Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Two Keys to Surviving a Breakup: Resources and Support

Relationships are easy to enter, hard to maintain, and painful to leave. The first blush of interest and attraction fuels the passion that ultimately leads to commitment. In the midst of a relationship, all sorts of things can go wrong, from the failure to communicate or taking the other person for granted, to infidelity or abuse. The breakup is heart wrenching for both people, regardless of who initiated the break up and even when there is good reason to split. That's why, whether you're on the verge of breaking up, in the throes of separation, or recovering from heartbreak, it's important to spend the time necessary to heal. The best thing you can do to help this process along involves finding the right support and resources.

Books are Wonderful Resources

Whether your goal is to mend a broken heart, win an ex back and get back together, or to simply move on with your life, you can be sure that others have traveled the same path. Because a breakup can make you feel lost, it's extremely helpful to rely on the advice and experiences of others to put you on the path to healing.

For example, if your boyfriend (or girlfriend) left you - and played the blame game in the process - it's natural to feel unlovable and at fault. Yet, if you look at the situation from the perspective that he or she left because of his or her own dysfunctional psychological issues, you can more clearly see that it's really not about you, and you can more freely move on with your life.

On the other hand, perhaps you contributed to the break up of the relationship. Perhaps you didn't express your appreciation and gratitude often enough, or maybe you didn't give your relationship the priority it deserved. It could be that, instead of tending to your relationship garden, both of you were busy doing other things while the weeds took over. If your heart tells you that your relationship is worth fighting for (not fighting over!), a book can help you navigate the waters of getting back together.

Support is Essential

Few breakups happen overnight, so getting the support you need throughout the process is essential. When it comes to breaking up, help yourself by expressing your feelings and reaching out to others. Writing about your feelings, asking others to listen to you vent, seeking out advice, and reading about the experiences of others are all tools that can help you mourn your loss, regain your sense of self, and move on with your life.

Online Support and Resources

A breakup is one of life's most momentous events, but the people who are closest to you are often not very objective. After all, they may have their own agendas in pushing you toward one course of action or away from another, or perhaps they care too much to cause you any further pain.

When you go online, though, you can find sites that provide both a wealth of downloadable books and support-oriented discussion boards. Instant access to books can be a lifesaver, and discussing your situation and reading about those of others can give you the one-day-at-a-time approach that will see you though every stage of the breakup process. The best sites even have breakup blogs, where you can journal your thoughts and feelings, and can read others' stories.

A breakup is extremely difficult, but you don't have to go it alone. Whether your goal is to mend a broken heart or get back together, find the online support and resources you need.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Personalized Wedding Favors - plus a centerpiece for your wedding tables

You have your heart set on personalized wedding favor for your guests. But before you place your order, consider an alternative favor idea which will not doubt wow your guests - personalized magazine covers.

Options abound for how to incorporate personalized magazine covers into your ceremony and party. You can make up a bunch of specialized covers (featuring in jokes, memorable pictures, and clever/sentimental thoughts) for your bridesmaids or groomsmen and present these along with the traditional initialized flasks or purses. Alternatively, you could create a fun fake magazine cover of you and your fiance and put these keepsakes on every table, perhaps raffling them off at some point during the ceremony.

If you want to get super fancy and involved, you can further tailor the magazine covers at your tables by incorporating pictures of the people sitting at your tables into the design layout. For instance, let's say that at table 12, you've seated Grandma Estelle and Uncle Ernie. Your magazine centerpiece could feature a picture of you and your fiance on the front and then have fun pictures of you with your Grandma Estelle and Uncle Ernie on the back along with some cute quotations and captions.

Of course, this kind of detail work can be exhausting - particularly if you're in the rough and tumble of planning your own wedding. That said, this unique centerpiece idea is fun to put together and, most importantly, very cost effective. You can put together your personalized wedding favors and centerpieces online over the course of an hour or two, place your order, and get top quality results delivered quickly.

Best of all, unlike other seemingly personalized wedding favors  (such as home-burned CDs of the special couple's favorite songs), your personalized magazine cover can distill the essence of your relationship in a fun, warm, and really humorous way. Include "headlines" teasing the greatest romantic moments in your relationship, or create a top-20 list cataloging your and your fiance's idiosyncrasies. No doubt everyone at the wedding party will love it, and you'll have a keepsake to last a lifetime.

Ease the burden of planning out your favors and centerpieces today - visit for details on how to get started with your magazine cover adventure.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Want Your Children To Love Books - Go See A Movie!

Reading a book from which a movie is made is almost always a richer experience than simply watching the movie. The experience of savoring the words on the page and allowing yourself to be taken on a journey inspired by the author is sublime. As the author paints a picture with words, your imagination fills in the blanks until the voices of the characters and the images of the settings resonate in your mind.

After reading and thoroughly enjoying a well-written book, watching the movie adaptation can be an interesting experience. The voices and images from your imagination are contrasted by those created by the actors, the director, and the cinematographer. It's not that the experience of watching a movie adaptation is necessarily bad - it's simply different. It presents a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to your children the difference between words on a page and images on a screen - and to have a great family experience in the process.

Almost without fail, your children will agree that while they enjoyed the movie, the experience created by their own imagination is better. Demonstrating to your child that their imagination is more powerful than a hollywood blockbuster is a very liberating and supportive exercise. Believe it or not, going through this process of reading a great book and then seeing the movie actually reinforces your child's love of reading as well as the use of their imagination!

Between now and the end of the year, there are two opportunities to read a great book and then to see the movie adaptation. The movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (PG-13), was released in theaters on November 18, while the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (PG) is set for release on December 9.

As a family, take the opportunity to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire before watching the movie. Discuss which scenes you think will make it into the movie and which they may have to cut. Have family members choose favorite characters, and act out some scenes from the book. These types of activities build excitement and set the stage for seeing the movie together as a family. If you want to go all out, dress in costume to see the movie. Afterwards, discuss how the movie differed from the book, and, more importantly, how it differed from the scenes created in family members' imaginations.

You can follow the same process by reading The Chronicles of Narnia prior to seeing the movie. Younger children may enjoy hearing the classic tale of Chicken Little prior to seeing the Disney movie of the same name. Discuss the moral of the story, and, after watching the movie, talk about how the storyline in the movie demonstrated the principles of the classic.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Threatened With Homelessness?


If you are threatened with or made homeless, call into the Housing and Money Advice Centre as soon as possible.  You will be given advice on what your rights are and where to find help.  You have a right to apply to the Council’s Homelessness team based at the Guildhall.  Ask at the reception to speak to the person who deals with homelessness.

If you are 16 or 17 years old and have been in social services care in the past the Leaving Care Team of Social Services will probably still have a responsibility to provide accommodation.  If you are 16 or 17 years old and have never been in Social Services care, or you are 18, 19 or 20 and were in Social Services care before becoming 18 you will have a priority need for emergency Council housing.  Speak to staff at the Housing & Money Advice Centre or apply to the Homeless Team at the Guildhall


The Housing  & Money Advice Centre provides a free and confidential service to the residents of Northampton on housing and debt issues.

Types of help available at the Centre for those who are homeless or those threatened with homelessness are : -

·    Accommodation lists giving details of privately rented accommodation in and around the Northampton area.
·    Use of a telephone to contact landlords for accommodation.
·    Information and leaflets on most benefits.

Staff are available to discuss your situation and offer advice on a range of issues such as:
·    Finding and keeping accommodation.
·    Renting in the private sector
·    Benefits and budgeting advice.

Assistance is given with completing housing benefit and housing application forms.


Looking at your housing options and advising the best move in the short, medium and long term.
Helping prevent homelessness by advising and supporting you, including attending Court and talking with other agencies.


Provides advice and assistance to tenants in the private sector who are experiencing difficulties and aims to prevent illegal evictions and harassment by landlords.



Offers advice and assistance on money and debt issues relevant to you and your home.  These include:

Rent – mortgage – council tax – hire purchase – electricity – gas – water – banks – catalogues – credit cards – finance – loans – bailiffs – court fines – county court judgements – repossessions.


Once you have found temporary accommodation, you will need to consider your future housing option.  You may consider


This is where you live in someone’s house and pay them an inclusive amount for accommodation and some meals or where you live in a hotel or guest house.  Remember housing benefit does not cover meals or other services


This type of accommodation is available to let from private landlords.  You could get together with one or more friends and rent a house together sharing the living room kitchen and bathroom.  It can be difficult sharing with people you do not know, so make sure you feel comfortable with the other occupants before you agree to share.  The rents can be high as landlords can ask a ‘market rent’ and lettings are often on short term.  Never sign an agreement without seeking advice first.

If you are going to claim housing benefit remember it may be restricted if you are paying above the market rent.

Staff at Housing and Money Advice Centres can help you decide whether you can afford this type of accommodation and whether or not a particular bed-sit offers you value for money.


Some types of employment offer accommodation, such as hotel work, if you are a student, the college may have accommodation


Anyone over 16 can apply to be housed by the council.
Application forms are available from all Borough Council housing offices.  Completed forms can be returned to any office

Once you have made an application don’t forget to notify the Council of any changes in your circumstances, especially if you change address.

