Friday, December 20, 2019

Don't Stress Over Customer Success Over The Busy Holiday Season

Customer success is hugely important at any time of the year but it is vital to succeeding during the holiday season. I feel like an expert after the issues and problems I’ve had over the past couple of months, especially during the big sale days such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday. I frequent most of the same shops online and offline and I am always in the market for new businesses. If something new catches my eye (or my kid’s eyes) or I see a brand who brings something new to the table. (Typically on social media.) I love to seek out new, unique brands and products and depending on their “attitude”. I may or may not make a purchase and I may or may not come back year after year, month after month. If I fall completely in love with the brand or whatever it is they’re selling, I’m probably going to tell everyone I know about them whether online or offline. Being a business owner myself, I try to reverse the roles and fix what I need on the business end.

Attracting customers is essential if you want to stay in business! This is where your marketing comes into play.  A social media presence is a must these days and if you throw in a customer service team or a customer service representative to operate online, you’re golden!

There are so many companies out there with active social media accounts and then there are some who are nowhere to be found. Personally, I prefer a company that is active online, available to help with questions and maybe even troubleshoot any technical issues. A little sense of humor or your brand’s own personality also wouldn’t hurt! I’m sure you’ve seen Tweets from some of the extra hilarious brands. (Mainly Wendys) While there are a few others out there who emulate the Wendys Twitter account, some failing, some holding their own, there are others who are doing their own thing and doing quite well. Of course, this isn’t necessary to survive but, it does get people talking and sharing online… 

Wendy’s isn’t just a funny account. They are there every single day, replying, advertising, tackling customer complaints, and fixing any problems that may pop up. If you ever read their Tweets and replies, including those to customer complaints, you’ll find that they take a very friendly approach and this satisfies the customer, more often than not. It seems they’re sometimes, “too cool” for many to really want to flip out or argue. The customer just wants the situation resolved so they can get back to eating their fries and reading and Retweeting their Tweets. There are a lot of brands out there to take lessons from and they all share the same thing in common. They are often there, never too busy to respond to a customer and they resolve the problem swiftly and with grace. Thes interactions aren’t just being noticed by that one customer but by many others who are aware of the type of personality your brand has. New customers are interested in knowing how hard it will be to get in contact with you and how simple resolutions will be. 

Of course, not everyone is on Twitter or Facebook. You’ll still need a team to respond to emails, calls, even letters. The most important thing is to stay on top of your customers and make yourself as available as possible so that they and others can see how much you actually care. Make your customer service availability public information. One of the most annoying tasks for a busy customer, especially during the holiday season, is having to chase after a brand just to ask a question. If you don’t already have an email newsletter or a blog, now is a great time to start one! You can make these things easy to find directly on your website and at the bottom of every email. 

Unless you are a brand who makes the only one of it’s kind with absolutely nothing to compare it to and positively nothing at all in this galaxy comes anywhere close to whatever that thing is, you’re going to need to retain your customers. In other words, keep them. Win them over and make sure they won’t ever be tempted to leave. No, there is no need to hand out millions of dollars in free products to keep them. This is also where special sales or discounts come in but, for the most part, selling a quality product, standing out from the rest, listening to concerns, complaints, resolving issues, letting your customer know you’re grateful. Customer success plays a vital role in any business. No matter how big or small.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

5 Tips For Younger-Looking Skin

Over time, your skin can go through changes. For example, it may lose its elasticity and no longer hold moisture as well as it used to. When this happens, it is easier for wrinkles and other age-related skin issues to occur.

Wrinkles, age spots, crepe-y skin, and so on not only change the way you look. They can also change the way you feel about yourself. However, there are ways that you can keep your skin looking younger, longer.

1. Aesthetic Treatments

Facial rejuvenation services and other aesthetic treatments can help to prevent lines and wrinkles from forming and even to minimize the appearance of those that are already there. With a wide variety of such treatments available from a dermatologist, you are likely to find one that works for you.

2. Sunscreen

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can have adverse effects on your skin, such as wrinkles or hyperpigmentation. You should get into the habit of using sunscreen on a daily basis whatever the weather. Choose one with an SPF of at least 30.

3. Hydration

All the cells in your body need water to function properly. Dehydrated skin cells are more susceptible to wrinkling. However, your body rations water, sending it to the vital organs first. Your skin is not a high priority, so you need to drink a lot of water to keep your skin hydrated. Additionally, you should also use a moisturizer after bathing to keep moisture on your skin where it will do it some good.

4. Gentleness

Avoid the use of harsh chemical products and hard scrubbing to remove makeup. Instead, use water-based soap and oil-based cleansers. This will help prevent wrinkles by preserving the collagen in your skin, which can break down with harsh treatment.

5. Vitamins

Vitamin C and antioxidants derive from vitamin A help to prevent wrinkles by either fortifying skin to prevent damage or reversing certain types of damage when it does occur. You can include these vitamins in your diet by eating certain food or using supplements. You can also use skin serums that include them.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Family Traditions For The Holidays

One of my very favorite things to look forward to during the holidays as a kid was a brand new, cozy, warm pair of Christmas pajamas. Every Christmas Eve we would visit relatives and eat and open gifts at my grandparent's house. We were always excited to get back home because we would have pajamas waiting for us and sometimes even a new pair of slippers! This was always one of my most favorite family traditions so of course, I kept this one for my own kids. We are also fortunate enough to have the Official Santa Norad Tracker so we always have this on one of the laptops in the kitchen. (If you haven't already included this into your family's traditions, your little ones would be thrilled to track where Santa is and play some games and learn about other parts of the world!

