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Sunday, July 22, 2018

#Giveaway Preserving memories with Canvas on the Cheap

Is it just us or does summer seem to be just flying by? Our family has been busy enjoying our time outside as much as possible and have a good number of photos to show for it. While we do make an effort to enjoy actual moments rather than just try to capture them, our phone memory is mostly dedicated to pictures. Some family pictures, however, deserve to blown up, printed out and displayed lovingly on a wall in our house. Many times it may make sense to go with a formal picture and frame combination, but other times a more unconventional option like a canvas print is the way to go. Canvas printing provides a unique combination of value, longevity and picture quality (we love the texture!) that is hard to match. So when we had a chance to try out a canvas print from our friends at Canvas on the Cheap, we jumped at that opportunity.

Now we have tried a couple of canvas printing service options before, but the website for Canvas on the Cheap is indeed one of the simplest we have interacted with. Only a few simple steps, and before you know it, your order is complete: upload a picture, choose the size, frame depth (deeper adds a three-dimensional feel), optional wooden border, and open or covered back. This may be a good place to point out that they have some of the cheapest prices on canvas prints we have come across, the almost-too-good-to-true level. Especially, if you compare the cost of having a similar sized print photo with frame.



The delivery of the print was prompt and without any problems. Given the price, we weren’t sure what to expect but the print out of the box looked great. Vibrant colors with no distracting glossy sheen (one of the benefits of canvas), taut quality canvas and a sturdy wooden frame, what more could we ask for?! We compared it against some of our other canvas prints and couldn’t really tell any difference in quality. The question of longevity and normal wear and tear still remains, but the first impression has indeed been a good one.

Given the low prices at Canvas on the Cheap, we've got a long list of other photos we'd like to have printed out as well. These canvas prints would make a great, inexpensive but thoughtful gift for holidays, birthdays or any other special occasion. If only they could help us make our minds about the right picture to print!

To bring more memories to life, the wonderful people at Canvas on the Cheap are now making one of their canvas prints (Canvas size: 16"x20'' / 40x50cm) available for free to one of our fabulous readers:


Product received, thank you to Canvas on the Cheap for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own.
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Bus Safety Tips For School Buses and Coach Buses

This post was sponsored by bus.com, and all opinions expressed in this post are our own.

In these waning days of summer, we are already thinking ahead to 'Back to School' season, and of course one of the most ubiquitous sights of the school year is the big yellow bus.  Do you worry about your child taking the bus to school?  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a “school bus is the safest vehicle on the road—your child is much safer taking a bus to and from school than traveling by car”. In fact, students are about 70X more likely to arrive at school safely when taking a school bus instead of a car. That is because school buses are specially designed (e.g. bright colors and lights) and intensively regulated to be as safe as possible. In many ways, the greater risk for a child is in approaching and leaving the bus than being on the bus. The same could be said for public and coach buses (rented or commercial).


In addition to school buses, commercial buses are also considered to be one of the most environmentally-sustainable and cost-efficient modes of transportation around. A study conducted on behalf of the American Bus Association Foundation concluded that highway motorcoaches, van pools, and transit buses are some of the greenest travel options around. Being cost and energy-efficient, buses are a great option for group travel (e.g. to and from events) and now services like bus.com have made it even easier to select the right one for your needs.


So while buses are energy-efficient, cost-efficient and generally safe, it is also important to be mindful of a number of things that are important for bus safety, whether it be a school bus or a charter bus. Bus safety rules and guidelines can be summarized within the following categories:

Know who's driving the bus

Every time we get on a bus, we expect that it is in perfect working order and the driver is licensed and prepared for the ride. For school buses and public transportation, we leave those considerations to school and city administration officials. However, for chartering a bus it is important to do some due diligence in advance. A service like bus.com provides a simple way to feel more confident about charting a bus, as they vet the bus service, and the drivers, beforehand and driver/service ratings give an indication of the reliability of the service. When renting from a private company directly, it would be helpful to ask about driver and bus safety records, review company records from independent sources and of course, keep contact information close at hand in case it is needed to get in touch with them on the day of the trip.


