Thursday, December 15, 2011

Last Minute Shopping!


If 'tis the season for you to put off your holiday shopping for the last few days before Christmas, you are not alone! According to the Today Show, despite $25 billion dollars already spent this holiday season (up 15% from last year), 37 million consumers have not yet started their holiday shopping (I happen to be one of those consumers!).
Here are a few holiday shopping tips that may help to make your season merry and bright...and to get you through that last minute holiday rush!!

  • The National Retail Federation states that 90% of online retailers are offering free shipping. Equally as important to free shipping is a free return policy. Be sure to read the details of this policy so you don't have to fork out any extra bucks to return an item that didn't work out for you or your gift recipient.
  • Consider taking a day off from work to do shopping. A week day morning is an excellent time to do some shopping. Not only do you not have to battle the after-work crowds but you get to make the most of your day. Many stores open early and close late during the holiday shopping season so take advantage of this! You may be able to knock out all of your shopping in one day!
  • Don't rule out shopping on Christmas Eve. Many malls are not crowded because people begin gathering with their families. PLUS, many retailers begin their markdowns on Christmas Eve so there are some good deals to be had if you wait until then.
  • Crowds aren't for you? Consider shopping online. Many retailers are guaranteeing delivery by Christmas eve on in-stock items. Be sure to check order deadlines for this guaranteed delivery because it does vary from retailer to retailer.
  • Always make a list. If Santa does it, then it MUST be a good idea! In reality, a list will help you keep track of everyone you plan to shop for. I also write down three gift options for each person so that I know what to look for instead of randomly shopping. It helps to save lots of time!
  • And speaking of saving, be sure to make a budget. Not having a budget can lead to overspending and, let's face it, who wants to be stuck with hefty credit card bill at the end of the season? Set a target amount to spend for each person on your list and try to stick within a few bucks of that target. You will feel a lot better about the holiday and budgeting eliminates a lot of holiday stress.
Hope these tips make your holiday shopping easier and virtually pain-free! Don't forget to take a minute to enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate and some holiday music. Remember, it's the little things in life that matter most, not the new tablet computer for little Johnny or Jenny. Until next time, keep it clean!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

December


Welcome to the last month of the year, ya'll!! We made it through another year! December is a wonderful, but hectic month (take a look at all the December words to the right and see if you agree with any of them!!). Things take on a more festive, light-hearted attitude. People around the world celebrate various holidays with a variety of customs, faiths and beliefs. Here are a few fun tidbits about the awesomeness that is our twelfth month of the year.

  • For those with December birthdays, blue topaz is the traditional birthstone. Turquoise is the alternate birthstone for December.
  • There are 31 days in the month of December.
  • The birth flower for the month of December is the paper white narcissus. The narcissus symbolizes self-esteem.
  • Holidays during the month of December are Hanukkah (beginning December 1st), Christmas (December 25th), Kwanzaa (beginning December 26th) and New Year's Eve (December 31st).
  • How do you spell December in other languages? Here are a few of them:
  • Spanish: diciembre
    Italian: Dicembre
    French: décembre
    German: Dezember
    Polish: grudnia
    Latin: augustus
    Russian: Декабрь
  • December 12th is Poinsettia Day.
Here are a few important and historic dates for the month of December:
  • 1941 - Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
  • 1955 - Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white man and not moving to the back of a bus.
  • 1958 - Charles de Gaulle was elected President of France's 5th Republic.
  • 1980 - John Lennon was shot in New York City.
  • 1981 - The first test tube baby was born.
  • 1983 - Lech Walesa, Poland's Solidarity Union's founder, received the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1988 - Benazir Bhutto named first female PM of a Muslim country (Pakistan).
Well, there ya have it, a few interesting items about the month of December that aren't wrapped up in green and red! Until next time, keep it clean!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Give Thanks


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day yesterday. Traditionally, the holiday is spent with our loved ones (family and friends) and we all give thanks for the many things in our lives that we are grateful for. But what happens the day after? Do we still say thanks for the great things in our lives? A lot of people go right from being thankful to pushing and shoving in lines at stores to buy "things" that aren't really necessary (they are wants not needs).

