Seller Profile: Denise Glickler

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Comprehensive 2024 Guide to Secure Online Buying and Selling

In today’s digital era, the convenience of online shopping has become a main part of our lives. However, this ease also brings with it a significant risk – the risk of falling prey to scams. By arming yourself with the right knowledge, you can effectively protect yourself from these online scammers. Here, we will help you identify the warning signs to be aware of and offer practical methods to ensure the authenticity of transactions. We’ll guide you through the process of identifying genuine buyers and sellers, helping you navigate the online marketplace with confidence and security. Although we take proactive steps to combat scammers, the best defense is a little common sense.

Common Scams

From the classic “Pay a Deposit First” trick, where sellers vanish after receiving an upfront payment, to the too-good-to-be-true pricing scams involving underpriced items like electronics or cars, these schemes are crafted to lure unsuspecting victims. Here are some of the most common scams you might come across:

Put down a deposit and I’ll send you the item

If the seller insists on receiving payment beforehand, especially under the guise of urgency, it’s likely to be a scam. Be cautious if a seller requests an upfront deposit or payment to reserve an item. Scammers often use this tactic to take your money and then disappear without delivering anything in return. Always be wary of pressure tactics and prioritize your financial safety in such transactions.

That price is amazing!

Exercise caution when encountering items listed at prices significantly lower than their retail value. Such deals could involve defective electronics, vehicles, or imitation designer wear, typical tactics used by scammers. To safeguard yourself from being cheated, there are two things you can do: First, check the item’s value online. Does the 2020 Nissan Sentra really sell at only $1,300? Arrange a local, in-person pickup of the item. This allows you to thoroughly inspect the product before making any payment. This hands-on verification helps ensure that you get exactly what you’re paying for.

Electronics remotely – Do they work?

Although receiving an item through shipping can lead to a successful purchase, it does carry certain risks. This is particularly true for electronics. To minimize these risks, it’s advisable to buy locally and pick up your purchase in person. This allows you to personally test the item – be it a phone, tablet, laptop, game console, or any other electronic gadget. During the inspection, power on the device to ensure it charges properly and boots up completely.

They overpaid – and now they want a refund!

This scam is a classic and has been around for a long time: You receive a payment that exceeds the asking price, typically through a check or cashier’s check. The buyer then concocts a complicated reason for you to refund the excess amount. If you comply, you will later discover that the check was fraudulent, and it will bounce. As a result, not only will you lose the item you were selling and part with some of your own money, but you will also be responsible for the bounced check fee charged by your bank.

Real rental or real scam?

When considering renting an apartment, exercise extreme caution. Creating fraudulent listings for properties that are either not available for rent or are being illegitimately offered by someone other than the actual owner is a common scam. To protect yourself, always confirm the legitimacy of the rental by reaching out directly to the property’s listing manager. Do this before you transfer any money or fill out a rental agreement, which often requires providing sensitive personal information. Verifying the authenticity of the rental with the official manager is a crucial step to ensure you’re not falling prey to a scam.

Well, this is sold, but we have that

If you’re looking to purchase an item and the seller informs you that it’s already been sold, but they offer a similar product instead, be cautious. While this might sometimes be a genuine offer, it’s often a classic bait-and-switch tactic. The strategy here is to initially attract you with one item and then steer you towards another, often inferior, option. It’s important to trust your judgment in these situations, but generally, it’s advisable to politely decline such offers. Instead, continue your search elsewhere to find the exact item you originally wanted without compromise.

It never arrived!

There’s a risk that buyers may falsely claim they didn’t receive an item through mail, even if they did, to get a refund. To protect yourself as a seller, it’s crucial to ship items with a tracking number. This enables you to provide proof of shipment and delivery, countering any false claims about the package being lost or never sent. For buyers, it’s equally important to request a tracking number from the seller. This way, you can monitor the item’s journey and be assured of its arrival. Using a tracking number adds a layer of security for both parties in the transaction.

How Do They Want to Pay?

Online buying brings the risk of payment method scams. These scams can take various forms, such as fraudulent invoices, phishing emails, or counterfeit cashier’s checks, targeting users of popular payment platforms like PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and others. Scammers often lure unsuspecting buyers with seemingly legitimate requests for money or overpayment schemes, exploiting the immediate and often irreversible nature of digital transactions. It’s crucial for consumers to stay vigilant, verify the authenticity of transactions, and be wary of any requests that seem unusual or come from unknown sources. Understanding the security features and policies of different payment methods is essential in safeguarding against these deceptive practices, ensuring a safer online purchasing experience.


Be wary of scammers using PayPal to send invoices or money requests that appear genuine, aiming to prompt you into contacting them. Should you receive such a request from a source you do not recognize, it’s safest to ignore it and refrain from dialing any numbers provided. For any questions or issues, it’s recommended to visit our official Contact Page, where you can securely connect with our customer service team. This approach helps you avoid deceptive interactions and ensures reliable assistance. In case you unexpectedly receive a PayPal invoice, the most prudent action is to report and disregard it. Even if the email seems to originate from PayPal, avoid calling any listed numbers or sending money, as it’s likely a phishing attempt. To verify any PayPal notification, it’s crucial to log in to your PayPal account directly, steering clear of clicking on links in the email. This practice is essential for maintaining the security of your account and personal information.

The good thing about PayPal is that they offer Buyer Protection, which does help you get refunded for unauthorized transactions, as long as it’s initiated within 180 days of the transaction date.

Venmo/Zelle/Cash App

First thing to note: Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App do not offer purchase protection, so you need to be especially careful when using these apps. These tools are very much like cash, as the money is moved fast: often directly into the recipient’s bank account. That said, there are still ways to be scammed with these. While they have security methods and you can use two-factor authentication with these apps, there’s ways around it.

First, a scammer might encourage you to upgrade your Zelle account to a business tier to receive money from them. They will claim that it’s the only way you can send them money, or they can send you money. This is simply not true. The upgrade for this is $300, and while the buyer will promise to send it with their payment – of course this does not happen. Further, this leads to the overpayment scam. Then they’ll start demanding you refund them the overpayment – when no payment at all has ever been made.

This is why it’s best not to use these apps with strangers, and certainly not remotely. The best choice, as always, is to require cash and in-person transactions.

Cashier’s Checks/Money Orders/Checks/Postal Check

Be aware that cashier’s and certified checks can sometimes be fraudulent. Remember, transactions should only occur directly between the buyer and seller without any third-party guarantees. This is particularly important to note in scenarios reminiscent of common housing scams, where a buyer might use a cashier’s check or money order that seems legitimate, only to later claim they’ve overpaid. This situation is more frequent with buyers who claim they are overseas or unable to meet in person. Such overpayments are often linked to counterfeit check schemes. It’s possible to identify fake checks by looking for missing elements like security threads, watermarks, microprints, color-shifting ink, or instructions for the bank teller. Our recommendation is clear: avoid accepting these forms of payment for your listings. Insist on more secure and verifiable methods of payment to safeguard yourself from potential scams.

