All The Home’s A Stage…(sorry Shakespeare, couldn’t resist! :D )

Let’s talk about home staging!  Home staging is something you might already be familiar with if you’ve ever gone house hunting or looked for a new apartment.  You can really tell the difference if the seller or rental agent has invested any time and effort in making your prospective new home feel like such from the very moment you pull up at the curb outside.

Whether it was a few simple things such as making sure the landscaping was clean and tidy, to actually setting up a lovely display of furniture, or even seemingly small details such as a small basket of new molded soaps in the bathroom, from the first time you laid eyes (and nose!) on the place, you were already dreaming of your happy new life there and visualizing where your belongings will be placed.

With a great many folks looking to move states for a great many reasons, or even looking to move abroad depending upon which way the political winds blow this November 😀 , a lot of homes will be going on the market, with their owners hoping to get them sold and done with in record time.  Home staging will be an important part of that process.

But home staging is useful for more than just selling a property, many of the tips in the infographic below** can also be applied to your rented home if you’re looking for someone to sub-let so you can get out of a lease early, if you’re planning to host your boss or that influential neighbor for dinner, or even if it’s your turn to host the fundraising committee for the PTA and you’d rather not have them come away with the impression that you’re maybe only a degree or two above actual slovenliness.  Occasionally in-laws might pay a visit and it’d be nice to get through the experience without them making snide remarks about your home resembling a Comic-Con refugee camp.

If the latter description resembles you in any way, believe me I sympathize! (Star Trek rules!) Getting your home muggle-ready may seem a gargantuan task when your idea of decorating is a ton of bookcases and your favorite fandom posters, with your well-loved sci-fi tchotchkes hodge-podge all over the place collecting dust.  However, going step-by-step through the infographic below can cut down on the overwhelming and before you know it, your home will look like one of those well-put-together spreads you’ve secretly admired from real estate open houses and home & garden magazines.

An additional tip: a couple hours before company comes over, pop an apple pie or two in the oven (even a frozen one, if you’re short on baking skills).  The smell of fresh apple pie can put someone at ease and make them feel welcome! (Unless they’re allergic to apples, in which case you might want to swap for an alternate baked goodie.)

The occasions when I’ve done some home staging (to impress my kids’ well-off playdates’ moms) were immensely gratifying when my husband would walk through the door after work and do an actual double-take in amazement at how nice everything looked! 😀

homestaging_infographic8-1-3-1——————————————————–

**Infographic supplied by Moms With Voices Media. This was a sponsored post.  The opinions expressed herein were entirely my own and were not influenced in any way by the sponsor or the small fee I received in compensation for writing it.

Lavender Wow! Review of New York Biology 100% Pure & Natural Lavender Essential Oil


I love lavender. I love the smell, I love the taste!

I also love the wonderful and beautiful lavender-scented and flavored gifts I see for sale at practically any worthwhile boutique.  The price of those wonderful gifts (I would love to spoil myself with) is not as lovely, however. 😀

Then it occurred to me…maybe I could make some of those pretty things myself! (for myself…and, uh…gifts for others, I suppose ) 😀

So a little bit of Google-fu later and I’ve got a trove of free recipes to try out!

(Note: although some recipes add Baking Soda or Baking Powder, some folks have reported that unless the mixture is COMPLETELY dry, it will tend to explode, glass jar and all. So I didn’t add any of that to my recipe.)

Who doesn’t love a good soak in the tub (minus the shrieks of children) with a lovely dash of Lavender Bath Salts?

Thanks to the kind sponsorship of Tomoson and New York Biology, I was offered a sample of Lavender Essential Oil that I used for this review*.0I just needed epsom salts, sea salt, food coloring and a small decorative jar (you can buy the kind of jar I used at a good craft store), and of course, the Lavender Essential Oil, which you can buy HERE for a very affordable price.

It was so easy to make, and within mere moments of opening the bottle and adding just a few small drops of the lavender oil, my kitchen smelled like a lovely lavender sachet!  I can’t wait to try out my new pretty bottle of lavender bath salts!

I used 1/8 cup Epsom Salt and 1/16 cup Sea Salt, 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil, Several drops of red and blue food coloring, and mixed it well. Then I spooned it into the jar and applied a cute little label with a gluestick! That’s all there is to it!

