Basic Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring Cleaning ChecklistSpringtime is finally just about here and there’s no better time to get your house cleaned up than right now. You can tackle a great number of spring cleaning tasks when the weather first gets nice, and some of the tasks you can even take care of on a rainy day. Here is a spring cleaning checklist we’ve prepared with some of our very favorite chores to tackle in the early spring.

Before you get started on your spring cleaning, you may want to make your own Spring Cleaning To-Do list and review it for any materials you may need to buy. Be sure you have plenty of paper towels and cleaners, household wipes, and other cleaning necessities.

To fully tackle your spring cleaning, you should make a specific list for each room. In the meantime, here are some of the top spring cleaning tasks you can focus on this spring:

•    Empty out your kitchen cabinets, wipe them down, and reorganize everything. Find better ways to put everything back in so you have a neater kitchen.

•    Clean the inside and outside of all your appliances. Clean out your fridge of any old foods or condiments and wipe down all the drawers and shelves. Clean your oven and stove top. Wipe down the microwave. You get the idea.

•    Go through your pantry and get rid of any expired food. Organize everything so that you can always find what you’re looking for – keep the pastas together, the canned goods, soups, snacks, drinks, and so forth.

•    Clean the windows. No one likes this job, but if you are going to let any fresh air in your home, you might as well do it through clean windows. Open each window and swap out the storm windows for screens if you have them. Wipe down all the trim and windowsills as well as the inside tracks of the windows. Use Windex to clean any glass surfaces. Don’t forget any sliders or French doors!

•    Give your tile and hardwood floors a good cleaning. You can really brighten up a room with a shiny, clean floor.

•    Vacuum, sweep, dust, and generally straighten all the rooms in your house. Take the time to ensure each room looks its best from top to bottom. Check the corners of the ceiling for any cobwebs and check underneath furniture for any dust bunnies.

•    Clean out and organize your garage, basement, attic, and/or shed. Springtime is a great time to organize, de-clutter, and put everything back together. You’ll feel so much better once your home is organized and neat.

•    Tackle some yard work. Whether you want to get your beds ready for flowers or this year’s plantings or if you simply want to clear away anything left from last fall or the winter, this is a great time of year to get your yard looking great. You can also clean off patio furniture, and clean your grill, for starters.

•    Wipe down cabinets, walls, baseboards, light fixtures, and other surfaces. These surfaces get dusty over time and they can even collect dust bunnies and bugs here and there. Consider unscrewing any dome-style light fixtures to clear out any dust or bugs that may have gotten inside.

Some other good tasks to do around the house in the springtime may require you to bring a contractor or service company to your home. You may want to look into getting your vents cleaned out and replacing air filters (especially if you have spring allergies – be sure to get an allergy specific filter for your home). These are just a few examples – speak with your family members to see what other tasks you may need to tackle this spring.

To ensure you hit all your bases, take a look at your house one room at a time. Some rooms will have special needs as compared to other rooms. Your kitchen and bathrooms may present the biggest challenges while bedrooms may be a simpler task overall. It really depends on where you want to focus and what cleaning and organizing needs you currently have.

Please feel free to share any tips or other suggestions in our comments below!


Tax Time Tips for Stress-free Filing

Tax time always seems to sneak up on us when we are busy worrying about other things. The good news is you get an extra two days to file this year. The bad news is, there is still never enough time to file, as far as busy professionals and business owners are concerned. Don’t let too much time pass before you get yourself organized for filing your taxes. Whether you owe money or you’ll be getting a rebate back, it is important to take the time to make sure all your financial ducks are in a row. Consider these helpful tax time tips to get you off on the right foot when it comes to filing your taxes this year.

Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., shares the following tax season tips to help you get the most out of your tax filing experience, from deductions to how to spend your refund (here’s to hoping we all get one!).

1. Identify Your Deductions.
“Before you start number crunching, be sure you know what expenses to write off; you don’t want to miss out on a single tax-deductable expense,” Woroch says. “The list is quite long, so take the time to read it thoroughly and highlight anything that applies to you. You can find the Top 500 Itemized Deductions on the IRS website.”

