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Winter Cleaning Prep: Tips For a Sparkly, Holiday Home!

November 7, 2013

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This post brought to you by North American Property Services. All opinions are 100% mine.

Winter is here, and it’s a great time to do some deep cleaning to help keep your home germ-free. North American Property Services, one of the top janitorial service companies in the United States, has ten key tips for cleaning your home this winter:

1. Be extra careful about hand washing with soap so you do not spread germs from room to room.

2. Routinely disinfect high touch areas such as door handles, TV remotes, and keyboards for all devices, such as tablets and laptops. Don’t forget all of your phones, including the landline and cell phones.

3. Dust carries germs and grime, so wiping down with disinfecting solutions will not only make your house cleaner, but it will remove germs that can cause the common cold and flues. Look for places that dust settles, such as fan blades, window ledges, and walls to wipe away germs. Don’t forget to clean your light bulbs, which has the added benefit of brightening the house on these short winter days. Another thing to clean is the dust balls under furniture and in the corners of floors.

4. Dust more often, as your heating system circulates dust, dirt and germs.

5. Keep mops handy to dry-mop floors regularly, especially around high-traffic areas of the house.

6. On warmer days, clean interior windows, another germ collector in your house.

7. Deep clean your carpets every year to eliminate grime and germs. A good time of year to do this is after the holidays so any spills from your holiday celebrations will be washed away.

8. Scrub the grout in your bathroom with a powerful disinfectant to remove germs that spread between family members.

9. Take your shoes off at the door. Think about all the places you walk and the germs that hitch hike into your home. Taking your shoes off will greatly reduce indoor pollutants.

10. The best winter floor care program is to continue to clean and maintain floor surfaces with extra mopping and scrubbing around the entryways.

Also, the holidays are right around the corner, can you believe it? And we are gearing up for more than 5 months indoors. I think that one of the best things you can do for your home is get it ALL clean before company comes and the winter doldrums set in. I usually finish all my projects and scrub the house from top to bottom during late October and early November. It's just a great feeling, having the house sparkly clean. And I don't need to worry about having company over and seeing a dirty house. I don't know about you, but I rest a little easier during the winter when I know the house is clean! And if you have pets, it's even more important to maintain a clean and healthy home.

If you haven't hit the floors or bookshelves yet, check out the NAPSI website for loads of resources. They KNOW their cleaning stuff, let me tell you. You can also check them out on social networks: on Twitter @NAPS_Inc and on Facebook.


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Got Dirt? Get BISSELL

September 18, 2013

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

I was too busy this year do any spring cleaning, so you know what that means, boys and girls, right? Yes, my house is an absolute disaster. Couple that with a few small renovation projects (spackling, painting, finishing our huge built-in bookcases), and we've got dirt. I had the girls survey the condition of the undersides of our couch cusions… *shudder*. Fall cleaning is going to be a doozy this year, yes indeedy.

It's OK, though. We're turning to BISSELL. I've been a devoted BISSELL fan for many years now. The vacuum machines are affordable, and seem to slurp up the gobs of pet hair, debris, and other crud that appears out of nowhere. And just in time for the fall cleaning and holiday season, BISSELL is having a promotion to make things a little easier (and cleaner). Right now, use the promo code POWERGLIDE to get $20 off plus off shipping on the following BISSELL machines until November 30, 2013:

· PowerGlide Pet Vacuum with Lift-Off Technology – 2763
· PowerGlide Pet Bagged Rewind Vacuum – 38631
· PowerGlide Pet Vacuum – 1044

I am very interested in the new BISSELL PowerGlide® with Lift-Off® Technology. That sucker looks like a lean, mean, cleaning machine. It's got a sealed system for the attachments, which enables you to clean stairs, curtains, between the washer and dryer, under the beds, and other difficult-to-reach places without the typical "loss of suction" from other machines when using attachments. And I LOVE the 27-foot cord, long stretchy hose, and removable pod! It's light, too. Very impressive.

BISSELL is giving you loads of opportunities to make your pre-holiday cleaning fun, too.enter to win a $250 SpaFinder gift card and a BISSELL DeepClean Premier or SpotClean machine. And check out some of the neat cleaning tips on the website.

Why make cleaning harder than it is? If you've got dirt, BISSELL can help!

