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6 Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life

March 26, 2018 - By 
Sex, love, handsome.

If you are thinking about ways to spice up your sex life, it’s important that you set up a blueprint and foundation to make that happen.

There are a lot of aspects that go into a great sex life, and you need to both embrace yourself and enhance your relationships. Whether you are a single person looking to enhance your sex life or a person in a relationship that wants to find that spark again, these tips will help you out.

#1: Understand Your Own Body To Spice Up Your Sex Life

When thinking about ways to spice up your sex life, it starts with yourself. You need to think about what you like and make sure that you always take time out to explore.

Aside from physical sexuality, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with yourself and your body. Be sure that you embrace the way that you look and feel so that you are comfortable in your own skin.

It’s important to have this peace of mind so that you aren’t embarrassed or uncomfortable in everyday sexual situations.

This is a critical aspect of any relationship and one that you are able to get a handle on when you start with yourself.

When you are comfortable with your own sexuality before bringing another person in, you will have fewer hang-ups and will be more free and uninhibited every step of the way.

#2: Embrace Your Physical Fitness And Your Nutrition

To be sure that you are able to spice up your sex life, it’s important to also focus on your physical fitness and overall well-being.

Get a handle on your overall physical fitness first and be sure that you don’t have weight issues or high blood pressure. These are two libido killers that will stop you in your tracks before you even get off the ground.

The best thing you can do is find the physical fitness regimen that you can take part in on a regular basis. You need to be working out 3 to 5 times per week to make sure that you have a strong and healthy heart, which is crucial for sexual activity.

A reason that cardio is vital is that sexual activity always begins with an increase in heart rate and blood flow. When you have a healthy heart, you will enjoy sex more and won’t feel exhausted.

You also need to make sure that you find some workouts that will build your strength and muscle tone.

This is excellent for testosterone and will allow you to age gracefully and keep your sexual energy high.

No matter what sort of workouts you take part in, it’s also important to mind your nutrition.

Be sure that your diet has plenty of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, lean proteins and go organic whenever you can. If you are thinking of a way to spice up your sex life, you need to also drink plenty of water and use supplements that will help you out.

Some superfoods you will want to eat include salmon, kale, bee honey, garlic, and avocados.

#3: Meditate And Quiet Your Mind

Another great way to spice up your sex life is to make sure you have clear thoughts. When you have a mind that always wanders, it’s difficult to remain focused and in the moment.

Meditation is an excellent way to handle this, and that presence will carry over into your sex life.

There are lots of meditation practices you can focus on, and you can also use binaural wavelength audio to further strengthen your focus. Sex is incredibly mental and you won’t be able to truly embrace your sexuality if you don’t get your mind under control.

Aside from meditation, you can try going on long walks and taking part in the other such activities that put your mind into a flow state. This is a time of mental comfort and clarity that helps you express yourself to the fullest. As you can see, this plays a huge role in your sex life.

You should also read sexual literature that stimulates your mind. For instance, His Secret Obsession is a book that can help you truly tap into your most primal desires.

#4: Study Up On The Ancient Arts

If you really want to spice up your sex life, there are thousands of years of research you can piggyback on. You can look into Taoist and tantric sex practices, the Kama Sutra, and other such arts and philosophies that can shape your sexuality.

This helps you to take an all-encompassing look at your sex life so that you are able to get the most out of it and find fulfillment.

#5: Figure Out Your Relationships

Your comfort and expression in your sex life depends heavily on who you are sharing these moments with. Make sure that you are discerning about your sexual partners and relationships and communicate to the best of your ability.

All of the sexual information and confidence in the world doesn’t matter if you are choosing relationships that are not the best for you.

#6: Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

You should also do everything that you can to get out of your comfort zone. This way, you feel comfortable with the dance and uncertainty of sex and foreplay and will continuously challenge yourself to break out of the norm.

So there you have it. Your sex life, like anything else in life, requires focus and practice. If you follow these tips, you’ll see your relationship and sex life as a whole improve.

Consider these tips and check out our blog for more information about your sex life and overall health.


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How to Save Energy with Roller Garage Doors

March 24, 2018 - By 
roller garage doors

Opening and closing the garage door isn’t something most people even think about. After all, it’s just opening and closing a door, right? Well, that’s partially correct. Opening and closing your garage door is unavoidable, yes, but its the type of garage door you’re opening and closing that makes all the difference.

There are two conventional types of garage doors; sectional and roller garage doors. While most people in the U.S. use sectional doors, roller doors can actually save energy, and therefore money.

To help get you started, we’re breaking down exactly how roller garage doors can save you money.

Sectional Versus Roller Garage Doors

First thing’s first. We need to touch on the difference between sectional and roller doors. They’re fundamentally different in how the mechanically operate and how they’re designed. And those difference affect how much energy you can save.

Sectional garage doors consist of, surprise, sections. Each section represents a substantial part of the door, which is attached to one another by hinges that allow the door to flex when it gets “put up.”

These doors attach to a track that runs along the garage ceiling. When the door goes up it slides along the track and up along your ceiling. Sectional doors are commonly made of plastic.

Roller garage doors differ in that they roll into your ceiling. Each door comprises itself from smaller, metal or nylon slats that connect on small hinges. Each slat can roll to eventually collapse the door into a cylinder upon opening.

Besides just saving money on energy, roller doors also save space on the garage ceiling thanks to their compact design.

How Roller Garage Doors Save Money

Roller garage doors, as we mentioned above, save money through saving energy. The first difference we already touched on, though didn’t address. Roller doors are metal or nylon.

Compared to their preeminently plastic counterparts, nylon roller doors keep significant heat inside your garage. Metal actually lets more heat escape than plastic, but because of this, metal doors usually come with insulation by default.

While the nylon doors might keep heat better, it’s usually not worth nylon’s shorter lifespan. Any heat loss from metal doors is easily mitigated with a few tweaks.

Which leads us to our first point…

Insulation

Roller garage door slats are two pieces of either nylon or metal that attach to form one single slat. This leaves room between the two halves of each slat for air. In mild climates, the air works well as insulation, but in colder climates, or just for those looking to save more money, there’s a better alternative.

The space in-between each slat is the perfect place for additional insulation. A hard foam that seals off even the smallest cracks to keep the cold out and the heat in. Likewise, the best-quality insulated doors have insulation that covers roller door seams and creases.

When paired with nylon, and even metal, slats the potential for energy saving is tremendous. How?

Well…

Keeping in the Heat

Most garages fall into two categories, workspaces or car storage. Though some fall under both. In either instance, you’re likely heating the space during the colder months, even if inadvertently.

While you might not heat a garage used for simple car storage, that garage is still connected to your home. Any door between your garage and home will let heat out of the house and into the garage.

Heat flows from hot to cold, which means all that heat in the warm house is trying to find its way into the cold garage. That’s another issue but is still related to the garage door. If you’re losing heat to the garage, you’re also losing that heat out of the garage door.

Think of it like a cycle. Heat goes from the home, into the garage, and out the garage door. More heat then moves into the cold garage and the cycle continues. Keeping the heat in the garage is the best way to stop the problem.

That’s where roller garage doors come into play. Insulated doors keep the heat in the garage and so you don’t keep losing heat from the home. Less heat loss means less energy used.

And Keeping the Cold Out

While heat moves from cold to warm, you can also lose air conditioning from your house into your garage. And just like with heat, that cold air escapes through your garage door.

An insulated door can help minimize the cold air lost through your garage. Likewise, heat can also come into the garage and then home through an uninsulated garage door. That makes your air conditioner run harder and wastes energy.

Choosing Your Roller Garage Doors

Choosing an insulated roller garage door means selecting what works best for your needs. This means determining what exactly kind of roller door you need, how much insulation you need, and even what application you’re using the door for.

Is the door to your home (as we mentioned before)? How about for a workshop (which you’ll likely heat and cool)? Each door comes with different positives and negatives that you should discuss with a specialist.

Though regardless of what door you choose, know that any roller garage doors can save you on your energy costs and therefore money.

DIY Repairs

Keeping your home repairs in order (including your garage door) means having access to the documents and manual you need to make your home repairs as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We’re dedicated to bringing you not the outside home repair manuals, but the technology repairs that most people shy away from. With our manuals, we’re confident that anyone can repair their own home tech gear.

We also offer other technology-related downloads like software, music, and movies. If you’re in the market for any of the above or are just looking for a way to kill some time, check out our website.

It’s our goal to become the one stop shop for anything download related! Give us a look today.


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The Ultimate Guide to Content for Your Parenting Blog

March 22, 2018 - By 

Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting your parenting blog, coming up with new ideas for blog topics can cause a short-circuit or two at times.

Here are a few techniques to get those creative juice flowing.

Always Be Prepared

If you happen to be past the diaper bag stage, can you remember back? Do you recall all the items you packed in that thing? It was a virtual convenience/drug/clothing/grocery store. You were prepared for anything.

It’s important to have the same mindset for your parenting blog.

Pen and paper should always be on hand. I keep supplies in my bag, in the glove compartment of my car, and I have a “go bag” for when I’ll be gone for longer periods of time.

Being able to jot down your ideas right when you have them (of, course, please don’t blog and drive!) develops a healthy source of ideas. If you’re not the pen and paper type person, download an easy to use recording app.

Read Other Blogs

One common thread among successful authors is that they’re avid readers — of other authors’ works.

You’re not looking to replicate, simply spur your creative brain into action. Seeing a topic, you might have ideas on how to expand the topic based on one of the individual points. Perhaps you have an opposing viewpoint from the author. Write about that.

By reading other parenting blogs you may notice some of their hidden secrets for creating top-notch posts.

Tackle the Tough Stuff

If you look through your last 20 posts, do they all seem perfectly positive and upbeat? Now, there’s nothing wrong with that but there are times as bloggers that we forget there’s a not-so-pretty side to parenting. Here’s a list of topics for you to research:

  • Children telling lies
  • My three-year-old still isn’t potty-trained
  • The nightmare of toddler sleep regression
  • Death of a grandparent
  • Childhood cavities
  • Dad lost his job
  • My daughter told me she hates me

Taking on a difficult subject will not only stretch you as a writer, it may spur some amazing new ideas.

Treat Yourself to a Latte

Sometimes we get stuck when our structured routine turns into the proverbial rut.

Try this simple fix: a change of scenery.

Grab your laptop and head to the local java joint. (Hint: for this exercise choose the busiest location.)

