Oct 042012

Recently, I researched carpet cleaning services in the Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Triangle area. I decided it was better to have my carpets and upholstery  professionally cleaned vs. buying a carpet cleaner and cleaning the rugs myself. I received quotes from many local companies including All Aces Carpet Cleaning, Carpet Dryclean, Magic Carpet, All Spotless Carpets, Professional Carpet Systems, and Zero Rez. I was searching for someone with the knowledge, skill, and equipment to clean both my carpet and upholstery. I also wanted affordable rates and products that were safe for my children and pets. I went with All Aces carpet cleaners and I was very happy with the services.


What Types of Solutions Are used to Clean Carpets? Are they Environmentally Safe?

All Aces Carpet Cleaning used high-quality biodegradable solutions to safely clean my rugs and upholstery. It’s hypoallergenic, child and pet safe with an environmentally responsible process that promotes longer carpet life and it dried fast. They were able to permanently remove pet odor and other stains.

Some carpet cleaning companies also replace and repair carpets, but most do not. If this is what you are looking for make sure you ask when you make your appointment or get your estimate. The only company I contacted that offers this service was Professional Carpet Systems. Since I did not need repairs or replacement I went with a company that offered better pricing on cleaning.

Their are several reasons other than dirty carpets and appearance to get your rugs cleaned. It is very helpful to get rid of dust mites and pollutants and can help tremendously with allergies. People with allergies can often tell the difference within one day of having their rugs professionally cleaned. It also extends the life of your carpet.

What types of stain guard are best to use?

Their are several types of stain guard on the market. You can find Scotchguard, BlueMagic, and Teflon at many on-line and retail locations. It is a good idea to add a stain guard, like Scotchguard, after cleaning your carpets. Companies generally only charge a small fee for this service but you can apply Scotchguard yourself. It is available on-line, at Home Depot, Lowe’s Hardware, Ace Hardware, and many other retail locations. The life of your carpet can be much longer when using Scotchguard. But keep in mind that different brands and styles of carpet may wear differently and some last longer than others. Generally, a cut pile textured plush or loop pile Saxony carpet will last longer than plush or Frieze. Brands also play a part and their are plenty of brands to choose from. Some of the major brands of carpet are Aladdin, Armstrong, Stainmaster, Galaxy, and Mohawk. However, their are many other carpet brands available. A cheap textured carpet from Home Depot may not last as long as a cheap loop carpet from Home Depot.


Things to consider when hiring a carpet cleaner

  • Are stairs an extra cost?
  • Are products used child and pet friendly?
  • Is Scotchguard available and what is the cost?
  • What is the estimated dry time?
  • Is satisfaction guaranteed? What is the policy if you are not satisfied?
  • What is the total cost of the cleaning? You should be able to get a quote before you make an appointment.

If you are not interested in hiring a carpet cleaner and want to clean them yourself, check out this video.








Sep 182012


Recently, we switched to a tankless water heater. After speaking with several plumbers in the Raleigh, Durham, Triangle NC are, we went with CK’s Plumbing and Backflow. CK’s offers a full range of plumbing and backflow services in the Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Triangle NC area. We had a conventional unit removed from the attic and a Rinnai tankless unit installed. CK’s Plumbing and backflow had great customer service, and did an awesome job installing the unit. We are very happy with the Rinnai unit Model Number RL94e. We are able to get an endless supply of hot water, we do not have to wait more than a couple seconds for the water to get hot, and the water heater is no longer in the attic nor is it taking up valuable space. We can now take as many showers as we want and run both our Electrolux 24 in. Top Control Dishwasher in Stainless Steel with Stainless Steel Tub, and GE 4.1 cu. ft. DOE High-Efficiency Front Load washer, at the same time. We never run out of hot water!

A conventional gas or electric water heater, such as a GE 50 Gal. Tall 6 Year 38,000 BTU Natural Gas Water Heater, lasts for 10-12 years. Most homeowners will need to replace their hot water heater at some point.  Their are several questions to think about. First question,  should you stick with a conventional water heater or go with a tankless system? Second, what plumber should you use? Proper water heater installation is important for many reasons. If a water heater is not installed properly, it can cause high energy costs, and be dangerous. Finding a great plumber is essential. Many plumbers now install both conventional and tankless (or on demand) units.



Conventional Water Heater vs Tankless Water Heater

Many homeowners are asking if they should replace their water heater with another conventional, or if they should go with the tankless system. Their are several things to consider.

