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Monday
May042015

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One Printer a great option for your home office

I was recently asked to review an WorkForce Pro WF-4630, all-in-one printer. The gracious folks at Epson sent me a unit for review. The printer really does everything I want it to; print, copy, scan and fax. It connects to Wi-Fi and is very easy to set up and use.

One of the key features that I was looking for was the ability to easily print from my iPad and iPhone. The WorkForce Pro WF-4630 does that easily, as well as from my laptop and desktop. The Epson Connect feature basically allows you to print and share from anywhere, which is a definite plus. Here are some other great key features:

Printing

The unit has ISO print speeds of 20 ISO ppm (black) and 20 ISO ppm (color). You will also save up to 50% on paper with automatic two-sided printing feature.

Capacity

Paper tray holds up to 250 sheets, plus 80 sheet rear tray for envelopes or specialty paper.

Touch screen

The WF-4630 features an intuitive 3.5" color LCD with gesture navigation.

Epson is also environmentally friendly, which is one of my favorite features! According to the Epson website, the WF-4630 is equipped with these ECO features:

  • Uses up to 70% less power than laser printers6
  • Save up to 50% on paper with automatic, two-sided printing / copying
  • ENERGY STAR® qualified
  • RoHS compliant
  • Recyclable product7

If you are in the market for a new printer, scanner, copier or fax machine for your home office, the WF-4630 is a great option. This is a heav duty, professional quality printer. Because of the Wi-Fi connection, you can place it anywhere throughout your home or office. It features great durability and can output 30,000 pages monthly. It prints fast and with print shop quality. You'll save 50% on ink vs. using laser.

The WF-4630 is available online for $149.99 after an instant $150 rebate and qualifies for free ground shipping. The all-in-one printer includes four DURABrite ultra ink cartridges, an instruction manual, CD-ROM for setup and power cord. A USB cable is not included in the packaging, so if you aren’t using the Wi-Fi option you will need one of those.

In addition to the website, you can also find Epson via social media at Facebook.com and on Twitter!

*I was supplied with a WF-4630 free of charge in order to write this product review. However, all opinions are my own.


Friday
May012015

The American Small Business Championship

I was recently contacted by The Motherhood to participate in an online virtual session about the American Small Business Championship. This was an amazing opportunity and I’m thrilled to share some details with you about how you can get involved too!

The American Small Business Championship is hosted by Sam’s Club and SCORE. It’s a way to award small business owners for their sacrifices and dedication to their business. It launched in January and winners were announced on Feb. 24. There were more than 100 winners from 47 states!! The Championship aims to address the unique challenges and obstacles faced by small business owners.

Many of these business owners are moms just like us! Two champions, Veronica Jacobsen and Tabitha Birdsong, were on the session to tell their story and emphasize how the #ASBC has impacted them and their businesses. Jacobsen is the owner of Baby Love and Birdsong is the co-owner of Miss Birdsong’s Sweet Tooth.

The champions each received a $1,000 Sam's Club gift card, an expense-paid attendance at a regional Championship Celebration and Symposium, SCORE mentoring for one year and significant national publicity.

Sam’s Club works to connect small business owners with the training, resources and capital they need to grow and succeed. They invest in programs that connect existing small business owners – especially women, minorities and veterans.

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses succeed and since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE provides small business mentoring, workshops and education to more than 375,000 new and growing small businesses. Their mentoring program is completely FREE!

Want to learn more? Visit SCORE to learn more about the American Small Business Championship and upcoming symposiums. Visit Sam’s Club to learn more about their impact on small businesses. You can also visit SCORE for tips, tools and resources for small businesses!