Contact Northampton Borough Council on 01604 837890 or the Housing and Money Advice Centre for information and advice on the housing register.


These are organisations which own and rent flats, houses and bungalows.  Some specialise in housing for young single people.  A list of local Housing Associations is available from the Housing and Money Advice Centre.  Most vacancies with Housing Associations are given to people on the Council’s waiting list.


·    Talk to friends
·    Look in the local papers and shop windows for property to rent ads.
·    Northampton Borough Council has a waiting list, try to register on this.  The accommodation may be cheaper than private rented but you will probably have to wait some time for council accommodation.  This also applies to Housing Associations.
·    If you are a student, contact your Welfare or Accommodation Officer or approach your student union representative
·    The Housing & Money Advice Centre has accommodation lists.  Landlords advertise there because it costs them nothing and landlords love free property advertising

If you are offered somewhere to live, don’t be afraid to ask the landlord a lot of questions, especially before signing an agreement – try and have a really good look at the place.

REMEMBER  - private landlords nearly always require rent in advance and a damage deposit

Questions you should ask the landlord

·    You should ask for a written contract and seek advice before you sign it
·    Who pays the electric and water rates?
·    Does the landlord live on the premises?  This will affect your rights
·    Who is your landlord and whereas does he/she live? Landlords are required to by law to provide you with this information
·    Is there an inventory?  If not make your own and give a copy to the landlord.  List everything in the rooms and what condition it is in.  The inventory should be signed by you and the landlord.
·    Find out exactly what the rent is, what you have to pay and what it is for.
·    Ask for a rent book and receipts for any money you pay to the landlord or agent.  If your rent is due weekly,  the landlord should by law provide you with a rent book.
·    Ask to see the Gas Safety certificates for any gas appliances i.e. gas fire, heating

Contact the Housing and Money Advice Centre if you have a problem with this




The Community Support Team is part of the Resources Team.  They offer a service to young people between the ages of 16 and 17
They are based at 196 Kettering Road.  They assist in finding accommodation and give advice on many aspects of young peoples lives i.e. health, education, emotional and behavioural development, identity, family and social relationships, self – care skills or are able to signpost to other agencies

For an appointment contact 01604 620343 Monday – Friday 9.30am – 4.30 pm


If you unemployed, are sick or on a low income you may be entitled to claim benefits.  These could include Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit etc

If money is tight you may benefit from budgeting advice from a debt counsellor at the Housing & Money Advice Centre.

Most benefits are paid weekly or fortnightly in arrears and in some circumstances a Crisis Loan can be considered if you have no means to support yourself until your first benefit payment is due.  This is discretionary interest free payment that will have to be repaid via deductions from your benefit

A Budgeting Loan can be considered when Income Support and Income Based Jobseekers Allowance have been in payment for 26 weeks.  Budgeting Loans can be allowed for household items and rent in advance.  Like a Crisis Loan, a Budgeting Loan is a discretionary interest free payment that will have to be repaid via deductions from your benefit

To enquire about benefits and for advice on how to make a claim contact the Job Centre at the following address:

Jobcentre plus
Frances House
21 Lower Mounts
Northampton NN1 3LY

Telephone  01604 446100

Benefit Enquiry Line 0845 6004258
Social Fund Line 01900 221379


It is difficult to find work if your are homeless.  Casual work may be easier to find but look for permanent rather than temporary work

Most employers expect new employees to work at least a week before paying any wages and you might not always find work that will pay enough to cover the rent.  You may still be entitled to other benefits – Housing & Money Advice staff can advise you of this.

Jobcentres also provide information, advice and various leaflets which you may find helpful in your search for employment 


Many people not working or on a low income can claim help with their rent and should apply to:

Northampton Borough Council
Benefit Services
The Guildhall
Northampton NN1 1DE

Telephone 01604 837700

Application forms are available from the address above.  If you claim Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance you should complete the enclosed housing benefit (NHB1) and council tax benefit forms and hand them to the DWP.  However, you will still need to complete the Council’s Housing Benefit Form.


You should complete a Pre – Tenancy Determination before you sign a tenancy agreement with a private landlord.

This will tell you if Housing Benefit will cover all the rent the landlord is charging before you commit yourself and move in.  Forms are available from Benefit Services and the Housing & Money Advice Centre.

Housing Benefit does not cover any charges included in the rent for food, heating, hot water, lighting or cooking.  You must pay these from your other income / benefit.

When you move into your new accommodation complete a housing benefit form immediately and return it to the Housing Benefit Section.  Do not worry if you cannot supply all the proof and information required on the format once – you can send it in later if you delay returning the form you may lose benefit, and get into rent arrears.


Most single people under 25 who live on their own in self contained privately rented accommodation will not be able to get the full amount of rent paid by Housing Benefit

The Benefit will be based on the lower end of a single room rate assessed by the Rent Officer Service.  This is a market based valuation for a single room with shared toilet and kitchen facilities and this will be the maximum amount of rent that can be used in calculating new claims


All new claims and changes of address claims for privately rented and Housing Association properties now have their Housing Benefit paid in arrears


Landlords who let any sort of property usually take a DEPOSIT from the tenants.  This is kept to cover any costs the landlords may have if the tenant has caused any damage to the to the furniture or fittings.  There are no benefits available to help you pay a landlord any deposit money, try to negotiate.  Sometimes it is worth, if possible, paying the deposit in instalments.

Even if a landlord does not expect a deposit the chances are he / she will want  RENT IN ADVANCE.  The amount can vary, and again do not be afraid to negotiate .

If you are in need of rent in advance because you have nowhere to live you can apply to the DWP for a loan.  The Housing & Money Advice Centre may also be able to assist.


It is important to remember you are never alone.  There are many sorts of advice available in Northampton.  The Library or phone book are good places to find out what is available locally.  The following are just a few places where you can get help and advice.


8.00 am – 12 midnight telephone 0808 800 444

72A St Giles Street Northampton tel 0870 120 2433

2 St. Michaels Avenue Northampton  tel 01604 637637 ( Available 24 hours )

THE LOWDOWN  ( Advice & Counselling 16 – 25 year olds )
3 Kingswell Street Northampton tel 01604 622223

The Guildhall
St Giles Square
Northampton tel 01604 837837

Hazelwood Road  Northampton tel 01604634400

3 / 7 Hazelwood Road Northampton tel 01604636112

THE JESUS CENTRE 2 Lower Mounts Northampton tel 0871 8712121


LONE PARENT HELPLINE tel 0800 018 5026

SUNFLOWER CENTRE tel 01604 233684

NATION DEBTLINE tel 0808 8084000


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quick Party Planning Checklist

Make yourself a gorgeous party planning journal with a scrapbook or plastic three-ring binder that has a space to insert an inspirational picture. Keep cutouts from magazines of ideas you love about decorating, themes, menus, and recipes. Keep notes about your party afterwards so you remember what worked well and what to do differently next time. Your personal party scrapbook will be an invaluable assistant to help you avoid party stress.

Here's a quick party planning checklist:

<b>Party Invitations</b>

-- Create dramatic invitations. Your friends pay more attention to a written invitation than a phone call.

-- Send your invitations early and request an RSVP.

-- Tell your guests what to wear so they feel comfortable. Causal fun or dressy elegant.

-- Tell your guests what to bring so they don't have to think about it. If you say something like "We're collecting unwrapped toys for our local ...," your guests won't feel like they need to go shopping for you, too. List a specific dish type if you plan a pot luck.


-- Check catering prices. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you can have your feast delivered for about the same price as purchasing all the ingredients. Get your order in writing or faxed to you.

-- Make a list of all ingredients you need and shop early.

-- Prepare some of your dishes a few days before your party.

-- Plan for vegetarians and special needs diets.

<b>Flowers and Decorations</b>

Think about your home's color scheme when choosing flowers. A large poinsettia makes a big impact and costs less than florist bouquets. Add tree branch cuttings from your garden to extend grocery bouquets. Use curling ribbon as filler. Tie candy canes around a can and use for a floral arrangement.


Make sure that candles won't damage your surfaces. Larger candles burn longer and you don't have to worry about watching them during a long party. Keep candles high and out of the way from children and your guest's hair.

Enjoy yourself and relax. Everything doesn't have to be perfect. Your guests will have fun in a home decorated for a special event. Friends appreciate a good time and will remember your gracious efforts to ensure a good time.

Copyright © Jeanette J. Fisher

Friday, November 25, 2011

Packing For The Movers

You’ve chosen a new home, selected a mover, and now comes the task of packing for the move. There are 3 important things you should remember that will save you a lot of time and frustration later:

• Collect all the materials (boxes, tape, paper) you’ll
need to pack.

• Don’t put packing off until the last minute.

• Stay organized!

Here’s a list of the materials you’ll need to pack efficiently:

• Paper for wrapping your items:

Many people collect old newspapers and use them. Just remember that the news ink never dries and will come off on your belongings. If you want to avoid the need to wash everything when you arrive, you can purchase packing paper from your mover.

