How to brand your business and position it for success

For small businesses, having a well-established brand with a loyal customer base is critical to both immediate and long-term success. While investing money in brand developing tools may be costly, building a suite of business cards, postcards, signs, banners, brochures and other products that give your business a professional look can be easily and inexpensively accomplished. When your brand acts as your identity, anything you can do to increase public awareness will only help your company. 
Here are some tips on what to consider as you’re developing your business suite from Staples, which offers a broad assortment of customizable Copy & Print marketing collateral.

First and foremost, it is important that your company map out exactly what it stands for, who your target customer is, how you would like to be represented, and how you want your message to be delivered. Once that has been decided, define your brand – how you are going to help a customer identify your business with a given product, promotion or piece of advertising. Will it be with a logo, color scheme or a slogan? To make this as effective as possible work with focus groups made up of current and potential clients, as well as peers within your industry so you can come to an educated decision on which vehicles will work best to accomplish your goals and objectives. Also, remember to always keep your marketing tools up to date. 

Next, focus on which marketing tools your company is going to use to deliver your message. If you’re not in a position to develop a complete set of marketing materials, then focus your efforts on one piece at a time. For instance, one of the most valuable tools in today’s market is a simple business card. With a business card in hand, an ambassador of your brand is effectively able to provide your contact info and exposure to the corporate brand. 


Business cards are most impactful when the logo is prominently featured and includes your associate’s contact information, title, website URL and Twitter handle, among other things, and the font is easily readable. It’s also important to develop a consistent message to deliver across all channels at all times. This assists in building a recognizable brand that consumers will automatically associate with your company.

It’s also important that you consider your geographic location. If your company is located in a bustling community with a large amount of foot traffic, it may be a good idea to create a large banner to place on your store front which features a special offer or promotion. Using this type of tool assists in generating awareness and not only helps to attract new customers but retains existing ones by providing additional incentives to keep them coming back for more. Alternatively, if you have a business specializing in lawn care or real estate, then perhaps creating a lawn sign to place on your client’s property may be beneficial as the property serves as a testament to your services. 

Another low-cost promotional tactic is a well-crafted brochure to feature within the office or give to potential customers/clients. A high-quality brochure enables your company to relay in-depth information, such as the company’s mission statement, pricing, services, accreditations, certifications and more. Additionally, they give your organization an extra level of credibility since consumers have come to expect printed material from companies with whom they are doing business. Also if you truly want to make your brochure buzz-worthy, try to integrate an offer or coupon into the copy of the brochure itself. 

Lastly, it’s important to remember that creating an effective marketing strategy will take a considerable level of effort to organize and execute. However, having an assortment of customized marketing materials will attract your desired target customer and leave them with the information and incentive they need to revisit your company in the future.

Courtesy of BPT

DIY energy savings – quick & easy tips

Here are 5 things you can do to successfully reduce your home energy consumption and save money in the process courtesy of Washington Energy Services in Seattle, Washington:

1. Seal the leaks around windows and exterior doors. This is easy to do, and will help your home keep the heat in. Caulk, spray foam or use weather stripping and it will have an impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills. Don’t want to fuss with this – contact a handyman, or a reputable window, insulation or painting company. Many of them provide this service.

2. Fix your insulation situation. Insulation is typically the #1 way to save energy in your home. According to the Department of Energy ( “heating and cooling account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes.” And according to EnergyStar, you could “save up to 10% of your total annual energy bill” just by sealing and insulating.

3. Clean and seal heating ducts. Almost 20% of the air that moves through your duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. Over time, ducts can sag or collapse. Vermin and other animals can chew holes in crawl space duct work. Ducts can also come apart at the seams. When this happens, any air that should be going to the rooms in your home is instead being wasted by ending up in your attic, your walls, or under your house. If duct tape was used on your duct work originally, it’s best to have it replaced with aluminum or foil tape. Traditional duct tape deteriorates quickly. Metal seams should be cleaned and then sealed with duct mastic, which doesn’t crack. It creates a permanent seal.

4. Let your equipment breathe. Your heating and cooling systems depend on a flow of air to maximize their efficiency. Homeowners can take easy steps to help – change the furnace filter, and check for leaves/debris around an outside heat pump or air conditioner. A clogged air intake outside or dirty indoor furnace filter limits air flow to the equipment and causes it to function inefficiently. It can eventually lead to costly breakdowns and repairs. This is similar to changing the air filter in your car. Electronic filters typically need cleaning at least twice per year and paper filters need replacing. Check your product warranty for your manufacturer’s specific instructions.

