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Zero Water Filtration System

I drink water and a lot of it. Its rare to see me without one of my water bottles near by (reusable of course). I drink a lot of water not only for my health but also to help me feel good. When I am dehydrated I feel “blah” and I can’t function right. I also have a weird little lump in one of my salivary glands that swells up if I get dehydrated and it’s rather bothersome. To make sure I don’t have to deal with it I make sure to drink ample amount of water per day.

On average I’d say I drink about a gallon of water per day. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

When I was growing up we had well water. I loved how it tasted. It was also VERY cold straight from the tap. You never needed ice cubes to chill your water. It was freezing cold the moment you fill up your glass. I loved it!

I miss those days. Where we live now we have town water. Blah! I don’t like it one bit. Maybe I’m just spoiled from the well water. Our current tap water has an odd taste to it. I will drink it if I need to swallow an aspirin or something quick like that. Other then that I use the Brita water pitcher we keep in the fridge.

For the past several weeks I have traded in our Brita with a Zero Water filtration system. Its a large pitcher with a  filter that is suppose to remove 100% of detectable dissolved solids and is suppose to provide more complete filtration than conventional carbon water filters.

I always worry about what is lurking in the water that we drink. That is why I will only drink filtered or bottled water. I wouldn’t want to put my family at risk having them drink something unhealthy.

The little device next to the pitcher is the TDS monitor.

When I was learning more about the Zero Water filtration system I was curious to know what “dissolvable solids” were. In a nutshell it simply means things present in water OTHER then water. These are things that can be organic in nature (leaves, plankton, silt) to man-made things such as fertilizer, rock salts, and even sewage. Ewww! Gross!

There is a way to test water to see if there are things OTHER then water found inside. One way is is the test the “Total Dissolved Solids” using a TDS monitor. The amount expressed is in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L), which is also referred to as parts per million (ppm). The TDS is directly related to the purity and quality of the water. Another words the lower the number the better the water is for you to drink.

Zero Water is the only one on the market that says its TDS readings are zero, meaning that the filter captures everything “non-water” and keeps it from ending up in your drinking glass. I found this to be really intriguing and I wanted to learn more about it.

Zero Water sent me a filtration system consisting of a pitcher and filter. They also sent along a TDS monitor so I can test out Zero Water and compare it to other waters.

I can’t tell you how I excited I was to set up my own little laboratory and test the Zero Water pitcher with other water options my family might use.

I compared Zero Water to the Brita, bottled water and tap water.

First up was a glass of water from the Zero Water pitcher. I inserted the monitor to get the reading and it came to .20. I was surprised it wasn’t at zero. Interesting…

Next I tried tap water. Eww! Our tap water had a reading of 392! Oh my goodness! That is HORRIBLE!

I used a regular store bought bottle of water (generic brand) and the monitor gave me a reading of .23. That is not bad at all.

Lastly I tired a glass of water from our Brita. The Brita gave me a reading higher then the bottle water at 268. WOW! How can that be? I was shocked to learn that the Brita was almost as high as the tap water. However I did find out why. As per my husband we should have replaced the Brita filter a month ago. No wonder it is not working right. We have been using the Zero water pitcher that I totally forgot to replace the Brita filter.

I thought I would give the Zero Water another chance so I pour a fresh glass of water from the Zero Water pitcher and got a reading of .22 the second time around.

I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t see a zero, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the Zero Water system. I like the sleek design of the pitcher. It doesn’t take up much space in the fridge. The water also tastes good to me and my family with no weird after taste or anything nasty like that.

Zero Water’s filters offer five different layers of filtration to remove the things that shouldn’t be in your drinking water.

The Zero Water system is around the same price as similar filter systems. The replacement filters are roughly $15 each were as we were paying around $9 for the Brita.

To be honest getting monitor numbers above zero on the Zero Water pitcher doesn’t bother me and it wouldn’t deter me from recommending it to others. It’s A LOT better then tap water.

The only downside so the Zero Water is that the pitcher doesn’t seem to hold as much water. It seems like we’re constantly filling it up. But that is a fair enough trade off to know that the water we are drinking is free of harmful things. It’s also a good sign that my kids are drinking enough water.

To learn more about Zero Water please visit www.ZeroWater.com. The brand is also on social media. You can find their links on the bottom of their website.

