As we are quickly approaching squirrel mating season, I felt that it was necessary to share with everyone my squirrel story from last winter.

Let me tell you, my daughter’s tap dancing shoes sound quite similar to the squirrels we had scurrying around in our attic. At first, I thought it was my daughter practicing for her dance recital on the mahogany hardwood floor, but then I realized my daughter wasn’t dancing and the noise was coming from the attic.

I was too scared to go in the attic and check out the situation alone, so I had my son go with me.  I saw something scurry across the wooden planks, and I just couldn’t believe we had squirrels in the attic.

My son screamed, “Mom, look!!” as a squirrel practically threw its body across the attic to be united with its other squirrel pals.

While researching for a pest control company, I stumbled upon some basic squirrel facts.

I learned that squirrels are around year round, but especially during mating season, which is coming up in February and March and then again in July and August. My encounter with squirrels took place in early February, which I later realized was mating season.

Squirrels can cause major damage to your home by chewing through your insulation and chewing through the siding of your house. In the fall, squirrels start to enter homes when it gets cooler in order to seek out a warm shelter and food.

When the pest control company came to my house they told me that squirrels like warm and dry places, which is why they are drawn towards attics where they can create large holes, which serve as squirrel entry ways.

The pest control company really did save the day. They did everything from remove the squirrels to prevent future squirrel encounters.…

This blog from the New York Times gives an opinion on “material parenting”:

As a parent and scholar who has studied materialism for much of her professional life, Marsha Richins had long pondered the following question: Does dangling goods in front of children as a reward for good behavior or yanking them away as a form of punishment contribute to materialism when those kids grow up?

After half a decade studying the matter as a marketing professor at the Robert J. Trulaske Sr. College of Business at the University of Missouri, she says she believes that there’s a connection. Ms. Richins and Lan Nguyen Chaplin, an assistant professor of business administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, are publishing a paper saying so in The Journal of Consumer Research in April.

Most of us get that materialism isn’t ideal, and research over the years has tied it to gambling, debt, marriage conflict and decreased happiness, among other things. So Ms. Richins was surprised to find that few people seemed to have looked into the potential drawbacks of what she and her colleague refer to as “material parenting.”

Plenty of research exists that shows that material rewards for things like good grades tend to reduce intrinsic motivation. But that shouldn’t be a reason not to study their use any further. “To me, it’s a big oversight, because parents reward kids all of the time,” Ms. Richins said. “You can’t just say that we’re not going to study it.”

And so she and Ms. Chaplin did, using retrospective surveys of adults answering questions about their current money habits and the tactics their parents used in rewarding and disciplining them.

Read the full post here

The winter time is approaching, and it is very important to do a little bit of window and window sill cleaning in homes. For those that have any replacement vinyl windows, small rectangular openings on the bottom of the window frame’s exterior may definitely be visible. These are known as weep holes. These weep holes actually allow any rainwater to drain out of the window while still allowing the window to be open for some fresh air. Windows can get pretty nasty over time with a lot of buildup from pollen, dirt, and ordinary debris. That’s why it’s important for some cleaning to take place.

Removing as much of the dirt as possible is one of the first steps one should take when cleaning the window sills. This should be done before any water gets added. If this is not done before, a muddy mess will be followed, making cleaning a lot more difficult. If the area is dried, using a paper towel or a shop vac is useful for removing any debris. If the windows sit on the first floor, this can be done from the outside, making the job a lot easier. Vertical tracks should also be paid attention to because these can get a lot of build up within them as well.

Rinsing with soapy water is the next step after removing any dirt and debris. Pipe cleaners can be used to clear any debris to the weep holes, making sure that they are free-flowing. A couple of rinses is necessary with plain water after the use of soapy water. White vinegar is definitely essential for the window tracks. It is very effective for cleaning. An old toothbrush may also come in handy for loosening any dirt within the crevices. For windows that are double hung, raising or lowering each sash to the entire length of the track is essential. Follow this by wiping the rest dry with a paper towel.

Once everything is cleaned, they should be kept this way. Applying a coat of floor wax is a trick that professionals use to keep them …

With the high cost of housing coupled with the stress of selling one’s home and looking for another place to reside one’s family has outgrown the home being resided in or the home is outdated and needs repairs, remodeling it makes sense as opposed to selling and finding a new home.

