The Organic Comarison : A Healthier lifestyle

Eating Organic and going green is all the rage! To be environmentally responsible as well as setting ourselves up for optimal health and longevity is high on my priority list.

Our family has been making these conscious choices for almost six years and we are delving deeper and deeper as our family grows and we see more and more opportunity to achieve our goals.

Steering clear of household toxins is a big part of our journey as well. I’ve eliminated laundry detergent and that big bucket of various cleansers for windows counters surfaces and floors.

We’ve switched out soaps, deodorants, shampoos and toothpaste.

It’s a lifestyle. not a fad.

We are in it for the long haul and trust our choices will pay off in the end.

The Debate

COST!!! (a huge hurdle for most people is the expense)

The good news for this lifestyle is as some choices are a little more expensive others are the opposite and extreme money savings have been accomplished.

Organic food is pricier but the benefits are priceless! We’re talking staving off diabetes, cancers, depression, skin disorders like psoriasis and acne. We’re talking eating food that tastes as good as it looks. Eating more frequent smaller meals consisting of real whole raw fresh foods, not packaged, processed, pesticide laden “food products.”

I know a few years ago I would have laughed if someone told me baking soda and white vinegar would be the ONLY household products I would buy and use. But they are. In the laundry, in the shower, around the house. They are the only two ingredients I can now not live without. They have replaced expensive detergents, softeners, static sheets in the laundry. They have replaced, Windex, toilet cleaner, disinfectant in the bathrooms and kitchen. For the floors: steam! And the savings here is astronomical. I will go into more detail later.

Eating Organic

What is organic?

Organic foods and crops as well as livestock are raised, grown or produced without harmful chemicals, pesticides, GMO, hormones, or antibiotics.

Farmers and manufacturer’s have strict processes to earn their USDA sticker, they also incur fees and other costs to the government and third-party agencies to keep their Organic Status in good standing. This alone contributes to the higher cost in organic options.

There are Organic farmers who do not get certified and incur less costs however their product sits on the shelf without that little USDA sticker and consumers ultimately purchase the sticker.

In my price comparison below I compared regular everyday products to their organic counterparts. I am limited to what is available at my local supermarket and prices will obviously vary by store and even region. This is just to give you an idea of the cost difference between “conventional” and “organic” options. I compared a range of items from fresh produce to packaged goods and dairy products. At the time, the store did not have any organic meats available. I will update the chart as I gather more information.

Price differences:

RED indicates where organic costs more

BLUE indicates where there was no difference

GREEN indicates where organic costs less

Item Unit cost for conventional Unit cost for Organic Price Difference
Apples 1.99 1.83 0.16
Bananas .59 .89 0.30
Popular Cereal 4.95 4.57 0.38
Baby food pouch 6.39 6.41 0.02
Butter 4.69 5.99 1.30
Cream cheese 5.18 7.18 2.00
Eggs 18.25 41.58 23.33
Greek yogurt 3.77 6.01 2.24
Romaine lettuce hearts 3.55 3.99 0.44
Whole Milk 1.06 1.95 0.89
Strawberries 4.99 4.99 0.00
Microwave popcorn 6.05 4.43 1.62
Raisins 3.59 5.32 1.73
Apple juice 1.50 2.15 0.65
Onions .80 1.16 0.36


Based on the chart, it’s plain to see that organic does cost more in most cases but it is worth it. My philosophy is you’re going to pay anyway so why not do it without suffering.

See, either you pay now for organic or you pay later in hefty medical bills treatments and most importantly with your health and well-being. I am not a medical doctor or scientist so I won’t give you a list of studies and numbers. I will say that I have found a tremendous improvement in my own quality of life after making these changes.

The Challenge

Not sold on Organic yet??!?! I have a dare for you: pick one food item, preferably a fruit or vegetable you eat regularly, grapes for example. Buy and eat it organic ONLY, for two weeks (this is how long your taste buds and body will need to adjust) even if the conventional counterpart is on sale or FREE, strictly eat it organic for two weeks. When the two weeks is up, go back and taste the conventional version. Let your taste buds be the judge; then, tell me what you think.

Don’t get me wrong here, staying healthy isn’t just about eating organic, but it is a great start. It’s best to work on yourself from the inside out. Start with breathing. Simple meditation can work wonders for the body and soul. Gentle exercise is crucial to our health as well. I like walking, swimming and yoga. Our food of course, what we put in our bodies will ultimately become our bodies as we magically turn the food into cells. Another key component to our health is what we do on the outside, this is the soaps, detergents, products, lotions and even our clothes and sheets.

Our skin is our largest organ; I believe one of our most important organs. It is made up of billions of tiny catcher mitt like pores that absorb EVERYthing from our environment, seeping toxins straight into our blood stream. It would be safer to eat toxins and chemicals than to put them on our skin. At least by eating something, our digestive tract, stomach enzymes and immune system would be filtering processing and partially protecting us from any danger. The skin: toxins go right into the bloodstream!

All of these healthy lifestyle choices are of course personal preference and just what I’ve learned over the course of my journey. You may experience something different and completely disagree. I’d love to know what you’re take is. Comment below with your priorities when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.


How to beat the blues: 10 FREE steps to happier you

If you have your BLUE suede shoes on today and need some help figuring out how to beat the funk check out my easy list of 10 FREE ways to kick the blues.

  1. Go for a walk – getting some fresh air and moving around a bit can refresh your mood, especially when birds are chirping or squirrels are about. Something about nature that just makes me happy.
  2. Music – no brainer here: as long as it’s the right type of music. Unless it’s really upbeat and you know it has a happy ending I’d steer clear of country music if you’re sad. Unfortunately this genre has some sad songs about heartbreak.
  3. Call a friend to talk it out – even if just to say “Hi, Judy, I’m having a lousy day.” Talking to a friend can help tremendously. You know you’re not alone and having someone to talk to can lift the spirits.
  4. Take a nap – sometimes even a 15 min. power nap on your coffee break can rejuvenate your mood. It’s like a reset button in the middle of the day.
  5. Shower – I always feel better after a shower! Washing all the negative energy right down the drain, literally.
  6. Fit in a workout – In recent years, its become common knowledge that working out releases hormones called endorphins, which create a chemical reaction in the brain and make it happy. They’re Happy Hormones. Working out can also clear your head as you’re focusing on sweating and counting reps instead of what was bringing you down to begin with.
  7. Read a book – Reading makes the brain work. It strengthens it. It also whisks you away to a magical land of wizards or vampires or whichever fiction novel calls your name (fiction is good because it’s fantasy, and let’s face it: who doesn’t love a good fantasy?)
  8. Fantasy brings me to number 8 Get some lovin’ I’m not going into detail here because… you know.
  9. Visit an animal shelter – you don’t have to stay long because even 5 minutes with a happy puppy or playful kitten can pick up even the lowliest of funks.
  10. Make someone smile – Just by saying hello to a stranger or making a funny face at a kid to see them smile and have an interaction with another human being can really cheer us up. I have no doubt that laughter, smiling and in general, happiness is contagious.

