Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Product Review of Laminated Fabric Tablecloth

I am the mother of two young children...two MESSY children.  They seem incapable of getting through a meal without spilling something.  We have a fairly nice dinner table that we would like to last for a long time, so my husband started pressuring me to get a tablecloth.

Problem...I hate tablecloths!  Love the look of them, but hate the look of vinyl and the constant laundering of fabric.  Vinyl looks cheap, and fabric would need to be washed and ironed daily due to my messy, messy kids.  I had to look for another solution.

I started doing web searches for higher quality vinyl tablecloths when I stumbled upon the solution to my problems!  A laminated fabric tablecloth looks and feels like fabric, but cleans with the ease of vinyl.  I didn't believe it and needed to see this in person, so I headed over to Bed Bath and Beyond for a closer look.

The laminated fabric tablecloth is amazing!  It feels like a sturdy, thick fabric.  It was available in several designs that were very subtle...nothing like tacky vinyl!  I true test for the tablecloth would be seeing how easy it would be to clean.  That night, my children put it to the test.

My son promptly spilled a full glass of apple juice all over it.  The juice beaded up and wiped away with ease.  I lifted the tablecloth and found that not a drop had seeped through onto the table!

In the few weeks that we have been using this tablecloth, we have spilled everything from honey to wine on it, and I have never needed to do anything more than wipe it down with a damp cloth or antibacterial wipe.  Although it is machine washable and safe for the dryer, I have not had to do that yet.

I am thrilled with my laminated fabric tablecloth, and I highly recommend it to people looking to protect their tables without using ugly vinyl or resigning to laundering a new tablecloth everyday.  They are available at Bed Bath and Beyond in the stores and online.  Questions? Feel free to post one for me.  I don't sell these things, I don't get a commission, but I do want to help other people out there find good products that make life easier!

Foreign Workers on Mackinac Island

I recently made a trip up to Mackinac Island for a relaxing getaway with my sister and my mom.  We had an amazing time on the island doing typical tourist things like souvenir shopping and dining.  However, one thing caught my attention and prompted me to ask the following question:  Why are there so many foreigners working up here?  Jamaicans, Russians, Eastern Europeans...they were all there doing various jobs including retail and hotel service.

Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and it made me wonder why people from other countries were being brought here to do the work that an unemployed Michigander could do.  After all, living and working in picturesque northern Michigan sound pretty nice!  So, I started asking the locals.

According to some residents of the island, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island firmly believes that Jamaicans are the hardest working and cleanest group of people in the world, and therefore they employ them in great numbers at their hotel.  Locals speculate that there is another underlying reason as well...employing a black person in a service role the way it was done historically.  Homegrown African Americans are not willing to take on a job like this and assume the role of the servant to the more affluent members of society.  Again, according to the locals, management feels that the immigrants make better workers because they are thrilled to have a job, and willing to do the grunt work without copping and attitude.  If that is true, that is a sad state of affairs.  I believe that there ARE good people in Michigan who would be happy to have a job.

I am not opposed to giving foreign born people a chance to come to America and work toward a better life.  My ancestors were once in their shoes.  It just troubles me that they are actually preferred by employers over Michigan residents who need work.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

State Farm Refuses to Insure a Vacant Home after Residents go to Assisted Living

Shopping for Homeowner's Insurance?  Thinking about State Farm?  Think again.  Even if you are a lifelong customer in good standing with them, your insurance will be dropped if you need to leave your home due to illness or age.  Yes, you will be punished for getting sick or old.  Is that being a "Good Neighbor", State Farm?  It sounds like State Farm is guilty of age discrimination.

I recently found myself in the difficult situation of moving my grandparents to assisted living.  Both in their 90s, they were unable to care for themselves in their home any longer.  The transition was hard on its own, and State Farm made is even harder.

We received a notice from State Farm regarding their car insurance.  They wondered why my grandfather's car was not insured by them any longer and wondered if he was shopping for a better rate.  Clearly, they had not made note of the fact that his car insurance was cancelled because he was legally blind and mentally incompetent.  During the course of the conversation, my mother mentioned that they were living in an assisted living center.  The representative then informed her that despite the fact that they had been customers in good standing for more than 30 years, it was their policy to not insure vacant homes.