Instead, why not keep the feeling of gratitude going by giving to those who have less than we do? If you are off today, why not donate your time and energy at a soup kitchen, food pantry, or nursing home? You may also consider helping out a neighbor or family member with things on their to-do list. Helping others is a great way of passing on our gratitude. It keeps the holiday season positive and full of hope. And isn't that what the holidays SHOULD be about?

Until next time, keep it clean!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Benefits of Smiling


There is nothing like seeing the smile of a friend or loved one. It gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. We feel better when we smile at others, too. It brightens our day and the day of those around us. Did you know that there are also health benefits to smiling? Oh yes! Not only does it require fewer muscles to smile than to frown but it helps keep us healthy. Here are a few health benefits than can be gleaned through the simple act of smiling.

  • Smiling makes us more attractive. Let's face it, who wants to talk to a frowning, scowling person? Smiles are far more inviting and makes us more approachable. Give it a try!
  • Smiling changes our mood. Next time you are feeling down in the dumps, try smiling. It will raise your spirits and when that happens, things can turn around for you.
  • Smiling is contagious. It really is. Try it. Next time you are in a room with friends or family, smile a bright sunny smile. I betcha others will start smiling more, too.
  • Smiling relieves stress. This really goes back to the idea of smiling boosting our mood. Same concept. Smiling makes us feel happier and being happy releases more endorphins that help us manage stress better.
  • Smiling lowers blood pressure. When you smile, there is a measurable drop in blood pressure. Don't believe it? Give it a try. Use a blood pressure monitor and write down your pre-smile pressure. Now, smile for one minute and take your blood pressure. I betcha it's lower!
  • Smiling can help boost your immune system. This could be because when you smile, your body is more relaxed and being relaxed is less taxing on your body. This helps stave off colds and the flu.
  • Smiling helps you stay positive. Try this test: Smile. Now think of something negative and see if you can hold that smile. It's hard to do!! When we smile, our body is sending a message to our brain saying that everything is a-okay! That's much better, don't you agree?
Some of the best ways to put a smile on your face are to spend time being with the people you love and doing the things that you enjoy. Take time out to watch a TV show that you find funny. Laughter really IS good medicine! Reflect on happy memories by flipping through photos. And one of the things that helps me smile is being with my dogs. Pets can do so much to brighten up your life and they are an endless source of smiles and laughter.

Hope this helps make you smile! Remember - we all have plenty to smile about. Focus on those things and it will make your days that much happier. Until next time, keep it clean!!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Top Tens

Halloween is just around the corner so in honor of this fun holiday, here are a few Halloween themed top ten lists for you to enjoy!! And remember, keep it clean (and safe!).




Top Ten Halloween Movies
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • The Shining
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Halloween
  • Poltergeist
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Alien
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Exorcist
  • Seven
Top Ten Kids Costumes for 2011
  • Transformers "Bumble Bee"
  • Twister (yes, the classic game complete with spinner hat)
  • Jack Sparrow
  • Crayons
  • Captain America
  • Ballerina
  • Ghostface
  • Monster High Characters
  • Wolverine
  • Skeleton
Top Ten Halloween Candies
  • Snickers
  • Nerds
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Life Savers
  • M&M's
  • Twizzlers
  • Skittles
  • Butterfingers
  • Candy Corn
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Top Ten Halloween Songs
  • The Monster Mash
  • Thriller
  • Tubular Bells (theme from The Exorcist)
  • The Time Warp (Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack)
  • Don't Fear the Reaper
  • Werewolves of London
  • Highway to Hell
  • Ghostbusters
  • Witchy Woman
  • Purple People Eater

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

History of the Clothes Dryer


Have you ever wondered where the dryer you are renting from AZUMA Leasing originated? Here is some info about where the clothing dryer came from:

In the early 1800s, clothes dryers were first being invented in England and France. One common kind of early clothes dryer was the ventilator. The ventilator was a barrel-shaped metal drum with holes in it to allow the heat to escape. It was turned by hand over a fire until the clothing inside was dry. Can you imagine having to do that? Talk about a hazard for the launderer!! One early American patent for a clothes dryer was granted to George T. Sampson on June 7, 1892. Sampson's dryer used the heat from a stove to dry clothes and it had a rack for the clothing. This dryer was also a ventilator dryer.


