Ugh. We have a leak!

Ugh. We have a leak!

You know how as a homeowner you can sometimes feel like something is about to stop working? Well it happened and it wasn’t pretty. I guess that’s the life of home ownership. Everything is fine one minute and then the next minute you’re freaking out because something’s busted, you don’t have a clue what to do, and all you can think about is what the damage will be at the end.

Ok, so our water heater is older than our teenage daughter but still… when you find your water heater is leaking in your basement, it comes off as a shock. I tried convincing myself it must have been something else like condensation or something but my husband set me straight and we knew our water heater was toast. Fortunately, we have a water shutoff valve within easy reach so at least the damage can be contained.

Turns out that the water heater had been leaking ever so slightly for a few weeks. We couldn’t quite pinpoint where it was leaking from since it was a REALLY slow leak. We checked the usual home improvement forums and a few plumbing related sites. After going through diagnosing the water leak, we narrowed it down to the leak somewhere near the bottom of the tank. The hope was that it would be a simple fix like the drain valve but unfortunately, it appears to be the tank itself. Shouldn’t really come off as a surprise since the water heater is so old but it wasn’t the conclusion we were hoping for.

Now my husband is a pretty handy guy but replacing a gas water heater is not really in his comfort zone. We decided to bite the bullet and let the pros do the install once we found a new water heater. I figure I’ll do some research and find a good deal on a high efficiency water heater and we’ll actually be able to lower our energy bills. We’re not planning on moving anytime soon so I’m not really stressing about the cost since it will end up paying for itself.

We did end up looking into a new tankless model (which we’ve heard good things about) but at about $5k? Ummm… no thanks. We’ll be just fine with another giant tank in the basement. There are actually quite a few different water heater types including these “hybrid” models which weren’t really that much more than a normal unit but it wouldn’t work for our application without a whole lot of modification ($$$). So, standard 50-gallon gas model it is.

Ended up getting a good deal at Lowes even though I tried my best getting a better deal online. Who would have thought that a big, heavy, appliance would be expensive to ship across the country. Right? Instead of using Lowe’s professional services to do the install, we contacted a local plumber who agreed to do the install a couple hundred less that Lowes. The plumber ended up picking up the water heater the next day and installing it in a couple hours. I wouldn’t recommend finding a water heater leak just as the weather is getting colder but going a day and a half without hot water wasn’t the end of the world.

 

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Our Trip to Maui

Our Trip to Maui

Long time to hear from me and I apologize for that. Lots of things going have been going on. Recently me, my hubby and kids took a trip to Maui, Hawaii. It started like this… last month we were looking for a great vacation spot to unwind and relax, away from the hustle and bustle of every day life in our city. We had several vacation spots in mind, like in Florida, and Colorado– but in the end, after a lot of thinking and planning, me and my husband decided on Maui as our final destination. It seemed like the perfect (read: WARM) spot!

Apart from the beautiful Hawaiian scenery, sun-kissed hills, lovely breath-taking views, and endless dining and sight-seeing options, I think a lot of our decision came from the fact that we both visited Maui as kids and loved it. We wanted this to be a great time for our kids – not just us! So, the time came for us to pack up and leave for our trip.

mauiThe first few days we stayed at a hotel right next to the beach. I took advantage of this time to take my 8 year old daughter for swimming and snorkeling lessons that first day. The life guard even gave a class on beach safety and talked about using a life jacket to keep safe. It was valuable information that we were able to use while at the beach. That said, I did a lot of research on my own before our trip. According to lifejacketadvisor.com, 90% of drownings happen near the shore. That was surprising since I always thought it was out at sea on a boat.

Per a close friend’s recommendation, we went to the local Costco and purchased a couple life jackets for the kids instead of renting them. The best life jacket for a 50 pound child is supposedly the Stohlquist and they happened to have a good deal on it. We picked up two, a smaller size for m. (we ended up reselling them before we went home for only a slight loss… much cheaper than renting for the entire week)

Anyway, our next location to continue our tropical vacation was at an exceptional resort in West Maui. I had the opportunity to spend time at some unique places while there – like the Art Collection Tour, which is home to one of the biggest corporate art displays in all of Hawaii! The lady that showed me around directed me to some ancient artifacts from an old ship that dated back to the early 1700s. Alana, my oldest, was so thrilled to see all the historical items. She loves history!

We were treated like royalty at the Royal Feast Sunset Dinner Cruise. The view was just incredible. We were helped to a meal of grilled carp and tropical rice, and for dessert we had pineapple soufflé.

Next, was the West Maui Molokai Helicopter Tour. Myself, and my hubby and 2 kids got to see all kinds of breath-taking views from the helicopter. We must have taken a ton of photos of the water, the hills, trees, and beautiful tropical leaves that sprinkled the land.

