• What is Earth Day?

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 17, 2015

    Earth DayMost of the holidays we celebrate are cultural, religious, or unique to our own country. What you believe and where you live determine what kinds of holidays you set aside, and it’s rare to find one that spans the globe and unites all people.

    Unless, of course, you’re talking about Earth Day.

    Celebrated on April 22, Earth Day is a worldwide celebration of the planet we all share. It’s currently recognized and celebrated by 192 countries, which makes it just about equal with the UN in terms of global popularity. Although most people associate Earth Day with environmental issues—saving the planet so we can all continue living on it—it is also a celebration of peace and unity among humankind.

    The History of Earth Day

    Earth Day was founded in 1970 after a massive oil spill in California highlighted the need for national ecological support. Over 20 million Americans banded together in educational institutions across the country to head outside and show support for a cleaner and more protected environment, part of a growing trend at the time for social and public movements.

    In many areas, the “day” has now been extended to an entire week of celebrations—and, in fact, some countries use the whole month to highlight the environment and what we need to do to sustain it.

    What Can I Do to Celebrate?

    The great thing about Earth Day is that it doesn’t have to be a huge deal or expensive to celebrate. Many neighborhoods band together to build support for things like community gardens or developing more parks, but there doesn’t have to be a huge event for you to mark the occasion.

    Some fun and common family activities include:

    > Planting a tree or garden in your backyard
    >Spending the day outdoors on a hike or picnic
    > Bicycling to work or school
    > Coming up with a recycling plan for your home
    > Picking up garbage or volunteering for eco-friendly activities
    > Spreading wildflower seeds
    > Building a birdhouse
    > Spring cleaning/donating items you no longer need
    > Switching to eco-friendly cleaners

    No matter what it is you decide to do, Earth Day is a great time to get out and meet people in your area. If you recently moved and would like to meet your neighbors, or if you haven’t had a chance yet to explore all the parks and open spaces where you live, Earth Day makes a great excuse to get out and be active!

    • Friday Favorites
    • Understanding Earth Day
    • What is Earth Day
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  • Facts About Radon and Your Home

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 15, 2015

    Radon TestingRadon is a radioactive, invisible gas that has been scaring homeowners for decades. Because it is known as the second leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking) and is virtually undetectable without the proper testing, it’s easy to imagine it lurking in your basement, just waiting for a chance to take hold.

    Because radon contributes to thousands of deaths every year, it’s a good idea to have your home tested. Ideally, this should happen before you buy the house and move in, especially if you’re already having a home inspection done. In terms of testing, radon is fairly inexpensive and only takes a few minutes of your time. In fact, you can buy many radon kits at home improvement stores, allowing you to test anywhere and at any time.

    How Does Radon Get into My Home?

    Radon is caused by the natural breakdown of uranium in your surrounding environment—the rocks, dirt, soil, and water underneath your home. For this reason, it finds its way into your house through pores in the ground, which is why homes with foundation cracks tend to be the most likely candidates.

    Although radon can be found in every state in the United States, it’s more common in the northern regions, particularly in the Midwest. Warmer southern climates tend to have less of a problem, but there can still be unhealthy levels in some areas.

    When Should Radon Testing Occur?

    Experts suggest you get a new radon test every two years. Because it is fairly inexpensive (DIY kits are around $10, or you can hire companies to test for you for around $100), and because it only takes a few minutes out of your day, you can easily work it into your regular maintenance schedule. Always make sure the test is approved by the EPA so the results are valid.

    You should also test radon before you sell a home, buy a home, or anytime you do major structural changes, especially to the air systems or foundation. Although radon reduction systems aren’t as costly as some kinds of home repair (usually a few thousand dollars), it’s nice to know ahead of time what you can expect. Depending on what stage you are in the home buying process, you may be able to negotiate these repairs as part of the purchase.

    Feel Good About Your Home

    Of all the problems your new home could have, radon is one of the easiest to discover and fix—and it takes long-term exposure before there are any real health hazards. If you find your new home has radon, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to control the problem and ensure that your air is safe and breathable for you and your whole family.