Friday
May012015

30 Days to Cleaner Ways: Spring Cleaning and earning money

There’s still time to get your spring cleaning done prior to summer vacation and the kids getting out from school. De-cluttering is a great feng shui activity that helps re-energize your home and can also help you relax and increase productivity. There are many ways to declutter and spring clean your home and you can also make money by doing so. One of my favorite books about decluttering is written by Marie Kondo called the “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Probably one of the most interesting books I have ever read on the topic. She takes an approach that we accumulate more than we get rid of. It’s also a mind shift to accumulate things that make us happy. Now she doesn’t advocate a day by day approach if you are a busy parent it might be all you have time for. While this list is something you can tackle in 30 days, I would recommend making this 30 day list an ongoing process and incorporate into a two week or weekly method depending upon your time constraints. In the below suggestions I also offer ways to make a little cash on that clutter.

Bathrooms

  • Medicine Cabinet – toss out expired, and empty medicines, lotions, shampoos and makeup. Toiletry items you no longer want can be donated to homeless or domestic violence shelters.
  •  Shower – Remove extras or empties and invest in a shower caddy as well as a soap/shampoo dispenser
  • Clean remaining bathroom surfaces
  • Sweep and mop bathroom floors
  • Reorganize bathroom cabinet drawers by removing old products and installing trays for better organization
  • Clean out linen closet – straighten out towels, sheets and determine what you want to donate or sell at a garage sale.

Bedrooms

  • Nightstand – collect books, water bottles and electronics from the nightstand. Dust and wipe down. Organize cords with zip ties for any electronics you keep by the night stand. Sell your books on eBay, at Half Price Books or online book sellers like bookbyte.
  • Electronics recycling - ePelican (www.epelican.com), is an e-commerce site that allows you to easily, safely and conveniently sell and recycle your old or unwanted mobile devices and tablets for cash.
  • Dresser – go through your clothes and refold. Remove what you don’t want and have them ready for a garage sale, offer them for cash at a consignment store or sell them online at ebay or on places like ThredUp.
  • Master Closet – Do the same thing as you did with the dresser. Make three piles of keep, maybe and get rid of. The Maybe pile resolve to only keep half of that pile. The rest you can donate or sell.
  • Flip mattresses and clean duvets, mattress covers, and comforters, mattress pads and dust ruffles.
  • Clean out and organize jewelry or other accessories.
  • Clean out the coat closet – They become the catch all for everything. Go through the coat closet and remove what you don’t need.
  • Clean valances, curtains, blinds, window panes, and window sills – Get rid of old window fixtures and curtains you no longer want.
  • Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, statues, and knick-knacks. Replace bulbs as needed with more energy efficient bulbs

Living Room

  • Steam Clean or Deep Clean living room furniture – repair broken furniture or get rid of it
  • Wipe down/dust TV and other entertainment or electronics. Go through DVDs and other devices such as DVD Players, Stereo equipment, cables, and remote controls. Repair items and replace batteries.
  • Dust the mantel and bookshelves – Remove clutter and put things away in respective places. Determine if decorative items are still necessary. If not sell at the garage sale or donate.
  • Check air conditioning filters and replace smoke alarm batteries. Replacing AC filters prior to summer and the increased use of the AC can help you save on energy costs.

Kitchen

  • Refrigerator – Move the fridge and clean under it. Remove old, expired food items. All clutter on the refrigerator should be evaluated and removed such as magnets, letters, invitations, photos and artwork. Anything you want to keep place in a scrapbook album. Change out water filters.
  • Kitchen Cabinets – go through pots, pans and containers to ensure matching lids. If there is anything you want to sell at a garage sale, toss them out. All electronics check if they still work and if not throw them out.
  • Pantry – Canned goods and dry goods should be checked for expiration dates. All food items you won’t eat throw them out. Unexpired and shelf stable foods can be donated to your local food pantry. 
  • Spice rack or spice cabinets – Go through and find out which spices are expired or never used. Sort them by baking items and regular cooking items. Consider using other methods to store spices rather than jars such as tins or old school Indian masala dabba.
  • Junk Drawer – review the junk drawer to determine if the items can be placed elsewhere. Office supplies should be placed in the office. Remove trash and clean out.
  • Under sink storage – Throw out old cleaning supplies, consolidate cleaning supplies, and take an inventory so you don’t overbuy.

