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Top 5 Reasons You Should Use a Water Softener

For many of us, hard water is simply a fact of life. Most tap water contains minerals from when it was pumped from the ground, and the combination of these minerals is what makes water hard. Hard water is why you may prefer the taste of bottled water and see limescale and muck in your taps. Water softeners are one way to get rid of the problems that hard water causes. Read on to find out 5 reasons why you should use a water softener.

1. Easier Cleaning

One of the big problems with hard water is that the extra minerals present will often prevent your water to be as effective when you use it in cleaning. Dishes, pots, and pans will often have white soap residue, since hard water doesn’t wash soap off your dishes as effectively. Having a water softener means that your clothes and dishes will be cleaner overall. In addition, since soft water is more effective, you will need less water when doing the dishes and therefore have a lower water bill in the long one.

2. Better For Your Body

This more effective cleaning carries over to the shower as well. Hard water can cause your shampoo and body wash to leave a thin film of soap no matter how long you scrub. In addition, minerals like calcium and magnesium can clog your pores, cause irritated and dry skin, and even strip the top layer off your hair follicles. Bathing in hard water can lead to acne as well. In addition, using hard water in cooking and when drinking from the tap can cause health problems if the water includes certain minerals. Using a water softener will be better for your body no matter what way you look at it.

3. Better Appliance Life

The minerals in hard water don’t just build up on your skin or in your taps. They can also cause clogging, blockages, and inefficiencies in appliances that use water, such as washing machines and dishwashers. The mineral buildup caused by hard water can also mean horrible water pressure, which is one of the leading causes of water appliance burnout. This is because the machine will try to compensate for the lack of water and end up burning out its motor. Getting a water softener will mean a better appliance life and more efficient appliances.

4. Better Water Heating

Another consequence of better and more efficient appliances is better water heating as well. Soft water is also chemically easier to heat than hard water. This holds true whether you have an electric or a gas water heater. In addition, hard water can easily cause mineral buildup in water heaters. This causes poor water pressure in the water heater itself, which makes the heating of the water less efficient. A water softener will make it so you can save water by not having to heat up your shower in advance and can allow you to use more heat-intensive appliances.

5. Less Pipe and Faucet Damage

In addition to the previously stated problems with mineral residue, the minerals that hard water leaves behind can lead to serious pipe and faucet damage. The lime or scale deposits that make your taps look gross will build up over time. This makes it so that clogs are more likely and pipes can become corroded. In addition, the buildup inside of your pipes and finishings can be very annoying when it happens to showerheads and valves. It will lead to poor water pressure and other annoyances. If you get a water softener, you won’t have to contend with mineral buildup in your pipes and faucets.

An Untapped Goldmine: 5 Items You May Find Lying Around Your House That Are Worth a Small Fortune

When you’re looking to make fast money or just to do a little bit of decluttering, you might be surprised to learn that you may have an untapped goldmine in your home. That’s right, you probably have a few items lying around the house that can fetch you more than a pretty penny. Check out this list of five things you just might have that can give your income a light boost.

1. Toys
Whether you are a parent or not, there is a good chance that you have a few toys around the house. Most people who have children in their lives undoubtedly have some playthings somewhere, and if you’re lucky, you just might be able to sell them for some extra money. For instance, selling Transformers toys can be more lucrative than you think. Other options include popular movie franchise toys, vintage toys, and even happy meal toys.

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2. Clothes and Shoes

You may be surprised at just how much you can make by putting gently used clothing and shoes on consignment. There are many types of consignment shops. Growing in popularity are online based shops that sell authenticated high-end merchandise, including accessories like purses and belts. Millennials are known for being frugal, so there is quite a large demand for quality second-hand things. Vintage never really goes out of style, which means your clothes from the 1960s and 1970s can be just as popular and sought after as something more modern or high-end name brand.

3. Electronics
Electronics, old and new can prove to be very valuable. Things like calculators, cathode ray monitors, PC laptops, game consoles, cameras, VHS tapes, and VCRs can be sold for more than you think. Although many of these things may seem obsolete, there are people who break them down for parts and metals. Other people are collectors and are looking for nostalgic electronics from yesteryear. Some folk have taken excellent care of their record players, CD players, game consoles and other items and are looking for games, records or tapes to use.

4. Precious Metals
Almost everyone has jewelry that is either damaged or unwanted. You can turn your useless jewelry into cash. To make the maximum profit off of your unwanted rings, watches, necklaces and more it helps to know the current value of the precious metals you have.

5. Old Music
They say that music is a universal language. And in many respects it certainly is, which is why you can make a small or a not so small fortune on your old vinyl records, CDs, cassette tapes and 8-track tapes. With the emergence of digital music and the ability to digitally store your music, it makes a lot of sense to upload your hard copy music and sell it. This is an especially good idea if you’ve got some special editions, signed covers or otherwise notable albums.

You’ve heard the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Well, this is certainly true when it comes to some of the things you may have sitting around the house. Extra money can come in many different shapes and sizes, so when you’re combing the house for things you can offload for a profit, be sure to keep an open mind. You may be surprised at what’s right under your nose and just how much someone will be willing to pay you for it.