    • Post Move: Advice & Home care
    • Remove radon from your home
    • Radon Testing
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  • 7 Simple Kitchen Upgrades

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 14, 2015

    Paint BrushRedoing a kitchen doesn’t have to be a major overhaul. While there’s nothing wrong with updating all the appliances, tearing out the old cabinets, and replacing the linoleum floor with tile, this kind of renovation takes weeks (if not months) and can cost thousands of dollars. When you need a quick sale or want to make your new home feel a little more luxurious for less, you can skip the major renovations and go for simple kitchen upgrades.

    > Paint the Walls: Painting is the single-most cost-effective way to upgrade a home. For the price of a gallon of paint and a few brushes (less than $100 overall), you can brighten up the space, change the entire color palette, and make a room your own. Beware, though, unless you pick a neutral color that matches your current kitchen accessories, you may find yourself wanting to redo the whole kitchen.

    > Tile Backsplash: Removing tiles is a time-intensive process, but putting them up is fairly easy. If your kitchen doesn’t have a backsplash, you may want to consider adding one. In addition to tile, most home improvement stores also have pretty metal backsplashes you can tack up.

    > Handles and Hardware: Outdated cupboards getting you down? Instead of tearing them all out and installing new ones, consider updating the hardware instead. Sometimes, all it takes is a set of beautiful new handles to touch up the décor in your kitchen.

    > Remove Cupboard Doors: If not even a new set of hardware can fix your cupboards, consider removing the doors altogether. Upper cabinets can look very nice with the doors removed, especially if you have pretty plates and glasses you can show off.

    > Replace the Faucet: Installing a new faucet is a ten-minute job that can do wonders for your space. Upgrade to a farmhouse style faucet or find one that’s a little more expensive, and you’ll be surprised at how much nicer it makes your cooking area.

    > Movable Island: Kitchen islands are popular when you have a larger space that isn’t being used to its fullest. Although having a permanent island installed can be costly, there are rolling islands and kitchen carts you can buy and put in. The extra counters and storage can come in handy while also changing the way you use your space.

    > New Lighting: Get rid of the old fluorescent lighting, put in recessed bulbs, or buy all new fixtures—lights are a great way to make a dull space seem new again. This kind of investment can also end up saving you money in the end, especially if you switch to energy-efficient fixtures.

    Another great step is to toss out the clutter. Kitchens tend to gather quite a bit of debris over the years, especially when it comes to things like plastic cups, mismatched cutlery, and the stuff that accumulates in junk drawers. My tossing out the items you don’t need, you can feel better about having a brighter, more streamlined kitchen.

    • Home Renovations
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  • Are You Ready To Invest In Real Estate?

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 13, 2015
    Real Estate InvestingWhen most people talk about buying a home, selling a home, hiring a moving company, or relocating to a new residence, it’s because they are physically moving into a new house. In some cases, however, you might not be looking at a home in terms of a place to live, but as an investment in your financial future.

    Becoming a landlord, purchasing a house with the intention of flipping it, or merely buying up properties for resale…whatever your approach to real estate investing is, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting in to ahead of time. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself (and your financial planner) before you make the leap.

    > How Much Cash Flow Do You Have? Buying and selling real estate is a great way to make money…assuming you have money to begin with. You don’t have to be a millionaire to make a real estate investment work, but it is good to have liquid assets to fall back on. Because real estate tends to tie up your money for long periods of time, you should have a stable income and good financial cushion to fall back on.

    > How Adventurous Are You? Although buying and selling real estate isn’t quite as risky as skydiving or taking up a car racing hobby, it tends to be more exciting than putting your money in a well-diversified stock portfolio. If you want to take a more hands-on approach to managing your investment, and you aren’t afraid of the fluctuations that come with this kind of thing, you might find yourself enjoying the entire process.

    > How Much Experience Do You Have? You don’t have to hang a business degree on your wall or have years of training in order to invest in real estate, but there is quite a bit of legalese and financial know-how that goes into real estate. If you aren’t comfortable talking about adjustable-rate mortgages, capital losses, endowment loans, and all things real estate, you may want to find a financial planner/business partner who is or consider taking a few classes.