Don’t be afraid to eavesdrop on the two ladies sitting at the table next door. You’re bound to get an idea or two listening to their stories of success or their tales from the dark side.

It’s Opposite Day

This one is simple. Do the opposite of what you would normally do.

Studies report that doing things like taking a new route on the drive home or switching up your morning routine keep the brain engaged.

Do you sit at the computer in the morning before you shower? (Trust me, I’m a firm believer in there being nothing wrong with that!) Switch it up tomorrow. Take a shower when you get up and — this may sound crazy — dress in “real” clothes, like you would wear for a casual day at the office.

Try listening to a completely different kind of music, or better yet, talk radio. Not a music listener — turn it up today. Do a different type of exercise than usual. Read a magazine instead of a blog article.

Wrapping Up

When you find yourself facing writer’s block try some of these methods above to stimulate ideas. One of the biggest takeaways is to never get comfortable.

For more blogging inspiration make sure to check out our suggestions for blogging tools and writing apps.

Trying new ways of doing things is what creativity is built on. Like Benjamin Franklin once said: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”


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10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Own a Multimeter

March 21, 2018 - By 

It’s that time of year again. All of those DIY home projects have been piling up. Some of them you love. Others, you avoid.

They may take hours, primarily because you don’t have the tools the experts do.

But that can change now. You don’t have to be an electrician to use a multimeter. In fact, once you learn the basics, it’s one of the easiest tools to use.

Let’s find out why this is a must-have tool in your toolbox and the many ways you can use it to save time and money by doing it yourself.

1. It Takes the Guess Work Out of Many Home Projects

When you don’t have the right tools, you do a lot of guesswork when doing things around the home or business.

This not only increases your chances of making a serious mistake, it takes a lot more time.

Not unlike a screwdriver, stud finder or level, a multimeter is a tool you need in your toolbox.

2. It Saves You the Expense of Hiring a Professional

How many times have you hired a professional for a project? They pull one little tool out that you didn’t have. And they’re done in minutes after it took you hours of trying before you called a professional.

It may have only taken a few minutes. But you’re still on the hook for $75 dispatch fee plus an hour of work.

With a multimeter, you can do many of the things professional electricians do yourself.

As a bonus, how many of your friends and family members will also be saved this expense because you have this handy device?

3. It Saves You the Expense of Throwing the “Wrong One” Away

The multimeter is a gauge. We’ll go into its specific functions a little later. When you have the right tool measuring things you avoid waste.

You don’t accidentally throw something away that was functional. You don’t waste time installing something that doesn’t work.

4. Anyone Can Use One

These devices are very easy to use. And they’re fun to learn.

They can seem a little intimidating at first. But you’re probably only going to use for 3 primary functions, measuring:

  • Voltage
  • Continuity
  • Resistance

These will become more clear as we go through our list.

We wouldn’t recommend a child use it. But any responsible adult can pick one up and learn to work with it in a few minutes.

Now, if you could just get a reliable lie detector for your toolbox.

5. They Help Keep You Safe

The multimeter helps measure electric current. Knowing if a current is present and how strong it is will help you avoid a shocking mistake.

When you use this device as instructed, it helps keep you, your family and your home safe.

Now let’s get into the most likely ways you’ll use this device.

6. You Can Test Batteries

You’re removing batteries from a device. You suddenly get interrupted.

Absentmindedly, you accidentally put the old ones back in the box. Or you forget which ones are the new ones.

Now you’re facing a dilemma. You don’t want to accidentally throw away good batteries. And you don’t what to mismatch or put dead batteries into the device.

The multimeter has two little probes that allow you to quickly determine the voltage in the batteries to get rid of the duds.

7. You Can Check Out Extension Cords

Extension cords can be very dangerous. You expect them to last for decades or more.

They may look fine. But over time, they can corrode.

You can test the continuity of the current moving through the extension cord by inserting one probe into each hole of the receiving end of the cord.

Carefully touch the other probe to the corresponding prong on the other side.

Is the current continuous? If not it’s time for a new cord.

8. It’s the Easiest Way to Get Rid of Old Lightbulbs

This one will only work if you still have incandescent bulbs. It’s less reliable for CFLs and LEDs.

Put one prong into the groove of the light bulb screw and the other onto the metal tip at the base of the bulb.

Check that the current is continuous. If it is, the device will make a sound.

9. It Helps You Spot a Hot Wire

When a fixture or appliance stops working, you have to wonder: Is it the fixture? Is it the switch? Or is the power failure somewhere else in the house?

Use the multimeter to figure out what the culprit is so you don’t make any unnecessary purchases.

10. It Locates That Bad Switch

When you’re changing out switches, it’s a project. You don’t want to accidentally install a bad switch. Even if the switch is new from the store, it could be faulty.

What a waste of a Saturday afternoon!

With a fluke multimeter, you can test the switch to avoid the hassle.

Simply apply the probes once again. Adjust the settings and instantly know for sure if you’re working with a dud.

Multimeter: A Must-Have Tool in Your Toolbox

A decade or so ago, you may have thought you could be without a level or a stud finder. Now, these tools are in every serious homeowner’s toolbox.

There’re probably in yours.

If you don’t have a multimeter, you could be wasting a lot of time and money when there’s a simple fix. This meter takes the guesswork out of DIY projects. You can know for certain the voltage, continuity, and resistance in electrical devices.

Stay safe by testing switches and cords before they cause a problem. Stop throwing perfectly good lightbulbs and batteries in the trash because you accidentally mixed them up.

Anyone can learn to use this handy tool and it’s fun.

To learn more about helpful apps and devices, follow our blog.


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How to Store Your e-Liquid

March 21, 2018 - By 
e liquid

You may think you’re a vaping expert. But there’s a common mistake that even experienced vapers make.

Many people are actually storing their vaping liquid in the wrong way. Vaping is more popular than ever. If you’re a newbie, you could have a lot to learn still about storing your supplies in the right way.

A stale or corrupted e liquid is something you definitely don’t want. You deserve to enjoy a strong flavor down to the very last drop. And if you have kids, even childproof caps aren’t enough to properly safeguard those tiny liquid bottles.

Ever wondered if you’re storing yours correctly?

Keep reading for everything you need to know about how to store your e liquid.

How Not to Store e Liquid

You may have a bottle lying around now and you’re asking, can e-cigarette liquid go bad? The answer is yes, it absolutely can.

The components of the liquid are the vapor agent (PG or VG), nicotine, and flavoring. The last two are natural compounds, so they are prone to getting stale.

When choosing how and where to store your liquid, remember these three things. No heat, no light, and no air. These are all enemies of the longevity of e liquid, along with moisture.

Where to Store e Liquid

One of the best places to store liquid is in the fridge. When you take it out to vape, let it sit at room temperature for a while. This will cause it to become less thick and easier to deal with.

Other places that will preserve the liquid’s integrity include a cupboard or kitchen cabinet. It should be high enough to be out of the reach of pets and kids.

Fun fact: the best place in your house is actually the basement. It’s cool, away from a light source, and probably doesn’t get a lot of air circulation.

Keep Away from Children

It’s important to keep in mind that you should store both liquids and e-cigs away from children. This applies even if you don’t have children yourself. Any that come to visit you could be attracted to the look of the liquid’s bottle, which is often brightly colored.

By treating the liquid with the same care as a medicine or cleaning product, you can avoid accidental poisoning.

Get a Quality Liquid

The quality of the liquid you choose is probably the most important factor that will affect its shelf life. Buy from a trusted supplier or online store like ecigwizard.com, which carries a UK made e-liquid for vaping.

You may want to keep in mind that fruit-flavored liquids go bad more quickly than others. You’ll know if you the liquid smells “off” or tastes sour when vaping.

Bonus Tips on e Liquid Storage

With proper storage, it’s been reported some liquids have a lifespan of up to two years. For long-term storage replace plastic bottles with glass ones that are dark or tinted. For a long period of storage, your best bet is to put the liquid in the freezer.

Looking for some inspiration for new e-cigarette flavors to try? Check out our blog for more great vaping content.


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How to Choose the Best Kitchen Appliances

March 10, 2018 - By 
kitchen appliances

From Smeg’s incredible collaboration with Dolce and Gabbana to Marc Newson’s stunning range of toasters and tea kettles, kitchen appliances are no longer serving a purpose — they’re also making a statement.

Whether you’ve just redone your kitchen and are looking for an upgrade, or if you’re interested in connecting with your inner Julia Child, you need options that combine form and function.

However, buying the right appliances is seldom as easy as it looks.

There are lots of hidden factors that you’ll need to take into consideration when making your decision.

Need a little help in getting it right?

If so, then keep on reading our appliance buying guide.

Consider The Cost

Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re putting together a plan for your kitchen appliances is your budget.

Especially if you gravitate towards expensive materials and brand names, the cost of appliances can add up pretty quickly. Before you know it, you’ve spent so much that you can’t afford to finish installing that backsplash tile.

To help keep you in check, keep in mind that your appliance budget should be between roughly 8-10% of your overall remodeling budget.

Chances are, this number is a lot lower than you anticipated.

However, it’s ok to select a few “investment appliances” — especially if they’ll actually help you to keep costs down in the end.

For example, consider investing in steel appliances, which are more durable and resistant to staining and rust. Think about whether it would be financially smarter to invest in an electric or gas stove, depending on how much you actually cook at home.

Would going over budget to invest in smart appliances, which may ultimately help you to save on electricity and water costs, be a wise move?

These are all crucial things to think about when defining your budget.

Read The Consumer Reviews

So, you’ve fallen in love with a variety of kitchen appliances — though that love is mostly based on looks alone.

We get it.

It’s incredibly easy to get distracted by beauty and completely ignore the more important things, like overall functionality and the amount of space an appliance will take up on your countertops.

(Speaking of, let’s take this opportunity to remind you of taking as many exact measurements as possible before investing in any appliances.)

Luckily, the good news is that you’re likely not the only person who has ever been interested in these appliances. And you can rely on the reviews of dozens, possibly even hundreds, of past consumers to determine whether or not the appliances you’re considering truly live up to the hype.

For example, these ice maker reviews outline the pros and cons of some of the most popular ice makers on the market. They also detail the different features, give the dimensions of the machines, and compare them to other bestselling brands.

When it comes to reviews, there’s really no such thing as “too thorough.”

Think About What You Really Need

When you’re shopping for kitchen appliances, it’s incredibly easy to allow your eyes to be too big for your stomach — or at least, for your countertops.

In order to determine what you actually need, and what you can find a way to live without, think about the meals you like to cook the most.