Household Chemical Storage Guide

As a parent who wants to protect your kids, you’re probably aware that the first place to start is in your own home. Just as you baby-proofed your living spaces when your infant became mobile, you’ll also want to take precautions with the household chemicals lurking under the kitchen sink, on the bathroom shelf, and in the laundry room. Those ordinary, store-bought products often contain toxins — and the last thing you want is for a curious toddler to get into them and be harmed. However, before you start throwing everything out, consider that knowing how to store these items properly also can effectively protect your child.

Thankfully, there are several simple steps you can take to keep your kids safe from household chemicals. From meticulously labeling everything to storing dangerous products out of reach and checking containers regularly for signs of leakage, these precautions will mitigate the risks associated with having chemicals in your home.

For more tips on protecting your kids from the chemicals and toxins in cleansers, personal care products, paints, and other common formulations, take a look at the attached household chemical storage guide. It describes some of the best and most practical ways to minimize exposure and accidents. Follow these simple steps today to alleviate any concerns you might have about keeping your little ones safe.

Household Chemical Storage Guide
from SolvChem Custom Packaging Division

Author bio: Lynn Place is Vice President of Marketing for SolvChem Custom Packaging 
Division. She has 30 years of professional experience in the manufacturing industry and specializes in consumer packaged goods, new product development, and strategic planning. 
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Protect Your Mattress With A Ghostbed Mattress Cover Protector

Have you ever had a time where you were casually sitting in bed watching TV, having a snack, and you grab your drink then you spill it all over yourself and your bedding? Or perhaps you were changing your baby's diaper, and they had a pee pee accident? I have had both happen numerous times in the past. Let's face it, we are all human, and do a lot more than just sleeping on our bed. You invest your hard-earned money for a good mattress, so it's important to provide good protection against those everyday life occurrences.

If you have a mattress from GhostBed, then you might be familiar with their line of bedding items as well as the best mattress for back pain. The GhostBed Mattress Cover Protector is the perfect choice to provide superior protection.

I've dealt with mattress covers in the past that were awful, because they have that annoying fitted-sheet-that-didn't-actually-fit thing going. The GhostBed protector has a 2-inch thick elastic band that encases the entire bottom for maximum stability. I'm telling you, the band goes way under your mattress so you do not have to worry about slipping. This makes me SO happy because I always get annoyed when I see my husband's side of the bed with the sheet or cover off the mattress. And he says that I am the wild sleeper! 

The super soft knit top provides quiet breathability. As soon as my son saw it, and felt how soft it was, he dove on top of my bed. I had to tell him that it was just the mattress cover and not the actual bed sheet. I'm happy to have a total water-proof barrier with long-lasting durability after every wash. It also offers non-migrating antimicrobial technology which helps eliminate allergens. I do love that it makes no sound when you are in bed.

Your GhostBed Mattress Cover Protector comes with 10 year limited warranty and FREE shipping! Who doesn't love FREE shipping?! They come in all sizes including: twin, twin xl, full, queen, king, and cal king.

We are so pleased with our new mattress cover, and now I can sip my beverage with no worries. We highly recommend the GhostBed Mattress Cover Protector, and it works best with the GhostBed mattress.

One last thing: GhostBed is excited to celebrate their 3rd Birthday on Halloween! To kick off the celebration, GhostBed (bigger, better mattresses built to keep you cool all night) is giving away a FREE GhostBed Mattress. Enter here.

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Things We Are Learning About Plumbing And Bathroom Renovations

You may recall from a few months ago that I wrote about some issues that popped up in our house concerning some plumbing leaks. It turned out that every time we got one thing fixed, another leak would pop up. To say that having water issues is stressful is quite an understatement. We had our plumber come through to assess our situation, and his quote was astronomical. Thankfully my husband remembered that our AC guy also installs water heaters and offers plumbing services.
Photo by Sam Hetterich on Unsplash.
Our water heater installation including re-piping, and some other minor repairs came in at $500 less than what the plumber was charging. We couldn't believe how much more that initial quote was for LESS work. So lesson #1 is no matter how much you trust someone to do the job, it's okay to shop around.

We had to have one of the bathrooms gutted so that the pipes could be exposed to pinpoint more leaks. There was so much debris and trash involved after the demolition process. Thankfully our job was a lot smaller than most, otherwise we would have to research dumpster rental prices. We also had half of another bathroom demoed, so we have a lot to get replaced and repaired.

It's way too expensive to do it all in one shot, so we have been buying items like tile, paint, drywall, faucets, and light fixtures and storing them in our utility storage room. We will wait until we have the work scheduled to arrange for getting the big items like tub, vanity, and toilet delivered. While it's inconvenient to not have the full use of 2 out of 3 bathrooms, it could definitely be worse. We are going to get one bathroom completely done before we move onto the next. We are all trying to stay positive and patient throughout this process.

Have you done any similar renovations recently? Please tell me what you did to not lose your mind. HA! Thanks for stopping by today.

5 Signs It’s Time For Smart Home Maintenance

Home maintenance is often ignored by homeowners due to the dent it can cause to their bank account. Nevertheless, in some cases, home maintenance is essential because it helps retain or increase the value of your property without compromising on your living standards.


Not all signs will be noticeable until a detailed inspection is conducted. However, here are some of the tell-tale signs that will give you every reason to conduct smart home maintenance:

The Washing Machine Hose Is Bulging
If you notice a bulge in the hose, take action immediately. The hose may be about to burst. This is an emergency situation and needs professional assistance right away. This could also be a sign of leakage in the hose. If not taken care of in time, it could cause a costly damage.