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It smelled so good!  I’m thinking about also mixing this with some coconut oil (as a carrier oil, because you should never use essential oils undiluted on your skin!) as a lovely lotion for the inevitable winter-roughened skin every winter!

Unlike some other Lavender Essential Oil brands I’ve used in the past, New York Biology’s Lavender Essential Oil’s scent lingered for quite awhile, which I was very pleased about. Other oils I’ve tried in the past dissipated too soon, but this was not the case with this oil. 😀
New York Biology – 100% Pure & Natural Lavender Essential Oil
About the Product
  • 100% PURE, NATURAL, & AUTHENTIC Kashmir Lavender Essential Oil steam distilled without any fillers or additives.
  • OUR KASHMIR LAVENDER OIL contains Linalool 31%, Linalyl Acetate 34%. We proudly showcase the constituents & purity of our oil on the front of the bottle.
  • HIGHEST QUALITY GRADE & PREMIUM QUALITY originating from India and Bottled in the USA
  • LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL is frequently used in various forms including aromatherapy oil, gels, infusion, lotion, and soaps. It induces calmness and relaxation. This makes it the most popular essential oil on the market.

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*I was offered a sample of the product for the purpose of my honest review by Tomoson and New York Biology. No other compensation was received.  My review was my own honest experience and opinion of the product and was not influenced in any way by the sponsors.

 

Caution: Holiday Travel Ahead!

“Don’t drive after dark on a holiday, in fact – best not to drive at all on a holiday!”               – My Mom

Normally, we think that holidays and family road trips go together like cookies ‘n cream, like that song from Grease with the weird lyrics, and like chocolate with practically anything. That’s what I used to think, and felt my mother was being a tad over-reactive and worrying over nothing.

Until I experienced driving at dusk, on a holiday, down a one-way street – with a clearly inebriated guy in the other car that was barreling towards me from the wrong direction! And I had my kids in the car with me.  Luckily the other guy responded to my flashing my high-beams and realized he’d done an oopsie and pulled into a side-street before driving away.  And this wouldn’t be the only time I’d witness something similar.

At least two other times, I witnessed some bereft-of-brains, who-knows-how-many-brewskis-drunk driver going the wrong way down a one-way highway lane. One of those I called in to the highway police, while my husband drove us even more carefully than he was already doing. “Sure, we know about it,” the police stated. “We’ve gotten quite a few calls about that one and officers are on the way.”

A bit older and wiser, with experience under my belt, I’m less inclined to brush off my mother’s wisdom.  Now we make sure that if we need to travel on a holiday, we get it done before darkness falls if at all possible, and we keep a careful eye out for drivers who may have had a little too much liquid fun (among other kinds) at their own holiday celebration.

According to the National Safety Council’s data – about 405 traffic fatalities are expected for Labor Day Weekend, and about 30 million people will be driving to and from their Labor Day destinations, compared to the 2.5 million who’ll choose flying instead. Wow – 405 fatalities – and that’s not even counting other folks who may also be severely injured in those accidents!

Sure we want an awesome big blow-out Labor Day Weekend bash to close out the summer with (and to celebrate the kiddos going back to school – YAY!!!), we want to relax and take it easy, de-stress, unwind and let the good times roll – but as the infographic* below shows, those who party hearty don’t always make an effort to avoid intoxicated driving altogether by designating a sober driver or taking a taxi.

(We’ve also got Halloween coming up soon: October is the second-most deadly month in terms of car accidents! 70% of those happen at crosswalks or intersections, and 70% of the deaths and injuries to children ages 5-9 were from the littles running into the road. Keep a firm grip on your littles on Halloween, please!)

Please be safety-conscious while you’re out there this weekend and all holidays. Your holiday memories should be happy ones.

Hazardous-Hollidays-final—————————————————————————————————

*Infographic supplied by Moms With Voices Media and http://www.dallasdwilawyer.org/dallas-dwi-information/hazardous-holidays-happenings/

This is a sponsored post that I received compensation for from Moms With Voices Media.  All opinions expressed in the written text are my own and were not influenced by Moms With Voices Media or dallasdwilawyer.org.

Common-Sense Diplomacy

atlas-woman

Had an interesting dream last night. I was a Counter-Terrorist Diplomatic Consultant for some alphabet agency and we were meeting in a ‘situation’ room to discuss the latest hot ‘threat’ and what to do about it.  In this case, it was a Native American man that had just been released from prison that he felt he had been unjustly incarcerated in, he had incendiary devices and guns and was planning to do something at a specific location, according to intel.

