3 Affordable and Eco-Friendly Home Repairs

Home repairs are a fact of life when you’re a homeowner. Depending on the damages, these repairs can take a good chunk out of your funds, particularly if you want quality materials. Eco-friendly options tend to be somewhat more expensive but, in the long run, will often save you money. Here are a few environmentally friendly options for when your home needs repairing.


  1. A Color Change for Your Roof


The standard dark, asphalt shingles you find on most houses are not only unrecyclable but also draw in heat, increasing your energy costs and negatively impacting the surrounding climate. With steadily rising popularity, white roofs are making an appearance in the eco-friendly market. These white roofs are comparable in price to their dark counterparts depending on the materials used. The asphalt option is the least expensive, but remains unrecyclable.

A more expensive alternative – but better in the long run – is a composite white roofing material. They are entirely sustainable and retain their light color for many years as opposed to the more rapidly fading asphalt shingles. Also unlike asphalt shingles, these unique tiles come with a 50-year warranty, making them much cheaper than the standard 20-year lifespan of asphalt shingles.


Furthermore, this change can make your home more unique and more attractive for the time you decide to sell your home. Not only will it visually stand out but you can also draw potential buyers in with the reduced energy costs, increased lifespan, and sustainability of this unique roof. Image via Pixabay by midascode


  1. Replace Old Appliances with More Efficient Options


If one of your appliances has bitten the dust, consider replacing it with an Energy Star alternative. Energy Star items can cost more upfront but the amount of energy saved will make it worth the extra cost. Furthermore, you can even get a tax break for simply owning an Energy Star appliance. On top of the personal gain, Energy Star appliances positively impact the planet by reducing emissions. Beyond the initial cost, there is no con to counteract the numerous pros behind an Energy Star appliance.


For things like toilets and sinks, a slightly different array of options is available. Low flush toilets reduce the amount of water used per flush. This can save hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water per year. Aerated sinks push out both water and air, reducing the water flow while maintaining water pressure. Tankless water heaters simply force water through a heating system instead of filling a tank with a limited supply of hot water. All of these options will save you money in the long run and don’t cost much more upfront.


  1. For Floor Repairs, Think Recycled or Alternative


Rather than using new wood and contributing to forest destruction, consider using reclaimed wood or even bamboo to make any repairs to a wood floor. Bamboo is rising in popularity as both a flooring and a building material. It grows very quickly – up to 3ft per day – and is a very sustainable alternative to more common choices like maple, oak, and pine. Some hardwoods can cost up to $10 per foot while bamboo is most often found between $2 and $5 per foot.


Reclaimed wood, while sustainable, is the more costly option. It runs at about $8 per square foot and may be best for repairs rather than entire floor replacements. Of course, wood floors are not a necessity. Tile flooring is also very sustainable and extremely flexible in regards to color and design. Tile is more durable but also more expensive to install.


Regardless of your home repair, there is always a sustainable or eco-friendly option whether it be bamboo floors, an Energy Star refrigerator, or a brand new white roof. With a little research, you can easily be on your way to saving money and doing your part to improve the environment.





Just Keep Swimming: Wearable Water Gear That Gets Everybody in the Pool

Swimming pool - young happy couple relax on poolside

Swimming pool – young happy couple relax on poolside


The snow may be falling and the winds may be howling, but it’s never too soon to start dreaming of warm temperatures and the return of swim season. In fact, if you and your family have access to an indoor pool or heated garage or large, tiled area, your blissful afternoons spent by the refreshing water never have to end — even when it’s 20 degrees outside. Check your local community center for indoor pools or get a small above-ground pool for your little ones to practice in before summer hits.

To encourage your kids to enjoy spending time in the pool and inspire yourself to get some much-needed exercise, there are a variety of innovative types of technology and other equipment. Check out the following ideas to get everyone in the family in the pool:

Aqua Jogger Fitness Belts

In this season of New Year’s Resolutions, purchasing some equipment that makes it fun and easy to get a good workout in the pool makes a lot of sense. For example, the Aqua Jogger Fitness Belt is perfect for swimmers of all ages and fitness levels. These clever and supportive belts turn any pool into a great place for a workout, and they will allow you and your kids to do just about any type of land activity you can think of, from running and aerobic dancing to cross-country skiing. The comfy belt will suspend you in the water at shoulder level, which lets you rest easily in the water and use the majority of your body to exercise.

TomTom Spark Cardio Fitness Tracker

A great tech item that will encourage you to swim laps is the TomTom Spark Cardio fitness tracker. This resilient and waterproof device can handle time in the pool with ease. As a bonus, you can play music while swimming laps, and also get accurate heart rate, time, distance, speed and pace info. A word of advice — you might want to pick up a couple waterproof fitness trackers if you can. Kids love wearing these devices and will enjoy timing themselves as they crawl, butterfly and dog paddle their way across the pool.

