Friday, June 02, 2006

Ever-Open Laundry Bag - Martha Stewart.com


I've decided that my husband has to have a laundry bag for his dress shirts. They seem to pick up stains from the other clothes, when placed in the laundry basket, making it near impossible to get them clean. I've even had to throw out a few of his favorites.

To make sure that he uses it I decided to use a trick from Martha Stewart.com. She shows the bag hung up and left open with a large embrodiery hoop.

This is such a great idea that I may make one for my dress shirts too.

8th Annual Summer Reading Program - Homeschool About.com

I'm a big supporter of summer reading programs so here's another one for you to check out. Homeschool About.com has started their 8th Annual Summer Reading Program. Just visit the site for details and to sign up. The only cost is a .63 cent stamp to cover postage. Program ends on August 31, 2006.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What You Don't Know About Auto Insurance by Liane Wood, CIP

This is a terrific article about the 101 on auto insurance. As a former auto insurance sales agent I know how important it is to understand and know what's in your policy. Liane Wood gives you a great place to start.
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What You Don’t Know About Auto Insurance
By: Liane Wood, CIP

Most people understand that they need auto insurance. In fact, it’s the law, if you drive a car, it has to be insured and the penalty for driving without insurance is pretty severe. However, insurance policy wordings are not easy for everyone to understand. And what you don’t know about auto insurance can hurt you. Here’s some clarification of a few things that are commonly misunderstood about auto insurance.

• Personal property in your vehicle is not covered on an auto insurance policy. Auto insurance policies provide coverage for automobiles. For instance, items like compact discs, laptop computers and cell phones are not covered on an auto insurance policy. Items like these can be covered on a property insurance policy. What this means is that if the contents of your car, like the items listed above, are damaged in an accident or lost by fire or theft while in your car, you’ll need to file a claim for your contents on your property insurance policy.

• If you loan your car, you’ve also loaned your insurance. If your friend is involved in an accident while driving a car borrowed from you, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is, your insurance company will most likely cover the accident (except in extenuating circumstances like if the driver isn’t licensed, or was impaired at the time of the accident, then coverage can be denied or limited). The bad news is, your insurance company treats the accident as if you were driving your car. This means that the accident your friend had while driving your car, is on your insurance record. It’s as if you were driving the car yourself. Best advice, don’t loan your car out.

• When you change insurance companies, you MUST officially cancel your old policy. With most insurance companies, you can request the cancellation of your policy at any time by notifying them in writing stating the date you wish your policy to be cancelled. So many people misunderstand this and presume that if they decide not to renew a policy, all they have to do is ignore the bill. DON’T DO THIS! Unfortunately, the insurance companies most times will send you another bill and then when the premium isn’t paid, they will register a cancellation due to non-payment of premiums on your insurance record. Having a non-payment cancellation on your insurance record is serious stuff and getting this straightened out after the fact can be a real hassle. What you’ll want to do when you change insurance companies, is request cancellation of your old policy in writing. Make sure you watch the dates (the date you’re canceling one policy and starting another policy) so that you have continuous coverage while making the change between insurance companies. You don’t want to be without auto insurance for a day or so while you make arrangements for new insurance.

The best advice on any of these things if you’re not sure is to contact your broker and ask for their advice. Doing this will ensure that you have the coverage you need when you need it the most and it could save you a head ache or two down the road.

Article by:


Liane Wood is a chartered insurance professional and registered insurance broker specializing in personal and small business insurance. Visit her website at: www.insurance-rates.ca.

Can You Afford to be a Stay At Home Mom? By Kendra Spencer

In most cases, moms make a decision to stay home. In my case, I suffered a work related injury that made the decision for me. I definitely happy about it but it's best to plan for the change. Read Kendra's article for more insight.