    > What Do You Know About Risk Management? Another issue you’ll want to consider is how much personal risk you’ll take on by buying and selling properties. To protect your credit and finances, you may need to purchase real estate through a separate company that you own. Without the barrier of business between your investment and your family, you may end up being personally liable for losses and/or lawsuits that incur.

    > Where Will You Be Five Years from Now? Many families become real estate investors by necessity. You might be moving to a new city for work and don’t have time to sell your old home, or you might have a vacation home that you plan to rent out to help make ends meet during a tight spot. While these are all valid reasons to become a real estate investor, always look at the big picture as well as your long-term goals. Being an absentee landlord can be costly and a lot of work, so you always want to look ahead to the future.

    Although only you and your family can decide if this type of investment is right for you, it’s always a good idea to educate yourself before you make any firm decisions. Real estate agent courses, financial planning seminars, business classes, and the help of a financial planner are always good ideas during the initial planning stages.  

    • Real Estate
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  • Go RPM: Win Hot Passes from northAmerican Promotion Guidelines

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 13, 2015
    RPMBlogGet ready to start your engines! North American Van Lines is excited to announce a promotional giveaway in collaboration with our partner, Richard Petty Motorsports.

    How to enter, promotion guidelines and full details are provided below. We look forward to sharing our love for Richard Petty Motorsports and racing with you over the next few months!

    Prize

    One winner will receive two Richard Petty Motorsports VIP All Access Hot Passes (ie, two standard Single Event Licenses) to a NASCAR XFINITY Series race of their choice, between the dates of June 15, 2015 – November 21, 2015.  The verifiable retail value of the prize is $355 per pass (SEL). The odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. Any taxes on the prize won will be the sole responsibility of the winner.

    A standard Single Event License (or Hot Pass) provides individuals with access to the infield (garage and pit area) during the race on an XFINITY race day, including: Meet and greet with #43 driver, Dakoda Armstrong; tour of XFINITY garage and pit road; pre-race activities; driver introductions; green flag.

    The winner is responsible for transportation to and from the event, lodging, and any costs incurred at or related to attending the event (food, souvenirs, etc.). The winner must follow all rules and restrictions that apply to a NASCAR XFINITY in-field, all access pass.

    How to Enter

    You can enter the promotional giveaway through the following 2-step process.

    > “Like” North American Van Line (NAVL) official page on Facebook or Twitter.

    > Comment on or “Like” a promotion-related piece on NAVL's Facebook page or by retweeting on Twitter OR post a photo onto the NAVL Facebook wall that shows your racing spirit.

    Entrants can enter their name into the promotion as many times as they want through multiple posts or likes/comments/retweets. Entrants can only like or retweet the same content once, but new content can be liked/retweeted for additional entries.

    Entries will be accepted between: April 13, 2015 (12:00 AM) - May 26, 2015 (11:59 PM Central Time). The promotion will run for 43 days, in support of our #43 Car.

    Winners

    All entries will be collected and at the end of the entry period, a winner will randomly be selected.

    The winner will be announced on May 29, 2015 via Tweet and Public Facebook messages. The winner will have 48 hours to claim his or her prize by private message or email. If the winner does not respond in that time period, a new winner will be selected and announced.

    Prize Pick-up and Screening: The promotion winner and selected guest will pick up their prize at the event track, per directions supplied by NAVL and Richard Petty Motorsports. In order to receive the prize, the promotion winner and selected guest will be required to provide the following details per NASCAR rules. Information must be received and submitted to NASCAR no later than 15 days prior to the race event. (Once the names have been submitted to NASCAR, they cannot be changed).

    > Requested race date

    > Names as they appear on driver’s license, date of birth, driver’s license number and the state issued for both guests.

    > All guests must be at least 18 years of age.

    > Each person must be present at the race to receive credential.