Electrical clothes dryers appeared around 1915. We take them for granted now, but clothes dryers are a fairly recent invention. In 1955, only 10 percent of U.S.households had one, probably because they were fairly expensive. Inventor J. Ross Moore lived on a North Dakota farm in the early 20th century. Tired of hanging wet clothes outside in the frigid winters, he built a shed, installed a stove and hung the clothes there to dry. Over the next 30 years, Moore developed his idea for an automatic clothes dryer. He finally built a drum-type model that worked. He developed both gas and electric models but, due to financial difficulties, needed to find a manufacturer to produce them. After many rejections, he struck a deal with Hamilton Manufacturing Company of Two Rivers, Wis. Hamilton began selling the new automatic clothes dryer, named the "June Day," in 1938.

Here are a few important dates in dryer history:
  • In 1946, dryer manufacturers moved controls to the front of the dryer, added a timer, an exhaust for moist air, temperature controls and a cool-down cycle.
  • In 1958, a 30-inch-wide dryer using a negative pressure system was first offered to the public. This system is still used in dryers.
  • In 1959, dryness-sensors were first used to shut off the power when the load was dry.
  • In 1965, dryers with permanent-press cycles were introduced.
  • In 1972, manufacturers put electric starters on gas dryers.
  • In 1983, the first clothes dryers with delayed start timers allowed users to run dryers in off-peak hours.
Hope you found this interesting! Just goes to show ya, there is always something new to learn. Until next time, keep it clean!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

All American Foods!


I don't know about you but sometimes I get a hankering for junk food. Some of the best were created right here in the great USA! Here is a little list of some foods that have roots in our great country. See if any of your favorites made the list!

  • Corn Dog - This yummy golden goodness on a stick was invented in 1942 at the Texas State Fair. This cornmeal-battered hot dog has paved the way for other fried goodies like fried Oreos, cheesecake, Twinkies and even Coca-Cola.
  • Philly Cheesesteak - You don't need to be from Philly to appreciate this gigantic, messy sandwich. Fatty meat, Cheese Wiz, chopped onions on a white hoagie roll. Resistance is futile so grab a stack of napkins and eat up.
  • S'mores - Graham crackers and marshmallows aren't particularly exciting on their own. Add a campfire and a nice hunk of chocolate to the party and s'mores are hard to say no to. They are melty and ooey-gooey which equals a whole lotta fun.
  • Buffalo Wings - Chicken is usually a pretty healthy form of protein but only in America could someone have concocted the idea to fry wings until crispy and then smother them in hot sauce and butter. As if that weren't enough, they were wise enough to add creamy, cheesy sauces on the side for dipping. No Super Bowl watch party is complete without these.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream - I don't know about you but I am guilty of eating cookie dough straight from the refrigerated roll. Now, add that yummy goodness to some vanilla ice cream and you have a delicious sweet treat. It tastes even better while watching chick flicks with friends.
Hope this list got you thinking about your favorite junk foods. I betcha some of them were created right here at home. A word of caution: don't eat all of the above listed items in one sitting or a tummy ache is eminent. Until next time, keep it clean!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Giving Back


Times are hard right now and there are lots of people, families and animals in need of a helping hand. Charitable donations are always needed but even more so in times of crisis. With the economy as it is and many parts of our country being devastated by natural disasters, now is a great time to not only say thanks for what you have but to also give to those in need. Here is some general information on how to get started if you are interested in making donations of time, items or money.