When my daughters were a bit younger, we used to find matching Christmas PJs for them and their dolls. Unfortunately, I was only able to find the cute sets for girls and their favorite dolls in toddler sizes and sometimes up to a size 6. (Why don't these pajama companies think of bigger sizes and our favorite teddy bears or Snoopy stuffed toys?!) Really though, there were a few times I found some adorable matching sets for mom and daughter. I even found matching pajamas for dad and son! I did order those a few years back but they only ever wore them at the same time on Christmas Eve!

Along with matching PJs from Lazy One, cookies are a must! I must admit, baking cookies on Christmas Eve goes much more smoothly if you make some of the dough ahead of time. I usually make the sugar cookie dough ahead of time because those are always the cookies that need the most time for the little artists to decorate. If I didn't cheat a little bit, we'd be up all night. Or at least I would be!

We live in a rural area so this may be odd to some people but we have Santa parades through town thanks to our local Lions Club and fire departments. Each fire department brings Santa through on a Saturday night during December and then the biggest and final parade is on Christmas Eve! It's the most fun tradition of all! The fire trucks are decorated with lights and at the end of the parade, you'll see Mr. and Mrs. Claus! Their elves run around to each of the houses dropping off popcorn balls and Hershey's Kisses for all of the kids and then it's time to get letters to Santa written and finally, off to bed.

This is when I can make a fresh pot of coffee and start preparing the gifts and stockings for Santa to fill.

I'd love to read about your family traditions for the holidays! Please leave a comment and let us know what your family will be doing in just a couple of weeks while they wait for Santa!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Stella & Dot Gift Guide

** This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. **

I found a few of my most favorite things on the Stella & Dot website for the holidays! (This is way too hard considering I kind of made a list for myself and for family and friends. My list is a little longer. OK. A LOT longer!)

I love all pinks, fuschias, glitters, and shimmers when it comes to lip products. Especially lip glosses and lip stains. I started scrolling down the Stella & Dot Ultimate Holiday Edit and the very first thing that popped out at me was this stunning shade of fuschia! It is a limited edition shade so it's kind of a big deal and crucial that you snag it ASAP! Fuschia is a gorgeous color for anyone no matter who you are!

This is Ever Forever Longwear Liquid Lip Color so yes, yes, indeed there are more shades! You can find them all when you shop the Ultimate Edit Collection! These lip colors glide on like a gloss but dry down to a matte color that lasts all day and all night long. In this day and age with a gazillion liquid lip colors and formulas, it seems not many stand out in the crowd but, Stella & Dot have managed to do exactly that by adding their signature antioxidant Magnolia Oil to this lip formula to help condition and protect your lips! I've tried at least 2 dozen different types of liquid lip colors and have yet to find the one brand that fits me 100% so, I'm thinking this one is it.

One thing I learned (and this probably isn't new to everyone. Just me.) But, I have a tendency, no, an addiction, to lip glosses and so I am constantly reapplying throughout the day and night. I only use very light touchups when wearing liquid lip colors but I either dab white eyeshadow and in the center of my lips and then shine it up with gloss or add glitter or mix colors up. However, Stella & Dot recommends wearing their lip colors alone since adding anything over the could make your long-wearing lip color into short wearing lip color! It made sense after I thought about it and it answered some questions I've had about some of the so-called all day all night long-wear colors. This will be a hard habit to break but if it means keeping lusciously, smooth, bright, fuschia lips, I'm so doing it! 

Ok, I can't get over how adorably sweet this Santa Sack is! What a perfectly cute way to transport gifts this season! You can also add a pink rectangle engravable hanging tag. I just might buy a few of these so I can keep one for stashing and transporting gifts and maybe personalize a couple and fill with gifts so the recipients can reuse them for the same thing! 

I would also use this super cute bag for storing toiletries and other important and essential things when going on overnight trips! 

What do I spend more on than makeup products? Skincare! Especially since I've been in my 40's! I'm a total sucker for face masks, facial oils, creams, cleansers, eye creams, all of it! I also have 2 daughters so I feel like I'm constantly buying beauty products. 

I try my best to stay up to date on everything and anything skincare and I'm always anxious to try products that will help me with glowing skin. That's just what this Ever Glowify Skin Softening Metallic Mask will help you achieve. This will help immensely with late nights, little sleep, hectic schedules, late-night or all-night celebrations and of course, New Years'. 

Stella & Dot's Ever Glowify Mask can help to brighten and hydrate your skin, smooth fine lines, and wrinkles, and restores radiance. Some of the ingredients include wintergreen leaf extract, mineral-enriched water, kaolin clay, and lactic acid. 

You can purchase this mask by itself or together with a brush to help with applying. Of course, this would make an excellent gift for someone on your list but go ahead and grab one for yourself. With all of the busy days and nights coming up, you'll need some time to relax at home. Schedule an all-girl spa sleepover or spa day and bake some cookies, grab some slippers, a good movie, and get your skin all glowy and beautiful! (You may be able to add a bonus for yourself by either finding a consultant or signing up with Stella & Dot yourself and host a party while you're at it! This could be a great opportunity to earn some extra cash or products and help your friends "de-stress" during the holiday season and knock some gifts off of their own lists!) 

I love rings and pearl bracelets and silver! I've always wanted a charm bracelet but never seem to find one that screams, "That's totally me!" But, I fell in love with this charm the second I saw it while scrolling down the Ultimate Edit Collection. 

This is another one of those, buy a few, make sure you keep one for yourself, type of gifts. These custom cut, glass jewels will surely catch everyone's attention. I can't stop admiring it and I'm just looking at the photos! I can't imagine how pretty this will be in real life! I also love the name of this charm. I think it fits perfectly!

This charm fits on all mesh and leather bracelets, all multi-chain necklaces, and all pendants. 

What did you find on the Ultimate Edit Collection for yourself or your gift list? I would love to see what caught your eye! Please leave a comment and let me know if you found the perfect gift at Stella & Dot!