Home Office

  • Filing cabinets – Invest in file folders and tabs. Shred anything older than 5 years from now and all other important documents you should scan and keep electronic and paper copies
  • Mail filing system – I get a lot of junk mail and magazines. Clear the mail storage area or designate one and clean out the dust bunnies. Keep a small recycling bin and recycle magazines and paper.
  • Office Desk and Computers – keep cords in place with zip ties. Review Anti virus software. Clean up printer stations and check printer ink and ensure paper is available.

Laundry Room

  • · Wipe down washer and dryer. Clean your washer by running a cycle with white vinegar. Clean our dryer vents and hoses.
  • Organize laundry room shelves and dust around machines and declutter area.

Outside

  • Porch – Sweep and remove cobwebs. Repair or replace furniture and fixtures
  • Wipe down patio furniture. Sweep patios, decks, walkways, and porches.
  • Clean exterior windows and shutters.
  • Shake out or replace doormats.

I’m an avid eBay and garage sale seller so I enjoy finding ways to make money and save on expenses by cleaning. What tips can you provide for a better spring cleaning adventure?

Heather Buen is a Dallas based single mom of three that enjoys cooking, traveling, art, and technology. She has an MBA from the University of Maryland - University College and is studying for an additional degree in Computer Science.  She’s part time consultant, freelance writer, part time continuing education instructor at UT Arlington and is also an analyst in the energy industry. She owns a family of online lifestyle blog brands that include: Dallas Single Mom – a hyperlocal parenting blog located in Dallas, TX as well as Dallas Mom Deals. Heather has written articles for Examiner.com, AXS.com, CBS Localand more. Her industries of expertise include family/parenting, dating/relationships, consumer products, technology, finance, marketing, travel, and transportation.

There’s still time to get your spring cleaning done prior to summer vacation and the kids getting out from school. De-cluttering is a great feng shui activity that helps re-energize your home and can also help you relax and increase productivity. There are many ways to declutter and spring clean your home and you can also make money by doing so. One of my favorite books about decluttering is written by Marie Kondo called the “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Probably one of the most interesting books I have ever read on the topic. She takes an approach that we accumulate more than we get rid of. It’s also a mind shift to accumulate things that make us happy. Now she doesn’t advocate a day by day approach if you are a busy parent it might be all you have time for. While this list is something you can tackle in 30 days, I would recommend making this 30 day list an ongoing process and incorporate into a two week or weekly method depending upon your time constraints. In the below suggestions I also offer ways to make a little cash on that clutter.

Bathrooms

·         Medicine Cabinet – toss out expired, and empty medicines, lotions, shampoos and makeup. Toiletry items you no longer want can be donated to homeless or domestic violence shelters.

·         Shower – Remove extras or empties and invest in a shower caddy as well as a soap/shampoo dispenser

·         Clean remaining bathroom surfaces

·         Sweep and mop bathroom floors

·         Reorganize bathroom cabinet drawers by removing old products and installing trays for better organization

·         Clean out linen closet – straighten out towels, sheets and determine what you want to donate or sell at a garage sale.

Bedrooms

·         Nightstand – collect books, water bottles and electronics from the nightstand. Dust and wipe down. Organize cords with zip ties for any electronics you keep by the night stand. Sell your books on eBay, at Half Price Books or online book sellers like bookbyte.

·         Electronics recycling - ePelican (www.epelican.com), is an e-commerce site that allows you to easily, safely and conveniently sell and recycle your old or unwanted mobile devices and tablets for cash.

·         Dresser – go through your clothes and refold. Remove what you don’t want and have them ready for a garage sale, offer them for cash at a consignment store or sell them online at ebay or on places like ThredUp.

·         Master Closet – Do the same thing as you did with the dresser. Make three piles of keep, maybe and get rid of. The Maybe pile resolve to only keep half of that pile. The rest you can donate or sell.