I can’t forget about the trip to Hot Island Glass, where we got a tour of the glass blowing facility, and got to see many of the beautiful finished products. There were so many different kinds of vases, decorative glasses and fancy plates to admire. I even got to pick one out to display in my home!

Although my 2 year old, is a bit young to appreciate the entire experience, she did enjoy herself. And our family is sure to share the memories for years to come.

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The Trim Healthy Mama Craze

The Trim Healthy Mama Craze

I often tell myself, “time to go on a diet”, then I eat everything in sight. Has this happened to you? I do not know why I can’t use the word DIET; I just think the word gives me a negative mindset. I know I need to lose a few pounds and I have come to the conclusion that losing weight in my mid-thirties is a lot more difficult than in my twenties.

In reality, I need to lose more than a few pounds. I can’t even share the number of pounds I should lose without blushing. I just kept telling myself I was just still carrying around the extra weight from having a baby. My youngest is now two; my oldest is eight. I really can’t hide behind the baby weight excuse anymore. As I stare at my husband, I realize he could lose a few pounds too. I do not want to give you the impression he is overweight; he just seems to be carrying a few extra pounds around his mid-section.

So, I have decided to create a new mindset, “time to get healthy”. If I focus on the need to get healthy, I will not use the dreaded “diet” word. Focusing on eating and living is not just for me, I want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle that will give me a better chance of seeing my two children, graduate from high school, go to college and eventually marry the person of their dreams. If I had the money and time to do so, I’d totally look into how to become a certified nutritionist, especially after seeing how much a nutrition can make. Maybe some day…

After spending an afternoon researching and talking to a few friends, I decided the Trim Healthy Mama plan was the right option for me. I had not heard of this type of plan before I began my research. Honestly, I think the title attracted me at first. Of course, it could be a typically fad diet but something about it seems a bit different from the norm.

Fooled Ya Pizza (YUM!)

Fooled Ya Pizza (YUM!)

One of the greatest aspects of this program is eating delicious food. Normally, when I heard the word “diet”, I envisioned tiny servings of tasteless food. With the Trim Healthy Mama plan, I am able to make all sorts of delicious foods. The portions are not small; the whole concept is eating the right food combination to help lose and maintain my specific goal. I also like the fact; I do not have to count calories. Counting calories always made me feel like a failure every time I would go past the recommended intake amount.

Convincing my husband was a difficult task in the beginning. But after the first week of trying Crabby Patties, Zucchini Fires, Volcano Mud Slide Muffin and the Sunday Crock Pot Roast, he was more willing get on board with the new healthy eating mindset.

Even though we have just started this journey, I am hopeful for a positive, healthier lifestyle.  I like the fact that the book includes references and verses from the Bible. The fact that two sisters started this program and succeeded, give me hope. I like the fact that the program was designed by real women who know the struggles of trying to lose weight.

I recently spotted the most amazing red dress that I want to wear for my anniversary party in six months. For me, having a goal of fitting into the dress and surprising my husband helps me stay on track.

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How to Ditch Your Landline Phone

How to Ditch Your Landline Phone

As cell phones overshadow traditional land line telephones as many people’s primary communications device, keeping a landline can seem redundant. And, paying for a landline seems wasteful, especially when it goes unused. For the longest time, a landline was necessary in order to maintain an internet connection. It has also been the best way to keep a line of communication open to a household with several members and been the most reliable way to have access to 911 service. Times, however, are changing.

Skype

skypeAs most people are probably aware, Skype uses instant messaging software to allow people to video chat. What many people may not be aware of is that you can use Skype for voice and text messaging as well.

Bluetooth

One way to get a home phone without paying for a landline is to use Bluetooth technology to connect your cordless phone to your cell. You can have two phones with only one bill. Panasonic, Goodcall and Uniden all offer Bluetooth-enabled cordless phones.

UMA

Not many people know about Unlicensed Mobile Access. It is a technology that allows your mobile phone to connect to your home Wi-fi to make free phone calls. Best of all, it won’t count against your monthly minutes. Check with your mobile carrier to see if this service is available to you.

Smartphone Apps

There are many Smartphone apps such as Free calls with Magic Jack, Viber and Line2– just to name a few– that will allow you to make free phone calls to anyone in the U.S. and Canada no matter whether they have a landline or are using a mobile device.

Magic Jack

magic jackMagic Jack is a tiny device that plugs into the USB port on your computer. Once a regular phone jack is plugged into the other end of Magic Jack, you can make inexpensive phone calls. For $20 per year you can make unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada and pay nothing for incoming calls. The only catch with Magic Jack is that you have to have a solid internet connection, otherwise you will experience a lot of dropped calls.