So no matter how sad a song you’re singing get out there, keep your head up and believe there is good in the world!

This post is a Daily Prompt How do you get out of singing the blues?

Decluttering Reading List

A partner post for “Selling Your House Series: Part Two, Staging for Success”

Here’s a little irony: In prepping for staging my home, I’ve cluttered my kindle with books about decluttering!

Curious about my reading list? Here it is:












I do not receive monetary compensation for sharing these books! Also, when I “purchased” them I paid $0.00 for every one! That’s right! Want to know how you can get all your kindle ebooks for free? Follow the blog for an upcoming post about saving money on ebooks and where to find FREE deals!


Selling your house series: Part Two, Staging for success

The big question on everyone’s mind when it comes to staging is: “Is it really necessary? They’re buying my house, not my stuff!”

The answer: YES!!!

And, yes, they are buying the house not the stuff but like with ANY thing, you are selling an idea. The idea of buying these shoes is that you will look and feel fabulous while wearing them! The idea of buying this car is that you will have a safe and stylish way for your family to travel. A whole team of advertisers and marketers put those shoes on your feet and put your feet in that car. It’s all in the perspective of the marketing.

Essentially, you are marketing your home. If you walk into a clothing store and find tables with messy piles of clothes for sale, are you in the mood to buy them? Probably not. Next door is another clothing store with beautiful displays of mannequins and accessories with racks of neatly hanging garments organized and lovely, are you going to buy these? Probably yes.

So while your home is your home and you’re comfortable there, the neighbor’s house is pretty and also for sale. When buyers come down your block, which one will they choose? Yes, price can be a factor, but people are willing to pay a little more for nicer things. As a seller, wouldn’t you want to maximize the amount of money you can get for your house? With a bit of effort, this is possible! It will also increase the foot traffic which will increase the exposure and bring in offers. More than one offer often leads to even more money! Interested?

So where do you start?

With the walk through of course! The one I talked about in the first part of this series. On the walk through, you should be looking at everything, including your stuff. Think about the purpose or function of each room and decide if the minimal amount of stuff is being used to convey this vision.

First impressions are everything! The walk-through begins at the curb, where your potential buyer will get there first glimpse at their new life in their new home. Will they pull up to the house and want to keep on driving? That’s up to you! Is your lawn mowed? Weeds pulled? Home front clean and clear from distracting toys or lawn ornaments? You might enjoy seeing your collection of 30 garden gnomes, but some buyers may be turned off. A simple landscape goes further than a sea of personal touches like bird feeders and windmills.  Let’s highlight the home and what is has to offer. A big front porch? Show it off with a potted plant or two and a rocker,  not the entire stock of plastic chairs and tables from the home improvement store. Be sure to check the doorbell. Does it work? What about the porch light? These are easy fixes that can help keep a buyer wanting to come inside.


The front of your home is like an appetizer, we want to give them a nice taste of something but make them want more! Getting them in is good, keeping them in for a long time is better! How the entry way welcomes them is a key element. If your home doesn’t have a defined entry way, you can create one with a console table dressed with a decorative bowl (for keys). A small chair or stool (nice to have somewhere to take off your shoes) and a small carpet or rug to warm things up.

Getting into staging the rooms is easy. Take, for instance, the dining room. What’s in yours? A big table with a lot of chairs? Maybe a buffet, a hutch and a corner curio cabinet displaying Grandma’s trinkets? It looks lovely, I’m sure, but a buyer will see a small cramped space with no room to entertain.  Take out the buffet and the curio…that’s right, you want to sell and move anyway, why not get a jumpstart on packing? Then pare down the chairs from 6 to 4. This leaves, wall and floor space to walk around the table effortlessly. It opens a buyers eyes to the potential of the space and that they can bring their big dining room table with their chairs and it will all fit.

Now, staging isn’t just about clearing out a whole bunch of furniture. Remember my clothing store analogy? Well the mannequins with accessories was an important part, (not the mannequins) as accessories are in staging a home for sale.

On the dining room table, a simple runner with a bowl of fruit (to make it homey and inviting) maybe a tall houseplant by the window (bringing nature inside makes people feel connected to the space). Oh, and everything needs to be clean! Get those cobwebs out of the corners, polish the light fixture and make sure there are no streaks on the windows. Simple enough!

The living room and bedrooms are a little more difficult. I chose the dining room first because this, unless your ONLY eating area in the house, is the room that has the least amount of personal effects.

The living room has your spouse’s favorite chair, you know the one. It has rips, stains and a big spot that is shaped like your significant other’s rear. Will a potential buyer  see them self sitting in THIS chair? Probably not. Then, there are the family photos and huge collection of DVDs on the bookshelf. What about the HUMONGOUS big screen TV that takes up an entire wall? It might be nice for you to live here but will a prospective buyer want to live here WITH YOU? Because that is what they will feel like…buying ‘this house I’ll have to live THIS way.’ I know it’s silly, but it’s the psychological aspect of searching for a home. As a seller, you need to leave your emotions at the gate, remember? We want to detach your emotions and reach out to the buyers’.

Living room

How do we know who the buyer is? Well…the buyer is you. Your best friend. The buyer is me! I know, crazy, right?! The buyer could be anybody, so we have to appeal to everybody. As shocking as it may be, a huge TV the size of your car does not appeal to everyone. Consider swapping it out for a smaller one you may have in the basement or bedroom. The photos are nice and lovely but a buyer will see your family, not theirs. They have to go too. Replace those with neutral decor, paintings or shelves with a vase of flowers, a book or A trinket, as in one… maybe two, not the whole circus train from precious moments collection.