• Boxes:

You can collect boxes from your local supermarket and other businesses. Select strong boxes in good condition and make sure they have covers. Divided boxes like liquor boxes are great for glasses and stemware.

Your mover can also provide you with boxes especially made for moving. However, these boxes are expensive and you may want to purchase only those which are usually necessary like wardrobes for hanging clothes, mattress cartons, and cartons for large pictures, mirrors and table lamps.

• Sealing Tape - Use plastic tape that’s 1½-2” wide

• Magic Marker – to mark boxes for contents and special instructions like “fragile”, “this side up”, etc.

Now that you have all your materials, you’re ready to start packing! Start as far ahead of time as you can. Waiting until the last minute will create a nightmare you don’t want to experience! If you begin early you can pack a few boxes a day and have everything completed without stressing yourself unnecessarily.

It’s really important that you keep your packing organized; it will save a lot of confusion later. It’s best to pack a room at a time so that you can keep everything thing together that belongs together.

Start in areas containing articles that aren’t used frequently such as your attic, basement, garage, etc. You can leave an extra box to hold items that can’t be packed early.

Packing Up the Kitchen

The hardest room to pack is probably the kitchen so let’s discuss that in detail.

Remember when you’re packing fragile items to pad the bottom of the box with several sheets of paper. Place the heaviest items on the bottom of the box and the more delicate things on top.

When you pack flatware like plates, saucers, etc., wrap each item separately and then combine in groups of three. Rewrap that group in more paper and seal with the plastic tape. Each group will then be better protected. Stand them on end in the box.

You can nest glasses and cups 3 or 4 together and separate with small sheets of paper. It’s best to pack them in divided containers if you have them. If the box isn’t full to the top, stuff with additional paper. If you don’t have divided containers, you can place them in other boxes where you have empty space; just be sure to fit them in toward the top of the box so they aren’t crushed.

Don’t nest Goblets and stemware, wrap them individually.

Try to keep small kitchen appliances like the toaster, crock pot, etc., all together rather than mixing them with other items. Wrap them individually with 2 or 3 sheets of paper and wad up paper to fill any empty space. However, if you have a lot of extra room you can add some pots and pans.

You can nest pots, pans and large bowls in groups of 3 with a couple sheets of paper between each of them.

When you pack boxed foods such as cereal and rice, be sure to seal the tops with plastic tape. (Remember to do this for salt and pepper shakers also!) If your things are going be stored for very long, you may want to discard these items to avoid rodents or insects.

You can pack filled canisters as long as they are individually wrapped and the tops are sealed with plastic tape.

Finally, here are some miscellaneous tips to remember:

• Don’t pack anything that’s flammable, combustive or explosive. This includes items like aerosol spray cans, gasoline, and paint thinners.

• Empty all drawers.

• Pack heavy items like books and canned goods in smaller boxes.

• Pack bulky and lightweight items like toys, blankets, and pillows in large boxes.

• You don’t need to wrap toys, books and shoes individually.

• Stand books and records on end.

It isn’t as hard as it sounds, but it you don’t want to deal with packing, your moving company will be happy to pack for you ~ of course, that service comes with a very hefty price tag!

Happy Moving!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What To Look For When Buying A New Oven

An oven is one of the most common kitchen appliance that is used in various forms of cooking, such as the following:


Ovens are generally grouped into 2 common kinds: gas ovens and electric ovens. Then there are also microwave ovens (uses microwave radiation to cook or heat food) and convection ovens (uses a circulating fan to move hot air around the food inside the oven).

With this range of choices, not to mention the variety of features and designs available in ovens, shopping for one can be a difficult task. Below are some guidelines that you need to consider - helpful hints that will help you buy the right oven.

1. The location. Whether 'freestanding' (set in a range) or 'built-in' in walls (known as wall ovens), make sure that you measure the size of the oven against the location where you plan to have it installed. The location should not only have enough space; it should also be sturdy enough to support the unit.

2. The capacity. The "actual" size of the oven is defined by its capacity. The oven capacity refers to the amount of food or the size of the container that it can hold. The 'size', therefore, that you need to consider when buying an oven is the size of its interior (the cavity). Note that some ovens seem large on the outside but are actually smaller inside.

There are many things to consider when deciding on a particular oven capacity to buy. Some of them are the following:

Family size:

The amount of food you need to cook at one time (i.e., the oven capacity) depends on the number of people in your family. Below are some of the recommended oven capacity (in liters) for various family sizes (denoted by the number of members):

2 members - less than 29 liters
4 members - 20 to 29 liters
6 members - more than 30 liters


The oven capacity should also depend on how you intend to use the oven. An oven that will be used for actual and all types of cooking will naturally require a higher capacity than that which shall be used as a mere supplement (such as defrosting or reheating food).


Make sure that the dishes (such as baking sheet, pan, and other cookware) that you regularly use will fit comfortably (and circulate freely) inside the oven.

3. The controls.

The control panel is where you manage and control the functions and operations of your oven, which can be any of the following:

Analog - mechanical switches that use knobs. Are less expensive but more durable; can also be less precise, since everything is set manually.

Digital - electronically-controlled push buttons. The most common nowadays, they can be more expensive and less durable; but they have more accurate and precise settings, since everything is set automatically.

Different ovens have various (and sometimes complicated) control panels, but all of them generally include these basic components:

Clock or timer displays - properly sets the length of time for cooking

Temperature settings - allows you to set the temperature for cooking.

Thermostat - senses and maintains a set temperature to stop or further the flow of heat. This prevents an overcooked food and an overheated oven.

Oven light - enables you to see the interior of the oven to check the status of the food the you are cooking.

4. Additional components. Some ovens may come with additional components, such as the following:

Oven rack - allows you to place more than one dish in the oven at the same time; should be thick and durable.

Rotisserie - a removable grill with a turning spit; for better and uniform grilling.

5. The add-on features. In addition to the basic functions, most ovens today are designed with additional (and advanced) features, some of which are as follows:

Clear-view window - it enables you to watch the cooking process without having to open the door.
Self-cleaning option - found at the control panel, pushing this button enables the oven to clean itself.

Lockout feature - can be a button in the control panel or a door lock switch, it prevents misuse or unintended and accidental operations, especially when cleaning the control panel or when there are children in the house.

6. The price. Of course, everything is greatly affected by the price, so it is important for you to set the amount that you would like to spend.

With these guidelines, you will surely be able to find the oven that is perfect for your money's worth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Quick And Easy Guide To Water Filters

I bet you are frustrated over constantly having to buy new water filters for your home. After all, you don’t want to drink the tap water straight- who knows where it has been. And, you certainly don’t want to pay keep paying for water filters that only last so long. Well, the good news is that there are a couple of tips to keep in mind when shopping for your new water filters at Walmart or Cosco. We’ll go over a few of them here.

1) Quality over quantity. Just because a water filter looks like a good deal, does not mean it actually is. Compare the quality of the different filters and most importantly how many uses you are likely to get out of each water filter and you should be able to make a fairly good judgement on just what you are getting in a water filter.

2) Don’t forget online resources. The web is an amazing resource for those of us who want to compare the different types of bargains that might be available to us. You need to look everywhere (including Ebay which probably does sell water filters, heck: they sell everything else there) and you can scrape up a deal for sure. Buying in bulk direct from the manufacturer is a great way to save if you have a large family that runs through water filters constantly.

3) The most important part is to learn about the different types of water filters available. Quality and online shopping will only take you so far if you don’t know what you are doing. There are literally hundreds of different manufacturers and distributors of water filters that you can spend your money with these days. Like any market, a few of the water filter companies are really good and a few of them are really bad. Taking time to learn the basics is well worth your time and will definitely save you a lot of money in the years to come. Basic research can return a huge amount of value to those people who are motivated to do it. Invest your time in learning which water filters are the best for you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Miami Condo Market

The Miami condo market is very diverse and offers a large number of different solutions for those interested in purchasing or renting a condo. People from all over the world are attracted to the vibrant Miami area and its supreme climate for relocation. Miami condos are also popular among vacationers as well as investors. The recent decrease of the dollar value on the international market has made Miami condos an even more interesting option for many Europeans looking for a home away from home, a place in which to retire or just a good investment.

Location, location, location – is the mantra of the real estate business. This is naturally true for Miami real estate as well. The beach front condos are the most popular ones and consequently the most expensive ones to obtain. Just by choosing a condo a few blocks away from the beach you can save huge amounts of money. A Miami ocean view is astonishing, but certainly not for free when we’re talking real estate. South Beach is one of the most popular areas of the Miami condo market, not only due to its proximity to the ocean but to its famous nightlife and gastronomic scene as well. 

Another highly esteemed part of Miami is the Brickell neighborhood. The Brickell region is commonly referred to as “the Wall Street of the South” and the condominium towers share the space with over 60 commercial banks. This area is typically marketed as a more strict and upscale alternative to South Beach; a neighborhood ideal for those who prefer a downtown environment instead of a sandy beach. The Brickell community is inhabited by people who want to avoid long hours of commuting.