When You Notice Melted Grommets On Your Water Heater
This could be a sign of the presence of deadly gases in your home. The gases generated from the water heater find their way out of your home through a duct. Sometimes, blockage in the duct may not allow the gases to release. Instead, the gases backdraft and combine the air with deadly carbon monoxide.

This happens if plastic of the duct is damaged due to heated water. You can seek assistance from a professional to detect and fix the duct. PlumbingFix, Santa Clarita based experts offer emergency services to fix water heaters. Contacting them may help you get rid of the damage.

The Water Meter Keeps Running
If you haven’t noticed any leakage in the water, the meter is the best way to find out. First and foremost, inspect the plumbing fixtures and faucets in your house. Find out if they’re properly turned off. In case the meter still keeps running, you need to get it checked and fixed immediately.

Indoor leaks are often easy to find. Also, check for water stains on the ceilings and walls. Inspect your kitchen and toilet carefully. Pay attention to the valves and focus on the water dropping sound.

Leakage In The Roof

If your roof is leaking, your roofing system needs immediate maintenance. It could be old, rotten, or damaged. To resolve this issue, you have two options: you can either consider complete renovation or go for various fixing methods.

The best way to decide is to first find out how much it is damaged already. New roofing with asphalt shingles is a pricey job and can cost you between $4500 and $10,000. Therefore, before you decide, get it checked and find out if repairing can fix it.

Efflorescence On Chimney Brick
Clearly, this means that a lot of moisture has built up inside. Efflorescence is a white material that appears on the chimney's brick and shouldn’t be ignored. Its appearance shows the movement of moisture through masonry.

The movement of moisture picks up minerals and leaves tiny white crystals behind. While this isn’t really harmful and a little amount of efflorescence is quite common, it’s a cause of concern if it’s too noticeable.

If the moisture is accumulating, it could eventually cause damage to the chimney. In worse cases, your flue liner may also be affected. The combustion of gases from the water heater, fireplace, or furnace is also harmful to your environment.

While these signs are easy to identify, the outdoor leaks can go unnoticed for years. Getting it checked and fixed by professionals is the best way to keep up with smart home maintenance.
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How to Minimize Health Risks When Using Harsh Cleaners in Your Home

As our knowledge of chemistry advances, we find better and better ways to efficiently clean our surroundings, especially our homes. However, unbeknownst to many of us, these cleaning agents may be doing harm not only to the harmful microorganisms they claim to eradicate, but also to our health and the health of our loved ones. Discover what you can do to protect yourself and your family from possible respiratory problems caused by these chemicals.

Know Your Products
Image via Flickr by yourbestdigs
The best way to protect yourself is by knowing the enemy which, in this case, are the harsh chemicals. For example, resources across the web talk about harsh chemicals causing breathing problems.

Before you buy a cleaning product, read the labels and find out if the chemicals included can cause health problems. Learn to look for signs such as a danger or poison label. Some may have a label that notes the ingredients are corrosive or may cause burns.

Wear Protective Gloves and Mask

If you can’t avoid using certain chemicals, then you should take steps to physically protect yourself. Wear a plastic apron if available so that you will not get soaked with corrosive chemicals when you clean. Use gloves and a mask not only when you are using chemicals, but also when you are uncertain of the chemicals included in your cleaning products.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Most chemicals can harm you when you breathe the fumes they produce. Cleaning products can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Even under room temperature, they can evaporate and turn to harmful fumes. Wearing masks can protect you, but ultimately, proper ventilation is essential. Before cleaning, open doors and windows to allow harsh fumes to escape.

Clean Your Home Regularly

If you clean your home regularly, dirt, bacteria, and molds are less likely to accumulate. Do not fall into the habit of cleaning only once in a while. In these cases, you may be tempted to use stronger and potentially more harmful chemicals to ensure a deeper cleaning. Cleaning regularly also gives you an opportunity to find out whether the products you use have not expired.

Follow Safekeeping Procedures

When you need to store cleaning products in your home, follow the instructions on the label. Make sure that these containers are tightly sealed and out of the reach of children and pets. Make sure you know which products to store in well-ventilated areas and which are better placed in locked cabinets. Place flammable products such as paint thinners in cool, dry areas.

While you need to have a clean household, taking care of your health is important. You can take many steps such as making your own household cleaners instead of using store-bought products. Consider searching for more ways to reduce the use of chemicals; you can also talk to other families in your own community for different ideas and suggestions. By following the tips presented above, you can minimize the health risks brought about by using harsh cleaning agents in your home.
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Update Your Home Without Major Renovations

When you think of updating your home, it may evoke visions of sledgehammers, rubble and rooms being stripped back to the bare bones. Not a pleasant thought. But did you know that there are ways that you can completely change the dynamic of your property, without even opening your tool box?

Update your interior doors

You pass through them every day, and are an integral part of every home. But it’s surprising how many people forget about how much of an impact an internal door can have. If your doors are scratched, scuffed or seen better days, then it may be worth repairing them yourself. Or if you’re hoping to completely change the look inside your home then consider purchasing a new style. You can find a range of internal doors from doorstore to help give you some inspiration.