Wiring/Western Union

A frequent issue arises with transactions involving wire transfers or Western Union, where buyers face two primary risks. Firstly, after paying for an item via Western Union, the buyer might not receive the purchased item at all. Secondly, the buyer might receive an item, but its value significantly falls short of the amount paid. Once the payment is made through Western Union, getting a refund can be challenging, if not impossible, particularly if you’ve been a victim of fraud. Western Union typically offers refunds only under specific, limited circumstances. Therefore, it’s crucial to exercise caution when using these payment methods, as they often offer limited protection against scams or fraudulent activities.

Keeping Safe

In short, the safest way you can buy from sites like Ocala4Sale is to do it locally: insist on making the transaction in person, including the payment. Requiring cash for the purchase avoids most of the big payment method scams and gives you a sense of security.

When the buyer tells you they cannot meet in person (they’re a soldier stationed overseas, or they’re away until months in the future but the need the item immediately, that they’ll send someone with a U-Haul, but can they send you a check) it’s likely going to be a scam. The best thing you can do is walk away.

If the buyer or seller uses pressure tactics to get you to accept the check or buy immediately – it’s a red flag. Walk away. Never ever give away sensitive information such as your bank account number, PIN, or even a one-time access code.

If you’re in doubt, Google the seller or buyer’s name and use the word “Scam” in the search. It’s best to be cautious.

If you feel that you have been scammed or are being scammed on Ocala4Sale by a buyer or seller, please let us know at Further, we suggest you take these steps if you have been scammed:

  1. Stop contact with the scammer. The longer you communicate, the more chances they have in order to get your personal information.
  2. Secure your finances. If you’ve provided any codes or bank information, whether on an app or bank, change your passwords. Set up two-step verification. Freeze any credit cards they might have gotten the codes for.
  3. Check your accounts and monitor them for any changes.



It’s Pascua Florida Day!

Happy Pascua Florida Day! That’s right. April 3 is Florida’s state holiday, commemorating the anniversary of the discovery of Florida in 1513 by Juan Ponce de León. Most people know him from his hunt for gold and the Fountain of Youth.

He named the land “Pascua Florida,” or “Flowery Land” after the Spanish Feast of the Flowers which is celebrated around Easter.

When Ponce de León arrived in Florida with about 200 men, the group was immediately attacked by Native Americans, and he was hit by an arrow. The group fled to Cuba, where de León died.

Eventually, Florida was settled by groups from Spain and France, then eventually Britain. They constantly fought over land with each other and with the native tribes. Even nature wasn’t good to them: hurricanes and famine hit them.

During this time, however, Florida became the site of one of the first communities of freed slaves, offering freedom to slaves fleeing from the colonies if they agreed to convert to Catholicism.

When Britain acquired Florida after signing the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the Seven Year’s War between Britain, France, and some of the tribes ended. Other native tribes, including the Seminoles, continued fighting into the mid-19th century, leading to the First, Second, and Third Seminole Wars and the creation of Fort King.

On March 3, 1845, Florida officially became a state…which is the same day that de León first arrived on its shores hundreds of years before.

There are many interesting things to know about Florida. Did you know:

  • There are no dinosaur fossils in Florida. That’s because during the dinosaur age, the Florida peninsula was underwater, which means that compared to the rest of the Earth, Florida is new.
  • Some may think Kansas or other states in the Midwest are the flattest in America, but they would be wrong! Florida’s mean elevation is only 100 feet. Its highest natural point is Britton Hill, which is only 345 feet above sea level.
  • Sorry, California! Florida wins! Florida produces the most oranges in America. In fact, the state provides 75% of the country’s oranges and 40% of the world’s orange juice supply.
  • About 1,000 people move to Florida every single day. That’s a lot of people, which is why your neighborhood might look like it’s always building new homes. Yet, until the middle of the 20th century, Florida was the southern state with the least population. How things change!
  • Clearwater, Florida holds the record for highest rate of lightning strikes in the US. Shocking!
  • Like to quench your thirst with Gatorade? It was developed at the University of Florida, named after the school’s mascot. And when you’re watching the games outside, don’t forget another Florida invention! Suntan lotion was invented in 1944 in Miami Beach.
  • World Kudos! Key Largo, Florida, has gained recognition as the Dive Capitol of the World and Ocala has been recognized as the Horse Capital of the World!

Your Perfect Picnic Basket

As the weather gets warmer in the spring, but not so hot as it can be in the summer, we get the itch to go outside and breathe in that wonderful, fresh air.

Nature calls to us and we want to surround ourselves with flowers, trees, water, and life.

What better way than going on a picnic? But what to make for it? Let us help!

APPETIZER: Avocado Summer Rolls

Just because it says “Summer” doesn’t mean this delicious and refreshing treat isn’t perfect for your picnic.


Basil Coconut Sauce

  • ½cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼cup basil
  • 1tablespoon cashew butter
  • 1tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 jalapeñooptional
  • ½clove garlic
  • ½teaspoon fresh ginger
  • ¼teaspoon sea salt

For the summer rolls (Some options. You can get creative):

  • 6(28cm) spring roll rice wrappers
  • 4 ounces cooked rice noodles
  • 4 ounces extra-firm tofusliced into strips
  • 1 ripe avocadosliced
  • 2 ripe peaches or 1 ripe mangosliced
  • ½ watermelon radishvery thinly sliced, optional
  • Fresh herbs: basilThai basil and/or mint
  • Pinches of sesame seeds
  • Tamari and srirachaoptional for serving
  • Large cooked peeled shrimp


  1. Use a food processor to combine all ingredients for the sauce. Pulse until it’s combined.
  2. Fill a shallow baking dish with 1 inch of warm water. Take one rice paper and soak it for 7 seconds then lay it on a clean, damp kitchen towel. Put whatever fillings you want on the center of the wrapper. Be careful not to overstuff…it’s kind of like making a taco.
  3. Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling.
  4. Fold the sides over the filling, then fold the top over the filling. Roll and tuck the rice paper.
  5. Repeat with other rice paper.

MAIN COURSE: Chickpea Salad Sandwich

This is a healthy and delicious recipe that stands out from the PB&J or Ham and Cheese crowd.


Chickpea Salad

  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sandwiches

  • handful of thin green beans, trimmed
  • 1 soft baguette, sliced in half
  • 8 to 10 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
  • thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and dried
  • vegan mayo (or regular mayo), for spreading
  • ¼ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 radish, thinly sliced
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Use a food processor to make the chickpea salad. Just put it all in and pulse, but don’t puree it.
  2. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and place a bowl of ice water nearby. Drop the green beans inside the boiling water for 1½ minutes then scoop into the ice water. Once cool, drain them, pat them dry, and chop them into 1 inch pieces.
  3. Put the sandwiches together on a baguette. You can spread a layer of mayo on one half of the baguette and top it with the sliced cucumbers, radishes, and basil. Spread the chickpea salad on the other side and press the chopped green beans into it. Add the olives and the red onion slices. You can season with salt and pepper if you wish. Press the sandwich together.

DESSERT: Peanut Butter S’Mores Cookie Bars

Time to get naughty! You’ve been so healthy with the appetizer and main course, it’s ok to have something fun.


  • 1 pouch peanut butter cookie mix
  • vegetable oil, water, and egg as needed by cookie mix
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1¼ cups mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray
  2. Prepare the cookie mix per package instructions.
  3. Stir in cracker crumbs, 1 cup of chocolate chips, and marshmallows. The dough will be crumbly. Press it into the pan.
  4. Bake 16 to 20 minutes until light golden brown.
  5. Cool for 15 minutes.
  6. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave the remaining ¼ cup of chocolate chips uncovered on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Stir it until smooth then drizzle over the top of the bar.
  7. Cool for at least 1½ hours until chocolate is firm.
  8. Cut into squares.


