimentary consultations. These consultations give you the opportunity to interface with the landscapers in a "real life" setting through which you can make determinations about things like their level of friendliness and how willing they are to listen and give you what you want. The live setting will also help you to determine whether the company culture is conducive to your own value system, personal preferences, temperament, etc. Finally, the complimentary consultation can be a wonderful time to request a free estimate for the specific landscaping services you're seeking! 
Find The Right Landscaping Company Now!
 If you're ready to obtain high-quality landscaping services that keep your property as pristine and perfect as possible, hopefully the information here will help you pick the perfect company for your project.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Walmart Doesn't Ad Match Anymore. What?

One of Walmart's most positive features has always been the fact that they will match competitor's ads. Why run all over town to do your shopping when you can just get everything (for the best prices) under one roof?

Ad Match

Imagine my surprise when I get to the checkout at my local Walmart last night to find out that they are no longer matching ads at the cash register. Seriously? When did that happen? Only last month according to our cashier, but still I guess I haven't been doing much shopping recently (I haven't) because I had no idea this was even coming.

We went to Menard's last night to pick up a couple toilet seats, because a couple of ours just broke - of course not last week when Menard's was running their 11% rebate on everything, or any one of those many previous weeks of 11% on everything. (Did anyone else think Menard's was just going to do the 11% back rebate from now on? It certainly seemed like it for a bit.) But, anyway, our toilet seats wait until there's no sale and no rebate, and then they break.

Since we were out anyway, I figured it was a good chance to grab a few things we needed and not have to go out another day. Meijer had some produce in their ad that I really wanted to get, and since Meijer is right by Menard's it just made sense. But I needed to go to Walmart too to grab some Borax and baking soda for the laundry (because Walmart always has the best price on those), so I decided that it would save time if I just took the Meijer ad to Walmart. I could grab the Borax and baking soda and the produce - and only have to go to one store. Which, in the past, would have worked perfectly - but now Walmart doesn't match competitor's ads.

So, instead of saving time, it actually took more time because we had to drive back to Meijer to get the stuff I thought I could get at Walmart.
Rollback?
When I asked the cashier about the new policy, he said that Walmart wants people to use their Savings Catcher. I've been using that for a while. If something I buy happens to be on sale at another store, Walmart lets me know and gives me a credit. Nice, huh? Except that there are a lot things that aren't included, produce being one of them. (and quite a few other things I've price matched in the past)
Savings Catcher currently does NOT apply to:
  • Any food, consumables, or health & wellness items that do not meet the eligibility criteria above (See section “Does Savings Catcher compare all items on my receipt?”)
  • Items purchased and paid for with WIC benefits
  • Produce
  • Items sold in the Bakery department
  • Fresh or variable weight meat
  • Items sold in the Deli department
  • Seafood
  • General merchandise items including, but not limited to, outdoor living consumables (such as such as fertilizer and bug spray), office supplies, apparel, DVD’s, electronics, CD and gaming media, toys, housewares, small appliances, sporting goods, home décor, bedding, books and magazines, shoes, jewelry, furniture and seasonal products
  • Non-branded items
  • Tobacco, alcohol, firearms, gasoline, tires, prescription drugs, optical and photo products and services, or products that require a service agreement such as wireless, automotive or financial products
Source: Savings Catcher FAQs

I did a bit of research today to see if I could find any info on this annoying policy change. It looks like not all Walmarts have stopped ad matching, but that doesn't mean they won't all soon follow. The Penny Hoarder has a list of Walmart stores who have stopped ad-matching along with a request for readers to let them know if their local Walmarts have changed policy. (I submitted mine!)

Is your Walmart on the list? If so, how annoyed are you?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Natural Heat Sources for Your Home

HEATIn the last decade, more homeowners have become interested in heating their homes using something other than coal or fossil fuel as the source of power.  They do not want their homes to contribute to the depletion of the environment.

