Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Guide To Buy Energy Saving Washing Machine (Guest Post)

There are many appliances in homes that are not only useful but also have become indispensable. Whether it is air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, geysers, water heaters and so on, there is hardly any doubt that it would be impossible to lead a normal life unless these machines are functional on a daily basis.
 
However, on the flip side, when compared to the situation as it was a few decades ago (say round 40 to 50 years) today we are spending much more money on running and maintaining these home appliances and gadgets. We are particularly spending much more on power and energy for keeping these machines in operation. As power and energy costs have risen steadily over the past 40 to 50 years, we are now feeling the pinch when it comes to operating these appliances.
 
Therefore there is a growing urgency to buy only those washing machines and other such appliances that are energy efficient. This is true because the old models of washing machines were notorious for being big guzzlers of electricity and the energy bills started increasing by almost 50 to 60% in many cases. So, the need for energy efficient washing machines became an absolute necessity. In this article we will try and have a look at some useful tips when deciding to buy an energy efficient machine.
 
First and foremost when you are looking for an energy efficient washing machine, you should be sure that it has the required Energy Star Labels. The standard energy saving appliances comes with 6-star labels and they can go up to 10 stars depending on the level of energy efficiency. Hence the higher the stars the more energy efficient they are. So this is a very useful tip that one should remember when going in for energy saving washing machines.
 
The next important thing is to look for the right types of washing machines. It is always better to go in front loading washing machines because they have been found to be more energy efficient when compared to the top loading ones. They can also wash bigger loads, consume lesser water and more importantly help reduce spending on power and electricity. Last but not the least you must also look for buying only those washing machines that are reputed and branded. They might cost you a bit more but when it comes to quality and efficiency, they are much better than the lower priced ones. 


Parenting Pointers: Why Read to Newborns?

March is National Reading Month, and on behalf of the Beebo, and hands-free solution to bottle-feeding, I have the opportunity to share these reasons why you should read to your newborn.

  1. While developing children's language and communication skills, reading also helps children understand the world around them and gives context to what they see and experience. It is a way to open the world for your child.
 
  1. While babies may not understand the concepts and story lines of books, hearing your voice is comforting and, in time, the child will find meaning in the words you are using. In fact, the more words parents use when speaking to an 8-month-old infant, the greater the size of their child's vocabulary at age 3.
 
  1. Reading to an infant can promote emergent literacy and language development. It helps children become familiar with books and accustomed to listening and focusing.
 
  1. According to analyses of the PISA exam (Program for International Student Assessment), which is given to 15-year-olds worldwide, the biggest factor influencing higher scores was whether or not a child was read to on a regular basis when they were young.

Consumer Critique: Veri Soda

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

Veri Soda  is an organic, low-calorie carbonated beverage. In ginger ale, cola, lemon lime, and orange, there are options to replace most of the major conventional carbonated beverage flavors. My husband found the cola to be an acceptable replacement for the cola he used to drink, and I really liked the orange flavor. The flavors are genuine, with real ingredients like orange juice and vanilla, and the beverages are sweetened with stevia. You can find Veri Soda at stores like Byerly's, Lunds, and some natural foods stores.

Freebies!

Bookends at Home Depot Kids Workshop March 7

Thrifty Thinking: Tax Software Tips from ConsumerAffairs.com

Consumeraffairs.com has put together an expert tax software guide. The  guide helps consumers learn what to look for when choosing tax software. You can also see reviews from consumers for the companies mentioned on the comparison table at the top of the page. This can be a good resource as you're trying to figure out how to prepare your taxes this spring.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Freebies!

Zarbee's immune support (Facebook)

Consumer Critique: Secrets of the Lost Caves

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own. 

Secrets of the Lost Caves is the second installment in Cheryl Potter's young adult crossover fantasy that weaves solid plot and character development with rich themes. One unique features is the complimentary reading guide, which helps readers of all ages (especially those on the younger end of the spectrum) get more out of the book. Following The Broken Circle, this new book joins the party of Six plus One in the race against the Dark Queen to find the Lost Caves and unlock the Secrets of the Crystal Caverns. 

The book stays true to the handcrafting theme, without dwelling on it so much that those who aren't knitters will find it boring. It's a long read, a meaty read, but very rich and clearly well-thought-out. Although the size is intimidating, the plot and character is gripping enough to make the book seem much less daunting than it looks.
 
Find more about Cheryl Potter and the Potluck Yarn universe at potluckyarn.com

Amazing Apps: YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids app, the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind, is available for free on Google Play and in the App Store App Store in the U.S.

Families worldwide are already watching millions of videos on YouTube. The app makes it safer and easier for children to discover and explore videos on topics they are curious about with family-friendly features, including:

·         Playful, Fun Design: The YouTube Kids app is delightfully simple and packed with age-appropriate videos, channels and playlists with a focus on content for early literacy. With larger images, bold icons and more, it’s fast and simple for little thumbs to navigate. And there’s a voice search option so even if your children can’t spell or type, they can still find videos that pique their curiosity.