Besides water or wine, great drink for a picnic is lemonade. Try infusing watermelon, strawberry, raspberries, or blueberries…or even a combination…into the lemonade. Prepare it the night before, then pour it into a cooler…and yum!

Stretch It Out!

The sun is shining…it’s time to get out and get fit!

Let’s start with a mantra that is sure to motivate: “No matter how slow you go, you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”

Now that we’ve done that, we’re ready to dive in and do the most heavy-weight exercise possible, right? WRONG!

It’s never a good idea to just jump in and exercise. You should stretch and get warmed up, first. Even if you’re not going to work out, it’s a great idea to stretch. It mentally prepares your mind for the workout and the day ahead. Studies have even shown that spending a few minutes stretching and doing mindful breathing every day reduces anxiety and stress and alleviates muscle tension.

Stretching can also help you physically, providing these benefits:

  • Improved blood circulation
  • More flexibility
  • Better balance and posture
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Relief from muscle tension and fatigue

So, how do you effectively and safely warm-up and stretch before a workout? The first thing to know: don’t rush it! Rushing can lead to pulled or strained muscles. You have to pay attention to your body, because ifyou overstretch you could put painful stress on your muscles.

Start with a little cardio and walk or bike for about five minutes in order to raise your body temperature. After you’ve finished and your heart rate has risen, you can roll your head in circles. Do a few shoulder shrugs. Then do a few rotations: arms, hips, and torso. Now you’re stretched and ready to exercise, right? WRONG!

Now you can begin your first real stretch.

Reach down slowly and go as far as you can in order to touch your toes. Don’t worry if you can’t yet…as you build flexibility, it’ll become easier.

Repeat this a couple of times, then you can do these stretches for each of your muscle groups:


  • Hamstring Stretches: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and slowly reach your hands down and try to touch your toes. Your knees should be slightly bent. Hold the stretch for a few seconds before releasing and repeating. You can also do the hurdler stretch. To do this, sit down on a mat and tuck one leg in. Extend the other leg out in front of you and reach toward your toes with both hands. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds before releasing and repeat with your other leg.
  • IT Band Stretches: This tendon runs down the outer side of your thigh from your hip to knee. Sit down on a mat and extend your legs in front of you. Bend your left knee and cross it over your right leg. Turn your body towards the bent knee and look over your left shoulder. Hold for a few seconds then repeat with your other leg.
  • Calf Stretches: Stand on something elevated, like a curb. Stand with your heels hanging off the edge and slowly do calf raises. Hold the movement when you feel the stretch.
  • Quad Stretches: Place both feet on the ground. Balance on one foot, grab your other foot, and pull it towards your bottom. Your leg should be bent at the knee. If you need help to balance, you can use a wall.


This is best stretched with a runner’s lunge. Get into a high-plank position. To do this, start on all fours on the floor with your hands right under your shoulders and your knees bent under your hips. Step one leg back at a time until your position is similar to a push-up in the up position. Bring your left foot up and step into a deep lunge with your foot outside of your planted hand. Rock gently back and forth and do circular motions in this position. Bring your left back and repeat with the right.


  • Biceps: Find a wall or pole. Place one hand against the wall and slowly turn away from the wall. Keep your arm flush to the wall if possible, but if you can’t, don’t worry about it. Adjust the placement to higher or lower to get different areas of your bicep.
  • Triceps: Raise your arm above your head, bend it at the elbow, and gently push down using your other hand.
  • Forearm: Extend one of your arms directly in front of you. Keep your arm straight and with the other hand, grab your fingers and gently pull back. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds.


Extend one arm out and across the other side of your body. Grab the extended arm and pull it closer to your chest. When you feel the stretch, hold for 20 to 30 seconds then repeat with your other arm.


There are three great stretches for the back we will review.

  • Seated Spinal Twist: Sit down and place both legs in front of you. Tuck one leg in with a bend at the knee. Place your foot to the other side of the still extended leg. Twist at the spine using your arms to stabilize you. Repeat on the other side.
  • Cat-Cow: This is easy to do. Get on all fours in a tabletop position. Look up and invert your spine pushing your belly to the ground. Next, tuck your chin and arch your back towards the ceiling. Rotate between these two movements while inhaling and exhaling.
  • Backbend: Lay on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and plant your hands on the ground right below your shoulders. Your face should almost touch the mat or floor. Raise the top half of your body by extending your arms (like with a push-up.) Keep your legs extended and touching the mat. Slowly lower your top half to the mat and repeat for a few minutes.

One final note when exercising and stretching: remember to keep hydrated!

Spring Fishing in Homosassa

It’s spring and the sun is out sending sparkles on the water and the fresh, lively breezes are calling you to go fishing! We have the place: Homosassa!


For untouched wildlife, stunning scenery, and not too many crowds you can head to Homosassa in the heart of Florida’s “Nature Coast.” Three rivers lead to the backcountry and flats, which go out to the bay and into the Gulf of Mexico.

There are plenty of fish you can catch here! Two of the Gulf’s most coveted inshore fish are redfish and spotted sea trout. An abundance of these can be found at the Homosassa, Crystal, and Chassahowitzka Rivers.

Redfish tail in the shallows and are wonderful to watch. They may put up a fight, but for the less experienced fisher, the trout aren’t far behind.

Catch and release fishers can enjoy aiming for snook and tarpon. There are few better places to find them than in Homosassa. In 2002, a 202lb Silver King was caught on the flyback! The spring is the time the tarpon come into the bay and rivers, and as the weather gets warmer, the snook will follow.

Other great fish you can find in Homosassa include snappers, groupers, cobia, and amberjack. You can even go hunting for scallops…yum!


No matter how you choose to fish, there’s plenty to aim for, so it’s a matter of preference. You could sit on the shore with a cooler and ice bucket, relax and let the world pass by. You find the right spot, set up camp…you can even find some rocky outcroppings…and just enjoy your day with nature.

You could get into a kayak and head out on the calm inshore waters. This way, you get a little exercise, a lot of adventure, find that nook or cranny in the waterways, then aim for light tackle action. You can find some great fishing boats at

Where you have saltwater, you usually can find a fishing pier, but Homosassa is not very developed that way. If you venture a few miles north, however, you come to Crystal River and there are at least five great fishing piers there! The trip is worth it.

Finally, there are the fishing charters. You work your way along the rivers and across the flats aboard a larger boat. All the equipment you need is provided, and there are even scalloping charters that might provide you snorkeling gear. Bring your swimsuits to join the manatees and enjoy the experience!


  • The Chassahowitzka River: These waters may be brackish, but they are productive year-round. When the Gulf gets too cold, it becomes a haven for the saltwater fish.
  • The Homosassa River: Year round fishing, but best in spring and summer when record-sized tarpon and snook are there…and a sprinkling of scallops.
  • Roger Goettelman Memorial Fishing Pier: This is the largest fishing pier in Crystal River.
  • Saint Martins Keys: Turn north when you hit the bay and you can find the redfish at their finest. While best in the summer, they are there all year.
  • Black Rock Hole: This is the number one tarpon fishing spot in Homosassa, where that silver king was found.