Three Ways Every Parent Should Plan Ahead

p>When you're caring for young children, it can be tough to balance all of life's responsibilities. While it's very normal and even expected to let some details fall through the cracks, failure to meet some deadlines could result in serious headaches down the road. If you're a parent, make sure you plan ahead for these important events so you don't find yourself in a tough or disappointing situation.

Child Care and School Enrollment

You should begin the process of searching for child care Tampa Palms and private school options approximately one year prior to the intended start date. This is especially true of schools and facilities in high demand. Be sure to inquire about the current number of available spaces and registration deadlines for the upcoming year. If you're unsure about your top choice, it may be wise to register at your top two or three options. While you may be out a few dollars in fees, it could be a much better alternative than being stuck with a location that isn't the best solution for your family.

Annual Medical and Dental Examinations

It's important to stay on top of annual medical and dental checkups for obvious health reasons. Additionally, many schools require proof of certain examinations, screenings and immunizations by a specific date in order to enroll or remain in class. Many pediatric offices fill up quickly, so schedule your annual visits as soon as possible. Some offices will allow you to schedule up to a year in advance. If your office does not set a reminder to call back the moment they'll set up an appointment for you.

Special Clubs, Classes and Sports

If your child is interested in participating in a special activity, start searching for options at least two months prior to the beginning of the class, club or sports season. These types of groups tend to fill up quickly, especially in highly populated areas. Register early to avoid disappointment.

For better options and more peace of mind, be sure to prioritize these important events in your child's life.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Is Your Small Business Sales Tax Compliant?

One of the last things anyone ever wants to receive in the mail is a notice from your taxing authority explaining that errors have been found or that they require more documentation from you. It doesn't ever seem to matter if you are guilty of cheating on your taxes or not keeping records, you could have everything documented and filed and sent in a timely manner every time, most of us still start stressing out when we receive a notice like this.

These days, thanks to the Internet, we have so many possibilities for entrepreneurs and it's so much easier to sell our products and services across the country and even around the world. While this may seem to be simple enough, depending on what you're selling, you have to be sure to keep on top of all of the legalities and laws that surround businesses and taxes. Especially those that cross state lines.

Most of us have had to, unfortunately, pay sales tax on most of what we buy. There are differences depending on which state you live in but, for the most part, sales tax can sometimes be a hindrance when shopping for big-ticket items. It can also be a huge obstacle when you are in charge of collecting sales tax from your customers and clients and when you have to be sure you're paying it on time. Wherever you live, it is very important to keep up with sales tax compliance.


Trying to determine who you are responsible to pay and which customers you are responsible for charging can feel like a nightmare at first. This is a fairly easy task if you have a home office or sell from your home. But, if you are selling through Amazon's FBA program (Fulfillment By Amazon) you send products to Amazon first so technically, you could be responsible for collecting sales tax from customers where Amazon sells as well. 

Basically, if you have an office in a state, you are responsible to collect and pay sales tax in that state. If you aren't living in a state but you have an employee or employees in another state, this could make you responsible for paying sales tax. The same goes for any time you or an employee travels to another state to perform services or to sell a product. 

The word, "nexus" is a word the law uses to distinguish the connection between the seller and the state. This also can differ depending on which state you're dealing with. This varies from state to state and again, can change at any time. A state will usually consider a physical presence or an economic connection will create a nexus meaning, you should definitely check in with each and every state you are doing business with or in. 

Prepare And Pay

As with practically everything else, the state just wants to take their share of anything you might be earning in their state. My husband and I own a trucking company and each quarter, we have to report each mile and each gallon of fuel purchased for each truck so that the states can either take their share or give us a refund. (Yes, we rarely see refunds, but, it happens!) I thought this was ridiculous back when we first started. I mean, we actually have to report how many miles were driven in each state and where the fuel was purchased so that the states could determine whether or not we owed them money. For instance, if we purchased cheaper fuel in a neighboring state and then drove through our state (PA), PA will say, "Ok, you owe us for the money it would have cost you to fuel up the truck here." So, they pretty much have you no matter where you turn. Collecting sales tax from your customers to pay into the state they live in is the same concept. Thanks to the Wayfair sales tax case, in 2018, the US Supreme Court decided that you can establish "nexus" through economic activity alone. 

You may or not be affected by this in some states. A lot of this will go by the thresholds that each state has set for businesses. For instance, Colorado has a threshold of $100,000 in sales or 200 or more separate transactions. They didn't make this easy for any of us but as long as you stay on top of it all, it shouldn't hurt so bad in the long run.

Record everything and keep solid records and your job will be much easier whether you file monthly, quarterly, or annually. Not to mention, if you were to receive any terrifying letters, you could easily find what you need and get it where it needs to be promptly. 

I know it's easier to throw worrisome notices off to the side. Especially when they come on a Friday or even a Saturday. But, whether you plan to or not, it's easy for this to be forgotten or to be put off and typically, these notices don't give a whole lot of time for you to respond. The quicker you can get to it, the better and the quicker you can get back to your life and your business of course. 

Start a system of some kind. It doesn't have to be 200 spreadsheets or numerous software programs. You could always check with a tax advisor or keep on top of laws for each state on your own. As long as you have accurate, up to date information, and you follow the laws and keep records, you'll get through any potential audit. 

Once you understand who you have to pay and when the next step would be to pay your tax bills on time and keep any receipts and bank records. Sales tax filing doesn't have to be a frightening experience. (It isn't often but, the Department of Revenue can make mistakes too!) Take a night off or buy yourself some new slippers or lots of chocolates to celebrate! (Just be sure if you're buying out of state, to pay your state's use tax if applicable!) 

