Here's How to Take Care of Your Skin During Winter

We all want clear and amazing skin; there's no doubt about that. It can instantly boost your self-confidence and make you feel good about yourself. Different types of weather can take a toll on your skin, though, especially winter. Read more

Weekend Wanderlust: Embracing the Elements in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

A weekend road trip is a perfect way to unwind after a long week of hard work. When the wanderlust hits, self-drive rental car options in Manila, Philippines allow you to explore the hidden gems and not-so-hidden retreats the Read more

The Right Way to Do a 1031 Exchange

A 1031 exchange is a tax-deferred method of selling one qualified property and acquiring another like kind of property within a specific time frame. It is a tool to let go of a property today and exchange it with Read more

When Natural Disasters Strike: Filing Your Insurance Claim

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on When Natural Disasters Strike: Filing Your Insurance Claim

Insurance ClaimNatural disasters like storms, floods, and earthquakes are unpredictable. Even with the help of technology, authorities may detect or make an estimate, but no one can tell how much damage they might cause.Particularly for those who live near disaster-prone areas, an insurance policy should cover the repairs and other expenses after a disaster. Claiming your insurance, however, can be difficult if you don’t know the right way to prove your loss.

Reliance Partners noted that many Australians lose important household items or have to close down their business temporarily because of the damages caused by natural disasters. It’s best to prepare for events like these, so it won’t be difficult to get back on your feet.

What Should You Do After a Natural Disaster?

Gather as much information as you can and be specific, as you need to support your claim to get the insurance. The evidence needed to prove your loss depends on the nature and value of your claim.

1. List all damaged items, including details about their model, brand, and date of purchase.
2. List or take photos of damaged items you have to throw away because they’re beyond repair.
3. Collect documents that support your claim, such as receipts and credit card or bank statements.
4. Collect relevant proof, like videos, if the documents aren’t readable enough due to damage.

Contact your insurer before doing major repairs. Ask them if there are specific procedures for your claim, as there could be differences depending on the type of disaster.

Do You Have Insurance Coverage for Any Kind of Disaster?

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) noted that you should check the coverage level of your insurance. Storm damage is usually the most basic inclusive, but the level of coverage might differ. For instance, you might not have coverage for floods even if the storm is what caused it.

When natural disasters strike, it’s best to have an idea how to get back what you lost. As such, you can make the most out of your insurance coverage and don’t have to spend significantly.

The Hardness Scale

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on The Hardness Scale

timber flooringWood goes through a strict grading process based on their hardness. This scale is an easy guide for contractors to determine the best material to use for their projects based on what they need. It is one of the most widely used scales in the world. The system is known as the Janka hardness scale.

Janka: It’s not a Game

The Janka scale is actually the result of the Janka test, which tests the hardness of a sample block of wood through a uniform stress resistance measure. According to, the Janka test measures the pressure required to embed a 0.444-inch steel ball by half its diameter into a block of wood. The more pressure required to accomplish that, the higher its grade on the Janka scale.

That’s not all there is to the Janka test, though, because there are two types of hardness that contractors need to be very specific about in their work: side hardness, and end hardness. When a test is done on a plank, that’s side hardness; if the test was done on a stump, that’s end hardness. It’s important to distinguish between the two hardness types because it varies on the direction of the wood grain.

Measure Your Unit

The most difficult part of using the Janka scale, though, isn’t conducting the test to find the measure; it’s trying to record the findings. This is because different territories use varying units to express their measurements, forcing people to do conversions much like the English and Metric systems.

In the United States, the unit they use is pounds-force (lbf.), while in some part of Europe they kilograms-force (kgf.). Here in Australia, we use newtons (N), or kilonewtons (kN.). Some countries prefer a more direct approach and simply use the grade the test came up with. For example, a test yielded a grade of 666 for a block of wood, the unit they would use would be 666 Janka.

Low Risk Strategies for Dance Studio Success

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on Low Risk Strategies for Dance Studio Success

studio management softwareYou grew up with the passion to dance, and you cannot ignore the itch to teach anymore. You’ve also been secretly planning your first recital theme for the past few years—in fact, you’re planning to open your own dance studio.

While your skill and passion for dance are strengths that will undoubtedly come in handy when running a studio, these are not enough to make such business a success. Owning a studio is a commercial venture, and it requires business savvy, some capital, and very careful attention to detail.

Here are some low-risk strategies you can do today to make your dance studio successful:

Write a Business Plan

Having a formal business plan is important. Do some case studies, research, or surveys on your potential customers ( can help). Check the different pricing for classes in other dance studios as well.

Figure out your costs, too, including those often overlooked, such as studio management software (try, web design, marketing, equipment, and insurance policies. Once you’re launched, you’ll need to follow this business plan.