Spring Gardening Time!

Spring is almost here and it’s time to think about your garden! You’ve been cooped up all winter, and now all you want is to surround yourself with bright colors: greens, reds, yellows, blues…it’s time to glow and grow!

Here’s a basic guide for what you should plan to do this spring in your yard:


Check your garden for winter damage. While we’re in Florida, we don’t have to worry about snow damage, but there’s always other elements that can affect our yard. Have any boughs broken off in storms? Is the mulch in good shape? You want to replant shrubs that might have been pushed up. Try not to walk on muddy areas as footsteps compact the soil.

You want to look at the hardscaping items as well. What is hardscaping? This is anything in your landscape that is inanimate. Your retaining walls, pavers, outdoor kitchens, decks, driveways…things like that. Check all of these for rot or other forms of damage. This would be a great time to toss new mulch in the beds, give that fence a fresh coat of paint.


Start the seeds of vegetables and annuals indoors 6-8 weeks before you plan to plant them. It’s a great idea to get a calendar and make a planting schedule so that seedlings mature at the right time for your area.


This is the time. Remove dead branches and shape plants once new growth appears. Hold off on pruning spring bloomers until after they flower.


Starting with areas where spring blooming bulbs are peeking out of the ground to enhance your color displays. Don’t forget to rake out surface debris and cut back on your perennials and ornamental grasses. It’s best to do this before the new growth appears. Pour on several inches of compost or manure which will add slow-release nutrients, suppress weeds, and conserve water.


When the new growth comes, it’s time to split. Transfer extra clumps into bare spots or give them away.


Remove surface debris such as leaves or mulch from vegetable beds. This helps warm the soil. You want to avoid compaction, so wait until the soil has dried out before tilling. If the soil crumbles when you try to make a ball it’s time to work the beds. Add compost, manure, and trace mineral sbefore planting early crops of lettuce, radishes, kale, peas, and onions. You might want to protect young plants from late frosts with a cloche or cold frame.


You want to place early season annuals around bulbs or in containers for extra color. This is when you’ll plant summer bulbs, so these will keep the bed colorful until they grow. Wait until all danger of frost has passed before you plant petunias and marigolds.


Make sure that fountain is clean, the filter is replaced. Turn on pumps and ensure the water is circulating. For natural water gardens like ponds, you can add beneficial plants or apply other algae control methods.


Birds and other wildlife are amazing at controlling pests. They balance the ecosystem and are just plan fun to watch. Add nesting boxes to attract different birds. Give consistent, clean water to encourage them. Plant natives that offer nectar, seeds, and berries and make sure they have trees and hedging for nesting and shelter.

The Wearing of the Green

St. Patrick’s Day is approaching and people all around the world are picking out their green clothing, preparing to dye their beer green, and are whistling old Irish tunes…but do you know what the traditions of St. Patrick’s Day represent? Here’s the story behind the symbols:


St. Patrick lived in the fifth century and is the patron saint of Ireland and its national apostle. He was born in Roman Britain and then kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave when he was 16 years old. It is said he banished the snakes from Ireland and brought Christianity to the island.

The legend of him banishing the snakes isn’t very likely, however. The island nation was never home to any snakes. The concept of “banishing the snakes” is most likely a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the fact that within 200 years of his arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.


Did you know that if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns can see you and then they might pinch you? That said, the color first associated with the day was not green. St. Patrick was associated with the color blue, but in the 17th century that began to change, because green is one of the colors of Ireland’s tri-color flag. This has continued on to the “Emerald Isle,” and the lush green landscapes of Ireland, the color of spring, and even the shamrock.


These tiny gold-loving fairies were originally called “lobaircin,” which means “small-bodied fellow.” The belief is that they would use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, they were cranky and responsible for mending the shoes of other fairies. They were known for their trickery, which they used to protect their pots of gold. In Ireland, they have their own holiday on May 13th, but they do love to come out and party on St. Patrick’s Day!


While cabbage was a staple of the Irish diet, Corned Beef was not. They would traditionally eat the cabbage with Irish bacon, but when Irish immigrants came to America they couldn’t afford that, so they substituted it with corned beef…a cheaper alternative they picked up from Jewish immigrants.


The shamrock, also called the “seamroy” was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland. It symbolized the rebirth of spring. Later, as the English began to seize Irish land, the Irish protested the laws against use of their language and practice of their religion by wearing the shamrock as a symbol of pride in their heritage.


After the English conquered the irish and forbade the use of their language, the Irish turned to music to help them remember important events and cling to their heritage. It also stirred emotion and galvanized people, so the English monarchy, including Queen Elizabeth I, outlawed the music…even so far as decreeing that all artists and pipers were to be hanged on the spot. That said, music has always been a staple of Celtic culture, where religion, legend, and history have been passed on through stories and songs. Today, the music has worldwide popularity, with groups like the Chieftains, Clancy Brothers, and even the Pogues having made the style popular. They might use the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (which is an elaborate bagpipe,) a tin whistle (usually made of nickel-silver, brass, or aluminum,) the ocarina (which is often made of clay,) and the bodhran, which is an ancient type of frame drum which was used in warfare.

When Should I Replace my Water Heater?

Many cannot consider the modern home without the luxury of hot water. The lowly water heater is given little thought until the water runs cold or there is a puddle forming around it. Here’s how to determine if you should replace or repair a faulty one.


Most water heaters last a little over 10 years and newer models can be more efficient. If your is showing problems, it might be cheaper in the long run to replace the unit and lower your utility bill.

Tepid Water

If your water just isn’t hot any more, the problem could be with the thermostat, a failed heating element, or built up sediment.

Popping Circuit Breaker

If your water heater trips your circuit breaker, it could be that the heater is working too hard. Perhaps one heating element is out, the thermostat may be incorrectly set or there may some other damage responsible.

Water Everywhere

There are two ways water can come out of a water heater. The first is properly through its pipes and drain. The second way is through a leak. If a valve or any of the pipes or fittings are the source of the leak, the damage can be repaired cheaply.

If the tank itself is leaking, usually due to corrosion, it must be replaced.

Unfortunately, a leak may not be noticed when it first occurs and water damage and mold can result. Leak detectors will sound an alarm when a leak first forms. More expensive leak detectors can be installed to shut off the water automatically.

A Fluid Ounce of Prevention

By draining a water heater tank once a year, you flush the sediment and increase the heater’s efficiency. First, turn off the electric or gas, and shut off the water. Allow the water to cool to avoid scalding. Connect a garden hose to the drain valve and open slowly, checking for leaks. To avoid waste, you can then water your lawn, but delicate plants may suffer from the high mineral content.

5 Things Kids Will Love in their Backyard

Forget about lengthy car trips to the next park, you can bring adventure right into your backyard these days with some fun ideas to keep the children occupied for hours on end.


How do you find cheap backyard toys for kids? Read on!

Trampolines are popular with kids because they love to jump up and down on anything. So save your bed and sofa. Buying a trampoline for your backyard will give the children hours of laughter, a good workout and leave a happy tired child at the end.For safety reasons, one child at a time should use the trampoline and somersaults should be attempted only by experienced bounders. Your trampoline should come with an encircling net that will prevent the bounders from falling off the trampoline.