In Brickell it is possible to be close to work as well as to downtown entertainment, but still live in a relaxed area suitable for recreation. The fact that popular South Beach restaurants are beginning to setup finials in Brickell is only one of the signs that predicts how Brickell will turn into an even more sought for area in the future. Three years ago it was possible to buy one of the smaller condos in Brickell for $115,000. Today you must be prepared to pay at least $200,000 for the same condo. The condos in Brickell are however still very reasonably priced compared to the condos located at Miami Beach. A Miami Beach condo of the same type as the $200,000 Brickell condo would cost you at least $500,000.

In such a popular area as Miami there will naturally be a shortage of suitable lots for new condo developments, and the Miami condo market is now stretching into the older neighborhoods and has even reached the suburbs. Downtown Miami has seen a lot of new development recently. Further expansion down Miami Beach is naturally another extremely lucrative business for Miami real estate developers since the Miami real estate market shows no signs of cooling down, particularly not when we’re talking ocean front properties.

If you visit Wynwood, a neighborhood located not to far from the very popular South Beach district, the recent expansion of the Miami condo market will be very evident. What used to be large warehouses and grocery stores are currently being turned into condos, lofts and smaller apartments. Wynwood is also witnessing a huge change of the cultural scene as more and more galleries and private museums find their way into this new and exciting neighborhood. Wynwood is only one example of how condo development is taking place in almost all the not to remotely located neighborhoods in the Miami area.

The Miami condo developers are now turning their eyes towards the Miami working class neighborhoods. Former blue collar neighborhoods such as Little Haiti, Liberty City and Overtown are already overflowing with condos. These neighborhoods have become very popular for those who wish to own a Miami condo but can’t afford to pay for ocean front properties at Miami Beach or get luxury condos such as the Four Season Residences.  

Those who are still willing to pay for an ocean front condo should take a look at the South Pointe region. This used to be quite a shady area with a high crime rate and the median family income in 1995 was below $ 8,000. Today, this has changed and condos in South Pointe are already worth several hundred thousand dollars. Two new larger developing projects have been launched that will add 67 and 199 units respectively to the South Point housing market. The largest project of the two is the Continuum North Tower, a 199 unit property located at the end of South Pointe Drive. Continuum North Tower includes properties ranging in size from 1500 to 4000 square feet.

The penthouse apartments are even larger: 7000 square feet. Continuum North Tower will not be finished until late 2006 or early 2007, but prospective buyers are already lining up for the chance to own a Miami ocean front property. The other project, Apogee, is a smaller complex and will include 67 condos in the 3100 to 6900 feet range. Apogee will be 22 stories high when finished and asking price will most likely be in the $ 2.5 million range. For this price your will not only get an ocean view, but high ceilings, modern design, indoor and outdoor grills etcetera. The Penthouses in Apogee will probably go for at least $ 15 million each.   

According to some analysts, a shortage of available Miami condos can be expected in the near future, but it is always hard to know for sure. The increased surge for Miami condos has launched a multitude of development projects. There are currently a large amount of projects on the verge of completion, aiming to provide the Miami condo market with everything from comparatively inexpensive studio-style condos to super exclusive condos with ocean views and all imaginable amenities. When the price began to rise even for the smallest condos, the Miami condo market consequently opened up for the development of a large number of more exclusive luxury condos.

When buyers are forced to pay ever increasing amounts of money for a tiny ocean front condo, they want to feel that they are getting supreme quality for their money in terms of style and amenities. Installing exclusive features, such as a Jacuzzi, will still only have a marginal affect on the price of the condo. On Miami Beach the largest part of the price is defined by the much sought after location of the property. Some of the most expensive condos on the Miami condo market can today be found in The Miami Four Season Residences. In the year 2005, this condominium complex offered condos priced from slightly below $ 700,000 and up to above $ 6 million. A lot of these condos are fashioned in a chic Euro style manner and have access to wine and cigar lounges, a health Spa, exclusive gyms and other selected services.   

Florida is a popular state to live in, but no other city in Florida experienced the same remarkable surge for condos during the last few years as Miami. Some prospective buyers hope that the prices will drop when all the projects have finally settled. Estimations show that more than 50,000 condos will be added to the Miami condo market within the next 10 years. In downtown Miami a 35 story condominium tower named the Avenue is planned to be completed in 2007, and will add 570 condos to the Miami condo market.

The Avenue is accompanied by more than 70 other condo developments in the area. One of the larger projects in Brickell, the Mary Brickell Village, is believed to be completed by the end of 2006 and will then provide the Brickell neighborhood with a large number of new luxury condos. This could cause the prices to stabilize in Brickell, but don’t count on it. The completion of two other major condo projects in the Brickell region, the Plaza and Neo Lofts, did not cause the prices to plummet – quite the contrary.

Metropolitan Brokers is the publisher of this article and is a brokerage firm offering full listings of miami condos for sale.  They also provide full brokerage services for both residential and commercial real estate in the Miami area.  Permission is granted to reprint this article, either online or in written publications, as long as this resource box and the link to are attached at the end of the article.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The effective way to purchase your favorite product online.

In today’s world of mass communications and internet it is relatively easy and convenient to purchase the products and services online: you should not stand in queue in order to purchase the products, neither is it needed to carry the cash or confine yourself to limited hours when the shop is opened. However, whatever you are buying on the internet, you should always protect your privacy as well as your confidentiality. Refrigerators and tape-recorders, DVD- players and radios, computers and utensil can be purchased online and delivered to your doorstep within a very short period of time. Nevertheless despite of its convenience online trading has some notable distinctions; there is however one industry in online trading has some features that distinguish it from the others, this industry is an online essay – writing industry.

Online essay writing companies have many interesting peculiarities. On the one hand if your order custom term paper on these sites, you go through the same process as with other ones. On the other hand, your product will be delivered right to your email box. However, do not forget that many of these sites are located in other countries so you should exercise some caution when you order custom term paper at unknown sites. What should you do to secure yourself?

First, make acquaintance with the privacy policy of the company. They should be written in lucid and understandable language; usually they are located at the bottom of the page. Second,  one should never provide anyone with any personal information (such information as social security number, credit card history should always be kept private and confidential and never should be given out to anyone under any circumstances). All other information provided to the site (credit card number) should be kept private and should only be used for the purposes mentioned by the company. Make some research even online of the company’s’ history and its reputation. Once this information has been gathered you may proceed with your order.

Do not forget that industry has another peculiarity as well- your order is designed and written according to your instructions, unlike on most common web sites where you just scroll through the catalog and choose the products among them, online essay writing companies complete and design your term paper according to some specific information provided by you. One should be as much specific as possible, in order to facilitate the process of the completion of your order. It might be advisable even to produce your term paper outline, so the researcher assigned on your order will be able to design it according to your plan. Once this process has been completed the researcher will be able to research the subject and submit it to you wherever you live.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Art Of Getting Your Kids To Talk To You

Being a parent isn't easy. Some days just getting everyone in your family all together at the same time for dinner can seem like the "impossible dream". Between after school sports and clubs and working and errands and carpools, it's not surprising that almost half of the parents in a recent survey said they feel a growing distance between themselves and their children.

Today's children have more things to deal with than kids did even twenty years ago. Drugs, violence, mixed messages in advertising, peer pressure, packed schedules and outside activities all add to the pressure they face.

So how, in the midst of all this chaos, do you find time to talk to your kids -- and more importantly, have them talk back to you?

Here are several ideas that can help:

1. Eat dinner together as a family at least three times a week. Conversations flow easier when they happen around the dinner table. If your family is conversationally-challenged in the beginning, think of conversation starters before each meal. Plan a family vacation, letting each child talk about where they'd like to go, or what they'd like to do. Talk about current events, the latest movies or upcoming special events. Ask your children open-ended questions that have to be answered with more than yes or no.

2. Turn off the outside world. Set aside "family time" each night and have everyone turn off their phones, the computers and the television. Let your friends and extended family know that you won't be available during that time, and stick to it. Your kids (especially teenagers) may joke about it, but secretly they'll probably be delighted. Use this time to reconnect with each other. Watch a movie, play board games, take turns reading out loud, but whatever you do, do it together.

3. Cook at least one meal a week together. Even your youngest children can do something to help. If your kitchen is too small for everyone to fit, schedule a "helper" or have your children be responsible for different parts of the meal. Your family will grow closer during this time, and your kids may even start the conversations themselves. (You can always get the ball rolling by talking about things you did with your parents. While you may not be cool, chances are your kids think your parents are, and will be impressed).

4. Make it safe for your kids to talk to you. Let them know that you won't get angry or upset if they talk to you about what's going on. If they tell you something "off the record" then let it stay that way. (Emergencies and dangerous situations aside).

5. Listen to what they have to say. If you're working, or doing something else when your child starts to talk to you, they may give up if they know your attention is really somewhere else. Give them your undivided attention when they're speaking.

6. Use active listening skills. Make sure that you understand what your child is telling you. Repeat what they told you and ask questions.

7. Set aside special time to spend with each child. It may be nothing more than taking one child at a time with you when you run errands, but let each child know that you value spending special time with them.