5. Open those registers. Many people close floor registers to push heat into certain parts of their house. Since about the late 60’s the products installed in homes have been forced air furnaces. These are designed for a specific amount of air to flow through the furnace while operating. The duct work is designed for this amount of air also. When air registers are closed it reduces the airflow and allows heat to buildup in the system. That heat has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is up the flue and out of your house. Closing 1 or 2 registers is fine in rooms that get too hot. Keep as many registers open as possible so your furnace can operate at maximum efficiency. This is the same for heat pumps and central air conditioning. Airflow is key to efficient heating and saving money.

Not sure where to start to make your home energy efficient? Consider a home energy audit. A certified audit uses the latest technology to analyze your house, measuring heat loss, combustion and air leakage. An audit will show you how your home uses and wastes energy. This will help you prioritize what you can do to get the most energy savings. Learn more about audits at

 By: Gretchen Marks 

Department of Energy –

Energy Star –

Washington Energy Services –

Economical and eco-friendly: Sustainable solutions to help you save

solutions%20to%20help%20you%20saveGreen consumers are no longer a niche group; today, they’re everyday individuals who are willing to go the extra mile to save the planet – provided they receive a bit of return on their investment.

Information gathered from the Home Improvement Research Institute and analyzed by Jack Suvak, Moen Incorporated’s senior director, research and insights, shows that today’s consumers want green products that are convenient, cost-effective and don’t sacrifice performance.

The recent recession hasn’t stalled the green movement; rather it has morphed it into a new environmental pragmatism that embraces restraint, simplicity and cost-savings. This new sustainable ideal isn’t hard to adopt; in fact, the resources are affordable and almost endless. From water- and energy-saving products to local steals and deals, going green has become easier and more cost-effective than ever before.  

Reduce, reuse, freecycle
How can we put less strain on our natural resources? When you purchase a new item, from furniture to clothing, some types of resources are used to make it. By choosing second-hand items – from that vintage designer dress to the charming antique armoire – you are keeping existing natural resources safely in the ground and products that still may have a long life ahead out of landfills. Celebrities and style icons, from French designer Christian Louboutin to popular television actress Courteney Cox have proudly displayed unique vintage pieces in their homes during recent photo spreads, removing the stigma that’s sometimes associated with second-hand.    

Besides for-profit furniture and clothing shops, non-profit organizations such as the American Cancer Society and The Salvation Army also run stores that sell donated products to benefit a worthwhile cause. Sites like are a great way to search second-hand shops by name and location.  

No time to go shopping? Bring great finds directly to your computer screen. Start by visiting, which features free online classified ads for sale items, or, a nonprofit movement of individuals working to reduce waste by giving away unwanted items. Many local communities also publicize on-site or online sales for those looking to give away or sell gently used goods.   

Resource reduction
When modern convenience is a must-have, it’s okay to buy new – especially if it helps to conserve resources. Perhaps you have taken small steps toward having a more sustainable home by doing things like remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room, setting the sleep timer on the TV or limiting time spent in the shower, but there are products that can accomplish these tasks for you, making it that much easier to do your part for the environment.  

One easy and inexpensive way to promote conservation is by upgrading bath products to water-saving models. Many water-conserving bath products are available for the same price – and with the same functionality – as full-flow models. Moen offers water-saving shower heads in both standard and handheld options, including its new single-function, Eco-Performance hand shower, which provides a clean, transitional design and choice of an adjustable wall bracket or 24-inch slide bar, for optimal flexibility. Best of all, its flow rate is up to 30 percent less than the industry standard for shower heads – without a noticeable difference in experience.  

If you won’t go to a water-saving shower head because you don’t think you can forego your luxurious rain shower experience, think again. Moen also offers Eco-Performance rain showers, like its eight-inch Flat Rain shower, which provides full-body coverage with invigorating water sprays – at a flow rate of 20 percent less than the industry standard for shower heads.
In addition to showerheads, faucets provide another great way to save water and money. Select manufacturers – like Moen – have converted all residential lavatory faucets to water-saving models, so you can use less water while brushing your teeth or washing your face. To calculate your approximate water savings by using these types of sustainable products, check out the water savings calculator on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s WaterSense program website:    