Swing Sets

Swings and slides have always been a number one favorite with children. You could build a swing from a tire or you could buy one of many available swing sets available today which are relatively easy to mount. These sets come with several swings mounted on timber and have a slide attached. You can mix and match several combinations to suit your tastes and the size of your yard.

Adult supervision is a good idea to prevent smaller children running in front of the swing in use. Secondly, Kids jump out of swings. Surround the swing area with a material that will ease landings, like sand, pea gravel, bark or recycled rubber. Place a weed barrier down before filling your surface material.


Sandboxes are great fun for children of all ages. Keep them occupied for hours as they build structures made of sand or dig tunnels deep into a sand hill. The cost it low, and you get double use out of their toys.

For safety and hygiene, keep your pets away from the sand pit. The sandbox needs good drainage so it can dry out, and you should use only high quality pure sand. Rake the sandpit regularly, keep it covered when not in use and supervise children so no sand gets eaten!

Inflatable Pool

On hot days and if you live far from the beach, hours of wet fun are possible by installing an inflatable above ground pool in your backyard. Use a slide for added fun or play with special water toys (such as water basketball) for fun family games.

Always cover the pool when not in use to prevent a child drowning. Always supervise children at play in a pool to prevent accidents. Make sure any installation such as drains or pumps are properly covered so no hands can get stuck.


You can build a playhouse for the children out of timber if you are good at woodwork, or you can buy a plastic one that you assemble yourself. Children love imaginative play. A small structure can be a castle, a clubhouse, or home just like mother’s. Their playhouse will keep them busy day after day. Make sure that:

  • Fingers and heads cannot get trapped in railings.
  • The structure is safe.
  • There are no sharp edges that a child can fall on.

Snakes and insects cannot get in. If this is an issue, raise the house off the ground.

Valentine’s Day At Home – Food Fun

Staying in for Valentine’s Day can be the best thing going! All you need to do is set the mood, set the food, and all is good! Sometimes, the intimacy of staying in can be the most romantic thing you can do. Who needs the noise and crowds of multitudes of other couples also trying to do the “Valentine’s Day” thing? The chance that you might meet friends who might distract you from the one you love?

Stay in, and make a super supper! Set the mood by setting the table, adding candles, a great playlist of romantic music, and let romance and love do the rest!

You can find many recipes online, but here’s a great easy to make gourmet Valentine’s menu:

APPETIZER – Shredded Brussel Sprouts and Ricotta Toast

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 30 (1/2″) slices baguette or rustic country-style bread, or 15 slices Pullman bread, cut in half diagonally
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed, halved lengthwise through root
  • 2 cups high-quality whole-milk ricotta
  • Flaky sea salt


    1. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F. Arrange bread on 2 rimmed baking sheets and brush with 1/4 cup oil. Toast until lightly browned, 8–10 minutes.
    2. Cover raisins with very hot water in a small bowl and let sit until ready to use, at least 5 minutes.
    3. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Toast pine nuts, stirring often, until browned, 4–6 minutes. Transfer to a small plate; let cool.
    4. Whisk shallot, lemon juice, honey, mustard, kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a large bowl. While whisking, stream in remaining 1/4 cup oil.
    5. Thinly slice Brussels sprouts with a sharp knife or shred with shredding blade of a food processor. Transfer to bowl with dressing and stir in raisins. Toss to coat and let sit 15 minutes.
    6. Spread toasts with ricotta (about 1 Tbsp. each). Fold pine nuts into Brussels sprout mixture just before serving and divide among toasts. Top with lemon zest, pepper, and sea salt.

MAIN COURSE – Chicken, Mushrooms and Squash with Lemon Cream over Orzo

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 4-5 boneless chicken thighs
  • 3-4 cups of white mushrooms – washed, stem removed, and sliced
  • 2 medium squash – washed and either julienned, long thin strips, or chopped
  • 1 small shallot – finely chopped
  • 1 lb orzo
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lemon
  • chopped chives for garnish
  • seasoning – salt, pepper, paprika


  1. Start by prepping mushrooms, squash and shallots per ingredient list, set aside.
  2. Boil water for pasta per box directions. Season the water with salt (3-4 pinches) (Add 1 lb of orzo once water comes to a boil. Cook per package instructions, remove, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking – set aside)
  3. While water is coming up to boil, Season chicken with salt, pepper and paprika – light coat of each on both sides. Note: go light on the paprika
  4. Add 1-2 teaspoons of canola or vegetable oil to heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) for 5 minutes on medium heat. Watch closely, once oil starts to lightly smoke you are ready to add chicken
  5. Carefully add seasoned chicken to skillet (be careful as oil may splatter)
  6. Cook chicken approximately 4-5 minutes per side until well browned. Given stovetop temps will vary, check every 2 minutes to ensure chicken is not burning. If you have food thermometer, cook until internal temp reaches 185
  7. Remove chicken from skillet
  8. Add Shallots, Mushrooms and Squash to skillet. Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir to coat with oil. Stir fry for 4-5 minutes until squash is tender. Taste and add salt if needed.
  9. Remove vegetables from skillet and lower heat to medium low
  10. Add heavy cream, juice from half a lemon, pinch of salt and pepper. Stir heavy cream frequently for 5-7 minutes until sauce thickens (stir frequently to keep it from burning, cook until sauce thickens). Taste and add salt, pepper, lemon juice if needed
  11. Add orzo to a bowl and add ¾ of the heavy cream and stir.
  12. Plate Orzo and top with desired amount of vegetables
  13. Top with chicken pieces and add sauce to chicken
  14. Top chicken and sauce with chopped chives as a garnish

DESSERT – Berry and Pound Cake Trifle

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes


  • 2 cups of raspberries – washed
  • 2 cups of blueberries – washed
  • 2 cups of strawberries – washed and sliced
  • 1 pound cake (you can pre-buy this or find a recipe)
  • vanilla pudding
  • Cool Whip
  • 1 lemon
  • sugar
  • fresh mint for garnish


  1. Trifle will be constructed with alternating layers of Pound Cake, Berries, Pudding and Whipped Cream. Use your judgment on how much to add for each layer, ideally thickness should allow for 2 complete layers of each to top the cup.
  2. Start by tossing berries with 1-2 teaspoons of sugar and juice from half a lemon. Let sit for 10 minutes, taste, and add sugar/lemon to desired taste
  3. Crumble pound cake and layer in bottom of glass
  4. Add layer of berries
  5. Top with layer pudding then whipped cream
  6. Repeat layers – pound cake, berries, pudding
  7. Topped with whipped cream and garnish with a few berries and fresh mint

Staffing Services and How They Work


With the economy falling on hard times in the last few years, many individuals have been pushed back into the job market after a long hiatus. The unfamiliarity of trying to find a job has left many feeling lost. Staffing services help bridge the gap between employers needing to meet company goals and qualified workers looking for employment.

A staffing agency can help you find the right job.

Apply to Several Jobs at Once

Staffing agencies help people who are searching for a job. It starts with employers listing jobs with the agency. Since the agency has already received applications, it looks for qualified applicants. If the agency thinks you are a match, it will have an initial meeting to interview you and give a skills or aptitude test to further determine your abilities. For positions requiring specific skills, agencies may advertise in the classifieds to find new applicants.