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Elements of the Master Planned Community with Touraj Vedadi of Titanium Builders

September 14, 2013

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Master planned communities are increasingly popular throughout the United States and Canada. These meticulously designed developments blend industrial, commercial and residential areas to create cohesive and largely self-contained communities. Master planned developments offer numerous advantages for residents and businesses, including the following:

• Easy access to retail shopping, including groceries and pharmacies
• Green spaces for outdoor activities
• Walkable neighborhoods that reduce fuel consumption and increase foot traffic
• Convenience for residents and retailers
• Stable property values and enhanced price protection
• Cost-efficient and economical land use

Planned developments like those constructed by Titanium Builders and Touraj Jason Vedadi offer a cohesive and workable environment for families, retail companies and industrial concerns. Here are some of the basic elements to consider when creating the design for a master planned community.

Density of Population

Before groundbreaking and construction can begin, the desired density of commercial and residential populations within the finished community should be considered and incorporated into the planning process. While local zoning boards will have something to say on this issue, the primary responsibility remains with the builder. Touraj Vedadi looks for a balance between easy access for residents and plenty of green space to reduce the overall load of foot traffic in the communities he builds. Lot sizes can also make a significant difference in the population density. Larger lots tend to attract upscale businesses and higher income residents. Smaller lots can increase profit margins and are useful in building a labor base for local industries and retail outlets.

Utilities and Transportation

The right location can provide easier access to city or county utilities and can ease transportation issues for residents and retailers. As the founder and owner of Titanium Builders, Touraj Vedadi is experienced in sizing up various locations and assessing their suitability for planned communities in a range of sizes and configurations. Locations that are close to utility build-outs, cable television hubs and public transportation can provide added incentives for residents and commercial establishments to consider these advanced housing and mixed-used communities.

Allowable Use and Zoning

Most metropolitan areas and smaller cities are eager for the added traffic and tax revenues created by working mixed-use communities. Establishing solid relationships with the cities under consideration for these projects is an important element in ensuring their ongoing success. Touraj Vedadi is experienced in building relationships within the construction industry and with influential players in the zoning, allowable use and city code departments. According to Vedadi, presenting clear information on the planned development and working with these key personnel to create a workable and mutually beneficial solution can help to clear the way for groundbreaking on these modern construction projects.

Retail and Industrial Support

Master planned communities depend not only upon sales of residential properties but also on the retail and industrial firms that contribute to their success. Finding the right retail and industry partners to create a blended community can help to attract added residential sales and can create a more attractive environment for families, businesses and service providers. Touraj Vedadi has extensive experience in building these connections and providing the right incentives to retail anchors and other commercial enterprises.

By focusing on these key elements of success in the master planned community marketplace, builders can expand their portfolios and add to their expertise in the modern construction industry.

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Saving Loads of Cash at

June 10, 2013

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This post brought to you by All opinions are 100% mine.

When I was little, my nickname was "four eyes." Not a very nice name for a first grader. Ah, revenge can be sweet, though. Way back in the 1970s, only 1 in 40 people wore glasses. Today, that number has dramatically increased. The nasty nickname "four eyes" is now like a badge of honor. 
My first pair were plastic "cat's eyes" glasses. I hated them at the time, but I recently found a few photos of me back then, and you know what? I looked pretty darn-tootin' cool. 
Then came the 1980s. Holy cow, remember those HUGE glasses? They were enormous! But I loved that style. I hate today's teeny-tiny lenses crammed into teeny-tiny frames. I have to bob my head around like a bobble-head to see anything. Blast these dumb fads. 
Did you know the 1980s-style glasses are back!?!?! I just found out!! TOTALLY COOL!! They are the Derek Cardigan Eyeglasses and I think they are amazing. 

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I used to have a deep red pair very similar to that style. I have been wanting a pair like that SO MUCH. 
The best part of it all is that actually CAN have such a pair again. These glasses are offered by, the largest online retailer of Designer Eyeglasses and contacts in North America. I have ordered glasses online in the past, and have had good success, but the companies I ordered from were all from other countries. I am so happy to find a company that is based here in North America. They are based in Toronto, and are a good company. For one, they offer eyeglasses at reasonable prices– no crazy, greedy markups. Two, they donate their wares to charitable organizations. For every pair that is purchased, one pair is donated to a needy person. Three, read their "Our Core Values" list at their website. 
I think they have a new loyal customer. Yes, indeed. 
The prices are outstanding. Glasses mean a lot to us. I rely on them to survive and get through my day. It's important to have a good, reliable, and affordable pair. It's even better to buy them from a company who is committed to service and helping others in need. 
I can heartily say that I will be purchasing my glasses from Please check out this company — I know you will love them just as much as I do!