Can You Afford to be a Stay at Home Mom?
By: Kendra Spencer

Deciding whether or not you can stay at home after you have a baby can be a big decision. Emotions play a big factor, especially after holding your precious newborn for the first time. It's hard to imagine leaving this tiny little thing with a stranger. On the other hand, you can gain a tremendous sense of accomplishment from your job that you couldn't feel after a day of changing diapers and wiping up spit up. No matter how you face it emotionally, if you are considering becoming a stay at home mom at all, you first need to figure out if you can financially afford to do it.

Make a Budget
The first step you should take is to record your expenses. For at least one month, better yet three, record everything you spend from latte’s to toilet paper to dinners out. Everything needs to be accounted for. There is no need to go on a budget diet yet, the goal is to find out how much you currently spend and on what items, so that if you find you do need to scale back, you can recognize where to do so.

There are a couple of ways you can go about recording all of your purchases. One is you can carry around a little notebook and make a note every time you buy something. The other way is to charge everything you purchase with your debit or credit card and use your monthly statement as your notebook of purchases. However, if you choose to charge everything to your credit card, you must promise yourself to pay off the full amount when your statement comes. Going into credit card debt is not going to help you achieve your goal of becoming a stay at home mom.

Once you have every cup of coffee, every grocery trip and every pair of new shoes accounted for, it's time to write it into a budget worksheet. Use a spreadsheet to like this one http://www.shoppingfortwo.com/Articles/Mom/Budget.xls that contains all the expense categories most households face and will automatically add all of your expenses together and subtract them from your income. When you have the form filled out, look at your bottom number. Hopefully this will be positive. Now go up and delete your income at the top. Don't forget to delete any expenses that occur from you working (dry cleaning bill, gas costs, lunches out, etc.). Remember also that your taxes will change once you drop down to one income and you may be able to change your withholdings to bring more monthly income in. Go to the IRS website and use their tax withholding calculator with only your husbands paycheck information to see how much you can change your withholdings. If your bottom number is still positive, then you are fortunate enough to be able to be a stay at home mom without much fiscal sacrifice. However if it's now dipped to a negative number, do not despair, it's time to look over your expenses and find ways to minimize them.

Saving on Your Expenses
Saving money doesn’t always have to be painful. Many women say that one of their biggest jobs as stay at home moms is to seek out bargains and make sure the family sticks to a budget. Consider this a lesson in what could be part of your new job description. Below are four big-ticket expenses that most households face. Let’s take a look at these and see if we can't save a couple hundred dollars right off the bat.

• Mortgage or Rent. This is often a couple’s largest monthly expense. The obvious way to reduce this cost is to move to a less expensive place to live, but that's not always the best option for your family. Try looking at refinancing. That can be a fantastic way to lower your monthly mortgage payment and may make it financially feasible for you to be able to become a stay at home mom. Plug some numbers onto an online refinancing company to see if this might make sense for you. If you rent, ask your landlord if there is anything you can do around the property that could reduce your monthly rent. Ask if you can help manage their other properties, take on the yardwork, do other chores or even sign on for a longer lease for a reduction in rent.

• Credit card, car payments and other 'bad' debt. These kinds of debts you want to try and get out of as soon as possible. Make is a goal to get out of credit card debt before you decide to become a stay at home mom. There are a number of credit cards that offer zero percent interest for a specific amount of time. Take advantage of these offers to reduce your monthly bill and use the amount you would have paid with your old card towards paying off the principle. Condense your monthly expenses and throw everything you can towards paying your credit card debt and car payment off so that your time for being a stay at home mom will be less stressful.

• Grocery Bill. You can easily reduce your grocery bill by planning a weekly menu and making a shopping list. Designate one night a week for sitting down with the grocery ads and your cookbooks. Come up with seven different meals that take advantage of the weeks grocery sales and write down the list of ingredients you will need. There are many great website services that will plan your weekly meals and e-mail you a weekly shopping list too. Make sure to clip coupons from the Sunday paper and from coupon websites. Also try the generic version of your favorite brand. Chances are you'll never notice the difference.

