Sunday, August 30, 2015

EASY Crockpot Crab Chowder


My son and I ate a LOT of crab chowder during our recent visit to Virginia Beach. Why?  Because the crab was fresh and each restaurant's version was better than the last!   Junior loved it so much that upon our return, I embarked on a quest for simple recipe I could make at home. Since we're on the road a lot in the fall, I looked for one I could make in the crockpot. I tried several recipes, modified them, and here's the end result (drumroll, please!): 



Linda's EASY Crockpot Crab Chowder


* Makes about 6 servings.*  Prep time about 10 minutes. * Cooking time 5 hours.   *Calorie content: no idea.



Ingredients:

1 pound of crab meat or imitation crabmeat – diced
1 cup chopped onions (I use frozen ones)
2 cups of diced, unpeeled red potatos
2 10-ounce packages of frozen corn
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 T paprika
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 cups of water
12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 T Old Bay Seasoning
1 T Xanthan Gum (thickener) as needed
½ cup of bacon (I use jarred bacon you find in the salad fixings aisle)
2 T liquid smoke


Here's the EASY part:  
 

  1. Load all of the ingredients EXCEPT the evaporated milk and crab meat into your crockpot.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 4-1/2 hours.
  3. Stir in the crab and evaporated milk. Cover and cook 30 more minutes.
  4. If the soup is too watery for your liking, stir in the Xanthan Gum and cook for 20 more minutes; if it's STILL too watery, stir in more of the gum.


     That's IT!   


     


This recipe is going to be a staple of ours this coming Winter. It's easy to make and the crockpot ensures that no matter what time family members come home, they'll have a hot meal ready.


Try it and let me know what YOU think!

As always, thanks for reading!   Come back soon, y'hear!  




Saturday, August 29, 2015

And The Winner Is...

Back on August 21st, I posted about the great time I had at Jenkinson's and offered readers the opportunity to win one VIP pass to Jenkinson's.  The raffle has now closed and using a computerized  random number generator, the winner is:



Rita Roslaniec






Please contact me so I can send you your certificate.  And THANK YOU to all who entered!


~~~~


Come back and visit me again, won't you?  I'm working on a post this week that will delight your senses (seriously, it's good)...

 
 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

GeoZilla Allows Full Access To Your Family Whenever You're Not With Them

'Tis the season when many of us are giving our children cellphones for the first time. Along with this freedom, of course, comes our need to make sure they're okay (we giveth a little freedom, we taketh a bit back for peace of mind).   Most cellphone trackers drain batteries like crazy. And what use is a tracker if your phone is dead? 

 

Enter GeoZilla! 

 

This app uses battery-friendly location tracking methods (WiFi, cell towers, etc.) as it searches for the location of your kid, or anyone in your group, when YOU ask for it as opposed to constantly tracking the location.  This feature dramatically increases your battery's life since it's not constantly draining power.  You merely push the Refresh button on your app when you want to track your someone.  GeoZilla also integrates with Facebook and Swarm so you can find your family when they check-in on social media; this saves you the trouble of logging in to social media with your family member's account credentials. When they broadcast their location to their friends, you'll know!



 

What else do I like about GeoZilla? 
  • You can receive a notification when someone arrives or leaves a certain area. So if your cocky 6th grader decides to detour to the local 7-11 when he's supposed to be at the library, you'll know! 
  • You can see the battery status of your child and any others in your family group. That means that when my teen's battery is low (as it too often is), I can send him a message to plug in! 
  • GeoZilla offers cross-platform location tracking, so you can share the family map with Android and IOS devices. 
  •  It offers a delayed update which stores locations so you'll never miss their whereabouts. 
  • You can send a request for your family's location to their GPS tracker so you'll always know where they are.
  • You can chat free with your child or anyone in your group and share pics and video.
  • You can leave check-ins to let people know you're okay and have arrived safely.  How helpful would that be on long trips!



In other words, GeoZilla allows your family to communicate, seamlessly, whenever you're not together!


 

Watch this YouTube video to learn more about GeoZilla:

 

~~~

I had the pleasure of asking Alex Sharov, GeoZilla's CEO and co-founder, a few questions:


Q: How did you get the idea for this app? 
 