Cell Phone Booster

Even though you may have a cell phone, poor reception is the biggest hindrance to people getting rid of their home phone. Most cell phone boosters (or repeaters) work through your internet and a GPS signal to amplify the signal from the nearest cell tower. Their is an upfront expense of a couple hundred dollars but it pays for itself in a matter of a few months and dropped calls and conversations that cut out will be a thing of the past. Be sure to read some cell phone booster reviews on the net to help you pick out the right model. As for those cell phone signal booster stickers? They’re a scam and don’t work.

Landline-free Internet

A large part of the reason many people hang on to their landlines long after they have ceased to use them for communication is that many companies require a landline for internet service. As technology progresses and becomes more available to the public, however, landlines become less and less necessary even for this.

Dry loop DSL

Dry loop DSL ( also known as naked DSL, stand alone or dryline) uses your homes phone line but does not require phone service to be active.

Cable

If you have cable television service, you can receive internet via your television cable. Check with your cable provider to see if they offer this service.

Satellite

Just as you can get television service via satellite, you can get internet service via satellite. Best of all, you don’t have to subscribe to a television service to receive internet service in this way.

Mobile Broadband

The same technology that allows you to connect to the internet on your smartphone, can now allow you to turn your laptop into a Wi-fi hotspot. If you spend much time on your computer, however, this can be a costly alternative.

As technology advances and becomes more widely available to the general public, a landline telephone becomes redundant and thus unnecessary. Being able to ditch your landline can also lower monthly expenses.

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The Danger of Gun Control Laws

The Danger of Gun Control Laws

Forgive me but I have the need to get on my soapbox now about a very important issue. The Second Amendment states, in part, that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  The words ‘shall not’ definitely means something.  The words ‘the people’ mean you and your neighbor.  The stated, expressed purpose of the retention of this right is for defense.  All current debates about the regulation of this common means of defense, during the formative years of the United States, are misplaced.

Current political debates about gun control:

  • Do not take into consideration who is using weapons, of any kind, in an illegal or dangerous manner.

  • Do understand what role a weapon plays in the daily lives of some people as they usually have armed guards at their side much of the time.

  • Confuse the presence of a gun in a lawful citizen’s possession as just ‘one more gun on the streets.’

  • Do not understand what the weapon in American culture means.

obamaGun control laws are actually dangerous because they do not take into consideration the largest population of gun wielding maniacs is not the law abiding citizens.  There are approximately 310 million people in the United States and, according to gun and rifle manufacturers, approximately 300 million weapons owned by them.  There are not that many crimes committed with guns in the average year or even decade.  Consider the following:

  • These are purchased and used for:  Hunting – 58%; Target shooting – 66% and Protection against crimes – 67%.

  • For the year 2008, 5,340,000 violent crimes were committed in all categories.  8% of them (436,000) were committed with a visible gun.  What was used in all of the rest that should be controlled?

  • In all criminal activities that are committed by someone with a gun, they intended or were prepared to use that weapon.

  • 42% of Americans will be the victim of a completed crime and 82% will be involved in an attempted violent crime. 52% of Americans will be the victim more than once.

  • All criminal use of a weapon, on each occasion, will be ended by them being stopped by another weapon or their own weapon turned upon themselves.

gun-controlGun control laws, as being discussed as political fixes, are actually dangerous because they attempt to control people rather than a weapon.  Many of these proposals would require trigger guards, safes and the placement of ammunition in another location.  This makes their purpose of self protection a rather complicated operation requiring an amount of time that might not be available to them in an emergency situation. Like most responsible gun owners, we have our firearms securely locked away securely in a gun safe. Since we only have a couple pistols, the best gun safe for us was an inexpensive GunVault which we keep next to our bed. For others, they may need a large floor-standing model to hold their rifles, AR-15s or whatever else they have. The point being is that in the future, we may also need to hide our guns from the government which is definitely not something our founding fathers had in mind.

“Gun control will not stop crazy people from committing murder.”

Other elements of politically popular bills deal with background checks, sizes of cartridges, amount of rounds in each magazine and, nonsensically, the physical appearance of the weapon.  There is more stopping power in a .257 Magnum than a M16, however, the M16 looks mean!  And it also has a barrel guard which has to mean it is a military style assault rifle.

Gun control laws are actually dangerous because the framers of the US Constitution knew that a day could come when the words ‘being necessary to the security of a free state’, within the Second Amendment, meant something that is being overlooked, at least in the debates on the subject.  During a time when Homeland Security has more ammunition than was needed to prosecute the war in Iraq and even the Department of Education has a SWAT team, the people’s right to protect their property is a fundamental right.

The most dangerous part of this is not the intellectual debate, but what it does to the relationship between the government and a sovereign people.

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