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Feb 28, 2021

Take Advantage of Online Tools for Your Home Projects

Since COVID hit a year ago, so many things have changed tremendously. The days of walking into a store or showroom look a lot different now. You see everyone wearing a mask and following distancing guidelines. Some businesses have moved to an online model to supply their customers with products and services. I have seen many of my realtor friends offer virtual house tours. It's actually pretty neat if you are crunched for time and can't get to a property on time. I have even seen some people do them as a Facebook or Instagram Live. This gives a lot of flexibility to potential buyers, since you can view a video on your time. 

If you are looking into purchasing or refinancing a home, now is the time. The interest rates have been super low since COVID hit. We definitely took advantage of it, and did a refinance recently. Our entire refi was done completely online with the exception of the closing where signatures were required. This is especially a good time for first-time home buyers to take advantage of the lower interest rates. There are even special incentives like no money down, or reduced interest rates for part of the term of the loan. I read an article that mentioned despite living in this pandemic, credit scores are rising. Whether you are looking to purchase your first house, a second home, or upgrading what you already have, try applying online for a mortgage and see how much you can qualify for, and what programs might be out there to suit your specific needs. Knowing what you can afford is key. 

One great thing about if you do refinance and are eligible to get some cash out, you can finally do those long awaited upgrades that have been sitting on your to-do list. This is my current situation that I am working on with my family. We are now trying to pick out items for an upcoming kitchen remodel. So far we know that we want white cabinets and lighter counter tops, since our flooring will be a deep brown wood color. I am one of those weirdos who prefers white appliances because I find them easier to keep clean. Stainless steel is the popular finish, but I can't get past the look of fingerprints and smudges. I won't completely rule it out if we can get a good deal on appliances. Unfortunately that is as far as we have gotten in the planning stages of the kitchen project. We still have to agree on a sink, faucet, hardware finishes, paint color and about a bajillion other details. 

It feels like a huge chore, but I am so thankful that we can view everything online, and only go into the store if it's necessary. So while a lot of things have changed since COVID, there are lots of good things that have come out of it. For those who don't like leaving home if you don't have to, all you need to do is click, pay and wait for your delivery. Hey, it works for me! Are you planning any spring home projects? 

Feb 26, 2021

How To Find a Rental Property With Zumper

Are you currently in a situation where you need to move quickly and find a rental property that suits your needs? I was just reading a post on Facebook the other day where a friend was put in a bad situation with the property management company who was renting her the house she is living in. They gave her minimal notice that her rent was about to go by hundreds of dollars depending on if she chose to renew her rental agreement for another year or go month-to-month. Needless to say, this really put her in a bind being a single mom of three. It’s a hard thing to go through when you add kids into the mix. You don’t want to disrupt what is normal to them, especially during the times we are living in. 

Unfortunately, these situations happen all the time. Sometimes you are faced with life changes, job relocation, family growth, or financial change. It’s never easy to figure out where to move and if you will find the right rental that checks off all the boxes. Most people, especially parents would first look at the school districts, as well as if a location is family-friendly. Thankfully we all live in the age of technology so there are tools that can help you find the perfect rental property with minimal effort on your part. 

According to Zumper, the average rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in Charlotte, NC is $1,650.00. Of course, this price can change according to specific neighborhoods, amenities, and other specifications. Having a set budget is the best start. Once you know what you can afford, you can then start your search. Zumper is used by millions of renters to find houses, rooms, condos, or apartments for rent. You can check out their quality listings in real-time, and even submit a digital rental application and credit reports with Zumper's screening service, powered by TransUnion™. 

You are able to filter your search by location, price range, bedroom count, pet-friendly, or amenity and set an alert to get notifications when a new listing is posted! This definitely is helpful if you are a busy person. I really wish these services were available to me years ago when we were relocating to the Carolinas. Zumper’s inventory is updated in real-time, so you'll always see new rentals there first. Anything that helps you worry less is a huge plus! No matter your challenges, there is a rental property out there for you! 