Mr. Sharov: Since I travel a lot, I am always nervous not being near my daughter. She lives in Texas and is about to reach the age to have her personal cell phone (kids sure are getting older quicker these days). I wanted a way to know her location when I’m far away – to know she’s safe. The idea flourished when I met two developers and a marketer that were doing their own app exchanging geo-location side project for couples. My last jobs were building mobile apps, mostly in enterprise. So when pitching to the investor, WeRocks, he actually suggested we change the app to target families, kids first, not just couples. I connected with this right away. The main challenge of this project is giving children the feeling of parent’s presence and being aware of the events in their life, without the a parent breathing down their neck


Q: How old does a child need to be to use this app?


Mr. Sharov: Any kid that has a smartphone connected to the Internet would be perfect for this app, even if the kid does not open the app a single time. As to using this app by the kid himself, say, to see where the parents are, I’m not sure. It depends – my daughter is six and was comfortable freeing up ipad memory in the settings. I believe if all setup/sign up routine is done by the parents, kids 7 and up could easily use the app to see where his/her parents are. 
 

Q: Has this app been approached to track elderly adults as well?   




Mr. Sharov: Yes – the same way it's done with kids. 
 

Q: What modifications/improvements do you see to this app in the future?
 

Mr. Sharov: We're currently working on things that would ease inner-family communication like: household to-do tasks -one can assign to another member while she 's in the place (or near it), where the task can be done. For example, "Pick up laundry " at  / you assign a place / .  The tasks are geo-based and the assignee is reminded when she passes by the needed place. A la "remember to pickup laundry."




Mr. Sharov went on to say:  

Actually with the app we aim to help build trustful relationships within the family, basing on safety and care. Just to avoid "Where are you?" messages.  But not on controlling and suspicions. In general we advise parents to talk with children about why they want to install the app instead of installing it without their consent or secretly.  


~~~





Following its soft-launch for Android and iOS, the UK-based company received $450K in seed investment fromWeRocks and Angel Investors.  Special thanks to Alex Sharov for granting me this interview.

Mr. Sharov and, I'll assume, a happy customer!
 


Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Jenkinson's Promises, And Delivers, FUN!

Disclosure:  Please note that I was given free passes to this venue in exchange for blogging about it. While the passes were nice, they did not influence my opinion of the place.  All opinions expressed are my own.  






This whole summer has been an interesting contest of wills: I ask the kids (9 and 15) to get out of the house to do something fun like go to the town pool, a waterpark, Busch Gardens, etc., and they keep looking at their devices and say, “no.” I insist, my voice growing louder and louder, and they dig their heels in. I finally persuade them to pry their eyes from their screens, they go to the places we're going to FOR THEM, and have fun. Fortunately this contest did not happen today when I announced, 


“Let's go to Jenkinson's!” 


So we grabbed Junior's friend, Sam, and trekked down to Point Pleasant nice and early, despite the prediction of thunderstorms, so we'd make it back in time for Diva's gymnastics. Arriving that early also ensured that we'd see my VERY FAVORITE attraction first: Jenkinson's Aquarium!  "'Mommy, look at THIS,” exclaimed Diva as she moved from tank to tank. Her enthusiasm was contagious as she read about piranhas, various types of shark, and just how big some of the fish were. The boys enjoyed the boa constrictor and made fun of a lot of the animals, as teenage boys are wont to do. But I think even they were touched by the story of Lucy, the blind seal, as we watched her and a sea lion being fed. Lucy's disability doesn't hinder her from having a nice life at Jenkinson's and just seeing the bond between her and her trainers is sweet. Diva also had a blast at the Touch Tank, although I was somewhat skeeved by the horseshoe crab (who might have been skeeved by me!). I also loved the penguins and was mistaken when I saw grey, furry-looking one; I thought it was an adolescent. A docent quickly corrected me. The animal in question is their oldest penguin at 29 years old and she was being cuddled by her “boyfriend” who is 2. As I said, I LOVE this aquarium!


School was in session at Jenkinson's!



My daughter touching a starfish.  She petted the horseshoe crab - not I!


Our troop headed over to Castaway Cove for miniature golf, three floors of golfing fun.  Diva immediately got a hole-in-one while the boys scoffed at her “beginner's luck.” She ultimately did lose, and apparently there was a heated discussion about points, but I didn't care. I'd found a bench and a lovely breeze as I listened to Jimmy Buffet over the Cove's speakers. If the kids were bickering, I wasn't listening.


Cheeseburgers in a pail - love this idea from Jenkinson's!

By this time, everyone was hungry, so we headed over to Jenkinson's Pavillion Oceanside Dining where, because there were several restaurants to choose from, we were each able to score what we wanted: a hot dog for Sam, tacos for Junior and me, and a cheeseburger and fries for Diva which was served in pail with shovel. Note to Self: next time, order a kids meal so YOU get a pail and shovel!


After lunch, the boys wanted to go on the rides but I, conscious of the fact that “lunch” and “rides” never produce good results, insisted we hit the the Fun House. This place
is so cool, with mazes of mirrors. After I gracefully smacked into a mirrored wall, I learned to walk with my hands out. The kids, too, were having a good time until they hit the darkened “tunnels” section of the Fun House. Diva grabbed on to her brother when she got a little scared (a lovely mental picture I won't soon forget) and, upon leaving the attraction announced, “That Fun House was NOT fun,” before she begged me to go back in. My son poo-pooed the experience, but all the while there was a twinkle in his eye.


Sorry, Junior!  This clown is taller than you!
 

While they went on the dizzing, dazzling display of rides, I sat on the Boardwalk, taking in the ocean, doing some people-watching, and sipping a cool drink. Shopping was plentiful and the array of hermit crabs for sale, fascinating.  I was happy just browsing while my kids had a blast on the rides.  


Before we left, the boys played another round of miniature golf while Diva and I went to the Aquarium Gift Shop, in my opinion, the best shopping on the Boardwalk. I happily admired the jewelry while she chose a stuffed animal (a penguin) as a souvenir of the day. 


And what a day! Jenkinson's has become synonymous with “fun” and with good reason: there's something for everyone. We could easily have spent the rest of the day there. And we will: even after school is in session, many of the attractions are open. 


We'll be back!

