Spring Break Staycation Ideas

It is officially Spring Break in North Texas for many schools! The kids are excited but you may be scrambling for some fun, inexpensive activities to keep them busy for the week. Traveling isn’t an option for many families, as work schedules, finances, and extra curricular activities may be preventing it. But, there are always fun things to do right here at home to make some memories with the kids.

Spring Break Staycation Ideas

Backyard Camping

Setting up a test in the backyard is a perfect way to ease into the idea of “for real” camping. Grab your sleeping bags, make a fire pit, tell stories and eat s’mores. The best part? You can still go back inside to use the bathroom.

Video Game and Board Game Party

It’s Texas, which means the weather can be a tad unpredictable. If the rain comes in, invite some friends over to play video games and board games. Split into teams, break out the Wii Sports, give out prizes, and make a rainy day the best day ever.

Movie Marathon

Break out the red carpet (a table cloth is a good option!) and decorate for a star-studded event. You could even have everyone dress up in their red-carpet best, toast with sparkling cider, and you can be the critics of the best films. But, don’t forget the popcorn!

Play Tourist

It’s really quite interesting the number of people who haven’t been “tourists” in their hometowns. What do people do when they travel to your city? Go catch the hot spots! Look for museums, landmarks, and historical sites that you’ve overlooked. Your staycation could really be someone’s idea of the best vacation.

Book a Room

Booking a hotel room in town seems silly, but it really can be a bunch of fun. You can relax. Housekeeping makes the beds. In most places, you get free breakfast. And the kids can splash around in the pool months before public pools open. It’s a win win win for everyone in the family.

online booking schedule cleaning

Do you have any other staycation ideas? Join the conversation and let us know, over on our Facebook page! Happy Spring Break! 

Medication Expiration Dates and What They Mean

Medication Expiration Dates and What They Mean

We’ve talked previously about food expiration dates. In general dates aren’t a hard-fast deadline of when to consume your food. But medication expiration dates aren’t the same and aren’t subjected to the same guidelines. When you take medication, whether an aspirin for a headache or an antibiotic for an infection, you want to know it’s safe and effective.

Here’s the low down on medication expiration dates…

The date on the medication bottle does mean a lot. Food labels aren’t closely regulated. However, medication expiration dates are based on scientific studies on the potency of the medication. External conditions such as temperature and humidity are varied and controlled for, to see when and at what circumstances the drug is compromised.

The short version is….

In general, the expiration date is based on the average time it takes for the medication to be degraded 10%. So, basically, it’s not as useful as it once was, and it’s time to throw it out.

After that,

If the medication expiration dates are based on potency of the product, not on spoilage like food products, taking a medication after its date is unlikely to cause you to get sick. The medicine just won’t work.

And that can be a big deal, depending on what you need medicine for. You may be able to tough out sore muscles or a headache, but if you think you’re going to take last year’s antibiotics, you could be setting yourself up for serious trouble.

First, you should have completed that prescription of antibiotics, as prescribed. But, if you didn’t, and now it’s some time later, you could be at risk for antibiotic resistance. In simple terms, you’re only killing off the weak bacteria leaving the strong ones to reproduce and “outsmart” the medication. Antibiotic resistance is a huge concern, with over 20,000 people in the US dying yearly, per the CDC.

Quick Tips

  • Don’t take medication past the expiration date.
  • Throw away an unused prescription medications so you do not accidentally take them past the expiration dates.
  • Follow the directions on the bottle in regards to storage.
  • If there are no directions, it is generally safe to assume that room temperature, dry, dark places will be optimal for storage.
  • Liquid drugs (like cough syrups) are more easily contaminated, so take precaution with use.
  • If your medication changes color or consistence, it is generally time to dispose of that medication.

Wasps, Reduction and Removal

Although it’s not summer time, bees and wasps can still pose a problem in certain areas, especially if the temperatures are not too terribly cold. And, if you have untreated nests from the previous year, wasps may have moved into your walls, making removal even more difficult. There are a few things you will want to keep in mind, beginning now, to reduce the occurrence of wasps in the upcoming spring and summer months.