Zero Water carries a variety of products in different sizes and styles. You can find Zero Water products on their website as well as at many retail locations across the country.

Kimberly

*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.

What to Buy & What to Skip This Labor Day

 

Save Money

 

In addition to barbecues and road trips, Labor Day weekend is a popular time for end-of-summer sales. While shoppers can expect plenty of noteworthy discounts on popular merchandise, some items are simply not a good deal during this holiday weekend even though retailers will try their best to convince consumers otherwise.

Navigate Labor Day sales by learning what to buy now and what to skip to avoid drowning in a sea of bad purchases! Follow this shopping guide from consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.

Buy: Mattresses.
Holiday sales are always a good time to buy big-ticket items like mattresses and furniture. If possible, head to a local furniture or mattress store before the weekend rush to test out different options and research pre-sale prices so you can identify any misleading offers. Macy’s makes it easy to save this year — on Sept. 2, the department store launched a Labor Day furniture and mattress sale when shoppers can reserve their purchases before the sale begins.

Skip: Automobiles.
Since Labor Day falls at the beginning of the month, car dealerships are less likely to offer a big discount despite what their banners tell you. A better time to shop for a vehicle is at the end of the month when sales associates are more motivated to negotiate in order to meet sales quotas. Otherwise, hold off until October when dealerships will be pushing excess 2015 inventory at even deeper discounts!

Buy: Summer Clothes.
It’s hard to plan ahead to next summer when you’re focused on back-to-school, but now is the time to stock up on warm-weather essentials. Major retailers will reduce already-discounted summer items during the popular holiday shopping event, so look out for deals on swimsuits, sandals, linen suits and other lightweight apparel. Make sure you also look for Labor Day coupons to take advantage of these deep discounts from sites like Coupon Sherpa. For example, you can currently take an extra 25% off clearance items and 20% off sale items with this Lord and Taylor coupon code.

Skip: Back-to-School Apparel.
While we’re still in the thick of the back-to-school season, kid’s fall clothing isn’t really a necessity right now as summer temperatures will continue into the first few weeks of the new school year. The best time to buy sweaters, jeans, outerwear and boots is in October. Wait for Columbus Day sales to scoop up the biggest savings!

Return to School

Buy: Luxury Goods.
If there’s a luxury-brand watch or handbag you’ve been drooling over, Labor Day is one of few shopping events during which you may score a lower price. Like other apparel and accessory retailers, luxury brands need to clear out summer inventory to make room for fall must-haves. Make sure you compare sales before you buy, and check out sites like TheRealReal.com for designer goods at cut-rate prices.

Skip: Halloween/Harvest Decor.
Though summer isn’t technically over until later this month, retailers are already promoting fall in a big way with Halloween and harvest-themed decor lining store shelves. While you may see a small discount on these decorations, don’t let the temptation of the season entice you to buy just yet. In fact, the best time to buy Halloween decor is the last couple of days before the big event.

Buy: Outdoor Entertaining Essentials.
The season for backyard parties and barbecues may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you can’t outfit your outdoor oasis with new entertaining essentials. End-of-season sales will offer savings of 40 to 60 percent on grills, patio furniture, umbrellas and servingware. In addition to in-store sales, make sure to look for these big-ticket items online, too: Overstock.com, for example, is offering up to 70% off outdoor furniture and decor, with many items shipping free.

Skip: TVs.
On the cusp of football season, retailers are promoting some seemingly good offers on TVs to help shoppers kick off the opening game with a new big screen. However, the best two times to buy a new TV are during Black Friday weekend and at the end of January in time for Super Bowl. If there’s a certain model you’re eyeing, keep tabs on sales using TrackIf.com so you don’t miss out when the price drops.

Buy: Luggage.
With the busy travel season behind us, you’ll find a bevvy of deals on travel goods like suitcases, duffle bags and other accessories. Look for deals on luggage sets to get the best bang for your buck. You’ll save even more by shopping online, so compare prices using PriceGrabber.com and scope out deals at sites like eBags.

Skip: Smartphones.
Apple will likely release the newest iPhone on Wednesday, September 9, so hold off until this news is announced before updating or buying a new smartphone. Once the latest device is released, you’ll find huge discounts on old iPhone models, plus additional savings on Android devices competing with Apple to make sales.

