Re-energize Yourself: Inspire Your Heart with Art Day

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

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Art is a universal language that touches the soul. It has the ability to help heal wounds, revive old memories, and connect people across place and time. And, with the chill keeping you indoors, it’s a great time to express your creativity. After all, today is Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, a holiday for self renewal through artistic expression and appreciation. So, take a pause from the monotony of your daily routine, stop simply going through the motions, and rediscover your passions.

If you’re looking to get inspired, then here are some things you can do.

Visit a museum. Nothing really compares to getting up close and personal with a piece of art. If you’ve never really been into art and museums, go into it with a different attitude. When looking at a piece, think why does this piece appeal to me? What am I seeing? What is the artist trying to convey to me? One fun thing to do is to try to name a piece before looking at its title.

Listen to music. As one of the oldest forms of therapy, music is known to be a refuge during difficult times. If you feel like you’ve been in a rat race and are anxious about everything, try calming acoustic music without lyrics. If you feel like you’ve hit a slump and don’t have a lot of energy, try some upbeat music, such as techno and hip hop to get your blood moving.

Decorate your home. Take some of what you’ve seen in the world and put it in your home. Your home is your biggest blank canvas. Don’t let it be boring and uninspiring. Throw some paint on the walls. Get some statement-making furniture. Turn your backyard into Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Do whatever it is you have to do get and stay inspired. Because why be inspired for just one day when you can be inspired for a lifetime? And, if you need help bringing your vision to reality, let TalkLocal find you the right local contractor to turn your idea into a masterpiece.

After so many years of juggling responsibilities and trying to get ahead in the rat race, it’s easy to become jaded and lose that child-like wonder that used to color your world. So, have fun with your imagination today and rediscover the creativity and beauty that’s so important for living an inspired and fulfilling life.

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day: Ten New Ways to Use Bubble Wrap

Monday, January 25th, 2016

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It’s Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day and we know what you’re thinking: why in the world would anyone celebrate bubble wrap? Well, bubble wrap has been around for 60 years, and over those 60 years, its use has expanded to more than just shipping packaging. Besides giving your kids a simple (if noisy) distraction, here are ten other unique uses for your leftover bubble wrap.

Hair Rollers. Bubble wrap can be a beauty product. Rolled up bubble wrap can be used to curl hair just like flexi rods. And since there’s no rod, we bet they’re more comfortable to sleep in. Check out this tutorial for super bouncy spiral curls made using bubble wrap.

Art. Bubble wrap is art. New York artist, Bradley Hart, has made a career out of recreating famous paintings by injecting paint into the tiny air pockets of bubble wrap. The process is very tedious and time-consuming; it takes about 150 hours to complete a single recreation but it looks spectacular.

Cake. No, bubble wrap isn’t edible, but it can be used when making a cake look great. In this tutorial, the chocolate cake wrapping is given dimension and texture when the chocolate is poured over the bubble wrap, which acts like a mold. Here’s a video; see for yourself.

Window Insulation. Bubble wrap was originally marketed as insulation before being used as shipping packaging. Tape bubble wrap to your windowpanes to prevent the cold air from penetrating into your home.

Toilet Insulation. Bubble wrap can be used for sweating toilets. Yep, you heard us right, sweating toilets. If you find that your toilet is sweating after you hop in the shower, consider lining the tank of your toilet with bubble wrap. It’ll stop the condensation.

Pipe Insulation. Burst pipes in the winter are an all too common problem plaguing homeowners. Wrap bubble wrap around your pipes to help prevent them from freezing. Again, the insulation properties of bubble wrap help to keep the pipes from freezing over.

Flower Flotation. If you’re into designing floral arrangements, then this one’s for you. Cut a piece of bubble wrap that’s slightly smaller than the base of your flower. Snip a small hole in it, just big enough for the stem to fit through. Slip the stem through the hole and you’re done. Now just place the flower in water and it should float. Here’s a photo tutorial to walk you through it.

Children’s Craft Projects. Bubble wrap can be used in a plethora of craft projects for children, such as sensory play, construction paper substitute, and pretend corn. Check out our Bubble Wrap Pinterest Board for more ideas.

Joint Therapy. If someone you love has weak or arthritic hands, bubble wrap may help to strengthen hands. Try popping the bubbles for a few minutes a day to build up your hands’ joint and muscle strength.