Modern appliances are another way to achieve significant energy savings. Today, everything from refrigerators to heating systems are made to be so energy efficient that you’ll often recoup the expense of purchasing the appliance in saved energy costs within a matter of a few years. The U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program provides a useful Save Energy @ Home Tool that tells you, room by room, how much energy you waste per year by using old, inefficient products in the home.  

solutions%20to%20help%20you%20saveMulti-tasking magic
Beyond new and used products, look for items that take the place of two or more products in the home, utilizing less resources to make and saving money through fewer appliance purchases.  The Vitamix 5200 is the ultimate multi-tasker, doing the work of not only a blender, but also completing tasks like cooking soup, kneading dough, grinding grains and even making ice cream for dessert. Similarly, two-in-one toaster and convection oven appliances eliminate the need to purchase both of these items separately, and conserve resources, by using less power than a full-size oven to heat small meals or snacks.  

Speaking of multi-taskers, there are likely some items in your cupboard that can stand in for cleaning products, making these the ultimate two-in-one solution. Baking soda is an excellent cleanser, deodorizer and water softener; cornstarch can be used for everything from window washing to carpet cleaning; and lemon is an effective natural anti-bacterial agent.  

Having a green home doesn’t need to involve spending more money – it’s about simple solutions and behavioral shifts that will produce a long-term return on investment for you and the environment.

Caption 1: The Flat Rainshower from Moen provides the ultimate at-home spa experience – while offering a 20 percent savings over a standard showerhead.

Caption 2: The clean, transitional design of Moen’s WaterSense-labeled single-function hand shower appeals to a wide variety of decorating styles.

Courtesy of BPT

Washington Post Travel “What a Trip: Suprised by Nicaragua!”

What a Trip: Surprised by Nicaragua

(Heidemarie Brandes/ ) – The Concepcion volcano on Isle de Ometepe in Nicaragua is one of the many active volcanoes in the country. It helped form the island that sits in Lake Nicaragua.

  • (Heidemarie Brandes/ ) - The Concepcion volcano on Isle de Ometepe in Nicaragua is one of the many active volcanoes in the country. It helped form the island that sits in Lake Nicaragua.
  • (Ashley N. Hall/ ) - Heidemarie Brandes and her fiance, Ashley N. Halll, both of Oklahoma City, traveled to Nicaragua.
Published May 16
Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Heidemarie Brandes and her fiance, Ashley N. Hall, both of Oklahoma CityWhere, when, why: When Ash and I decided to take a romantic trip to Central America, we didn’t initially plan on visiting Nicaragua. I’d visited Costa Rica before, and I thought that Ash would like that country, but the airline prices kept going higher. One day, Ash texted to ask, “What about Managua?” And I thought, “Why not?”

Highlights and high points: One of our key destinations was the Isla de Ometepe, an island created by two volcanoes in the middle of the mind-bogglingly huge Lake Nicaragua. One of the volcanoes, Concepcion, is still active and looms like an angry god over the island. I hiked up the second, dormant volcano, Maderas; it quickly became the most challenging and humbling hike of my life. For 31 / 2 hours, my guide and I tromped straight uphill on rocky paths and through steaming cloud forests while dodging howler monkeys that throw poop and rain urine down upon intruders. Passing 2,000-year-old petroglyphs and eating edible plants all the way up, I quickly realized that no matter how much in shape I thought I was, Maderas was going to do me in. I made it nearly to the top before my legs turned to mush . . . and then had to trek two hours down along the same knee-torturing path.

Cultural connection or disconnect: Halfway through our visit, Ash and I decided on a whim to hop a flight from Managua to the Corn Islands on Nicaragua’s Caribbean side. After a harrowing motorized canoe ride from Big Corn Island to Little Corn Island, we met Clifford, a Rasta fellow hawking fishing and snorkeling trips. For the four days we spent on this tiny Caribbean isle, Clifford became our unofficial tour guide and friend. Because he’s in his 20s and Ash and I are both 40, we joked that he was our long-lost island son.

During those days, Clifford drank the magic Nicaraguan rum with us, set us up on snorkeling trips to swim with the sharks and stingrays, just hung out and talked over coffee and introduced us to Captain Elvis, who took us out to fish on the ocean on a small bass boat. After a shark broke my fishing pole, Elvis brought us to another “sweet spot” where the yellow snapper and grunts hit every few seconds.

Later, Captain Elvis’s wife cooked our fish in a traditional island stew called “rundown,” which is a coconut-milk-based soup full of plantains, breadfruit, fish, lobster and “scrimps,” or shrimp.