8. Be patient. Don't expect a "perfect" family. If you're not June Cleaver and your husband isn't Howard Cunningham, it's okay. Just remember that perfect families really don't exist outside of television re-runs.

Just keep trying, and you'll learn the art of conversation with your kids isn't as hard as you thought!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Remodeling A Bathroom

So you've decided that it's time to update your bathroom. Whether you're planning to sell your home or you've simply decided your family needs a more updated space, there are a few important decisions you should make before you start.

First of all, consider what needs to go (no pun intended). Are you remodeling because all of the fixtures- tub, shower, toilet and sink- are outdated? Or is there a specific area of the bathroom that doesn't work for you? Maybe the floor is outdated or peeling, or the mirrors are in inconvenient places, or you'd like to knock out a closet or install some shelving. Before you start, pin down the exact things about your bathroom that need work. Don't immediately assume you need to overhaul the entire room. You may be able to save yourself big bucks by starting with the problem areas. If your bathroom seems too small, you might not need to tear out a wall. Maybe you just need a pedestal sink instead of a cabinet one.

If you're more than ready to just tear the whole thing up and start from scratch, you'll have to make some decisions about what's going to replace the current fixtures. Take some measurements of your tub, sink and toilet, the replacements you're considering, and the size of the room. Keep in mind that just because you want a claw foot bathtub doesn't mean you should have one- your bathroom may be too small for anything but a tub that fits closely into the wall. Draw some diagrams, and move things around until they seem to fit. But keep in mind that the layout of a bathroom is fairly limited. The water pipes only come out of the walls in certain places, so unless you're planning on tearing up the walls and the plumbing, your toilet and shower will probably stay where they are, even if you replace them with new ones.

Making decisions about what new items to buy should be the easy part. Look into purchasing a low-flow toilet. If you haven't had a new toilet in awhile, you will be amazed at the savings on your water bill once a new, water-saving model is installed. This is also a huge plus to potential buyers, who will love the idea of saving on utilities each month.

Safety in the bathroom is also a consideration. Consider handles around the tub and a non-slip floor covering specifically designed for bathrooms. Many older bathrooms are lacking in safety features, and that's a down side when it comes time to estimate a home's value.

Remodeling your bathroom is going to be a job that requires some forethought. Whether you're doing it to sell the home or for your family, it's best to take space, safety, and convenience into consideration. You spend an awful lot of time going in and out of your bathroom. It might as well be comfortable!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Park your garage sales on the Internet

You have been planning your garage sale for weeks now. Your garage, as well as you whole home, is stuffed with old records, books, clothing, vacuum sweepers, and other odds and ends that you have no use for anymore. Instead of just tossing your clutter into the neighborhood landfill, you’ve decided to hold one of the most time-honored traditions in civilization—the garage (or yard) sale. It can be a thankless task, becoming a pawnbroker for a day, but there’s definitely good money in it—if you know how and, more importantly, where to organize your garage sale.

First, of course, you need to get your sales items together. Garage sales are a great way to recycle stuff that you no longer have room for. You’d be surprised what doodads and miscellany your neighbors will want—musty books, old silver wear, framed photos of long-lost third cousins, and other unmentionables that you’ve had no use for since who knows when. Even more surprising, your neighbors are willing to shell out cold hard cash for these items. That makes your garage sale a win-win proposition for you.

Come to think of it, though, a garage sale at your home can be a real chore. It takes a Herculean effort to collect and organize every last little thing you want to sell. Then you have to tag each item and keep track of it in a hardcopy log. To ensure that your neighbors show up with cash in hand, you must create, print up, and pay for flyers, which need to be distributed on telephone poles and supermarket message boards across the region. The work can seem endless and your chances of making a profit slim.

Don’t get me wrong. Your garage sale was a great idea, but as you can see, there are many limitations to holding one at your house the old-fashioned way. Get with the times. The garage sale has evolved thanks to the multitude of Web sites that allow you to sell your goods online. People are selling more stuff than ever on the Internet because of the convenience of Web classified sites.

The Internet holds several crucial advantages over selling your stuff the outdated way. When you compare these benefits to the problems with home-based garage sales, you’ll see the difference:

ONLINE: Your items are available for purchase for an unlimited time, until they sell.
AT HOME: Your items are available until you call it quits for the night.

ONLINE: Rain, sleet, or snow, your sales aren’t affected in the least.
AT HOME: Better have a rain date or a very big umbrella.

ONLINE: No need to constantly watch over your goods or interact with uninterested customers. Just wait until a customer contacts you by e-mail when they are ready to purchase.
AT HOME: Be prepared for countless hours of staring down the street for customers to appear. When they do arrive, be prepared for too many questions but too few purchases.

ONLINE: Advertise for free to your friends and neighbors over e-mail.
AT HOME: Shell out money for flyers, after which you can get to know all of the telephone poles in your neighborhood.

ONLINE: Spend your weekends the way they were meant to be: relaxing and enjoying your time with friends and family.
AT HOME: Spend your weekend waking up early, buying and distributing flyers, lugging boxes, and waiting for customers.

As you can see, it’s not an even match. An online garage sale wins hands down.

Now that you’re actually excited to get started with your garage sale, you should know that there is one caveat. As easy as it may seem, your online garage sale will be even easier if you choose the right classified site.

Your best bet is to do your research and find classified sites with the most features and benefits, such as
(1) No sign-up, registration, or transaction fees.
(2) Free ad listing with text description and pictures.
(3) Long-term ad posting and free renewals.
(4) Easy, accurate, electronic, and automatic record keeping.

The best classified sites have these incredible features and then some. Not only will you be able to clean out your home’s clutter with the help of these classified sites. Your garage sale will also park a profit in your pocket.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vital Records - A Brief Overview - Part 1

Birth, Death and Marriage Records

The foundation of genealogy or family history research is birth, death and marriage records. It is these vital records of life's significant events that we turn to when we begin to seek out the knowledge of our ancestry. These public records and others such as the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), offer access to genealogical information that may not be available from any other source.

The Social Security Death Records constitute a data base of around 65/70 million names, most of which belong to the period from 1962 to 1988. This library of archived data is being constantly added to.

Using these <strong>family search tools</strong> you should be able to:


    <li>Distinguish between people with the same name</li>
    <li>Identify your ancestors</li>
    <li>Establish birth, death and marriage data, such as dates and places</li>
    <li>Learn the occupation and place of residence of ancestors</li>
    <li>Prove/disprove the validity of other records</li>
    <li>Find subtle clues to assist your research</li>

If <strong>family history</strong> (genealogical research) is something that you are just becoming interested in, then the best place to start is with yourself. Write your own name on a piece of paper with your birth date and place, and now add what you know about your parents and grandparents, and so on, until you have exhausted your immediate knowledge.

Next, if your parents are alive and you can meet with them face to face, take a piece of paper with you and have them exhaust their knowledge of names, dates and places. Repeat this with all living relatives. Write to those you cannot visit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trusting A Relocation Service

If you are in need of a relocation service, you will have many things to worry about. But, if you can find the right service to work out, you are likely worrying for nothing. There are many companies out there that want to serve your needs. They want to help you relocate and they will pull out all the stops to say so. But, what you need is quality, communication, and affordability. It is also important to be able to trust in your relocation service.

First, you need to be able to have a quality relocation service. To find the quality service that you need, simply look at the companies closely. Compare company history, consumer reviews that you’ll find on the web as well as taking the time to look them up on the Better Business Bureau’s website. Are their customers satisfied?

Next, you need to be able to communicate with them. Do they provide you with the understanding attitude that you need? Do they allow you to tell them what it is that you are after? If they plan to provide service to you, they need to be able to communicate with you about your needs, availabilities and worries that you may have. A good relocation service will provide these aspects.

The company that provides you with relocation service also needs to provide you with affordability. After you take care of the other aspects, make sure that the service can provide for you a good deal or discount. In fact, their normal prices need to be good as well. You are moving and more than likely, you don’t have the time or money to be ripped off!

Lastly, the relocation service needs to provide you with a good reason to trust them. It could be that all of the things we mentioned are great choices. That may be enough to make them be the right company to trust. You know when you trust someone so look for this quality in the relocation service you choose.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Trash Talk’s Best Tip Picks for 2005

Dave and Lillian Brummet, authors of the book Trash Talk, offer a free service called Tip of the Month where visitors can learn new reduction and reuse ideas that will save money for the household and office on their website ( Listed below are the favorite Tip Picks of 2005.

May 2005
Cardboard works great for weed control in the yard or garden. Lay out the flattened cardboard first making sure to overlap it by at least six inches. If the weeds are very established or if your weeds are more like small shrubs, do a double or even triple layer to ensure nothing grows through. We found that it is best to wet the cardboard with a sprinkler to soften it before applying the top layer of bark mulch or gravel so the cardboard will settle in and smother all the weeds completely. In as little as one year the cardboard will have composted into a rich loamy soil while the weeds have been killed off by lack of sunlight and air. Simply top off the bark mulch periodically as it too breaks down over the years.