·         Flip mattresses and clean duvets, mattress covers, and comforters, mattress pads and dust ruffles.

·         Clean out and organize jewelry or other accessories.

·         Clean out the coat closet – They become the catch all for everything. Go through the coat closet and remove what you don’t need.

·         Clean valances, curtains, blinds, window panes, and window sills – Get rid of old window fixtures and curtains you no longer want.

·         Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, statues, and knick-knacks. Replace bulbs as needed with more energy efficient bulbs

Living Room

·         Steam Clean or Deep Clean living room furniture – repair broken furniture or get rid of it

·         Wipe down/dust TV and other entertainment or electronics. Go through DVDs and other devices such as DVD Players, Stereo equipment, cables, and remote controls. Repair items and replace batteries.

·         Dust the mantel and bookshelves – Remove clutter and put things away in respective places. Determine if decorative items are still necessary. If not sell at the garage sale or donate.

·         Check air conditioning filters and replace smoke alarm batteries. Replacing AC filters prior to summer and the increased use of the AC can help you save on energy costs.

Kitchen

·         Refrigerator – Move the fridge and clean under it. Remove old, expired food items. All clutter on the refrigerator should be evaluated and removed such as magnets, letters, invitations, photos and artwork. Anything you want to keep place in a scrapbook album. Change out water filters.

·         Kitchen Cabinets – go through pots, pans and containers to ensure matching lids. If there is anything you want to sell at a garage sale, toss them out. All electronics check if they still work and if not throw them out.

·         Pantry – Canned goods and dry goods should be checked for expiration dates. All food items you won’t eat throw them out. Unexpired and shelf stable foods can be donated to your local food pantry. 

·         Spice rack or spice cabinets – Go through and find out which spices are expired or never used. Sort them by baking items and regular cooking items. Consider using other methods to store spices rather than jars such as tins or old school Indian masala dabba.

·         Junk Drawer – review the junk drawer to determine if the items can be placed elsewhere. Office supplies should be placed in the office. Remove trash and clean out.

·         Under sink storage – Throw out old cleaning supplies, consolidate cleaning supplies, and take an inventory so you don’t overbuy.

Home Office

·         Filing cabinets – Invest in file folders and tabs. Shred anything older than 5 years from now and all other important documents you should scan and keep electronic and paper copies

·         Mail filing system – I get a lot of junk mail and magazines. Clear the mail storage area or designate one and clean out the dust bunnies. Keep a small recycling bin and recycle magazines and paper.

·         Office Desk and Computers – keep cords in place with zip ties. Review Anti virus software. Clean up printer stations and check printer ink and ensure paper is available.

Laundry Room

·         Wipe down washer and dryer. Clean your washer by running a cycle with white vinegar. Clean our dryer vents and hoses.

·         Organize laundry room shelves and dust around machines and declutter area.

Outside

·         Porch – Sweep and remove cobwebs. Repair or replace furniture and fixtures

·         Wipe down patio furniture. Sweep patios, decks, walkways, and porches.

·         Clean exterior windows and shutters.

·         Shake out or replace doormats.

I’m an avid eBay and garage sale seller so I enjoy finding ways to make money and save on expenses by cleaning. What tips can you provide for a better spring cleaning adventure?

Bio: Heather Buen is the Chief Editor at Dallas Single Mom and owner of Buen Interactive Holdings. She manages a consulting business, is a freelance journalist, a continuing education professor at UT Arlington and a mom of three. Her Dallas-Fort worth area blog focuses on family travel, single parenting, dating, divorce, budgeting, inspiration and life coaching.

Thursday
Apr302015

The Dark side of Working from Home Nobody Talks About

By Dr. Bola

The dreams of working from home in your PJs are so alluring.

Freedom to work when you want to

Control over your work environment

The flexibility of having work fit into your life not the other way round

Not having to deal with the rush hour traffic

What’s there not to like? “Sign me up” you say.

Our survey of 258 women working from home uncovered some of the not-so-glamorous aspects of the work from home environment.