2. Organize, Organize, Organize.
Andrea Woroch recommends organizing your receipts and other documentation by category to make it easier when filing. This can make the entire process easier when you go to document everything from business lunches to corporate travel and office supplies, among countless other tax deductible expenses.

3. Keep Track of Your W2s.
According to federal law, employers must send W2s to their employees no later than the last day of January each year. In cases where you can’t find or didn’t receive your W2, Woroch recommends contacting your company’s HR department or your supervisor immediately to ensure you get a new copy. She then recommends filing immediately once you receive the W2.

4. Find Discounts for Software.
If you plan to prepare your own taxes rather than enlisting the help of a tax pro, be sure you have the right tax software geared up and ready to go. You can find great deals on tax software and even tax preparation services at deal and discount websites like,, and

5. Save on Professional Help.
Sometimes you can find discounts for professional tax help as well. If you own your own business, it may behoove you to engage a tax pro to file your taxes. This can often reduce the chances of an audit. Keep watch for discounts on tax services during the beginning of the year to help you save money on taxes, and don’t forget to deduct the cost of filing with your tax pro if you are a business entity.

6. Analyze Your Refund.
“It’s tough to compete with the glee of receiving a hefty tax return, but not owing anything to the IRS is the sweetest gift of all,” says Woroch. “If your withholdings are too high, you’re missing out on monthly income. If they’re too low, you’re living the high life until an abrupt wake-up call on April 15. Ultimately, you want to break even with Uncle Sam, so use the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine the optimal deduction from your paycheck.”

7. Spend Your Refunds Wisely.
Some of the top ways to spend your tax time refund may include paying down debt, saving for a rainy day, donating to charity, and adding to your emergency nest egg. You may want to spend the money on vacation or a special purchase for yourself – just be sure the rest of your finances are in order before doing so.

What other tax time tips and suggestions do you have to share? Please leave a comment with your favorite tax tip or advice to help all of our readers get ready to file their taxes.

About the Expert:
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. For more information, please see


Cute, Modern and Classic Songs for a Baby Lullaby Playlist or CD

Usually the most thoughtful gifts and gestures are those that come from the heart. Consider making up a fun iTunes playlist or mixed CD of songs for your own baby or as a gift for an expecting friend or family member. No doubt this caring gesture is one that mom and baby can enjoy together even before baby is born. The songs can be simple and melodic or truly baby themed all the way. You should try to keep a consistent theme in your playlist and create multiple baby music playlists if you feel so inspired. Consider these suggestions for cute, modern songs for a baby lullaby playlist to play for an unborn baby.

As you plan the modern songs for baby playlist, keep in mind the typical music preferences of the mom-to-be as well as the tone of each song. Seek songs that are soft and melodic and peaceful to listen to, while still upbeat and pleasant. The music should be overall happy and sweet sounding.

Here are some suggestions for songs to include on a baby lullaby music playlist or mixed CD:

1.       Somewhere over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

2.       You Are My Sunshine – Liliana Rose

3.       What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

4.       Have I Told You Lately That I Love You – Rod Stewart

5.       Unforgettable – Nat King Cole

6.       Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

7.       The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin

8.       Open Arms – Journey

9.       Never Let You Go – Third Eye Blind

10.   Sail Away – David Gray

11.   Babylon – David Gray

12.   You Belong to Me – Jason Wade

13.   You Were Meant for Me – Jewel

14.   Wherever You Will Go – The Calling

15.   You and Me – Lifehouse

16.   Breathing – Lifehouse

17.   Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing – Aerosmith

Another option for mom and baby to enjoy music together would be the wide selection of CD sets. This series of compact discs covers everything from melodic Beatles midis to toned-down, lullaby renditions of Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Smashing Pumpkins, and so many others. You can find just about any mainstream band that the mom-to-be enjoys in this collection of modern lullabies.

You might also want to make a playlist of classical music to enjoy with your little one. Consider sweet, melodic songs like Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and even some of the romantic classical tunes often used in weddings, like Pachelbel’s Canon in D and Bach’s Air on the G String. Babies are said to enjoy the songs of Mozart while sometimes showing dislike for songs of Beethoven, exhibited by more intense kicking.

