Wednesday, April 30, 2014

3 Tips for Choosing an Assisted-Living Home for Your Parent

For the past 6 years we have been taking care of my 87 year old aunt who just passed away last month. Over the last 6 years I have learned a lot about nursing homes and assisted-living centers and trust me, they are NOT all created equally!

For the first 2 years we left my aunt live in her house and the family rotated days going in to check on her and to help her out. Once she fell and busted her back in 7 places, we knew that she could no longer live on her own even with our help. It took us 2 1/2 months to find the perfect assisted-living home for her and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Once the move was made...we still took turns going in to visit her but now we could ACTUALLY sit down & visit with her since her personal care & medical needs were now being met with the staff. It was nice having that option for the last 4 years of her life.

Recently I was emailed this article and asked to share it with my blog readers. I decide to do just that since this topic is near and dear to my heart. You will find the entire article below with the author's information. Enjoy.
3 Tips for Choosing an Assisted-Living Home for Your Parent

Seventy percent of people age 65 and older will need long-term care at some point in their lives, according to a 2014 study by CareScout, a division of Genworth Financial Services.

“But that doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice their quality of life,” says Peder Johnsen, CEO of Concordis Senior Living,, which owns, operates and develops senior housing communities.

“In fact, a person who needs some assistance with day-to-day living will often find he or she is much happier in a good assisted-living community with an atmosphere that reminds them of their former home.”

And it doesn’t have to be outrageously priced, notes Johnsen, a third-generation ALF operator whose family pioneered the contemporary congregate community model.

The median price for a private, one-bed home in an ALF community is $42,000, he says, citing the CareScout report. By contrast, a semi-private nursing home bed costs a median $77,000 a year.

But it’s up to prospective residents and their families to ascertain the quality of the community and whether it’s a good match for the person who will be living there.

“ALFs are not federally regulated and states vary widely on the breadth of oversight they provide, so you can’t necessarily rely on the law,” Johnsen says. “And don’t rely on salespeople either – that’s the biggest mistake people make.”

There are, however, a number of easy ways to see if a home has a truly caring atmosphere and well-trained staff.

Johnsen offers these tips:

• Ask to see the home’s state licensing survey, an assessment that usually includes inspections, audits, interviews with residents, etc.

Every state has an ALF licensing agency and all have some form of survey system for ensuring that certain standards of quality are met, according to the Assisted Living Federation of America.

“Requirements vary from state to state about how often the surveys are conducted and how the public can access the reports, but no matter what state you live in, you should be able to ask the ALF for its most recent report, or obtain it from the licensing agency,” Johnsen says.

The surveys will tell you if problems were found – or not – and what the ALF did to address them.

• Visit the ALF during non-business hours.

Go before breakfast or after dinner – times when the administrators aren’t around. What’s the atmosphere? How do employees behave with the residents?

“That’s a good time to talk to residents, too,” Johnsen says.

Be a “mystery shopper,” he suggests. Pretend you’re just visiting the community – not scouting it out as a prospective customer.

• Ascertain how truly “homelike” the community is.

In your own home, if you don’t feel like eating breakfast at 7:30 a.m., you don’t have to. You can have breakfast at 10. You can get snacks when you want them.

“Depending on what’s important to your loved one, there are potentially many rules that can affect how ‘at home’ a person feels,” Johnsen says. “Some communities allow residents to have pets, others don’t. Some provide lots of activities. At some, residents can quickly and easily arrange for transportation or a service like hair styling.”

Not every community can offer everything, he notes. That’s why it’s important to look for those features that are especially important to your loved one.

About Peder Johnsen: Peder Johnsen is the CEO of Concordis Senior Living,, which owns, operates and develops senior housing communities. He’s a third-generation assisted-living specialist whose grandfather and father built one of the first contemporary-style ALFs in Florida more than 30 years ago. Johnsen took over administration of two small facilities at age 18. Today, he specializes the full spectrum of ALFs – from “ALF lites,” where most residents live very independent lifestyles but know assisted-living services are available if they should need them, to homes specializing in care for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. He is an industry leader in staff development and training, and has overseen the development, acquisition and financing of several communities.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

5 Ways to Green Up Your Spring Cleaning

Those who know me will tell you..."Shelly has a cleaning fetish" and frankly, I am pretty proud about it. I would rather live in a very clean & organized home than one that is in disarray. When people "just" drop in...I don't have to feel ashamed when they walk through my home.

Recently I was asked to share this article with all of my blog readers and I thought today was the perfect day to do that since most of us are doing our Spring cleaning and most of us do our cleaning during the weekend. There are a lot of great tips in this article that I just love!

5 Ways to Green Up Your Spring Cleaning

We all want to be better patrons to our planet, and Earth Day is a great reminder to be more conscious in our day-to-day activities. Since it falls in the midst of spring cleaning, the event represents a great time to green up our storage, organization and decorating practices. If you'd like to reduce your impact on the environment as you spruce your space for the season, try any of these ecofriendly strategies.

1. Storing
Open up your pantry door and you'll likely find a ton of plastic containers. While convenient for storing dry goods, the process of making plastic is extremely harmful to the environment. Consider switching to glass and reusing jam and pasta jars to store rice, nuts, popcorn and the like. Not only is this a cost-effective solution, it's also an aesthetic one; your pantry will never look prettier!

2. Decorating
Did you hear? Tin cans are the new mason jars when it comes to home decor trends. Instead of tossing that empty can of whole tomatoes or green beans into the recycling bin, repurpose it into a vase with a little spray paint. Check out this article from Apartment Therapy for recommendations on low-VOC and eco-friendly paint that will help keep things green.