Wasps Nests

There seems to be no limit to the size or location of nests. Whether on the side of the house, up on the roof, or down in the ground, wasps can hide out pretty much anywhere.

If untreated, the big hanging nests can grow as big as a basketball. And depending on what you have buzzing inside, some species can be much more aggressive than others.

In addition, yellow jackets can nest in the ground, which unfortunately, are often only spotted after they’ve been disturbed. Ground nesting yellow jackets are a very common variety of wasps and are difficult to treat.

When You See a Nest

The first thing you need to do is locate the entry point of a nest, and try to stay away from that area. Drone wasps have one purpose, and that is to protect the colony at all costs.

The general advice of “if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you” is a pretty good one to follow. Like other animals, if they don’t see you as a threat, they are less likely to go into defense mode.

To Treat or Not to Treat

Treatment depends on a few factors. Most importantly, are you allergic? If you have a bee allergy, it is definitely advisable to seek professional treatment for any size nest. It is just not worth a potential deadly reaction. Also, an exterminator can determine where other nests may be and can more thoroughly treat your residence.

For others, a can of wasp spray usually does the trick. Follow the instructions on the can, allow plenty of distance, and spray thoroughly. Make sure nothing of importance is below the nest, because it will be wet from falling spray and covered in dying wasps.

Prevention

  • Remove fallen fruit from trees.
  • Treat exposed wood.
  • Clear out branches and other stacks of debris on your property.
  • Seal holes in concrete and in exterior walls.
  • Make sure the lids are on your garbage cans.
  • Lastly, inspect regularly and treat as needed to prevent infestations.

February Pre-Spring Cleaning

February Pre-Spring Cleaning.

We’re getting to the coldest time of the year. And granted, we’re in Texas, and that doesn’t mean a whole lot, there are still some days when we’d rather just not go outside.

We’re also at this in between stage. Hopefully, by this point, the holiday decor is put away. (If not, please make a plan to get that done in a timely manner. No one wants Christmas lights still hanging in March.) So, the holidays are over, and we’re not quite to the adrenaline rush that comes with Spring Cleaning.

But, there are a few things that should be done once or twice a year, and this is the perfect time to do it! So, take Texas’ one day of winter that will happen sometime in the next three weeks, and check off some important, but often overlooked chores. We’ll call this the February Pre-Spring Cleaning to do list.

If You’re Nesting, then GO FOR IT!

Embrace the cleaning bug when you catch it. Comforters, pillows, bed skirts… they can all take their turn in the laundry. If you feel like cleaning, put down the Facebook distractions, crank up the music, and GET IT DONE.

Poofy Pillows

Send your pillows for a spin in the dryer for a few minutes to puff them back up. Also, replace the cheap ones if need be, or throw them in the washing machine if dirty. Most pillows can be safely washed and dried.

Tackle that Linen Closet

Some things, like those emergency sheets you only use when the kids get sick, could use a trip to the laundry. After a year in the closet, they’ll collect dust. Also, make sure your towels are rotated, and take the time to refold everything.

Flip the Mattresses

Such an easy task. Such an easy task to forget.

Read a Book (and Clean a Book)

Seriously though, check those bookshelves. Grab a few to read, donate some you’ll never read again, and dust everything off. Books are great. Dusty books are not so great.

Filters!

Replace the air conditioning or heating filters. Check filters in air purifiers as well.

Do the Heavy Things

When’s the last time you moved the washer and dryer and vacuumed behind them? The fridge? Under that drawer under your oven? If you don’t remember, please make sure to add them to your list. Any debris behind the dryer can be a fire hazard. Droppings behind the fridge or other kitchen appliances could attract rodents. Grab a friend (one with strong muscles) and clean behind the heavy things.

Did we miss anything in our February Pre-Spring Cleaning list?