  • Where is your water heater located? If your unit is located in an attic you may want to move it and the tankless may be ideal. If a water heater leaks you may have a lot of damage. If the unit is not in the bottom floor of your home the amount of damage could be significantly larger.
  • Do you currently get hot water immediately when you turn on the faucet? A tankless may take several seconds to get hot, so if you immediately get hot water it may not be the right option for you.
  • Does your gas company offer a rebate for installing a tankless unit? Currently, many companies including PNC in Raleigh, NC offer a rebate. This may be an added benefit for you.
  • Do you currently run out of hot water? A tankless system offers an endless supply of hot water. It is great for those who use a lot of hot water.
  • Do you have the funds to purchase a tankless system? A conventional unit is quite a bit cheaper than a tankless. However, the tankless has a life of 20 plus years vs the 10-12 of a conventional unit.
  • Tankless units are more energy efficient.




Sep 182012


When I researched maid and house cleaning services I compared and received quotes from companies including Molly Maids, Raleigh Cleaning Authority, Merry Maids, Sundance Cleaning Company, The Cleaning Authority, Class Act, and Triangle Green Cleaning. Sundance Cleaning had the most competitive quote. I have now used them for several years and am still impressed with the quality of service with every visit. I also like to be able to support small locally owned businesses so that was a plus. It is often easier to form a long term relationship with a small company.

I have found that Sundance Cleaning Company  is a reliable, honest, and affordable maid and house cleaning company. I consider them the best in the Raleigh, Durham, Wake Forest, Triangle area. Sundance Cleaning offers a thorough deep cleaning with each and every visit. I have a team of two to three cleaners each visit. Generally they are the same each time. Sundance is a locally owned and operated company that has been tried and proven for years. they provide both residential and commercial cleaning services.

With the busy schedules and demands of juggling family life with a career, more and more people are turning to outside professionals maid and cleaning services to help them handle the tasks involved in taking care of the their home and keeping them clean.

You can hire someone to come in once a week or once a month, depending on your budget and your needs. Or if you don’t want to commit to a regular schedule you can use them on an on-call basis. The cost varies based on many factors so you will need to get estimates.


What should you look for in a cleaning service?

  • Insured and Bonded
  • Offer a satisfaction guarantee
  • No contracts
  • The ability to customize your cleaning to meet your needs
  • They hire employees vs. independent contractors

 What items or areas do most cleaning services handle?

I expect a cleaning service to clean all rooms including the bathrooms. All surfaces should be cleaned, floors swept and mopped, hardwood floors cleaned with appropriate supplies, sinks polished, blinds cleaned or wiped down, window sills and doors, bathtubs and showers scrubbed, pictures and lights cleaned, and ceiling fans cleaned. On occasion it is great when they rotate other tasks. These include baseboards, low inside windows, and cabinets. If you are interested in “green” cleaning you should ask. Many services do not advertise this but often they do it upon request.

Any reputable cleaning service should offer you a free estimate or quote. You should have the choice to stay while they are cleaning or provide a key so that they may enter if you are not home. It is generally helpful if you are present for the first clean in case the cleaning crew has any questions for you. It is often required that your pets be crated or outside while your home is being cleaned. This is better for the cleaners and your pets.

Payment is usually expected in the form of cash or check. Some companies accept credit card payments. It is also customary to leave gratuity, or tip, your house cleaner. This is not mandatory but always appreciated.

We find that Sundance Cleaning makes keeping our home clean much easier. Especially cleaning the bathrooms! Many people don’t know how to properly clean and sanitize. If you are unable to afford maid service or housekeeping service for your home, this video may help you and your family make certain that your bathroom is clean.

May 032012
Looking to save money on Crossfit classes in the state of California? Some might consider a Crossfit california groupon, but that is only a temporary measure. One way to save a lot of money is to skip the classes at the gym and buy your own used gym equipment. One of the most important pieces of home equipment someone can purchase to do Crossfit at home is a rowing machine.  There are several popular brands, including the  lifecore R100 rowing machine and first degree fitness viking fluid rowers. However, by far the most popular used rower for under $600 is the concept 2 model rower. 
Now that Crossfit has become all the rage, fitness freaks looking for cheap used exercise equipment on craigslist will consider shopping their local craigslist ads for sales on used Concept 2 Model Rowers.  Most will try to find a rower in excellent condition for under $500 or $600 dollars.