If you would like to bond with your baby before he or she is born, consider playing music and enjoying tunes together for a few minutes each day. You can use old school headphones on your belly or take advantage of a soft and cuddly alternative – the Lullabelly Music Belt, which grows with you in your pregnancy. This item has an adapter that allows you to listen with headphones while a small speaker delivers the proper decibel of sounds to your baby in the womb through your tummy. The Lullabelly product paired with a baby lullaby playlist or iTunes gift card can be a fantastic baby shower gift that the mom will cherish for this baby and any subsequent siblings to come.

What other songs can you think of that would fit nicely on a baby songs playlist or mixed CD? Please share them in our comments below so others can benefit from your great ideas. We’ll be sure to update the article as well.


SentrySafe’s Pink 1100 Fire Chest Review

SentrySafe Pink 1100 Fire ChestNo matter where you live, every home, apartment, or place of residence should have a fireproof safe. Even if it is a small fire safe for personal use, like the SentrySafe Pink 1100 Fire Chest, which has its own handle so you can easily move it from one room to the next or take it with you on the go as needed. The SentrySafe Pink 1100 Fire Chest literally is pink and purchases of this product include a $1 donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

I received my very own pink SentrySafe product for the purpose of this review. I am thrilled with the look of the safe, especially its fun color, as well as the great features it offers. First you have the ETL Verified 1/2-hour fire protection for CDs, DVDs, USB drives, and memory sticks up to 1550°F, giving you peace of mind in the event of a fire. The safe also has UL Classified 1/2-hour proven fire protection. Its privacy lock secures your private documents, media files, valuables, and keepsakes and protects them against vandalism or unwanted access by others in your residence.

SentrySafe Pink 1100 Fire ChestI also enjoyed the carrying handle, which works very nicely with the size and shape of the fire safe. This safe is a great size for someone living along, a college student, or as your daughter’s first safe. You can certainly fit items for the whole family if needed, including passports, social security cards, cash, and valuable items.

The pink exterior of the safe is sturdy and durable – I like the texture and find the shape nice for sliding under the bed, stacking on a closet shelf, or placing in another convenient household location. The safe is relatively heavy and gets heavier as you add items to it, but it still seems manageable for almost anyone to get it out of the house if needed.

My positive impression of the SentrySafe 1100P fire chest matches what many reviewers are saying on Amazon – ample space, nicely constructed, cute, affordable, and sturdy. One thing to be aware of – the key is required to open and close the safe. A good practice would be to put it on your keychain or in your wallet or even in a safety deposit box.

The SentrySafe Pink 1100 Fire Chest also comes with a one-year limited warranty and lifetime after-fire replacement guarantee.

This cool pink fire safe by SentrySafe retails for $39.99 and can be purchased at,, and, as well as in select retail locations like Academy Sports & Outdoors and Staples Canada. For more information, please visit SentrySafe online at


Fashion in the Home – Dressing up Your Windows with Curtains and Blinds

Terry's Curtains Como in RougeMany things can dress up the look of a home. Some quick and easy ways to enhance the home’s appearance include new artwork, new bedding, throw pillows, and even seasonal throw rugs. More permanent upgrades can improve the home setting even more, from the paint colors you choose to the style of carpets or hardwood flooring, and certainly not to be forgotten – window treatments.

Curtains, drapes, and blinds are available in a wide array of styles, colors, and fabrics, making it easy to choose the perfect pair for each room. Ready-made curtains work well for a lower level of effort and easy swapping for the seasons. You can even change your kitchen or bathroom curtains to match the latest holiday!

Hardwood blinds or bamboo roman shades add elegance to the rooms in your house, giving a more versatile look with color choices that can complement your hardwood floors, upholstery, and other furnishings. Mini-blinds make a nice choice for shading the sun in rooms where you’ve already selected curtains or drapes that match the décor.

Terry's Fabrics - Hardwood Blinds

When it comes time to choose your window treatments, consider shopping online at a store like Terry’s Fabrics, offering a vast selection of curtain fabrics, styles, textures, and colors, plus options for hardware, curtain rods, and other accents so that you can create a complete look for each room. Your home is sure to look fantastic!