Do you need a stand mixer because you love making cookies for your neighbors, or do you just vow to make this the year that you actually try to make gingerbread, only to put it off yet again?

How often do you toast bread, microwave a bowl of oatmeal, make tea on the kettle or use your toaster oven?

These are all things to take into consideration to help you understand what your essentials actually are. Plus, the less you spend on appliances, the more you’ll have leftover to dedicate to the rest of your interior decor and design.

When In Doubt, Stay Neutral

So, you’ve outlined a thorough budget, you’ve figured out which appliances you truly do need, and you’ve even read a few reviews of the frontrunners.

Now, it’s time to think about the tones, materials, and colors that you’ll choose.

We know that it can be tempting to go for the latest trend, the most over-the-top pattern, or the sleekest design of the moment.

However, especially if you don’t plan to renovate your kitchen once every three years, you need to design with longevity in mind. After all, no one wants a kitchen that will look outdated by the time it’s finished being installed.

For best results, we suggest sticking to more neutral colors like brown, black, white, or silver/chrome.

Keep in mind that it’s totally possible to liven up your kitchen with bold prints and patterns in other ways. Save the crazier designs for your curtains, your placemats, and your decorative dishes instead.

Which Kitchen Appliances Will You Choose?

We hope that this post has helped you to figure out how to choose the best kitchen appliances for your home.

Remember, it’s all about neutral shades, setting a firm budget, knowing what you need, and reading online reviews to make sure the appliances you’re thinking about are actually worth it.

Looking for more home and kitchen decor advice?

Want to access manuals and guides that will help you to go the DIY route when it comes to setting up your appliances and upgrading your kitchen?

We’re here to help.

Spend some time on our website and blog to access ebooks, articles, and guides about everything decor.


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How to Find Out Reviews for Your Answering Service

March 7, 2018 - By 
find out

If you run a business or manage a company, such as a lockout service for an apartment, it’s likely you want someone available for your customers to call when a need arises. You don’t want to keep yourself or your staff around just for the odd emergency that may happen.

For these reasons, it’s best to have an answering service. But how do you find out if the service has the type of quality customer service you want to offer others?

Before you decide to go with a specific answering service company, it’s crucial to pay attention to reviews and make sure they’ll provide what you’re looking for. Learn more about how and why reviews should help determine if you’ll use a particular answering service.

Look On Social Media to Find Out More About a Company

Social media is where most people spend their time when they want to connect with others. Because of this, it’s the go-to place when leaving reviews about a company and their services.

If you’re unsure about where to start, Google+ and Facebook provide the best results. Start there and look for reviews other customers left for the service.

Make sure the reviews are:

  • Fairly recent
  • Give a somewhat objective view of what worked or what did not

It’s true that many customers leave poor reviews in the heat of the moment. You’ll want to take some time to separate fact from fiction and make an accurate decision.

Regardless of what reviews you find, consider looking at more than one source, in order to get the most accurate view. Learn more about the best social media platforms for business.

See What the Better Business Bureau Has to Say

One of the most trusted places when it comes to getting reviews is the Better Business Bureau, also known as the BBB. Here, companies are assigned graded ratings, just like what you’d get in school.

If a company constantly has problems that result in low ratings, the BBB downgrades their current rating. Since many businesses take pride in being part of the BBB, those who aspire to do well want to maintain high ratings.

If you’re looking to find out about answering service reviews, make sure to check out what the BBB has to say. Regardless of your decision, you’ll feel informed based on what you know from others who’ve gone through the same experience.

Get References From Previous Customers if You Can

When possible, attempt to contact other customers who have used the company. Sometimes this is best done through social media since you can easily message them on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

If you know friends, family, or other individuals who have personal experience with the company, ask them point blank what their experiences were and if they would suggest doing business with them.

Some companies provide references personally, so you can contact them and make sure their quality is up to your standards. In most cases, it’s best to seek out references on your own.

Doing so gives you the upper hand by getting reviews that are honest, with nothing to gain.

Get More Than One Review When Possible

Don’t settle for one review before you deem a business worthy or write them off completely. When collecting answering service reviews, get a few from different sources.

This means going on more than one social media platform, visiting Google+ or the BBB, and looking for independent companies where customers leave reviews. Finding information this way helps you to get unbiased facts.

You’ll know if there is a problem with something specific related to the company, or if individuals from a certain area have issues that don’t apply to what you’re looking for.

Getting well-rounded facts allow you to make the best decision when it comes to finding the right service for yourself, your customers, and your company.

Finding the right answering service is important since this presents an image of your company when customers call. Learn more about how your business can move forward in the 21st century and build an online empire.

Look for a Theme

When reading reviews, pay special attention to any themes you notice when learning about the organization. See if you find any similarities related to:

  • Repeat issues (more than one customer having the same type of problem)
  • Issues with certain service personnel
  • Problems related to payment or canceling service

All of these are red flags to be aware of. If you’re noticing more than one in several different reviews, it’s time to rethink using that particular vendor and find out about other options.

If you only find a few reviews that are off, consider trying out the service and seeing how it works. What’s important about finding a theme is the ability to see if there are consistent and reoccurring problems with the service that aren’t being addressed.

Pay attention to how old the reviews are, and if the company has recently undergone a change. If the company has new management and you’re noticing an upward trend of positive reviews, there’s a good chance you won’t have to worry about future problems.

Let Us Help

When finding answering service reviews to make sure a company is just right for you, it’s not an easy path and makes take some time to sift through. Once you find a company that provides the solid service you’re looking for, both you and your customers are in good hands.

Take time to read different reviews, and find out an answering service that provides everything you’re looking for.

Learn more about how your business can get ahead. Check out our blog on the benefits of SMS marketing, and see how easy it is to increase your customer base.


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What Do You Need to Know Before Buying a Wall Painting Online?

February 27, 2018 - By 
wall painting online

So, you’re in the market for a new wall painting.

Maybe you’ve already browsed through local galleries and nothing caught your eye. Or maybe you don’t want to wait for the next art fair to come to town.

Either way, you have another option. Like other types of shopping, you can purchase your next wall painting online.

If the thought seems overwhelming, don’t worry. In this post, we’ll reveal three important questions to ask yourself to help you pick the perfect wall painting online.

1. Do You Love It?

It may sound silly, but it’s the first and most important question you need to ask.

After all, you’ll be looking at that painting every single day. If the quality is good enough, you may even pass it down to your kids or grandkids.

Forget about the current decor trends for a moment and take a nice long look at it. Does it speak to your soul? How do you feel when you study it?

Remember, art is subjective. What calls to one person may not affect another. Find a painting that speaks to you personally, and you’ll never regret your purchase.

2. What Space Are You Trying to Fill?

Of course, no matter how much you love a painting, you need to have the right space in your home to hang it.

Before you start shopping, measure the area where you intend to hang the painting. Get an idea of the size you want, along with a range of sizes that will work for the wall space.

You also need to consider existing decor and the purpose of the room. A muted, reflective painting might be perfect for your bedroom, but it could make you yawn if you hang it in your home office.

Similarly, a bold, standout painting makes a great conversation piece for your living or dining room. But it may feel totally out of place in a more relaxing space, such as your bedroom or bathroom.

Not sure where to begin your search? Sites like Ikonick offer a wide variety of wall paintings to choose from.

3. Who Is the Artist?

You shouldn’t buy a wall painting online (or anywhere else) based on how popular an artist is. It doesn’t matter if their paintings sell for millions–if you don’t like it, you won’t be happy with it.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to do some background work on an artist you admire. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Does the artist have a selling history?
  • What materials do they use for their work?
  • What type of art training did they receive, and where?
  • How do they determine their prices?
  • How many hours did they spend on the piece you’re considering?
  • Is there a story behind the painting?

While you shouldn’t base your decision solely on the answers, it will give you a better idea of the piece you’re buying.

That way, you ensure you’re getting a high-value piece you love at a fair price for both you and the artist.

Ready to Buy Your Wall Painting Online?

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to start shopping for your next wall painting.

Are you a DIY guru? Would you like other helpful tips for home decorating or home improvement?

Click here for our latest posts!


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Lost Passport? Here’s What to Do

February 23, 2018 - By 
lost passport

Imagine that you are visiting another country, for either business or pleasure. You’ve enjoyed your stay, but now you’re looking forward to getting back home.

As you are packing your suitcase and preparing for your return flight, you make a frightening discovery.

Suddenly, you realize that you have lost your passport.

Travelers across the globe experience this unfortunate predicament each year.

In 2012, according to The New York Times, the State Department reported 253,037 lost passports.

While, in 2008, a British news site reported that over half a million UK tourists had either lost their passport or had it stolen while traveling.

One thing’s for sure. If you lose your passport while traveling overseas, it can cause major problems.

Are you planning a trip that requires a passport?

Before you go, find out how to replace your passport in case of emergency!

How to Replace a Lost Passport When Traveling Abroad

It’s a situation that most of us hope we never encounter. Unfortunately, however, when traveling the world there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen to you.

Would you know how to replace a lost passport, should the need arise?

Navigating the passport renewal process might seem stressful enough. But, when attempting the process as a foreign tourist, the stakes tend to be even higher.

1. Don’t Panic

As scary as it may be, if you lose your passport, don’t panic.

Easier said than done, right?

Even so, panicking will only make your problem seem worse.

Try to remember that hundreds of thousands of travelers experience the same thing that you are dealing with now, every year. Although you may feel alone, there are countless others who share your struggle.

As the saying goes: This too shall pass.

2. Act Immediately

Because the process can not be completed instantly, you will likely have to endure a waiting period before you receive your new passport.

The longer you must wait, the riskier your situation becomes.

Also, as with any transaction, there is the possibility that you could encounter a delay, prolonging your wait.

The best way to solve your problem as quickly as possible is to begin your application for a new passport right away. Procrastinating or avoiding the issue could cost you time and money in the long-run.

If your departing flight is fast approaching, then you need to inquire about possibly rescheduling it. Consider using a flight tracking and booking app, which makes it easy to keep tabs on upcoming flights and arrange yours right from your phone.

3. Report Your Passport as Lost

First, you should report your lost passport to the closest consular or Embassy. You will need to provide them with important information, such as whether the passport may be stolen, when you are planning to leave the country, and answer additional questions they may ask.

If you have been the victim of a crime, you will need to contact the police and fill out a police report.

Once you report your lost passport, no one else should be able to use it.

4. Have Your Photo Taken

You will need a new passport photo for your replacement.