·         Parental Controls: The YouTube Kids App offers several options that help you control the experience for your kids.
o    Timer: Let the app be the bad guy with a built-in timer that limits kids’ screen time. The app alerts them when the session is over so you don’t have to.
o    Sound Settings:  Parents have an option to turn off background music and sound effects, so your kids can keep watching quietly while you catch up on chores or simply take a break in peace.
o    Search Settings: If you’d rather limit your children to just the pre-selected videos available on the home screen, you can turn off the search feature.
o    Product feedback: The goal is to continuously  improve YouTube Kids App, so there’s also a space for you to give YouTube your feedback.

·         Family-Focused Content: Rest easy! Videos in the YouTube Kids app only focus on kid-appropriate content. You can browse channels and playlists in four categories: Shows, Music, Learning and Explore. Search videos of particular interest to your family, like model volcanoes, math tutorials, the amazing (and endless) world of trains—and everything in between.  Enjoy favorites including Jim Henson TV, Mother Goose Club, Talking Tom and Friends, National Geographic Kids, Reading Rainbow and Thomas the Tank Engine, and discover new videos coming soon from beloved YouTubers like the Vlogbrothers and Stampylonghead.

Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization providing education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children, said that the YouTube Kids app is:
·         "An exceptionally fun way for kids to browse online videos and for adults to guide their viewing."
·         "A serious contender as a family's go-to way for kids to watch videos online."
·         "There's something for everyone on YouTube Kids. Toddlers to big kids will be able to find a show, some music, or some educational content that fits their interests."


Pet Pointers: Common Pet Owner Mistakes

Pet owners do everything we can to make our pups happy, even if it sometimes  means letting them break the rules. Be honest: did you sneak Fido an extra treat last night? How about letting your pup snuggle on the couch? If you answered yes, you’re certainly not alone. But did you know that these are just a couple of the worst “pet parent mistakes?”
 
Heidi Ganahl CEO of Camp Bow Wow, North America’s largest and fastest growing pet care franchise and INC 5000 company calls out some of the worst offending mistakes owners make and some tips to avoid them:
 
1.       Not reinforcing bad behaviors: Many pet parents don’t understand that giving a dog attention when they are doing something inappropriate will encourage them to continue that behavior. Ignoring the dog when it performs bad behaviors and rewarding the dog when it offers good behaviors will lead to a better behaved dog.
 
2.       Not taking your dog to a training class: When people don’t train their dogs, they feel like they doesn’t listen to them when, in reality, the dog doesn’t understand what it is being asked to do. Parents need to take the time to learn from a professional on how to help their dog be a good dog. If the dog is a rescue, going to training will help build a bond with the dog. It is so important to get dogs of any age into a training class to ensure that you know how to communicate with your pet in a way that they understand and to have an expert help you with any issues that could arise.
 
3.       Not socializing your dog in a critical period: Puppies need to be socialized, and there is a very short window to accomplish this so it is comfortable with new things and people in their lives. Not socializing a puppy can lead to skittish or aggressive behavior later on. It’s important to expose your dog to as many new situations (ie. dogs, people, textures and objects) as possible before they are 16 weeks old.
 
4.       Not researching the breed: Many people choose a dog because it is cute or as an impulse. Not understanding the breed you are adopting can lead to problems. If you adopt an active dog and don’t have an active lifestyle, the dog isn’t going to get the proper exercise or stimulation it needs and this can lead to bad behavior. Some dogs have innate behaviors that are undesirable for a family setting, like protective herding or aggressive tendencies. If you are considering getting a dog, take time to research various breeds that will work for your family and set out to find a dog that meets those criteria.
 
5.       Not watching your child around your dog: Many people are very trusting of their family pet, but 50% of dog bites happen to children 12 years old and under, and many of those are by the family pet. Children do not understand how to properly read signals a dog gives when they are uncomfortable, and this can lead to a bite. If you have a young child, you should always supervise them while they are with your pet. Although they are an important family member, remember that dogs are still dogs. Teach your child how to properly interact with the dog by not pulling their tails, ears or fur, sitting on them, running at them, etc.

Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution

 Guest post provided by Astor & Blue

Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution by Kit Brennan, is the much anticipated next installment of the Whip Smart series (if you didn’t get a chance to read the previous novels, don’t worry Revolution is easily a stand-alone story.) Readers are once again thrust into the thrilling adventures of Lola Montez, the gorgeous and audacious dancer making her way through Europe.

With a reputation as the most cosmopolitan woman of her time, (the very first modern woman I believe) Lola travels to Bavaria and seduces King Ludwig I—or, as Lola comes to know him, Luis. Her curious free-spirit and sexual confidence make her irresistible, a true rarity in a time of patriarchy and social repression. But in the midst of her brow-raising love affair, Lola finds herself the target of a witch hunt and a nefarious unfolding plot while the surrounding city descends into social upheaval.

As you may have gathered, Lola Montez was a real person: a modern woman living in Victorian times.  She was an Irish girl, born Betty Gilbert, who left her quiet, average life at a young age in order to become an exotic dancer. History has her traveling throughout Europe (again, unheard of for women back then) and during her travels, actually influenced heads of state and shaped major political policy. 