Early on, it will be necessary for you to consider their availability and willingness to relocate or work at home. A local agency can also help job seekers relocate to the area by helping them find a job before they move.

Assistance to Find the Right Job

A representative from the staffing agency will often work directly with you. Following the initial interview session, the agent will look for openings that fit your resume and experience. Whether it’s a specific opening or a recurring position, when the agent finds a match, they recommend you to the employer.

Once the staffing agency has made a choice on a candidate for a specific position, the candidate will then go on to interview directly with the employer. Pending the outcome of the interview, the employer will either directly hire someone or take them on a temporary basis.

Temp Work Can Be Long Term

As a temporary employee, you will work for the staffing agency, perhaps for more than one employer. The employers pay the agency and the agency pays you. In most cases, a temp position is project related and lasts a set amount of time. This is common for construction or manufacturing projects that need extra hands. However, secretarial positions can continue past the set time frame. If you are the great worker, you may be hired to a full time position.

logistic business, delivery service and people concept – happy international office and manual workers over white background

Does Your Pet Get Enough Attention?

Deciding to buy or adopt a pet brings with it certain responsibilities, not unlike having a child. You should choose a pet that will match the amount of attention and time you have available to give it. Luckily, different pets have different needs and you have a wide choice.


Dogs are very sociable animals and need to live in a pack. Leaving a dog on its own for long periods of time will result in behavioral problems such as destructive behavior, howling/whining, dominant behavior or excessive urination.

Many dogs are returned to dog pounds or kicked out of the house because they have chewed shoes, carpets, doors; or they have started to bark excessively or whine; or perhaps they urinate indoors even though they are housebroken. All these problems can usually be solved by a change in the owner’s behavior.

Take time to exercise and groom your dog. Engage with him at feeding time. This will reinforce your position as pack leader and he will grow to respect you.


Although cats do not need to be exercised like dogs, they still need your love and attention. Cats like to be stroked each day and will love to hear the sound of your voice as you potter around with them by your side. They like to sit at your feet or in your lap while you read or watch TV.

Grooming is very important is long-haired cats. Many cats end up with skin infections or painful matting because the owner failed to take into account the grooming time needed.


Birds too need different degrees of attention. Some birds, like canaries, want very little attention, but other breeds such as parrots need a lot if interaction to be happy. Some breeds of parrots will mimic your voice and words. They will listen intently when you speak close to them and will come to you if you reward them with treats such as nuts or seeds.


While not known as affectionate creatures, if you plan on keeping reptiles it is a good idea to get them used to human handling during feeding and cleaning time. The only way to familiarize them with the human touch is to do so often. You will also find that handling your pet will be more enriching as an experience, always within the limits of safety.

Well-Meant Casual Promises of the New Year

Hey! It’s New Year’s Day! First day of the new year, first day to make things better, first day to embark upon those well-meant casual promises you made to yourself that you’re under no legal obligation to fulfill!

But where did the tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions come from? How did it all start?

It is said that the ancient Babylonians were the ones who started this tradition. While this was in mid-March, when the crops were being planted, they celebrated a festival called Akitu. This is when they made promises to pay their debts and return objects they borrowed at the same time they crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king.

After Julius Caesar changed the calendar and set January 1st as the beginning of the new year, the Romans joined that practice. January is named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches. They believed he looked both back into the previous year and forward into the next…so they made promises to this deity of good conduct.

Early Christians made the first day of the new year the traditional occasion for thinking about past mistakes and resolving to do better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, who founded the Methodist church, created a service for this: the Covenant Renewal Service.

Yet, despite the religious roots of New Year’s resolutions, it’s now mostly a secular practice. Instead of promising to do better to the gods, we’re promising ourselves. We usually focus on self-improvement – which might be why it’s hard to follow through on them. Did you know that as many as 54 percent of Americans make resolutions, but only 8 percent of us actually manage to achieve those goals? Don’t feel bad when you don’t fulfill that well-meant promise! We’re with you! Some of us have even adjusted our resolutions to be more attainable:

  • Lose weight or my temper. Whichever comes first.
  • Stop procrastinating. Starting tomorrow.
  • Get in shape. I choose round.
  • Stop drinking orange juice after I’ve brushed my teeth.
  • Lose weight by hiding it somewhere I’ll never find.
  • Lower my bills by digging a hole to put them in.

What NOT to Wear at an Interview

First impressions are important. The decision to hire an applicant can be made in the first few seconds of meeting you. You will be judged by your appearance to determine if you are neat, concerned with details, understated or dramatic. An employer will even look at your clothing to determine if you understand the type of work you will be doing.

Rule #1: Dress the Part

The most important thing is to dress the part. Imagine you are going to a casting call for movie extras. And whether they pick you for a role is based on how good your costume is.  If the scene is set in the winter, you wouldn’t show up in shorts.

You should look like everyone else who already works there. However, you should not look like everyone else who is applying. What you want to show your future employer that you already “fit.” Dress as though they will hire you on the spot as long as you don’t have to go home to change.

Shorts and Flip Flops

Unless you are applying to be a lifeguard or summer camp counselor, shorts are out. Pants should be clean with no rips. If the company uniform is khaki pants, that’s what you wear. For ladies, skirts should be a comfortable length, pretty close to the knee, with no tugging required.

Shoes should be comfortable and meet any OSHA guidelines for the job. Does this factory floor require non-slip or steel toes? You should know that and dress accordingly.

Tight Fitting Clothes

Find a shirt that fits. You are about to be asked tons of questions about your work ethic and job experience. Do you really want to think all that up while holding your breath? Comfortable clothes give comfortable answers.  So put away the guns, Muscle Man.


Look around the job site. Does everyone have their own hard hat? So should you. The rest of the crew is wearing hair nets? Where is yours? All the other truckers have hats? Get one fast!

At most jobs, no one wears a hat. Neither should you. A hat says you have something to hide — hat head, baldness, or white hair with green streaks. Be honest about who you are by removing the hat. Hair style should be well-kept and boring, unless you are applying to a hair salon.

Gobs of Make Up and Suffocating Perfume

Light and natural are the way to go. Don’t “cake on” the make up or “stink up” the office. Strong perfumes, aftershave or colognes often give hiring managers headaches. You don’t want the interviewer to remember you as “the one that gave me the asthma attack.”

Cell Phones and Accessories

Leave the cell phone in the car. The interviewer is taking time away from their job responsibilities. Do not interrupt your time with them to answer calls or glance at TXTs.

Purses should be small and understated. Portfolios and briefcases should be easily operated.

Never chew gum. Instead, chew up a mint just before arrival. Don’t carry a rattling container of them.

Noisy jewelry, lots of piercings, and colorful tattoos distract employers from why you are the best applicant. Reduce these distractions and help them see the real you.

The Complete Kitchen: Gadgets for Greatness

Do you have a foodie in your life and you want to find the perfect Holiday gift for them? Or maybe you love to cook and the gift is for you? There are many wonderful kitchen gadgets you should explore! Here are just a few:

8-in-1 Kitchen Tool Bottle

This nifty tool combines multiple needs: 300ml measuring cup, two funnels, citrus squeezer, jar opener cheese grater spice grater, egg separator, and egg masher. It stacks up to form a cool and colorful wine bottle and is easy to keep clean!