Stress Reliever. And as always, bubble wrap works amazingly as a stress reliever. If you often find yourself getting anxious while driving or hate sitting in gridlocked rush hour traffic, then wrap it around your steering wheel for a convenient way to relieve stress.

If household chores are stressing you and bubble wrap doesn’t help, give TalkLocal a call. We’re always glad to help!

Granny Pod: Multi-Family and Senior Living Solution

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

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As baby boomers begin to retire, what will happen to them? Where will they live? Retirement villages, nursing homes, or their own homes? What does a child do when their aging parent can no longer live independently? “Move them in,” you say, but what happens if there’s no space for their parent in their home? Well, that’s where the granny pod comes in — granny flat if you’re Australian. Of course, I personally prefer the term  “auxiliary dwelling units for the elder gentlewoman or man of exquisite taste and resourcefulness”.

What’s a “granny pod,” you ask? It’s basically a tiny home but much cooler (and safer). They’re “tiny home”-like structures that can be placed in your backyard. Most contain a kitchenette, a bedroom that also functions as a common area, and a bathroom. It’s like a deluxe master suite right in your backyard.

What makes a granny pod different than a tiny home? Well, for one thing, they have a cooler name. They’re also equipped with a lot of high end medical technology. The MedCottage, for example, boasts additional features, such as a virtual companion, a lift, video system that monitors at ankle level (no granny peep show here), pressurized ventilation, and the floor is specially cushioned in case of falls. Basically, in comparison to the tiny house, it’s the cousin at the family reunion who always has the latest gadgets.

Sounds great and all, but what’s the catch? Well, there are a few restrictions. (You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?) For one thing, these auxiliary dwelling units can only legally house one person. Also, there are sometimes zoning law restrictions that prevent people from getting granny pods. So, always check to see if you’re permitted to have one in your backyard.

Oooh, I’m interested! How much does it cost? They cost roughly $125,000, give or take a few thousand. Before you freak out, some companies will buy back your granny pod when it’s no longer needed (approximately $40,000). Also, the average cost of an assisted living facility is $42,000 a year. At those rates, it practically pays for itself.

So basically, we say that the granny pod is the perfect solution to keeping mom or dad close and letting her or him maintain their independence. If you need to get your lawn in order so you can move mom or dad in, give Talklocal a call and we’ll connect you with a landscaper in no time.

Houseplant Appreciation Day: What To Do When Talking Isn’t Working

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

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You’re relaxing in your living room, enjoying the warmth of your heater. You give the room a quick once over and your eyes land on one of your houseplants. You water it, give it sunlight, even talk to it, yet it still looks listless and worse for wear. Why? Well, plants are finicky creatures that can’t tell you when something is bothering them. Luckily, today is Houseplant Appreciation Day and  you’re determined to diagnose the problem and solve it. After all, what better way to show your plants just how much you appreciate them? So, here are five things to consider when trying to perk up your plant.

1. Consider A Different Pot: As your plant continues to grow, it may be cramped in the pot you first bought it so it may be time to upsize. If you do, consider your plant’s next home. Maybe you want to switch to a nonporous ceramic pot to retain more moisture in the soil. If it needs a new pot, make sure that it has a way to drain so the roots don’t get waterlogged; saucers are a good way to hold the water your plant needs to drain out.

2. Improper Sun Exposure: Your plants may be in a place where they can get sunlight but make sure it’s the right amount. If your plants’ leaves are sickly and colorless then they’re getting too much light. If the leaves are turning yellow and new leaves are growing small, then they’re getting too little light. Take a look outside the window and take note of anything that may be enhancing or blocking the sunlight.

3. Improper Watering: Over-watering is one of the most common reasons plants end up dying. Is your plant wilting? Are the leaves turning yellow, even though you’ve been watering it? Then you should lower your watering schedule. Are you not watering as much and the leaves are browning and wrinkling? Then you’ll want to give it more water. You can also test by sticking your finger about an inch or two into the soil and seeing how wet it is, or you can purchase a moisture meter.

4. Washing Them: Have you been washing your plant’s leaves? You should. If you don’t, not only do they get all dusty and gross-looking, but the dirt makes the plant unable to photosynthesize at full capacity. To clean your plant’s leaves, use lukewarm water and a soft cloth for larger smooth leaves. For smaller leaves or leaves you don’t want to touch, you can use a spray bottle or sink sprayer.