Please enjoy an excerpt from Revolution below!

HOW IT BEGINS: June 1846

Die Reisende (The Traveller)

Galloping astride, its resonant power exploding within you, the headlong rush of a great horse in motion frees the head completely of human sorrows and concerns—like almost nothing else on earth. Responding eagerly to my heel, with each stride Magnifique confirmed with ever greater urgency his penchant for running, for extending his limbs: neck thrust forward, ears turned back, black mane and tail streaming. My whole body thrummed to the pounding rhythm, my brain unclenching and opening to its insistent requirements. There was room only for this: action, engagement, the elation of physical release—harder, faster! On a flying horse, you stay in the moment or court disaster. And I had had too much of that. This was my darling Henri Dujarier’s horse—my horse—and I was thankful to have him back, to be liberated at last from the bitter tragedy of Paris. My craving for speed, for flight, was heightened too by the recent and gruesome confrontation in Montmartre Cemetery. Jumpy as a cat, I trusted no one. Heading north now through France—astonished to still be alive.
    A mad determination had come into my head the instant I’d turned Magnifique and cantered away forever from Henri’s grave (my dearest love). I’d clung to the morsel of hope thus roused, though following through on it entailed several hard weeks of travel. No matter how willing he seemed, it was critical that I not overtax my steed.
    Spring days warmed with the passing of each, the landscape changing as we moved through it. I put up for the nights at coaching inns, hiding my youth and figure in a bulky riding cape. Occasional necessary encounters with inhabitants of towns and the Picardy countryside revealed a new fact: while I’d mourned and battled in Paris, the world hadn’t stayed still. With my own eyes I could see abject privation was everywhere. George Sand was right: working men and women had taken a beating. My artistic friends in Paris and others of the intelligentsia blamed Louis-Philippe, the Citizen King, and his faulty regime; the bleak, starved people in front of me, in the markets and hostelries, blamed more than that.
 ...
    My heart remained in my throat for the whole long journey. Magnifique, sensing it, was ready to spook at every turn. In the towns and on the country roads, I was stared at with undisguised wariness and, often, a flintier speculation: a woman, alone, on a mighty fine horse? So I rode with my pistols on display, the flick knife in my waistband always ready to hand.
    Genuinely relieved to at last arrive in Caen—Calais—I booked a ticket for the next ship’s crossing of La Manche. Leave the provincial French, their stimulations and their woes, I thought; I need a rest from this sense of rising chaos.
    The following morning I rode to the docks, and was leading Magnifique towards the enclosure where the horses were kept prior to boarding the ship. Just as I handed the reins to an attendant, there was a colossal boom off to our left which caused the ground to shake. A squall of objects, large and small, flew into the air, followed by dust and wind. Magnifique startled mightily, knocking the young man off his feet and dragging him back in the direction of the avenue. I managed to run after them and, in a few minutes, to calm my horse. Thank God. But fifty yards away, where the sound had originated, smoke was still clearing and I could hear the whistles of gendarmes, approaching at a run. An explosion, surely! But why? Men and women were snatching goods up from off the ground, where crates and boxes had smashed open, revealing food stuffs. A woman jabbed me with her elbow, crying, “Vite! Take as much as you can!” Even some of the ship hands seemed to be hastily helping themselves. As I turned to lead Magnifique back to the ship, a gnarled, muscular man raced towards us and grabbed the reins, tugging my horse away at great speed and attempting to place his foot in the stirrup, ready to swing up. “Let him go, bastardo,” I shouted, lunging after him and slashing at the hand on the reins with my knife, instantly drawing blood. He darted off, drops of scarlet spattering the cobbles and the shoulders of strangers as he forced his way through them, snarling, “Tassez-vous, cochons!” Mon Dieu, I thought, calming Magnifique with a caress to his muzzle, get me out of this volatile country!
    Throughout the channel crossing, while the steamship Water Witch battled a rough sea and passengers lurched to the railings to spew, I finally let my jangled mind return to its goal: to the thought of her. Shivering in my cloak, wind and spray streaming through my hair, I questioned what she would think of me. The only gift I’d ever managed to give the object of my impatient journey was a cherished pair of peridot earbobs that had gone with me to Spain. When I’d sent the earrings, I’d made myself a promise: that I would return some day to hug her and hold her and become part of her life. Four years had passed and I’d not managed to do so—until now. She was eleven years old.
***
Kit Brennan is a nationally produced, award-winning playwright, and teaches writing and storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. The Victorian era and its personalities have always been of major interest to Brennan. Her play Tiger’s Heart explores the life of Dr. James Barry, who was actually a woman living a double life disguised as a man in order to practice medicine, which was not an option open to women at the time. Kit divides her time between the vibrant city of Montreal and the quiet lake wilderness of Ontario alongside her husband, Andrew, and a variety of animal friends.  Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution is her third novel.

Visit her online at www.kitbrennan.com

To continue reading Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution by Kit Brennan,
purchase your own copy here:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1AlBCL2
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