Baby Gift Guide

So, the holidays are here again and depending on where you live, you're either swimming and spending lots of time outdoors or you're stuck inside your house with the heat on, wearing hooded sweatshirts and bundling up in blankets. I'm in PA so we're sort of in-between but closer to the sweatshirts, cranking the heat up at nighttime, and buying what's left of the greenhouse produce at the local farms. No matter where you are, you probably already started shopping for gifts or maybe you're dreading the whole shopping deal. I kind of dread it but I do a lot of shopping online so it's not so painful or even dreadful.

We have a new grandson in our family! We're trying to get him to his first hockey game but this probably won't be starting until after the holidays. It's been a few years since I've had to search for baby gifts since our granddaughters are already in school so I've been checking out some of this season's best deals for the tiniest ones.

My granddaughters absolutely love to go for walks and go to the park and their new little brother will be joining them again as soon as the weather is a bit warmer. I've been checking on good quality strollers and reading reviews for different children's strollers and stumbled upon a website that sells not just strollers but toys, clothing, bath products, and even baby laundry products from some of my favorite brands! This makes it so much easier since I don't have to order everything from several different websites.

I found these super sturdy, Bugaboo strollers which are perfect for families with more than one child since some of them can be converted to a double stroller and they all have tons of storage space! (Even families with one kid could always use bonus storage!) There are even options for runner strollers too.

If you're looking to create a gift basket or pick up essentials for a new baby or for someone who will be welcoming a new baby soon, you can find products from BabyGanics and The Honest Co too! They even sell baby-friendly cleaning wipes, dryer sheets, Pacifier and Bottle Wipes from Dr. Brown, Noodles & Boo Ultra-Safe Laundry Detergent, gentle foaming hand soap, and dish soap. Violife has some adorable toothbrushes as well!

You can also find books for baby, push toys, puzzles, lots of learning toys, bikes, dollhouses, rattles, tents, playmats, surely something for every baby and toddler on your list! (If you're a parent, you could take advantage of creating your baby registry on this website and easily send to family and friends to make your life and their lives easier.) There is a great variety of types of learning toys and from some top brands too.

If you're nursing or buying for a nursing mom, they have everything from nursing covers to bottles to nursing pillows. You can plan ahead and grab sippy cups or a high chair or buy for the baby's older sibling.

There are lots of brands and so many great options for clothing and shoes, gift sets or if you're stuck or overwhelmed or unsure of what is needed, they make it easy to just purchase a gift card. (Or you can check out their registry if they created one!) This is especially helpful for grandparents because even if we live close by, it is sometimes much easier to receive a list so you know you're buying the right gifts. It's also very easy to store multiple shipping addresses in your account so you can ship your gifts directly to the recipients. This also comes in handy if you want to get something delivered in time for a new baby or a birthday.

I'd love to know what you've found on the Kids land website! Please leave a comment and let us know if you found your favorite brand or maybe a new favorite brand!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Is Business Data Necessary?

These days, everything seems to be about data. From social media to advertisements to small businesses, we are actually all a part of the data that is being collected and analyzed. While this may freak some of us out, (especially when there are breaches!) this is how businesses, no matter the size, determine the best products and services to sell us and the best ways to target those products or services to a specific group or groups of people. 

I’m sure you may have noticed Facebook ads that seem to pop up immediately after discussing say, being hungry for pizza or needing to buy body wash or diapers. Maybe you were searching online for a certain product and Google decided that they can show you numerous ads for those products for the next couple of days. It’s obvious that data is being collected every minute of every day. 

If you own a business, you’re most likely collecting data of some kind so you can decide the best ways to move forward. There are so many programs available online for us to keep track of data. These programs are also great for marketers, non-profits,  webmasters, and bloggers too! There are plenty of options out there depending on how big or how small or how much data you need to keep track of to succeed. If you have other employees or partners who also need to keep track of data, it may be in your best interest to find a program or service that will help you better share this information across your network. 

What is data governance? One of the best definitions you’ll find out there is this: Data governance is a set of principles and practices that ensure high quality through the complete lifecycle of your data. It is imperative that the people who need to can have access to the data they need to have access to without fear of being locked out. Essentially, how you govern your data will determine whether you succeed or not. What is business data?

Everything, literally everything, that has anything to do with your business is business data. For instance, my husband and I own a small trucking company. It still amazes me at the amount of time we spend on compiling data for so many different aspects of the business. From events to new laws for each state to fuel purchased for each truck, where it was purchased, how much the fuel costs, how many miles were driven in each state on which day, and much, much more. It is a very tedious process but without this data, we could have a nightmare on our hands whether it comes to state audits or our taxes. We each keep track of certain things and on different computers. A couple of our employees work from their homes as well so it is crucial that we are all on the same page and able to access each other’s data at any time. 

People, places, things. Rules, contracts, laws. What is important to you and your business. Data is the core of your business or organization. Banks and investors and anyone who has any interest in your business or organization will sometimes require this. Collecting business data is expected anymore so rather than pulling an all-nighter (and hoping you can find a few others to do the same.) to gather this information for an audit or even a bank if applying for a line of credit. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way over the years and now I am very meticulous and sometimes maybe even overbearing at times when asking my husband where or when data for a different department will be entered. Being prepared and always being on top of everything will be extremely beneficial for your business! Not only does it help with your stress levels but it shows potential clients, investors, customers, that you are on top of your game. Beyond that, having your business data governed and functioning properly across all levels and departments could help you with any potential legal issues and will always make you look more professional. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Instrument Care Tips

An instrument is a major investment. Taking on a new hobby or adding to an existing collection in the form of an additional musical instrument is not to be taken lightly, so it's important to understand how to properly care for one. Below are some basic ways to extend the life of an instrument and ensure that the music continues playing as long as possible, from pianos in southern California to guitars Boston MA


This may seem obvious, but for new instrument owners, it's worth mentioning that climate control can be absolutely critical to the longevity of an instrument. When temperatures drop too low or grow to extreme highs with changes in humidity, the results can be devastating. These kinds of dramatic changes can warp the body of the instrument, especially string instruments that are made of wood in highly specific ways. If an instrument is being transferred from the cold into a warmer room and vice versa, let the instrument warm up on its own before playing. Keeping the instrument in a space with the steadiest temperatures possible will help the integrity maintain. 