Thanks to technology that includes harvesting solar power, water, and geothermal heating Ottawa utility companies can now offer natural utility sources to people in the area.  You can decide if this technology is right for you by learning the benefits that may come from choosing this heating option.

Learning How Geothermal Energy Works

The premise of geothermal energy involves utilizing energy and heat generated by the earth.  As its name implies, the heat from the earth can be harvested and directed into your home, thus eliminating the need for coal, gasoline, propane, and other natural resources.

This way of heating your house calls for the technology to work with the earth rather than against it so that you get cleaner energy and a safer and warmer home.  You do not have to worry about paying for expensive monthly propane shipments, paying costly bills to the local coal-based energy company, or worrying that you are using more than your fair share of natural resources.

As appealing as this may sound to you, you might wonder if you can really afford to invest in it for your home.  How does it compare to coal-based power and does it heat better than gas or propane?

You can get answers to all of these questions and any others you think of when you visit the Porter's Refrigeration website (linked above).  They explain how the process works from drawing the heat from the earth to incorporating it into the system that heats your house.  There is plenty of information to help you decide whether geothermal heating is for you.

You can also get a free estimate from the company using the online form.  They can tell you what it will cost to invest in the system now and how soon it may pay itself off with cheaper utility bills and cleaner energy.  You can also find out if some or all of the costs may be covered by your homeowners' insurance policy. (wouldn't that be great? Or perhaps there are tax credits?)

Homeowners want to minimize the environmental impact that their homes have on the earth.  Once you've learned a bit about geothermal heating, what it is and what benefits it can offer, it may just be something you'd like to install in your house.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Keeping Water Out Of The Basement

We don't have a basement in this house, which makes me a bit nervous during tornado season. There was that one time in Wisconsin when a tornado went through our town...

While we don't have anywhere safe (besides our downstairs bathroom) to go in the event of a tornado, at least we don't have to worry about water in the basement. Some of the people in our neighborhood have some serious puddles in their yards when it rains, so I can just imagine what a basement might look like.

If you have a basement, you may find the following information useful.

If you walk downstairs and notice standing water in the basement, then you know that you have a problem. There are a few reasons as to why you would have water in the basement. If it's rained recently, then water could seep into the room under a door that doesn't meet the floor all the way. There could be a leak from the ceiling. You need to find the source of how the water is entering the basement as soon as possible and repair it before waterproofing the room. If there is any mold or mildew or any structural damage, you need to get these issues fixed before you begin waterproofing.

A basement waterproofing Erie PA company has the tools and supplies needed to keep water out of your basement if you don't want to worry about the work. There are a few things that you can do on your own if you want to tackle the job with the assistance of a waterproofing company. The first thing that you need to do is look around the basement to find any holes or cracks. These need to be filled in with cement so that there isn't a way for water to get into the basement.

Once the source of how water is getting inside is fixed, you need to apply a thin coat of masonry cement to the walls. Make sure it's waterproof cement so that it helps to keep water from getting inside the room. Examine the outside of the home. Attach gutters or extensions at the basement so that water has somewhere to go away from the home instead of settling around the base or getting inside the house. Another option would be to dig a trench around the basement. Put a plastic pipe that's about four inches round in the trench. This will also help to direct water away from the basement and other areas of the home so that there isn't as much of a risk for flooding. Examine the ceiling of the basement, applying a layer of masonry cement to this area as well. Fix any leaks that are present in the ceiling before the cement is applied.

We never had issues with water in our basement in Wisconsin, except for the occasional wet spot on one wall after a rain. We had our contractor come and do some kind of waterproofing, and we never had a problem after that. Oh, and there was the time they were removing the old siding from the house after the tornado and pulled the outside faucet loose - causing water to pour into the basement. Yeah, that was fun. Thankfully it was all clean water, and after some shop vacs, fans, and dehumidifiers, everything was as good as new.