Biggest laugh or cry: Driving! Not only did we rent a car that was basically a three-cylinder stick shift with no power steering, no power brakes and no GPS, we had to dodge herds of cows and stray horses on the highways, as well as horse- and ox-drawn buggies full of people. While the roads are in amazingly good shape, driving in Nicaragua means sharing the road with bicyclists, livestock and the random baby or two in the road.

How unexpected: On our first day, after getting lost in our horrible rental car in the dangerous suburb of Tipitapa outside Managua, we made our way to Granada. Ash and I were both famished and decided to walk from our hotel until we found the first restaurant we came across, where we would eat and ask the locals about exchanging money and get other advice.

The first place we saw was Cafe de las Sonrisas, or “Cafe of Smiles.” Walking in, we discovered that this little cafe, with its gorgeous, flower-filled courtyard, was also a hammock factory. It lived up to its name. The staff approached with big smiles, but no one spoke to us. We tried talking, but they just shook their heads. One staff member handed us a menu, and we discovered that we’d found the one restaurant and hammock factory owned and operated entirely by deaf and mute people.

Deafness is an issue in Nicaragua, but cafes and businesses like Cafe de las Sonrisas offer the disabled jobs and careers. It turned out to be the easiest time we had communicating — and the food was some of the best we had.

Fondest memento or memory: What we learned was that after 21 years, we can still have so much fun together and discover new aspects of ourselves.

To tell us about your own trip, go to www. and fill out the What a Trip form with your best memories, finest moments and favorite photos.



“Nicaragua is Open and Ready for Adventurers and Business” by:

By Schuyler Bailey on May 10, 2013 3:00 PM

Gentle splashes of fresh water sprinkle over the bow, reviving us as we breeze through islets—more like dollops of jungle spooned from a batter of rainforest than beachy outcroppings. Egrets soar past our path and skid into landing, loons drag their knuckles on the placid waves, and somewhere beneath, bull sharks silently drift along, having adapted to the lack of salt water over thousands of years. My husband and I are on a small skiff traveling through an archipelago of 365 atolls off the coast of Granada, formed from the last reaches of an eruption thought to have happened thousands of years ago, when nearby Mombacho Volcano blew its top near the northwestern tip of Lake Nicaragua.

It’s a scene not dissimilar to one that could have been witnessed by some of our San Franciscan ancestors—Gold Rushers from New York crossed this very lake after landing on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast and braving a harrowing trip down the San Juan River. On their 46-day journey, their last stop was the port of San Juan Del Sur, now a Pacific coast haven for backpackers and surf seekers that resembles any stretch of beach in Mexico. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Nicaragua, it pales in comparison to the rest of a country drunk with beauty, from the historical charm of colonial Granada to the majesty of Masaya Volcano’s fuming crater to Carlos Pellas’ recently opened Mukul Resort—a modern splendor putting Nica on the map for global travelers in search of awesome luxury.

In a country that has weathered waves of promise and destruction, from its interoceanic heyday before the Panama Canal stole its thunder to its more recent damage from nearly a decade of civil war, hope radiates out of every devastating vista. And it’s no longer calling solely to ramblers and adventure seekers, though they’ll find plentiful options. Nica’s broad appeal—to the surfers, history buffs, eco conscious, cigar aficionados, jungle trekkers, and sybarites—has been here all along. It just wasn’t being offered on the right kind of plate. Why now? Because Carlos Pellas is in the kitchen.

It is to his credit that I’m here—Mukul’s February opening and the development at Guacalito de la Isla on Nica’s Emerald Coast are, mildly put, drawing attention. But this New York state-sized country is far greater than one man’s Pacific coast playground for the privileged. It’s a country only beginning to realize its potential.

The drive from the capital city of Managua to Granada offers 45 minutes of lush scenery down highway Carretera a Masaya, past the smoldering rim of the Masaya volcano. It’s not a leisurely drive, with sporadic, bleating beeps warding off weaving motorcycles, brave bicyclists, even bolder pedestrians, and cars drifting precariously across the lanes, but it makes the destination even dearer. We roll into the narrow streets, and crayon-hued facades of cerulean, atomic tangerine, and mint pop against the soupy evening sky. Mombacho Volcano’s graph-like outline divides the blue above the oldest city on the Central American continent.