~~~~~~~~~~


But YOU don't have to wait that long!  Enter HERE to win a VIP Voucher for up to 5 people so you can go to Jenkinson's!


Please note that the winner will be announced on this blog on August 30th.  Only one entry per family please.  If you win, please contact me so I can mail you the voucher in question.  Good luck!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

14 Tips For Visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Last week, the family and I vacationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia (click here for tips on visiting this  lovely beach town) and, of course, we had to make a pilgrimage to at least one amusement park. 


Off to Busch Gardens Williamsburg we went!

For those who aren't familiar with it, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is owned by the firm that owns SeaWorld while it promotes Anheuser-Busch products, the latter company having developed the park as a marketing vehicle for their products. The theme is classic Europe, like the Parisian streets of France, towns of England ans Scotland, and the Oktoberfest celebrations of Germany. In all, Busch Gardens Williamsburg contains nine villages centered around six countries for you to explore. It also contains heart-stopping roller coasters, a variety of shows, shops, etc. designed to please attendees of all ages and courage levels. 



The Loch Ness Monster I was not courageous enough to go on.


 Here are my tips if you plan to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg:


  1. Look for discount tickets before you go.  You can sometimes find them at Wendy's and McDonald's, but here's a good site with links you can use to score discounts.  Why pay full price if you don't have to?

  2. Wear good walking shoes. The park is large, but not as daunting as other (i.e. Hersheypark and Disney). It is, however, hilly, so bring comfortable walking shoes and if you're packing a stroller or wheelchair, know that you'll be using your muscles!

    Essential equipment.
  3. Be prepared to use data. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has wifi, but it was spotty and unreliable.

  4. Skip the app.  There is an app for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but it didn't update you on waiting times for rides and didn't say which were closed.  Honestly, it added nothing to our experience.  In fact, most of the reviews in Google's Play Store were terrible and I can see why. Feel free to download the app, but don't rely on it.

  5. Bring snacks. You're really not supposed to, but the guards were not confiscating any, so unless you're hauling in mass quantities of chips, you should be okay.  I packed carrots, granola bars, etc. which saved money on the unhealthy stuff the kids whined for.

  6. Haul in water bottles. You're allowed one per person. I brought a small cooler with ice in Ziploc bags which kept the water cold and gave us additional cold drinking water. 