How to Foster Creativity in Kids: a Mom’s Guide

Creativity is not just about art. It’s about thinking outside the box, problem-solving, being curious about the world, and being able to turn imagined things into realities. Sounds like your kid? Sure it does! Kids have a natural penchant for creativity, but to foster it, rather than suppress it, we may have to make a few little compromises. I’m not talking about letting them get away with sheer naughtiness, but I do mean giving them an opportunity to be kids, and sure, they’ll make mistakes and that’s OK too. 

The best thing about fostering creativity is that you don’t have to do an awful lot to get it right. The worst part is that you may have to hold yourself back at times and resist the urge to interfere or show them how to do stuff. 

Honor Their Creativity, Sense of Wonder, and Intellectual Curiosity

OK, I admit it. I didn’t coin that phrase. It’s almost word-for-word the slogan of a great private school in Connecticut. But you have to admit it, it’s food for thought. It can also be hard work: especially since creativity can lead to some interesting situations like Junior deciding that golden syrup would give the floor a nice sheen. So, it was funny. But he had to clean it up himself. Actions have consequences.

As for intellectual curiosity, any parent who has been through the “Why” phase of kiddie development will know that “Why” can be a tiring question when it’s asked over and over, and at some point, it’s tempting to just say “Because!”

As for wonder, it’s around every corner, and sometimes it just takes a little nudge on your part to prompt that “Wow” moment. Now, a few more thoughts on creativity.

Give Them Space

Unsupervised, unstructured play is a great way for kids to learn. It means prying them away from the gadgets and getting them to go outside, or to the playroom, and keeping themselves entertained. While there will be the occasional “Mommy I’m bored” gripe, the merest hint that they’d be less bored tidying their rooms is usually enough to send them dashing off to find something else to do. Maybe the jungle gym becomes a pirate ship or the doll house becomes a target for a dragon - but don’t ask too closely what’s going on or you’ll get the inevitable “Nothing” in response. The main thing here is space - both in terms of supervision and a place to play where they can make a mess if they like. 

Let Them Have Fun With Arts and Crafts

There’s been a huge debate based on the premise that arts help kids to do better in other subjects. A controversial study showed that it wasn’t so, but further studies have gone on to prove the benefits of the kind of creative thinking that arts stimulate. Some academics say that artistic activities promote focus and concentration, while others point out that envisioning something when confronted with a set of materials and then going on to make it encourages imagination and the ability to conceptualize. All I can say is that it’s awesome to see children totally absorbed in their art - and of course, I love the results. I’m no scientist, but I will say that I can almost see those little brains working away - which is more than they seem to be doing in front of the tv! 

Chill Out and Let Kids be Kids

I’ve read a lot of material on creativity and how to encourage it in kids - and I’m not convinced that everything I’ve read is good advice -  or even whether the people who wrote it have kids of their own. In fact, I’m betting they don’t! 

So, I’m just a mom, but in my opinion, creativity is there already, and our job is to resist the urge to suppress it. That means refraining from showing or telling them how to do absolutely everything, being less achievement-focused than we might be, allowing unstructured and largely unsupervised play, and letting kids get on with the business of being kids within the basic parameters of safe and decent behavior. 

Feb 16, 2021

4 Dishes that the Whole Family is Sure to Love

Making meals for a family is hard, let’s be honest. Not everyone likes the same things, and you may be craving something fancier, while the kids want chicken nuggets. If your family is made up of fussy eaters, then good luck trying to find a meal that will please everyone. Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ll be giving you a few staple dishes that even the fussiest of eaters will enjoy, and that your whole family – young and old – can have together. These are also incredibly easy to adjust according to dietary preferences, and certain elements can be left out if someone in your family doesn’t want to try something new.

Steaks are a classic dish in most families. Very few people who eat meat don’t like steak. It’s also great for adjusting to each person’s preference, as you can alter the cooking time of each steak to change how the steak is done. There are various ways of making steak, so you can make it several times a month without repeating a meal. While any steak will be a hit, what will really impress your family is if you make them a steak to outdo all other steaks: the Wagyu steak. Wagyu steak is one of the most beloved steaks, and you can even decide on whether you want American Wagyu vs. Japanese Wagyu.