Breakfast at La Gran Francia Hotel is in a garden surrounded by fragrant flowers tumbling over every surface, with basil so prolific that it looks more tree than herb. It’s this lushness, even in relative urbanity, that is one of Nica’s most striking qualities. Despite being sacked and burned numerous times, Granada has maintained its colonial charm, mostly due to a city law requiring that every building maintain the form of its original construction.

After a quick morning tour, we embark to the looming peak that dominates the Granada skyline. The 30-minute drive to the top of Mombacho Volcano begins as a steady ascent and turns clinging climb as we transition from one ecosystem to the next, marked by the shrill chirp of cicadas that sound like a car alarm on speed and helium, and the guttural roar of howler monkeys protecting their turf. This is volcano country, with vegetation stretching its massive arms in all directions. We make a pit stop at the midway visitors center and bistro of Café Las Flores—a local coffee company whose plantations scatter the hillsides—for a delicious jolt that rivals any precious cup in San Francisco.

On a hike bordering Mombacho’s safely passive crater, now a pit descending into an ombré of evergreens, our guide pauses to pick up a tuft of green—actually the smallest orchid in the world—and nestles it between the branches of a mossy tree. Such is the tender care with which the Nica people treat their land, their resources, their country. Our route takes us to the edge of a cliff overlooking Granada and its islets below—an outlook encircled by goldfish orchids leaping from the surrounding grasses.

The howler monkeys seem to have followed us to Jicaro Island Ecolodge, the destination of the aforementioned boat ride, and engage in a twilight chorus with a radical refrain of birds. We arrive just in time to climb three flights of stairs up to the observation tower that offers views of the surrounding islets and Mombacho’s silhouette, which turns navy against the dense sky as the sun dips behind it. The night brings short relief from the heat with cooling winds off the lake, but it’s still warm enough to warrant a nighttime dip in the saltwater pool under a crescent moon. As the name might suggest, Jicaro waves the sustainable flag, offering minimum-impact lodging and employment opportunities for locals—of huge importance to one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere (second only to Haiti). And while it may be a buzzword, the eco factor is one of the bigger draws for a stunning country attempting to slowly, carefully manage its touristic rise.

The approaching spike can be attributed in large part to Pellas’ Mukul. The rum and sugar magnate of Nicaragua is transforming the market with a development unlike any other in Central America. From the shores of Lake Nicaragua at San Jorge, it’s a 40-minute drive across verdant fields and scrubby hills, through the small town of Tola, and onto the newly paved road to Mukul. Ironically in parallel with Pellas’ in-progress project—phase two vacation homes are currently being built—the smooth ride stops abruptly, giving way to three miles of dirt road, past tin roof shacks that lean like weary travelers. And just as abruptly as the poverty sinks in, it gives way again to paved road and to guards standing at 20-foot gates, as if protecting the entrance to Oz.

We descend into the Pellas kingdom, cradled by cliffs on either side of wide-open beach, the light matching our course and giving way to an electric smear of sunset. Our caravan arrives to the welcoming faces of beautiful locals, who speak delicately accented English, whisk our bags away, and guide us into a massive palapa—a thatched roof hut on the scale of what I imagine is like Dubai. In this plein-air lounge looking out upon the pool and beach beyond, an installation of lanterns—big, small, round, cylindrical—sway overhead in the breeze. They give a warm glow through their woven shells above a half-moon couch backed by gingham pillows made for giants. A cool, citrus-scented towel brings relief, though less so than the refreshing macuá—the national cocktail of Nica made from fresh orange, lemon, and guava juices, plus Flor de Caña rum (the Pellas family’s other business)—that’s delivered to our eager hands in a hand-carved jicaro cup.

Wonderfully luxurious, yes, but it’s the care and craft of the place, and its role in the surrounding community, that is most impressive. Dallas-based designer Paul Duesing’s interiors, rich with handcrafted details—carved teak tables, lamps made from the clay of Masaya Volcano—are composed of 90 percent Nicaraguan-made pieces, reflecting the country’s character, people, and resources. Rather than flying in well-trained hospitality professionals, Pellas hired locals, starting from scratch to train them how to work in a world that was previously foreign to them. English lessons are taught in a nearby school, offering a chance for the people, some of whom may live in the shanties we passed to get here, to drastically change their reality (a monthly salary can jump from $200 to $700 with proper training). “We ask that guests have patience—these people have lived through two wars. They’re shy,” says Claudia Silva, Mukul’s director of marketing and public relations. Shy perhaps, but endlessly lovely, as much if not more so than the scenery.

