Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Order Your Free Annual Credit Report

We all know we can get a free copy of our credit report annually. The commercials make sure of that. What we may not realize is that not all free credit report sites are the same. MOST of them aren't actually giving you your credit report for free; at a minimum they are signing up for some other offer(s) in the process. However, you can get 1 copy of your credit report from each of the 3 major reporting agencies each year, and you should. The official website for doing this is AnnualCreditReport.com (note it doesn't say free at the beginning). To keep the best eye on your credit, you may want to space your orders out and order one report from each agency every 4 months. By doing this, you're more likely to catch a problem (like identity theft) early.

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Check your toolbar messages for a code worth 4 swagbucks. Code is only good till 4:30 EST (so like for another half hour).

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Give your Hot Water Heater a Coat for Christmas

This is a "Sanity Saving Mode" report.

If you are like us, you may live in an older house where the water heater is in the garage.  If your garage is like ours, it may not be very well insulated.  We knew it was cold out there but didn't realize how cold till one year when some water in the inlet pipe on our washing machine froze, causing the pipe to burst and flooding the floor to our garage.  The worst part was that this happened about 4 minutes after my husband left for work and I was home sick and couldn't talk.  I heard a strange noise (luckily, in this case, our bedroom is next to the garage), and finally found myself opening the door to the garage and discovering the flood.  All I could do was text my hubby to come home quick the garage was flooding.  Needless to say, since that happened not only has hubby put some major insulation around those pipes, when it's really cold outside he's been known to pour boiling water down them before starting a load of laundry (yes, my husband does the laundry - and yes I know how lucky I am).

But, laundry pipes aren't the issue this year.  This year it's my sanity and the hot bath I attempt to enjoy nightly before going to bed.  However, for the last couple of weeks that hot bath has been but a dream.  It's been more like a lukewarm bath as the hot water has run out about 4 inches before the tub got full.  I told hubby about this, but it wasn't until he saw it for himself (when he tried to warm up from a hot bath that he really "got" it).  So, Sunday morning in my frustration over not being able to enjoy a hot bath after my birthday festivities, I got online and started searching.  I think I searched for something simple (because I'm not really good at complex searches), like "hot water heater insulation".  Whatever I typed in, the first thing that came up with a government website that described the proper settings for a hot water heater and how to insulate said hot water heater.  Turns out there's an insulated coat you can buy at Lowe's or Home Depot to help keep your hot water heater warm.  After showing the link to hubby, he promptly took action and went online looking to see which store in our area sold the coats.  He found it at Home Depot and ran out to get it (yes, I realize how lucky I am), then he came home and installed it.

Sunday night I took a warm bath.  It still wasn't hot but it seemed better than it had been.  I wasn't sure if that was just wishful thinking on my part or what, so I figured I'd give it another day to see if it really helped.  My bath last night was wonderful.  The water was actually hot when I got in and stayed hot for a good hour.  That was the longest bath I've taken in weeks!  And the best bath I've taken in weeks!

Of course, they tell you that you should use one of these coats on your water heater for energy savings.  Around our house we've learned that those suggestions may or may not be true.  It's hard to say, what we can go on is results.  When we put new windows in the house was more comfortable (both in temperature and in sound-proofing); when we put a new front door in we couldn't see the light creeping in anymore and our foyers is now actually staying warm this winter.  We put a coat on our hot water heater and now my bath water is actually getting hot and staying hot.  Results!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the coat (er, blanket) only runs about $20 at Home Depot.

Book Review: Tandem by Tracey Bateman


1.one following or behind the other: to drive horses tandem.
2.having animals, seats, parts, etc., arranged tandem or one behind another.
3.a vehicle, as a truck, tractor, or trailer, in which a pair or pairs of axles are arranged in tandem.
5.tandem trailer ( def. 1 ) .
6.a team of horses harnessed one behind the other.
7.a two-wheeled carriage with a high driver's seat, drawn by two or more horses so harnessed.
8.any of various mechanisms having a tandem arrangement.
9.in tandem,
in single file: They swam in tandem.
in association or partnership.

After pulling up the definition of the word tandem and realizing that it didn't mean exactly what I thought it meant, I have no clue what the title has to do with the book.  That said, the book was an easy, fun, read.  It's got vampires, romance and even a little religion.  The last bit I found to be a bit disconcerting.

Lauryn runs a Real Estate and Antiques appraisal and auction business that she took over from her father.  While researching items in house that she is auctioning she came across some old letters and forwarded them to Amede, who she believed to be a descendant of the the author of the letters, which were written around the Civil War and into the 1800s.

Amede is a vampire and the author of the letters.  Having the letters returned to her, Amede believes that her sister (to whom she wrote the letters) may still be alive in the small town of Abbey Hill.

The book alternates between telling the stories of these two women, at the same time telling the story of Amede's sister, Eden.  In addition to dealing with the appraisal of the Chisom house and it's contents, without the aid of her father, Lauryn is now the care-taker for her father, who is suffering from Alzheimers.  In the midst of all of this, her first love returns to her life.  Billy has returned to take over the town church from his father, after having spent the last several years away on Mission work.  Lauryn is also dealing with the seeming interest of her friend (and town Deputy) Charley, who has recently broken off with his long-time girlfriend.

Amede, upon the receipt of the letters, decides to make a trip to Abbey Hills.  She hopes she will find her sister there, or at least some clue to where she may have moved on to.  When she arrives, however, she discovers that her sister is believed to have died in a house fire the year before.  A house fire that followed several strange deaths in Abbey Hills.  The house fire that also killed Markus Chisom (the man whose estate Lauryn is now working with).  As Amede remains in town through Thanksgiving, the town sees a recurrence of strange murders, mimicking the murders they saw the year before.  Amede quickly becomes a suspect.

As the author shares with you the back stories of Lauryn, Amede & Eden, you gain some clues as to what may really be going on.  Through these clues you should be able to figure out what is truely going on (I did), however there were some mysteries that even I didn't figure out before they were shown to me.  For that I was thankful.

As I said, the somewhat religious overtones of the book felt a bit strange and to some degree off-putting to me on several different levels.  Had the book not been about vampires it might not have felt so strange.  The religious/ Christianity aspects were not so strong that I felt I was being beat over the head, they just felt out of place a bit in a book about vampires; as if these two things did not belong together.  The book even ended on a religious note, as if the author was trying to make sure you knew that this was a Christian book.  It just felt contrived, as if trying to fit something in that just didn't belong. 

I have posted my copy of this book on PaperBackSwap - join now to swap books for free.

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---I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review