Newspaper Delivery Options

As I mentioned, we recently went to Florida with our family. As always, when planning to be away from home for any length of time, I had our mail and newspaper held. Mail is easy - have it held at the Post Office, and then have it all delivered when we come home. But, when I go to have the newspaper held, I have a few options:


Looks logical, right? The only problem is that there is absolutely no reason for that first choice. When I missed a paper or went on vacation in Wisconsin, the amount for those papers we did not receive was deducted from our monthly charge. Simple, right? We did not get the papers; we did not have to pay for them.

Here it does not work that way. I was talking to one of the customer service representatives a while back and asked about the fact that my monthly charge never varied - even though I'd had some missed papers or vacation holds. She told me that once we built up an entire month's worth of credit, we wouldn't be charged for a month.

Well, that monthly charge just keeps coming.
What's new pussy cat?

We only get the paper Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - though we'd rather just get the Sunday paper and leave it at that, but that's not an option. For a few weeks in a row recently, our Friday paper was not being delivered, so I reported it online and asked that our account be credited. Eventually, I got a call from the newspaper telling me that they couldn't credit anymore that month - we apparently missed a lot of newspapers, not sure what was going on. It's a bit confusing, but when a paper is missed, they just extend the month a bit and charge the credit card on a later date than it would have been - or something like that. I'm honestly not sure if that's true or not because my credit card is charged automatically, and I haven't figured out exactly when the charge comes through. I probably should look at the history, but let's give them that...

Then, since I was already on the phone with someone from the newspaper, I asked about my vacation credits - because I've been choosing that first option every time we go away for a weekend, and now that we've lived here for 4 years, we should have built up at least enough credit for a free month. Right?

Nope!

Apparently, if you go on vacation here and choose that first option, you just forfeit your newspapers, even though you've paid for them. No credit.  That just seems wrong on so many levels, but it's really frustrating that they even list that first option. Just leave it off and be clear and upfront about the fact that I can either donate my newspapers to a classroom (which I did this year and would have done in the past) or I can get them all delivered when I get home - but under no circumstances is that going to affect my subscription or the amount I will pay for the month.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Finding a Reputable Electrician

electrician_3Are you having some electrical difficulties in your home or apartment? If this is the case, it is essential that you are able to locate a reputable electrician in your area who will do a great job for you. Hiring an electrician can be very stressful if you are not familiar with any of the companies in your area. You should never simply hire an electrician at random. You need to be certain the company you call employs technicians who know what they are doing. This is the only way that you will be able to ensure you get high-quality work for the money you are spending. Patience is the key.

The following tips will be very useful when you are looking for an electrician in your city.
  1. Get references from people you trust.
    Talk to a lot of people you trust before hiring anyone. Get in touch with friends and family members via social media. Ask these people if they have hired an electrician in the past couple of years. If so, find out as much as you can about their experience. Basically, you need to ask them if the electrician was good or bad. Get the name of the electrician if they give him a positive recommendation. Find out how much they paid.
  2. Does the electrician have a good safety record?
    Working closely with electricity is very dangerous. It is even more dangerous if the proper safety regulations are not followed. This is why you need to take a look into the background of the electricians you are considering. Have they ever caused any serious accidents? How good is their safety record? Keep looking until you find someone with a flawless safety record.
  3. Look for an electrician who offers a 24-hour emergency service.
    You never know when something is going to go wrong with your electricity. You never really think about how important electricity is until you do not have it. You can't watch TV, use your desktop computer or cook a meal in your microwave without electricity. Therefore, it is critical that the problem gets fixed as soon as possible. You might lose your power in the middle of the night. You then need to find a Ponte Vedra electrician who is willing to come to your home in the wee hours of the morning. 

Enjoy the Near Maintenance-Free Value of a Chain Link Fence

A couple years after we had our first house built, Jeffrey (with a little help from Beth) fenced in our backyard with a chain link fence. If you've got small children or pets, which we did at the time, you'll know how nice it is to have a fenced in yard. I could let the dog and the children run without worrying about them too much. It was especially convenient to be able to keep an eye on them through my kitchen window while I made dinner or washed dishes.