We are creating open space with a feeling of home. A home ANY one can live in.

In the bedroom, it is important to showcase here, the bed must be made! Even if you’re not selling your house you should make your bed every day anyway. The bed is a place for relaxing and restoring. The bedroom should reflect the essence of renewing our spirits. It should be bright and airy yet cozy and comforting. The place to make this statement is with a can of paint. Okay, you like purple. Your sheets and blankets are purple. Your bathroom from top to bottom is purple, carpet, curtains; all purple. A buyer walks in and sees ONLY purple. Not the great natural light or the hard wood floors. They don’t see a walk-in closet or ceiling fan. They. see. purple. Then, they will leave; remembering your house because it was purple, not because they wanted to live there.

In bedrooms, go with neutral earth tones. If you choose a color, choose a pale version of the color that is not overpowering the features in the space. Go easy on patterns and bright colors, these will be distracting. Stick to neutrals. Mom’s handmade curtains are pretty and all but a simple blind, or panel will suffice. All the frills ruffles, lace and valances will detract from the view. Again, make sure everything is CLEAN! No one wants to spend any length of time in a dirty, dusty space. This is our goal here , to make a buyer want to stay, we want them to feel relaxed and welcome here, just like they would want to feel in THEIR own home.

Bathrooms need to be sparkling, as do kitchens. All the yucky stuff happens here. Make sure every nook and cranny are spotless! These two spaces go hand in hand when it comes to staging. Keeping counters clean and clutter free is very important.

bathroom kitchen


People, looking to buy your house, will be opening cupboards, drawers, and closets. If they find a mess of bottles and products, they will see a crowded small space with no storage. If you can eliminate the non-essentials for your everyday life you will succeed in showing the space and expanse of the storage in your home.

When I began my staging process I started with closets. It’s easier to pack up the small stuff I don’t need or see everyday first. I started with the linen closet and packed up all the spare sheets, blankets and towels, leaving just enough for our family and one extra set.


My linen closet looks HUGE! A major asset in any home is storage. A major asset in selling any home is highlighting the storage. Leaving the closets and drawers jam-packed with stuff will show the buyer that you don’t have enough storage and make them question whether the home will have enough for them and all their stuff.

The good news about all this hard work to stage your home: it will pay off! Here is a link to some staging statistics ( in case you don’t believe me)

Another good thing about staging is that it can be done with little to no investment. Simple decluttering and shifting of your design resources, like taking a chair from the crowded dining table and using to help make the entryway more welcoming is free! Some fresh flowers or throw pillows are low cost for a huge impact dressing up a space.

As a partner to this post I compiled a list of helpful ebooks on cleaning and decluttering here!

I hope my tips and experience will help you! and Stay tuned for the next installment in this Selling Your House Series!


SUPPLEMENTal health insurance: Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a naturally occurring fat soluble antioxidant found in foods.You can find a whole workup by the U.S. Department of health and human services here.


I was thirteen. I had a chalazion cyst on my eye the size of a marble. I was embarrassed to go to school. I was embarrassed to go anywhere. I had questions to answer if I did. “Is that a sty?” “What’s wrong with your face?” “Are you sick?” “It’s still there?”

A chalazion cyst is not something that just goes away. At the time, at least, the ophthalmologist told us it would have to be surgically removed. We made an appointment for an in office procedure.

When the day came, I was nervous. My dad brought me in the room and left. I was at the mercy of the doctor and nurse who strapped me into a chair that reminded me of the execution electric variety. All the lights and instruments made me very uncomfortable. I think it would have been easier to prepare myself had someone warned me what was about to happen.

A three-inch needle coming towards MY EYE!

I panicked! I started crying and shaking my head making it impossible for the poker to have any accuracy. They unstrapped and released me. “aah, freedom!”

No surgery! I would be left with this marble in my eyelid and be “ugly” forever. Oh well, at least I wouldn’t have to put a needle in my eye.

After a few weeks of pretending I didn’t care, I started to look for other ways to eradicate my growth.

My mother, an avid reader and medical enthusiast, had a book about natural home remedies. I was looking up cysts and came across a testament to vitamin E. Desperate, I began breaking open vitamin E capsules and squeezing the oil right into my eye. Then taking another capsule orally. Every night before bed, I did this. Within a matter of weeks, the cyst was no more! Not a trace of it remained in my eye and the torture ceased. What a relief!

At 13 I learned that doctors, although well-educated and mean well, do not have all the answers and to an extent, cannot be trusted (not because they are not trustworthy, but because they are only trained in surgical procedures and writing prescriptions. Their training no longer includes alternative methods or turning to the earth for help, only chemical processes created in a laboratory).

Fast forward 15 years. 4 babies later, I ended up with cysts and hormonal changes from pregnancy and childbirth. “Where is that book??!?!?!?” I searched for almost a year at mom’s, at my dad’s, asking my sister… it was gone. Finally, after searching online for a week straight I found it buried on amazon. It’s from the eighties and I didn’t have the exact title which made finding it like a needle in a haystack.

I had it in my hand. I read it cover to cover and felt a sense of comfort having all of this wisdom at my fingertips. It doesn’t cover EVERYthing, but the range of common ailments is quite extensive. From Acne to cradle cap, heart disease to leg cramps and ulcers, it is a compilation of folk medicine, medical breakthroughs by common people, new age healing, finding cures in the kitchen and all had accounts from real people and their results.

42 Needles to Avoid: The wonders of Vitamin E

  1. acne
  2. arthritis
  3. athlete’s foot
  4. boils
  5. breast pain
  6. burns
  7. chicken pox
  8. circulatory system
  9. cold sores
  10. cracked skin
  11. cradle cap
  12. cysts
  13. dandruff
  14. diaper rash
  15. eczema
  16. facial skin care
  17. fertility problems
  18. fingernails
  19. gum problems
  20. heart disease
  21. herpes type II
  22. high blood pressure
  23. itching
  24. leg cramps
  25. leg pain
  26. leg ulcers
  27. leukoplakia
  28. menopausal problems
  29. muscle pain
  30. nosebleeds
  31. phlebitis
  32. poison ivy
  33. psoriasis
  34. ringworm
  35. scar tissue
  36. seizures in dogs
  37. shingles
  38. sinus problems
  39. sunburn
  40. toenail problems
  41. warts
  42. wound healing

Finding Vitamin E in our food

alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) can be found in many foods such as nuts, seeds, plant oils, cruciferous vegetables, shellfish and other sea dwelling creatures; avocados and squash also give a good amount of the this magnificent health aid!