Many places offer passport photograph services. You should be able to find the nearest one by performing a search or asking a local.

It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your passport photo tucked away in your suitcase or another safe place, just in case this should ever happen to you. That way you will already have this taken care of and can save time.

5. Fill Out Necessary Forms

When you have a lost passport, you must fill out two forms. One is the application for a new passport. And the other is a statement verifying that you have lost your passport.

These forms are required when requesting a replacement.

However, if you are using an online service, they may provide the forms and offer assistance in completing them.

6. Choose a Fast and Reliable Passport Provider

Anyone who has applied for a new passport on the government’s website knows that the process most often requires patience. After submitting a passport application, it can take up to four to six weeks to arrive.

If you are visiting the embassy to apply, you will need to bring all of the required documents and forms with you to apply for your replacement

When you are visiting another country, waiting four to six weeks might seem like a lifetime. However, this is the standard process that you are likely to encounter when you use government services typically suggested by an embassy.

If you are interested in expedited services, then you might prefer an alternate service provider.

Fortunately, there’s a faster way to have your lost passport replaced than the government site.

You’ll probably be eager to find the provider who offers the quickest turnaround. Just make sure that you choose a credible source, or you could end up facing more problems.

When you choose to apply using Passport Renewal, you may be able to receive your passport in as little as 24 to 48 hours. Plus, their easy-to-use wizard feature will help you fill out the forms that are required and organize your information so that it’s ready to go.

Always Bring Along Your Passport Guide

When you are traveling, make sure that you pack your passport guide. A passport guide will make sure that you have all of the information you might need if you lose your passport during your trip.

Your passport guide will help you know which steps to take and offers specific information for international travelers.

Don’t have a current passport guide?

Download the Citizenship and Passport Guide today to be prepared for your next trip!


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How to Build A Mobile App For Fitness

February 21, 2018 - By 
mobile app for fitness

The mobile app marketing is one of the largest markets in all of tech, generating billions of dollars each year.

Of course, part of a successful app creation strategy requires you and your team to focus on a popular market.

And perhaps no market is quite as in-demand as the fitness industry. Thanks to wearable tech like the Fitbit, people love combining their love of technology with their desire for a healthier lifestyle.

Creating a mobile app for fitness is a great idea, but how can you create an app that has both staying power and popularity?

Read on for a brief list of tips to help you create a great mobile app for fitness.

Determine Your Market

The first step to creating a revolutionary fitness app is to determine your app’s intended audience. There are millions of apps downloaded on digital marketplaces each day. It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Therefore, the more targeted your fitness app, the better.

What kind of audience are you looking to attract? Casual fitness lovers? Yoga experts? New runners?

The fitness world itself is quite splintered, but this is to your advantage.

Your app doesn’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel, it just needs to serve your audience well. Find your audience, then create your app with them in mind.

Focus on Your User Interface

The core of an app’s staying power comes from functionality and usability. Customers will typically forgive a lackluster app as long as it looks nice and is easy to navigate around.

So how can you create a great, user-friendly UI?

First, make sure your app isn’t too cluttered. If it’s too busy, it may overwhelm your user. Try and keep things simple and concise.

Next, include easy to find search and help functions. It’s likely that someone, somewhere will encounter a problem. Give them the resources needed to find what they’re looking for or let them get in touch with the dev team if a problem is new.

Beat Strong Fitness & Nutrition is a great example of a simple, easy to use design. Everything you need to know about the business is presented front and center for the user, including information about the company and contact info.

Break Your App

Before we continue, no, we don’t literally mean break and delete your app.

In this instance, breaking is a synonym for stress-testing the app before releasing it to the public.

When you think your app is perfect, enlist the help of some family and friends. Let them mess around with the app and get feedback.

Encourage them to test every button and interact with your app in every way possible.

Believe it or not, finding bugs is a good thing. It lets you know what kinks still need to be ironed out before release. Just allow enough time to fix any errors you or your testers find.

Change The World With Your Mobile App For Fitness

Creating a great fitness app is going to take plenty of time and effort. Remember to test for bugs, create a simple UI, and always design with your audience in mind.

For more great information on app creation, marketing, and digital downloads, be sure to check out Pligg!


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How to Choose the Right Essential Oil Diffuser

February 14, 2018 - By 
essential oil diffuser

Are you in the market for an essential oil diffuser?

If so, you’re not alone. The use of essential oils is on the rise in the US. People are inhaling and even ingesting oils such as eucalyptus and peppermint for their pleasant scents and health benefits. Though the science behind aromatherapy is still in its beginning stages, users credit essential oils with everything from boosting their mood to decreasing chronic body pain.

Diffusers are effective distributors of essential oils in a home or workspace. The trick is knowing which one is right for your circumstances. Read on to find out how to determine which diffuser to buy.

Types Of Essential Oil Diffusers

Do you ever get overwhelmed by the large assortment of a similar product while walking down the aisle of a department store?

If so, you might feel the same when you discover how many different kinds of diffusers are available. Each type varies in design and function. Here are just a few types to choose from:

  • Mist diffuser: Combines water and essential oils to emit a foggy mist.
  • Ultrasonic diffuser: Spreads intact, fragrant diffused oil particles in a cool mist.
  • Sweet heat: Warms essential oils and releases their properties through warm air.
  • Nomadic diffuser: Diffuses oils manually through evaporation.
  • Ventilation: Diffuses oil via a fan.
  • Nebulizer: Diffuses cold oil particles through a filter.

You can regulate the amount of oil being released by every kind of diffuser except nomadic. The highest-quality diffusers also have a timed release function, so that you can enjoy your aromatherapy without wasting precious oil.

Room Size

The type of diffuser you need depends on the space where you plan to use it.

For a large, open space, choose a nebulizer or ventilator. A powerful nebulizer can work well in a space as wide as the average industrial workspace. It will infuse the air with clean, dry, aromatic oil particles, making for a healthier home or workplace.

For a medium-size room such as a bedroom or even a kitchen, invest in an ultrasonic diffuser or a mist-maker. Sweet heat would work in an average-sized room as well. If you prefer a warm-air diffuser, go for the sweet heat or mist-maker. If, instead, you want less moisture and cooler air, opt for the ultrasonic essential oil diffuser.

Can I Use a Diffuser in My Bathroom?

Of course, you can!

Dump the fake potpourri and the synthetic air fresheners and pick up a nomadic diffuser. Your guests will marvel at your wonderfully-scented bathroom and you can all stand to benefit from some aromatherapy.

Humidifiers vs Oil Diffusers

It’s important to distinguish between diffusers and humidifiers. the major difference in diffuser vs humidifier is that the humidifier cannot function with essential oils. It moistens the air with water alone.

Certain diffusers operate like a humidifier-diffuser hybrid. Mist diffusers most resemble humidifiers because they require water to function properly. However, you cannot benefit from the use of essential oils when using a regular humidifier.

Final Thoughts

Essential oils can only optimize your life. To make the most of them, think carefully about where you plan to use them and what purpose they will serve. Only then can you purchase the right essential oil diffuser for you.

Are you interested in further improving your health? Visit us regularly for more health tips and tricks.


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Retirement Savings 101: How to Win the Game

February 12, 2018 - By 
retirement savings

The prospect of building up your retirement savings can be daunting. You may feel like you have your entire life ahead of you. But you’ll be surprised how retirement just sneaks up on you.

The best way is to think of retirement as a game to win. You have to carry out the necessary preparations. If only think about the immediate future, then you may miss the bigger picture farther ahead.

Like every game, you have to know how to win it. That’s why we’ve put together this retirement saving guide so that you can make sure you come out on top.

1. Start Now

You may not have the certainty of the older generations when it comes to saving for your retirement. Nowadays there is greater emphasis placed on the individual to ensure they have a comfortable retirement.

But the sooner you start planning your retirement, the better off you’ll be.

2. Make a Plan

Saving for your retirement can be overwhelming. The key to creating your own nest egg for your later years is to have a retirement plan.

You need to establish what your retirement goal. This should be an annual sum of at least more than 70 percent of your current pre-tax salary.

Now you need to work out how much you need to contribute monthly to reach the retirement goal. Also, figure out how you can make sure this is achievable.

To find out more about making financial plans for retirement, check out Hal Hammond Sarasota.

3. Change Your Mindset

Saving for your retirement is always going to be challenging. You have to manage your finances in a way that allows you to live your life now, with one eye always on the future.

It’s important to reassess your priorities. You need to decide where you’re spending money unnecessarily, or where you can make savings.

However, the good news is that small investments in your retirement now could grow into substantial sums by the time you come to retire.

4. Make Use of Retirement Plans

It may seem obvious to participant in your retirement programme at work. And yet, you may be shocked to find out many employees that have access to a 401(k) plan don’t take up the opportunity.

By not making use of retirement plans at work, you’re turning down free money.

5. Diversify Your Investments

Have you ever heard the saying “don’t put your all your eggs in one basket”?

These are wise words when it comes to retirement savings.

You need to create a diverse portfolio of savings to ensure your finances are resilient against financial problems in the market.

You can do this by investing in different stocks and bonds. While there is no ultimate right and wrong on how to invest your money, diversifying your retirement savings is always the best option.

6. Work Longer

The hardest reality check you’ll hear on any guide to retirement savings is that you have to work. While older generations may have retired in their early 60s, this is unlikely for the current workforce.

However, it’s not all bad news. We are living longer and healthier lives. This means that even though you may have to work for longer, you’ll also get to live for longer.

Start Your Retirement Savings

With this guide to saving for your retirement, you can start saving. But there’s much more to learn about managing your finances.

Check out other blog posts like this on our website.


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5 Great Downloadable Plumbing Tutorials

January 26, 2018 - By 

Are you looking to take care of some plumbing projects on your own? You’ll need to find downloadable plumbing tutorials to learn how to do them.

The average cost of a plumber is $303, so it makes perfect financial sense to try to take on a few plumbing jobs at home.

Would you like to learn where you can find the best tutorials on DIY plumbing projects? Keep reading to learn which projects you can do at home and find downloadable resources to learn how to do them.

What Projects Are Best for DIY?

There are many plumbing projects that you can DIY. Then there are others that are best left to the professionals.

The best projects to work on are simple leaks or clogs. If you’re looking to install a new faucet or shower head, those are other easy DIY projects that you can do in a short amount of time.

Other projects should be handled with care and caution. If you’re intimidated by any of these projects, it’s okay to call a professional. Otherwise, if you have the technical know-how and confidence, you can do them yourself.