• Utilities. Take Dad's advise and start turning off the lights when you leave a room. Replace incandescent lights with florescent, get a hot water heater blanket for your hot water heater. There are a number of different ways you can reduce your energy bill. Don't hesitate to call your utilities and ask how you can save money on your monthly bill. You phone company can find a more efficient and cheaper plan for you and the garbage company can suggest a smaller garbage can size. Also ask yourself if you really need all of the gadgets you’ve become accustomed to: Do you really need that cell phone now that you won’t be commuting? Do you really need the fancy cable TV package or can you live without it for a few years?

Keep moving down each category on your budget worksheet and ask yourself how you could reduce costs. In this day and age most families have to make sacrifices for a parent to become a stay at home parent. Remember that it's temporary though. Children grow up before you know it and being a stay at home mom may just be more satisfying than any payroll job you could ever have.

Article by:


Kendra Spencer is the creator of www.shoppingfortwo.com which offers shopping, health and baby advise for new and pregnant moms. Visit her website to download a free budget Excel spreadsheet to keep tab of your monthly expenses: www.shoppingfortwo.com/Articles/Mom/Budget.xls Also, check out her shopping blog at www.shoppingfortwo.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Top Six Tips For Keeping Your Cool When Customers Get Hot - Myra Golden

If you are doing customer service and/or sales, over the phone, you're going to run into angry customers. It's just part of the industry. The challenge for you is to stay professional and hopefully defuse the situation.

Stop by Myra Golden's website to read her top six tips for staying cool when the customer is hot! I recommend printing out a copy for a reference. (Take note of number 6 tip)

Summer Job Search Tips for Teens


Visit Job Search About.com for an extensive list of summer job search tips. Many parents and teens forget that they may be required to obtain work permits. Depending on your state, the age and work hours can be different. Check with your state's Labor of Employment Agency.

The article also covers writing resumes, dress codes, references and of course, job searching. After reading it, you may want to print a copy for yor teen.

Have a safe and terrific summer!

Wedding Gift Idea - 'Dine Without Whine'


We recently received a wedding invitation, to attend my husband's co-worker's daughter's event. Immediately, I started thinking of possible gift ideas.

This service will eliminate or reduce the need for takeout and eating out and saving money. The recipes are easy to follow, so either person can make them. They'll even find desserts and breakfast recipes.

Dine Without Whine, weekly menu planning service, is offering a Lifetime membership for only $89.95 instead of $130, till June 30! Just use coupon 1A46 when checking out. They'll receive delicious recipes and a grocery shopping, for the week, delivered to their email.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Summer Reading Program Starts Today!

Last year, I decided to participate in my own Summer Reading Program. It was fun and I was able to read a variety of books. My son, felt the competition and was able to meet his 25 hours goals, in the local public library Summer Reading Program.

This year, after meeting my goal, I'll treat myself to a flower bouquet, for my work desk.

I decided to start with 'October Song' by Beverly Lewis. I discovered Mrs. Lewis' books last year. She combines her Mennonite heritage and Lancaster County upbringing to write a series of fictional books, on the Plain people and their lives.

Ice Cream Freezer Patented in 1848 Today!


All ages will join in the fun when you pull out the Ice Cream Freezer. Thanks to Nancy Johnson and William Young, we have a wide variety of choices, in ice cream makers.

In 1846, Nancy Johnson invented the hand crank ice cream freezer. By turning the handle, a container of ice cream it's agitated until it becomes frozen. Miss Johnson didn't bother to have her idea patented. William Young created a similar freezer, had it patented on May 30, 1848 and even named it, 'Johnson Patented Ice Cream Freezer'.

In Science Club, our teen and others, made Ice Cream In A Bag. This is a fun and edible science project.