Create an open space

With formal dining rooms and closed off areas seemingly going out of style, the open plan home seems to be the way to go. How can you do this without tearing out walls, you ask? Making your home seem open and airy can be easier than you think.
Sometimes it’s as simple as getting rid of bigger, bulkier furnishings, or moving furnishings around the room to see what placement gives the most open space. Another trick of the eye that gives the illusion of open space, is mirrors. Mirrors when placed opposite windows reflect light into the room and make the room seem more open.

Introduce new lighting

A poorly lit room, is dark, dim and not very welcoming. It can also be downright depressing! A well lit room can bring out your personality and bring a room to life! After all, who wants to sit in the dark? There are numerous ways to add lighting to your home, the most obvious would be to purchase some high quality floor lamps or table lamps, and place these strategically in dark corners or place them on side tables, in order to give a room that warm and welcoming feeling.

Update your handles and cabinetry

If your kitchen is looking a little dated, or your bathroom is more old fashioned then you would like there luckily there are small, easy changes you can make to bring it back to life and into the current decade. One way to do this, is to update and change the handles and draw pulls on your cabinets, cupboards and door handles.
There are numerous finishes to choose from such as bronze, brushed nickel, aged copper, and shiny stainless.  With so many modern choices on the market it may be hard to decide what best suits your home!

Still uninspired? Then clean!

If this still leaves you a little uninspired or perhaps won’t evoke as much change as you would like, then sometimes it pays to go back to basics. And start, with a good deep clean.
A deep-clean can enhance our mood and make our home more liveable (and more importantly inspire us to do more).
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My Water Bill Was Sky High And Here Is Why

Last year we noticed a HUGE spike in our water and sewer bills. Unfortunately, we get billed separately for each service since they are from two different companies. Let's back up to 5 years ago. Our bills ran us about $60-$70. Last year it starting going into the $100-$150 range which seemed like a lot. Then suddenly it went all the way to a whopping $250 for the water and $300 for sewer. That was for ONE month per service. We knew something was wrong for sure. We had a licensed plumber come in and determine that we had a water pressure problem from the meter. Basically, way too much water was surging into our home and that wore out our plumbing fixtures. So not matter how often we changed out the toilet tank parts or washers in the faucets, they would blow out from the high water pressure.

This lead to the rubber parts causing leaks, which added to the high water bills. We ended up having a water pressure regulator installed a couple feet away from the city water meter and it took the pressure down from over 100 psi to below 70 where it should be. The plumber pointed out the fact that they meter was "spinning" 24/7 which meant water was being used non-stop, even if were weren't actually using it. 😑 Even after getting the regulator installed, we still had to get all new toilet parts replaced to make the meter stop spinning. Needless to say, it was a costly visit that took 5 hours to complete.

Thankfully our city water and sewer companies worked with us to adjust our bills since we proved we had the leaks fixed. Although it wasn't a super big amount they took off, we were still grateful to get some sort of discount. We saw a big price difference already on the first bill after the repairs were made, at around $100. I got the latest bill yesterday and we are now back in the $55 range. This makes me so happy! I think about how much we overpaid in the last year and it makes my head hurt. Oh well, glad we have it fixed and can have a little peace of mind now.

One thing about home ownership is that you will forever have work and projects going on. It is so important to stay on top of things when you see your bills go up unusually high. Have you had any homeowner debacles or projects lately?

3 Home Improvements That Up Your Home’s Value and Reduce Your Premium

Your home is your source of shelter, your sanctuary from the world, and a huge source of pride. It’s a no-brainer that you care deeply about protecting it, and look to homeowners insurance to help. If you’re planning on making some updates to your abode, consider home improvements that might also qualify you for insurance discounts. Not only will you be increasing the value of your home, but you’ll likely be making your residence safer. Spending some money up front on smart home improvements can save you money down the line in the form of lowered homeowners insurance premiums.

Jumping into renovations that could lower insurance premiums is a bit like putting the cart before the horse. At the top of the to-do list is finding the best homeowners insurance for your needs in terms of both coverage and cost. Only after you’re sure that your policy is right for your situation should you start to consider aligning your home improvements with factors that reduce your premiums.

Read on to learn more about three valuable home improvements, as well as a few that could end up costing more money in the long run.

Strengthen Your Roof
Asphalt shingles seem to be the default roofing material, but their condition can degrade over time when exposed to inclement weather. According to The Family Man, insurance companies often offer significant discounts—even up to 45 percent—for investment in stronger materials. Don’t assume anything before chatting with your insurance agent, but be sure to ask about materials discounts if you’re planning any renovations. Metal and other heavy-duty roofing materials cost more up front, but could earn you discounts and hold up better over time.

Install or Improve Home Security
It’s never a bad thing to feel like you have eyes in the back of your head when it comes to your house, especially for added security when you’re away. Your insurance company will view your house as more of a risk if it has spotty security and lacks basic safety measures. The Insurance Information Institute suggests that improving your home security systems can potentially decrease your homeowners insurance as follows:

   • Smoke detector, burglar alarm, or deadbolt locks (5 percent)
   • Sprinkler system and fire/burglar alarm that alerts authorities (15-20 percent)

Modernize Heating, Electrical, and Plumbing
Do you use modern appliances in your home? Water heater malfunction is one of the most common causes for filing a water damage claim, and comes with an average cost of $4,400. In a similar vein, half of washing machine-related water damage claims come from faulty water supply hoses. The average cost for these repairs is over $6,000 based on the same set of data from the Insurance Journal. While it can be daunting to envision appraising and updating systems like plumbing, heating, and electrical, it’s important for your safety and for the safety of your home. Since the repairs tend to be costly if something does go awry, it’s beneficial to anticipate and head off these problems ahead of time by keeping your systems updated and well-maintained.