These projects include installing a new dishwasher, garbage disposal or a toilet. The concerns with doing this project yourself would be leaks and flooding due to improper installation.

When Should You Call a Professional?

There are some projects that should be left to professional plumbers.

For any plumbing project on a new property, call a plumber to take a look at your plumbing lines first. They can make sure your lines are within code and they can guide you on how your lines run so you can complete your project without any issues.

For frozen pipes, it is best to contact a plumber to make sure your pipes thaw properly and don’t burst.

If you’re in a dire situation, you can always Google a plumber and call from your phone. For example, if a mishap is in Toronto, a quick search for plumber Toronto will bring up plumbers you can call right away.

Home renovations and anything to do with moving pipes will require permits and professional help. By doing these projects yourself, you run the risk of having to replace work that is deemed illegal. That can cost you more money in the long run.

Broken pipes also require the expertise of a plumber. That’s because if you do this on your own, you’ll replace the broken pipe, but you probably won’t be able to figure out why the pipe broke.

The Best DIY Plumbing Projects with Downloadable Tutorials

The first thing you need to know about any plumbing project is how to shut off the water. Yes, you can shut off the water to your home! You should know where this is located and practice shutting the valve on and off before you have any sort of emergency.

You certainly don’t want to be in a situation where you’re toilet is overflowing and you’re in a panic trying to find where the valve is.

In the majority of homes, you’ll find the water valve where the water enters the home, or by the water meter. The water can be shut off at individual fixtures like a sink or toilet by shutting off the valve behind the toilet or under the sink.

1. Sink Installation

Are you getting ready to replace a drop in sink? You’ll want to have this handy guide from Home Depot. These are for Swanstone Sinks, but it will give you a general idea as to how it’s done. Check with your sink manufacturer for specific instructions related to your sink.

2. Find Hidden Leaks

The City of Gainsville, Georgia has this handy guide to help you find leaks in your home. Over a million gallons of water are wasted every day in this small city due to hidden leaks.

3. Stop a Running Toilet

Did you know that toilets are the number one source of hidden leaks? Not only that, but running toilets are the most costly and wasteful leaks. This guide from New York City will help you stop your running toilet.

4. Fix a Clogged Toilet

This guide from Kissler Plumbing Repair Parts & Specialty Items helps you fix that stubbornly clogged toilet. The great thing about this guide, in particular, is that it shows you how a toilet operates.

You also have a simple step-by-step guide as to how to fix it.

5. Leaking Water Heater

Working on a leaking water heater is possible thanks to this guide from Whirlpool. It is specific for Whirpool models. You will want to check with your water heater’s manufacturer for more specific instructions.

Where to Find Downloadable Tutorials

If you’re just starting to dive into DIY plumbing, there are a wealth of resources to learn how to handle the projects.

There are many DIY home renovation shows where you can watch and learn, but downloadable resources are great to have. That way, you can refer to them while you’re working on the job.

If you’re working on a specific plumbing project, you can check with a plumbing parts store, do a search on Google, or check with the manufacturer.

Government Tutorials

You’ll also notice that on this list, there were downloadable tutorials from Gainesville, GA and New York City. Many municipalities are struggling to keep up with water demands. They’re looking for new ways to conserve water. A place for them to start is to work with property owners and educate them on fixing leaks and running water.

Government involvement in water conservation isn’t new. In 1940, the US Department of Agriculture published this guide to show you how to fix simple repairs on your own.

If you want something more advanced, you could also get this Plumber Training Course Manual.

DIY Plumbing Doesn’t Have to be Intimidating

Working on plumbing projects on your own can be intimidating at first. But with the right resources and guides, you can take on projects like leaky faucets.

There are many guides and manuals for download, which is the great thing about the internet.

For other great downloads, check out our database of downloadable repair manuals.


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8 Tips You Need to Know to Buy Weed Online

January 26, 2018 - By 

There was a time when logging onto your computer or smartphone to buy weed online was unimaginable.

However, times have changed. Cannabis is now legal for purchase in many U.S. states and Canada. Ordering marijuana online has become a common practice.

Cannabis users are becoming connoisseurs, and the preference for craft cannabis continues to grow. Buying your weed online gives you the option to try new strains that may not be available locally.

Although ordering cannabis online is pretty easy, there are still some potential pitfalls to watch out for. The following eight tips will help ensure you have a positive online shopping experience.

1. Never Buy Weed Online Illegally

What if you live in a state that doesn’t allow legal cannabis use or you don’t have the necessary prescriptions? You may still be tempted to try ordering weed online.

Do not make this mistake. If you get caught, you’ll face serious legal trouble.

As more people are enjoying the benefits of CBD oil, there is some debate about whether it’s legal to have it shipped to all 50 states. If you live in a state where cannabis isn’t legal, you should proceed with caution–even if you’re only purchasing CBD products.

2. Only Do Business with Certified Dispensaries

If you Google how to buy weed online, you’ll find offers on Craigslist, chat rooms, and other random websites. One of the most important things to understand is that you should never buy weed online from any place other than a certified dispensary.

Although buying medical marijuana online is easy for those with the proper documentation, the black market is also still thriving.

If you’re a registered medical marijuana patient, don’t take the chance of buying weed online from someone who isn’t legally authorized to sell it to you. Doing so can cause you legal issues and also greatly increase the chances that you’ll be scammed.

3. Make Sure You’re Using a Website You Can Trust

Beware of sketchy websites that look like they were slapped together.

A good quality site will likely have detailed information about the types of strains offered and the conditions they’re best for treating. Look for sites that have a blog or other information about medical marijuana use.

Read through the website’s frequently asked questions (FAQ) to get a feel for how the company does business. Check out things like verification requirements, shipping speeds, and other order protections offered.

4. Seek Out Vendors with a Wide Selection

One of the primary advantages of ordering cannabis online is the wide variety of options it opens up for you.

When searching for the best place to buy weed online, look for a single source for all of your cannabis needs. This may include:

  • Indica
  • Sativa
  • Hybrid
  • Concentrates
  • Edibles
  • Topicals
  • Vapes
  • CBD Products

Cheeba’s website, for example, offers a good idea of what’s available at a quality mail-order cannabis store.

5. Know Your Product

There are literally hundreds of marijuana strains available. Different types are better for different ailments.

One of the disadvantages of buying your cannabis online is that you don’t have a “budtender” to guide you towards the right products.

Do you understand the difference between Indica and Sativa? Is your condition best treated with edibles, topicals, concentrates, or something else?

Knowing what products you need before you start shopping online will help you avoid overwhelm. It will also ensure you get the right items for your needs.

6. Inquire About Product Testing

There are few things worse than spending hours choosing the perfect cannabis product to buy online, waiting for it to arrive, and then finding the quality is far less than you expected.

Look for sites that back up their product claims with testing results and user reviews. Don’t rely purely on the site in question. Instead, do an independent internet search of the products themselves to see what the rest of the world is saying about them.

Also, search for reviews of the vendor you’re considering. And don’t forget to check out what people are saying on social media platforms.

7. Trust Your Gut

If an offer to buy weed online seems too good to be true, it probably is. While doing your research is important, trusting your gut is critical.

Remember that when ordering items online you’re providing your name, address, and credit card information. Dealing with the wrong party can result in having your money stolen, receiving bunk products, or something even worse.

If you’re not 100 percent comfortable with the transaction you’re about to enter into, it’s probably better to keep looking.

8. Stay on Top of Changing Laws

As State and Federal regulations continue to evolve, so will the laws pertaining to where and how cannabis can be bought, sold, and consumed.

Stay up to date on the latest changes so you don’t unknowingly get yourself into trouble.

Some Final Thoughts

There are plenty of reasons other than a larger selection to consider buying your weed online.

Those living in a small town may not have access to a local dispensary. Ordering online also offers you the ability to obtain your cannabis products discreetly, thereby avoiding the stigma that still remains in some social circles.

Some medical marijuana users may need to order their products online because they feel too ill to leave their homes. No matter what your reason, following the guidelines above can help ensure you get what you need without a hassle.

Do you enjoy keeping up with the latest health and wellness news and digital technology trends? Check back with the Pligg.com blog regularly so you don’t miss a thing!


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These Are the Types of Blogs You Should Be Writing

January 5, 2018 - By 

It’s natural for bloggers to invest time in generating new blog topics. You must generate a steady stream of content to build an audience.

Something else you should invest some time on is what types of blogs to write. Different kinds of posts attract readers with different goals.

So let’s jump in and look at some types of blogs you can use and why.

How-To Types of Blogs

The how to blog post is a go-to for any blog focused on deploying a skill or fixing things.

Say you run a blog about writing computer code for websites. It only makes sense that you’d want to talk about how to get the programming language to do certain common tasks.

It’s also popular because it lets you break the blog post up into easily defined sections. That makes it easier to read and lets the audience jump to wherever in the process they got stuck.

Common Questions

Whether you offer a service or sell a product, you’ll see the same questions over and over.

Even if you maintain an FAQ section, a common questions blog post puts the answers in front of all of your regular readers. You can even break it up into posts on individual products or services.

News Briefs and Commentary

Unless your audience consists of experts, you’re probably better informed about industry news. That’s an opportunity for you to do a couple things.

You can keep people in the loop by talking about current news. You can establish yourself as something of an authority by analyzing the news.

An added bonus is that news briefs require less original research. News organizations and industry organizations do a lot of that heavy lifting for you.

Informational

Informational blog posts attract readers who want to understand a topic better. You can think of these as why blogs or how blogs.

For example, patriotgetaways might do a post on Why to Rent a Cabin for Your Vacation. The post can talk about the health benefits of spending time in nature.

A science blog might focus on how something like photosynthesis works or how fungus grows.

Interviews

Interviews are fantastic fodder for blogs. Depending on the interview length, you can often split it up into several posts. That helps to fill your posting quota for the week or month.

It also lets you borrow on the credibility and audience of the person you interviewed. If you blog about marketing, scoring an interview with someone like Neil Patel or Seth Godin makes you look like someone to watch.

Parting Thoughts

Writing different types of blogs helps you attract different kinds of readers. It also helps you achieve some other goals.

Analyzing news in your industry helps you establish yourself as an authority. Interviews not only deliver content but can flesh our your schedule and confer reflected credibility. Answering common questions can save you time by telling all of your readers things they need to know

If you enjoyed this post, you should also check out our post on putting together a tutorial.