July 2005
Vinyl shower curtains reused make good drop cloths for painting projects. In the garden they can be used as row covers for tender spring plants (when a cold night threatens). Like costly landscape fabric use curtains to control weeds in garden beds. Cut an X at each plant location, plant, then close the X around the plant stem. Cover the entire sheet with rocks, gravel or bark mulch.

October 2005
Promote reading in your community, reduce clutter around your home and your contribution of waste in the landfill, save a buck or two and benefit a charity while you are at it. Just how are you supposed to do all this?
Management of used books and magazines is a very environmental and community conscious thing for people to participate in. Extending the life of books and magazines is easily accomplished by taping the binding and edges of the covers.
Go through your closets and bookshelves and look for all the used books and magazines that you no longer read. Any library, shelters for the disadvantaged, hospitals and missions are all places to consider for donating. Use the key words ‘book donation’ in a search engine to find places to donate to. Here are just a few sites: – lists contact information for organizations that distribute used books. – lists places that accept book donations.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Overview Of Evaporative Air Coolers

If you ask an older relative if they have heard of an evaporative cooler, they may say no. But chances are they would recognize the idea behind the technology. Before air conditioning or other cooler types existed, people would sleep outside on a screened in porch to try to stay cool at night. They would often hang damp sheets over the screens in an attempt to cool the air. As the hot air passed through the sheet, it was cooled. And then the cool air would slowly circulate, relieving some of the heat for the sleepers.

The same idea exists today in the form of evaporative coolers. These machines are wonderful cooling mechanisms for people who live in hot, dry climates. They are also known by the name swamp coolers, but that can be misleading because they actually won’t work at all in swampy, humid conditions. The name probably came from the way that evaporative coolers actually add humidity to the air. But in fact, evaporative coolers need dry, hot air to work because in order for the air to be cooled, it has to be able to pick up (evaporate) some of the water. If the air is already saturated, it won’t pick up any more water and it won’t be cooled.

Here’s how evaporative coolers work; the machine is composed of a fan that pulls the hot dry air inside the cooler, where it is passed through damp pads. The pads are kept damp by a pump that circulates water through the machine. As the dry air picks up some of the water, its temperature drops, sometimes by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the climate. The cooler air is then blown into the room. An added bonus of an evaporative cooler is that the pads that cool the air also filter it. As the air passes through the pads, dirt, dust, allergens and other pollutants are captured in the fibers of the pads. So you’ll be breathing cleaner, cooler air.

If you’re wondering why you should choose an evaporative cooler over a traditional air conditioner, there’s one more reason we haven’t covered yet. The cost to run an evaporative cooler can be as little as 1/10 the amount it costs to run an air conditioner. In fact, some community power companies in hot, dry climates will actually offer residents a rebate if they install an evaporative cooler because they recognize the effective, efficient cooling capabilities of the technology. Contact your local power company to see if they offer the rebates and ask if they have any information on the effectiveness of an evaporative cooler in your area.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Overcoming Red Wine Spills

Red wine spills can be a disaster whether they occur in your home or onboard your $43 million executive jet as members of our corporate flight attendant web community are quick to point out.  Taking care of a spill is another thing, but we have discovered two “tried and true” solutions to the problem. Please read on to find out what we discovered:

1. If you have just spilled red wine, immediately pour white wine over a red wine stain. The white wine [white grape juice is fine too] dilutes the pigmentation from the red grape.

2. You can also put salt on the stained area, wait a few minutes and rinse with running water. If you have an old stain, try soaking the stain with a lemon-water or vinegar-water solution, then wash it with your other laundry items. Of course, we’re talking about treating clothing not carpeting or furniture fabric.

The more expensive the item affected, the more likely you will seek professional cleaning care to resolve the problem even if you do emergency management. Not everyone feels comfortable with treating red wine spills, but doing nothing can cause the stain to set making it virtually impossible to get rid of later.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tipping For The Holidays: Who To Gift And How Much?

The holidays are the time of year to share your love and appreciation to the most important people in your life. For many, that includes those people who provide support and services throughout the year. From your favorite babysitter, housekeeper or the hair stylist who always gets your cut just the way you like it, a tip - enclosed in an envelope with a handwritten note - is sure to be appreciated.

But how do you know how much to tip?

Holiday tips will vary according to your means, the city in which you live and the type of relationship that you have with the person being tipped. That being said, here are some general guidelines for a few of the outstanding individuals who might be on your list:

* Newspaper person: $15-$25 for daily, $5-$15 for weekend
* Doorman: $25-$100
* Building Custodian: $20-$30
* Building Superintendent: $30-$100 depending on building
* Housekeeper: A week's pay or more
* Babysitter: Two nights pay, or a small gift
* Hair stylist: The cost of a session, plus a small gift
* Personal Trainer: $50
* Parking Attendants: A half-month's garage rate divided among attendants; or $10-$20 per person

If giving cash doesn't feel quite right, is too formal, or policy prohibits it, why not give a small gift? Of course, the challenge of finding a gift for someone you might just know professionally or see only occasionally is you might not know what one item they would appreciate most.

Gift certificates are a versatile and personal way to show your thanks. And while the USPS does have a policy against monetary gifts to postal carriers, nobody said that you can't put a gift certificate in the mailbox. But how do you decide from which store to buy their certificate?

Imagine giving a gift certificate where your recipient can choose the store! offers a SuperCertificate® that lets the person receiving your gift pick from over 200 top stores, restaurants, spas, jewelers and more. It's the gift that's always appreciated because it also gives the gift of choice.

Other people who might enjoy a SuperCertificate® include:

* Teachers
* School Crossing Guard
* Mail carrier (USPS Policy: "Cash equivalent can't exceed $20")
* Co-workers
* Your Administrative Assistant

By giving the gift of choice, you can make the holidays shine bright for someone special with your goodwill. Those who work so hard all year to make you smile are sure to appreciate and remember your generosity.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The differences between Omega juicers

If you are looking for a good quality, long lasting juicer then buying an Omega juicer is definitely the right path to take. These juicers are dependable, have a long life span and produce amazingly nutritious juice for you and your family to enjoy and gain benefit from. These juicers come in many varieties to fulfill a myriad of different functions. This is a basic guide that will explain their differences and what you can expect from each different juicer.

Omega 02 Fruit and Vegetable Juicer: This is a recently introduced model. This unit is described as one of the best low cost entry juicers available on the market today. This juicer is a Pulp Ejector style continuous Juicer, which is a new innovation. It is a compact, easy to clean and use and ultra-quiet juicer and a wonderful new addition to the current range of Omega juicers.

Omega 1000 Juicer: This is a centrifugal juicer and is also one of the bestselling juicers on the market today. It juices with a vertical basket and a blade, both of which are made of surgical stainless to ensure the sharpest cutting edge. The motor is very long lasting since this Omega juicer has a motor with very few moving parts. This is a juicer that will provide for your juicing needs for a long time.

Omega 4000 Juicer: This beautifully designed juicer would not look out of place in the most elegantly designed kitchen. It is made from White Lustran Plastic and Surgical Stainless Steel and is only 12" high. This juicer is a Pulp Ejector style continuous Juicer, which is a new style of design from Omega. These juicers have rubber feet that are effective enough to hold the juicer firmly in place while ensuring that the kitchen counter on which it is placed will not be scarred or marked.

Omega 5000 Professional Citrus Juicer: This style of juicer was designed to cope with large quantities of citrus fruit. It is capable of juicing lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruit. These juicers operate at 250 rpm, the optimal operating speed to juice citrus fruits. It is constructed with industrial operation in mind, so it will last well, but it has been approved for home use as well.

Omega 8003 Nutrition Center Juicer: This juicer is built with a stone mill-like auger made from melamine to ensure that no heavy metals are introduced into your juice as it is juiced. It operates the low rate of 80rpm to ensure the maximum juice and nutrients are yours at the end of the juicing process. It also lowers the rate of oxidization so that your juice stays at premium quality for longer.

Omega 8005 Nutrition Center Juicer: This functional piece of artwork by Omega has been designed in black with a chrome trim and will look elegant in any location. It is also designed to be exceptionally easy to use and clean. These juicers are also built to last. It can juice fruit and vegetables as well as other leafy greens with the greatest of ease.

Omega 9000 Juicer: This unit operates at 3000rpm, using the Centrifugal juicing process. The motor powering this Omega juicer is a design that has been used and trusted for over 16 years. This motor is ultra quiet and since it is “brushless”, it also lasts very well.

Omega J0560 Commercial Citrus Juicer: This unit comes with the ability to automatically eject peel, thus cutting down drastically on the cleaning time you spend. These juicers can handle 21 oranges per minute which equates to 18.5 gallons per hour. It is an ideal juicer to use in a commercial establishment. This Omega juicer also comes with the feature that the citrus is fed through a side chute for ease of use and it can handle any citrus fruit from 2-5/8 to 3-3/8 inches in diameter.

As you may have noticed, these juicers all fulfill a different function so the way to decide which juicer is most appropriate for your needs, but regardless of which Omega juicer you buy, you can be assured that you are receiving the highest quality. You can purchase any of these juicers secure in the knowledge that you will be acquiring a piece of equipment that will provide you with the capability to produce fantastic, healthy juice.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Apartment Search

When you are apartment hunting, prepare a rental search plan. Be sure to know in advance what you want in an apartment and what you can live without. Decide in advance what areas of the city you could consider living in and make a list of apartment buildings within that perimeter.