Believe it or not, cleaning an instrument is about more than just making it look nice. Cleaning and polishing an instrument helps to prevent rosin and dust from piling up in places where it shouldn't. Neglecting this habit can lead to sticky keys, damaged strings, and instruments sounding generally less than stellar and out of tune. If strings need to be replaced, doing so one at a time is actually better for an instrument. 


Lastly, if an instrument needs repair, it is much better to take the instrument into the hands of a professional. Instrument repair can be extremely complicated, and trying to fashion a repair at home can lead to more damaging results. While a professional may seem more expensive in the moment, it is significantly better in the long run. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Snow Day Survival Fun For Kids

Winter is one of my most favorite times of the year! I guess it kind of depends on where you live since there are some places that rarely even see snow or even worse, never see snow! I've lived in East Central PA and Northeast PA all of my life so we typically have plenty of snow days each year. We live in a much more rural area now then we did previously so it did take a few storms for us to realize we needed to plan and stock just a bit more than we used to if we want to have a Cozy Winter!

If you have children or grandchildren then you already know how crucial it is to have an abundance of games, snacks, toys, books, tissues, toilet paper, diapers, first aid supplies, and a gazillion other items on hand. Even when you're not stuck indoors! I always like to keep a list of everything that's vital to being stuck indoors whether it's for the kids to be occupied or my own sanity.

Plan For Outages

Remember when we didn't have cell phones and WiFi? Actually, I miss those days! I think that's one of the reasons I really don't mind being stuck indoors during a storm. The kids even look forward to it too! Well, with the exception of thunder according to my youngest,,, 

Even if you have a generator, it isn't too much fun if you lose power for too long. You don't want to have to throw away anything from your freezer or fridge and you will start getting cold soon enough if it's a winter storm. When you have a few hours or overnight without power, you can still make the best of it. 

Slumber party in the living room! Hopefully, you have some batteries, flashlights, and lanterns to use and lots of pillows, comforters, sleeping bags, or just big, comfy blankets anything that can provide hours of warmth!  Candles are a bonus in some cases but you certainly don't want to have any candles lit while you're asleep. (Or in a blizzard or any kind of storm with wind!) Not only will a sleepover in the living room help keep everyone warm, but kids are also usually more comfortable making a game out of it and doing something special. Use that time to read stories, eat snacks, play card games, (even board games if you have enough light!) 

PS Don't forget you could also charge your cell phones in your vehicle so you can keep up to date with important information and updates!  

The Essentials 

Besides batteries, an ample supply of food and water, toys, games, first aid kits, any prescription medication, whatever it is you and your family need in the event you're stuck for a few days, the best advice I can give is to prepare! 

Most weather gives some kind of warning these days. We may not be told exactly what or when but, we kind of get a warning or see an advisory pop up. I take those advisories and warnings seriously because you really never know. 

One of my biggest fears is to be stuck inside without power and not have any clean dishes, laundry, bottles of water for brushing teeth, drinking, cleaning and not having enough food. I keep a list of specific things we would need over the course of a few days and always keep those things on hand. Most importantly, prescription medications, feminine products, cleaning wipes, etc. But, I also run around catching up on laundry, dishes, making sure all of the blankets are washed, dried and available and batteries, flashlights, and weather radios are closeby and in proper working condition! You wouldn't want to run out of clean underwear during a power outage, right? 

Besides having a clean, spotless house with plenty of clean undies, make sure you also have something to occupy your time! Whether it's pen and paper, books, magazines, games, it's good to keep a box or a basket close that has all of your favorite goodies too. Your little ones will be having so much fun "camping out" and will be content with crayons and cookies but, depending on the severity of the storm, you may need something to keep yourself content. Make sure not to forget about the grown-ups! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Legend Of Mr. Ween Review (And Link For Your Own Free Copy!)

It has been quite some time since I've actually read a genuine, Halloween, story. I'm not sure what happened over the past few years or maybe decade but, the horror movies and books just don't seem to be as creative or original as they used to be. Well, there were a couple of really unforgettable horror movies now that I think about it. But only a couple as compared to dozens in previous years...

Halloween is one of my very favorite holidays! There are decorations that stay up all year and we always find new decorations to add to the mix! We often take trips to our local drive-in to watch horror movies and take part in the haunted woods and other fun things they have set up for Halloween fans. (Depending on the weather of course!) Halloween is just a fun time of the year that doesn't have to only take place on October 31st. You can plan parties, movie all-nighters, trips to local haunted houses, it's a holiday that can involve everyone no matter your age! Of course, no Halloween is complete without a good ghost story or a spooky tale!

The Legend Of Mr. Ween takes place in 1905 with a gentleman named, Hal.  He is traveling to Boston to seek work and ultimately finds something in Treattown. Hal is misunderstood by some of the locals but, he does win some of them over too! The author doesn't waste any time. You'll be brought to the story immediately and your imagination will run wild! It is a fantastic tale of how some of our most loved Halloween decorations came to be. (I'll give you a hint... it has to do with pumpkins!) This is a great story to add to your Halloween tradition, whatever that may be. Yes, it is kid-friendly although, I've noticed there is a kid version out there somewhere too! I am a horror fan but, I also appreciate fairy tales and classic literature and all kinds of books and The Legend Of Mr. Ween is definitely an unforgettable story! (and at 58 pages, you will be able to read this with your children quite easily!)

