Fixing credit quickly and easily exists in the same world that losing weight quickly and easily does. The imaginary one. Unfortunately, the one and only way to improve a credit score is through time, patience and consistent discipline. Below are the first steps one should take when working on improving their score, as well as some general information on how to better your score responsibly and with the long-term in mind. First thing’s first:
- Request a free copy of your credit report from trusted companies like Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Your report will contain the data that was used to calculate your score; check it for errors. Keep an eye out for late payments that are incorrectly listed and the amounts owed for each of your opened accounts. If you find errors, dispute them with the credit bureau and the reporting agency.
- Consider monthly payment reminders. Making your credit payments is the biggest contributing factor to your credit score. Some banks offer payment reminders through their online banking portals which you could setup for monthly reminders. Also, consider enrolling in automatic payments through your credit card and loan providers to have payments automatically debited from your bank account.
- Reduce the amount of debt that you owe. Use your credit report to make a list of your open accounts so you can go online and find out how much money you owe and the interest rate on each account. Come up with a payment plan that puts most of your available budget towards your debt payments, making your focus paying off the account with the highest interest rate first while maintaining at least minimum payments on the rest.
How to improve your score vs. hurt your score:
- HOW TO IMPROVE: Consistently pay your bills on time; pay your monthly balances in full; check your credit card regularly for accuracy; if you choose to borrow, keep your account balance around or below 50% of your available credit.
- HOW TO HURT: Fail to make even the monthly minimum payments on any loan or credit cards; exceed your account limits; file for bankruptcy or get your account turned over to a collection agency; apply for a lot of credit.
What makes up a credit score and how can you take care of each section responsibly? Payment History: The below contributes 35% to your credit score and has the greatest effect on improving it.
- Pay your bills on time
- Get current with any missed payments and stay current. The longer you pay your bills ontime after suffering from a bad spell, the more your score will increase. Older credit card problems count for less, so just hop back on the wagon and don’t get off; eventually you’ll replace the bad with good.
- Be aware that paying off a collection amount will not remove it from your history; it will stay on your history for 7 years. So stay on track as much as possible.
- Seeking help does not lower your score! If you are struggling financially, contact your creditors or seek guidance from a credit counselor. Again, this is not a quick fix, it will take time. Learning how to manage your credit will help you in the long-term.
Amounts Owed: This section counts for 30%.
- Keep balances on credit cards low.
- Pay off debt instead of moving it around. In fact, owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your score. That said, paying down your credit card debt is the most effective way to raise your score in this area.
- Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score.
- Don’t open any unneeded, new credit cards just to increase your available credit. This will eventually lower your score.
Length of Credit Card History: This section counts for 15%.
- If you’re new to the credit world, don’t open a lot of new accounts too quickly. When you don’t have a lot of credit information, new accounts will lower your average account age, which will have an effect on your score. Also, rapid account buildup will look risky for new credit users.
Types of credit in use: This counts for 10% of your credit score and is referring to your outstanding credit accounts including credit cards, installment loans, mortgages, etc.
- Apply for and open new accounts only as needed.
- Don’t be afraid to have credit cards, just be sure you can manage them responsibly. Having credit cards and paying them off responsibly and consistently will build your credit score. For example: Someone with no credit cards would be considered a bigger risk than someone who has credit cards and is paying them off responsibly.
New credit accounts and inquiries: This counts for 10% of your credit score.
- Do your rate shopping for a loan within a focused period of time.
- If you’ve had credit problems, re-establish your history by opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time. Please keep in mind that if not done responsibly, this could have the opposite effect.
- Checking your credit report will not affect your score as long as you order your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency or through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers.