Family Crafts About.com has other ice cream creations and crafts.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Summertime Bathroom Tips by Susie Glennan

I notice as the warm approaches, our bathroom takes more abuse. It can be a challenge to keep it looking and smelling clean. I keep a spray bottle, full of cleaner, and paper towels, under the sink, for quick cleanups. I also spray the shower after showers.

Stop by About.com and read 'Summertime Bathroom Tips' by Susie Glennan.

Work at Home Distractions by Catherine Roseberry

I've been working from home, for 1.5 year. You would think that I would have this distraction thing down but it occasionally raises it's ugly head. My husband and son love to attempt to start conversations with me during my phone shifts. I love talking to them but not when I'm processing orders.

Catherine Roseberry, Mobile Office Technology About.com Guide, has written an article on many distractions and how to manage them. I love her suggestions on dealing with email. It definitely made me think twice about the various email groups, that I belong to.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Gardener's Diary by Rachel Paxton


I really love this idea. It's a fun way to keep and share your memories with your family and friends. Buy or make a beautiful book and take it from there!

A Gardener's Diary By: Rachel Paxton

Have you ever thought about keeping a gardener's diary to record what you plant and where you plant it? Keeping a diary will help you plan next year's garden by recording which plants grew well and which ones didn't. You can also note which colors do or don't look good together, or which plants overwhelm one another. Keep a record of how long the sun shines in different areas of your yard so you can find plants that require the appropriate amount of sunlight. In our yard, the soil is not the same everywhere. We have made do by planting different kinds of plants in different types of soil.

We have a big patch of very sandy soil that turned out to be adequate to grow a good crop of zucchini and pumpkins last year, as long as we kept it well watered. Our tulips did really well last year. We have them scattered here and there throughout the yard, but their favorite place is in a very sandy shady spot next to the front porch. Those tulips were twice as big as the ones that got more sunshine. This year, however, we got a little warm weather in early spring and then a cold spell. The poor tulips never recovered from the cold and didn't bloom at all! One plant that doesn't seem to care where it is planted is our rhubarb. It has been moved from house to house several times, it has grown in different types of soil, and it has been watered inconsistently. I then cut it all off and it grows right back again! This plant seems impossible to harm.

We're experimenting with daisies this year. I wanted to add some more color to our yard. I planted them in different places and will watch to see where they do best.

I love looking at my yard and looking at all the different plants that people have given me. Who would have thought that plants could be keepsakes. You can make notes in your diary as to who gave you what plants and what meaning they have to you. Our rhubarb plant is the same one that we had at our home when I was a child, and my mom gave me some of the chrysanthemums that were given to me and planted in her yard when my daughter was born almost twelve years ago. Walking around the yard I see flowers from my aunt, rosemary from my husband's grandmother, and the young maple tree my daughter grew from a seed several years ago. There are many memories in our small surroundings. Planting seedlings from other people's gardens is also a great way to save money - plants are so expensive these days. Why pay for them at the store when you can get them for free? I also buy a lot of plants at the end of the season. A lot of stores have two-for-one sales and practically give away their leftover plants. Even a half wilted annual will perk right up when you give it a little tender-loving care. It will be back good as new next year.

Your diary can be as simple as a spiral notebook or as fancy as a bound diary you can buy at the store. If you are good at drawing, you can also make sketches of your plants in your diary. If you end up living in the same place for many years, your gardening diary can be a little piece of history for your family. Your family will cherish those memories for a lifetime.

Article by:


Originally published at Suite 101. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at www.creativehomemaking.com.

Planning for College Early by Sonja Montiel

While attending the Oral History Presentation for 7-8 Graders, one of the moms and I started talking about a neighbor of hers. The neighbor's son applied to Harvard and had terrific grades. His family and him were confident that he would get in. Unfortunately, he was refused. The reason was he didn't have any community service.

Take a moment to read Sonja Montiel's article, 'Planning for College Early'. She points out that the four years of high school should be used to focus on college planning. Freshmen should approach planning with keeping the college idea option door opened.