This story is for all ages and very easy to follow along. It is beautifully written and Daren Ross is a flawless author! His style of writing will remind you of good, old fashioned novels and this story will take you back to visit Treattown in 1905 yourself! There are a few times you will become so deeply immersed in this book that you'll start to wonder, "Is it 2019 or did I travel back in time?" If you aren't a horror fan or a gore fan, you will be delighted! If at times you start to wonder if this will turn into something dreadfully scary, have no fear! There are tons of little twists and tricks and turns. Don't worry horror fans, you will be pleasantly surprised with this fascinating tale of one of Halloween's most prized possessions! (Trust me here, the author adores Halloween as much as the rest of us!)

Click here for a free copy and don't forget to let me know what you thought of this spectacular cook!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Don't Make These Keto Mistakes

If you haven't heard of the keto diet by now, well, you're obviously not online, you don't read magazines or newspapers or watch television or listen to the radio or communicate with people at all! The keto diet is more than a fad. It's been being used to help people who suffer from diseases such as diabetes and epilepsy. Even some cancers and Alzheimers are thought to be helped by the keto diet. (Of course, you should always check with your doctor before starting any diet plan.)

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet which is quite similar to the Atkins diet. With the right exercise plan and following the proper menus, this could prove to be a very successful plan. However, there are always some myths out there and some mistakes that beginners make and maybe some that a seasoned dieter may have overlooked.

Typical Keto Mistakes

We're always told to drink lots and lots of water. We should be drinking a sufficient amount of water each day. This is especially crucial when you're on the keto diet. Your body won't be able to store as much water without carbs. Starchy foods hold water and with keto, you're eliminating the starchy foods. 

1) If you're not a huge water-guzzling fan, you could take a few simple steps to keep hydrated! 
Ice-pops are a great way to stay hydrated and you could create your own concoctions at home. Fruits, water enhancers, even vegetables are a great way to add to your ice-pops and make them your own and get creative! 

Water enhancer drops are a super easy and convenient way to flavor your water and in a healthy way! Be sure to double-check the ingredients and nutritional values on the bottle! While most of the water enhancer drops are all-natural with no sugar added, somehow, my kids managed to find some with added sugar. Not a lot but enough to throw your diet off track if you don't pay attention. 

If you're anything like my husband or probably the majority of people on the keto diet, you might enjoy some vodka once in a while. Especially since you can't drink beer anymore! There aren't a whole lot of mixers available that will work. (At least according to my husband!) But, you can use this as a good way to add even more water by filling your glass with ice. (Bartenders and bar owners also use this trick but for other reasons!) 

2) Growing up, we were told, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!" and "Eat your fruits and veggies!". Sure, there are tons of reasons why fruits and veggies can be extremely beneficial for anyone's health. But, be cautious since there are fruits and vegetables with sugars and carbohydrates already packed in there naturally. However, produce is very helpful for your diet and maintaining your health. Keto or not. You just need to be sure to eat the right types of produce. You can still have blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. just smal amounts. Non-starchy vegetables such as; cauliflower, cucumbers, and broccoli are also OK choices. Always do your research, consult with your doctor or anyone you may trust regarding which foods are or are not safe to eat. 

3) I've seen memes and read people online who think to be on a keto diet must be "fun' and oftentimes, they'll discuss how they are planning on starting the diet so they can, "eat as much bacon" as they want. While that would be such a glorious dream come true, it's definitely NOT a good idea to just eat a pound or more of bacon each day. (Yes, this is the same for butter fans too!) This isn't an easy diet and it most certainly doesn't give you a pass to just be careless and eat the wrong foods or a lot of the wrong foods. Yes, yes, you can eat bacon and sausage but, be reasonable and rather than eating saturated fats, trade some in for unsaturated, very healthy fats. 

Nuts and avocados are great for keto dieters and for use in all sorts of recipes! (For instance, if you're a cheese lover who is, unfortunately, lactose intolerant, you could easily make cheese from cashews!) You can also obtain a good amount of unsaturated fats from olive oil and flaxseed oil. 

As long as you do your research and chat with your doctor, you'll most likely have much success with this diet! There are a variety of boosters, protein powders, accelerators, all kinds of help in the market. I would suggest doing research and reading reviews on the best exogenous ketones before making a decision on who you want to give your hard-earned money to. (Another check with the family doctor wouldn't hurt either!) You'll find that there are trustworthy, quality brands out there who are helping others just like you! 

Monday, September 23, 2019

IG Charcoal BBQ Fall Grill GIveaway

IG Charcoal BBQ Fall Grill Giveaway! (1 Winner ~ $459 RV) Ends 10/31 @IGBBQ @SMGurusNetwork

Welcome to the IG Charcoal BBQ Fall Grill Giveaway!

1 Winner ($459 RV)

This giveaway is part of our Fall Gift Guide – Stop by to see all the giveaways and great products.

Host is Deliciously Savvy

Below is a list of all the bloggers involved in the gift guide giveaways.
This giveaway's Sponsor is:


1 Lucky Winner Will Win An IG Charcoal BBQ Grill Valued At $459! 

See the review HERE.



This giveaway/sweepstakes is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. This Giveaway is valid to continental United States residents only, Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 10/31/19. The winner will have 48 hours to email their information back to mcushing7 at hotmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The giveaway is not valid where prohibited! By entering you are authorizing us to collect the information on the form below, this information is used only to contact the winner! No purchase necessary, Void where prohibited by law, and the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Winners are chosen randomly by the Giveaway Tools program. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Melissa Cushing at mcushing7 (at)hotmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

3 Lesser-Known Swedish Inventions

Sweden may be known for IKEA and their Swedish meatballs, but more so than that, it is a land of innovation. Medical devices like pacemakers and ultrasounds were invented in Sweden, as well as safety devices such as the standard 3-point seatbelt. Great inventions have come out of Sweden, including a few items that may surprise you.