“SUPPLEMENTal health insurance” is a blog series highlighting various methods, supplements, vitamins, minerals and home remedies for common ailments and improving health.

Disclaimer: I am not a physician!The information here should not take the place of medical advice. I urge you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.




You’re a stay at home mom? So you don’t HAVE a job!

My job? I don’t have one.

Oh, but I do work. I work hard, too!

Every morning, I wake well before I’m “ready” to and make my bed. WAIT! I can’t make my bed, yet. There are still people in it. That’s right PEOPLE, none of which are my husband.

So I do the bathroom thing, get dressed and make the people’s beds who are now in MY bed… they hear me scurrying and hop out to follow me around and start the chaos.

I go back, make my bed and prompt the people to get themselves dressed.

We venture downstairs where I fill their tummies with food and drink for breakfast. All while tripping over a dog and three cats that are hungry too. Feed them.

The rest of the day is a balancing act of cleaning up, filling tummies, cleaning up, playing, reading, learning, laundry, walking the dog, taking out the trash, filling tummies, cleaning up etc. (not in any particular order)

I’m a stay at home mom! While I don’t “go to a job” My job might be more important than having a conventional employer. My employers need me more than I need a paycheck so I can send them to daycare. We live, laugh, love, and learn at home together.

Some days we venture out into the world, depending on what activities we’re committed to that day. Sometimes we stay in our pj’s.(ah the freedom of homeschooling!)

Besides the physical work, what I do is emotionally, mentally draining. I have my moments but most of them are filled with laughter, fun and silliness.

photo credit: Jenny Grant Digital Imaging

photo credit: Jenny Grant Digital Imaging

I LOVE what I do! I may not jump out of bed every morning excited to get to work – maybe because I’m not a “morning person”- but at the end of the day my feet are tired and my heart is warm so, that’s paycheck enough for me!

This has been a Daily Prompt post

What would I do??

So, if you don’t already know, I am a stay-at-home-mom to 4 + kids, I also home school. My husband works from home when he can but also has an office and occasionally drives trucks to support our family. We do most everything together!

A few months ago he was out on the road in a bad snow storm in the middle of the night. My stomach was in knots and my heart sore from the worry. My initial thought if “something” were to happen was, ‘how do I tell the kids they will never see their dad again?’ Then I thought ‘what will we do without him?’ He loves us, keeps us safe…he supports us!

A flood of worrisome thoughts raced through my head, the biggest one: ‘How would we survive?’

That is a loaded question because we depend on him for so much more than money, but money was what I was thinking.

I will have to get a job! I don’t have a degree or any recent experience in the work field, I’ve been a baby factory for 6 years.

My kids will have to go into daycare and public school! We want them to be individuals who are free thinkers, public school and daycare does not facilitate our goals for our kids.

Our home is too expensive; we would have to move! We want to do that anyway but to move, to go through the process of selling, packing, buying and moving without my husband would be a huge struggle.

I was up all night waiting for him to come home safely. He did.

But the whole thing kept me thinking: ‘WHAT WOULD I DO?’

I started brainstorming ideas. Ideas that would disrupt our children and their everyday life the least. Ways to bring an income that would require me to do little or nothing(I’m busy enough what with the kids, schooling and household). HA! Like that exists. I’m in la-la land over here but I came up with a few ideas you might be interested in as well.

“Work from Home” is a very popular search term on the internet. There are the regular answers like medical transcription and multi-level marketing. Then there are the more creative ideas like freelance writing and blogging(eh.) Or making a product and selling online… Call center associate…. and so many more…just search!

A passive income, this is the term, is what I am looking for. Something that will virtually run itself, and hopefully not into the ground. Something I can invest some money and minimal time allowing me to keep doing what I’m doing with my life and kids but generate an income.

My realtor brain goes right to investment property. Being a landlord is not without its struggles. The first being to have the money to invest. In real estate, as with many business opportunities, you need money(to spend) to make money. Next, is the return on investment. Shelling out upwards of $100k upfront for a monthly check does not sound like a good idea but what draws me in is a steady monthly income – granted you have a tenant(s). Having a set monthly income would be ideal for my situation having a family to support and all. Oh, and the $100k + can be mortgaged for a portion of the rental income, making it all work, financially. As long as the furnace doesn’t blow up! Which brings me to another struggle for landlords: maintenance and repairs. Hiring a handyman and landscapers solves this problem but at a cost. All of these things weigh into expenses and whether this opportunity would be worth it. The answer: with the right property and the right tenants for the right price…it would definitely be worth it!

The next business opportunity for passive income I came up with would be an actual business. One that does not require very much overhead. It’s overhead that puts businesses under! So, no inventory, no products, no employees…just a building where people pay to come in. Not very many options but I thought of a few. A coin Launderette. An Arcade. A pool hall. An automated car wash. A bank of vending machines in a mall. All these options need regular upkeep and maintenance but with the exception of the pool hall, run themselves!

After toying with both ideas I thought, ‘Why not both?!’ What if I invest to buy a commercial/residential multifamily property? One with a Laundromat and arcade with a bank of vending machines on the ground level, an automated car wash out back, and two or three apartments upstairs! There. problem solved!

But is it?

I’d still be without a husband and have the stress of operating all these businesses and properties. It would be risky because in this hypothetical, I’d be investing our life insurance pay out to make do with what we had. I couldn’t live with myself if it didn’t work out. Hello! I couldn’t live with myself without Darryl!!!

What would you do?

Selling Your House Series: Part One, Before Listing

Selling Your House Series


I’m excited about this series (it’s my first) because big changes are coming up for our family. I’ll be highlighting our journey in a series of blog posts about tips, tricks and overall how we are selling our house.

disclaimer: I am not currently a Realtor. My advice is based on my previous experience as an agent.

Deciding to sell is a big deal! This is our home, where we live and grow and make memories!

The Debate:

We have toiled with the idea of flipping for years before we purchased our first house. My father did his version of flipping in the 80’s when the economy was booming and people were spending CRAZY money! I learned what little carpentry skills I have from him and owe my Real Estate background to him as well.

