19 November 2015

Rental property management companies may not be worth the money

I'm not certain how many ways a property management company could not manage a property correctly, but I suspect the folks managing the house we live in now were striving to be the best in that skill. What do I base that on? The house we are living in that they "managed" as a rental property (This is based on my personal experience with the company and the opinions are my own.) and how we continue to repair, replace and live with the "management" that wasn't actually occurring.

Some examples (but not even close to all things) include: 
  • It may just be me, but I really believe that the stairs that go outside should actually be there when you open the back door. Apparently that wasn't a concern for the previous renter or the "management" company. What's the harm of falling out of a building onto the ground...
  • Now I am no HVAC expert, but it seems to me that a "management" company should have their representatives actually check things when a tenant moves out, and that one thing you might want to check is the furnace filter. Imagine our surprise when when looked at the "filter" and it was only the paper piece with no filter -- yes, that cost us a lot of money to clean and tune up. 
  • How about the hot and cold water controls -- or lack thereof -- on the lower level sink. I guess actually turning water on or off isn't a big deal. 
  • All the smoke detectors were removed from the house, really? They were here when you moved in and yet you thought it was important to take them along. 
  • Then there was the caved in window well that had been infested with deadly yellow jackets. Of course no worries there, it was only right next to the door to go outside. Wait! That might explain why the stairs were not repaired! Perhaps the company may have thought that lack of steps would prevent the yellow jacket wasps from coming into the house...

When the rental company was asked about repairing the items there was lots of tap dancing around it and ultimately we fixed and continue to fix, and are still fixing all the things that should have been covered in their "management" services. Naturally no money refunded or repairs taken care of. When I wrote a review I did get a sabre rattling response from the company telling me to take the review down. I did not do that.

Mostly this experience showed me that fancy websites and ads coupled with slick team members doesn't make a good business model for the homeowners or renters. Of course if I owned the management company I would probably be pretty happy with the financial gains I was receiving.


Organizing your life with a closet shopping spree

Closet Shopping Spree
Are you a budding clothes horse? Do you have plenty of clothes in your closet, but still find yourself in dressing rooms? Try "shopping" in your own closet. Grab an arm load of clothes (this way you only have to deal with a limited number of items at a time)  that you haven't worn in ages and try them on in front of a full length mirror. If there are some you would buy again, put them back into your closet as long as they fit, are still in style and don't need any major alterations or repairs. Any that don't fit the criteria to go back into the closet should go directly into the donation bin. Don't let the price you paid for something guilt you into keeping it. Your closet is prime space and realistically you probably only wear 20% of what is in there anyway. If your weight has fluctuated (and who's hasn't) this method will let you determine what fits now and get rid of the memories of your body size history. This approach may also help you to unearth a buried treasure, or at the very least a Halloween costume.

Can't bear to weed through the clothes even a little at a time? Try one of these methods to truly know what you will and will not wear:

  • Take all your hanging clothes and hang them the opposite way on the rack. When you wear an item, it can be rehung with the hanger facing the "correct" direction. If they haven't been worn in six months, donate them. (This method is adaptable for winter and summer clothes too. Just hang the clothes that match the season and give them a six month window.)
  • Hang all your clothes inside out on the hanger. When you wear the item, hang it right side out. Anything that is still inside out after six months goes into the donation box.
  • If you still can't bear to part with the some of the items that are still the "wrong" way in your closet, pack them into a box and postdate them for 6-months from now. If you haven't opened the box to retrieve them before that date, you know you don't need them. The big bonus is they are all ready packed and ready to leave your home.
Hope some of this is helpful to you.

14 October 2015

First-Ever Dog Park in a Domestic Violence Shelter

What a great program! We all know the value of pets in our lives and now Purina and Urban Resource Institute has put together a way to keep all family members together. 