The price will be dependent upon whether it is a model C or model D, whether the chain is in good condition and whether the person wants the rower to include the pm 3 monitor, which will increase the price a bit. A new Concept 2 rower for an older model like c or d can be very expensive, starting at $900. These prices don’t even include such niceties as a concept 2 rower seat pad.  Newer models like the model E will start nearly $1300 new!
How often are Concept 2 Rowers on sale on Craiglist?
Crossfit fans who hope to find these rowers will need to be diligent and review concept 2 model rower sales daily in their area, because there are many athletes looking for them.  A good idea is to use a craigslist alert service like HeyCraig so that when a seller puts an ad up for the rower, you will find out immediately. For instance, if you are in San Jose, CA, you would enter that location and your e-mail , along with an alert setting for concept 2 rower and you will get an e-mail alert for every sale ad put up on craigslist for that item.
Why are Concept 2 Rowers so popular? 

Rowing is a low-impact exercise that people can do without great fear of injury.  It is also a full body exercise that will stress large muscle groups, including muscle groups in the legs, back and arms.  It provides a tremendous amount of cardiovascular exercise.

It also is a core exercise for Crossfit, which is a popular fitness program built upon intense , constantly varying exercise regimens.
It has an internal fan like mechanism that is attached to a chain that provides the resistance component.  Because it doesn’t have a motor, it requires little maintenance other than oiling the chain.  It is easy to find out how to repair a concept rower.
What is the proper technique to use my rower?
There are many sources to find out how to use your rower properly. This video displays proper rowing technique.

Author — Harley Ford
Jan 102012

With new truck prices only going higher, many people looking for a cheap used work truck will search for a cheap used Ford F150. This Ford vehicle is the mainstay of many a small business owner or construction worker. It is a versatile vehicle — especially if the driver buys an extended cab — supercab — version.

This allows the driver to throw tools and construction materials in back, but still be able to drive the kids to school. Throw in a tow package, and you are good to go with this solidly built American workhorse. And since it is one of the most popular vehicles on the road, it will be easy to find best deals on Ford F150 parts for any repairs! Save that extra money so that your wife or girlfriend can buy you sexy lingerie or hot pants that feature that junk in the trunk.

Many of those looking for a used Ford F150 will want to search sites like autotrader.com. Others might consider Craigslist. Craigslist has it’s downsides of course. If you are looking for the best deal on a cheap used Ford F150, craigslist is the place. However, expect to pay the owner cash  for the vehicle title. With all of the scams occurring, no one will accept a check — not even a bank “certified” check. There are too many problems with that nowadays. Another place that could be checked is ebay.  If using ebay, make sure to utilize an escrow company for online car purchases!

We recommend always having the owner meet you at your mechanic and insist on a good lookover. No one wants to deal with a lemon. Also, consider running the VIN on Carfax. That is a service that ensures that the vehicle has not been reported as a “salvage” vehicle. These are vehicles that have been ruined in a flood, and turned over for salvage.

Nov 102011

The Britax car seat’s is by far one of the most popular car seats available.  They generally get great safety reviews from ratings companies and great parent reviews for ease of use. Unfortunately, Britax booster seats and Britax car seats are also some of the most expensive. In my opinion, they are worth the cost. These seats are very comfortable, go up to a high weight and height limit, are easier to install, and the buckles do not get tangled very easy!

How can you save money on Britax car seats? Watching for sales is the first step. Second, find if they have any additional promotional promo codes or online daily deal coupons to save more. Currently, you can save 15% from One Step Ahead with the code FAMFUN. This code is an excellent way to purchase from onestepahead.com and save money using a britax car seat coupon code.

Also, while it’s important to save money, we never recommend buying a used Britax car seat!  Even if you find someone selling a cheap britax car seat on craigslist or ebay, you have to worry if the seat is operating correctly. Seats that have been in an accident can pose a danger to your little one, as they are not intended to be used for multiple accident protection. Also, the seat may not be operating correctly. If you must take a secondhand britax car seat, please make sure to search for online britax car seat manuals.

One of the best deals on Britax right now is on Amazon. Almost all of the Britax car seats are on sale and if you order now, you can get  free shipping on a Britax car seat . As of today, they have the lowest price on-line, and as always Amazon has one of the best return policies for online retailers, so you can purchase without fear!

Happy Shopping!