Did we miss anything? What chores are a must for your February pre-spring cleaning list? Let us know and join the conversation on our Facebook page!

 

 

Things You Can’t Return on Amazon

Things You Can’t Return on Amazon
The holidays are (mostly) over. The gifts are purchased. Delivered. Opened. (Hopefully) enjoyed. But, if you’re like many people, you’ve included a gift receipt in your box. According to surveys, ease of returns and return policies are almost as important as free shipping when it comes to online shopping.

Here comes Amazon.com

For many people, Amazon is the go-to for online shopping. With Prime memberships, and Sunday delivery, and Pantry in some cities, Amazon has made online shopping easy and convenient. Thankfully, when you need to make a return, it is generally pretty easy there too. Many returns are free as well, but you’ll need to check the specifics of your product to know for sure.
The standard policy for Amazon is similar to many other retailers- generally 30 days (and you don’t even have to keep up with a receipt, because it’s right there online.)

In addition, Amazon is even more generous during the holiday season, with items shipping between November 1st and December 31st, the return deadline is January 31st. So, if you shopped early and you won’t see your family until after Christmas, there is still time for returns if needed! (The caveat here is to remember to check third party retailers; their policies are sometimes different.)

However, there is a limit to the Amazon return policy. The following items cannot be returned:

  • Wine
  • Theme Park Tickets
  • Prepaid Game Cards
  • Prepaid Phone Cards
  • Live Insects (Although, we don’t know who ACCIDENTALLY buys a Madagascar hissing cockroach, but hey, if you did- it can’t be returned.)
  • Plants & Flowers
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Customized or Personalized products (unless the vendor made an error)
  • Amazon Pantry Items (unless damaged)
  • Gift Cards
  • Digital Purchases (such as movies, games, and apps)

In addition, certain collector items will have stricter return policies to guarantee authenticity. So, be extra careful with collectibles. This includes coins, art, and sports memorabilia. The certifications and documentations must always be kept with the items.

Electronics and jewelry will have similar policies (barring damage upon receipt). Make sure your products arrive in proper condition. If not, they must be returned within 30 days, or be subject to restocking fees.

Making the Most Out of After Christmas Shopping

Making the Most out of After Christmas Shopping

Whether you didn’t get everything on your Christmas list, or you’re looking to score some great deals, after Christmas shopping is the way to go. Not only can you get great deals on some big ticket items, you can also prepare for next year’s holidays. (Of course, we recommend you have the space and an organizational system in place before you start buying a surplus of wrapping paper. If you’re not organized, you risk losing your items or forgetting what you’ve purchased before the next season.)

However, if you’re organized, and have a few items left on your wish list, there are a few great things to buy this time of the year. Stores are clearing out their inventory to make room for spring, and things need to go. Fast. Some of these items include…

Bedding

The tip: Wait until January. Deeper discounts occur in January, when many stores have their “White Sales”. Sheets, comforters, pillow cases, and other bedding items will be much more affordable this time of the year, as retailers look to clear out last year’s designs and make room for the new designs.

Electronics

We all think of Black Friday when we think of electronics. However, if you can wait until after Christmas, you may find your latest gadget at even lower prices. New technology is often released after the Consumer Electronics Show, which occurs in January. Soon, it’s in with the new, and out with the old. This year’s models will need to be cleared out to make way for the newest gadget. So, watch the sales and snag that new device you’ve been looking at.

Exercise Equipment

This is pretty self-explanatory. New Year. New resolutions. Lots of exercise equipment. So, if you’ve been looking for a treadmill, free weights, or a new pair of running shoes, NOW is definitely the time to hit the sales.

Christmas Accessories

Wrapping paper, boxes, bows, lights, and ornaments… what’s left will start hitting major price reductions. By next week, leftover stock can be found for up to 90% off. There may not be a lot of inventory left, but if you have a few extra dollars and a safe place to keep items for a year, this is the best time to stock up on some of those Christmas essentials for next year.