Despite the warning in my head, I had spaghetti bolognese while wearing a brand new white blouse this past weekend. I so rarely even buy white because, although I looove a good white blouse, I almost always find a way to ruin it (and just FYI: I’m a mom, so it’s not always ME doing the ruining 😉 ). So, as I took a gigantic bite of pasta at Filomena’s on Wisconsin, I literally saw a noodle fall off the fork in slow motion and land onto my once bright, white blouse. I was too heart broken about losing yet another battle with tomato sauce to accept defeat so easily; I immediately turned to google, determined to find a stain remedy. Not only did I find something that actually worked, but it inspired me to spend hours on google looking for ways to get rid of all the other stains that I had hidden in my home! I’ve been on a stain removing frenzy and want to spread the word:
Tomato Sauce on Clothes
What you need:
- Spoon or butter knife
- Cold water
- Liquid laundry detergent
- White vinegar (optional; for white/colorfast clothing)
- Hydrogen peroxide (optional; for white/colorfast clothing)
- Lemon juice (optional; for white/colorfast clothing)
- Stain remover
- Mild dish soap (optional; for oily stains)
1) Remove as much tomato sauce from the fabric with a spoon or the back of a butter knife.
2) Run cold water through the back of the stain as quickly as possible post “incident.” NOTE: Run water through the back of the fabric, not the front. This will push the stain back out of the fabric as opposed to helping it settle deeper into the fabric.
3) Rub a liquid detergent into the stain. Work it into the fabric gently in a circular motion beginning on the outside of the stained area, and working in.
4) If the garment is white, or you have tested it for colorfastness, apply a mild bleaching agent. Possible agents include hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar applied with a sponge. You can also use lemon juice on white fabrics. Rinse well.
5) Repeat with detergent followed by a mild bleaching agent until the stain no longer appears.Hold the stain up to the light to make sure it is fully gone.
6) Apply a stain remover stick, gel, or spray. Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes.
7) Wash normally with detergent. Before drying, double-check the stain. Stains that are dryed will often be permanent.
If it remains, rub detergent into the tomato stain. Next, soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Rinse well.
8) If the tomato stain stubbornly remains, apply stain remover stick, gel, or spray and launder according to directions. Perhaps do this even if you don’t see any remaining stain, just to make sure you’re sauce free!
Tips: If your stain is a combinations stain, treat the oily part first with some mild dish detergent before proceeding with the directions above. A lot of spaghetti sauces that are made with meat will be oily.
Soda stains off your carpet:
Where there are kids, there is soda. And for those who only let their kids have organic soda — don’t be fooled! They stain, too! Here’s what to do:
What You Need:
- Clean white cloth(s)
- Liquid laundry detergent
- Vacuum cleaner
1) Blot up as much of the soda stain as possible with a clean cloth. Make sure you work from the outside-in, in an effort to avoid spreading the stain.
2) Mix 1/4 teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent with 1/2 a cup of water. Pour the mixture onto the stain.
3) Using a different, clean, dry cloth, blot the area again; moving from the outside, inward. Allow the area to dry fully.
4) Vacuum the stained area thoroughly. Any dry bits of residue will be pulled up off the carpet, giving you a better idea of how much of the stain (if anything) is left.
5) If the soda stain remains, try a carpet stain remover. Whatever remains will be obviously less than the original mess, so a stain remover should have a much easier time removing any residue. I actually repeated number 2, 3 and 4 twice and didn’t need a stain remover! Depending on how bad/deep your stain is, consider repeating different steps a number of times before giving up. Excess carpet cleaner can be difficutl to remove and can actually attract dirt in the future, so be be sure you’ve done all you can with your stain before turning to the last step.
Stained White Countertops
As you know, I work in real estate. A client of mine was hoping to sell her gorgeous home and I figured it would be an easy job. Unfortunately for me, my client was a big time chef, and although her kitchen was fabulous, she had white caesar stone countertops complete with all of her cooking stains. One of them was actually the dye from a napkin that was used to clean up a spill………well, my late night google session on Saturday even solved my work problems!