Press Release from: 
Urban Resource Institute and Nestlé Purina Unveil the Purina Pet Haven, Manhattan’s First-Ever Dog Park in a Domestic Violence Shelter

Dog park ribbon-cutting celebrates the growth of URIPALS—URI’s initiative to shelter people and pets together—and URI’s partnership with Purina
New York, NY – October 13, 2015 – Urban Resource Institute (URI) and Nestlé Purina PetCare (Purina) today hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Manhattan’s first-ever dog park in a domestic violence shelter. The new dog park is located at Urban Women’s Retreat (UWR), a emergency shelter that is part of the URIPALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program. URIPALS is the only program in New York City and one of the few nationally that allows survivors of domestic violence to live in shelter with their pets. To date, URIPALS has helped 43 families with 63 pets, including 38 cats, 18 dogs, and a range of smaller animals, such as reptiles and fish, escape domestic violence.

Sponsored by Purina, which funded the design and construction of the dog park, the Purina Pet Haven will provide survivors of domestic violence and their families (including pets) with a safe and calming retreat in which to heal together while in shelter. The opening of the new dog park builds upon Purina’s previous support of the URIPALS program. In the spring of 2014, Purina also sponsored the creation of the Purina Play Haven at URI’s Safe Haven shelter in Brooklyn, the first-ever dog park at a domestic violence shelter in New York City. Since its opening, the park at Safe Haven has served as a vital component in the healing process for a number of families and their pets.

“Through the URIPALS program we have witnessed first-hand how important it is for survivors to have their beloved pets by their side while they heal,” said Nathaniel Fields, President and CEO of URI. “From early on in the URIPALS program, Purina has been committed to supporting survivors of domestic violence and their pets. We know that the new dog park will play an integral part in helping our clients heal, and for that we are extremely grateful to Purina.”

URI and Purina’s collaboration in support of URIPALS brings together one of New York City’s largest domestic violence service providers and a leader in the pet care industry around the closely linked issues of animal abuse and domestic violence. United by the belief that people and pets are better together, URI and Purina are helping reduce barriers to safety for families with pets in domestic violence situations and hope to continue raising awareness about the impact of abuse on the whole family—including pets.

“For most pet owners, the bond with their pet is incredibly strong, and for people in abusive relationships their pet can be an important source of comfort,” said Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina veterinarian.  “Purina is very proud to support the Urban Resource Institute in its efforts to keep families and their pets together during this time of healing.”

As part of its support for the URIPALS program, Purina is also donating Purina ONE brand dog food, Purina Cat Chow brand cat food, along with other dog treats and cat litter. In addition, Purina is working with URI to provide supplies for welcome kits for families bringing pets to Urban Women’s Retreat, including pet travel carriers, safety gates, pet beds, pet feeding and watering bowls, cat scratching posts, leashes and pet toys.
At the ribbon-cutting, Manhattan Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla and New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal will both issue proclamations celebrating the URIPALS program and its impact on survivors of domestic violence and their pets in New York City.

To learn more about URIPALS and for tips on keeping the entire family safe in domestic violence situations, please visit www.urinyc.org.

About Urban Resource Institute
Urban Resource Institute (URI) is a leading non-profit organization that provides comprehensive, holistic, and supportive human services programs that help individuals and families in the New York metropolitan area overcome obstacles and better their lives. With a rich 35-year legacy of social service research and expertise, deep community relationships, and a flexible, innovative approach to program development and service delivery, URI is uniquely equipped to provide solutions to the challenges affecting New York’s most vulnerable populations. URI’s hands-on programs for victims of domestic violence, the developmentally disabled, and people struggling with addiction and substance abuse are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the individual, while community outreach initiatives build wider visibility and support for the issues that have an impact on our clients’ quality of life and New York’s urban communities. For more information, please visit www.urinyc.org.
About Nestlé Purina
Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is a global leader in the pet care industry. Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness.

12 October 2015

7 ways Improve your relationship with your dog

It's The Beej's birthday and she's got a gift for your dogs! A FREE order of Just Right by Purina and a $50 gift card to PrideBites! Enter now!