  • Give to an established charity. Find a charity with a proven track record. There are a lot of bogus groups out there that label themselves as "charities" and just take monies from unsuspecting philanthropists.
  • Budget your donations. Work your donations into your monthly/annual budget just as you would any other payment.
  • Keep good records. Most donations are tax-deductible but receipts are required for this. A canceled check or credit card statement for gifts of $250 or less is acceptable documentation for the IRS. For gifts over $250, a receipt from the charity will need to be provided to the IRS as proper documentation of your charitable gift.
  • Volunteer! In additional to financial support, giving your time and skills to a local charity organization can be just as beneficial to the cause of your choosing.
  • Consider donating unused or outgrown clothing and household items to a charity in your city. What you may see as an outdated sweater can be a source of warmth for someone who is in need.
  • The website www.charitywatch.org is a great site for getting more tips on donating in addition to providing a listing of reputable charities that can use donations. Worth checking out before opening up your pocketbook.
Hope this helps to put you in a giving frame of mind. It's always good to help other because we never know when it will be our turn to need it. Until next time, keep it clean!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

First Day of Fall


Today is the first day of Fall! It's my favorite time of year. The air is crisp, mornings and evenings are cool and the colors of the leaves start to change from green to beautiful autumnal shades of gold, red and orange. Welcome to the Autumnal Equinox!

On the Autumnal Equinox, the sun is right over the Earth's equator and there are equal hours of day and night. From now until the Vernal Equinox, days will remain shorter and than nights. The longer nights aren't such a great thing but that is even more reason to make the most of the daytime hours we do have!

Fall is a great time to go for hikes outdoors. It's always nice to get some fresh air and most trails are beautiful when the seasons change. Be sure to take your camera along! If you are a gardening enthusiast, Fall is the perfect time to plant fall bulbs so that you will be able to enjoy a wide array of Spring flowers! Tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils are all good options. And don't forget to plant some garlic! Farmers markets are full of apples, root vegetables, pumpkins and gourds. Try picking some of those items and incorporating them into new recipes. It's always good to try new things!

Hope you are as excited about fall as I am! Until next time, keep it clean!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blog


Azuma Leasing has one. Lots of businesses and organizations have them. Someone you know may have one. They can be funny, serious, provide valuable information or just be random thoughts or ideas. I'm referring to blogs. Blogs are basically online journals with commentary, ideas, information that is updated regularly. Blogging has gained popularity with the increase in the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others. There are even things called "blogathons" where a large number of people get together and blog about blogging. The term "blog" is an abbreviation for the term "web log". Generally, most blogs follow the same general format and include the content itself, an archive of older articles, a place where people can leave comments and list of links to related websites or blogs called a "blogroll". You can find blogs about almost every subject online.

Blogging itself has many incarnations. Some people do video blogs, photoblogs that contain only photos and audio blogs known as podcasting. There is also a form of blogging called microblogging where people just make very brief postings. Blogging has become very popular and as of February 2011, there were 156 million publicly posted blogs. The "blogosphere" is the collective community of all existing blogs. There is even a day called Blogday that is held on August 31st. This was established by blogday.org as a way to get fellow bloggers to interact with each other. On this day, bloggers share 5 blogs with others so that previously undiscovered blogs can be read.

So if you are interested in specific hobbies, causes, activities, schools, etc., swing by their website and see if they have a blog for you to read. You may even be inspired to start a blog of your very own!

Until next time, happy blogging and keep it clean!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday! Friday! Friday!!!!


Happy Friday! TGIF!!! Ever have one of those weeks where a lot has happened but when you go back at the end of the week to replay all of the events in your head, it's a blur? That's kinda how this week was. We have had a busy week here at AZUMA Leasing (and we like it that way!).

After such a hectic and stressful week, I'm sure we could all use a little R&R. Looking for something fun or relaxing to do this weekend? There are so many options! The theater, parks, shopping, staying in and watching movies - all are good options to take one's mind off of the whirlwind that was the previous week. Local newspapers and news websites are a couple of places to look if you are needing ideas for some weekend activities in your area.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!. Until next time, keep it clean!