Be sure to consider how far and how convenient it will be for you to travel to your job or your school or your family and friends. Also, how far is the apartment from stores, banks, hospitals, Church (if you attend) etc. If you have a car, make sure that there is adequate and convenient parking space 24/7. If you don't drive make sure that there is close by public transportation.

Narrow your apartment locating to the size of rental unit you need. Studio apartment or one bedroom apartment or 2 BR apartment or more. Are you considering a furnished apartment or do you possible need a short term rental. If you are renting an apartment with a cat, dog, or other pet, you need to find out which apartments allow renting with pets and which do not. And, if they do allow pets, is there an additional security deposit required and if so, how much it is. Do you need an apartment complex with an exercise room or tennis courts or a pool or a recreation room, etc. or do you simply need and desire a nice clean and quiet pad.

Be realistic about what you can afford. Most apartment renting guides suggest that your rent should not be more than 25% to 30% of your income. This can vary depending on the income bracket, but be sure to be "real world" when budgeting additional apartment expenses such as heating and air conditioning and other utilities. If you fall short of affording the apartment of your choice, you might consider sharing an apartment with a roommate or roommates. Keep in mind that living with roommates can help you afford an upscale apartment or even, in some cases, luxury apartments, but it also has extreme restrictions to your privacy.

If you are familiar with the area and its neighborhoods, that gives you a distinct advantage for your apartment search. If, however, you are relocating to a new city or are not particularly knowledgeable about the city, you may want to contact an Apartment Locator or an Apartment Finder.

Once you narrow your search for apartments down to apts which suit your needs and desires you must be well organized & well prepared for your visits to the apartment complexes. When inspecting the rental premises be on the alert for unsafe conditions, excessive noise from traffic or playgrounds or neighbors. Visit the apartment building at night as well as the daytime hours. This will give you a more comprehensive understanding of the total space you will be residing in.

When you find the apartment complex that meets your renting needs and desires, you must be ready to put your "best foot forward" when you meet the apartment's rental agent. This person may be the apartment building manager or a renting agent for the apts. You should prepare for this apartment renting interview in a professional and intelligent manner. Be advised that you are going to be asked to provide proof that you are a reliable prospective tenant. You are most likely going to need references from previous landlords. You may also be required by the apartments to show that you are gainfully employed and can afford the rent. Many landlords may require a credit report. If you are a first time renter and/or you have limited credit history you may be asked for references from family, friends, employer, professionals, etc. Likewise if you are renting with bad credit you will certainly want to come to the interview with a strong selection of references.

You are not necessarily restricted from apartment renting with less than perfect credit, but you may be required to put up an additional security deposit and possibly have a credit worthy person co-sign the apartment lease with you. Don't unprepared for by requests for any of these things. Be sure to fill out a 100% truthful apartment rental application and come to the interview with references, proof of employment, credit information and any other renting resources at the ready. If you do have a credit history or renting history that might be detrimental, going through an apartment locator or apartment finder may be the best solution. They will present your history to the landlord for you, (make sure they are 100% truthful about it) and they can also be quite helpful and save you a lot of time because they most likely will know which landlords and apartments are more lenient in these circumstances. They can also advise you as to exactly what kinds of references and documents you might need to prove that you can be a responsible tenant.

You Have Located Your "Dream Apartment"

Once you have located your "dream apartment", or as close to your perfect apartment as possible, now it is necessary to pay extremely close attention to the particulars of the rental agreement. An Apartment Lease is a contract between you and the landlord. Once agreed upon and signed by the tenant and the landlord, the rental lease creates obligations and restrictions for both parties. The most obvious covenants of the apartment lease are the length of the rental, (Six month lease, one year lease, two year lease, etc.) The amount of the security deposit, when the rent is due, who is responsible for what utilities. Also in that apartment lease, however, are stipulations, (sometimes in small print) that can cover a great variety of landlord and tenant obligations and restrictions. They can include, but are not limited to, the following: * Maintenance of the apartment * Care of the premises * Cleanliness * Insurance * Governmental regulations * Eminent Domain * Nuisance and noise clauses * Stipulations as to the circumstances whereby the landlord can enter the premises * Use of Common Areas * Keys and locks * Loss or damage * Parking * Pets * Plumbing * What the landlord may do if the rent is in arrears * What the tenant can do to bring the rent current before any kind of action might be started * Non performance or breach of the contract by the renter * Renter's penalties in the event of early termination * Circumstances which might cause the tenant or the landlord to break the lease prior to the end of the term * Heat and other utilities * Removal of goods * Surrender or Non-Surrender of the premises * Waivers of various obligations * Prohibited reprisals * Garbage disposal * Recyclables * And the list goes on and on and on.

Prospective tenants should read an Apartment lease thoroughly. Prospective apartment renters should understand everything that is contained in that lease and make an informed decision to be 100% accepting of all the provisions for both the tenant and the landlord, that you are positive that you can live up to your end of the bargain and that you are comfortable with the provisions on the landlord's end.

If you do not understand every single clause of that apartment lease then do not sign it until you do understand it. If necessary and if possible, request assistance in interpreting the lease from a trusted source such as a knowledgeable friend or family member or employer or professional, or anyone else who can understand it and explain it to you. If necessary get legal advice. It can cost additional funds if you do not qualify for free legal assistance, but that additional cost might save you a ton of money and save you a ton of heartache and aggravation down the road.

If you do not agree with any of the provisions of that apartment lease and/or you feel that you can't live up to the tenant's obligations, or if you are not in agreement with any of the landlord's rights under the agreement, then do not sign the lease until/or unless it can be changed to your satisfaction. If the apartment rental agreement cannot be amended to meet your needs and desires and comfort level then do not sign the lease and do not rent that apartment. The Apartment Rental agreement that you sign as a prospective tenant will not change once you become the actual tenant of that apartment.

Good luck in your apartment search and good luck in your new apartment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The “Disaster Dozen” Top Twelve Myths Of Disaster Preparedness

Hurricane Katrina and others in the season have given us yet another disaster preparedness wake-up call. Do we pay attention now or hit the snooze button again?

Pushing past the debates over government reaction, we come to the bottom line conclusion that, “Yes, more could have been done.” In other articles we’ll get into some of those debates, but for now, let’s look at the most important part of a comprehensive emergency readiness plan, and that is the preparedness levels of individuals and families.

We find that the biggest obstacles to comprehensive family emergency readiness education are the misconceptions surrounding the true nature of preparedness. So, to set the stage for better education, and ultimately better public safety, let’s take a look at some of these myths.

1. “If something happens all I have to do is call 911.”
Help can only go so far, or be there so quickly. Security, like charity, begins at home and the responsibility for your family’s safety rests on your shoulders. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t call for help when it’s truly needed, it’s to remind you that you may be on your own for while, especially if the situation is an expansive, or severe one.

2. “All I need is a 72-hour kit with a flashlight, first aid kit, some food and water, and a radio.”
We’re not sure where the “72 hour” figure came from, but it’s an extremely minimal amount of time and not very realistic. A more practical goal is to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 2 weeks. Why 2 weeks? As bad as Katrina was, there are numerous disaster and terrorism scenarios that could see substantially more damage, and a disruption of local services for three weeks or more. Also, many biological scenarios may see a 2-week quarantine. Regarding supplies and equipment, avoid the “one-size-fits-all simpleton lists” and customize yours to your family’s unique threats, needs, and assets.

3. “My insurance policy will take care of everything.”
SWAT teams of insurance agents aren’t going to instantly rebuild your life like on TV. Insurance companies will be far more concerned about their own bottom line than yours. In fact, many insurance companies are rewriting policies to redefine some rather common terrorism or disaster related incidents as being excluded and not coverable. Check your policies closely!

4. “Good preparedness is too expensive and too complicated.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is, we haven’t made preparedness a part of our overall education. We get more preparedness info on an airline flight than we get as citizens. Most of us aren’t taught that there are literally thousands of subtle, simple, and economical things we can do to drastically improve our emergency readiness. The notion that it might be expensive or complicated has come from companies that aggressively market high-priced unnecessary gear.

5. “We can only form a neighborhood group through FEMA, the Red Cross, or local Law Enforcement.”
Neighbor helping neighbor is one of our highest civic duties. No one regulates this and you don’t have to get anyone’s permission to coordinate your safety with others. Working with these groups is rather advantageous, but not required.

6. “In a ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ terrorist attack, we’re all dead anyway.”
“WMDs” might kill larger numbers of people, but that doesn’t mean widespread destruction is a guaranteed thing. In fact, for widespread destruction, a top-grade WMD must be expertly and precisely applied under ideal conditions. This does not mean that WMDs are to be ignored or that they’re nothing to fear, it’s just that “Mass Destruction” does NOT mean “Total Destruction” at all.