5. Watch Out for Pests: Even inside plants can be attacked by bugs. So, when watering your plants, inspect their leaves closely for any pests or their eggs. You can detract these pests when you’re washing the leaves by using a soap-insecticide mixture with the water. If you see any concerns with a single plant, isolate that plant from others until the issue is resolved.

And while you’re watching out for all these things, your plants should be able to live nice and healthy. Just remember to get some help if you need it. Whether it’s help with how to properly take care of your plants or even buying another plant that will go great with them, just “leaf” it to TalkLocal. *ba-dum-tshh*

Bubble Bath Day: The Best Hot Tubs For Your Budget

Friday, January 8th, 2016

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Oh the joy of bubble baths! When we were young, we avoided baths like the plague. Now, bubble baths are our tranquil safe havens. They bring us comfort after a long, hard day. They renew our energy and give us peace. They’re our great escape. If you’re looking to branch out and escape from the typical bubble bath, then you should consider purchasing a hot tub, especially for Bubble Bath Day. We’ve tracked down the best hot tubs for every budget based on price, jets, and occupancy number. We’re sure to have something for you. So, run your bath water, add some bubbles, relax, and contemplate your life with a hot tub.

Budget Friendly: Coleman Lay-Z Spa Inflatable Tub

For less than $500, this inflatable tub is the best in its price range. It gives you that luxury feeling without the price tag. In lieu of jets, there are bubbles to give you the spa-like feel. The Lay-Z Spa is easy to set up. It’s inflatable, which means it’s easier to store or move around if the need should arise. All in all, the Coleman Lay-Z Spa Inflatable Tub gets the job done!

The Best of Both Worlds: Canadian Spa Company Toronto

This whirlpool tub is a great fit for those who want the look and amenities of a top-notch jacuzzi but are budget conscious. This jacuzzi boasts 44 jets and seats 5 to 6 adults. That’s just enough jets and friends for a spa party! The hot tub also includes built-in speakers, LED lights, and even aromatherapy. You get all of this for just under $6,000, which is a bargain when you think about all the spa parties you’ll have in your backyard.

Splurge: Jacuzzi J-495

This hot tub is known as the “designer spacious entertainer” and for good reason. This top of the line model sports 62 jets, heats to a 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and holds 8-9 adults, which is great for all the friends you can invite over. This jacuzzi has 9 different types of jets, but what else would you expect from the brand that started a movement? Priced at over $12,000, this is definitely an investment so check with your local real estate agent about your neighborhood property value. In many cases, a hot tub will increase your property value.

So, whether you have an unlimited budget or the idea of a hot tub is a splurge in and of itself, this list has something for everyone. If you’re interested in getting a more permanent version, then call us at TalkLocal.

Get Your Couch Ready For Cuddle Up Day

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

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It’s finally getting cold outside, which means it’s optimal weather for Cuddle Up Day. Winter is the best time of year to snuggle up to your significant other, pet, pillow or, if all else fails, a bottle of wine. Cuddling is an excellent way to show someone or something just how much you care. Whether you’re all cuddled up on the couch or the recliner, make sure your furniture is in pristine cuddle condition. Nothing’s fun about uncomfortable cuddling! So if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to cuddle on a cracked leather couch, these DIY leather repairs will ensure that your favorite cuddle space is in tip top shape for Cuddle Up Day!

The Cat Scratch

So, your cat has decided that if you will not cuddle with them, then you will not cuddle at all. To treat the cat-scratch affected area, simply use hair trimmers or scissors and sandpaper to remove the peeling leather, leaving a smooth surface. Then, rub a leather cleaner on the surface to blend things in. Be sure to test on a small area first! It won’t look perfect, but it’ll look a lot better than it did originally. Check out this video for a step by step tutorial.

The Worn and Torn

This one’s been with you from the beginning, and you just can’t give it up. It was there for you before just about every major life event you’ve had since birth. IT SHOWS. If this leather couch has some serious rips and cracks, then it’s best to just order a leather repair kit, such as this one.

The Belly Up Bicast

So, your leather couch is a little threadbare. It’s seen better days, but you’re still not ready to part with it just yet. In order to save your couch and keep it intact for a little longer, purchase some Leather Studio paint and get to work. Remove any excess leather sticking up. Next, apply as many coats as necessary, usually 3-5, to the worn area. Allow each coat to dry before applying another. That’s it! You’re finished! This quick fix works best on small areas.

But if you find that your couch is in need of more TLC, give TalkLocal a call and we’ll connect you with an upholstery specialist near you. Now, go cuddle up!