The spectacular hilltop Spa Mukul—really spas—strikes a personal tone: After surviving a plane crash in 1989, Pellas’ wife, Vivian, suffered burns on 40 percent of her body and 62 facial and bodily fractures. Inspired by her preference for privacy, the spa is comprised of six separate casitas (little thatched roof houses) with personal lockers, dressing rooms, treatment and outdoor lounge areas. Each is decked out with a different theme reflecting the offerings, from water therapy massages in the Rain Forest to indigenous healing practices using traditional plants grown on the property at Casita Mukul.

While savoring lobster risotto cooked in Flor de Caña and a rib-eye fit for a Viking on the patio, a sparsely tailed skunk meanders up the stairs from the beach to join us for dinner on our last night. “Welcome to Nicaragua,” says the manager, after uneventfully scooting him away from the kitchen and back the way he came—a reminder of the untamed nature of this place, despite its new polish.

This article was published in 7×7’s May issue. Click here to subscribe.

SOURCE: http://www.7×

Is a surveillance camera right for you?

Many people turn to surveillance cameras as a way to make their home and office more secure. There are so many different types of security measures on offer, however, that it can be hard to know which is the right type of equipment for your needs. This article explores the different security measures and tools available and what the advantages and disadvantages of each of them are.

CCTV cameras can be attached to the outside of the building, can be placed over the door step, can be placed inside or can be entirely hidden from view. There are even dummy cameras available that provide a good deterrent aspect but don’t actually incur any additional cost of filming. All cameras that can be seen work well as a deterrent. A burglar is far less likely to break into a home when there is the chance they will shown doing so on video surveillance footage. CCTV cameras don’t necessarily sound an alarm however if security is breached in some way. In this respect they may be able to film a crime being committed but they won’t necessarily be able to put a stop to it. Having the footage available however does mean there is more chance of getting your things back if they have been stolen.

Burglar alarms are another way that people add security to their homes. These have a large number of problems however. First of all burglaries are usually very quick and the perpetrator can be long gone by the time the police or a security firm have arrived on the scene. Secondly the alarm can in some cases be stopped by simply locating the control panel and breaking it. Cats and other animals can also sometimes trip the alarm when they jump through an open window, which can cause problems for everyone.

The ideal solution is to have both surveillance monitoring of some kind as well as a motion sensor, this way you get the best of all worlds. If this stretches the budget too far however then it is better to simply go with some kind of camera equipment. This provides the best value for money in terms of security. In the past it was just the wealthiest members of society who were able to afford security equipment such as cameras, but these days the prices have come right down and now everyone can benefit. Nanny cameras and hidden indoor cameras are another very popular type of security surveillance. Camouflaged cameras can allow you to see things that you would otherwise not be privy to. Parents like to be able to check their nannies are caring for their children well, employers like to be able to check everything is just as it should be in the workplace.

Another scenario in which hidden cameras are ideal is for the use of gathering evidence. If you are being targeted or victimized, having hard evidence to show the police can mean something can be done. Without the proof however the police may be hesitant to take any real action. There is no doubt that cameras are a valuable and versatile security tool. Surveillance can assist in a number of different ways to keep everyone safe and free from harm. If you are unsure of what type you need the first step is to define what exactly you want the security camera for and then decide how much you are willing to spend.

When you search online you will find a host of companies offering surveillance camera equipment and monitoring devices. Make sure you buy from a reputable company with a good website. There is more choice online than in high street shops so it is best to buy your equipment here. From a wildlife camera to tracking devices, go online to find out what is available and get the best prices.

by: Kathryn Dawson

Tankless water heater repair and installation for your home

We all know hot water is a necessity. Most of us have water heaters at home and do not give it a second thought, we just assume we will have hot water on a daily basis until… You are standing in the shower and the water goes cold because someone in the other part of the house decides to turn on the water- maybe trying to get the dishes done after dinner. Or we get ready for that therapeutic evening bubble bath so we can unwind and there is no hot water. If this sounds familiar it may be time to consider a tankless hot water system.

Let’s discuss the advantages of replacing your old hot water tank with a Tankless water heater. Have you found yourself scratching your head when the electric bill comes? Most of us have. Depending on your household size and use, your conventional hot water tank can drive your electric bills through the roof.