On the Fence

While there are always home improvement projects to be done, installing a chain link fence is one project that is easy on the budget, lasts a long time and needs very little in the way of repairs and maintenance.  We didn't really consider other options, but reading through the following list, I see it was a good choice.

Some of the best reasons to consider chain link for your next fence purchase
  • Easy Cleaning
    There is very little work involved to keeping aq chain link fence clean. A garden hose is typically all that is needed unless you are in an area that allows for a build-up of mud and dirt. A small scrub brush will loosen dirt that can then be rinsed away. Your fence with stay looking new for a long time to come.
  • Corrosion Resistance
    The material that quality chain link is constructed of is both durable and resists corrosion from weather elements. This means your investment will last for decades. Wood has a tendency to weather rough and vinyl products get brittle with temperature changes over a short period of time. 
  • Simple Repair Process
    The repairs on a chain link fence are simpler than with many other types of fencing. Sagging and creases can happen over time, along with small areas of damage from accidental contact with vehicles and other heavy objects. Fixing these areas can be one of the more affordable things on your home to-do list.
  • Quick Gate Repairs
    Gates designed for chain link fences are attached with hardware that makes replacement easy and inexpensive. You can change styles or replace used and worn gates. There are a single panel or double-panel designs that can match the construction design of your home perfectly.
  • Affordable Damage Replacement
    There may come a point in which portions of the chain link fence need to be replaced. The great news is that replacement sections for this type of fencing are some of the more affordable on the market. It is an overall property securing investment you can feel confident about.
Contact experts in chain link fence Tampa like Family Fence and schedule an appointment for an estimate today!

Just out of curiosity, I looked our first house up on Google Maps. That chain link fence is still there - at least I'm going to assume it's the same one. Also, that tree is so tall. Did we even have that tree when we lived there? Of course, we did move out of that house more than 20 years ago (how has it even been that long?), so the trees have had some time to grow.



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

So That's What I've Been Doing Wrong

I recently mentioned how far behind I am in my reading goals this year. I've made slight progress since then, and I'm only 7 books behind schedule, instead of 8. It's just a small victory, but I guess I'll take it.

Anyway, I finally figured out what I'm doing wrong when it comes to reading. My friend Ruth posted this handy list filled with tips for How to Read More Books, and I can confidently say that I am letting all kinds of reading opportunities pass me by. I have no kids in the house because they're all grown up and live on their own now. I do listen to audiobooks when I walk every morning, and I occasionally prop a book up (or read from my Kindle) while I'm washing dishes or otherwise working in the kitchen, but I'm pretty much ignoring all the other items on the list. I mean, who really needs sleep anyway?

.read


My reading list just keeps getting longer -
  • I've got my friend Ruth's new book Collapsible to read. Yes, she's the one who posted the handy list of tips - possibly so we'd all find make time to read her book. Word is there are more coming!
  • I just started When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? by Jennifer Grant, and I need to get that one finished in the next few days because I agreed to post some reviews. So far I'm really enjoying it. But...
  • I'm reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series over again, and I just really want to sit and read that all the day, never mind all the other books. I'm currently about halfway through Wizard and Glass. If you haven't read these books, do yourself a favor and read them. All of them. Again I ask - who needs sleep?
  • Cory bought a copy of John Green's new book Turtles All the Way Down while we were in Florida. He's already read it so he left it here for me to read. Now if I can just get to it. Have you read John Green's books? So good. Also, I wish I could read as fast as Cory does.
  • And, I just got an advance copy of Catherine McKenzie's The Good Liar. I've loved all her books so far, so I'm super excited to read this one. 
Of course, this list doesn't include the 4 or 5 or 6 (or more, who's counting?) books on my Currently Reading list on GoodReads - all good books, and books I really want to finish, but it seems I'm easily distracted when the next shiny book comes along.

What does your reading list look like? And what's your excuse for not reading nearly as many books as you'd like?

Note: links to books on Amazon are affiliate links.