The idea of basically living for free is what sold my husband. It is not an exact science but if executed correctly you could turn enough profit from flipping a home that would cover your rent for the time you lived there by making the investments and using sweat equity to improve the property. – That’s the idea, anyway.

We bought our first house 5 1/2 years ago with the intent to sell in 5 years. HA! Well, four kids, a lot of renovations and unstable job situation for my husband led us down a different path. We spent way more than we first intended on this place and we have invested countless man hours not to mention the memories made. Aaaah the memories! 3 out of 4 of our daughters first came home to this house. All of them took their first steps, said their first words and all those ooey gooey mama and papa memories that we love to hold so tight.  We have put a pretty penny into this house making it our home and realizing some design dreams. We have worked hard spending not only money but blood, sweat and tears getting it just the way we want it. We have  gracious neighbors. Everyone helps everyone else out, it’s that simple and easy. No fighting over property lines arguing about leaf piles. We’re kind of like family. We are at the top of a mountain with trees and wildlife, which we love! Bear, deer, turkey frequent our yard often. There is always something to see yet the feeling here is peaceful and calming. Hey, it’s the Pocono’s!

So why would we sell?

Four babies (plus one more on the way) 3 cats and a dog, we are busting at the seams and need more space! Having paid down our mortgage considerably and adding value to our home, we have equity we would like to use for vacations and making more memories in a less expensive home. Let’s free up some cash! I have a dream… where we don’t have to buy so many eggs. I would love to raise chickens, for educational purposes and economic reasons as well. Unfortunately, our current home is in a Homeowner’s Association that does not allow farm animals. I have this itch. Not one that is easily scratched as it is the itch to move. I’m a traveler at heart and can’t stay in one place for too long. I know. I know, purchasing anything will not afford this itch to be scratched but going on more vacations with the money from selling our house will certainly do! Our home now is  a distance from our friends and family. It makes it difficult to keep up on relationships. We and everyone else would like us to be closer.

Finding Motives:



1. Space 1. Memories
2.Money 2. Money
3. Chickens 3. Our blood sweat and tears
4. The “Itch” 4. Neighbors
5. Location 5. Location

Our final decision to sell is based on the space factor. We would need to spend astronomically more than we have already to make this house work for our growing family, funds we just don’t have; we’re selling.

When is the best time to sell?

Spring is best! Buyers, after a long winter, will come out in the nice weather and hop from open house to open house on the weekends and make a “thing” out of it. Fall is good too, not too hot, not too cold but you’re battling “back to school” nights and PTA meetings. Beside, flowers are blooming and everything looks better in spring!

What we are doing before even calling a Realtor:

The MOST important thing to do before listing your house is taking a walk through with eyes of a buyer. Objectively (with NO emotional attachment) drive up to your house, heck drive around the neighborhood, and see what a buyer would see. The neighbor has junk in their yard or a barking dog. Is there a highway or railroad tracks close by? A buyer will be thinking “Do I REALLY want to live here?” After all, buying a house is a huge investment/commitment. Once the deal goes through and you’re in the house, that’s it. So, people want to be sure they are making the best choice possible.

You pull up your driveway and see a piece of trash in the lawn, the flagpole is crooked and the doorbell is broken. If you live here and do not notice these things or they do not bother you; fine. To a buyer, little things like this in a first impression will irk them and they will have a bad feeling from the get-go.

Make a list as you tour the property with your “buying goggles” on and try to be diligent in seeing the tiniest of details. What might not seem like an issue to you could be huge to a potential buyer.

After making the list, prioritize the things that need to be done and make a timeline of the smallest and easiest tasks being completed first, hopefully that same day.

Having completed at least 1/2 the tasks on your timeline, start interviewing Realtors. Going along with the first Joe who comes-a-calling may not be the BEST Joe for the job. I like to use the rule of threes.  We’re not trying on wedding gowns here, we’re selling a house. Leave your emotions at the front gate! The Realtor with the best exposure, marketing plan and of course, rate will win. If a potential listing agent shows up unprepared to pitch the listing, pitch them straight out the door. A good Realtor will have already researched comps in your area, know the schools and have a good idea of what your house is worth. A good Realtor does his/her homework.

There is always the option of selling the house yourself without a Realtor, but that is a headache and a stack of paperwork worth paying a commission to the right agent (at least it’s worth it to me).

Here is a helpful link for questions to ask a potential Realtor:  12 Questions to ask when choosing your Realtor

A note: I am not affiliated with the website or being compensated in any way for linking them, I just thought this to be useful for our purposes.

Selling Price

Already have a selling price in your mind? I hope it’s not etched in stone, because chances are your emotions are at work again…ugh! This is your home! You have put time and energy into decorating and landscaping and making those fabulous memories, not to mention what YOU paid for the place…isn’t that worth something? To be honest… no! It’s not worth a thing to potential buyers. Buying is about finding the best bang for your buck in the best place possible at the current market rates.

That figure in your mind might be from an appraisal you had 2 years ago when you considered refinancing, that number is no good now! Things have changed. Things can change in just 6 months as markets dip and boom. Realistically your house is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. As a seller, be realistic, especially when it comes to pricing your home. The term “priced to sell” is real. The lower a home is priced whether at or below market value, the more foot traffic you bring in, the more potential offers on the table. TRY to be open to what the Realtor has to offer. Who doesn’t like options?

If you have done the research yourself, as I plan to do, you will know the comparable listings in your area; listings of homes that have RECENTLY SOLD, not what’s on the market. You have to base your price off of SOLD homes that have the most in common with your property, like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms square feet and lot size. These big-ticket items will decide a sales bracket for your house. Most people search homes based on location, bedrooms, bathrooms and then all the other stuff like garages, pools, updated kitchens. It’s important to pull relevant comps for your listing purposes.

Again with the rule of threes… find the three recently sold listings that are most comparable to your property and figure their average selling price, this is what you can expect to get for your home.

How much to list for depends on the comps and your current appraised value. Although not necessary, having your home appraised for listing is a smart tactic to present potential buyers. One less thing they have to worry…eh…pay for.

Now that you have a realistic idea of what your home is worth you can decide how aggressive a seller you want to be. Do you have time to wait for your price? Do you need to bust a move before the bank comes-a knocking? if you have time to wait, up your price by no more than 10% of the comparable average. If not, list at that number and stand firm. Discussing all of this with your Realtor. It’s important to be on the same page so you can work together and get the house sold!