Be Creative About Your Space

Studio space will probably be the biggest cost encountered. If you buy or rent your own location, you’ll need to make monthly payments, and you may also need to have a build-out to customize the space. Then there’s the utility and maintenance bills you’ll need to think about.

Consider renting an alternative space, at least at first.

Hire Your People Wisely

Rather than hiring as much people as you can, just teach as often as you can. You might also want to ask around for college dance students looking for an internship or teaching experience. It’s a good option, since college dance programs already teach comprehensive classes, and you can mold dance teachers in your own style—at low hourly rates.

If you’re planning to have children’s classes, pool in some helpers from your older students, for example. You can reward them with the occasional pizza party or a special recital at the end of the year.

Owning a studio is certainly neither cheap nor easy, but by reducing your risks, you improve chances of building a successful business and can continue doing what you love.

You Need More Than Plants to Build a Garden

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on You Need More Than Plants to Build a Garden

gardenMost people assume that as long as you have a certain group of plants, you can call that clump a garden. However, other than your grass, shrubs, and climbers and creepers, you need vases, stones, and other ornaments. If you live in a property with enough space for a decent garden, you need to give some serious thought about some of the other components to complete the space.

Here are a few ideas on what you can use to ensure a beautiful garden:


Think about building a rockery if you are really serious about your gardening game. Some plants thrive between crevices of rocks. Ferns, cacti, and even aloe vera can grow in your backyard if you have a rockery. You can make it look like a Zen garden if you add a little fountain. This would be a perfect place if you are into yoga.

Walks and Paths

Concrete slabs or large, flat stones can serve as a path around your garden. Instead of building a walkway, you can leave a trail of those step stones and watch your children skip and jump in joy. You can buy uneven slabs or go for beautifully shaped bricks. This will look good on your Buffalo, Korean velvet, or Bermuda grass.


Speaking of paths, why not build an arch, too? If you have the budget, invest in an arch or a pergola for your garden project. Place a small dining table under the trellises. Imagine having breakfast underneath that gorgeous structure. You can also have afternoon tea, relax, and listen to the sound of the small fountain nearby.

Garden Ornaments

If you live in the country, you probably have wild animals visiting your backyard regularly. You can purchase wild bird feeders sold in stores across the UK, and watch in silent joy as your feathered friends feast on the nuts, suet nibbles, and other seeds you gave them.

You can even have hanging baskets, tubs, and different sizes of vases scattered around your garden. This small patch of paradise will serve as your refuge. You can play with your dog, read a good book, or perhaps write a poem in your beautifully built garden.

Why You Should Use Ceramic Tiles

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on Why You Should Use Ceramic Tiles

ceramic tilesNothing makes a home or bathroom quite as elegant as a good ceramic tile layer. A popular choice for people living in Jacksonville, ceramic tiling can be used for floors and walls, and just might be among most valuable investments you make for the home.

About Floors n More breaks down six standout characteristics of ceramic tiles; all reasons to put them in your home:


Ceramic tiles can withstand heavy foot traffic, and are very easy to replace. They do not get damaged so quickly, but are easy to replace in the event that they do get chipped. They have a longer lifespan compared to other flooring and wall-covering materials.

Highly resistant

Among other things, ceramic tiles are fireproof, waterproof, shock-proof, slip-resistant (through abrasive grit or textured surfaces), frost-resistant (vitreous ceramic tiles and other porcelain tile types), temperature-resistant, and chemical-resistant.


Ceramic tiles are very easy to clean. You simply wipe them with a damp cloth or apply a cleaning solution, and you are good to go. Unglazed variants, however, tend to be more susceptible to stains because of their porous nature. Their inherent moisture resistance serves to hinder the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other unwelcome elements.


Ceramic tiles are created using a combination of clays, water, and natural materials before being baked at high temperatures, after which tile-makers apply vitreous coating (in the case of glazed tiles).


There are many options and designs available when it comes to ceramic tiles. The best part about ceramic tiles’ versatility is that they can go well with any home design or interiors. You can also choose from a variety of colors and patterns, depending on your preferences. Their colors don’t fade, either!


Ceramic tiles happen to be cheaper than many other types of tile or flooring surface initially, mostly depending on the ceramic tile type of your choice. As mentioned above, ceramic tiles are very durable, eliminating the need for getting replacement tiles.

Consider getting ceramic tiles for your home today – see for yourself how they successfully improve the look of your home.

The Keystone XL Pipeline: A Matter of Jobs VS. the Environment?

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on The Keystone XL Pipeline: A Matter of Jobs VS. the Environment?