Rose Flowers

Nov 072011

The Target Big Book of Toys is out for 2011. It is time to start Christmas shopping and their is no better way than with a great deal! One of the best thing about using coupons at Target is that you can use a Target coupon and a Manufacturer’s coupon on the same item. That is a total of two coupons for one item, and hopefully great savings! With all their new toy coupons out, it is time to get out the manufacturer’s coupons that could be used on the same items.

All prices listed may vary slightly by store.

The Target coupons are located in the Toy Coupon Book that you can find in Target stores or on the Target web site. You will need that booklet as well as the Manufacturer’s coupon listed to get any of these awesome deals.

Thomas & Friends: Cranky & Flynn Save the Day set $56.99

Use $5/1 Target coupon from booklet
Use $10/1 printable coupon found here

Playskool Poppin’ Park Select Toy (Includes Bounce ‘n’ Ride or Elefun Busy Ball Popper) $29.99

Use $5/1 Target coupon from booklet
Use $5/1 Manufacturer’s coupon from 10/2 insert (EXPIRES 11/15)

UNO Roboto Game ($27.99) AND Duracell AA 24 pack ($16) $43.99 for both Game and Batteries

Use $5 off Target coupon from booklet
Use $1/1 Manufacturer’s coupon from 10-16 P&G insert
=$37.99 for both Game and Batteries


Their may be additional manufacturer coupons that come out over the next two weeks that can be used with the Target coupons. Also, Target does price match so their may be even more on sale soon! Check back for updates and more great deals!


Author – Rose Flowers

Nov 052011

Redbox charges $1 for a one night rental. However, they usually have several promo codes available so that you can get it for free! Try these codes for a free one night rental from a Redbox location.
Each code can only be used once per account or credit card.


Enjoy a free movie from many Red Box locations! A valid credit card is required. If DVD is not returned in 24 hours, you will be charges $1 a day. If you do not have a red box near you, keep an eye out for the Blockbuster Blue box, which is a kiosk that rents movies just like a Redbox!

Author – Red Thomas

Nov 052011

Lite Sprites may be the hot toy this Christmas season. If you want to purchase Lite Sprites you may want to start shopping now. Their will likely be a shortage as we get closer to Christmas. Currently, Lite Sprites can be found at Target for the lowest cost. The Lite Sprite wand, Prisma, and Pod are currently $24.99 in stores and on-line. The price on Amazon is currently $35. These toys will not likely be on sale and time soon as their will likely be a shortage for the holidays.


This toy offers imaginative play for young girls, along with games. Lite Sprites are a little on the pricey side for toys. At minimum you need the wand, Prisma, and pod. However, their are many other pieces to go along with it. If your child is on the older side for this toy you may want to stay away from the Lite Sprites as it will cost a lot for a short time!

Oct 272011

Lite Sprites are a new toy by WowWee. The company started selling the toys in August 2011. This new toy for girls is equal parts magical, interactive, and empowering. Girls have the power and ability to magically collect and share color and light in the unique play world of Lite-Topia.

The Lite Sprite’s live in Lite-Topia, an enchanted land that sparkles with color and light. The Sprites collect, share and use color and light to express their emotions. The Sprite Sisterhood includes five Sprites, each with a special power: Prisma, the leader; Astra, the keeper of the skies; Brooke, who takes care of the water; Meadow, who is responsible for the plants, flowers and trees; and Bleak, the rebel Sprite who uses her powers to disrupt color in Lite-Topia.

Using the Lite Wand, girls ages 4+ can collect almost any color from nearly any flat surface in their real world environment and magically share it with the Lite Sprites and their world. The Lite Sprites can catch color from the Wand, can share and catch color from each other, and also with the playsets. Each playset includes a path so you can collect and connect playsets to create an ever-changing world of color and light.

Wow Wee is this thing expensive but boy oh boy the commercials make them look super cool! So far the reviews on Amazon are mixed. It seems to me that if you don’t buy several pieces to it, it’s pointless. And even the main/base toy alone is expensive…forget about adding on the extras. You have to have the wand (which comes with 1 sprite) to do anything and that’s $30. Each extra doll is another $14ish and the play sets are $20-30. They can all be found at online retailers like amazon.com, walmart.com, target.com, and toysrus.com Order now to avoid asking “Where can I find Lite Sprites in stock?” or “Where can I find Lite Sprites Online?”

I am not sure what a kid would do with them other than make them light up. So I am not sure how much play value they really have… I could be wrong but I’m thinking they missed the boat on the price point of this one.

Author – Rose Flowers