Waterproof Smartphone Case

While it’s important to keep a smartphone near the pool in case of emergency, we all know that phones do not mix well with water. To keep your phones safe and maybe even take a few selfies under water, consider purchasing a couple Griffin Survivor Waterproof phone cases. This rugged, affordable and waterproof case is designed to handle accidental and intentional drops in up to nine feet of water. Your kids are sure to love using their phones by or even in the pool; for instance, as you paddle back and forth they can stay busy taking some silly selfies under water, or you can ask them to take video of your swimming stroke from below the surface to check that your form is spot on.

Mini Bluetooth Speakers

If you love working out to good music but are unsure how to combine your favorite tunes with 20 minutes of aqua aerobics, check out the SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II from Bose. This innovative little speaker can be set up on a nearby table or chair and will deliver amazingly powerful and natural sound. You can connect it wirelessly to your waterproof smartphone, which will allow you to enjoy your music while working out in the water. The battery lasts a full 10 hours, which means you won’t have to recharge it after every workout.


Sam’s Club Health Screening on January 9

I don’t write down New Year’s resolutions. I write down New Year’s goals.  What are your goals this 2016?  Mine are to run a 5 K and half marathon, practice yoga daily, eat healthy, don’t drink alcohol, and pay off my credit cards.

A recent survey found that Americans have three main goals in 2016 – to increase savings, increase exercise and lose weight. Resolutions can be hard to keep, though – especially for busy parents. To help make it easier for people to achieve their health goals this year without straining their wallets, Sam’s Club Pharmacies nationwide will host several free health screenings for both members and the public.


Additional details on each screening will be made available at SamsClub.com. The first screening will take place this Saturday, January 9 from 11am-4pm at all Sam’s Club locations with a pharmacy. It is valued at $150 and includes the following tests:


  • Blood pressure
  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Glucose
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Vision (not available at all locations)
  • Hearing (not available at all locations)

My Holiday Movie Night

During the holidays and winter months, I prefer to stay at home to recharge, rejuvenate, and relax.  Too much holiday schmoozing and socializing can get me mentally and emotionally taxed.  To relax during the holidays,  I make some popcorn, find my warmest blanket and fluffiest pillows, put on my fleece pajamas, pour myself a glass of white wine, and put on “The Holiday” on my DVD (see checklist below).  Oh, and it helps if I can snuggle up to my special someone too.  He just has to like my choice of romantic holiday movie.   Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet is just fabulous in this movie.  My two favorite leading ladies.  And the male actors are great as well.  This is my idea of fun during the holidays and after the holidays too.  This movie gets me in the holiday spirit because its adventurous and not the typical Christmas movie since Cameron Diaz is in England.  Not only does this movie put me in the holiday spirit but it also signifies strong and independent women who are willing to take chances.




What to Remember While Driving with Your Kids: Teaching Safe Habits

Teenage daughter gets a driving lesson from her mother or an instructor.

Teenage daughter gets a driving lesson from her mother or an instructor.

Eighty-three percent of teens say their parents engage in unsafe driving behavior with them in the car, according to a survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). Of the teens surveyed, 60 percent report asking parents to stop their dangerous driving habits like texting while driving.

While texting tops the list for dangerous driving habits, there are other important things to be aware of while driving with your kids, from car maintenance to highlighting teachable moments. Whether you hope to impart safe driving skills or want to improve your own, there are ways to increase awareness while on the road. Here are a few things to keep in mind while driving with your kids.

Quality Tires Save Lives

Sure, you know that the the maintenance of components like the brakes and steering are crucial to safe driving. But the quality of your tires and how you care for them can make a bigger impact than you may think. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, maintaining good tire pressure can save lives, gas and liability. Under inflating your tires can also decrease your fuel efficiency and add to environmental pollution and a poor future climate for your children.

Regularly check your tire pressure and keep the tires rotated and balanced according to your car manufacturer’s recommendations. Choosing the right tires to begin with can make an impact on your family’s safety and the longevity and durability of your tires. For example, TireBuyer offers a large selection of Continental tires with year-round traction, fuel efficient performance and safety.

Distracted Driving goes Beyond Texting

According to Esurance, there are three types of distracted driving, including visual, cognitive and manual. Cognitive distractions happen when a driver’s mind isn’t focused on the road and can even happen when being preoccupied by personal issues or talking to another passenger. Visual distractions include looking at anything other than the road like tinkering with electronic devices or looking in the back seat to address your kids. A manual distraction is when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel to eat or drink, dig through a purse or to text.