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Another Spring, Another Mini Renovation

April 29, 2013

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This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Flood® Wood Care for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Once again, this will be the year that we skip any major overhauls and work on or finish up the multitudes of smaller projects. For starters, we have a LOT of interior trim work, shelving, and other small carpentry work to do. If you recall, last year we re-painted the living room, got new furniture, and built two glorious built-in bookcases. They turned out SO well. This was my first big carpentry project, and it looks pretty nice.

But it’s not completely done. I have yet to complete the trim work. I’m using a nice red oak for the units, and we re staining everything a pretty mahogany color. I really like it and it adds a formality to the room.

We also have plans to add a small deck on the back porch. Right now, it’s just a dilapidated stoop with fiberglass roof (ugh), but when I close my eyes I can see a wide deck large enough to hold all our Adirondack chairs! I’m not very familiar with outdoor wood staining so I’ll definitely be deferring to the easy-to-apply Flood® Wood Care. They have this cute guide widget called Staining Made Simple that make planning your project SO easy.

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The guide leads you through the selection process, first by determining your project and leading you to the type of stain that best suits it. It even helps you find the store nearest you that carries your chosen Flood stain color and style! How’s that for simple??

In addition, you can enter a very nice sweepstakes to win some terrific Flood products, AND a $1,500 gift card! Sweet!! All you have to do is “like” Flood on Facebook to enter. Check out the Flood Better Backyard Sweepstakes here.

It’s nice to know that– despite all the projects we have planned — things are made a little easier. You can read more about Flood stain for your wood projects online at the website or check out their Facebook page.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States of America and (D.C.) 18 years and older. Ends 5/17/2013. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, and prize descriptions visit Void in Puerto Rico and where restricted or prohibited. This Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to Sponsor and not to Facebook.

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Pellet Stoves: Heating in Perfect Harman-y!

February 2, 2013

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This post brought to you by Harman Stoves. All opinions are 100% mine.

Well, all these sub-zero temperatures are making me plan our next step for the home's heating system. When we gutted the kitchen and dining room, I rpped out the forved air furnace ducts. The system had been installed in the 1940s, and was an absolute DISASTER. Besides, I hate forced air. It's dirty, drafty, and wasteful. Since then, we've been incorporating more energy-efficient means of heating the house, although the upstairs has baseboard heat for dire emergencies. I'm too afraid to use those things, the utility bills may bankrupt us.

I have to get a fireplace insert in the living room and then get another in our future family room that we'll be building sometime. I like the warmth of gas fireplaces but to be honest the gas scares me. And I'd rather be more self-sufficient. So I'm checking out pellet stoves and pellet stove inserts. These little things are amazing! Check out this cool infographic from Harman Pellet Stoves.

Pellet Stoves are Awesome

From what I've heard, the best pellets stoves are Harman stoves. I've done a little digging into the history of the company, it's very impressive. The first Harman stove was born out of the 1970's energy crisis, when skyrocketing energy costs made it nearly impossible to heat a house, and Jimmy Carter's sweater advice just wasn't going to cut it. When people heard about the new invention, they clamored for replicas. That's how the company got their start. I love entreprenuer stories like that! You can follow Harman Stoves on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest if you want to know more about them.

A Little Giveaway

I'm also honored to be giving away a really nice Harman journal-sized notebook and pen! The notebook is made from recycled materials and is very cute! Leave a comment saying what you like about Harman to enter the contest. I'll randomly pick a winner in a few days and email you if you are the winner.

So I'm not sure if we'll go for a pellet stove or an insert. I think an insert needs some kind of brick fireplace backing…. that would look beautiful in the family room but I'm not sure I want to go to that expense. A few of my pals have pellet stoves and this popular heating alternative works beautifully to heat the whole house during the winter. Sounds good to me. With the cost of energy going up again, it's time to start thinking not only about efficiency, but self-sufficiency.

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter the contest!

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My New Pie Pal, Mrs. Smith

January 27, 2013

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This post brought to you by Mrs. Smith’s. All opinions are 100% mine.