There is one bright spot. As the National Association of Insurance Commissioners points out, optimizing these systems to be disaster-proof can potentially earn you a discount on your future premiums. Before you embark on any modifications, talk to your insurance provider.

Conditions That Could Set You Back
Just like streamlining your home can knock money off your insurance premium, certain factors can increase it. Risk associated with pets and swimming pools could bump up your premium, so it’s worthwhile investigating before you decide to adopt a large dog or put in a pool. Where you live also influences your rates, including living in a place known for having conditions that produce natural disasters.

Your best bet is checking in with your homeowners insurance company if you’re planning on making any changes to your home as they could affect your rates one way or another.


How To Make Downsizing Easier

Downsizing is necessary for a number of reasons; whether you’re making the switch to a smaller place due to money issues, a desire for simplified living, or moving to a new city, moving your family into a home with a much smaller amount of square footage isn’t always the easiest of tasks. Make the transition easier on you and your kids by following these downsizing guidelines.

Finding a New Place

When you’re hunting for a new place, especially if you’re going to be renting, make sure you don’t jump on an apartment just because its square footage is smaller. Make sure the limited space is designed well and conducive to your living habits, especially if you have children. Often downsizing is due to money limitations, but signing your name on the lease simply because it fits into your price range is not advisable, especially if you want to make downsizing as painless as possible. Use listing sites like that allow you to input various filters so you can narrow down your choices. Don’t let desperation to find a home let you speed through the process; view multiple homes, and don’t land yourself in a terrible landlord situation (or fall for scams) just because you’re anxious to move—if something feels off, it probably is. Something to keep in mind during this process: if a landlord asks for sensitive information, always request he or she use a service like MySmartMove to ensure your SSN and bank info doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, and make sure you have enough money in a savings account to cover the rent for the first few months.

Perform an Inventory

It’s going to be an extensive and time-consuming process, but the first thing you need to do is take a detailed inventory of everything in your current home. Go through the new apartment or house you’ve found and take exact measurements of the floor and wall space. Compare it to the dimensions of your current home, and determine how much you’ll need to get rid of. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of all of your belongings, and determine the things that will be coming with you to your new, smaller space, and the things you can leave behind (by selling, donating, or throwing away). Make three different lists: one of the things you can get rid of, the things you can hypothetically live without, and the things that must come along with you. The things you decide you can get rid of can be sold in a garage sale, donated to a worthy cause, or find their way into a local dumpster. You’ll want to refine these lists a few times; it’s simply amazing how much of an emotional attachment we can have to physical items, but simplifying your life means getting rid of items we might have previously thought were absolute necessities. Look at your list of must-haves again and again, and see if the essentials are actually necessary for your life and your new space.

When it Comes to Selling

If you do decide to sell off the belongings you decide you don’t need, you will find yourself with an excess of cold hard cash that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, especially important if your downsize efforts are due to monetary concerns. You can decide to host a good old-fashioned garage sale, post your items on a common website like Craigslist, or use eBay to get rid of the things you no longer need. If you’re looking to sell designer items, use a site like Tradesy, where you can find buyers willing to spend quite a bit on any designer pieces that are still in great condition.

Make Smart Storage Choices

When it comes to working with limited space, organization is your best friend. Before moving in your new space, nail down which storage solutions you’ll take advantage of. Use vertical storage options to take up the least amount of floor space possible, purchase furniture with hidden storage containers, and utilize space under the bed and behind other furniture pieces to keep your belongings sorted. Stick with decorations that incorporate clean lines to avoid the appearance of clutter, and intersperse sentimental items sparingly throughout the house to incorporate personality without causing decorative chaos.
If you’re facing a downsizing transition, make it easier on yourself and your family by incorporating these tips into your moving process and learn how to live with less—it will change your life in a more positive way than you could have ever imagined.


6 Natural Alternative Cleaning Solutions

As much as we can, we want to save up on money and find thrifty ways to lessen our spending for the month. While cleaning agents can also take up a part of your budget, you’d be happy to know that you can actually save up a few if you know some natural cleaning alternatives and carpet shampooer.

Every homeowner’s advantage is stocking up on good natural cleaning solutions as a substitute to the products you see in television. Besides that, you can also make your own home cleaning solutions. In this article, here are some effective alternative to home cleaning products.

Lemons and Oranges
When you want to clean your dishes or utensils, a good alternative for dishwashing liquid are lemons and oranges. Any kind of citric fruit are effective disinfectant because of their citric and acidic attribute that can sterilize and kill bacteria.

Vinegar is great for cooking and also for cleaning! It is probably the most commonly used cleaning solution for greasy pans and stoves. They are also great for removing stains which is why carpet cleaning in Sunshine Coast has never been more easy and hassle-free!

Isopropyl Alcohol
This medicine-cabinet native has actually a lot of practical uses. Other than it being used for disinfecting, it is also used for cleaning grease and grime off mirrors, shower stalls and door knobs.