Mixing baking soda and water and scrubbing with a microbfiber cloth completely got the job done. For quartz countertops, I learned that powdered ajax or comet with small amounts of water completes the job without even scrubbing. Thankfully, I also have a few homes with quartz countertops that could do with some brightening!
Voila! Your stain fears are cured.
For D.C. foodies, like myself, September 13 from noon to five is an exciting time! Taste of Georgetown is in town, and this year, it’s gracing the beautiful Georgetown Waterfront! If you haven’t already, you must, must, MUST give this food festival a try. Washington D.C. is a fabulous city for foodies, but trying every restaurant out there can certainly be overwhelming. At Taste of Georgetown, you can try 70 signature dishes (more than ever before!) from 35 of our most popular Georgetown dining spots all in one go!
For the first time, the Taste will be spreading from Wisconsin Avenue to K street along the scenic views of the waterfront. With a swanky new location, later hours, and all kinds of foodie-loving events, Taste of Georgetown is looking to impress this year. Aside from our lengthy menu, Georgetown’s biggest chefs are preparing for a Georgetown Chef Showdown where they will be battling to satisfy the taste buds of D.C.’s top food experts and media. With the new and improved location, families will feel more than comfortable bringing their kids to enjoy bocce ball courts; hula-hooping; face-painting; balloon-animal-making; food eating contests; vendors from local, Georgetown-based stores; and a live music stage with blue grass and country music bands. Post festival, After Taste Happy Hour events are taking place at a variety of restaurants throughout Georgetown!
Here’s what you can find at Taste of Georgetown, 5$ a taste. Or, you can click here for discounted early bird tickets.
Compressed Watermelon with Lime Salt and Candied Jalepeno
Tony & Joe’s Seafood
Grilled Oyster with Tasso, Spinach & Parmesan
Baked & Wired
Ice Cream Sammies | Cold Brew Coffee
The Grill Room at the Capella
Roasted Summer Corn Soup | The Grill Room Beef Tartar
Featuring their BREWS in the Beer & Wine Pavilion
Suckling Pig | Yellow Watermelon Soup
Vegetarian and Chicken Paella | Tostada with Goat Cheese and Honey
Chilled Pumpkin Soup, Spiced Pepitas, Crispy Plantains & Cilantro
Sweet Crepe | Savory Crepe
Chez Billy Sud
Chilled sweet corn soup with crab, melon, and basil
Clyde’s of Georgetown
New England Style Lobster Roll Sliders
Gazpacho with Blackened Shrimp
Dean & Deluca
Chicken with Rustic Tomato Sauce
Short Rib Korean Taco
Eno Wine Room
Featuring their FINE WINES in the Beer & Wine Pavilion
Fried Ravioli with Italian Sausage | Cannoli with Ricotta, Pistachios, Cinnamon & Cookies
J Paul’s Dining Saloon
“Surf & Turf” Sliders | “ChiliMac” & Cheese
1/3 Lobster Roll | 1/3 Shrimp Roll
Choose 3 Macarons in Lemon, Pistachio, Nutella or Raspberry
Georgetown Handroll | Mate Tempura Roll
Tabbouleh | Chicken Shawarma | Hummus
Pulled Pork Sandwich & Coleslaw | Grilled Corn with Southwest Sauce & Mancheyo with BBQ corn nuts
Duo of Raspberry & Salted Caramel Macarons| Duo of Chocolate & Vanilla Macarons
Truffle Parmesan Frites | Meatball Sliders
Chicken & Goat Cheese Fusilli Pasta | Caramelized Cheesecake
Lasagna with Bolognese | Panna Cotta with Berry sauce
Ri Ra Irish Pub
Bread Pudding | Potato Cakes
Sea Catch Restaurant and Raw Bar
Shrimp & Calamari Ceviche | Oysters on the Half Shell
Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen
Pork & Chicken Meatball
Full Size Cupcake in various flavors | 3 Mini Cupcakes in various flavors
Crispy Shrimp Rolls | Hush Puppies
Beef Slider | Roasted Pork Slider
Red Velvet and Salted Caramel | Lava Fudge & Peanut Butter Fudge
Taste of Georgetown is hosted by the Georgetown Business Improvement District, and benefits the Georgetown Ministry Center’s services supporting the homeless. I look forward to not only sampling some incredible food, but to supporting a great cause.