Keystone XL PipelineThe White House recently announced that President Obama is planning to veto a bill that would authorize the construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Understandably, this has reignited the fierce debates, and this matter will be the first high-profile confrontation between the President and the country’s new, Republican-dominated Congress.

With the nation’s eye on this issue, it seems like a fitting time to revisit the fundamental ideas that support both sides. Grossly simplified, it boils down to generating more jobs versus protecting the environment. How valid are these points?

An Environmental Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Detractors claim that the pipeline poses an enormous risk to the environment. But on close inspection, it seems like most of these points are hysterically exaggerated. Oil sands production is far from the world’s worst fossil fuel, and its GHG emissions pale in comparison to the U.S. coal industry. Putting things into perspective, the drawbacks don’t even compare to the benefits.

What about those making an outcry, claiming that corrosion or cracks in the pipeline will devastate the local areas? It’s an overblown issue when you understand how many safeguards there are against it, and that TransCanada even voluntarily added 59 additional safety measures.Throughout America, there are also companies like that can inspect pipelines to prevent or fix such problems. With these factors, it is highly unlikely that the Keystone XL Pipeline will ever break down to such an extent.

Finally, it’s indisputable that transporting the oil over pipeline is far safer and less environmentally taxing than through conventional options. Since it will deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day at peak capacity, this fact isn’t anything to sneeze at.

Or a Valuable Source of Energy and Employment?

Now, let’s look at the benefits of the pipeline. First is the energy independence, as we will finally be able to source more of our oil from Canada. As several Senate Democrats said in their letter to the President, Keystone XL Pipeline will greatly reduce our reliance on unstable and unfriendly countries like Venezuela. It puts in a much stronger position and improves our relationship with Canada.

If that’s not enough, the economic benefits are staggering. This project will end up supporting over 42,000 direct and indirect jobs in North
America, across many different industries. Few projects can make this much of a difference, leave alone one that boosts one of our most vital industries.

While the pipeline does have its disadvantages, the benefits it provides far outweigh these. It would be wise for the White House to reconsider its position, not just to foster a spirit of cooperation with Capitol Hill, but for the good of the nation as well.

A Gold Mine of Information on Selling Your Jewelry

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on A Gold Mine of Information on Selling Your Jewelry

jewelrySelling your jewelry is confusing, especially for first timers. You need to know the value of your item to make sure you sell it at a fair price. Keep yourself updated and monitor the value of gold and other precious stones in the market.

Here are some tips that you could use:

✓ Look for Reputable Dealers

You can sell your items to any pawnshop or jewelry store. Review their profile and choose a reliable dealer. Check their website and read customer’s feedback about their products and services. You may also find some of the popular dealers at the Better Business Bureau.

✓ Shop Around

The more buyers you talk to, the greater your chances to find the best dealership. Before you visit their shops in person, though, make a phone call or send them an email regarding their price range per gram of gold or silver. This is the most convenient way to find the best jewelry appraisals in Utah.

Once you find a prospect, bring your piece to get a firm offer. Act like a professional. Never show them it’s just your first time to sell jewelry. Watch the buyer weigh your piece and do not hesitate to make negotiations.

✓ Find Out the Real Value of Your Piece

Ahead of making a trip to the nearest pawnshop, consider the possibility that your piece may have value beyond its gold content. In this case, enlist the help of a collector to check your rare items and antique jewelry. In some cases, these items also require papers for validation and authenticity.

✓ Take Extra Caution When Selling Your Items Online

To sell online, demand for payment first. Avoid scammers by checking their profile. Some online marketplaces now use a handy feature of checking reputation, where satisfied customers “upvote” a seller or buyer; the higher the vote, the more reliable and trustworthy a person is.

Make sure to seal the package and use the best courier services to ship your items. Monitor the delivery of your package and always demand for a receipt. Consider taking photos as well and send them to your customers for their own peace of mind.

Consider these tips when selling your jewelries. Again, take some time to get more information about the pieces you have. Do your research and always consult a professional.

Is It Time for a Roof Repair?

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on Is It Time for a Roof Repair?

roof repairYour roof is the part of your home that’s most susceptible to wear and tear. Due to different factors, notably the weather, it’s subject to regular maintenance to prevent deterioration. Not paying attention to your roof’s state usually leads to costly, unscheduled repairs. It is only necessary to have your roof checked periodically. As a responsible homeowner, you need to take care of your home for the safety of your family.

Signs of deterioration, especially on roofs, are difficult to anticipate. Unless there’s already a leak or a noticeable draft in your house, it’s hard to know for sure if your roof is in need of repair. Roofing companies in Salt Lake City, Utah enumerated a few signs:

1. Gutter Spillage

Salt Lake’s rainy transition periods will leave a deluge of rainwater in your gutters. Coupled with leaves, the water won’t flow out properly. If your rain drains aren’t soaked after a rainy day, contact your trusted roofer immediately.