Electric Candolier

The first item on this list has recently been gaining popularity outside of Nordic countries, despite being invented in 1934. The Swedish advent candelabra was originally a German tradition but became popular in Sweden in the early 1800s. Oskar Andersson invented the first electric candolier to prevent fires that started due to candles burning all night. His creation was so popular that even today around Christmastime, windows around the world are lit up by his invention.

Adjustable Spanner

Next is the adjustable spanner, more commonly known in the United States as the crescent wrench. Its invention was originally attributed to an Englishman in 1842, but the modern design was invented by a Swedish man named Johan Petter Johansson. This wrench has gone through several iterations but the “skiftnyckel,” as the Swedes call it, has maintained its particular design featuring a moveable jaw controlled by a nut or a bolt.

The Walker

Third, the walker was invented by a Swedish woman named Aina Wifalk. In her 20s, Wifalk contracted Polio which left her struggling to walk. In 1978, Wifalk displayed her first example of what would later become a walker which included a stronger frame, a seat and larger wheels. She invented the walker so that others like her would be able to move around more freely. On top of that, she refused to patent the design so that it would remain inexpensive for those who needed it.

To learn more about Sweden’s contribution to the modern world, take some time to search the internet for more inventions. Take note, in particular, of the zipper and the safety match (the matches we use today).

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Bringing Healthcare Home

Going to the doctor can be unpleasant. It's very public, involves a lot of waiting and can feel impersonal at times. There's also a lot more to a person's well-being than just medicine. There are options to bring the healthcare you need to where you are instead and receive treatment in the comfort of your own home.

If You Are Elderly

Geriatric care is dynamic and unique to each individual. It expands well beyond health care to encompass legal advice, counseling, family communication and the tasks of daily life. It's a good idea to seek out a service that can coordinate all these aspects for you, rather than trying to keep track of a different phone number for each one. Such a service may even help you organize contacts like these!

If You Have a Special Condition

Certain diagnoses require a higher and more consistent level of care than the average person, like Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Receiving at home health care bethesda md can alleviate the stress of excessive medical outings by coordinating a personalized care plan with qualified nurses who may become familiar enough to be comforting. These plans can range from occasional visits to your own live-in caregiver.

If You Require Daily Assistance

If the care you require is not so much medical, but personal, you are still in luck. Caregivers also exist to provide for the elderly and those that struggle with mobility. Services can include running errands, meal preparation, bathing assistance, chores and companionship. The presence of such assistance can also be tailored to your life; they are there for you as often as you need it.

No matter the situation, resources exist to help you through it. Even if you have friends and family at your side, sometimes outside assistance can make everyone's life easier. Asking for help can be hard, but well worth it.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Do You Need To Use Heat Protectant?

Heat and hair don't play well together, and that is why you need to find a product that will protect your hair when it is styled. That product is a heat protectant, a concoction of oils and other ingredients to moisturize your hair and reduce heat damage. Here are some tips on how to find and use the best heat protectant for relaxed hair.

What Do Heat Protectants Do?

Heat protectants provide extra moisture to help your hair withstand the high temperatures necessary for styling, particularly from straightening irons. Hair strands are made of keratin, with an inner layer filled with water and an outer layer made of overlapping cuticles. When heat is applied, the water in the core of the hair strand evaporates, drying the hair and making it brittle. Choose the best heat protectant for relaxed hair to keep it shiny and healthy.

What Do Heat Protectants Contain?

It might seem counter-intuitive, but the best heat protectants contain oils. Argon oil is a popular ingredient, as are avocado and grapeseed oils. These oils coat the hair shafts forming a protective barrier to keep moisture in during styling. Other ingredients, such as silicone, essential oils, and vitamins help protect hair during styling. Some products are available that are vegan and cruelty-free.

How Do You Use Heat Protectants?

Heat protectants help your hair retain moisture during styling, and you can boost that process with a leave-in conditioner. After washing and toweling your hair, apply a leave-in conditioner and blow your hair dry. Then spray on the heat protectant and style with a straightener or hot rollers. The combination of the two products goes a long way toward keeping your hair shiny and strong. If your hair is already damaged, taking a break from styling and using an extra strong conditioner for several days is a good idea.

The right heat protectant spray can go a long way to giving you the smooth, shiny hair you are looking for. Look for rich oils and use the product together with moisturizers for strong, healthy hair.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Act Fast To Get Out Of A Timeshare Agreement

Congratulations! You've just bought a timeshare. But after a few days, you might be rethinking your decision. Getting out of a timeshare agreement can be tricky but it is not impossible.

Dealing With Buyer's Remorse

That feeling of regret after a major purchase is called buyer's remorse. You may feel that you spent too much money or find that the place isn't all it claimed to be. You could be thinking, "How can I get rid of my timeshare?" The first step is to read the contract carefully and look for a section that addresses canceling or terminating the contract. You may also want to research the laws in your state regarding a cooling off period for real estate purchases. Most states allow buyers to get out of a contract if they act within a few days to a week. If that's the case, you can proceed, but what if the time period has passed? There are still actions you can take.

Weighing Your Options

If you've checked the contract and you are within the rescission or revocation period, you can contact the management company and tell them, "I want to get rid of my timeshare." You will also need to put it in writing. But what happens if the time period has passed? You may be able to sell your share, depending upon the provisions of the agreement. You can hire a real estate agent or try to sell it yourself. Keep in mind that timeshares often don't hold their value and you are not likely to get as much as you paid for it.