Getting Safely On the Bus

The key to safely boarding a bus is to not be in a rush. This means arriving early at the bus stop (at least 5 mins, if possible), and not to run for or after a bus. It is also important to wait in designated safe zones, away from the curb and to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and for the doors to open.  Children should be reminded that running and pushing others can be dangerous near roads, so horseplay is not recommended at bus stops.  Those boarding the bus should first wait for anyone disembarking to do so safely.  Holding the handrail is recommended to help keep you steady as you board, especially if there is a long line of impatient kids or adults waiting to get on.

Riding the Bus Safely

Most school buses and large coach buses don’t have seat belts and, according to the NHTSA, for good reason. NHTSA has designated school buses to follow the concept of “compartmentalization”, which protects children from crashes by strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs. However, this requires everyone on the bus to be seated at all times with limited movement, clear aisles and for any large bags to be under seats or on laps. The bus drivers should be able to share any additional safety information specific to the type of bus you (or your child) may be on, so it is important to pay attention to what they have to say.  Kids should be reminded that it is safest to open bus windows only halfway, never throw anything out of a bus, and always keep your head and arms inside the bus.  


Leaving the Bus Safely

Patience is again the key to staying safe as you leave the bus. It is important for the bus to come to a complete stop and the doors to open fully before disembarking. Perhaps it should go without saying, but the most efficient way is for the passengers in front to get off first without any pushing and shoving. Using handrails again is recommended and you should take the time you need to navigate the steps safely.  Children especially should be reminded of the 'blind spots' immediately in front of and behind buses, as well as along each side.  After disembarking, the goal should be to safely get away from the bus as quickly as possible and always have the driver’s attention (and a signal if possible) before crossing in front of the bus. Some local regulations require an extendable crossing arm be mounted on the front of school buses to keep children out of the blind spot in front of the bus. If crossing the street is required, remember to look both ways as drivers passing the bus will also have a restricted line of sight.

Riding the bus can be fun, economical and safe for travelers of all ages, whether it is the daily commute or a chartered bus for a special event.
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Friday, July 20, 2018

4 Gift Ideas for the Adventurer in Your Life

It's challenging enough to buy gifts for your settled or laid-back friends and family members, but if one of them is wild and adventurous, the task is downright daunting. You might automatically assume they already have everything or they won't use what you buy them. Don't fall into this mindset. Even the most seasoned traveler and adventurer has something that will make the next journey better or more exciting. For the perfect gift idea, check out a few of these options.

Boots


Image via Flickr by Frontierofficial

Buying an adventurous soul boots might sound strange, but with a pair of Justin Boots from Russell's, you'll be doing them a favor. These boots come in a variety of styles for every type of person, including traditional Western boots, shortie boots, hiking boots, riding boots, and more. Armed with the right type of footwear, your thrill-seeker can tackle just about any scenario, from climbing to the top of a mountain to riding a horse into the Grand Canyon.

Action Camera

Founded in 2002, GoPro was the world's first action camera, allowing adventurers to create videos and take pictures in the most hectic and crazy settings in the world. More than 15 years later, the market has been flooded with clones of the GoPro, as well as other options from reputable companies. The best part is there's a decent camera for every type of budget.

Ranging from about $100 to $500, these cameras offer adrenaline junkies the chance to document their craziest adventures from a first-person perspective, giving you and others an insight into what makes the lifestyle so fun and addictive.

Waterproof Lighter

Your intrepid friend or family member doesn't have to love a fine cigar to enjoy the versatility of a waterproof lighter. Consisting of a sealable capsule and using either a flame or heating coils, waterproof lighters are specifically engineered to withstand saturation, as well as heavy winds. You can use many of these lighters several thousand times before they need a new flint or wick, while others just need a USB port for a full recharge.

With this lighter in their clutches, adventurers can start a fire in adverse conditions, cook food in any environment, or add to their survival kit in case the worst should happen.

Travel Backpack

Although large backpacks have become the preferred form of luggage for backpackers and gap-year students, they're still one of the best ways to move your clothes and gear from one place to another. Unlike wheeled or traditional luggage, backpacks allow you to carry all your stuff in outlandish places where flat surfaces might not exist. When an adventurer has to walk miles up a mountainside, trudge through mud, or find a bungalow on the beach, he or she will be glad you found a backpack that's up to the task.