Overview-6 things to do before listing a house on the market:

1. Decide to sell– debate yourself and weigh out the pros and cons. It’s a big decision!

2. The walk-through– walk through the house with an objective eye to see what a potential buyer might see.

3. Make a to-do list– while walking through, make a list of the little things that might need fixing or sprucing up.

4. Set a timeline– Give yourself a deadline to get your to-do list accomplished. Be accountable and get it done!

5. Interview multiple Realtors– Let them prove to you they can do their job right.

6. Be realistic– review comparable homes sold recently in your area and set your price accordingly.

Having these things accomplished before a Realtor comes into the picture is very helpful. If the Realtor and you have done your homework, the relationship as well as sale of your home will be a great success.

At this point we are in the process of preparing our home for the market and getting ready to interview Realtors, the next segment will go into that process as well as our experience in more detail. Subscribe to the blog for email updates to Stay Tuned for the next post in this series: “Staging for Success!”


More on oil pulling

Since my four-day oil pulling project, my teeth and mouth continue to feel cleaner and whiter!

I found a new benefit, though:

I have a gluten sensitivity that includes excessive tiredness and headaches, not to mention other ailments (follow the blog and I’ll be posting about it more later). If i have gluten in any form I am miserable for days to come. I can’t get out of bed in the morning my mood is worse than usual and in general I get sick.

Well, this proves to be specifically difficult when pizza is on the table. My favorite food and long time love of eating pizza has been destroyed by this condition. I have tried gluten-free options and it just isn’t the same.

After feeling so great while doing the oil pulling, I tried a piece of pizza a couple of nights ago and the outcome was phenomenal. The effects were minimal on the surface. I know gluten is bad for me in particular but the oil pulling has definitely helped.

I believe in this ritual more and more everyday. As, I won’t return to my earlier normal bread, pasta and pizza eating habits, I’m confident that if I do slip (as we all do when it comes to strict diets) I have my trusty tool of oil pulling in my back pocket to help eradicate the consequences of my weakness.

What’s the Maine idea?

What does a pig, a whale and a moose all have in common?

 Our trip to Maine!


It started with a moose and ended with a pig but everything in between was riveting. We set out on a Sunday in an RV out on the open road, just the six of us. That’s right, we are a family of SIX! Dad, mom, five-year old, four-year old, two-year old and one year old. One Man and five women. Before you think it… we DO have our hands full and it IS a lot of weddings. Okay, now that that’s out-of-the-way; our RV is a class B motor home that sleeps 10 and the layout was perfect for our needs. With four beds in the back, bunk style, a queen up over the cockpit and a cafe table and couch that convert, we were able to leave the table and sofa usable while the kids slept we could still cook, talk, watch TV.

I know what you’re thinking: We are nuts! Who takes four small kids on a long trip in an RV?!? We do. For argument’s sake, it’s not easy and requires planning and a special “traveling with small child” attitude that took my husband a few days to grasp and a few more to master and by then we were home again. He didn’t agree completely to the idea stating that “they are too young.” Resistant and wanting to be accommodating to me he went and is worse for the wear.


WHy Maine

Miss Rumphius, a book written by Barbara Cooney, is about a young girl aspiring to lead a life like her grandfather; she wishes to travel, come home to live by the sea, and the third thing he instills in her is to make the world more beautiful. As she accomplishes her dreams, this children’s book follows her to faraway places and back home to live by the sea, and when she realizes she still needs to fulfill the most important of her desires, she stumbles upon a brilliant idea of lining the Maine coast with lupines and becomes known as the Lupine Lady. This beautiful story is my favorite to read to my kids because before reading it, I too wished to travel to faraway places and live by the sea but my most important and steadfast dream has always been to make this world more beautiful.

Inspired by Miss Rumphius; I began researching Maine a little and what it has to offer. I found a plethora of information on a popular website that if you search the internet “visit Maine” I’m sure you will find the same one. The problem is that I plan this trip to explore exciting and fun nature-loving activities like moose watching (everybody was really looking forward to this one) and then we are on our way up there, a 400 mile 7 hour ride, only to find the advertised website and amenities are another 4 hours further into Maine than they were supposed to be, it was disappointing. The website divides Maine into several regions and you can search amenities by region and then city, which was convenient. I found campgrounds museums and excursions, one of which included moose watching. When I called the phone number to make our reservation I reached a web hosting company that managed the website of the company that ran the tours. After the run around, I finally got through to find out they do not in fact offer moose watching however, their sister location another 4 hours northwest does, did we want to book with them? HA! Dream of moose watching on this trip crushed. We only have until Friday to return our rented RV and the purpose of this trip is to explore the coast, just like in Miss Rumphius.

The only moose we saw on this trip :(

The only moose we saw on this trip.



Ah, the renting of an RV. Three of the keys to traveling with any small child is bathroom breaks, snacks, and busy fun.

The layout

The layout

An RV affords these three essentials easily while maintaining steady pace traveling to the destination. I’ve heard stories where it takes a family SIX hours just to leave their state which should only be about one hour because of the catastrophes of being ready for the trip. The bathroom is on board in a RV so there is no searching or getting lost trying to find one. The bathroom is a big one for me, I’m a kind of mysophobe when it comes to public restrooms. We know who has used it and the last time it was clean, I don’t have to fumble with tissue to “make the nest” and the privacy of not listening to a stranger’s business and likewise is comforting. Snacks are more manageable in a full kitchen. We are not limited to what fits in the snack cooler and one to two kids cups and then have to restock. We had a refrigerator stocked with affordable normal sized packaging, not wastefully expensive travel packs and juice boxes. Keeping the kids happily busy is a key to their sanity and ours because if they don’t have something to do we become their something and typically the goal is being as obnoxious and needy as possible. My kids are far from perfect but they are well-behaved and sweet to the core so keeping them happy is easy. We buckled their car and booster seats at the cafe table. Snacks and coloring or games and toys were easy to manage riding down the road. We were even able to work on reading and math in their learning workbooks.

Aside from ease in traveling with small children, renting a RV opposed to other methods of travel poses some serious savings in your pocketbook.