How much do we LOVE our dogs? I'm not sure there are words that are BIG enough! Every day we try and do something special with them and to make their lives better.

One of the days we do something a little extra is National Dog Day which was August 26th this year. After taking a BIG walk at Elm Creek Park we got back to the house and the dogs played in the yard with #FluffyTheVampire Labrador. She is hilarious and loves tearing around with the garden hose - the Chinooks are less enthusiastic about getting wet.

After a great playtime, UPS arrived with a custom painting from Just Right by Purina of #MinnowAndTheBeej. You can compare the photo above and the painting -- it looks just like them! Also in the box was a gift card for PrideBites -- if you hven't been to their site yet, there is lots of cool, personalized dog stuff there. I think I need help picking out what to get! Let me know your favorite item!

This is one of my favorite videos with our Chinooks checking out the first snow -- it's hard to imagine how much fun they have playing and running in it! Hope you enjoy seeing their antics.

Build those relationships, your dogs will love you for it!

1. Spend time walking together. Take walks with your dog, they love seeing new places and smelling new things and when you help them achieve that your bond enhances. 
2. Communicate clearly. Dogs are really smart and benefit from consistent training and communication. My dogs have always been really quick to pick up visual signals and I like to use them as much as I can. Dogs are constantly reading our body language so why not play to their strengths? 
3. Train, don't complain. Take the time to train your dog and keep them tuned up with new skills all through their lives. The better trained your dog is the more freedom they will have. Well-trained dogs are allowed greater freedom. Training should be fun and always end on a positive note with something your dog is good at.
4. Play! Want to have a great relationship? Play! This is important in the human-animal bond as well as with other people. Playtime = bonding time. What's your favorite playtime activity? 
5. Relax. Dogs are like people and prefer an atmosphere that is relaxed, calm, cool, collected. Do your best to keep your wits about you no matter what is happening, your dog will love you for it.
6. Feed a healthy diet like Just Right by Purina. The Chinooks love their personalized blend of dog food and I love how well it works to keep them looking and feeling their best. We also make some healthy treats and meals for them to enjoy too and everything is always made with love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions
Want to spoil your pup with their own custom gifts too? Just Right by Purina and Pridebites are giving away a personalized prize pack. One lucky winner will receive a free order of Just Right by Purina – a personalized dog food (up to $68.95 value) – and a $50 Pridebites gift card. 

This giveaway is open from October 12th, 2015 - October 26th, 2015 and is open to US residents (void where prohibited by law), ages 18+. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below with as many entry options as you want. By entering this giveaway, you consent to subscribing to Just Right by Purina and PrideBites email lists which you can unsubscribe from later on if you wish. Full terms & conditions can be found on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

The Fine Print 
We receive free products from Just Right by Purina in exchange for occasional blog posts. All opinions expressed here are our own. 


07 August 2015

Where to live?

We've been downsizing / right sizing since 2009 starting at my parent's house and moving on to our own after that and now we are wondering where we should go for the next step -- the AARP move. I think we are on a good path to perpetual downsizing and learning how to re-purpose what we do have to get the most out of what takes up space in our lives.

The first part of the AARP plan may be deciding whether or not to move. Sometimes moving make sense and sometimes it doesn't, let's figure out some things to think about.
  • Family and friends - how close do you want to be to those people? You may want to think about what those folks will be doing too, will they always want to be where they are now? For me it's fairly easy on the family front, most of mine no longer live on the frozen tundra.I would like to be near a vibrant community and perhaps a University, but it's not a deal breaker.
  •  Weather - I'll share with you that Minnesota's climate is unfriendly, we have the Amazon in the summer and Siberia in the winter -- who wouldn't want to live here! As we consider locations I keep thinking that a place with less extremes would be a nice start. San Diego and Santa Barbara are both places with lovely weather, Minnesota not so much. I just want to be able to walk every day without worrying about falling on the ice or collapsing because of the heat.
  • It costs how much! There are definitely places that have a lower cost of living than Minnesota, but there are trade offs and it's important to figure out if those places really are cheaper. We have lots of practice living on the low end and that should still be doable as we age out of the workplace.
  • Housing for old farts - okay I still am not sure I'm an old fart, but if I were I would want my house to be easy to live in. As a Minnesota resident, I do not want a house with a steep driveway and that has no age barrier, it's just common sense! In the household pieces that are nice to have I would include being able to live on one level, no thresholds, not too many stairs into the house.  
  • What about being an RVer? Yes the open road is appealing, but there are a lot of expenses that go with that lifestyle. I would love to hear from anyone doing it full time or those that have stopped to learn what to pay attention to. 
  • What about being transient? This is easier for the non-doggie crowd, but it would be tempting to go from place to place renting houses and experiencing all the USA has to offer -- or why stop there, how about the world?   
 What would you do?