7. “Nothing like that could ever happen here.”
Though some areas are more prone to certain types of disasters, say earthquakes in California, or terror attacks in New York, no area on earth is completely immune. Too, with as much as people travel, you might travel somewhere and wind up in a disaster you never thought about.

8. “All I have to worry about is my own family.”
Technically yes, but the more you’re able to care for your own family, the more you can and should help others.

9. “If preparedness were really important it would be taught in school.”
Preparedness really is that important, but schools only have so much time and budget to teach the things they already do. This is one of the many things we’re trying to change, but for now, you’re going to have to not only realize the importance of thorough emergency readiness, but to teach your family yourself.

10. “I can get free preparedness information on the Internet.”
Many free sources contain really good information. However, it takes time and experience to filter the trash from the treasure. Worse, some of these free sites have “information” that could actually cause more problems than they cure. This is why we spent years in gathering the over 400 additional books and training manuals on the CDs in “Disaster Prep 101.”

11. “Full preparedness means I have to get a lot of guns and be a ‘Survivalist.”
While personal security and family safety are valid concerns, the vast majority of people around you will not be a threat. In fact, though looters gained a lot of media attention after Katrina, there were far more numerous stories of heroism. We suggest you balance your personal security needs with your desire to help those around you and strive to reach the best of both worlds.

12. “If something really bad happens, NO one will help.”
There’s no such thing as “no one helping.” However, the best thing people can do to is to prepare their families so they need as little outside help as possible. There’s always someone needier than you and the more prepared you are, the more you free up assistance resources so they can help those less fortunate.

Copyright 2005, Paul Purcell.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stairlifts – A Guide For The Disabled And Elderly

Many elderly people face a difficult choice in their later years, as their ability to tackle the stairs in their houses becomes more difficult. Do they sell the houses they love and move into a bungalow or sheltered accommodation or do they convert their dining room to a bedroom and live downstairs, assuming they have a bathroom on the ground floor. Of course, there is a third option, which is to provide safe and secure access to their upstairs facilities by using installing a stairlift.

The purchase of a stairlift is quite a daunting prospect since it is something that you have probably never done before and will never do again. What should you look for in a stairlift and do you understand all of the facilities available and which ones are most important to you? There is also the cost factor, how much do you pay to get peace of mind and should you consider second-hand or reconditioned stairlifts.

Firstly, my recommendation is that whether you buy new or reconditioned that you go to a reputable supplier who can advise you on all of the issues, especially installation. If someone has passed away in you locality and their stairlift is for sale cheaply, it is tempting to buy it. However, remember that there are strict safety standards to adhere to, and that installation may not be straight forward. Just consider the tracking for a moment, is it a straight run, is it on the same side of the stairs, are the stairs the same dimensions, or is the tracking actually curved. With stairlifts you are not just buying a mobility product, you are also buying peace of mind. Make sure you deal with suppliers who have years of experience in advising customers and installing their products.

When considering actually what type of stairlift you require, most people opt for the seated version of the product although other types are available including a standing stairlift and one with a large platform to accommodate a wheelchair. For the rest of the article we will consider the most common type, the seated stairlift.

Seated Stairlift
These tend to be the most common type used in a domestic setting. The majority of users are able to walk, but find it difficult to negotiate the stairs. The person must be able to sit safely on the seat during transit and transfer on and off at the top and bottom of the stairs. A swivel seat and lift-up armrests will make transfers onto and off the seat easier.

The swivel seat can be manually or electrically operated. It is preferable that the user can transfer independently; however, in some situations it may be possible for the carer to carry out an assisted transfer in conjunction with a piece of small handling equipment. The ability of the carer to transfer the user at the top of the stairs should be very carefully considered and avoided if at all possible.

Seating Position
There is a choice of fixed seats, fold-down seats, perching seats and seats which slide forward to assist access in and out of the lift. Some companies will fix the seat at the most appropriate height for the user.

Some of questions you should consider prior to purchase are:

• Will the standard seat provided be the correct size for the user?

• Will the user need a special seat for a child or a harness for a more severely disabled child? A seat unit or moulded seating system will have to be removed before the seat can be folded.

• Which direction will the user need to face? Most seats face sideways, but if the user has a stiff knee he/she may need to face forwards to give them more room.

Installation Design Considerations

If your staircase has a sub-landing at the top, with a few steps to the left or right, most companies can fit a manual or motorised folding platform which bridges the gap between the top of the stairlift and the landing, although the number of stairs and the amount of available headroom will need to be taken into consideration. This allows the user to get off the stairlift and walk straight onto the landing, avoiding the need to have a curved or two straight stairlifts installed.

Some people may find the platforms unnerving as they are quite high up over the staircase. If the track for the stairlift cannot continue beyond the bottom or top step of the staircase, usually because it will obstruct a door, some companies can provide a fold-up, hinged rail to overcome this problem. Can other members of the household easily use the stairway when the lift is folded against the wall?

How will the stairlift be controlled and powered

Will the user be able to operate the standard controls, usually push button controls sited on the end of the armrest, or is an alternative method required, for example joystick or toggle controls? Will the controls need to be sited in another position? Wander leads allow the user to operate the controls from the most comfortable position or a carer to operate the lift independently. Remote controls, for a carer to operate, are also available from some companies. Lifts are available with an audible signal to alert blind and partially sighted users that the lift is at the top or the bottom of the track.

Straight stairlifts are available with a battery backup option in case of power failures. Most standard straight stairlifts are powered from the mains. Most curved stairlifts run from rechargeable batteries, which are continually topped up from charging points at the top and the bottom of the stairs. This needs accurate re-siting at the charging point because of a warning bleep if it is in the wrong place.

Maintaining your stairlift

Most major companies guarantee their stairlifts for one year. After this it is recommended that they are inspected every six months and serviced annually. Some companies offer an emergency call-out facility. However, check that they have fully trained service engineers on call 24 hours per day. On completion of your one year warranty most companies will offer to re-guarantee the lift for a charge. It is advisable to check these charges before purchasing.

So, in summary, my advice is to consider all of the points above and then contact a reputable supplier of stairlifts and go and discuss your requirements with them. Most have expert staff on hand to answer your technical queries and build a tailor made solution to fit your needs. Products to make someone more mobile are often bought by, or for, the vulnerable or infirm - take the risk out of the purchase and talk to experienced care advisors that have been specially trained to understand their customer's needs and requirements.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Our BIZZIES are not BUSY enough - Cops & Robbers

How cops today have robbed us of our Freedom

When the Good old days were bad

Snotty nose urchins ran through the rat infested streets of London trying to pick a pocket or two. The laughter would echo from that of the busty floozy flaunting her wares for a couple of coppers. Song after song would ring out through the air from the scrumpy cider drinking drunks.

Waifs and orphans huddled up together to keep the winter frost from piercing their bare flesh.  Last but not least in the good old days were the god fearing duo the Plague and Jack the Ripper.

In the good old days at least there was a little sense of security when the local bobby armed with whistle and truncheon pounded the beat over the cobbled stones with his size 9 hob nailed boots.

What made these the good old days you may well ask? Well let me tell you. In those days they had the black death/Plague. We have aids/HIV.

 In them days the local floozy was moved on; we encourage them by putting a roof over their head.  Drinking in the good old days was for the man of the house. Today it is the kids in a drunken stupor.

What of Jack the ripper's crimes in comparison with that of Ian Huntley Myra Hindley and the notorious Fred West and his wife, who took life from those they gave life too.

Hundreds of years later we find ourselves confined to our homes all because of the society we live in. We have no sense of security which leaves us all mentally scarred with fear.

 So what can we do to help improve the entire bad goings on? Understandably there are some situations where it would take the whole world to come together and unite to end famine war and terrorism. But in the meantime while we wait for the world to come to its senses, we can start with our local communities which need protecting from everyday crimes that are committed such as; murder muggings robbery drug trafficking and drink related matters.

These issues have to be tackled with force and fast. We need more power enforcement dominating our streets.

How can this be done?  Let us compare the bobby of yesterday to police of the 21st century

The bobby in the good old days with just his whistle and truncheon put Jack the ripper behind bars. He kept law and order by giving the pilferer a clip round the ear. The drunk was cautioned to tone down his singing to the key of E.  Voices hushed  to a whisper from the darkened alley as the boy in blue passed in his quest to keep law and order on the streets of London.

Then we have equipped with padded bullet proof vests and guns are our very own police force that replaced their whistles for a radio and swapped truncheons for a baton

But the mind boggles as to the sense in all these crime preventing gadgets if our cops are not out walking the beat?

Police patrols are a great deterrent to most law breakers. Crime will forever continue to be on the increase while our police sit behind theirs desks

Ask yourself why police have to ask for witnesses to come forward, have you ever noticed how the force are never the ones at the scene of a crime first?

There would be less scenes of a crime to attend if the police are given back the role of what they are paid to do and that is to uphold law and order and not to encourage it by their absence.

Save the next innocent child from abduction. Catch the rapist before he pounces on his prey. Take the murder weapon from the hands of the madman before the killing takes place. Stop savage beatings on the street or in peoples own homes.

To stop those 999 calls coming in, the police need to be out there with the criminals and by doing that, they just may gain back respect from society