Pasta dishes are great. If you add in enough ingredients, you don’t even need to make sides, which means less dishes! Plus, there are so many different kinds of pasta to be found – from the types of pasta, to the sauce, to the key ingredients . . . You can make a different pasta dishes each week and never run out of ideas. We’d recommend sticking to the classic mac ‘n cheese if you want to make everyone happy, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try this baked feta pasta that has been making the rounds on TikTok.

Fish and Chips
If you’re looking for a simple meal that will please young and old, fish and chips is the way to go. Even children who claim that they don’t like fish are unable to resist the crispy golden batter of fried fish. Of course, you can buy frozen fish already in a batter, but if you want to make an impression you can always try one of these basic batters.

Chicken Parmesan
Chicken parmesan is a dish that is so easy to make, but tastes so good that people will think you’ve spent hours slaving away in the kitchen. Chicken parmesan consists of a breaded chicken breast covered with tomato sauce and a cheese of your choice. To make it more individual, you can be modify it by adding different sauces to each family member’s dish, according to what they like best. Chicken parmesan makes a great dinner that will leave the family satisfied and full. To really make it a dinner they’ll ask for again and again, add one of these simple side dishes.

Feb 15, 2021

7 Reasons to Use a Service for Fresh and Ready Meals

Fresh and ready meals can transform your health objectives by bringing nutrition to the front of the priority list, without the hassle and extra time required for cooking and meal preparation. As a result of this excellent nutritional opportunity, it is important to invest time into selecting the best-prepared meal service to meet your needs. Like with other services, not all prepared meal companies are created equally. Therefore, if you seek meals you will eat and enjoy then you must know all considerations and avoidances.

The following will teach you seven reasons why you might want to try a meal service that offers fresh, healthy meals. 

One: Consumer-Friendly Packaging

Packaging that is excessive and not environmentally-friendly should be avoided. Also, BPA plastics are on the “do not use” list for the environment and your body, so you want to avoid them. That means you want to find meals prepared in modern, eco-friendly packaging that is BPA-free. These containers must be well-sealed and recyclable to minimize your environmental footprint. 

Two: Convenience

Some meal kits ship individually portioned ingredients, so you can cook your food easily at home without trips to the grocery store. If you desire convenience, then choose the prepared meal option. These are meals you can have delivered, refrigerate for future use, microwave, and eat out of the dish.

Three: Customer Service

Like with any product or service, customer service can make or break a company and a prepared meal business is no different. If any company does not value its customers and satisfaction over all else, then you must keep looking. 

Four: Easy-to-Read Information

If a fresh and ready meal service doesn’t provide accessible, easy-to-read nutritional information about all meals, it’s time to move. Having access to the nutritional information about what you consume delivers the insights required to meet nutrition and health goals. This is critical if you are following a specific diet, like Keto. 

Five: Flexibility

Many fresh and ready meal provides will not budget on your plan after signing up. However, part of eating healthier is finding what works and doesn’t so you are going to want to make changes. Therefore, if you need to change meal plans or put your plan on hold for a vacation, don’t opt for a service that does not allow changes. Instead, find a prepared meal service that offers flexibility in their plans and meal options. Request customer reviews and testimonials to set the expectation. 

Six: Healthy Ingredients

If you are utilizing a prepared meal service, then never pay for subpar ingredients. First and foremost, a prepared meal company is a business, many of which will compromise the final product for the consumer to save on their bottom line. Therefore, find companies that utilize local and organic produce and other ingredients. Search for services offering whole ingredients to maximize health benefits. 

Seven: Variety of Options

How boring would dinner be if you are eating the same meal three or four times per week? It’s certainly a good deterrent from reaching your nutritional goals. A fresh and ready meal service should allow you to choose the meals and not have them decided for you. That means, the best services provide a variety of choices ahead of time, not just one or two, so you can meet your goals and maintain a healthy biome.

In summary, healthy meal services can be a life-changing endeavor. With their nutritional deliciousness, you can free up time to focus on other healthy activities without ending up in the drive-thru line at 9 PM. To get the most out of a fresh and ready meal service, you must know when to pursue and when to run, while knowing exactly what to expect from the provider.

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