Long toil in front of the computer is the order of the day. These women are working longer hours and accomplishing less because of the many distractions in this work environment. Partners and spouses conveniently assume that they can work, do the household chores and take care of the kids all at the same time.

Isolation and loneliness were by far what troubled work from home women the most. In trying to make up for the paucity of adult interaction during the day, these women hangout in Facebook groups which in turn puts a drain on their productivity.

Many met the criteria for clinical depression.

The issue here is not the work environment. Being in an office outside of the home has big draw backs; traffic, distractions and lack of flexibility. The issue here is the isolation. We humans thrive in communities. One cardinal sign of depression in an otherwise outgoing person is withdrawal.

I had dreams of being a medical examiner so I could just recreate all the fun they have on the TV show; CSI. Eighteen months working in a reference lab before my medical training got me off that path. I could spend a whole day doing my work running the machines and fiddling with pipettes without getting to get out of the lab or interact with co-workers.

I discovered myself in that environment and changed my career focus to become a family physician instead, where I was sure to interact with people (my patients) on a daily basis.

While you might not have the latitude to change your work-from-home environment, there are ways to deal with the isolation it brings.

Sign up for a co-working space

Co-working spaces are springing up in lots of cities and even small towns. You don’t need to go every day. Once a week or once every 2 weeks makes a big difference in dealing with the isolation of working from home.

Organize or attend meet-ups

Go to meetup.com to find a group in your locale. It does not have to be work or business related you are not a one dimensional person; you certainly have other interests apart from work. If not, intervention time.

Structure time in your week for some sort of video conferencing or call;

Skype calls, Google hangouts or even facetime on the iphone.  Nothing beats face-to-face interaction but the video calls come quite close.

Make time for exercise

The endorphins released by the brain during exercise helps to combat the low serotonin in the brain that could lead to depression.

All of the above help if depression has not set in. Depression will sap you of energy required to connect with people which makes the sense of isolation even worse.

So how do you know if you are depressed? These 2 questions will help guide you;

  1. In the past 2 weeks, have you been sad for more days than not?
  2. In the past 2 weeks, have you lost interest in things that previously brought you pleasure?

If you answered yes to both questions, I suggest you get seen by a medical or mental health professional for further assessment and treatment (if necessary).

Dr. Bola is a family physician with a fondness for women’s health and women lifestyle issues. She is the co-founder of Healthgist.com; the hub for honest health talk for the busy women.

How are you are faring in your work-from-home arrangement? Get your Work-From-Home Wellbeing Index by taking the quiz.

Thursday
Apr232015

LifeBank USA Giving Away 3 Graco Car Seats

As you know, the stem cells in cord blood have transformative potential and have been used to treat over 30,000 patients worldwide. It’s been shown that using a higher number of stem cells in a transplant leads to better engraftment and survival. Did you know that you can preserve significantly MORE of your baby’s stem cells by adding placenta blood banking to your cord blood collection?

Banking the most stem cells can be critical and only through banking both cord and placenta blood do you have this opportunity. Numerous studies published in top medical journals have shown that transplanting more stem cells significantly increases success and transplant survival rates. In fact, customers who bank placenta blood in addition to cord blood with LifebankUSA preserve 60%-70% more CD34+ stem cells – the cells that are the most important for rebuilding diseased blood with healthy blood.

Only LifebankUSA has the proprietary technology to offer placenta blood banking with cord blood banking to expectant parents. We are also the only company in the world to release placenta stem cell units for transplant.

Your child is being born into a world of extraordinary possibilities that include the enormous potential of stem cell banking. Make the most of this once-in-a- lifetime opportunity by choosing LifebankUSA and add placenta blood banking to your cord blood collection, for a very real, proven layer of protection for you and your family.

(For more information please visit www.lifebankusa.com and www.facebook.com/LifebankUSA.)

Giveaway: To enter to win one of the 3 Graco Carseats they are giving away, you can enter here. Hurry, the contest runs until May 29. Good luck!