Cornstarch is a good absorbent of oil. It is mostly used with alcohol. Combining the two, alcohol and cornstarch, into a really effective cleaning mixture will be an effective cleaning agent for removing grease off countertops and other greasy kitchenware. Cornstarch is also a great deodorizer as well as an effective window cleaner.

No kitchen will be complete without it! Salt is a natural condiment that’s commonly used for cooking but can also serve for cleaning purposes. Salt is actually used in helping scrape off those burned-food and dried stubborn grease in cookware. Aside from that, they are used for polishing those pots and pans.

Baking soda
A handy thing to have when cleaning the bathroom! Baking soda can effectively help you scrape off gunk and grease found inside your bathroom and in every corner of your shower tile. Baking soda with a mixture of distilled vinegar will help you remove that bad toilet odor and any lingering stink as well as properly clean the toilet bowl.

It’s best to stock up on these amazing natural ingredients, then. That way, you don’t have to spend too much on your housekeeping budget. All you need are these six natural cleaning agents!

Author Bio
Sean Si is the Marketing guy of Electrodry Carpet Cleaning. He is the go-to guy when it comes to the latest home improvement tips. When he's not busy, he writes about healthy home and life, and spends quality time with his family and friends.


Green Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags

It’s easy to think of your coffee grounds and tea bags as mere tools with which to brew a little pick-me-up. However, they can both be much more. Once your cup is empty of your favorite hot beverage, you can reuse the grounds and leaves in an environmentally friendly manner. Here are 10 ways to give them a second life.
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Remove Odors From Skin
Cooking foods with strong odors doesn’t mean you’re destined to wear them afterwards. Rub your hands with leaves or grounds to freshen your skin before rinsing them with soap and water

Brighten Up Wood
Boil 2 to 3 tea bags in a quart of water to create a green cleaning product for your wood floors and furniture, which will also brighten and leave a shine. Traditional teas (as opposed to the herbal variety) are best to ensure tannins are present. Be sure the wood is darker than the tea to avoid staining.

Deter Uninvited Garden Guests
Your coffeemaker grounds can keep your garden free of ants and other pests. They can also be extremely helpful in keeping the neighborhood cats from turning your beloved oasis into a litter box. Sprinkling only a few tablespoons of grounds near each plant will deter felines.

Deep Clean Dishes
Your pots and pans can be cleaned without the use of harsh abrasives or synthetic chemicals. Instead, use the natural abrasion offered by grounds. If the dish needs to soak, place a tea bag or two into the warm water to allow tannins to break down stubborn residue.

Compost for Plants
Both types of grounds offer nourishment to plants that live indoors as well as those outside. For plants such as roses, strawberries and tomatoes that prefer a more acidic fertilizer, use the remnants from your coffeemaker. For less acidic-loving plants such as lilacs, succulents and geraniums, use the tea.

Pedi Pleaser
Take a few of your used tea bags and steep them in warm water for a good foot soak the next time you give yourself a pedicure. The antibacterial properties of the tea assist in removing odors while cleaning and brightening up the skin.

Fridge Freshener
Place grounds in an open container and place in your refrigerator to add an aromatic scent while deodorizing and freshening the area.

Whether you are looking to dye eggs, paper, clothing or even your hair, you can steep grounds in hot water to create an earth-friendly dye. Strain the liquid when you have achieved the desired color and leave to cool.

Home Facial
For a light exfoliator and skin brightener, create a facial scrub by mixing grounds with honey or avocado. Reduce puffy eyes by placing two cooled, used tea bags over your eyes for about 10 minutes.

Eco-Friendly Shoe Shine
Once you’ve steeped your brew, rub the damp tea bag over the surface of your dark-colored dress shoes to clean and moisturize.


Turn your spare room into the ultimate den

Your idea of bliss might involve curling up on a plush, overstuffed sofa with your favorite paperback and a steaming mug of tea. For your partner, heaven might be the thrill of tearing up some virtual tarmac with the latest white knuckle racing game and a mini fridge full of ice-cold craft beers. Everyone likes a little time away from the rest of the family, so it’s only natural to want to dedicate a small portion of the home to the preservation of everyone’s sanity. If this sounds like you, it’s time to transform your spare room into a family den.

If you do have a box room eligible for promotion to living space status, it has probably been used as the household dumping ground. Your first step towards creating your family haven is to banish the bumf and clear out the clutter. Any long lost articles of clothing and literature you are not instantly overjoyed to rediscover in the clear out should be recycled. Hoarders is not an aspirational lifestyle.

Once the room has been completely emptied, you can begin to determine the function and personality of your den with a bit of decor. Need a brooding man cave? Dark maroon or bottle green with wallpaper accents or wood paneling may exude the sophistication you crave. An airy meditation retreat will require lighter colors; duck egg blue will help you reclaim serenity, while light woods and white walls are necessary to make the most of the light in an aspiring artist’s studio.

As for furnishings, comfort trumps style every time. While we all picture ourselves staring into a crackling fire from the embrace of a chunky Chesterfield, the reality is that Chesterfields are a bit slippery, and fires consume as much time as they do fuel. Big, plush sofas scattered with squishy cushions work best. For the pyromaniac seeking a bit of fiery atmosphere, a few candles or fairly lights in a hurricane lamp will work as well as an inferno. In the same vein, exposed mahogany floorboards might sound grand, but toe splinters are no joke. Instead, layer traditional oriental rugs near well-trafficked spots to keep bare feet warm.