05 August 2015

Doga - Yoga for you and your dog

I like Yoga, even if I'm not that great at it. I like to be able to stretch and have some calm time to work at being more physically flexible and strong. The dogs always enjoy being near me when I am at home doing my Yoga so this could be a way to incorporate a little more for them into the routine.

What are you doing to exercise with or without your dogs?

Source: Fix.com

30 July 2015

Do you really need all those clothes?

I'm always trying to figure out ways to reduce the "stuff" that I need to look after, and by "stuff" I mean the inanimate items that require care and may not offer as much payback in rewards. After talking with some friends, I realized that clothes are a real sticking point and for a number of reasons. I did some searching on the Inter Webs and found some good tips to help you go through your clothes and decide what you want/need and what can go make other people happy.

  1. Does it fit? If not, purge it out of your collection. Donate to a worthy cause, give away to someone that it would fit (only if they want it), or it may mean tossing it out. If these words are in your vocab list you may want to move the items on to new homes - Clothes with modifiers like fat, skinny, mending, and any others that fall into those excuses category. 
  2. Does it flatter? Make no mistake, all of us likely have things that don't flatter us -- the trick is in really seeing how the clothes look on you. It helped me to take cell phone pics of my in different outfits to quickly move some things on to new places. Are you looking frumpy? Did you know you could look frumpy wearing really high-end clothing? Mom jeans, yes, those should go. Too baggy, too saggy, constantly needing adjustment to make them functional? Out they go! 
  3. Do you wear the clothes? Now I will cut you some slack if you live in a climate that requires clothing from the tropics to Siberia, but even with that latitude be sure you are actually wearing the clothes. If your attire hasn't been on your body for an entire year, it should move on to make someone else happy. You can always do the backward hanger trick, hang everything with the hanger pointing the wrong direction and then after the season is complete if the clothing hasn't graced your body, out it goes. No cheating! 
  4. What is your color? No, not in the seasonal or aura way, but what is the base for your wardrobe? Mine is black, and it works for most of what I am doing. The biggest trick here is to select a neutral foundation color like black, brown, khaki, gray, and then move everything else to a new home. 
  5. What will you use to accent and accessorize? Pick things that work with your base color -- again, mine is black and that seems to work with everything. I would limit the color selection some so your closet isn't full of accent pieces, but get some classic pieces that are good quality. I like silver with turquoise and I like emeralds too so I ave those as accessories. What about purses? I've got two that I rotate through and at an event I'm really more likely to be carrying a camera bag than a handbag. Stick with your base color or accent color and get something that is both practical and attractive.
  6. What's on your feet? In my past I had so much footwear that I may have been rivaling Imelda Marcos, and I wish I would have listened to the nuns about not wearing high stiletto heels -- who knew my feet would be destroyed . . . oh yes, the nuns knew. Anywho, now I have more practical footwear, one pair of dress shoes (in patent leather, thanks Catholic school!), a casual shoe (loafer), a slip on after tennis shoe to wear in the house and a walking shoe /tennis shoe/sneaker so I can get out and walk the dogs every day with good support and less pain and one pair of dress boots that I can wear in public or to the horse barn.
What's in the closet? (Besides skeletons...)
  • Underwear - I've got a lot of these, about enough for 3-weeks. All are black because all my slacks and pants are dark. Brands to consider: Jockey, Exofficio, Vanity Fair. 