  7. Purchase the souvenir bottle. It's worth it because refills are $.99 the day you're there and there aren't many water fountains in the park. Do what I do: after the initial drink, ask for refills that are half soda water and half juice or soda to cut down on amount of sugar you're getting. Oh, and you can always ask for a cup of ice water at any place that serves drinks.

  8. Watch where you park either yourself or kiddies in the shade. Smoking is allowed in the park (DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!) and there's a good amount of shade you'll want to take advantage of. Just make sure you're not getting a whiff of cancer while avoiding the sun.

  9. Use the tram as transportation. It goes from Italy to France to England and will save you walking. Plus the views are great!

  10. See all the shows! They were all wonderful, especially Pet Shenanigans which featured rescued, trained dogs, cats, birds, a pig, and a rat. Adorable!


    LOVED Pet Shenanigans!




    Celtic Fyre was good, too!
     

  11. Skip the boat ride. It's boring and really doesn't add any value to your visit.  Some narration would have made it a less comatose experience.

  12. Stop by and see a Clydesdale. They don't put the ones that pull the sleighs on exhibit, but even the horses they have on display are beautiful!



    Breathtaking animals!
     
     
  13. Have dinner at the New France Trappers Smokehouse – the food was DIVINE!

  14. Don't worry about the alcohol. I was concerned that they sell beer here (of course), but I honestly didn't see anyone even remotely intoxicated. Whew!


I found Busch Gardens Williamsburg to be one of, if not THE CLEANEST park, I've ever been to (sorry Hersheypark) with pleasant, efficient staff!


One refreshing aspect is that you're not constantly being hawked by marketers; sure, there are stores, but the number of merchandising kiosks is minimal and no one is blasting over the loudspeaker, “Buy this!” or “Buy that!"  Sure, it's a for-profit place, but they're not trying to snag every penny out of you - at least not openly.


Busch Gardens Williamsburg one of those parks you can do in a day and not feel completely shredded at the end of your visit. I would return in a heartbeat!  Use my tips, go, and have a blast!


For more information, visit the Busch Gardens Willilamsburg website.









For Reading!



Please note that all photos of Busch Gardens Williamsburg copied from their website. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tips For Going To Virginia Beach With The Family


Howdy Readers! Just returned from Virginia Beach with the family and while there, I took notes to help YOU if you plan to go to this vacation spot. Ready?  


 Here we go!


The view from our hotel in Virginia Beach


Virginia Beach is a lovely beach town that isn't as commercial or "honkeytonk" as either parts of the Jersey Shore or Ocean City, Maryland, Having said that, the north side tends to be less active than the south side, so take that into account when planning your hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn North Beach - it looks out over the ocean and boasts two lazy rivers, slides, and an outdoor pool plus a movie theatre and kids club – I HIGHLY recommend this place!


Virginia Beach is also not the quietest spot on the planet. The Oceana Naval Air Station is close by and the F-18s drill over the town throughout the day and night. Now, I didn't mind it since it reminded me of how fortunate we are to have such a vigilant military, but if you've got small kids, keep in mind that these jets fly low and are LOUD.


The Law Enforcement Memorial sculpture in Virginia Beach
 

Our hotel was within walking distance to many attractions and the boardwalk is concrete with a little section of rides toward the south side. You can catch the the Virginia Beach Wave trolley which goes to many sites and is only $1 a ride for adults, but we didn't. The 9 and 15 year olds were perfectly capable of walking.


Must dos:

  • Rent a bike - You can rent bikes and surreys.  The boardwalk is flat and about 3 miles long.  It's a great way to get some exercise and see the beach.
  • Busch Gardens in Williamsburg - Go! The park is hilly but not as big as, say, Disney and Hershey. My tips for Busch Gardens will be posted in a day or two.
  • Ocean Breeze Waterpark – This waterpark, located in Virginia Beach itself, is just small enough to find the kids but big enough to keep even my two happy. There's lots to do, they offer free sunscreen, and some shade. There is NO WiFi, however, and I'd bring watershoes since there was no evidence of any cleaning of the floors in the bathroom. Oh, and bring bottled water. One of the things I liked about this park was the fact that you can actually get healthy food here, not just the usual fried crap that other parks offer.
  • Grommet Island Park, Virginia Beach
    Miniature Golf – It's hokey, but the kids love it.
  • The Rudee Rocket – If you've got kids who love speed, go on this speedboat! The captain plays a soundtrack that starts with the theme from Jaws and you'll see lots of dolphins. This was a big hit with my son.
  • Grommet Island Park - A big hit with my kids, this is a handicapped accessible park, which means you'll have no trouble with strollers. It's on the beach and we all had a blast here. 