Did you know that most conventional heaters make up for almost 20% of your household energy consumption? Think about this for a moment. 20% is a lot of consumption when you begin thinking about the different household items that make up your electric bill…clothes dryers, stoves, heat, washing machines, lights, hair dryers and the list goes on. So when you think about it, 20% for the use of hot water is quite a bit of your electric bill. This is why if you are a conservationist or a home owner that simply wants to save money and enjoy effective water heating, consider switching to a different system. It may be time to try using a tankless water heater.

With electric bills soaring and people becoming more eco- friendly, many are now considering installing a tankless water system. The advantages to having a tankless system may outweigh the disadvantages. Let’s review some of the reasons why installing a tankless heater could be very beneficial:

Tankless hot water heaters are energy efficient. You can cut your heating cost to up to 30%. Tankless systems work differently from conventional water heaters. With a Tankless water system the water is heated only when it is needed. When you turn on the faucet, that is when the Tankless heating system kicks in and the water is heated (using a heating element). This kind of system is also called “Instantaneous” or “On Demand. ”

With tankless water heaters there is a constant flow of hot water, so this allows everyone in your home to have hot water at the same time- no more being deprived of hot water in your home! It does not matter if two or more faucets are running at the same time. But be sure to speak to a professional plumber so they can advise you on what you may need to properly supply your entire house or what your options are regarding installing two or more of this type of system to meet larger instantaneous hot water demands.

You should know that tankless water heaters are considered safer because the system does not store water that can be a breeding ground for bacteria such as Legionella. Keeping the water temperature at an appropriate level is important to prevent these types of bacteria from thriving.

Preventive maintenance is still periodic- the same as a conventional heater – but the cost is less. Perhaps one of the best advantages of a tankess water system is that if you do what the manufacturer requires, it can potentially last up to 20 years and still maintain its efficiency.

by: Trish

Downshifting careers for a more fulfilling life

Downshifting%20careers%20for%20a%20more%20fulfilling%20lifeWhen 60-plus-hour weeks, expensive professional suits and excessive stress become too much, many high-powered professionals trade in their high-paying careers for a more fulfilling life. Called “downshifting,” the move allows former CEOs and company presidents to find more balance between work and life.
The phenomenon of downshifting is due in part to generational differences between baby boomers and older generations, says Catherine Mallozzi, director of career services for Everest University in Melbourne, Fla. While older generations saw work as something mandatory – yet not necessarily enjoyable – baby boomers have always believed they deserve fulfilling lives and careers.
“When you are stuck in the rat-race trying to climb the ladder to career success, you often have to put so much of your life on hold. You may end up sacrificing time with your family, not giving yourself time outdoors, or putting your hobbies and passions on pause,” Mallozzi says. “Downshifting is one way that professionals are redefining their priorities. They recognize that perhaps their new careers won’t be as lucrative, but they will be more fulfilling.”
Traditional working environments have dramatically changed over the past few decades. These work environments now include part-time, flex-time and work-from-home options, giving employees much more flexibility in balancing their interests in life. For example, workers can decline new projects, take on fewer projects or try to change work arrangements.
“If you aren’t ready for a complete career change, you still have a number of options. For example, bargain for more vacation time instead of that annual raise. Or see if you can work from home or move to part-time work,” says Mallozzi.
But for some, small changes in the working environment aren’t enough. Many wake-up calls can encourage a complete career change. Whether it is the death of a close friend, a divorce, or getting that dreaded pink slip because your company is downsizing, many professionals realize that life is too short to stay in a career that isn’t allowing them to enjoy a personal life on the side.
For those who might be considering downshifting, it’s important to weigh how a career change will alter their lives.
“You have to take your finances into consideration,” says Patrick Wehner, business department chairman at Everest University in Tampa. “A lot of planning needs to happen before you make any big changes. Specifically, you need to be thinking about how to meet costs of your insurance, children’s education, mortgage payments and retirement savings. That being said, with careful planning, changing careers can be done well and can be incredibly satisfying.”
In addition to financial planning, downshifting may also require going back to school.
“Many downshifters want to open a new business – perhaps a bed and breakfast, or local used book store or massage therapy business,” says Wehner. “Starting a new business in something you are passionate about is a great way to find a fulfilling career, but at the same time, you want to make sure you have the knowledge you need to be successful. For example, if you want to become a massage therapist or bed and breakfast owner, you may need to take massage therapy classes, or basic accounting and entrepreneurial courses before making that leap.”