2. Loose Shingles and Roof Parts

Once you see shingles and other roof parts scattered in your yard after a blizzard or a cyclone, it’s only safe to assume that your roof suffered damage from it.

3. Ceiling Spots

If you see cracks or brown spots in your ceiling, your roof is likely to be leaking water on it. Get in touch with your roofer before your house requires more than a roof repair.

4. Sagging Roof

A dip or curve of your roof could mean that it’s sagging and need of immediate repair. At times, the sagging becomes so bad, if left unchecked, that it might need roof replacement.

5. Wear and Tear

It’s quite understandable that your roof needs regular maintenance to maintain its efficiency. If it’s been years since you had your roof inspected, have it repaired and schedule a routine service so you wouldn’t have to worry about anything.

These are, among others, telltale signs that your roof needs repair services. In addition, a quick peek on your roof will give you more information about its state and if you need to contact your trusted roofer.

Eggsplosive Facts: 3 Things Every Woman Should Know About Fertility

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on Eggsplosive Facts: 3 Things Every Woman Should Know About Fertility

pregnantGetting pregnant is only one of two things: 1) extremely easy or 2) way too hard. Yes, that kind of attitude is common in a society that is all about extremes and quick fixes. The truth is that many women do not know everything about their bodies during this time.

Most women also certainly do not know everything there is to know about getting pregnant—even if they already had a baby or two. This is because the education provided regarding reproduction is all about preventing pregnancy. While great for teenagers, it will not be the case for the rest of your reproductive life.

Here is a quick round up of the facts you probably did not (but should) know about fertility:

Egg Freezing Can Extend Your Fertile Years, but it is Risky

Some women delay motherhood for many reasons, which is why a number of clinics now offer egg freezing to those who worry about their fertility in the future.

This kind of method, however, is invasive and rather costly. There are also risks involved in ovarian stimulation and in the process of retrieving the egg. Thomson Chinese Medicine and other experts say turning to more natural methods like acupuncture might be a better way to protect and promote infertility in women.

An Unhealthy Lifestyle Can Have a Negative Effect on Your Fertility

There are big health habits you should watch out for if you want to protect your fertility. Some of these include unhealthy diets, which can lead to abnormal weight. Being overweight or underweight can lead to difficulties conceiving. Smoking is not good for fertility as well; it can also speed up menopause.

Infertility Is Not Only a Girl Thing

Your partner’s infertility is important to test, too, because almost half of all infertility cases in the country involve male infertility.

Unlike infertility in females wherein irregular periods may hint the problem, symptoms are not easy to see with men. For them, abnormal hair growth, low libido, and erectile dysfunction could be signs of infertility.

With the dropping birth rate in women, fertility awareness matters more than ever. It is a touchy subject but it pays to know how, what, and why of it.

SEO Highlights for 2014: A Look Back at How the Search Landscape has Evolved

Posted on by Debra Lefler in Customer Service | Comments Off on SEO Highlights for 2014: A Look Back at How the Search Landscape has Evolved

Merging of SEO and PRYou need to take a moment to step back and look at what happened in the past, to formulate a successful path for the future. What better time to do so than right now when 2014 is about to wrap up and 2015 is just around the corner?

It is easy to lose track of the bigger picture and see how the landscape is shaping up when you have to constantly adapt to the fast pace at which changes come. In the end, pause to re-evaluate how things came to be.

Below are the significant changes in the SEO landscape during the past year:

The Merging of SEO and PR

There was once a time when clients would hire an SEO agency and a PR agency to help them gain the prominence they want. Both worlds are in a rather powerful give-and-take relationship as you cannot expect to do one without having to do the other.

Algorithms are Keener

Google finally got out of the phase of finding itself. At this point, it is a much sharper tool that makes it easier for it to figure out all the newest tricks that you can come up with. You can see this in the pace at which Google rolls out changes to its algorithms. They keep getting better and smarter.

Everything is Still Relevant

The only major change is the amplification. When you look closely at the shifts that occurred from 2013 to 2014, you will see that micro adjustments to Penguin and Panda—both of whom targets link and content quality—are all over. Veteran SEO consultant firm noted that the art of conversion lies in your copy.

These were the changes in the SEO landscape during the past year. You can expect constant shifts as the new year ushers in and gains a steady momentum of its own. Remember that with each new year comes the call to adapt and revise your strategies. With a clear look at the past year, you can formulate an educated forecast for the incoming year and better prepare yourself for unexpected changes.