Tips:

  • To save money on breakfast, we hit the 7-11 in town for bagels, milk, etc. There are small markets in town, but if you can, head over to one of the grocery stores so that you're not buying food constantly. 
  • Many hotels, ours included, had beach toys you could borrow. Check with yours before you schlep shovels, etc.
  • Stock up on bottled water.  Why spend $3 per bottle, when you can get a case for the same price?
  • We packed a small cooler for the trip and used it constantly when sightseeing. It kept our bottled waters cold and even allowed us to bring a few yogurts along for healthy snacking
  • Pack more than two or so pair of footwear for the kids.  You do NOT want to be tending to painful blisters on a trip.


One aspect of Virginia Beach that I found particularly charming was the pace. Even though it was August, the streets were pretty quiet on the North end of town. I love how the police and lifeguards are extremely vigilant and low-key. 


Would I go back? In a heartbeat!  Virginia Beach is AMAZING!  


The lifeguard platform at 5th Street in Virginia Beach


Thank you for reading and, again, check back for my tips on Busch Gardens Williamsburg!



Friday, July 31, 2015

10 To-Dos Before School Starts

Okay, so the back-to-school commercials were out before the kids here in the Northeast were even OUT of school (and, by the way, Halloween merchandise has been in the stores around here for at least two weeks). But with tomorrow being August 1st and many institutions of higher learning starting before Labor Day, it may be time to turn a tiny portion of our parental brains toward the first day of school because many things will not wait until that fateful day. 




 
So here are 10 suggestions of things you might want to handle on sooner rather than later:


  1. Scheduling the kids yearly physicals and eye exams. If you haven't made an appointment with your pediatrician, you're behind the curve already! According to my doctor's office, phone calls started flooding in back in Spring, so bite the bullet and schedule one for your child today. I usually wait until Fall anyway so I can get the kids their flu shots with their physicals. Eye exams tend to be less pressing, so I never have trouble getting them in to see our beloved optometrist; the problem then becomes fitting the appointment in with the kids' busy schedules.


  2. Check your school supplies closet/drawer/basket – whatever. I've wasted plenty of money buying supplies I already had (what am I gonna do with 50 Office Depot erasers). Make a list of what you already have so you can bring it when you go back-to-school shopping. 


  3. Clean out last year's backpacks. In June, my children gleefully throw their backpacks into the closet and don't want to see them for the next two months. Sneak a peak and see if you can salvage any old supplies. I grab any notebooks containing blank paper and I use them for my writing and lists; pencils and pens go into pencil cups around the house; markers are placed in Ziploc bags for arts and crafts projects; and old smocks get washed for use next year. As for old, broken crayons, there are thousands of websites on the Web with ideas for how to re-use them (ThriftyFun is one), but even if you're not crafty, you can send them away to the Crazy Crayons where they'll be recycled and not wind up in landfills.  Oh, and if you need guidance on how to choose a backpack for the upcoming year, read this.


  4. Inspect old backpacks and lunch sacks. I bought these reusable sandwich/snack bags (see below) at Walmart last year. They're washable and can be used from year to year. Similarly, unless a lunch sack has last year's favorite TV character or band, see if you can sell your kid on the concept of re-using it by updating, perhaps by letting them draw on it or adding a glue-on patch. Honestly, with my kids living in their backpacks throughout the school year, their old backpacks aren't usable from year to year, BUT they do make great library bags, gym bags, and can be hung in their rooms to hold stuffed animals, etc. 




  5. Take look at their Fall clothes. In my area, it's HOT the first few weeks of school. No matter what the commercials on TV show, they do not need new sweaters on the first day of the academic year. Sure, I'll buy both kids new sneakers (because they ALWAYS need them) and will buy Diva one new shirt just to make her feel special, but otherwise, they're not getting new outfits unless they really, truly need them.


  6. Make any before-chool purchases you need to. Sometimes you need to pre-order lunches and supplies. Check your school's website for information.