3. Cleaning
If only spring cleaning was truly limited to a single season! The process of keeping things neat and tidy is surprisingly wasteful. Americans use 13 billion pounds of paper towels every year, which requires 60 million gallons of water and over 50,000 trees to produce. Reduce your paper towel usage by substituting rags and microfiber towels when cleaning up. Simply toss these rags in the laundry and reuse!

4. Pest Control
Nothing stops you in your tracks faster than rodent droppings in cupboards or spiders in window corners. Instead of loading up on harsh chemicals and pesticides, spray baseboards and window sills with a water-peppermint oil mix to deter spiders and rodents naturally. Check out this video from AOL DailyFinance for more information on this combination, and drop harmful chemicals for good.

5. Filing
Transition your storage habits from paper to digital by scanning important documents and saving them "in the cloud" using free services like Dropbox. If you must print, look for ink cartridges through sites like, where you can find compatible and remanufactured brands that work with your printer. By using remanufactured toner, Americans can save 38,000 tons of plastic and metal from being dumped in landfills.

Kendal Perez is a frugal blogger who helps fellow shopaholics find hassle-free ways to save money. As the Marketing Manager for Kinoli Inc., site manager for a family of money-saving websites, Kendal has the resources to be an extreme couponer but prefers a less complicated approach to staying in-budget. Kendal has been quoted in such media outlets as Woman's Day, People StyleWatch, FOX, TIME Business & Money and Kiplinger's Personal Finance. For savings tips and more information, visit or follow Kendal on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spa Week: 7 Ways to Pamper Yourself For Less

I love to pamper myself and often times I am just too busy to do it like I used to. I love to sit down to give myself a manicure, pedicure, body wax or just soak in a long, hot bubble bath! Ahhhh, I can feel my body relaxing and the stress floating away just thinking about that!

Recently I was sent some tips to share with all of you. These 7 tips are great ways to pamper yourself for less! Yay! We all love being pampered and if we can save money in the process,'s a win-win for us all. Some of these tips are very unique and I can't wait to try them out!
This week kicks of Spa Week, the annual seven-day event where spas, massage parlors and wellness centers offer deals and perks for newbies and seasoned clients alike. Facials, massages and related treatments are beneficial to the body and mind, but are often hard on the pocketbook. In addition to Spa Week specials, check out these tips to pamper yourself for less.

Go Somewhere New -- Most chain spas offer new client specials with one-hour massages costing just $40 or $50 in most cases. If you're looking for an occasional rub down and don't have a strong preference about your masseuse, this is a great option for saving money.

Gift Yourself -- Gift cards aren't just for friends and family during the holidays; you can purchase them for less than face value at websites like Look for savings of up to 20-percent off gift cards to SpaWish, SpaFinder, Bliss Spa and many others.

Skip the Extras -- Aromatherapy, foot scrubs and hot stone therapy are popular services offered by massage parlors for an added fee. Since reps aren't upfront about those added costs, always ask and decline accordingly.

Ask About Discounts -- Students, groups and members of the military may be eligible for massage membership discounts. This benefit varies by location for franchise massage parlors but can help you pay a lesser rate for your experience. For example, Massage Envy offers military members $60 off annual memberships, while Massage Heights offers special pricing to couples and families.

Finish with DIY -- Bummed about missing out on those extra services? Finish off your massage experience at home with DIY facials or foot scrubs. SpaFinder offers a Tightening and Brightening Facial recipe composed of common pantry items, while fragrant scrubs for all skin types can be made out of sugar, salt, oil and fruit, as illustrated by this post.

Be a Guinea Pig -- Students training to be massage therapists need clients to help them hone their skills. If you don't mind being a guinea pig and offering constructive feedback on your experience, contact your local massage school and inquire about opportunities to be a "client."

Find Daily Deals -- Spa treatments are almost synonymous with daily deal sites as most up-and-coming salons look to boost sales with heavily-discounted promotions. Browse offers on Groupon, LivingSocial, Amazon Local and others, and be sure to read facility reviews before buying.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quick and Easy Blueberry Banana Bread Recipe

Last weekend I went to the store and bought a box mix to make homemade banana bread. Once I got home, I realized I had a little bit of frozen blueberries left in my freezer that needed to be used up and a great idea quickly came to me!

I prepared the banana bread according to the box instructions. I thawed out the blueberries and drained away the liquid. After measuring them, I had exactly 1 cup of blueberries which I gently stirred into the bread batter until everything was well combined.

Lightly spray your loaf baking pan with some nonstick cooking spray or grease with just a tad of butter. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven according to the box directions. With the addition of the blueberries, I saw no increased baking time.

Once it was done, I removed mine from the oven and left it cool for about 8 minutes. I sliced it up and served it warm with melted honey butter on each slice. Wow, this was delicious!!!

Next time around I am going to experiment with some strawberries or raspberries that I have sitting in my freezer too. Using that $1.00 banana bread box mix saved me a lot of time and mess and my blueberry and banana bread came out super sweet, moist and delicious! Give it a try sometime!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Carrot Raisin and Walnut Cookies Recipe

Last month I was visiting with my sister and she gave me a bag full of her homemade carrot and walnut cookies along with the recipe. Today, I wanted to share that recipe with all of you because these cookies are easy to make and taste delicious!

Carrot and Walnut Cookies Recipe

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup carrots, grated
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins

In a large mixing bowl combine together the all purpose flour, ground cinnamon, baking soda and the salt. In another large mixing bowl beat together the brown sugar and butter until well blended. Beat in the large egg and the vanilla extract. Using a large mixing spoon and stir in the grated carrots, chopped walnuts and the raisins by hand until all ingredients are well blended together.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly spray your baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or grease them up with a little butter. Drop cookie dough onto the baking sheets leaving 3" of space between them. They will expand a little bit during the baking process. Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are done. Remove and let cookies cool before serving.