I grew up on homemade pies. My mother made the most amazing pies and her pie crusts were always phenomenal. She usually only made pies during the holidays. How we kids would beg her to make them more often! She used to make chicken pot pies (which I absolutely hated), but I would eat only the crusts and chicken and waste the rest. :S

Since I am a spoiled pie-eater, I have always found it rather difficult to endure frozen pre-made pies. They always tasted like cardboard to me: dry, tasteless, crumbly. The only kind of pie who comes close to the original homemade ones is Mrs. Smith's Signature Deep Dish pies. These are pretty darn good. My husband got a few for Thanksgiving this past year since we were too busy to go all-out and bake our own pies. Of the four different kinds available (Signature Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce; Signature Deep Dish Cherry Pie with Butter Fudge Sauce; Signature Deep Dish Peach Pie with Cream Cheese Icing; and Signature Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Icing), we got the cherry and the apple. Oh my goodness, yummm!!!! The pies come with icing that you spread over the pie yourself. It adds a nice touch because it looks pretty (we drizzled it) but it also is sooo delicious. The cherry pie has butter fudge sauce that is phenomenal!

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Another nice thing about Mrs. Smith's Signature Deep Dish pies is that they are, well, deep! Lots and lots of pie goodness, and they don't skimp on the fruity filling. It's a pretty good deal, in my opinion. And the price ir right, too. Most pie ingredients are crazy expensive, even if you bake from scratch.

So if you're looking for a yummy holiday pie or maybe something to snazz up a family dinner, definitely check out Mrs. Smith's Signature Deep Dish pies. Also check out Mrs. Smith on Facebook and Pinterest for mouth-watering ideas and photos.


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Paint the Town Red.. or, Pink

January 9, 2013

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This post brought to you by Hpnotiq. All opinions are 100% mine.

… but first see what's "in," right?

This is perhaps the first holiday season that I actually relaxed and did nothing for a time. I usually work right through the holidays, but the end of the year was really stressful and busy, and I knew I'd better get some "down" time or I was going to collapse. I took my husband out to dinner, and then my girls and I went on a nice girl's night out, too. It got me hankering for a bit more of those "hair down music up!" nights. It was SO GOOD to enjoy myself! Why have I been waiting so long?!

There's a cute new website up for those of you who love to go out. It's called Primp & Prep and it's from the Hpnotiq website. It targets young women who want to have fun, safe and memorable moments out or in. Here's the scoop:

*Discover some really delicious cocktail recipes for your own home parties, including the pretty Stiletto Sangria, Blue Breeze Party Mix and Snowflake Martini (it looks beautiful).
*Dress to impress but also learn how to dress properly for the occasion. Read what men think about your super-tight mini-cocktail dress or neon-pink fuzzy stilletos before wearing them to the dance.
*Learn makeup secrets of your favorite celebrities and learn how to enhance your own natural beauty with terrific make-up tips.
*Discover relationship pitfalls and avoid the "first text message" blunder with some good, womanly advice.
*ALWAYS drink responsibly. It is illegal for people under age 21 to drink alcoholic beverages. Never drink and drive. Getting drunk and acting like an idiot can ruin a nice night REALLY fast.
*Check out the latest music and funny trends so you won't be tongue-tied when meeting new friends.
*The site isn't only for girls. Guys can find tips on music, fashion, and how to treat that lovely lady of yours.

It's a cute site, and while it's geared for younger women, it has some excellent recipes. The presentations are so pretty!



Check it out! Remember: You must be 21 years or older to drink alcoholic beverages and as always, please remember to drink responsibly



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The Magic of Pet Phermones

November 7, 2012

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This post brought to you by Comfort Zone® products. All opinions are 100% mine.

About six months ago, we got a Comfort Zone® product with cat pheromones to help with Livvy's, uh, sanity-management problems. As a half-Siamese, she can be a little…. shall we say "high strung." During the summer, we went on a few vacations without her, and needless to say, the poor baby was grouchy as all get-out, scratching the new sofas, griping and complaining…. Enter cat pheromone heaven. 🙂


Does she look like she's feeling good, or what? LOL. We decided to try the the Comfort Zone® with D.A.P.® (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) product for the two Yorkies. They are crazy animals, crazy. Barking, yipping, and peeing. UGH. I think it's mostly their nature (everyone knows that Yorkies bark, yip, and pee), but I wanted to see if the dog pheromones would work on them. We've had the product for 30 days (the box says to allow 90 days to see the full effect), but I have noticed that the dogs are, in general, a lot calmer and happier. Yay for pheromones!!!


So far, so good. I think it's working. It's so nice not to have a cat who scratches the stuffings out of my furniture, and dogs who don't run around in crazy, agitated circles when a leaf blows by the window. If you're interested, check out the Comfort Zone® product at pet specialty stores like Petco and PetSmart on online. You can also see more information at the Facebook website. I can't believe this stuff works, but it does!

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