  7. Send any musical instruments out for tune-ups (pun intended). My son plays the clarinet and every year we have it sent out for cleaning. That way it's pristine for Band in the Fall. Oh, and if your child will be starting to play an instrument, now is the time to shop around for the best rental price.





  8. Document the Summer while it's fresh in your mind. If you're waaaay behind in your scrapbooking like I am, make a list of what the kids did this summer so you can remember when you finally do get around to ordering your photobooks (or doing it by hand like I do). It's too easy to forget the nuances of the Summer.


  9. Stock up on anti-lice shampoo and/or conditioner.  Kids come back from camp with those critters and even if your kids haven't gone, there's ALWAYS a lice outbreak every fall. I swear by Fairy Tales conditioner! My daughter has long, lush hair and even when she was exposed to lice by a neighbor's kid who literally had bugs crawling in her hair, Diva never contracted it. Fairy Tales smells like amazing; it contains rosemary, citronella, tea tree, lemongrass, peppermint, sage. School nurses SWEAR by this stuff and so do I!



     
  10. Stock up on clothes and footwear for next Summer. This stuff is on sale now to make way for Fall and Winter merchandise. If you have a sense of how much your child will grow over the course of the year (the Teen is a crapshoot), now is the time to buy flip flops and bathing suits in a bigger size.


And, of course, enjoy the rest of the Summer!  Your children will never be younger than they are now. All too soon, they'll be out on their own. Have fun with them while you can and cherish almost all the moments (because, let's face it, not all are rainbows and lollipops) with your kids.




Happy Rest Of Summer! 
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Here's How To AVOID Bed Bugs

It's vacation time and many of us are looking forward to enjoying the many amenities hotels offer. 


But they also increase our risk of bringing home an infestation of bed bugs.





I can tell you from personal experience that bed bugs are no laughing matter! Several years back, unbeknownst to us, my late father-in-law had them in his apartment. I remember sleeping in his spare bed one night and feeling itchy, as if a hoard of mosquitoes had attacked me. I looked on the sheets and between the mattress, but saw nothing. The next night, the same thing happened again. 



The itching woke me up and the scratching left me with sore, bleeding legs.


We, of course, brought bed bugs home and the itching continued. I thought maybe my legs were dry, so I moisturized them. It was no help. I looked everywhere – between the mattress, in our clothes, in our luggage – and never did see them. I postulated that my reaction was due to allergies or the new laundry detergent we were using. A decade later, my husband told me that shortly after we'd gotten back from his Dad's and while I was going crazy trying to find the source of my itching, he had found the bed bugs stationed on the side of our mattress. I had seen them, too, but thought they were just dirt since they looked like brown and gray specks. He'd vacuumed the entire room and thrown the vacuum bag out. He'd decided not to tell me because he knew I'd flip out (EXCELLENT CALL).


We were lucky because a bed bug infestation can cause thousands of dollar to eradicate. Most of the statistics I found on the number of reported bed bug cases were quoted by extermination companies which, of course, have a vested interest in their eradication, but municipalities across the United States and world wide agree that bed bugs infestations are on the rise: in some cases, dramatically! 


No, they do not spread disease, but once you've been affected by these critters, you will NEVER forget it! So what can you do?

  • Investigate the hotel before you check in. Heck, I even look it up before I make the reservation! My favorite sources for this data are BedBugRegistry.com and Raveable.com  but TripAdvisor  often lists this info as well. Be aware, however, that just because a hotel is flagged as once having bed bugs, does not mean they still have them. And one that has not been flagged may, in fact, have them. These critters are fluid, moving with people and their belongings. Their presence is not an indication of how clean or dirty an establishment is. 

  • Minimize the amount of stuff you pack – You know how your kids always want to take more toys and clothes than they'll ever need? This is the time to say “no.” The less stuff you bring, the fewer items you'll need to worry about later on.

  • Try to pack your items in resealable plastic – There are many manufacturers of resealable bags that are large enough to pack clothes in. Place your clothes, etc., in those and then place the bags inside your luggage. 

  • ALWAYS inspect your hotel room BEFORE you move in - When you enter the room, put your luggage in the bathroom where bugs are less likely to hide, take a flashlight (download the Tesla light from the Google Play Store if you have an Android) and check the perimeter of the bed, between the mattress, around the headboard, etc. Also check chair cushions, drapes, etc. Here's a nice article and checklist with more details on how to conduct a hotel inspection.