Did You Get an HP Touchpad This Weekend? There’s Still Time…

Buy a discounted HP Touchpad!HP’s firesale on the Touchpad (32gb and 16gb) exploded this weekend, causing customers to scramble far and wide, vying for a device of their own. The HP Touchpads were marked down to 75% off the retail price, coming in at $99 for the 16gb Touchpad and $149 for the 32gb Touchpad. After countless phone calls and numerous fruitless trips out to the stores – Staples, Walmart, Best Buy – I finally decided to give up. But then my pal gave me links so I could still get my hands on a discounted HP Touchpad this weekend!

For anyone still interested in getting the HP Touchpad at a discounted price, either for themselves or as a gift for someone, there are still a few options for last-minute clearance devices. I highly recommend watching for the latest and greatest. I would also recommend watching prices on Amazon and checking back to HP’s site regularly.

Today Amazon decided to drop the prices to match the manufacturer’s offerings. I managed to play my order, but it seems the prices have since been increased. Here are the links just in case the pricing comes back to the low, low rates I had:

HP FB356UT Smart Buy Touch Pad QUALCOMM Snapdragon APQ8060 1.2 GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n Wireless 9.7″ IPS TFT 1GB RAM 32GB

FB454UT Smartbuy TouchPad QUALCOMM Snapdragon APQ8060 1.2 GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n Wireless 9.7″ IPS TFT 1GB RAM 16GB

Buying online from a favorite retailer like Amazon proved much more relaxing for me than running out to the stores where it felt as if employees (who had probably already cashed in on the deal) were mocking the line of customers pouring into the stores for this sick deal. Here’s the scoop – if you like gadgets, surfing the Web, checking email, and viewing photos and videos, it really doesn’t get much better than $99 and $149! If you still want to buy a Touchpad, you might be in luck if you can find a current deal. Good luck to anyone looking to buy one of these bad boys – I wouldn’t delay too long if you are, since I almost didn’t get one.


Defaulting on Credit Card Debt – What It Means

Getting into unmanageable debts is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. With the current global crisis, a number of people have found themselves in financial situations that they cannot handle, often defaulting on credit card debt. It becomes clear that your debts are over your head when you start lying to people whom you owe money, when you are no longer saving, and when you start using your cards to pay for even basic necessities like food. During such times you will also find it hard to pay for even minimum payments that are due on your card. All these situations clearly show that you already have too much credit card debt that you can no longer handle.

When you realize that you are defaulting on credit card debt, you should look for a way out the soonest possible. The following are tips that will help you get out of credit card debt. You can start by refinancing high rate cards and also cut out any of the cards that you presently have and those where you do not have proper balances. To avoid getting into a situation where you could be defaulting on credit card debt, it is advisable to pay more than the minimum amount due on your credit cards. You can also take out a debt consolidation loan in order to get yourself out of credit card debt.

If you are already defaulting on credit card debt, it is often helpful to seek the assistance of a credit card debt settlement services company that will help you out of this miserable situation. You should always avoid taking cash in advance on any other card. You should also try as much as possible to avoid robbing your IRA or any other retirement savings scheme in order to pay off your credit card. However, it is possible that defaulting on your credit card payment will sometimes help you in some specific circumstances, but not often. Usually it does more harm than good.

You should always remember that there are several consequences of defaulting on credit card debt and therefore try to avoid it as much as possible. It is true that loans makes life easier and especially in situations where a person is living on a stretched budget. However, you can easily be labeled a loan defaulter when worse comes to worst. When this happens, most financial institutions will consider you as credit unworthy, which will definitely make it hard to get any other credit. The other consequences of defaulting on credit card debt are that it will adversely affect and even ruin your credit card rating. Remember that when you stop making payments to your credit card issuers, you will only be getting into more debts.

Yet another consequence of defaulting on credit card debt is that you will lack proof of credibility when you are branded a loan defaulter. In such a situation you might face difficulties looking for proper residence if the agency requires a proof of credibility.


Things to Do on a Sunday

Most people have trouble finding something to do on Sunday. To many people, Sundays and especially Sunday afternoon can be boring. Most of those who go to church on Sunday morning find themselves with nothing to do after church. There are several things one can do with family or with friends.