First method of travel I’ll review is flying:

Our closest airport to Portland, ME charges $1,536.00 for four seats on an hour and a half flight. (our one and two-year old would be on our laps)

We would need to rent a car for the five days that we were there at $100.00 per day for a total of $500.00.

An average hotel room for 4 nights is $155.00 per night which totals $620.00.

Our meals would be from restaurants and take out or delivery menus. On average a family of six could eat breakfast at a local diner for around $40.00, lunch in a cafe $50.00 to $60.00 and dinner easily would be upwards of $80.00 a total of $180.00 per day. Eating out for the week would be about $900.00.

Not including souvenirs, activities, or incidentals, just getting, staying and eating comes out to $3556.00

Of course there are ways to decrease this budget by renting a smaller car, I priced out a minivan because our car seats and big family needs a lot of room. We could eat at McDonald’s everyday but we choose to live long not die young, and the cut-rate motel charges half of that comfy clean hotel but realistically I wouldn’t let my kids breathe the air in that fleabag of a hole in the wall.

Moving on.

Just to drive ourselves in our own car and stop along the way at hotels would be a much longer trip and expensive to boot.

Our van gets 19 mpg and would cost $217.00 in gas to travel a round trip of 1100 miles.

We would be wearing and tearing it up all the way there and back bringing in maintenance and repair costs that are immeasurable.

The quality of our trip would consist of waking our kiddos earlier than the sun to eat a cold breakfast and sit for hours and hours if we were to make it up to Maine before dark. A seven hour ride on a one and two-year old is rough. It would be a lot of tears and complaints.

The hotel and meal costs would be the same but rental car eliminated, the total for this scenario is $1,737.00 not included the added maintenance for our vehicle, which would likely include an oil change, tire rotation and an alignment or brake work, our van needs breaks every 1800 miles.

Sure, the price tag is appealing but it comes at a greater cost to our children. Riding in cars for hours is not fun, no matter the destination!

Another method of travel we considered was by train. This excited me because a new experience is an opportunity for learning! I’m not just referring to the kids; dad and mom would gain a lot from it too.

We would first have to make the two-hour car ride to NYC to board a 2:40am train at Penn Station traveling a little over five hours to Boston, then change trains to head up to Portland, ME on a two and a half hour ride arriving at 11:35am. Total travel time: nine hours thirty minutes.

The cost of this method would run $560.00.

Add in the rental car, hotel and meals and we are up to $2,580.00.

Taking a bus is of course an option however not practical for our family of six so I have opted out of pricing that one.

Now on to what our trip actually cost.

The rental fee for the RV totaled $1,575.00. We spent $325.00 for gas. Our food bill for the week was $135.00.

Totaling $2,035.00!

a note about food: when going on vacation we rush to finish the milk or suffer and cringe at throwing it out because we know it will be rancid by the time we come back. This trip, we took it all with us; milk, butter, eggs, cheese, jelly and mayo. From our fridge into the RV and back home with us.

We also were able to use all our own sheets towels cooking utensils and everything in between. downside: the laundry. Yes I had eight loads of laundry to do when I got home, but that’s not any different from a regular week I spend in my home.

The beauty in an RV is that it’s our method of travel,  hotel and restaurant(kind of) all balled in one.


We packed enough clothes to not have to worry about doing laundry until we got home. We brought along a first aid kit and some busy work for the kids. Other than that we were left to the devices of the open road and spontaneously stopped along the way for food(other than what was in our fridge) at local markets and attractions.

We made arrangements for our pets early on and dropped them off on our way to pick up the RV.

This being our first RV trip, we just kind of winged it. Something I enjoy, you never know where you’ll end up or who you’ll meet. One night we slept in a Sears parking lot. We followed RV park signs and with what little research on the area I found one incredibly amazing RV park we will definitely be returning to.

I planned this trip long in advance. I’d been aching to visit Maine for years and summer 2013 was it. I chose summer because Maine, being a northern state, wouldn’t allow much outdoors time in sandals had we gone any other time of year. (I hate socks!)

On the first day we brought the RV to our house and loaded her up right in our driveway-no suitcases needed. 🙂 Milk eggs and butter from our fridge to the RV and away we went! The excitement of a new place and riding down the road in this house-on-wheels was enough to keep the kids occupied and happy for a few hours before our first dilemma. Even a seasoned traveler(which I am not) forgets the occasional toiletry. I forget my toddlers bottles! Oh jeez, we were approaching bedtime on the very first night not even 100 miles from starting out and my baby is screaming in hunger because dopey mum forget to bring the satchel of bottles.

So, we did what we could on short notice: found a grocery store-bought a few bottles and a brush, boiled them up and filled her belly. Aaaahh what a stressful first few hours.

After that we were smooth sailing into West Hartford, CT Sears and “parked” for the night. Rough beginnings do make for great trips, though! Just wait until the end.

Morning came and we were well rested. A quick breakfast and back on our way. The thing about travelling with small children, they need to stop and stretch and run every few hours so it’s best to keep that in mind when they start to get antsy in their pants. I was looking for local farmer’s markets to find fresh fruit and vegetables and I notice a highway sign for Idylwilde farms.


I thought FARM but it was just what we needed. You can check them out here. Fresh organic produce with meats and cheeses, it was lovely!

After the market we continued on and little while later we made it to Portsmouth, the one and only coastal city in New Hampshire and found our first spontaneous attraction:

The S.S. Albacore!
The S.S. Albacore!

A Naval Submarine that was used as a test sub, the S.S. Albacore “holds a place in history as the first Navy-designed vessel with a true underwater hull of cylindrical shape that has become the standard for today’s submarines worldwide.”

I had an amazing time, learning a lot and picturing what my Grandfather’s life would have been like had he been in a sub while serving our US Navy.

The girls had a blast too! Testing out gadgets and pushing buttons.

We got to look in the periscope and steer, we learned about living quarters, mealtime and what life is like on a sub – so much information!

The Sub was a nice stop for the kids and very affordable on our wallet; I paid $7.00 for me and the girls (under age 7) were free! While I took the older two in, Darryl stayed in the RV with the littler ones while they napped. After eating lunch we were back on the road and in no time, made it to the mid-coast section of Maine arriving at our first RV park.

This being our first, all the others have a lot to measure up to. This place was gorgeous! Quiet, clean and very well maintained. Camping was easy with the general store stocking firewood and other incidentals.



Marshmallows were roasted and fun was had by all.