P.S. this also works great for the impromptu cuddle sessions in the car.

Kwanzaa Gift Guide

Monday, December 21st, 2015

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Happy Kwanzaa everyone! Kwanzaa is the time of year when we gather around family and friends and celebrate African-American culture. It’s a time to reflect over the past and look forward to the future. In the spirit of Kwanzaa and what it stands for, it is customary to exchange gifts on the final night of the week long holiday. Kwanzaa encourages homemade gifts. It’s hard enough trying to buy the right gift, let alone making one. Don’t fret, we’ve handcrafted the perfect Kwanzaa gift guide for you!

 

Musical drums/rain maker

This gift is perfect for the little musician in your life. Children will enjoy making music with their new instruments, and the more children at your celebration the better. Celebrate the spirit of kuumba (creativity) and ask them to perform as a band for the karamu (feast).

Homemade bath salts/scrubs

Bath salts and scrubs are the perfect gifts for activists, workaholics, and anyone who is striving to define themselves through the essence of kujichagulia (self-determination). After a long, exhausting day, they’ll be so grateful to just sit, soak, and scrub away the day’s stresses.

Fabric clock

Make your loved one a fabric clock so they’ll always be on time. Show your commitment to ujamaa  (cooperative economics) by taking it a step further and supporting a black-owned business that sells African print fabrics. *Use the leftover fabric to make hand warmers

“Open when…” cards

The “Open when…” cards are a sweet, sentimental gift for anyone. They’re little cards that you make for people to open when [insert feeling]. Here are some possible topics. When their imani (faith) starts to fade, these cards will help.

Nuts and bolts chess set

This chess set is perfect for the (aspiring) intellectual in your crew! Ujima (collective work/ responsibility) is a necessary part in educating our children. Teach them (or let them teach you) with this chess set.

Picture frame tray

A picture frame tray is a wonderful present for anyone. It sends the message of umoja (unity). Fill the tray with pictures of family, friends, and community; it’ll remind the recipient about the importance of umoja.

Terrarium Necklace

This necklace is great symbol for nia (purpose). Like the constantly developing plant, we must also strive to develop our communities to be great. If a live plant doesn’t seem practical, then check out this one made with faux greenery.

For more information about Kwanzaa, check out its official website here. And remember, if you need something taken care of around the home so you can enjoy the time with your family, give TalkLocal a ring.

Santa List Day: Last Minute Tricks to Get Off Santa’s Naughty List

Friday, December 4th, 2015

 

“He’s making a list and checking it twice. He’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus is comin’ to town.” Today is Santa List Day, the day in which Santa makes the first draft of his Nice or Naughty list. Have you been not so nice this year, somewhere in between naughty and nice, or (more likely) you’ve been solidly okay and know that you could have accomplished so much more?

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No matter what Santa brings you this Christmas, the sting of guilt, regret, or unworthiness can make even the new Coldplay album and surround-sound feel like a lump of coal. Here’s what you can do to get on Santa’s good side, or at least feel better about yourself, just in time for Christmas. No milk or cookies required.

1.    Finish that “To Do” List

Show St. Nick that you’re not a liar, that you really do keep your promises. Now, go fix the kitchen sink. You don’t want Santa to see that you’ve been procrastinating.

2.    Clean Up

Clean the house. Not just put things away and organize, but actually clean. Break out the all-purpose cleaner and old toothbrushes. Scrub the bathroom tiles; scour the grout. Santa should be able to eat his cookies and milk right off the floor!

3.    Rake/Shovel the Sidewalk for Your Neighbors

Go out there and help somebody, more specifically your neighbor. Rake their leaves or, if it’s already snowing, shovel some snow for them. Let Santa know that like him you like to help others; and maybe those you’ve helped will express their thanks with an extra stocking stuffer this year.

4.    Donate Old Coats

Now that you’ve organized your home, go ahead and donate those coats, scarves, hats, and gloves that you don’t wear anymore. Help someone in need like St. Nick would.

5.    Decorate Your Home

It’s time for you to get festive and let Santa know that you’ve been awaiting his arrival. Put up the tree, throw tinsel on the staircase, and do it all while having a jolly good time. Ho, ho, ho!

6.    Buy a Snow Rake

If you live in a frigid environment, one in which it’s guaranteed to snow for Christmas, then buy a snow rake. It’ll help protect your roof from caving in because of the weight of the snow as well as ensure Santa has a safe landing in order to deliver your gifts.