You can read more on their website HERE.
At one point, essential oils only made an appearance in my bathtub when I was feeling stressed. Lavender has always been my go-to because of it’s relaxation properties, but I’ve recently found that it can be used for a variety of ailments or even just to clean your kitchen! Here are my favorite ways to use essential oils in the home while benefiting from their aromatherapy and being eco-friendly all at the same time — talk about a win!
How to use essential oils for….
– 2-3 teaspoons of either lavender or lemon (because of their antibacterial properties) per tank of hot water will both clean your carpet, and leave your home smelling heavenly. Shampoo your carpet as normal, or use this same method for your auto upholstery!
– To kill germs on dish towels, soak them in a bowl of boiling water with 2 drops of either lavender or eucalyptus essential oils before putting them into the washing machine.
– The best oils to use as air freshener in your kitchen are rosemary mint, lemon, eucalyptus and lavender.
– To wash your kitchen surfaces, I’d use lavender and lemon for their cleaning properties. Or, if you’re liking the cleaning properties but want to mix up the scent, essential oils can come in a variety of blends. For example, a lavender sweet orange would smell divine in a kitchen — so keep an eye out for your favorite concoction and don’t be afraid to mix it up!
– A few drops of lemon essential oils to the rinse water used when washing out your refrigerator will clean and offer a long lasting freshness!
…the laundry room:
– To help with winter colds and flus, put 3-5 drops of eucalyptus into the fabric softener department of your washer.
– Or, if you’re just looking for an oil with it’s own cleaning properties and an awesome smell, my favorite oil, lavender, works wonderfully.
– To use essential oils in the dryer, add 2 drops of your choice of oil onto a 4X4 inch cloth and toss it into the dryer with your clothes or linens.
– You can also use your oils while ironing; put 1 drop of your essential oil of choice into a spray bottle with water, and spray your clothes before ironing as usual.
…to add fragrance to your living room:
– Put 6-8 drops of your favorite essential oil or blend onto a cotton ball and toss it into the vacuum bag.
– This trick is my favorite; put a few drops of your essential oil of choice onto a cool light bulb. The heat from the light bulb will release the essential oil into the atmosphere…who knew!?
– Or, do you have an air humidifier? Adding 8 drops of your favorite oil to the water of your humidifiers works amazingly and also changes the quality of the air (in my opinion)!
– Place a few drops of lavender into a diffuser and spray your bed linens with your own lavender mist before going to bed; lavender is impeccable for relaxation and relieving stress.
– To freshen your clothes, place cotton balls with your favorite essential oil in the corners of your clothing drawers and enjoy the aromatherapy off your clothes for the entire day.
– Put a few drops of either eucalyptus, lemon or lavender on the cardboard ring inside the toilet paper roll. The cardboard soaks up the oils and releases the scent when the roll is turned.
– Keep a bottle of Eucalyptus Oil in each bathroom and add 5 drops or so directly into the commode water to instantly freshen the area. The oil remains until someone comes along and flushes it away.
…as instant air freshener:
8-10 drops of your favorite essential oil into a bowl of boiling water will leave your room filled with the scent of your choice in a matter of seconds.
Is it just me or did that summer fly by? I am celebrating a Labor Day WEEK instead of a weekend. The kid’s and I are off to Southern California to enjoy cloudless skies and beautiful beaches. That’s not stopping us, however, from enjoying the American tradition of a meal off the grill and a homemade cocktail in hand.
— Well — that’s my tradition, anyway. 😉
Here are the recipes that I have on my menu. I strongly encourage you to give ’em a try before Fall officially greets us next month. Happy Labor Day!