If you do have a forlorn little spot in your house, show it some love; not everyone has the fortune of a spare room to play with. Whether you choose to transform it into a home cinema, a billiards room or a crafts haven, you’ll find getting creative with a bit of personal space can do wonders for the soul.

What are Vinyl Wall Art Stickers?

One of the most inexpensive house decorations now is vinyl wall stickers and wallpapers. However, do you know much about this kind of stickers?

In chemistry, vinyl is one of the alkenyl functional groups. An industrially important example is vinyl chloride, precursor to PVC, a plastic commonly known as vinyl. So it can be widely used in our daily stuff and you don’t worry if it it harmful to our bodies.

The vinyl wall stickers are harmless, beautiful. Innovative and easy to apply. Nowadays, they are not any longer just used in our home. People have most public places or commercial areas pasted on some wall stickers to attract people’s attention or just play as a warning. It is even a special and joyful way for people to get information from the wall.

Mostly, buyers apply this easy wall stickers in the house decoration. Since there are plenty of patterns of this rising decor way, pasting some wallpapers can show your individualities to your guests and even make your life more interesting and beautiful. For instance, one of our top sales are the nursery decal series for kids. It includes some styles like cartoon animals and plants, growth chart, black chalkboard and alphabet. Your kids will be very delightful if their growth will be accompanied with such cute animals that can only be seen in the zoo. And the growth chart wall decals can make you witness your son  growing taller and taller.

Since its special texture, it can be used not only on the walls, but also in the windows or furniture. We have a lot of holiday-related wall decals that will make your family full of the holiday atmosphere, especially the Christmas theme decals pasted on the windows.

Don’t bother with the complex tools of pasting, our wall decals are very very easy for you to apply. You just need to peel of its cover and paste it. Your fingers can finish all the process. What are you still waiting for? Buying this easy wall stickers is definitely your best choice for decoration your house.


Keep your home clean with BISSELL

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of BISSELL Homecare, Inc. for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you are a pet owner or a parent, you know how hard it is to keep your home clean. As a stay-at-home mom, my work is endless. Every day I feel like I am walking over crumbs, hair balls and who knows what! I have been doing some research on new vacuums and I am totally liking what I see with the BISSELL PowerGlide  Vacuum with Lift-Off Technology. It has so many helpful features including:
  • Full-size vacuum with Lift-Off Technology features an easy-release portable vacuum for stairs and more
  • No loss of suction* for performance that lasts
  • Brush-roll on/off switch for scatter-free suction on hard floors
  • Multi-level filtration to help reduce allergens
  • On-board tools include Pet TurboEraser® Tool and crevice tool
  • Swivel steering for easy maneuvering around furniture
  • Collapsible handle for compact storage
  • Weighs only 16 lbs
*Tested per IEC 60312-1 with multiple dust loadings, results within accepted tolerance of 5%.

You can find many cleaning tips at the BISSELL site and you may enter to win a prize in the Celebrate Everyday Messes contest. I have to say, I am impressed with how much the BISSELL PowerGlide vacuums offer for the price. I just have to narrow it down to the exact one I want! What are your favorite features of any of the BISSELL vacuums?
Visit Sponsor's Site

Are you moving? Here are some great tips from Unpakt

Moving can be expensive—from movers to insurance to down payments—the bill can add up quickly.

Fortunately, packing supplies do not need to be added to your list of expenses. Actually, you may already own some of the best packing materials around—you just didn’t realize it yet!  Unpakt, a price comparison site and online booking tool for consumers searching for a reputable moving company, put together a list of household items that can be used for packing:

Sandwich Bags – These can be used to hold hardware from disassembled furniture and appliances. They are also ideal for toiletries—if something leaks during the move, a sandwich bag will prevent other items from being damaged.
Towels, Socks, other Clothing Items – Towels can be used to wrap plates, serving platters, vases, or breakable décor. Make sure you keep one out to pack  n your overnight bag though!  Balls of socks can be used to fill open space in boxes of breakables. You want items secure, so they do not bounce around. Rather than using packaging peanuts or other costly products, use socks. Longer socks can also be used to wrap glasses and stemware. T-shirts, tanks, and sweaters can also be used to wrap breakables. A nice soft sweater or sweatshirt is ideal to line the bottom of the box. This will provide cushioning in case the box gets roughed up during the move.

Beer Boxes – There are three reasons to use beer boxes. First, they are heavy duty and can hold a lot of weight. Second, they have handles on the side, which makes them easy to carry. Third, you get to drink the beer to empty the box! If you’re not into drinking a case of beer, head to a liquor store and see if they will give them to you for free.

Drawers – With the exception of clothes you do not necessarily want movers peeking at, most clothes can stay in your dresser drawers. Simply cover them with Glad Press’n Seal. If you plan on doing this, make sure the moving company doesn’t have rules about handling unboxed items.

Twist Ties – Use these to stop cables and cords from getting tangled.
Other household items that can be used as packing supplies include trash pails (after a thorough clean!), suitcases, Rubbermaid containers, baskets, underbed storage, gym bags and backpacks, trash bags, and hampers.


Tips for buying a home

Everyone dreams of owning their own home, but buying one is a lot of work. Just preparing for homeownership is a massive undertaking that can seem daunting. There are processes that you have to go through before you can even think about looking for the home you want to buy.