Reusable Straws

These come in silicone or in stainless steel and are a wonderful way to sip and protect the environment. It’s great for keeping your lipstick in place!

Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner

This is a cute and funny design which looks like the mother who’s angry that her microwave was left dirty. She easily cleans the crud in minutes, steam cleaning your microwave with vinegar and water. The steam comes out of Mama’s head and softens the microwave stains to make it easier to clean.

Butter Spreader Knife

This knife curls your cold butter to make it softer and easier to spread. No more shredding bread! It can also be used with peanut butter! It’s dishwasher friendly and will not scratch easily.

Silicone Devil Oven and Toaster Rack Puller

No more oven burns! This devil stick pulls hot bakeware and oven racks closer, protecting you. It’s like a hand extension which hooks on the edges of baking dishes and the oven rack. This one looks like a devil…because who better to withstand the heat?

Whisk Cleaner

If you love whisks but hate trying to get the insides de-gooped and clean, this is the tool for you! It wipes the wisk in seconds, returns all of it to the bowl, and catches drips! Some even come with the whisk.

And for those who hate to cook but can never decide what’s for dinner…

Take Out Dice

If you’re always arguing about what to get for take out, this die will help you settle the argument! Each side as a different delectable dinner option, and depending on the type you get…they can be different things. The set pictured, for example, offers seafood, breakfast, Chinese, pizza, hamburgers, or tacos. Yummy food is just a roll away!

Ho Ho Holidays: Little Known Holiday Traditions

‘Tis the season for celebrating, and we’re pulling out our tinsel and plastic Santas. The lights adorn our houses, or in some cases, a menorah is placed in the window, ready for December 10th to come around for the first night of Chanukah.

We’re saying “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Chanukah,” or “Happy Holidays,” or “Season’s Greetings” and almost every radio station has been taken over with Christmas Carols.

We’re in the mood for giving, for loving, for peace on Earth and goodwill towards man.

What are some traditions for these holidays? Let’s take a peek:

One of the common threads in the Jewish tradition of Chanukah is eating fried foods. Because many of the countries on our tour involve the food, let’s start by explaining why fried foods are important.

Chanukah is the “Festival of Lights.” It is a celebration of freedom of religion, where the Jewish people, having been pushed out of their homes and temples by a polytheistic King who tried to get them to worship him, refused. They took to the mountains and hid. Eventually, they formed a rebellion, won their lands and temple back, and began the recovery. In the temple there is an Eternal Flame. It is said that when the flame goes out, the Temple in Jerusalem will fall…so it’s important to keep it lit. Sadly, when they began their recovery, they discovered only enough oil to last for one day. They used this oil to light the flame and began preparing more oil, but they knew it took eight days for this to be ready. A miracle happened though, and the oil kept the flame lit for eight days! This is why Jewish people across the world eat fried foods on Chanukah.

And now, our tour begins in South America.

Jewish people in Columbia have added a new fried food to their menu: Patacones, which is plantain slices fried in oil.

Meanwhile, Christians celebrating Christmas have a few unusual traditions. In Venezuela, for example, roads are closed to let people roller skate to early morning Christmas Mass. On their way, skaters will tug on the ends of long pieces of string tied by children to their big toes and dangled out of windows. Why was this tradition begun? Nobody knows…but guesses are that it is the tropical Venezuela’s alternative to sledding.

Mexicans perform the “posadas” which is a series of nine processions to re-enact the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary go in search of somewhere to stay. This ends in a Church service with food, games, and fireworks.

Moving our tour on to Africa, we come to Yemen and North Africa, where the seventh day of Chanukah is all about celebrating the heroines of the story. These communities mark this with Chag Ha’Banot, the Daughter’s Festival and celebrate Hannah and Judith, who fought against the oppression from the Assyrians. In Morocco, Jewish people also have a “Sfenj,” which is a fried jelly donut with juice and the zest of an orange.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, Christians enjoy their “tasty” Christmas treats of emperor moth caterpillars that are either sun-dried or deep fried. They say the bugs have a similar flavor to tea.

Continuing on to the Middle East, we have a few interesting traditions. In Israel, sufagniyot, round jelly donuts fried in oil, are enjoyed and menorah lights are burned and displayed for all to see them burning. In Istanbul, Turkey, Jewish people often sing a song in honor of the eight candles called “Ocho Candelas” and munch on fritters known as “burmelos.”

In Syria, Christians have its own local legend about the Nativity. Christmas presents are delivered, not by Father Christmas, but by the youngest of the camels that carried the three wise men to Bethlehem. Instead of a carrot for Rudolph, children leave water and hay outside their homes for this hard-working camel, and the load comes on New Year’s Eve instead of Christmas Eve.

Popping over to the Mediterranean, we can visit Jewish households chowing down on Precipizi, which is a fried pastry that involves a lightly sweetened, olive oil infused honey-covered treat.

Portugal’s Christian children eat a meal called a Consoada in the early hours of Christmas Day. They set extra places for “alminhas a penar…” the souls of the dead. Some believe that this is in hopes that the dead will provide a bountiful harvest.

There are many, many more Holiday traditions: Indian Jews dip wicks in coconut oil to light their menorahs, while Christian children there have Christmas banana trees or mango trees to light up instead of the Pine trees they lack.

Christmas brings more fun and funny traditions as well: In the Czech Republic, single Czech women stand with their backs to the front door on Christmas Eve and remove a shoe. They hurl it over their shoulder towards the door and how it lands predicts their romantic prospects for a year. If the toe faces the door, the thrower is destined to marry…sadly, the heel to the door is the opposite.

Whatever way you celebrate, and whichever holidays you observe, we wish you all an amazing Holiday Season!

What “Clear Title” Means

Simply put, ‘clear title’ means that ownership of the property (movable and immovable) in question is free from any outstanding legal claims or procedures. In simple terms, the items are yours. Alternative terms for the same meaning are good title, just title, or free and clear.

Another term you may come across in connection with titles is ‘lien.’ This means that the home or car in question has been used as security for a loan, in other words someone has given authority for the item to be taken if payments on the loan are not made. While a lien is in place, the item cannot be sold or transferred to other persons without being satisfied.

Car Title

Having a clear car title means there are no outstanding payments to be made on the car, and ownership is therefore clear and established. Conversely, if you are still paying off a loan for the purchase of your car, you do not fully own that car yet and do not have clear title. A clear title on a car is also known as a ‘pink slip’.

If you are buying a car, check the car’s history at Repossessed cars do not show up on the title, but they do show up on the car’s history. You will need to go to your local DMV to remove any names still holding title over the car.

Property Title

If you are buying a property you need to make sure there are no liens in place. The way to do this is to hire a company to research public documents for you and establish if the seller has clear title and is free to sell. If you pay for a property that was not rightfully the seller’s, then you have wasted your money and own nothing for your trouble.

Not having a clear title on your property may actually mean that you pay less tax and may be advantageous to you. This is because the interest payments you make on a home loan are deductible from your income for tax purposes. Owning your home free and clear will mean you pay higher taxes. If you have finished paying for your home, you could remortgage it for part of the equity value to carry out improvements and raise the value of the property.