Andrea Woroch

Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea’s stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Check out Andrea’s demo reel or visit her website at AndreaWoroch.com for more information about booking an interview or requesting an original written article. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily money tips.

Animoto Review & Giveaway (ends 12/18/12)

I love sharing photos of my family with other family members and friends, both near and far. It’s easy enough to e-mail photos to other people, or give them access to your Photobucket or Flickr accounts. However I like to take things one step further. I love making “movies” with my photos.

I use different video making programs. Some are easier then others. I honestly prefer the easier programs. As a busy mom I don’t always have time to dedicate to putting together an elaborate video presentation. I rather just upload the photos I want to work with and have the program assist me in making the best possible video with little or no effort on my part.

Animoto is a great choice for those who like to make movies of their photos quickly and easily. You can let the program create something for you or do all the work yourself. It’s up to you.

The hardest part to making a video is deciding what photos to use. I would recommend you set up a folder on your desk top and keep the photos you want to make into a video in that folder. That way you don’t have to search through your computer and CDs to find the photos you want to use. Trust me, I learned that the hard way. I was asked to make a video of our dog Espn (pronounced “Es-Pin”) for a PetSmart campaign a while back. All of Espn’s photos were all over the place – on my lap top, desk top, CD’s and three different external hard drives. It took me a long time to find the photos. Thankfully they are all in one folder so the next time I need them I know where to find them.

After you have gathered up the photos you want to use all you need to do is log into your Animoto account and choose the type of video you want to make. There are several different options to choose from.

Here is teh video I made for our dog.

 

After you have selected your video background you have to upload the photos you wish to use. I found uploading the photos to be a very quick process. Sometimes uploading photos, especially numerous photos at the same time, can be time consuming. I found this process to be quick and easy.

Once your photos have been uploaded you will next have the option to “tweak” the video by adding text, changing the background music and a few other options.

When you feel like you have the video the way you want it you can preview it before processing it into a video. If you are pleased with how the video turned out you can share it with family and friends.

The actual processing time seemed to drag on for a long time with the video that I made for Espn. I would have to “guesstimate” that it took about 20 minutes. Thankfully I was able to work on my computer during that time by opening up a different browser. The time it took to process wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t anxious to see the final version. Sometimes I have an issue with being patient. Ha Ha.

Without further adieu here is the Espn video that I made. YouTube added the ad (not Animoto). Just click the “x” on the ad to dismiss it. Sorry about that. 🙁

 

If you happen to have the volume on your computer you can hear the background music too.

I actually uploaded about 40+ pictures. I guess there was a limit of photos for this video that I was unaware of because the video only showed less then half of the ones I uploaded. That is OK. It turned out pretty good.

Overall I am pleased with the Animoto program. It is incredibly easy to figure out and to use. If you are “technologically challenged” like I am sometimes (ha ha) you will have no problem creating high quality videos using the Animoto program.

You can also include clips from other videos into your Animoto video. Unfortualy I have nothing handy to play around with.

To learn more about Animoto please visit www.Animoto.com. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Animoto is a subscription based program. You can use Animoto for free, but you have very limited options and can only make 30 second videos. For $30/year you can get the plus plan. For all the “bells and whistles” you can upgrade to the Pro plan $39/mo or $249/year. For the casual user the plus plan ($30/year) is perfectly fine.

Animoto even has an iPhone application.

Animoto would like to give FIVE lucky readers a FREE one year Plus membership ($30 value). Thank you Animoto!

This giveaway is open to everyone and will end on December 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winners will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winners will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

To enter please visit Animoto.com and check out the sample videos and features. Then come back here and comment on what type of video do you think you would like to create with Animoto.

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the intitial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kimberly

*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.

Budget friendly, DIY Pet Projects (#BudgetLiving)

 

I have partnered with Apartment Guide to serve as an Official Apartment Guide Pet Blogger. As an official blogger, I will be sharing articles filled with tips for living on a budget.

I was checking searching the Internet for instructions to make a window shelf for my cats when I happened upon a really cool idea to make a cat “condo” using some cardboard tubes purchased at the local hardware store.

I can tell you from experience that cat condos are expensive. I have looked into them for my own cats but they are way out of our budget. We have a small one now, but it’s a hand-me-down from another cat owner.