When you return home, place all travel materials in a separate space, like the garage. Wash and dry all clothes worn on the trip. If possible, place the luggage in the dryer, which you've set on high, for about 20 minutes. Many stuffed animals which cannot be washed can usually also be put in the dryer for 20 minutes. Leave shoes outside until you've had a chance to inspect them. Yes, this is colossal pain, but preventing a problem and the peace of mind is worth it!
 

“Bed bug proofing” products are becoming more common and easier to find.  Various en casements for mattresses are available at Costco, Amazon, and department stores. You can also buy heaters that you can use to treat non-washable items in case you don't have a dryer or access to one. Although there are a lot of sprays readily available, I haven't seen any convincing evidence that they do much good and , besides, who needs toxins in your environment, especially if you've got kids around? For a list of products that might help keep you safe from bedbugs, click on this article I found on the website brickunderground.com.


For more information, visit:

  • Thisoldhouse.com  – This article lists how to prevent and treat a bed bug problem.
  • Spcweb.org – Yes, this is the site for pest control company, but the checklist is handy if you suspect you may have a problem.
  • Vdac.virginia.gov – This fact sheet from the Virginia Department Of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences is a nice, calming, source of information on bed bugs.
  • Dhhs.nh.gov – A less calming, but still informative sheet from the New Hampshire Department Of Health & Human Services serves a reminder of where else you should check for bed bugs, like your car and trains.





Performing due diligence before and while I check into a hotel may be a pain, and may even make you feel silly, but I'm figuring that if I ever do bring bed bugs home again, it won't be due to carelessness.  


Better to make the efforts to prevent an infestation than deal with one. Try these steps, use these resources, and, hopefully, you'll never experience the trauma of bed bugs in your home!



THANK YOU FOR READING!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

5 REAL Uses For Coffee Grounds – I Tried Them Out!

There are multiple websites and tons of pins on Pinterest touting the many benefits of coffee grounds. Some work, some do not. For example, several sites say that used coffee grounds repel ants. Not the ones I saw crawling over the grounds I'd spread in my porch. I think I even saw one scoop some into a teeny weeny cup.




So for my benefit and yours, dear reader, I decided to wade through the mounds of “Uses For Used Coffee Grounds ” and let you know which practices are true which did and did not work, at least for me: 
 

  1. Use To Scrub Pots And Pans - Yes, using a handful of grounds does substitute for toxic abrasive cleaners, BUT coffee grounds can also clog your sink!  If you're going to try this, do the scrubbing on a towel or some newspaper that you can clean without flushing the grounds down the sink.



  2. Use Coffee Grounds As A Household Deodorizer – Yes, you can place some in a jar or dish to absorb odors from refrigerators and freezers, BUT you can also put a bowl of them in a musty basement or garage to help with smells. And, they're great at the bottom of trash cans (especially in the bathroom) to get rid of those nasty odors!



  3. Plant Food – It's true that rosebushes, azaleas, rhododendrons, and evergreens love acidic soil. I collect my grounds in a used coffee can (of course) and sprinkle them around my rosebushes. They love the grounds and I love the roses! 



  4. Shoe Deodorizer – Junior's sneakers are an environmental hazard, so I grab a pair of old knee-high panty house, filled each sock with coffee grounds, and place them in each sneaker. Okay, so the odor doesn't fully disappear, but at least now I don't want to pass out each time I pass Junior's shoes.



  5. Use When Shopping For Perfume Or Cologne – The last time I went to Bed, Bath & Body Works, my daughter and I had a blast trying on new scents. Unfortunately, it was difficult to really get a sense (pun intended) of the new scent when the old one was still in the air and on our arms. I had packed a tablespoon of coffee grounds in a little Ziploc bag and we took a whiff of the coffee between fragrances. The coffee scent actually cleared our noses of the previous smell.

Coffee grounds are one of those substances I always look at and think, “they HAVE to have more uses than just for coffee” and they do. 


Some work, some don't, but if you drink coffee and you have the grounds around anyway, why not try some of the uses above? They worked for me!



Thanks for reading!






Note:  Photos are courtesy of Pixabay.