Adventurers might have a life's worth of experience, but with the right gift, they won't have nearly as many stories of failure or discomfort. Plus, when they reach the apex of their travels or escapades, you'll get to hear about how your gift made it happen.
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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Fire in the home: how you and your family can stay safe


A fire starting at home is the stuff of nightmares for most of us. Especially if we’re all asleep and have no clue what is unfolding. So, what can you do to give you and your family the best chance of escaping, if the very worst should happen? Read on for a few fire safety tips and advice.

Know your escape route

All offices and public buildings have fire safety signs, and emergency exits clearly marked with brightly colored or illuminated signs like the ones available here. However, most homes and domestic dwellings don’t really have them. So, make sure you know your escape routes.

Sit down with the family and discuss where escape points would be at various points in the home and make sure that everyone is aware of them too. Make sure door keys for doors and windows are in safe and secure places that the responsible adults or older children can access with ease. No one wants to be fumbling around for keys in a smoke filled room.

Smoke alarms 

Smoke alarms should be fitted in every level of your home and should be tested regularly to make sure they’re working. Can’t remember the last time you checked your smoke alarm battery? Go and check it right now. It might save your life!

Your sockets

We live in an age of electrical items – many of which need to be charged or are simply plugged in for a lengthy amount of time. Make sure you don’t overload your sockets, as too many sockets overloading an outlet cause a huge amount of heat that could start a fire. Old items with poor or damaged wiring are also a potential fire hazard. So, avoid using these overnight. It’s also recommended that you don’t leave items on standby overnight. 

Be safe in the kitchen

Most house fires begin in the kitchen, and with the types of materials and liquids that are around it means that the fire can spread quicker then you might expect. Always take extra care when you’re cooking with hot oil and never leave your children unattended in the kitchen with any part of the cooker/oven on.

If you’re called away from the kitchen while you’re cooking – like for a phone call – then turn down the heat of the cooker while you step out of the room. Or turn the heat off completely. Be careful of your clothing, especially if it’s loose or has long strips of material hanging from it. These can easily alight. If you have long hair – tie it up! 

Make sure things like tea towels, dish cloths or oven gloves aren’t hanging over or have been placed near the hob. Keep handles of pots and pans turned AWAY from the edge of the cooker; this ensures that children can’t grab them and no one else can knock them accidentally.

And, keep your stovetop clean! You’d be surprised at how quickly a fire can spread across old food and cooking fat!
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

4 Savvy Tips For a Sizzling Summer Garage Sale


Summer is fully underway, which means that homeowners nationwide are preparing for what's generally considered the best time of the year to hold a garage sale. Summer streets are bustling with those enjoying all that the long days and warm nights have to offer, which means your sale will get more foot traffic than ever -- that is, if you can pull it off like a pro. Here are just a few sizzling tips to help make the most of your summer garage sale.

Quality Over Quantity

First, many homeowners think that the more merchandise they can scrounge up from around their home and put up for sale, the better. But this isn't necessarily the case. While having a wide selection of items for sale is always ideal, you shouldn't overshadow the items you can sell for maximum profits with an abundance of lower-profit merchandise. This will just hurt your garage sale profits as a whole, and if it's really a cluttered mess, it can overwhelm potential shoppers and drive them away. Instead, consider donating any clothes or household goods that may not be garage sale quality. Internationally, more than 14.3 million tons of donated American textiles help clothe people and families worldwide, and there are countless charities you can choose from that will make good use of your no-longer-needed items.

Spruce Up Big-Ticket Items

This may not apply to all sales, but if you're selling any upholstered furniture or otherwise big-ticket items, it can help to take some time and make sure they appear as clean and new as possible. Typically, steam cleaning is the best option, since steam kills 99% of common household germs and bacteria like E.Coli, salmonella, and staph, as well as dust mites and bed bugs. Many homeowners skip the cleaning process because they're already selling the item and they think it's a waste of time. But it can truly make the difference between someone buying a piece or furniture or walking away empty handed.

Advertise Effectively

It's up to you to advertise your garage sale effectively and using various media. There are numerous websites dedicated to advertising garage sales, most of which can be found with a quick Google search. But at least create a quick post on Craigslist and write a brief description of the items you'll have at your sale and when it's happening.

"Post an ad on as many [websites] as you want, but aim for at least three. Feel free to describe your items in detail, but avoid sounding like a marketing executive. Simply tell people what you have and when you’ll have it, and let their own imaginations work out how wonderful it is," writes Angela Colley on Money Crashers.