Continue reading Things to Do on a Sunday

A Good Read – Forever Lily by Beth Nonte Russel

The cold winds that come with winter for those of us living in a four-season climate makes it difficult to enjoy our outdoor hobbies. For me, this is the time of year that I search for a few good reads that I can take to my exercise bike in an effort to avoid the inevitable winter bulge that will appear otherwise.

In my search for a good book, I had the good fortune to receive a free copy of Forever Lily by Beth Nonte Russel to review. The book takes the reader along a journey filled with emotion, the dreams that haunted the author, the trials and tribulations of the journey, and finally, the happy ending. Forever Lily is a tale of a woman who journeys to China with a friend and unexpectedly adopts a baby girl.

Despite the sadness that is often evoked from reading this book, Forever Lily is easy-to-read and enjoy. It’s a wonderful tale with an equally wonderful ending. You’ll probably find yourself looking for excuses to continue reading it rather than putting it down until tomorrow. For me, that equated to longer periods of bike riding!

Beth Nonte Russel also offers an entire line of products including perfumes, lotions, apparel, jewelry, accessories, and meditation CDs. These products are sold under Beth Nonte Russel’s brand, GoodTrueBeautiful, Inc. Her goal is to bring back a celebration of the beautiful parts of life as well as to inspire others to enjoy and appreciate the freedom that many of us have today.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of any of these products is donated to the Golden Phoenix Foundation in a concerted effort to put an end to the child abandonment that continues to take place worldwide even today.


More Things to Do on a Rainy Day – Ideas for Dates or Activities Indoors

Rainy days can completely destroy your mood and make you feel like there’s nothing to do. A rainy day takes away your chances of doing a lot of things outside, but it can also impact your plans for a special occasion like your birthday or your anniversary. If you are looking for something different and exciting to do on a rainy day, consider these suggestions.

Places to Go on a Rainy Day
If it’s raining outside, you can still have fun indoors. Find rainy day activities to try in your local area. Consider these ideas for places you can go to have fun on a rainy day:


1.    Drink – Visit a local winery or brewery.

2.    Play – Go to an arcade or an indoor fun zone with mini golf, laser tag, or other activities.

3.    Watch – See a movie at the theater.

4.    Learn – Check out a museum or other local indoor cultural attraction.

5.    Skate – Go ice skating or roller skating.

6.    Listen – Try to find a local concert or other indoor musical performance.

7.    Experience – Get tickets to a play, dinner theater, or comedy club.

8.    Cheer – Go see a game at a local hockey arena or check out a lacrosse team, arena football team, or indoor soccer team.

9.    Eat – Grab lunch, dinner, or dessert and drinks at your favorite nearby restaurant. A fifties diner or soda jerk type place could be a great fit for a rainy day.

10.    Sing – Try out your singing voice at a local karaoke bar or karaoke club.

11.    Dance – Check out a local dance club or night club.

12.    Shop – Hit up the mall to spend some of your rainy day cash.

13.    Observe – Go to a farmer’s market to shop or people watch.

14.    Discover – Take a class or workshop on crafts, cooking, wine tasting, photography, or something else you like.

15.    Compete – Challenge your friends or sweetheart to a game of bowling.

These are just a few ideas for places you can go to have a good time on a rainy day. All suggestions might not be appropriate for everyone. If you have other suggestions for something fun to do or somewhere cool to go on a rainy day, please share below in our comments.

Easy Home Fragrance Options: Candles, Warmers, Reed Diffusers, and More

Even if you don’t have pets, it can be a challenge to keep your home smelling fragrant and fresh. If you are looking for easy home fragrance options to keep your house and various rooms smelling great, consider candles, potpourri warmers, reed diffusers, air freshener jars, and more. These home fragrance products offer a super speedy way to freshen your home without a great expense or much effort.

Depending on your home décor and personal sense of style, you can choose from a wide variety of home fragrance goodies. Read on to find the best fit for your home.