Budgeting and banks
First, you have to know exactly what your budget is and how much you can afford to spend. The banks will need this information before they will even think about giving you a mortgage loan, so have it all ready. The difference can sometimes help in negotiations with a seller for a better price on the home. Make sure that you are pre-approved not pre-qualified. Research diligently through different lenders as well. Make sure you get the best possible mortgage and interest rates.

Look into the area
You will have to know what you need as far as size like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc. You will have to take into consideration schools, transportation, and stores as well. If you prefer public transportation, you will have to make sure that you are near to the local pick up. Do you want the local stores to be close at hand? The Local Records Office can give you a lot of information about the neighborhoods you are considering, so make sure to look them up.

Contract a buyer's agent
The housing market changes constantly. Even though we are recovering from the housing crisis from a few years ago, you will want to do plenty of research. You don't have to have a real estate agent and honestly, agents work for the seller not you. However, you can contract a buyer's agent if you wish. A buyer's agent will ensure you find the house you want for a good price and actually works for you.

Look for homes
Look at a lot of homes before you make an offer for one. You want to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want and not just settling for what you think you can afford. After all if you are paying that much money to buy a home, you want to be happy in it. Likewise, don't allow an agent to push you into a house you can't really afford either. Just because you qualify for it, doesn't mean you should buy it. You could overtax yourself and that will lead to trouble later on.

Once you make an offer and it is accepted, there are several steps that have to be taken. A home inspection to check the foundation, construction, heating and cooling system, electrical etc must be done. This is important so that you and your bank know that the home is sound.

You will have to buy homeowners insurance and bring the document with you to your closing along with your down payment and another check for closing costs unless you have negotiated for the seller to pay them, you will be responsible for those.  The closing should take about an hour and when you are finished, you will be the proud owner of a home of your own.


My latest homemaking find: Bounce Ironing Spray

I recently stumbled upon a product while I was shopping in Publix and knew I had to try it out. It is Bounce Ironing Spray. It's supposed to remove wrinkles as you iron and give a starched feel. The bonus is the signature Bounce freshness. I put it to the test on some of my hubby's shirts. I like the spray bottle instead of an aerosol can. It does not flake or leave any residue and his shirts had that starched feel which he really loves. 
The best part was the fresh scent of clean laundry. I have been ironing garments in batches and noticed that the Bounce scent stays on for days. If you are a fan of that fresh laundry straight out of the dryer scent, then I recommend you try this! Oh, and you must actually iron clothes :) I will warn you though, you have to use this in an open area because the scent can be overwhelming. If you get to try it, let me know what you think. 


How to Organize Your Recipes {guest post}

This guest post is courtesy of  Instawares restaurant supplies and equipment company.

Whether you're a home cook who takes pride in preparing recipes that have been handed down in your family for generations or a professional chef with a reputation for creating innovative new dishes, your recipes are the key to your success in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, many cooks tend to be disorganized when it comes to maintaining their recipe file.

Instead of desperately paging through recipe books or shuffling a stack of index cards and magazine clippings the next time you want to prepare that special dish, why not organize your recipes into an efficient system so you can always lay your hands on the recipe you want in an instant?

Gather Your Recipes

Before you can organize your recipes, it's crucial that you compile all of them in one place.  Empty your recipe boxes, gather your cookbooks, grab your magazine cutouts and locate your Internet printouts.  No matter where your recipes are at this moment, do what you have to do to get them all in one place, preferably your kitchen table or computer desk.

Assemble Your Supplies

To organize your recipes, you'll need a three-ring binder, enough sheet protectors to contain all of your recipes, plain copy paper, scissors, a glue stick and a color copier or printer/scanner with copying capabilities.  Feel free to jazz up your recipe book with sheets of colored paper, paper with borders, scrapbook-style embellishments and photos of food that you've prepared in the past.

Sort  Your Recipes by Category

Create several piles and sort your recipes into categories.  Meats, poultry, main dishes, casseroles, vegetable dishes and desserts are just some of the categories you can use.  If you're stumped as to which categories to create, choose one of your favorite cookbooks and follow its layout by copying the categories contained therein.

Place Your Recipes in Sheet Protectors

Sheet protectors offer the perfect way to store your recipes for use in the kitchen.  If you happen to splatter or spill something on the pages, you simply wipe it off and the recipe remains untouched.  Recipes that are smaller than 8-1/2" x 11" can be glued to sheets of copy paper and inserted into the sheet protectors.  Place one or more on each page according to your preference.  If you have recipes in cookbooks that you turn to often, copy them or scan and print them so you have them at your fingertips without having to page through one or more cookbooks to locate them.

Organize the Recipes in Your Binder

Since you've already sorted your recipes by category, it should be easy to place them in your binder in an orderly fashion.  Once you've placed them in the binder, use a simple word processing program to create a table of contents or an index that lists all of the recipes your binder contains.  Now when you're ready to prepare a special dish, you'll easily be able to flip to the appropriate page and get to work.

While organizing your recipes may seem like a time-consuming project at first glance, the time you save by being able to find your recipes easily will pay off in the long run.  Not only will you be an organized cook in the kitchen, you'll have your very own personalized cookbook and that's something any cook should be proud of.

Shelly, Mom Files
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