Getting Help

If you have been unable to get out of the contract or to sell the timeshare, you can still seek legal advice to see if there is anything you can do. This might include taking the management company to court. If you don't want to get into a legal battle, you might consider giving the property back or selling it to a charity for a nominal sum, like $1.

If you are stuck with a timeshare you don't want, don't give up hope. There are actions you can take and people who can help you to take care of the situation.



What To Look For In A Medical Imaging Center

Having a diagnostic imaging scan can be a stressful process, so it’s important to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible during the procedure. When you are looking for a medical imaging center, be sure to choose one that has trusted and experienced professionals who can provide you with the best care available. Here are some guidelines to help you find the imaging center that best fits your needs.

Advanced Imaging Technologies

Access to the latest imaging technologies is a vital element of a reputable imaging center. Since the quality of its technology can determine the accuracy of the diagnosis you receive, this aspect should not be overlooked during your search. Whether you are visiting the facility for a digital X-ray or a procedure in an Open MRI machine, being examined with state-of-the-art technology can make your visit more successful.

Well-Trained Staff

It is crucial to be serviced by medical professionals who are highly qualified and who have been well trained in the imaging profession. Having knowledgeable and friendly staff around you can make a significantly positive difference in the way you experience your diagnostic scan. When you are under the care of physicians who do their job well, you can feel more at ease during your procedure.

Safe Environment

Needless to say, the imaging center you choose should suggest that standard safety regulations are a priority. Make sure that the facility is clean and comfortable before you undergo your procedure. Basic safety and hygiene is essential at a trusted center, so it’s important to verify that the one you will be visiting adheres to these regulations.

Finding the best medical imaging center for your diagnostic scan is important. Make sure that you’re choosing a facility that puts you at ease and serves you in the most professional way possible.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Collecting Or Investing

If you grew up in the 80s (or even the 50s, 60s, or 70s) you may have shoeboxes filled with things you thought might be worth millions or billions one day. If you’re like me, you thought that every week you earned an allowance or earned money if you ran to the baseball card shop or comic book shop, you were investing in your future. (I thought buying every single Darryl Strawberry rookie card would guarantee enough money for a mansion.) Or at least a big enough house for the 6 kids I planned to have.

Sometimes, I’d buy extra packs and keep half of them sealed since my dad always said they would be worth more if left unopened. I did the same with comic books, stamps, superhero action figures, books, toys from my favorite horror movies, vinyl, and I still do this to this day. I “invest’ in a lot of different things from my favorite bands, movies, I even started investing in stamp collections for my kids. Not to mention, they get to inherit the baseball cards and comic books I have stashed away in shoeboxes and those nice albums with the pockets and pages. The problem is, every time I look something up, it isn’t worth anything. Sure, the hockey jerseys and autographs from our favorite players are worth something to us and you never really know if they make it big, that stuff could go for quite a bit of money. I also wonder if I’ll ever really sell it anyway, even if it ends up being worth a lot. I also wonder how much money I would have available had I saved the money I spent collecting things.

I think my most favorite part of collecting these things are the memories each item holds. I have a story for every single thing I bought over the years and it’s nice to be able to hold onto those memories! There are times when you find out those toy collections you had as a kid would be worth a fortune but, you reached a certain age and ended up selling everything at a flea market or yard sale. (My husband did this with his GI Joe and He-Man collections.) But, there are still ways to manage your investments whether it is in the form of collections or maybe investing in something such as gold or bitcoin or stocks. Or maybe you prefer to collect “grown-up” things like rocks, paintings, gemstones, or watches.

Even if you collect toys and comic books, you may want to check into the laws regarding the amount of money you might earn from your investments. Unfortunately, there are tax laws and you could be hit with a whopping 28% tax. That’s pretty huge when you consider you aren’t allowed to deduct anything for your collectibles. However, if you were investing in stocks, you would be taxed at the same rate but can offset capital gains with losses. Another grown-up thing to think about is homeowners insurance. It isn’t too easy to find a decent policy that will give you your monies worth for every single thing you own. If you have a lot of prized possessions, you may need to bump up your insurance policy. If you want to list each item separately and insure each piece individually, you will need to pay a bit more for your policy and be very thorough in your record keeping. Otherwise, you could just insure the contents of your home with a blanket policy and set the limit for each item. If something unfortunate happens, you may not get the price you paid or the value for it but, you will be able to escape the high prices that come with itemized coverage.

I’ve found that when I check online to try to find what things are worth, what collections are holding up in value, it is a little hard to find a direct answer unless you know what you’re looking for. Sure, people can post on eBay and claim that the Beanie Baby collection they’re selling is worth $50,000 but, is it really? You can say it’s worth whatever you want but if people aren’t buying it, it’s probably not worth much of anything. If you find yourself stuck with a bunch of sports cards and toys and a savings account with a balance of $5, how do you plan on purchasing a house or a car or any of the other cool things your collections were supposed to buy?

While I wouldn’t ever consider getting rid of my collections or even selling them. I may consider if the price is right. Until then, I intend on keeping these things and passing them onto my children in the future. Whatever you choose to do with your investments, you can contact The Associates Home Loan Of Florida to ask for help when you’re ready to buy a home. There are so many ways to earn money these days, especially with the Internet!

If you did make good decisions on your investments and you decided to invest in artwork or diamonds, you’re in a great spot for your future and most likely your children’s future and their children’s futures! There are so many different things to buy and invest in and so many ways to earn money and save money and so many different types of situations and nontraditional income anymore. It’s always super helpful to find advice for your own unique situation. Plus, you don’t have to be a billionaire to buy a new home.

As for your collections, whether they are worth monetary value to anyone or not, you should still find joy in collecting! It would be boring if you had friends over for a few games of pool and you had nothing on the walls or on your bookshelves to look at. Besides, everybody needs a hobby and I am still waiting to find out what happens when we grow up. (and I’m 45!)