We were only here for one night, unfortunately. Otherwise, we would have spent more time enjoying the amenities; if only whale watching wasn’t awaiting our eager little sea discoverers.

In the morning after a short ride over to Boothbay Harbor, ME, we were at sea on our whale watching tour.

We found ample parking for our RV close-by and enjoyed a successful tour of the Maine coast viewing lighthouses, finding seals and spotting whales along the way learning, learning, learning!


We started out on the top deck out in the open sea air which was fun…for a while. Once we really started moving, we learned of Juniper’s lack of “sea legs.”

Juniper sea sick :(

Luckily and conveniently we went down in to the lower enclosed level and she felt much better; we also had a better view of the whales, being closer to the water.

feeling better

That’s where all the action happened!



After our first spotting, it was hard to get these little eyes unglued from the view 🙂 Which makes the whole trip worth it!






We stayed with a pair of whales for a while but learned they dive deep and stay under for 15 minutes or so, until they need more air so we continued on and found even more. The trip was a great success and we had a blast!

After our awesome whale watching experience we explored Boothbay Harbour a bit.

... admired the art

We walked the streets,

Phone Pics 12186 Phone Pics 12188

then did some local shopping

Phone Pics 12218

and enjoyed scenery and the gorgeous weather.

Next: On to Damariscotta!

I love visiting little towns and meeting new people. A really nice shop owner watering her flowers admired us admiring her planters and offered to take this family shot for us. (a rare thing sans timer because mama-duck is usually behind the lens.

This gem of a place just fell in our lap. As we explored the town and just as Darryl and I were saying we were hungry we happened upon this welcoming store front that was a local grill.

We had an entire dining room to ourselves, while the front of the restaurant was busy, we quietly enjoyed the water views and splendid Art that adorned the walls. Darryl “felt like a king” as the kids ate well and the adults conversed; the sun set and we peacefully reflected on our adventures thus far.

Tummy’s full and time-a-ticking we made the thirty minute ride over to New Harbour, ME and second RV park. It was bed time, we were exhausted so we didn’t take any time to explore but this RV park was also very nice. (Must be MAINE!)

The next morning we rose early and beat the guard to the lighthouse…people were excited!

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Just as I had imagined it, The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse sat amid a rocky coastline perched way up above the ocean. When I climbed the tower I felt I was literally on top of the world.

Top of the world

The view took my breath away; the staircase did too.


After we toured the lighthouse museum and explored a bit outside.

Exploring pemaquid

Darryl took the three youngest to have a snack, while Juniper and I went on a coastal excursion. I was so proud of my little 5 year-old! In flip-flops, this girl climbed, slipped, slid jumped and hurdled over trenches, and slippery rocks like a professional – it was some nice one on one for us too!

Mom n juniper time

This next part was really special:

Lemon Tree has always replied, when asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” with the cutest little, “an artist.” While she bats her eyelashes, tucks her folded hands under her chin and looks up at me with a smile. Well… it just so happens that Bristol Park, where the lighthouse is located, also has an art gallery and other buildings to explore. We ventured into to the gallery which was filled to the brim with local artists’ works of beauty. At the back corner a display was being emptied, we approached and asked “Are you the artist?”

An artist

Indeed, she was the artist and although lemon’s face doesn’t show this, she was ecstatic and couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the day, about meeting a REAL artist. It was a lovely encounter and really makes our decisions to home school, travel and be spontaneous that much more valid. Every parent questions themself, whether they are doing their absolute best. After this, I am certain, we are!

A few miles down the road was a sandy beach we found nestled in the rocky coast.

we found a beachIt was small compared to the Jersey coast, which I am used to, but not crowded. And the sand….. oh the sand!

Sparkly beach

If not for anything else, get to Maine to witness one of the most beautiful geological treasures this earth has to offer, many of you probably prepare your meals on it: granite! In all its natural glory, the Maine coast is speckled with shimmering rock and smooth stones. This beach is no different, the sand is speckled and shimmering like a fairy sprinkled pixie dust all over us, we played for hours digging, collecting trinkets and just relaxing on a pristine day.


We ate lunch and went back to the campground to shower and begin our journey back home. The trip felt short because we stayed busy but it felt long because we had no idea what was in store for us next. Along the way, we paused to browse antique cars for sale on a small lot. We parked and pulled out our little grill for steaks and more marshmallows. After dinner, everyone pajama’d and we started back to the New Hampshire border. We found an inconspicuous parking lot and docked for the night. Woke to experience breakfast at  the famous NH Roundabout Diner. Being from Jersey, We know our diners and this one is tops!

roundabout diner

The service was great and food, amazing! We always struggle to get a group shot and this time was no different:

There is a sculpture garden I’d heard about right at the border here and I was excited to bring the kids because not only is it art, a walking trail and spending time outside; they had goats and a pig we could feed. More learning and life experience … so I thought.

What was a quiet easy walk in the woods admiring the art pieces scattered among the trees quickly turned horror movie scene and traumatizing nightmare for my whole family {except my sister, she burst out into tearing fits of laughter every time this story comes up} We approached the goats but just before we were able to feed them our apple slices, the pig! As it came out of its house its tail was wagging and Juniper bent down to give it a piece of apple; she dropped it between two rocks. As I bent down to retrieve it, the  pig charged us and attacked me. It gnawed at my leg and as I tried to push it away it bit my elbow too! OUCH! I didn’t know that pigs were aggressive animals.

Juniper froze in fear, Lemon ran and screamed, Ash cried in terror and Oak sat in her stroller speechless. Darryl? Oh, he was just standing there; watching. Yep. finally I called to him for help but he didn’t do much, so I grabbed the kids and scurried back down the trail fast as we could.



They ate the apples intended for the goats while Darryl stayed behind to keep the pig at bay but a few minutes later when Darryl came down the path, the pig followed him. After Darryl chased him back home, we assessed the damage and let that be the end to our trip.



On our way home and in the days to come we asked the kids what their favorite part of our trip is and Juniper says “The Whales!” Lemon says “I don’t like the pig biting mommy” (traumatized) After all the fun and exciting things, she remembers the last thing; the worst thing. What a way to end a trip!

We had a lot of fun and it was a memorable trip. I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride and if ever make it to Maine you’ll visit some of these amazing places.

So there you have it. A pig, a moose and a whale: MAINE!