So there were all these highly-educated, highly-trained (and highly-paid) agents making a plan, and the best they could come up with was getting a SWAT team down there to take the man out. (as in demised, not out on a date)

Frankly, I was gobsmacked by this ‘genius’ idea and spoke up: “Uh…did anyone even begin to consider just sending someone in, unarmed to have a talk with the fella? Giving him a good listen and letting him vent, get whatever’s bothering him off his chest? Finding out if maybe he had a legitimate grievance and working out a plan with him to address or fix it, if so?”

Nope. Never crossed their minds.

“It’s too risky!” they bleated fearfully.

Cue massive eye-roll here.

“Uh-huh, and that’s why you have me here. I’ll do it. Give me a few minutes to assemble my own team and we’ll get to work. The rest of you stay back and stay quiet, and under no circumstances is ANYONE to do anything even vaguely threatening! Got it?!”

So then I assembled my team, which seemed to consist of a racially-diverse small group of guys in superhero spandex outfits. Our newbie member was very excited about his green satin cape.

Well, the Native American was also pretty impressed by the cape and touched that we were actually trying to listen to him so he vented his heart out and my team agreed to help him address his grievances and see that true justice was done and then we invited him to join our team.  We strolled out of the building with him, strolled on by the police perimeter, amiably chatting with each other as that alphabet agency had its collective jaw hitting the ground.

Mission accomplished. 😀

Then the dream switched to another scenario.

Kitchen-Talks-Japanese-Tea-Ceremony-1

This time I was called in because our country had done something nasty to Japan and Japan had just found out about it and were planning to declare war, and our country had decided to do a pre-emptive strike. My opinion was asked on the best way to go about doing that.

As in the first part of the dream, I was absolutely stunned by this monumental show of collective idiocy.

“Uh…did anyone even begin to consider just sending someone in, unarmed to to their Embassy to have a talk with them? Give them a good listen and let them vent, get whatever’s bothering them off their chest? If they have a legitimate grievance – which in this case they do – maybe work out a plan with them to address or fix it?”

Oh, it’s too risky, it might incite them to…war…which they were already incited to…hmm.  Oh, and our country would lose face if we actually admitted we’d done something wrong, and trying to apologize would be as good as admitting we’d done something wrong, they might ask for reparations or something. The excuses for avoiding responsibility went on and on.

“Tough cookies, folks, we did wrong and we’re going to suck it up and give them a chance to vent about it and then we’re going to apologize sincerely and do our best to make it up to them!”

So I got all dressed up (no superhero spandex this time) and party-crashed a fancy shindig that was being held at the embassy with a team of unarmed diplomatic agents.  The Japanese government reps were well aware that we were there but everyone was ignoring us, no eye-contact, as if we didn’t exist.  Some agents complained to me that they couldn’t get any of the Japanese contingent to even talk to them, so how could they get anything accomplished here?

I told them that if we got angry over being cold-shouldered, or tried to push the matter, they could justify that we’d acted first to start a war (as if our original crime against them wasn’t enough already) and they were in the clear about responding with force.

“Ok, let them humiliate, embarrass, ignore and shun us to their hearts content, it might make them feel better. We’re not going to whine about it or print any retaliatory stories in the media, we’re going to take it and show sympathy and remorse for what they’re going through – we’re going to put THEIR feelings first!”  So that’s what we did, giving the Japanese ample opportunity to snicker at us being ignored.

The next day, I went back to the embassy with a couple other agents to apologize and hear the Japanese reps out. They vented quite a bit and we admitted our government had been in the wrong and asked what they wanted in the way of reparations.  They were stunned. They’d expected us to respond with threats of world war and other retaliations to pre-emptively strike at them, not us showing up apologetic and taking responsibility to make things right when we’d done wrong.

They said they wanted a public unconditional apology printed in the media, and for us to send people over to Japan to repair any damage done to their infrastructure by our actions and to pay any bills for folks that had gotten hurt.  We agreed and war was averted.

Mission accomplished.

The guys back at the alphabet agency were shocked that my plan had worked and that we’d avoided world war so “simply”.

Wow. SMH sooooo much!

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