  • Bras - find a fitter and get some help selecting a bra, of course even then you may or may not have great success. The fitters at Nordstrom's at the Mall of America have been good in the past and are worth a shot. There are people that make custom bras and that is always a good option. I've also got one camisole style top that is black and I bought at a horse expo, offers good coverage and is slinky enough to pack easily.
  • Socks - socks with arch support and good toe room for walking and daily wear, a few pairs of trouser socks for dressing up. 
  • Jeans - 2 pairs that look nice, holes and other adornments are more for the youngsters than for me. I wear my clothes for a long time and I don't need to go out of fashion in the next season. 
  • Slacks - 4 pairs all but one with pockets which comes in handy for both dogs and photography. (Yes I usually pass on attire that doesn't have pockets and when I wear an outfit without them it annoys me.)
  • Tee Shirts - I have too many... In a perfect world there would be 3 long sleeved tees and 10-15 short sleeved tees. I don't wear tank tops because the sun is hard on a delicate flower like myself but you could include a few if you wanted to. 
  • Sweatshirts - I have too many of these too, but my excuse is living in Minnesota. I have a zip up hoodie one that says "Purdue" and has pockets (yes, dogs and photogs) and then some that need to be weeded through so my goal is 4 pull over style and 1 zip up. Then maybe pare down to two zippered hoodies... A girl can dream! 
  • Button front (or pearly snaps) oxford style shirts - I've got a few of these and use them as sun protection and for business casual. I love the western shirt with the pearl snaps, but note to self it is white and your bras are black... Maybe one more bra should be added to the mix?
  • Turtle / mock turtle necks - Again, we live in Minnesota and these are a great part of layering. You may or may not need anything like these. I've got three black and one burgundy.  
  • Short sleeved shirts / tunics - for the tropical summers in Minnesota I've got 3 that are currently in rotation. 
  • Blazers - I need these for business meetings and have 7 in colors that go well with my black slacks. It is a timeless look that can be dressed up or down. 
  • Coats - okay, again it is Minnesota so there are more than most people might need, we have all kinds of weather here and a lot of it is on the same day. Windbreaker, Polartec zip up, zip up vest (with my Riley Photo logo), long lined duster coat for those horribly cold winter days. 
  • Swimsuit - I've got two, one solid black and one with white polka dots. Now that I'm not a Road Warrior I could likely have one swimsuit and be just fine. 
  • Exercise attire - that made it sounds fancier! The tee shirts come in handy here and then 4 pairs of sweats with pockets for dog treats and poop bags.
Your list will be different than mine, but the basics apply for all of us, good quality, comfort and fit and clothes that hold up to use.

04 June 2015

What You Don't Know Can Make Your Dog Fat

Did you know 95 percent of pet owners thought their overweight or obese dog was a normal body condition? With summer barbecues on the horizon “people food” may tempt your dog and he could eat more than just his daily kibble. Here are some stats that may surprise you about pet obesity:
·         In 2014, 43.8 million dogs were overweight
·         42 percent of owners said they didn’t know what a “healthy weight” was for their pet
·         Dog owners can end up feeding about 37-80% more food than their dog needs
The folks at Just Right by Purina have created this wonderful infographic with some fun ideas for how pet owners can prevent pet obesity and keep their pets healthy and happy this summer. 

I've been feeding our dogs Just Right by Purina and they LOVE it! The food is a personalized option that keeps your pets nutritional needs in mind and is a great way to keep your pet healthy in addition to these tips. 

Thanks for stopping past and be sure to share this information with you "dog people." 