It’s tough not to look back at your kids when they need something or take your hand off the wheel to adjust your seat belt. But you can control keeping your phone off and put away to stop yourself from texting or taking an important call. You can also set an example for your kids by limiting your distractions as much as possible and discussing what distracted driving means, why not to do it, and the consequences involved. The more your kids understand what distracted driving is and why it’s dangerous, the more likely they are to take it seriously.

Driving is a Teachable Moment

Every time you get behind the wheel with your kids in tow is a teachable moment. Explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, like suddenly braking to avoid an animal in the road, or slowing down in the rain. Admit when you’ve been careless while driving or made a mistake so your see you taking accountability and responsibility for your actions. The more you model the behavior you want your kids’ to emulate behind the wheel, the more likely they are to follow your lead.


Life After Addiction Can Be Beautiful

Millions of people in the United States suffer from drug addiction, but the road to recovery can be difficult. Those of you who haven’t taken the crucial step toward recovery may be afraid, uncertain how long it will take, and whether or not you will make it. That’s why it’s important for patients to recognize the immense benefits of rehab, so you can visualize the positive changes you are working towards.

Though it may be hard to see from the beginning, life on the other side of rehab means independence, a stronger family, and support for continued health. Addiction treatment services are available to you from a variety of sources, and by taking advantage of them you’re giving yourself a second chance at a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Regaining Your Personal Freedom

Though completing addiction rehab is a difficult and sometimes long journey, it provides you with more space in your life for personal fulfillment. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, some of the effects of drug dependency include missing work, school, or group activities, while also needing regular drug use to function. This means that, personal pursuits can become less important than the addiction itself.

For example, if you once enjoyed travel, you may start putting all of your money and time towards drug abuse, giving up a healthy hobby for unhealthy one. With the right treatment, such as an empathetic, evidenced-based rehabilitation center, you will return to work, school, and activities you actually enjoy. After rehab, the travel fan can start seeing the world again.

Recovery for Your Family and Friends Too

Drug addiction can frequently lead to trust issues among family or friend groups. Those who are close to you may feel helpless in their efforts to support you. Seeking professional treatment in a rehab center can help you repair ties that were once strained between family and friends, and guide everyone towards healthier relationships with one another.

As Dr. Kelly Clark, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, told Live Science, “the strongest thing that is helpful is having a system of care that can surround a person.” If you commit to a healthier life in rehab, and your close ones commit to supporting you through that process, you will all see the positive impacts.

Peer Support Means Staying Sober

For many addicts, the recovery process can be extremely isolating. Due to the stigma of addiction, it can be difficult to share personal struggles with others. Therefore a group-focused recovery method can support the recovery process long after you leave the center.

According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, research shows that social support facilitates addiction recovery, because addicts can draw on the support and motivation of others who have been in their shoes, and build new social networks to feel less isolated in their recovery process. Rehab centers give patients the opportunity to build these connections and practice sharing their experiences with others. These skills will continue to be useful post-rehab, with support groups to help prevent relapse.

When you’re ready to address your addiction head-on, effective rehab can be a stepping stone to a healthier, brighter life. At any point in the recovery process, it’s important to recognize the immense benefits that exist on the other side of rehab, to know that all the hard work you put in now will manifest tenfold later. After rehab, you will feel empowered, connected to your old social circles and your new peers, and prepared to take control of your choices and future.



Holiday Gift Giving

Its not too early to think about the holidays, considering Halloween is this weekend and Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

As a parent, your holiday gift list likely includes more than just family members. That makes sense because, according to the National Retail Federation, giving to others – such as the babysitter, teachers, and even the FedEx delivery guy – is on the rise*. If the thought of running around searching for a plethora of presents is causing you a holiday headache, not to worry. Sam’s Club has made it possible to sit back, relax and purchase gifts from the comfort of your couch.

The 2015 SamsClub.com Winter Gifting Catalog includes break-apart sets that allow you to gift many without breaking the bank. Buy a few cute holiday gift bags and you’ve crossed off several people from your list in one shot:

·         Ghirardelli Gift Basket ($19.98) – a “sweet” gesture, this decadent combination includes 20 various premium chocolate items.

·         Cocoa and Travel Mug Set ($19.87) – this set, which includes five travel mugs, hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, will warm the hearts of recipients.

·         Popcornopolis Gift Basket ($14.96) – perfect for the babysitter or mother’s helper, this gift set includes four different popcorn flavors.

·         Extreme Value Gift Cards (prices vary) – personalize gift cards to the recipient’s hobbies, interests or favorite indulgences while saving up to 20 percent (for example, a $150 Disney gift card multipack for $142.98).


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