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How to Start a Luxury Travel Blog

January 5, 2018 - By 

Do you enjoy the virtues of luxury travel? If so, maybe you’ve thought about chronicling your adventures on a luxury travel blog.

Blogging is a great way to capture the excitement of all your vacation and share it with your friends and family.

With dedication and effort, blogging can also a great way to generate outlandish income.

Ready to get started? Keep reading!

Define Your Niche

Here’s the thing about blogging– everyone is doing it.

With that said, it certainly doesn’t mean that everyone is doing it well. And, it certainly doesn’t mean that there isn’t room on the expansive Internet for your thoughts and feelings!

If you plan to start a luxury travel blog, it’s a good idea to narrow down your focus. While it may seem enticing to write about everything under the sun, this can come across as disorganized and generic.

With a niche, you can establish expertise. You can create dynamic content that attracts your target demographic.

Whether you want to write about gourmet food in Thailand, villas in Greece, or scuba diving in Fiji, let your niche guide your blogging.

Take Care of Business

After defining your niche, you’ll need to take care of basic website housekeeping. This means coming up with your blog name, hosting site, and blog theme.

Blog name: You already know that there are a lot of websites in the world, so there’s a good chance that your favorite names may already be taken. You may need to play around with different word variations.

  • Keep the blog name short
  • Avoid cliched or generic terms
  • Avoid numbers

Hosting options: Your host is essentially the home base for your blog’s information and data. You will pay a nominal fee for hosting through popular websites like BlueHost or GoDaddy.

Blog theme: Your theme is what helps make your blog come alive. Many bloggers use WordPress for this, as WordPress offers expansive free and premium options for themes.

  • Less can be more (go for simple themes)
  • Check for browser and mobile compatibility
  • Make sure it “feels good” when you look at it!

After you finish these steps, you will be ready to buckle down and really start blogging.

Focus on Your Audience

When you’re starting out, traffic numbers may be a bit bleak. This is a normal part of the growth process.

With that said, you should absolutely pay strong attention to the readers that you have.

Are they asking questions? Which posts are most popular? Are they commenting on specific content with praise?

These little nuggets of information can be very telling when it comes to how readers perceive you. They can also help shape the direction of your blog (because you’ll be focusing on giving people what they want).

Guest Post

Want to increase your visibility? Consider guest posting. It’s a great way to expose yourself and build relationships with other bloggers.

Ask other bloggers in your field if they are interested in guest posting. These sites may have more traffic than you do. They can inadvertently send more traffic and readers your way.

With so many blogs out there, it’s okay to be picky. Look for content that matches your interests. Craft a few pitches to send out to blog owners. Wait for the magic to happen.

Master the SEO Game

You’ve heard of the term, and now it’s time to really focus on the virtues of SEO for your luxury travel blog.

Navigating the intricacies of SEO can feel overwhelming. But, it’s really important to learn! Effective SEO takes your blog from a tiny corner of the online universe into the top search results on Google.

Basics of SEO include:

  • Adding internal links
  • Optimizing images
  • Accurate and efficient titles
  • Long-tail keyword phrases
  • Unique, quality blog content
  • Effective call to actions

Today, there are plenty of online resources to help you improve your SEO strategy. Take advantage of them! Read up, research, learn, and get your luxury travel blog moving in the right direction.

Dominate Social Media

Facebook has over 2 billion active users. Millions of people are on Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Here’s the thing: if you have a luxury travel blog, you need to be visible everywhere. Not only will this help you stand out from the competition, it will also help you increase your traffic flow.

Facebook: Work your way to 1-3 picture posts with short captions per day. Consider using Facebook Live if you are on-location and want to share the experience with your fans! Tag and share other travel companies and their articles as well.

Instagram: Your pictures tell a thousand words here, so choose the very best ones you take. Tag the location, create an engaging description, and utilize all the allocated hashtags in the first comment.

Twitter: You can update 3-5 times per day. Share plenty of photos and use a consistent hashtag within your posts. Tag and share other relevant travel industry news.

Youtube: Consider making how-to tutorials for fun, brief videos capturing your experiences. The sky is the limit on this one. While videos may be more complicated than firing off a quick tweet, they are a great way for people to learn the “face” of your company.

Final Thoughts on Your Luxury Travel Blog

Blogging is an excellent way to share your ideas and experiences with the world!

And, if you do everything right, you can reap amazing benefits like establishing expertise and becoming a household name in the travel industry?

On Blast Blog is passionate about connecting bloggers and helping them fine-tune their craft. Whether you’re looking to make money online or create the perfect blog post, we’ve got all the best tips for you.


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6 Signs It’s Time For Driveway Resurfacing

December 22, 2017 - By 
driveway resurfacing

We know driveway resurfacing is not the most exciting household job you’ll ever pay for. And many people like to sort out individual problems at a time, as simple problems can be relatively cheap to fix – as low as $300.

When a driveway is reaching the end of its life, this strategy feels like whack-a-mole. You fix one problem and another pops up in its place.

At this point, driveway resurfacing makes financial and aesthetic sense. But at what point is your driveway due for a full overhaul? Here are the signs to look out for.

1. Water Pooling

If you see water pooling on your driveway, it may have drainage issues. This can happen if the driveway is uneven, as all the water is running to the lowest spot and staying there.

Over time, this will weaken your drive, but the effects won’t always be visible until it causes cracks and potholes. In the winter, if the water freezes, it will push these cracks apart further.

If you live in a rainy area, adding a drainage channel when having your driveway resurfaced can help to avoid this issue in the future.

If you do notice water pooling after a storm, you can help to minimise the damage to your driveway. Push the water out of cracks and dips with a brush or a mop.

2. Cracks

Cracks are often the first sign that a driveway resurfacing job might be necessary in the near future.

While they’re not going to damage your car right away, they don’t look great. And they’ll only get worse over time.

You can try to fill in or cover up cracks. But the more you do this, the more your driveway starts to look like patchwork.

You should also know that sometimes, fixing cracks only covers up the problem, and doesn’t actually fix an underlying issue. For example, if an asphalt drive has already been damaged all the way through, it may be that a pothole is inevitable, even if you fix the crack on top.

3. Potholes

A step beyond cracks, you get potholes. These are caused by cracks getting worse and worse over time, as well as the ground beneath the paving shifting.

Water (and other fluids) seeps into the cracks and weakens the ground underneath the paving. The ground is also compacted as you drive your car over it.

The paving or tarmac starts to break up and sink downwards, forming a pothole.

Large potholes can damage your car’s suspension, and increase the wear and tear on your tires.

You might decide to fill a small pothole in, but this will never totally fix the issue. You need to look into a full driveway resurfacing job to make sure the problem is tackled at its source.

4. Your Driveway Looks Rough and Weathered

Wind, rain, sunshine, and snow all wear down your driveway over time.

This is inevitable, but the good news is that it’s largely cosmetic. For example, you might notice colored slabs are losing their hue, or paving slabs have slight chips and cracks.

However, if a driveway has been in place for a very long time, the weathering can mean it’s less stable than it used to be too. A driveway will only last for a certain amount of time.

You should expect it to remain stable for around 20 years if it’s asphalt. Or 25 if it’s paved or concreted. You still need to remember your maintenance tasks to make it last this long though.

So if your current driveway has been in place for a long time, you’ll need driveway resurfacing after a while. It might be better to get it resurfaced right away.

If you’re unsure, you can always call up experts like Pavement Planet to get their opinion of whether resurfacing is needed or not.

5. Tire Marks

Particularly noticeable on gray concrete, black tire marks end up being very unattractive after a while. These tend to appear faster if you live in a hot state.

You can’t avoid this unless you decide to never drive on your driveway!

By the way – if you do have a concrete or asphalt driveway, do you remember to reseal it every few years? This process helps to stop it cracking so quickly, and from getting chipped off at the edges.

By protecting the material, you’re helping your driveway to last longer. If you don’t keep it protected, you’re pretty much asking for cracks – which will lead to more frequent driveway resurfacing jobs.

Save yourself money by adding a reminder to your calendar to get this done.

6. It’s Too Old – Driveway Resurfacing Time!

Everything reaches the end of its useful life at some point or another.

If it’s for cosmetic reasons, or you just want a change, a new driveway can really add to the appeal of your home.

Perhaps you’re selling up and want buyers to be attracted to the house. Or maybe you’re sick and tired of being outdone by the neighbors.

Eventually, your driveway will develop one or more of the problems listed above. Replacing it now and again can save your car’s suspension and keep your home looking great.

My Driveway Looks Great – Now What?

If you’ve now sorted out your old, worn driveway, and done away with the cracks – what’s next?

How about bringing an old garage up to date? Consider some of these cool automation devices for your garage door.

Or if you’ve put in a new driveway because you’re looking to sell your home, heed our 5 solutions for a fast sale. No potential buyer will be keen on moving into a new home and having to replace the driveway themselves right away.

Whatever your objective, we hope this guide has helped you identify common driveway problems. Browse our archive for more great advice.


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Preparing for Tax Season: What to Do

December 21, 2017 - By 

As we move to the end of the year, most of us are thinking ahead toward Christmas and the New Year. Maybe you’re planning your weight loss resolutions, hope to quit smoking, or you’re considering a big trip for the family.

But as you’re gearing up to close down 2017 and move into 2018, don’t forget to start preparing for tax season. There are a number of steps you can take now to plan ahead and make life easier when the tax deadline rolls around.

Read on to learn more about the ways to gear up for tax season.

Gather Your Documents

This includes both paper hard-copies, and digital documents. We suggest organizing these documents by tax filing year, since most documents need to be retained for at least several years.

Many of these documents won’t be ready until after the new year, but here’s what you should prepare to have on-hand:

  • Last year’s tax data (gather this information now)
  • Regular income: W2s and 1099’s
  • Other income: real estate income, dividend earnings, investment gains
  • Loan information: interest paid on student loans, mortgages, etc.
  • Business-related expenses: meals with clients, technology purchases, etc.
  • Tax-deductible expenses like moving or medical expenses
  • Tax-deductible donations to charities or non-profits

As you gather these documents, you can begin entering the necessary data into your tax returns (whether you’re going the paper route or electronic.) For example, there’s no need to wait for all of your 1099s to come in; enter them as you receive them, which saves time later.

Don’t Forget about Lesser-Known Deductions

It’s important that you deduct every possible penny from your taxable income. Often overlooked tax deductions include:

  • Childcare costs (daycare, etc.) or adoption expenses
  • Education expenses
  • Casualty and theft losses
  • Taxes paid (state and local, personal property)

These are just a few of the many possible deductions, but look over the IRS list of deductions and ensure you’re not missing any that apply to you and your family. Again, no need to wait on all of these: if you moved over the summer, you should already know your total moving costs and can enter them into your filing any time.