7.    Clean Chimney/Fireplace

Santa can’t deliver the goods if he can’t get down the chimney. Here’s some tips on how to clean your fireplace and what can happen if you don’t.

8.    Write Apology Letters

Break out the stationary and try to correct your mistakes. That’s what Santa would do. If the letters don’t work, you can at least say that you tried.

9.    Invite Guests to Holiday Dinner/Party

Spread the holiday spirit and host a holiday dinner or party. It would be especially thoughtful of you to invite those who would least expect it.

10. Forgive Yourself

No one is perfect, and you’ve probably had more good days than bad over the last 360 odd days. So, be thankful for what you have, appreciate who you are, and continue to do your best for the rest of the year and into the future.

Overwhelmed by all that you need to do to make a strong finish out of the year? Give us a call and let us find you some help, whether you need a maid, handyman, or party planner; TalkLocal connects you the right pros by phone in minutes!

Holiday Shopping Weekend: What to Consider

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

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Holiday Shopping Weekend: What to Expect

This holiday shopping weekend is undeniably going to be the largest, busiest shopping event of the year. Before you proceed to shop holiday shopping weekend, check out some important factors to consider. We’ve whittled the categories down to finance, hours, quantity, variety, locale, and gratification. Each day has its pros and cons. Depending upon what’s important to you, you may have to reconsider on which day you shop. But hey, why shop just one day? For one thing, sales start on Black Friday (aka Thursday evening) and continue Small Business Saturday before finally concluding on Cyber Monday. That’s three days to save!

Before you brave the masses this holiday shopping weekend, call us to make sure car and computer are in tip top shape.

Black Friday Survival Guide: Five Steps to Survive the ‘Holiday’

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

BLACK FRIDAY SURVIVAL GUIDE

While it’s not technically a ‘holiday’, there’s no denying that Black Friday is one of the most widely celebrated days on the calendar. And by celebrated, I mean, you go into stores and try not to get body slammed while looking for dozens of cheap goods. But how are you supposed to do that when you just had Thanksgiving dinner and are weighed down by turkey, stuffing, and potatoes?

To ensure your victory (and safety) on this day, we’re providing you with a Black Friday survival guide. Here are five tips to help you make it through Black Friday:

1. Create a List: You may want to take advantage of every single sale you see but you know that you can’t and shouldn’t. You need to determine exactly what you want, write a list, and stick to it. Know the item and its brand. Take note of the price so you know you won’t pay more than you intend to. Find out everything about the items you want and then go out and conquer.

2. Stake Out Your Location: After deciding what you want, know where you’re going to get it. What store chain are you going to and which specific store out of that chain will you hit? One close to home or one far away to avoid (some) of the crowds? Either way, choose one store and walk around the store beforehand so you can quickly locate items without directions from what will surely be very busy sales clerks.

3. Bring a Shopping Buddy: Every errand is made more bearable, maybe even fun, when you make a date of it. And, when you’re taking on thick and aggressive crowds, pleasant company can help keep you safe and sane. Who else but a trusted friend would pick you up when the stampede knocks you down? Plus, they’ll come in handy if you choose the time-saving divide and conquer strategy where you each divide the store and grab the listed items in your respective territories. For best results, find a willing adult with the patience to wake up early and battle the human and vehicular traffic that will inevitably greet you on your journey. (Note: try to leave the kids and the moody “emo phase” teens at home.)

4. Bring the Right Equipment: Don’t bring a bag loaded to the brim with stuff. Have a properly secured bag (a fanny pack if need be) where you’re able to find your wallet, keys, and any coupons you may have as quickly as possible. If possible, get a scan protected wallet or sleeve for your card as these large crowds are easy hunting grounds for cyber thieves. Finally, bring a water bottle and a portable breakfast so you don’t pass out in the long lines.

5. Skip It: Just don’t go. Thanksgiving was the day before and you had to deal with crazy family members, arguing over food and what to watch on TV. No one will hold it against you if you stay home to avoid the danger that comes with this nightmare of a day. Stay home, relax in your favorite pair of slippers and if you really want to ‘celebrate’ a special deal, take a look at some nice Cyber Monday sales.

And there you have it. If you feel you must absolutely go out this Black Friday, please be safe and use the tips in this Black Friday survival guide to your advantage. If you choose not to go and will give Cyber Monday a try, contact TalkLocal so we can make sure your computer is in tiptop shape.

Happy bargain shopping, everyone!