Of course, it's also essential to advertise your items properly the day of the sale. This means both arranging them in an appealing style and marking each item or item section with a clearly visible sign and price tag. Several studies, including one from Brigham Young University showed that merchandise with a sign outsold merchandise without a sign by 20%, and just like retail stores, customers may get frustrated and walk away if they can't easily find the price of something. Either that, or they'll put you on the spot and offer you a price, which is likely to be lower than what you were hoping to sell the item for. Avoid the trouble and make sure customers can easily find the price of each and every item up for sale.

Don't Neglect Customer Impulse

Finally, just like a retail store, it can help to arrange smaller items near the 'check-out' table. These items could easily be impulse purchases if they're generously priced. For example, 75% of U.S. adults wear Rx or plano sunglasses, and selling things like sunglasses, keychains, and other trinkets for as low as $1 can make customers more tempted to snag them at the end of their shopping session.

Ultimately, marketing your garage sale effectively and based on natural customer instinct is the key to maximizing profits and sales potential.
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Monday, July 16, 2018

Hints for Amazon Prime Day Deals - Starts TODAY!

It's almost here!  I'm so excited about the great deals to be had at Amazon Prime Day, the online retailer's giant 36-hour extravaganza.  This year, starts at noon PT (3 p.m. ET) on Monday July 16 and runs through Tuesday July 17 at 11:59 p.m. PT (Wednesday, 2:59 a.m. ET).  You can get some amazing deals!  But, of course, you need to be a Prime member to get them!  I've compiled some hints and recommendations for you to help you take advantage of the deals, even if you aren't a Prime member yet!



1.  If you are not a Prime member, you can sign up for a free trial.  This will let you try Amazon Prime free for 30 days. You will need to input a credit card, but if you cancel by the end of the 30 day trial period, your card won't be charged.  This free membership will qualify you to take advantage of the deals!  Of course, with the FREE two-day shipping, unlimited streaming of popular movies and TV shows (we watch constantly on the Prime Video app!), and the ad-free music streaming, you might just find it is worth continuing! 


2.  Join Prime Student if you are a college student (or going to be one in the fall - congrats!).  This is a great deal offered and the annual fee can be as low as $5/month if you want to extend past the 6-month free trial.  College students will love the Prime membership, with its unlimited music streaming, and reading on any device!  


3.  Once you've got your Amazon Prime membership squared away, download the free Amazon App.  You can review sneak peeks of select deals on the app and start a wishlist.  It will be so easy to get the most updated pricing when Prime Day kicks off!  The deals go fast, so your wishlist will be a great way to keep track of things!  (hint: in the app, if you press and HOLD an item listed in the 'Upcoming Prime Day Deals', then you can drag it to the shopping list that shows up at the bottom of the screen).  There are some directions on the Prime Day page in the app that show you how to do this, as well as how to enable notifications so you find out right away when your favorite products are live on the Prime Day sale!


AND here's another big deal - Amazon Prime customers who want to try Amazon's Mobile shopping app for the first time can get a $10 promotional code off their next qualifying $20 order by signing into the app by July 31, 2018!  


I was excited to see pantry staples like these baby food pouches or K-Cups on the deal list as well as more premium items like these awesome Sennheiser Noise Canceling Headphones or this STEM-focused Computer Kit. This is a great time to stock up on things you use every day (or all those things on that back-to-school list you've been ignoring!), a
s well as any gifts you need to buy for your loved ones (or yourself!).  I'm definitely keeping my eye out for deals on Amazon's smart home products like the Echo Spot and the Echo Show!

I'm hoping Amazon Prime Day has great deals on the Amazon Show!


4.  Take a look at some other awesome Amazon programs which are offering special deals.  For example, if you sign up for Prime Pantry BEFORE Prime Day, new-to-Pantry customers get $10 off $40 Pantry order and Free delivery! 
If you love to read, I don't think you'll find a better time to sign up for Kindle Unlimited.  New subscribers get their first 3-months for only $0.99 (regularly $29.97)!!  This is a great way to take a ton of books on your vacation without packing anything more than your mobile device (using the Kindle app on your smart phone or tablet).  Of course, you can cancel any of these subscriptions at any time. 

Don't miss out on the Amazon Prime deals!  Let me know in the comments what your favorite deals are - I'll be sure to be checking Monday and Tuesday!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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