Holiday Pets: Pet Care When Visiting

Many pets, especially young puppies and kittens, seem to be at the center of any holiday disaster. Pulling down the decorations, marking presents under a tree, and nipping the one person who is a afraid of puppies. Even in the movie A Christmas Story, a pack of hounds destroy the Christmas turkey.

If this is your furry friend’s first Christmas with you, your pet may not know how to behave. Since your little friend is relatively new to your home, and maybe to holidays too, you need to be extra careful with his care and safety. Here are simple tips to ensure he survives with his good name intact.

Staying Home for the Holidays

  • Chewing: keep anything dangerous and chewable, such as ornaments, ribbons and wires, out of reach. Furthermore, do not let your pet chew on a real or artificial Christmas tree. Many holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly and poinsettia are also toxic if eaten by your pet.
  • Well–meaning guests can feed your pet tidbits that will make them sick, so make clear rules at the start of the visit. Chocolate and caffeine are big no-no’s where pets are concerned.  Sharp pieces of bones eaten by your pet may cause an intestinal bleed so it’s best to avoid giving bones.
  • Escape: Doors left open by distracted guests are also a means of escape so make sure your pet has an identification tag and you have a recent photo. Unusual activity in the house can confuse the pet, it may be better to close them in a quiet safe area until the visit is over. The same rule applies for New Year’s fireworks and noisy parades, these stress the pet so it is better to plan ahead ways of keeping them calm and happy.
  • Water should be available for your pet at all times; it is easy for them to get dehydrated. Do not let your pet ingest ice melt or antifreeze as they are potentially lethal. This is especially important when visiting friends and family during the holidays.

Visiting Someone for the Holidays

It’s important to be considerate towards other people and their homes, and remember that not everyone loves pets as much as you do.

  • Do not take the pet along if he might snap or bite at a stranger.
  • Do not let the pet bother other people with physical contact they may not want. Be tactful and let them ask to touch the pet rather than dumping the pet into their lap without being invited.
  • Do not let your pet run around breaking valuable items, or dropping hair on beds and clothes, or you will not be very popular with the host. Eliminating inside the home should not be allowed to happen either. All these behaviors can be avoided with some forethought and a crate suited to your pet.

Leaving Your New Pet Behind

Sometimes it is just not convenient to travel for the holidays with your pet. Someone in the family may be allergic, not have the space, be scared of pets and a variety of  reasons why you may have to leave you pet home. You may decide to leave your pet with a sitter or send them to an appropriate shelter for the period you’ll be away.

Pet Boarding Center

Make sure you visit the place and ask questions. The facility should look clean and welcoming. Do the pets look happy and well-cared for? Are the staff friendly to humans and pets?

Check with your vet. They may also board pets for the holidays.

There’s also some websites that can hook you up with people willing to board your pet in their home. This allows you to choose someone who might only have a couple of pets at a time, which gives your fur-baby more personalized attention.

Pet Sitter

Introduce your pet to the person (who may be an animal-loving friend or a professional sitter) a few times so that they already know each other and feel comfortable. Your sitter will need a list of emergency numbers to call as well as some information about your pet’s diet and exercise.

Lastly, leave your pet with a calm, confident goodbye to avoid upsetting them unduly.

5 Most Important Things when Buying a Car for Your Teen

As a parent, there are many ‘firsts’ you look forward to in your child’s life. First word. First steps. First day of school. First car. (Gulp!)

While a first car may be every teenager’s dream, it means sleepless nights for most parents. To help make the process of buying your teen their first car easier, there are several pieces

What’s the best car for teenagers?

of homework to do in advance. Insurance on teen drivers is significantly higher, especially during their first several years of driving, because of the high risk for crashes with young drivers. Now is a good time to evaluate your insurance coverage and make sure you can get discounts if your child makes good grades, takes driver’s education or goes crash free for a period of time. Insurance rates also vary based on the type of car your teen will be driving, so be sure to check whether a class of vehicle will get a lower rate.

Taking your teen to a car lot before you have set expectations and limitations may lead to disappointment and frustrations. To your teen, a car represents freedom and social status.Your concern is safety. So it’s a good idea to evaluate several considerations and discuss them before ever stepping foot out the door. AAA offers valuable information on buying your teen a vehicle through their dedicated teen driver education program, Keys2Drive . Beyond resources on insurance, licensing and shopping tips, the site offers tips and suggestions for keeping teens safe behind the wheel.

5 Things to Consider

There are five categories to consider: vehicle type, safety features, reliability, affordability and familiarity.

  1. Vehicle typeties back in to your insurance classifications – sports car, SUV, sedan, van. While your teen may covet a sports car or SUV, you may be concerned about the temptation to speed or roll-over risks and prefer a sedan.
  2. Safety features are fairly standard on recent model vehicles, but if buying an older model , you’ll want a checklist of the features you find most important: anti-lock brakes, airbags, automatic lights, etc.
  3. Reliability could become a factor when buying used vehicles. Perhaps you want to inquire about optional warranties, roadside assistance programs, check vehicle reports and make sure you get the vehicle privately inspected before purchase.
  4. Affordability is a big factor in most vehicle buying decisions, and in most cases, the cost of insurance, maintenance and gas mileage of that vehicle should also be included.
  5. Familiarity is an important category often overlooked. Is the vehicle you are buying your teen similar to what they learned to drive? If not, they need to learn to drive the new vehicle before being released onto the open road. Experienced drivers know how to adjust to different vehicles in terms of power, size and features, but new drivers do not have those skills yet.

By establishing expectations and guidelines, buying your teenager’s first car will be a shopping experience you both can enjoy. Visit the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles Web site to make sure you know all the rules and limitations on teen driving in the state, so your teen can enjoy their new car within the law. Once your teen has proven themselves, you can begin to enjoy not having to chauffeur them everywhere.

4 Ways to Make Extra Money for the Holidays

Everyone feels the cash crunch at the end of the year. Just as in the lesson of the ant and the grasshopper, the winter months often need a little extra, especially for celebrating the holidays. Here are 4 ways to bring in the green.

1. Get a Job

Many retailers and shipping companies are looking for extra help during Christmas. Mall stores and big box retailers often hire temporary seasonal employees. Merry gentlemen can don the Santa suit, and elves that can get kids to smile for a photo are always in demand. Sometimes these seasonal jobs can lead to permanent employment, but usually the position is eliminated after ReGiftmas has ended.

2. Start a Business

If the weather cooperated, you could shovel snow. Many a seasonal business has started by doing similar work. Some seasonal business ideas include:

  • Hanging Christmas lights
  • Cleaning gutters and downspouts
  • Making and selling gift baskets
  • Sleigh rides or carriage rides
  • Selling yule logs, mistletoe, or Christmas trees

3. Sell Your Stuff in the Classifieds

Take a look in the garage, check all the closets, and clean out the kid’s rooms.  Sell old stuff and buy new gifts with it. Help someone stretch their holiday dollar by selling your used items in the classifieds.

Some people worry about when they can sell the item they are replacing. The answer is sell the old one as soon as possible. Let’s say you are getting a new washer and dryer. Selling your current set won’t “ruin the surprise” or leave unable to do laundry for more than a day or two. The best time to sell will be before the holidays.

4. Spend Time Not Money

Most people can remember a handful of gifts from their childhood. But we can remember all the people we shared those moments with.  Make sure that all the extra time and effort you put into the holidays give your family what they really want — time spent with you.

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