    > Upon pickup of passes at the NASCAR event, attendees will have to fill out a waver per NASCAR requirements.

    Promotion Regulations

    This promotional giveaway is promoted by Lever Interactive and North American Van Lines, Inc. (by itself and through its agents), and is sponsored by North American Van Lines, Inc. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Twitter.

    > This promotion is not directly affiliated with NASCAR or any related organizations and individuals.

    > Entrants must be a resident of the Continental United States and be 18 years of age or older. SIRVA employees or NAVL agent employees and immediate family members, as well as Richard Petty Motorsport employees, are not allowed to participate in the promotional giveaway.

    > NAVL holds the right to disqualify and/or delete any entry that does not meet promotion guidelines and rules.

    > NAVL will delete any content related to this promotion that is profane, inappropriate or breaks Facebook and Twitter content regulations in any way. What is determined as inappropriate is at the sole discretion of NAVL.

    > All participant names will be collected into a numbered list. A number will be selected randomly to determine the winner.

    > Winner will be notified by Tweet or Public Facebook messages. Winner has 48-hours to claim prize by privately providing contact information, including phone number and email address. If the winner does not respond within 48-hours, a new winner will be selected.

    > Entries must be submitted between April 13, 2015 and midnight on May 26, 2015*.

    > A promotion entry is captured when an individual has liked NAVL on Facebook or Twitter and then comments, likes, retweets, or posts a piece of content related to the giveaway.

    > All eligible pieces of content shareable for the promotional giveaway will be noted on the post made by NAVL to Facebook or Twitter.

    > Any posts of original content by an individual must fit the theme of “Show us your racing spirit.” NAVL will solely determine if a post does not meet this requirement.

    > Individuals can enter the promotional giveaway multiple times after they have ‘liked’ the NAVL Facebook or Twitter page. A single entry is counted for each “Show us your racing spirit” posted AND for every like, comment or retweet of a NAVL posted promotional piece.

    > This promotion is governed by Indiana Law. Void where prohibited by law.

    > NAVL reserves the right to modify the rules at any given time, including the extension of deadlines, the reschedule of the promotion, or the substitution of a prize of equal value in lieu of the original prize.

    > Entrants agree that the sole and final judgment as to all matters concerning the promotion and interpretation of the promotion rules are at the sole discretion of NAVL.

    > Prize winner (and guest) must abide by all Richard Petty Motorsports and NASCAR Single Event License (SEL or Hot Pass) rules, including, but not limited to:

     * Dress rules of “shirts and pants; dresses; and/or skirts and blouses are required.     Shoes are required. Shorts and short-sleeved shirts are acceptable. The following are not permitted: sleeve-less shirts and blouses, and open-toed shoes.”

    * Details and instructions provided in NAVL “guest letter”, including but not limited to:

    *instructions for NASCAR approval and prize pickup

    * specific conduct requirements

    * Prize winner and guest must be approved for access by NASCAR prior to prize pick up. If the winner does not pass necessary NASCAR screening, then his or her reward is forfeit and a new winner will be selected and announced. Full details on the NASCAR screening process are listed above.

    (a) If the prize described in this article is not available, the person who is to receive the prize shall be given the option of choosing one (1) of the following:

    (1)  A prize of equal or greater value.

    (2)  The verifiable retail value of the prize in cash or by a valid check.

    (3)  A voucher, certificate, or other evidence of obligation stating that the prize will be shipped to the person within thirty (30) days at no cost to the person.

    (b) If a voucher, certificate, or other evidence of obligation described in subsection (a) cannot be honored within thirty (30) days, the sponsor shall mail to a person a valid check or money order for the verifiable retail value of the prize described in this article ($335).

    (c) Subsection (b) of this section shall not apply in a promotion only for books, records, videos, or magazines when the person has the right to review the merchandise without obligation for at least seven (7) days and the right to obtain a full refund for the return of undamaged merchandise.

    Questions related to the promotional giveaway can be sent to North American Van Lines through Facebook private message or Twitter direct message.

    • NAVL News
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    • Richard Petty Mortorsports
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