Reed Diffusers for a Fresh Smelling Room
Reed diffusers are an elegant way to get your bedrooms, bathrooms, and common areas smelling great in no time. To use a reed diffuser, simply purchase one and remove it from the packaging. Remove the cap that keeps the fragrance liquid from spilling and place the reed sticks into the liquid. For a more intense aroma, you can flip the reeds upside-down so the saturated ends are exposed.

I received a Nectaire Reed Diffuser with an absolutely lovely lavender fragrance. This product immediately enhanced the scent of our home with the aromatic and organic scent of lavender. Nectaire’s lavender reed diffuser features a clear glass bottle with fragrance oil and 10 diffuser reeds to ensure appropriate distribution of your fragrance product. The bottle lasts between six and eight weeks, bringing pure fragrant pleasure to all who enter your home.

You can find reed diffusers at many local stores such as Wal-Mart, Ross, CVS, RiteAid, and Target, to name a few. You can also shop for them online if you wish to find a specific fragrance. To learn more about Nectaire products, please see

Candles to Add to Your Atmosphere
Candles add a nice romance to your home or to a particular room, especially a bedroom, dining room, or even your eat-in kitchen. You can add a nice fragrance to your home based on the season, focusing on evergreens, cinnamon, and fresh baked cookies for the winter season, florals, rain scents, and fresh linen for the spring, fruits, beach fragrance, sea spray, and sweet scents for the summer, and pumpkin, apple, fallen leaves, or nutty scents for the fall.

Choose many white candles for a purely romantic effect or choose a single powerful scent to liven up the mood in your home. Whenever you burn candles, be sure to ensure the safety of your home, belongings, and family by placing your candle on a safe surface and away from any curtains or hanging items.

Potpourri Warmers / Wax Tart Warmers for a Festive Mood
Potpourri warmers and wax tart warmers like those offered by Scentsy and Yankee Candle are a great way to set off a lovely fragrance while also enhancing the mood and ambiance of your home. You can use these warmers as a lovely home accent in your family room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or other location. Coordinate colors with your existing furnishings for a lovely accent piece.

These items also make lovely gifts for housewarmings and for showers or just about any special occasion. When buying fragrance products like candles and warmers for friends and family, try to choose the gift recipient’s favorite scent if you know it. If you don’t know the best scent to select, try to stay away from anything very unusual and get a run-of-the-mill fragrance that isn’t too overpowering.

Air Freshener Jars and Plug-in Products for Fast Yet Lasting Results
If you are looking for a fast way to change the scent of a particular room without having to do much maintenance, like watching or extinguishing a candle, consider products like Glade Plug-ins and the Febreeze alternative. You can also find jars of fragrance pearls that gradually shrink over time as they release their aroma. Choose the product that works best for your lifestyle and the space that you need to freshen.

What are your favorite fragrances for your home this time of year?

Origami Creations: World’s Best Origami by Nick Robinson Offers Fantastic Designs

The World’s Best Origami by Nick Robinson is the perfect birthday or Christmas gift for origami lovers this year. This paperback offers more than 100 creations from top origami artists in the world as well as original designs by Nick Robinson. For those of you who are new to this intriguing activity, origami is the Japanese art of folding paper to create fantastic designs. Dating back to ancient times, origami stands the test of time and continues to intrigue craft lovers everywhere.

Using simple folding instructions, anyone can create origami figures that are appealing and colorful. As I thumbed through World’s Best Origami by Nick Robinson, I discovered that each direction is accompanied by a diagram, clearly providing enough instruction for even the most challenged of us. Even if artistic talent is not one of your strong points, you can readily pick up this book and find more than one easy-to-create origami design.

The book is divided into ten chapters, making it easy to locate origami designs by theme. The chapters include: origami basics, birds, animals, flowers, people, containers, geometric, modular, practical, and fun. Each chapter includes several different designs from the simplest of creations to the most complex. The cover of the book is quite attractive in blue with pictures of two origami creations on the front and several on the back.

The author, Nick Robinson, has written more than 30 books as well as numerous articles on this topic. He is a member of the British Origami Society. Mr. Robinson has created several hundred original origami designs that he has shared with the world.

World’s Best Origami by Nick Robinson has a selling price under $15.00 and can be purchased on I also discovered that it is available as a Google eBook for only $9.99. I received the book as a gift for the purposes of this review.