03 May 2015

Just Right by Purina Discount Code


I'm really excited about Just Right® by Purina®, a personalized feeding experience that is geared toward your dog's unique needs. I've been feeding my Chinooks, Minnow and The Beej, their specialized blend since 2014 and I LOVE how well the food performs and how great they look. 
This food is available only online, and when you order, you'll provide your firsthand knowledge about your dog's physical and behavioral characteristics, and the folks at Just Right® by Purina® apply their nutritional expertise to suggest a personalized blend that your dog can truly call his or her own. In addition to great nutrition, you can even put your favorite photo of your dog right on the label - I like seeing my dogs on the front of the bag. Once you've selected your food, it will ship directly to your door for free and my UPS driver even commented about how regularly the boxes arrive from Purina®
And now, to celebrate National Pet Month, JustRight has offered us a special code for readers of 20% off one order!* That's right - now is your chance to try JustRight! Simply use BEEJMINNOW20 when checking out.

To get started and learn more about JustRight, visit their website. Don't forget, this code - BEEJMINNOW20 - is only good through May 24th, 2015!

*Official Terms and Conditions
Offer valid for 20% off one (1) order (up to $68.95) of Just Right® by Purina® through May 24, 2015. Valid on JustRightPetFood.com only. For full terms, visit www.purina.com/terms-and-conditions. If you have questions about the product, technology, et cetera, get in touch with the Just Right by Purina team. http://justrightpetfood.com/contact-us

Disclaimer: We are part of the JustRight pet blogger network but were not compensated directly for this post.

01 May 2015

National Purebred Dog Day May 1st

Minnow the Chinook mugs it up on the National Purebred Dog Day Facebook page

From Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, to Uggie and Air Bud, from Brian Griffin and Santa’s Little Helper, to Snoopy and Marmaduke, purebred dogs have had a place in American history and culture.
Did you know that about half of all dogs owned in the United States are purebred dogs? Purebred dogs were created to work alongside man as hunters and herders, vermin control and livestock guardians. They are service, military, and Search and Rescue dogs, and have provided companionship while protecting family and home.

On March 10, 2015, Colorado became the first state in America to recognize May 1st as National Purebred Dog Day. State legislators voted on Joint Resolution 15-1015 introduced by Minority Whip, Rep. Polly Lawrence, to celebrate the diversity, heritage, predictability and contributions of the purebred dog. The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports National Purebred Dog Day too.

The path to National Purebred Dog Day begins Hungary in 1944. Founder, Susi Szeremy's mother had grown up with a Puli dog and in near the end of World War II, allied aircraft were bombing Budapest on an almost daily basis between 1944 and 1945. Unfortunately her mother's Puli did not survive and Szeremy shares "A broken chain and bits of bloody collar were all that remained of him. This dog became a casualty of a war that had nearly decimated all the Hungarian dog breeds either by bombing or starvation; many more shot or beaten to death by soldiers."

It was thirty years before Szeremy's mother could pet another Puli. It was a Puli puppy that Szeremy had searched for years to find. Seremy shares, "When I first introduced them to each other, my mother buried her face in the puppy's soft black curls and wept for a long time. In that moment, I understood the significance of the human-dog bond."

While every dog should be valued whatever its ancestry, National Purebred Dog Day specifically recognizes the 300+ distinct dog breeds and varieties recognized worldwide, each breed a "bit of history with a pulse," each the legacy of the culture that created it for a reason. Some purebred breeds are in danger of extinction, such as the Skye Terrier that is outnumbered globally by Panda Bears.

For more information about National Purebred Dog Day visit their Facebook and YouTube pages. To join in the fun use these hashtags: #purebreddogs and #NationalPurebredDogDay

25 February 2015

Family Photos - are these your family?

These photos came to me as part of my research I am sharing in hopes that they will find their families. If you can identify anyone please let me know.

Names that I have found:
  • Vickerman
  • Hoskins
  • Micken
  • Daniels
  • Quade
  • Batalden
  • Lake View Church in Hillman, Minnesota
  • South
  • Adel
  • Aret
  • Look
  • Niekem
  • Christensen, Jane 
  • Miller
  • Weiskopf, Richard Oswin 1926-1 Sep 1952