Get Electronic Filings Ready for Tax Season

We highly suggest filing taxes electronically, using software such as Turbotax. Filing electronically not only reduces input errors (those extra zeros won’t work in your favor!) but tax software saves information year after year, so you won’t need to re-input the same information like social security numbers, etc.

Another benefit to using tax software? You don’t need to memorize tax code or learn about complex changes in tax rules.

The software will ask you key questions like, “Did you buy a house?” or “Did you have a child?” Depending on your answers to these questions, the software will customize the tax filing based on your information.

Get started with the software early – well before your tax documents start rolling in. You can fill out key information for you and your family (like dates of birth, social security numbers, job information, etc.) and you can also familiarize with the software. Read more about electronic tax software here.

Maximize Deductions Before the End of the Year

It’s not too late! You still have time to get in a few more deductions that can benefit your tax position for the year.

Consider donations to charity. Most people feel like giving during the holiday season, and this is a great way to hit “two birds with one stone.” Just make sure that the charity donations are tax deductible, and that the organization can provide a receipt for your tax purposes.

Also, consider any last minute write-offs or business purchases which may lower your taxable income. For example, if your small business experienced record earnings and you’re expecting a big tax hit, you may want to consider loading up on the new computers you’ve been considering, which you can write off during tax season as a business expense.

Minimize Surprises

Let’s face it: we all love the idea of a big tax return come springtime, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out this way. Rather than being surprised and disappointed by a less-than-thrilling tax return, set expectations now.

There are a number of calculators available online that can give you a rough estimate of what you may owe the government, or what you can expect to get back from the IRS. But keep in mind, these often require making a number of estimates and assumptions.

If it’s looking like you’ll be close to breaking even, or if you’re planning to pay out in taxes, then start setting aside the cash now (if you haven’t already.) And if you’re one of the lucky people who’s getting a refund, consider savvy ways to use the money. Spend some, save some (or save it all!)

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Taxes, especially for small business owners, are extremely confusing. We suggest that you begin writing down your questions now, before tax season. There may be some questions that you just can’t get answered online, and it never hurts to talk to a licensed CPA.

When speaking with a tax professional about this year’s taxes, you may also want to ask them what you can do next year to further reduce your tax bill. There may be different investments to consider, or clever ways to structure to your small business. You can also talk to a tax professional if you expect to need a tax filing extension because the sooner you file for an extension, the better.

We Can Help Your Gear Up For Tax Season

Don’t delay with these key tax-filing preparation steps. You’ll be less stressed over the holidays, which means more fun with family.

Besides, who needs added holiday stress? We encourage you to get started with these filing taxes steps so that you’re well prepared by the time the deadline rolls around.


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Digital Fundraising: How to Benefit Real World Causes Online

December 14, 2017 - By 

Do you run a charity and feel like you need some new ideas on how to raise funds?

It may surprise you to know that charities raised a total of $177 million through digital fundraising last year. Incredible, right? And there’s no reason why your charity can’t do it too.

It’s important that you know how to use the valuable online space for your charity so you aren’t left behind. With people being bombarded by messages both online and off, you must make your charity stand out.

Keep reading to find out the best digital fundraising strategies to raise funds for your charity.

Online Event Fundraising

A popular form of digital fundraising is raising funds for an event online. Current trends are moving toward mobile payments for a number of things. You can take advantage of this.

Firstly, sell tickets to your event online. Setting up an online payment method takes a lot of the hassle out of event planning. To sell even more, share posts on social media about how many tickets are left.

Once the event has sold out, you can direct wannabee attendees to a waiting list or ask them to sign up for updates.

You can also set up an event donation page and even people who don’t attend can still give. Include a call-to-action button and a detailed description of exactly how your charity will spend the money.

Digital Fundraising with Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a collective way to raise money through individual donors, friends, and family. This is an increasingly popular method of fundraising online. People feel a direct connection to projects they get when they give this way.

Supercharge your crowdfunding project by creating personalized messages for donors. Make sure your goal is realistic, don’t aim for too high of a dollar amount in a short period of time.

Finally, be sure to encourage people to share and comment as much as possible.

GoFundMe is the largest platform for crowdfunding. You can use their site to create a custom project. For an alternative to GoFundMe, weigh the pros and cons of other platforms such as YouCaring vs GoFundMe.

Gamify Your Giving

People love donating to charity, but life sometimes gets in the way. Want a good way to catch their interest and make giving fun? Turn it into a game!

Gamification means using game-like design or strategy. You’ve probably already used a thermometer that shows how close you are to a fundraising goal.

Take it further by creating badges or levels so that donors can display achievement. Using leaderboards is also fun and creates competition, and it rewards people in a public way.

Raising Funds for Your Charity Online

Hopefully, now you’ve got some great ideas for digital fundraising activities.

Remember at the heart of your strategy is engaging with donors. Keep online fundraising innovative and fun and you’ll always have donations rolling in.

Now that you’ve got the tools, it’s time to get out there and raise some funds for your charity.

Read up on some online digital marketing tips to raise your charity’s online profile even more.


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3 Qualities to Look for in a Great Access Door

November 13, 2017 - By 

Having a great access door means more than just providing entry for plumbing or electrical units. It can offer safety and security when used as a safe.

There are many purposes you can use an access door for but it ultimately ends up being an easy way to conduct necessary maintenance repairs. Whether that’s what you intend to use it for or want to convert it into something else, we have advice on the qualities a good access door should have.

Ready to find out what they are? Here we go!

Hidden Hinges

Concealed hinges are great if you’re wanting the door to be flush with the wall. That way, it doesn’t stick out awkwardly.

They also come in handy if you’re using your door as a safe. When the hinges are located within the door itself, it’s impossible to be tampered with. Crooks looking to gain access won’t find a way because they can’t locate the hinges.

Not only do they offer security when used that way but they’re easy to install. Whether you do it yourself or have a professional do the install, most concealed hinges work like a puzzle. All that needs to be done is to click one piece inside the other.

Fire-Rated Access Door

Since most doors are used to conceal electrical units, it’s best to invest in a door that’s fire-rated. Why?

If a fire were to happen, one that’s fire-rated limits the amount of smoke that’s produced. Also, it has properties that prevent the fire from spreading past the doors.

These types of doors prove themselves useful because when installed, it creates a tight seal against the wall. When used in the kitchen, for example, the material it’s made out of won’t become hot to the touch. All that’s heated inside the door won’t transfer onto the door itself.

Companies like Best Access Doors understand consumers want to keep their home protected. Therefore, they offer a wide variety of fire-rated access doors.

Can Withstand the Elements

Most doors can be used indoors and outdoors. While it’s great to have one that can do both, it’s best to consider the type of weather in the area you live in if the door will be on the exterior of your home.

If it’s strictly indoor, sticking it outside won’t put it to good use. It’ll slowly deteriorate from the outside elements.

Harsh winters or even blazing sunlight can cause damage. When shopping, be sure to pick up one that’s specifically for the outdoors.

It can also withstand mildew and warping caused by weather. It’s worth the investment so you don’t have to replace the door three years from now.

Wrapping Up

When picking out an access door, it’s best to remember these three qualities. Your door should be able to withstand the outside elements and keep your valuables safe.

Whatever you decide to use it for, make sure it fits your needs. There’s plenty of options to choose from so you won’t be stuck with one that’s useless.

For more information on a plethora of topics, check out our recent blog posts!


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Everything You Need to Know About Hardwood Decking

November 13, 2017 - By 
hardwood decking

If there’s a better option for a deck than hardwood decking, we couldn’t tell you what it is. The strength and beauty of hardwood is without match, and its durability seals the deal for anyone considering hardwood as a deck building option.

Hardwood decking provides the best long-lasting alternative to synthetic materials or softwoods. It boasts a natural beauty that gets better with age, much like a fine wine.

Nobody can deny the durability of hardwood. As an example, the hardwood Ipe Decking used on the Coney Island Boardwalk lasted 70 years. When torn down, the wood was re-used on other products.

If you’re looking to create an unforgettable outdoor oasis for your house then hardwood is where you should start.

Here’s everything you need to know about DIY hardwood decking.

What Type of Hardwood to Choose

The first step is choosing the right hardwood for your project. Here, we’ll break down 5 of the most popular options so you can choose the right one for your project.

If you’d like to know what other types of hardwoods are available, then give this a click!

1. Ipe Wood

This is the most popular decking option for builders using hardwood. Color options range from olive-brown to dark brown. Some even have a blackish tone.

The wood grains vary widely.

Ipe wood will provide a gorgeous, long-lasting deck. It’s incredibly hard and will last over 40 years with the right installation and care.

If you live in a harsh environment with extreme weather, you can’t go wrong with Ipe wood.

2. Garapa Wood

This is the second most popular hardwood solution.

Grarapa decking features a beautiful golden brown to light yellow color. As it begins to weather, it turns a silvery gray.

The best part about Garapa is that there’s no need to apply an annual sealer. It’s naturally resistant to decay, rot, scratches, splinters and even fire.

Also known as Brazilian Ash, its moderate cost makes it a great alternative to Ipe or Teak hardwoods.

3. Massaranduba

This type of hardwood is one of the most durable timbers on earth. It’s a very cost-effective sub for Ipe decking in many applications.

It has a straight grain and reddish-brown hue. Some people refer to it as Brazilian Redwood.

If you’re looking for a Mahogany appearance, Massaranduba is a great way to go.

4. Cumaru (Brazilian Teak)

Cumaru provides a long-lasting, cost-effective alternative for hardwood decking.

It glows in a warm and attractive golden-brown color that’s unmatched by most hardwoods. It also ages gracefully and is long-lasting.

Cumaru has a similar density as Ipe but at a much more moderate cost.

5. Teak

Teak surpasses most all other woods for outdoor use. True teak decking, known as Tectona Grandis, has natural oils which completely eliminate the need for sealants or preservatives.

It’s the most expensive hardwood option but is also the highest quality. It’s so high quality that it’s used on many luxury yachts.

If you’re looking to build a one-of-a-kind deck, Teak is the best material.

Choose the Right Profile

The decking profile you’ll use will depend on the fasteners you’re using and the location you’re installing the deck.

Standard Decking

Use this profile for face screwed decking. Then, plug it to give your deck a completely seamless look.