Courtesy of BPT

Business Insider Ranks Nicaragua #4 Worlwide to Visit in 2013

There are 10 Places you should go while its still cheap. Nicaragua Ranked #4 – According to

4. Nicaragua

Nicaragua is poised to become the next Central American destination to gain serious popularity. More political stability, incredible ancient ruins, lush jungles, fabulous beaches, and unbeatable prices will likely start drawing bigger crowds in the coming years. And with great popularity comes swelling prices.

For now, though, it’s not just the basics that are affordable: If you want to go grand, you can do it for less, too. Think luxury hotels for the cost of a New York City motel.
Read more:


Morgan’s Rock on Top 10 Eco Resort list World Wide!

I live in San Juan del Sur and we are spoiled. We’ve known this for quite some time and now it brings me great pleasure to say… I found this place and moved here years and years before everyone found out about it. Today, the cat is out of the bag. We are seeing new articles about Nicaragua in the news almost every day talking about how promising the country’s investment future is, how safe and inexpensive it is to live here and how the country’s efforts for a green friendly future are actually becoming a reality.

Today’s article is special for me, putting the spotlight on the hotel that originally brought me to San Juan del Sur, Morgan’s Rock Ecolodge, the place I got my first job in this beautiful and still largely undiscovered region of the world. Thanks for posting this hotel on your top 30 Eco Friendly Hotels around the World!

Found on

BY:  Matt Petronzio

Earth Day, annual holiday of environmental sustainability, is on Monday, and green lifestyle and sustainability are especially in vogue.

It also happens to mark the beginning of peak travel season in various parts of the world. Who says hospitality and eco-consciousness have to be mutually exclusive?

Below, we’ve compiled a megalist of some of the top eco-friendly hotels in the world. With solar-powered electricity, structural elements made from natural materials and downright beautiful scenery, you’ll definitely find a destination where you can travel responsibly.

Check out the list, and let us know in the comments which ones pique your interest.

1. Six Senses Con Dao

Image courtesy of Six Senses Con Dao

Location: Con Dao, Vietnam

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? The building materials come from sustainable resources, the structure maximizes air flow to reduce the need for air conditioning and the staff has a passionate commitment to social responsibility and reducing the carbon footprint.

2. Hotel Tierra Patagonia

Image courtesy of Tierra Patagonia

Location: Torres del Paine, Chile

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? Built into the hillside of the far south of South America, Tierra Patagonia refuses to overshadow the natural environment. Inside, you’ll find low-energy lighting, wooden walls that help maintain a comfortable temperature and furnishings made by local craftspeople.

3. White Pod

Image courtesy of White Pod

Location: Swiss Alps

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? You sleep in luxurious pods that double as “low impact accommodations” — meaning you use minimal water and electricity, produce less waste and utilize renewable resources.

4. Spice Island Beach Resort

Image courtesy of Spice Island Beach Resort

Location: St. George’s, Grenada

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? The resort maintains energy-efficient practices like recycling, replants trees, participates in community cleanups and educates employees about conservation.

5. The Park Hyderabad

Image courtesy of the Park Hyderabad

Location: Hyderabad, India

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? The Park Hyderabad’s stunning exterior maximizes natural light, reducing the need for electricity, and there’s a culture of incentives for green transportation (bicycles, electric cars, etc.).

6. Saffire Freycinet

Image courtesy of Saffire Freycinet

Location: Coles Bay, Tasmania

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? The Saffire Freycinet has energy-efficient windows, lighting and air conditioning, and the kitchens get their food on site and from local vendors.

7. Hotel Punta Islita

Image courtesy of Hotel Punta Islita

Location: Guanacaste, Costa Rica

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? Hotel Punta Islita’s dedication to protecting the environment has earned it awards from the Costa Rican government’s Sustainable Tourism department, and the staff regularly engages in reforestation initiatives and wildlife conservation.

8. Proximity Hotel

Image courtesy of Proximity Hotel

Location: Greensboro, N.C.

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? Proximity Hotel is a LEED Platinum “green hotel” boasting more than 70 sustainable practices, including a vegetated restaurant rooftop and 100 solar panels to heat 60% of the water for both the hotel and restaurant.

9. Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Image courtesy of Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Location: Maldives

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? Various parts of the hotel EW built over the water in the Indian Ocean, minimizing interference with the natural environment. Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa received silver EarthCheck certification.

10. Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge

Image courtesy of Morgan’s Rock

Location: Near San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

What’s Eco-Friendly About It? Morgan’s Rock’s bungalows are extremely minimal and open to the ocean. The layout of the accommodations is designed for guests to become one with nature.


To see the whole list and source of this article please click here:



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