Most home owners when they remodel typically remodel the kitchen or one or more bathrooms. Since fall is here and winter will soon be upon us, a bathroom remodel as opposed to a kitchen remodel at this time of year makes more sense primarily due to the fact that most homes have more than one bathroom but only have one kitchen. Most importantly, with Thanksgiving in several weeks and Christmas and New Years the following month, remodeling the kitchen this time of year for most people particularly if you have a large family does not make a lot of sense.

Bathroom Remodels

Studies have shown that a bathroom remodel is dollar for dollar the most cost efficient way for a homeowner to increase the equity in his or her home. Most bathrooms with the exception of a master bathroom are typically no more than twelve (12) by ten (10) feet in size which is one-hundred and twenty (120) square feet.

Insulating the walls of the bathroom (if they are not insulated) and installing water saving featured toilets and sinks are several ways that a homeowner can be energy efficient.

In remodeling a bathroom a handy homeowner can do most of the entire operation himself or herself. New cabinets and a new toilet are typically ordered. The old cabinets, shower, toilet, and bath tub are removed. Assuming there will not be any repositioning of the old fixtures in the room, the existing water pipes will not need to be repositioned.

If the shower is a tile shower, the tile needs to be removed and new tile installed. Likewise, if the old flooring is linoleum, most homeowners remodel with tile flooring and have a water heating system on demand installed in place of the old standard water heater that either runs …

The cost of energy is second to administrative and personnel costs in the American K-12 school budget, spending around $8 billion–mainly on space heating, lighting and water heating. Spending nearly a third, on average, of a school’s total budget on energy alone leaves less money for educational materials like books and supplies. This is why increasing numbers of Americans are agreeing that schools need to cut back on energy costs and educate our children with the resources they need and deserve.

Making American schools more energy efficient would not only increase monetary resources to spend money on more important materials, but also demonstrate leadership and present health benefits, like improved air quality in schools. Increasing energy efficiency demonstrates responsible stewardship as well as fosters demand for other organizations to use their energy more wisely. Similarly, it provides a basis for schools to educate their students about environmental issues.

Many organizations are making strides to increasing energy efficiency and attaining these leadership goals. Cenergistic, for example, strives to help clients improve energy efficiency in every aspect of their organization, from participants, equipment, goals and infrastructure. Many of their success stories include school districts, Cenergistic partnered with Allegany County, Md. public schools in 2003 and since the implementation, their energy use per square foot has decreased by 23%. Additionally, many of Cenergistic’s clients have earned Energy Star awards.

Strides like such are making a difference in how Americans view energy and are shaping the habits of American children. With these strategies, schools are on track to save hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, and will be able to put the money where it belongs.…

Even if you dream of a luxurious, spacious walk-in closet connected to your master bedroom suite, that doesn’t mean there’s necessarily room for one. However, with the right closet organization system, and a little elbow grease, your reach-in closet can be just as lux and chic as the spacious closet of your dreams.

Hanging Rods

Many closet organization systems simply have hanging rods across the entire top and sometimes even the middle as well. Realistically, the average person should only need to dedicate around two thirds or less of their closet to hanging rods–one above eye level for longer garments, and one a little lower for folded or shorter ones.

Elevated Storage

Once there are bins or shoes on the floor, it’s easy for the closet to become cluttered–or worse, impossible to close the doors without straightening up. Many closet organizer systems feature built-in shoe racks, shelving, or cubbies that are a couple inches off the floor. Components like these keep the closet slightly more organized, which can make all the difference, especially when it comes to cleaning.

Drawers and Shelving

Depending on how you personally prefer to store smaller items, like undergarments, jewelry, or non-hangable items like sweaters, you’ll want to get drawers that vary in depth–shallow ones (maybe velvet lined) for jewelry, and deeper ones for big sweaters that would catch on things if they were hung. Additionally, you may want a sort of shelving unit for handbags, elegant boxes, or neatly folded garments. Shelves with adjustable dividers or cubbies are a good choice to keep everything organized.


Rather than simply having the watch you take off every night, breath mints, and keys scattered around, have a bowl or a pouch placed somewhere for basic necessities that need to  be easily accessible. It also keeps you from forgetting where you put them the night before. Of course, customize your closet organizer system for your personal needs–for example, if you have a lot of long necklaces, a tie rack would suffice to keep them from tangling.…

Toddlers present many challenges when it comes to food. They are notoriously picky and will often turn up their noses at foods that were their favorites yesterday. Many mothers are concerned that their toddlers aren’t getting enough nutrition. How then does a harried mother get her toddler to eat? By trying some of these fun and innovative methods.