 

I really LOVE this idea! I’m going to have to try to make one when the weather is better and I can do the work on the balcony (I rather not do this inside). It can be made for under $40 too.

On the Lowe’s site it’s referred to has a “Kitty Corner Cat House”. For step-by-step instructions please visit http://www.lowescreativeideas.com/idea-library/projects/WAGI_Kitty_Corner_Cat_House_0211.aspx.

Here is a brief video that shows you how to make the Kitty Corner Cat House too.

Another thing I love about the above project is that it’s light weight and can be moved if needed.

I did continue to look for directions to make a window seat for my cats. One of the best ideas I stumble across was one that required little to no crafting skills to make. All you need is a large serving tray, a pillow or small blanket, shelf brakets and screws.

All you need to do is measure and mark where you can the brackets to go. Pre-drill the holes to make it easier. Attach the brackets to the tray and the others side to the wall. One attached place a pillow or small blanket in the tray to make it soft and comfy for your feline friend. You can even attach string and dangly toys from it for you pet to play with too. 

I found the instructions to make the shelf out of an old tray here, http://www.shelterness.com/amazing-diy-cat-window-perch. The photo is from the site too. The article was written by Kate.

I think this is a great project because it only requires a few very inexpensive supplies and you are recycling an old tray.

Both of these products are very budget-friendly and ideal for pet owners like me who live in a small space. We live in a tiny condo which is basically an apartment that we own.

For other great how-to tips for making the most of a space for you and your pet on a budget Apartment Guide blog, www.ApartmentGuide.com/Blog as well as www.MovingToday.com.  

You can also “like” Apartment Guide on Facebook, www.Facebook.com/ApartmentGuide as well as follow them on Twitter, www.Twitter.com/AptGuide for real-time tips and updates on making the most of your space and living on a budget.

Apartment Guide is also on Google+.

Apartment Guide offers visitors plenty of photos, floor plans, features and tips to help you find the perfect pet-friendly apartment community.

Kimberly

* Apartment Guide and owner Consumer Source, Inc. have partnered with bloggers like me as Official Apartment Guide Bloggers. As part of this program, I have received compensation. They have not told me what to purchase or what to say about the products used, and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

When was the last time you REALLY cleaned out your kitchen?

Yesterday my husband was bored and wanted something to do. Out of all the possibilities he decided to clean out the kitchen, from top to bottom. That meant cleaning off the top of the cabinets (they do not reach the ceiling), removing EVERYTHING from the cabinets to clean out the cabinets, and tossing out stuff we no longer need, use or want.

We have a tiny kitchen so we figured it would take maybe 2 hours, give or take. It took us over four hours plus numerous trips to the dumpster and the recycle bin. The dumpster is outside our building, down six flights of steps. The recycle bin is up the hill towards the entrance to our complex. That alone took up a lot of time.

I clean my kitchen all the time. The counter tops and floors are spotless. However we don’t usually clean out the cabinets frequently. Our “game plan” a few years ago was to clean them out every six months. It’s been a long, long time since we cleaned them out last (probably more than a year ago).

Can you say EWWWW!!!

On the outside my kitchen is perfectly clean. It’s what was lurking deep in the cabinets that was funky.

I won’t even describe what the top of the cabinets looked like. I WISH ours reached the ceiling so we didn’t have to worry about that mess.

We went through all the food (non-perishables) in the cabinets and pantries. We found food we didn’t realize that we had because it got covered up by something else or pushed behind things. We also pulled out things that expired. Thankfully most of the expired things only expired a few months ago. We did find a spice jar of Oregano that expired in 2006 and a jar of Cinnamon that expired in 2008. In my defence where our spices were kept it was hard for me, at my height, to see towards the back without physically removing everything. 

We’ve since moved the spices to another shelf (lower) so that I can see everything at once.

We were shocked at how many pots and pans we had too. We tend to use the same 3 or 4 pots and pans, yet we had dozens! We went throught and washed everything and tossed out the ones we haven’t used and have no plans on using. Our cabinet is so much neater now and I can find exactly what I need when I need it.