My grandparents are being punished for getting old.  They did nothing wrong or irresponsible that would warrent their insurance being cancelled.  The representative tried to explain it by using the example of a drunk driver having his license revoked.  That was a terrible analogy because a drunk driver made a bad choice...my grandma didn't choose to get Alzheimer's Disease and lose her mind.  My grandfather didn't choose to go blind.  They didn't refuse to make house payments and lose their home to foreclosure.  The house had been insured for 30 years by a company that they thought would work with them...they were wrong.

I am writing this as a warning to those shopping for homeowner's insurance with State Farm.  My review of State Farm is negative.  They can and will drop your insurance if you have the misfortune of being physically or mentally unable to live in your home.  They will make a very difficult situation more difficult for you.  I encourage you to keep looking for a better alternative to State Farm.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day gift for Dad

Finding the perfect Valentine's Day gift can be tricky.  Not only do I have to get one from me, but I also have to make sure that the kids have something to give their daddy.  This year, I decided to give him one gift from all three of us. 

While there are some great Valentine's Day gifts for men out there, I opted to make something special this year. I started by interviewing both of my children.  All of the questions related to their dad, and the answers were hilarious!  Once I had the text I needed, I got to work on the design.

Using Adobe Illustrator, I used photos of the kids with their dad as the background.  I used sepia tone and adjusted the opacity so that the text would stand out when added.  On another layer, I added the text and put the kid's answers a different font.  When I was satisfied with the layout, I printed the pictures and put them in a double frame.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teaching patience in an "on demand" world

Learning patience is something that I am still trying to master after 32 years.  As a parent, I now have to set an example for my children and teach them the value of patience.  In a world of instant access to information on the internet, on demand programming on television, and Facebook instead of face-time as a means of communication, it seems that patience is something valued less and less as time goes on and technology evolves.

Additionally, I see a new generation of children growing up with a sense of entitlement to have what they want, when they want it, and to have it on their terms.  As a culture, we have hoisted spoiled brats like Paris Hilton and friends to celebrity status.  We celebrate girls acting like divas and encourage this from a young age by giving them Bratz Dolls as presents.  Should we really be surprised that we have a growing number of entitled, sassy young women?  Have the virtues of patience, kindness and poise become extinct? 

As a parent, I feel that it is more important, and more difficult than ever to teach these values to children.  I will not tolerate a diva in the house, and the value of hard work will be taught daily.  I know that I will face challenges, and that I won't handle every situation perfectly, but I hope that when my children grow into young adults they are viewed as kind, polite and poised individuals. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nothing is for Free...

There is a price that you pay for everything, and I learned the hard way that the cost of a free carpet cleaning is losing two hours of your life to a high pressure sales pitch for Kirby Vaccuums.

A young man came to my door and signed me up for a drawing for $1000. This drawing was an attempt to get their name out to the community. A few days later, I was called and told that I won a free carpet cleaning. I'll admit, I thought that it was an odd marketing strategy, but I didn't see the harm in letting someone spruce up my carpeting.  If they wanted to sell me something, I could always say no.

I was told that they would be providing me with a free cleaning, and that there would be no obligation to buy anything. They were doing this to get their name out and hope that I would keep them in mind for the future and perhaps recommend them to my friends and family.
The young man arrived at my door promptly at his scheduled time. He explained that there was no charge for the cleaning, and requested the names and phone numbers of 10 friends who may be interested in a cleaning as well. He would be able to get paid for his trip to my house if he got the leads from me. At this point, I didn't see the harm in helping him spread the word on his carpet cleaning business. The problem was that it wasn't a carpet cleaning business but a Kirby Vaccuum sales office.

He was very polite, and showed me his product, a Kirby Vaccuum. I was very impressed by what the Kirby could do, but I was not in the market to purchase a $2400+ vaccuum cleaner. He did offer me some discounts (bringing the cost down to $1395), and some financing options. I explained that I was not going to purchase a vaccuum no matter what.

Realizing that he was not going to get me to purchase a machine, he put his boss on the phone to try to close the deal, and I promptly shut him down as well. My free carpet cleaning had turned into a high pressure sales pitch lasting nearly two hours!

I was irritated that they got into my house under false pretenses. The next day I found out that one of my friends had been called by DC and Co. and told that I had gotten them a gift certificate for a free carpet cleaning. This was a a bold faced lie and they were using my name to gain the trust of others. I immediately called the company and expressed my feelings and was told by their representative that they would pull my referrals and discontinue the calls. Another lie...my mother was called later in the evening.

Luckily, I got through to all of my friends to warn them about the company. While the young man who visited me was very nice, and a good salesman, he is working for a very crooked company. Just remember that nothing is free!!!