Pre-Grooved Decking

Use pre-grooved decking when you want to allow hidden fasteners to be installed so that the decking boards don’t show any of the fasteners.

Tongue and Grooved Decking

Use this profile for porch flooring or when your deck will be covered. It should only be used when you aren’t concerned about water drainage.

How to Choose the Right Fasteners

First, note that all hardwood decking requires stainless steel screws. You’ll also need to pre-drill each hole due to the hardness and density of the wood.

Stainless Steel Screws

No matter what type of hardwood you’re using, employ stainless steel screws. The wood is going to last 40 or more years, so you’ll want your screws to last just as long.

In addition, other fasteners cause discoloration and staining in hardwoods.

Use stainless steel screws for hidden fasteners, face screwing and if using wood plugs.

Wood Plugs

When face screwing, wood plugs can be used. You’ll need to counter-sink each screw to allow you to cover the head of each screw with a wood plug.

Typically the wood plugs will then be planed or sanded to be smooth with the deck surface.

Hidden Deck Fasteners

When you’re using pre-grooved decking, you’ll want to use hidden deck fasteners. They’re used to clip the decking boards to the span and are almost completely hidden by the deck grooves.

Sanding and Finishing

Once your deck is installed, you’ll want to consider treating it will an oil-based finish. That’ll depend on the hardwood you’ve chosen and the look you’re going for.

How to Sand and Seal Your Decking

First, you’ll want to seal all of your fresh cuts with AnchorSeal. Then, spot-sand as needed. It’s not recommended that you do orbital sanding because it will leave unsightly circular scratches in the wood grain.

Finishing

If you’re OK with your deck developing a natural “silvering” color, you don’t need to worry about finishing. Your deck will still last many, many years.

However, if you’re looking to keep the wood coloring of the original hardwood you should look for a penetrating oil-based finish that’s transparent. It should also have UV protection.

Before you apply, clean and brush your deck’s surface to remove all dust and dirt. Then apply several transparent coats and you’re good to go.

Maintenance and Care

One of the best features of hardwood decking is that it’s very low maintenance. However, you can still help improve its appearance and make it last longer.

The Best Way to Clean Your Deck

A couple times per year put together a simple water and soap solution and take a stiff brush to your deck. This will keep is shining like new.

Pressure washers are rarely recommended for a hardwood deck. When it’s time to rinse, a garden hose and spray nozzle will work just fine.

Refinishing

When you need to remove stains or age from finishes, look for a commercial cleaner that’s made specifically for hardwoods.

When refinishing, make sure to clean the deck thoroughly before you start. Some finishing products may not need to be stripped off the deck prior to applying a new coat. If you have questions about this, contact the product manufacturer.

Hardwood Decking is the Way To Go

With all the options, durability and beautify of hardwood, it’s difficult to see a better option for your new deck.

If you learned from this article, take a look at some of our ebook downloads that can further expand your knowledge base.

Good luck with your deck project!


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5 Moving Checklists to Help If You’re Moving to Tampa

August 24, 2017 - By 
tampa

The word is out about Tampa Bay. In fact, according to a recent article in WalletHub, Tampa ranks number 14 in the best cities to live in the entire country!

That’s the highest of any city in Florida, leaving popular destinations like Miami (which came in at number 54) in its dust.

One of the only downsides of moving to Tampa is that it’s a bit of a hassle getting there. However, with the help of a moving company, you can cross that downside right off of your list.

And speaking of lists, here are five checklists, organized by timeframe, that will help you prepare for the big move:

1) Two Months to Go

Get to know the area. Sure, you’re moving to Tampa, but there’s so much more to it than just the city. They call it “The Bay Area” for a reason. Research other awesome places like St. Petersburg and Ybor City.

If you have kids or plan to some day, get to know the school systems, particularly in your neighborhood. Consider the decision between private and public schooling based on what you’ve been able to determine.

Leave behind clutter. While a moving company will help you with the boxing and hauling process, two months out is a great time to start sorting your stuff into piles of what you plan to bring to your next life, and what you can do without.

2) One Month to Go

Take care of clerical business like an official change-of-address with the Post Office. Do this now. It may seem early still but the next 30 days are going to fly by.

Now is a good time to have the realtor assisting with moving to Tampa send you measurements for the new place. As you begin the packing process you are going to want to know if it’s worth bringing a couch that will never fit through the door.

Find a new primary care physician in the Tampa area and have your records transferred over to their office. If you see specialists, you may want to repeat the process for them as well.

3) Two Weeks to Go

Not to judge, but you probably should have done this already but it ought to be said: If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to give your two-week’s notice to work.

Get a routine car repair. Get the oil changed and the tires rotated, especially if moving to Tampa means a long drive. Keep in mind that Tampa is the fifth most humid major city in the country. Make sure your car is equipped to handle that.

Now is a good time to get on the same page with professional movers, particularly ones who are used to the process of moving to Tampa.

4) One Week to Go

You should hopefully be finished with packing up the house by now. With one week left now is the time to pack your actual suitcases.

Add specifics to boxes to help the moving company like “fragile”, as well as the rooms that the different boxes are meant to go in.

Do a major trip to Goodwill or another charity organization. Donate everything you don’t need that you wouldn’t consider trash.

5) Moving Day

Take stock of everything. Count all the boxes. Make a list of all the furniture. Check this list again in Tampa.

Go over everything above once more to be certain you’ve forgotten nothing. Consider doing this the day before as well.

This is sappy, but take a photo. This will always be your home, no matter how many you have in the future.

The Move to Tampa

The transition to Tampa is an easy one. Between the year-round summer weather, the museums, and the booming job markets, this should be a pretty easy place to find your footing.

With the right attitude, the right checklists, and most importantly the right moving company, your move to Tampa will be a breeze.


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How to Create Your Own Digital Manual

August 3, 2017 - By 
manual

In a digital age, what happens to non-digital information?

Most often, it gets ignored! These days, most people will hit Google the first time they encounter a problem – even when it’s their health!

But that’s a good thing if you can take advantage of it. By offering digital manuals online, you extend the promotional reach of your company.

That’s why we’ve put together some points to consider for creating an effective digital manual.

Determine Your User

The single most important step in writing a successful manual is knowing your user is.

First, create a single sentence that defines who your user. This can be something as simple as “Users of Plantronics Headsets“. This short scope will keep you focused on answering your users’ questions.

Without thinking about your user in advance, you risk drifting off-topic. You may find yourself answering questions outside the scope of your intended purpose.

Create a Logical Outline

Knowing your user should help you create your structure.

Without a logical outline, you’ll just be winging the content. Your guide won’t have any rational flow. A good user guide works step-by-step, beginning to end.

Build a general contents page first. Write down all of the topics you want to cover in your manual. Then rearrange these topics into their most logical pattern. You may find yourself having to shift a section as you write the manual, but creating an outline at the start will give you a structure to work from.

Make It Visual

There’s nothing more boring than a manual without images. And what’s more, images will help your users understand the content!

Words without a visual guide can be hard to follow, so consider using the right images to highlight key points and hold your users’ attention. With a digital manual, you can offer full-color images and even links to videos! It’s a lot harder to do this with a traditional manual, and that’s one reason digital downloads are outpacing physical media.

Diagrams, step-by-step images, and tables are all great ways to present your information visually.

Make It Easy to Access

If you’ve gone through all the trouble of creating a manual, you want your users to see it. If users can’t find your manual, you’ve wasted your time creating it.

Especially in an age of short attention spans, where you display something is as important as what it contains. Make your user manual very easy to find. Link it from the product page, or even your main page if appropriate. Make sure the link includes the word “manual” and the name of the product.

This kind of forethought not only helps your users, but it builds their confidence in you. Making this information easy to obtain gives your users a positive attitude toward your company. How many times have you been frustrated by trying to find something on a website? That feeling translates into frustration with your company itself.

Create a Digital Manual Now

As you can see, creating a digital manual doesn’t have to be complicated. By keeping these points in mind, you could create one easily and improve your promotional reach.

Be sure to follow our blog for up-to-date digital hints and tips!


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5 Tips For Growing Marijuana Indoors

July 12, 2017 - By 
growing marijuana

With marijuana becoming legal in more states each year, many people are choosing to start growing their own plants.

Growing your own marijuana is a fun way to watch the process from start to finish. It allows you to know the quality of your marijuana. It’s also relatively simple and inexpensive to get started!

If you’re thinking about starting your own operation, check out these five tips for how to grow marijuana indoors!

1. Set the space

Before you can start growing marijuana in your home, you need to set up your growing space.

Whether you plan to grow one plant or one dozen, you’ll need to create a dedicated space that helps to control the environment around the plant.

There are several ways to create a space in your home. If you’re growing several plants, you may want to dedicate an entire room to them. It would need to be a room with doors that close, as well as ventilation or a way to add it, and electricity for heat lamps.

If you aren’t dedicating an entire room, you might choose to purchase or build a grow tent.

A grow tent features reflective interior walls that help to reflect light and keep your plants warm.

2. Think ahead

While buying seeds and setting up your space, it’s important to carefully consider how many plants you’ll have.

Even if you think that you’ll have many plants in the future, it’s a good idea to start small.

This will give you a chance to set up a space that functions well, and lets you learn the in’s and out’s of growing before you have several plants on the line.

Keeping your numbers small doesn’t necessarily meaning that the space that you grow in should be. When planting, think ahead, and remember that marijuana plants will flower and double or even triple in size.

3. Order the right seeds

Choosing and buying seeds for the first time can be a challenge. There are many different quality seeds and options out there.

If you are learning how to grow marijuana for the first time, you may want to start with feminized seeds. These are guaranteed to grow into female plants.

If you don’t buy these, you’ll have to go through the process of sexing your plants once they begin to grow, and may end up throwing out several male plants.

4. Give your plants some air

Ventilation is key when growing marijuana indoors.

If your growing space isn’t properly ventilated, it could lead to several health problems for your plant, including developing insects like spidermites. While you can treat these with insecticides, it’s easier to stop them before they start.

A window or duct in your growing room, along with a fan, will help keep air circulating and keep your plants healthy.

5. Be conscious of the smell

Marijuana plants have a strong smell. While this may not bother you, if you live in a neighborhood, this could be a problem.

To help reduce the smell and keep from bothering your neighbors, you’ll want to add an air filter. The filter should be installed in front of your fan to cut down much of the scent.

Start growing today!

With a small investment of time and money, along with these five tips, anyone can learn how to grow marijuana indoors!


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