Animal Creations

Create clever animals out of fruits and vegetables. Example: Using broccoli moms can create a puppy by standing the broccoli up against other pieces of broccoli. Kids love to eat their toys so extend it to the foods and see if that doesn’t help. Dips may also be provided as more incentive.

Cut a banana in half and draw an eye on the stem end. Slightly open the stem end and place a grape or carrot in the “mouth” that’s just been created. Place this in a bowl of the child’s favorite fruits or vegetables such as grapes or carrots and see if the picky child will eat this.


Using an ice tray or similar separator, place finger foods into each compartment. Save one compartment for dip. Excellent dips are peanut butter (as long as there are no allergies), ranch dressing, cheese dips etc. Use a variety of fruits and vegetables in the compartments to help balance out the child’s diet. Cut foods appropriate for bite sizes and let the child self serve as desired. Be sure to include a variety of foods so that child will have a balanced diet. 

Pizza Creations

Using a bagel or an English muffin tell the child it’s pizza day. Then lay out some toppings and let the child “decorate” their own pizza. Mom may wish to spread the tomato sauce on first to avoid a huge mess. Offer cheese, sausage, pepperoni and similar toppings that will encourage the child to eat their creation. When a child makes the pizza themselves and watches through the oven window anticipation builds and the child is much more likely to eat.

Dessert pizza’s can also be created using a sugar cookie, graham cracker etc. Simply have

With summer just around the corner, many people are feeling stressed about having to make the interior of their homes match the season and fixing up their property to make it look more suitable for summer. However, home improvement doesn’t have to be stressful at all. With some simple planning, touching up your home can be exciting, simple and fun.

Interior home improvement is something that can be costly. If you have the money to spend, paying contractors to touch up your kitchen, living rooms, or bathrooms can make your home have a whole new appeal. However, even without money, simple tasks can give your home a complete new vibe. Simply repainting the walls of your house is something that does not take too much time, can easily be done on a weekend and doesn’t leave a gaping hole in your wallet. People are always surprised when they see how much of an affect a different paint color can have on your house. Also, buying simple items such as new mirrors or new flooring can make your house look ever more appealing and have a more cozy feel to it for the summer.

Exterior design is even more simple and extremely fun to do in the summertime. If the area you live in supports it, planting flowers outside your home and making yourself your own little garden can improve the appearance of your house ten fold. While many people may thinking of taking care of the gardening to be a hassle, in reality, just simply installing automatic water hoses can make it such an easy task that can be finished within two days. Also, watering your grass as needed can make a weathered down, unattractive lawn come back to life and you will have people gazing over how attractive your property is! Finally, touching up the siding to your house can greatly alter the appearance and make even the most weathered down houses look lively and well kept. If your looking to spend a little extra money, changing a portion of your siding from generic siding to brick will give …

Is the housing market making a comeback after its fall or what is going on with that market? This is a question that is on a lot of people’s minds, especially investors. 

The housing market crashed with 6 years of declines. Home were losing value every day for six years. No new homes were being constructed and the homes that did exist and were empty stayed that way, as they could not be sold. However the turn has come and home prices, sales and construction have increased in the past year suggesting a turn around. However, if we take a closer look at the numbers we will see that there are extraordinary conditions involved. 

A lot of these numbers are coming from investors. The housing investors are convinced that the market has bottomed out, so they are buying houses and paying cash for them. These investors are picking up houses that are in crisis or have been foreclosed on. They are getting them at bargain prices and usually paying cash for them. With this activity of the investors buying out these low priced homes and paying cash for them, it does cause a problem with first time home buyers. These first time home buyers are at a disadvantage as they are unable to get loans for these homes and have to compete with investors that have a track record already. Prices on homes are low as well as interest rates, however the traditional home buyer is having quite a few problems being able to purchase these homes. 

Mortgages are hard to get as banks want a twenty percent down payment and only want to lend to people who already have a track record. Home owners who are upside down in their home cannot come up with that down payment. First time home buyers would have to save for years to get that down payment as well. People who were able to get mortgages years ago are not able to get them today. People who are not investors are not able to purchase these homes through traditional means due to the