Our cabinets look bare too. Once we tossed out expired things and things we won’t ever use and re-arranged stuff we now have empty looking cabinets. In a way that is a good thing because now we can see what we have. I never knew we had clams or chili, things I could have made for lunch or dinner.

It’s a great feeling knowing that the kitchen is squeaky clean now. However we really need to make it a point of cleaning it out every few months. If we just do a little cleaning every few months it will make things a lot easier compared to waiting a year or more and having to spend hours working on it.

Next up the hallway cabinets. 🙂

When was the last time YOU really cleaned out your kitchen from top to bottom? When was the last time you checked the expireation dates on everything in the cabinets, including spices and other non-perishables?

If you haven’t done so in a while I would strongly recommend setting aside some time to get it done. I know it’s not a fun thing to do but once it’s done you’ll feel great.

Kimberly

$2,500 Better Homes and Gardens Paint Sweepstakes

I am a very visual person. My husband can testify to that. At times it drives him bonkers because it means he has to hang up a lot of things on the wall or re-paint a room more often than he wants to. 🙂

I’ve always been good at art and teachers always commented on my use of color.

I tend to gravitate towards soft, Earthy colors. My home is painted in soft greens, grays and blues. The only room in my home where I HATE the color is the bathroom. We just re-did the bathroom over the summer. We replaced the toilet, sink, vanity and mirror as well as had it painted. It was painted blue (too dark for my taste). My husband wanted something neutral (aka – boring!), in a beige or something similar. He came home with what could only be described as mustard gone bad. It seemed OK on the can. You know, those little spots of paint they put on the outside of the can so you know what the inside color is. There it seemed OK. However once on the wall – EWWW! It was so NOT OK!

We would have had the painter repaint the wall but we were already into them for more money than we anticipated so we kept it.

It’s not as bad during the day but at night time, wow… it’s horrible!

I was thinking maybe having a color accent wall in the bathroom might make the place look a bit better. An accent wall is one wall in a room that is painted a vastly different color than the other three walls. We have something similar in the living room (not by choice). Three walls are painted (light green). The forth wall has wood paneling. I don’t like the paneling at all (neither does my husband) but we figured it was a lot less expensive to star at the paneling than it was to rip it down, sand down the wall, spackle and repaint. We’re also not really sure what lies behind the panel.

For some odd reason the paneling doesn’t even reach the end of the wall. It stops several inches from one wall. The previous owner put up a butt ugly shelving unit to cover up where the paneling is not on the wall.

Seriously, if I could talk to the previous owners that would be my first question to them – WHY?! Why did you put paneling up and why doesn’t it cover the entire wall?

Next up to be re-painted is the kids room. I am considering an accent wall in there too, or an accident color. It’s going to be a light gray but I think it needs a “pop” of color too. HOPEFULLY we can get it painted this Spring. We’ve only been planning on it for over a year now.

Better Homes and Gardens is also having a sweepstakes. The winner gets $2,500 including a personal color consultation from a Better Homes and Gardens Style Director who will physically come to your home too! The winner will also receive Walmart gift cards to purchase the paint and products with for the painters to come and paint for you.

Better Homes and Gardens wants to let everyone know that you can get high quality paint and home décor at Walmart’s low prices to help you with all of your home decorating needs. I can agree with this. Many decorative pieces in our home has come from Walmart, from laps to throw pillows.

To enter the $2,500 Better Homes and Gardens Paint Sweepstakes visit the BHG Live Better Facebook Page (click the bolded text to visit the page).  All you have to do is “like” the page and submit your email address for a chance to win! It’s that easy! 

I’m honestly going to enter. My husband is not a fan of painting and the idea of painting the kid’s room doesn’t thrill him much. Since it’s the master bedroom (we only have a one bedroom condo) I think maybe I have the wrong color choice for the room. If we went to sell our condo (in my wildest dreams!) I think the room should have a more professionally painted look to it rather than a boring light gray paint slapped up by my hubby who doesn’t seem to mind much if there are some splatters and drips on the wall and ceiling. 🙂

I always value what my readers have to say and I’m very curious to know – if you were to create a accent wall in your home, what color would it be? Are you one someone who enjoys bright, bold red or would you go for the same color as the rest of the room, just several shades darker or lighter?

What are your favorite colors to paint your rooms? Do you seem to stick with the same color family or is each room different?

Kimberly