Beer Can Chicken; also known as Drunken Chicken, Dancing Chicken, Chicken on a Throne, Thirsty Bird and Beer-Butt Chicken….there are some other adult themed names out on the web, but I try to keep my blog PG. 😉
It’s exactly what it sounds like — a beer can, in a chicken. This method began to show up at college tailgate parties in the late 70s/ early 80s. As the BCC became more popular, it was picked up by competition BBQ teams that were touring the United States and unknowingly spreading awareness about what would soon become a massively popular dish. I share this recipe, mainly because you can’t go wrong. The chicken is always super juicy and tasty, it’s very easy to make, and it goes amazingly with just about any side. So, basically, what’s not to love? If you like what you taste, I’d suggest picking up Steven Raichlen’s cookbook entitled: “Beer-Can Chicken.”
Here’s a recipe off of the Food Network that’s easy and, of course, yummy:
1 (4-pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
1 can beer
Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub. Set aside.
Open beer can and take several gulps (make them big gulps so that the can is half full). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod.
Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
The Lazy Labor Day
I just can’t refuse a homemade, summer cocktail when it’s this beautiful out!
Here’s a refreshing recipe that will make your day.
8 oz. Brugal Extra Dry rum
2 oz. simple syrup
10 basil leaves
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. sparkling water
Muddle together basil, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add rum and stir well. Pour into ice filled glasses, top with sparkling water and serve.
Have a very happy and relaxing Labor Day!
As you’ve already heard me say in previous blogs, I’m so happy to see the growing awareness of our civilization’s impact on the environment! A much needed change in mindset is underway, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the movement by spreading the word. Quite honestly, I never thought fashion would successfully be able to jump on this band-wagon. For quite some time, sustainable and eco-friendly brands haven’t had stylish reputations. But these days, there’s a number of fashion-forward, earth-friendly labels that are working hard to change the face of eco-friendly fashion.
Here’s a list of ten favorite luxury brands with links to their website; Happy shopping!
1. Mina and Olya was founded by two former financial consultants. This luxury line uses domestically-produced, eco-friendly materials like hemp, milk fiber and organic silks and wools; proof that terrific tailoring and eco-friendly materials can co-exist in the same brand!
2. Freedom of Animals is not only sustainable, but also extremely opposed to animal cruelty! This very young accessory brand uses manmade materials like post-consumer polyurethane, recycled vegetable dyes, and organic cotton to make their chic handbags; all of which are named after orphaned elephants whose mothers were lost to poaching. Additionally, a percentage of its proceeds go to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. How can you not be fan?
3. Amour Vert, whose name translates to “green love,” is a Paris-inspired brand that uses a zero-waste design philosophy and only sustainable, natural fabrics. For every purchase of their Amour Vert t-shirt, the company pays to have a tree planted somewhere in the United States.
4. Study is entirely produced in New York City using only sustainable materials. Differently from most, Study avoids releasing large, seasonal collections and instead focuses on small, monthly capsules. Owner and designer, Tara St James, has a menswear background and half a decade’s worth of experience in the denim industry; both of which are very present in her unique, women’s brand.
5. Riyka is a sporty-chic brand with crazy, colorful, geometric accents! The London label uses recycled or organic fabrics and produces it’s collections locally.
6. Feral Childe is the art project turned fashion brand of two bi-coastal designers, Moriah Carlson from Brooklyn, and Alice Wu from Oakland, CA. The two designers are devoted to sustainable design with their use of natural fibers, upcycled materials, deadstock fabrics and trims, low-impact dyes and a waste-reducing produce-to-order business model.
7. Atelier Delphine is a very feminine brand with flirty prints and lots of color. Their clothing is locally made in California from 100 percent natural fibers. I can’t wait to get my hands on that white dress!
8. Angela & Roi is an affordably priced, crafted from vegan leather, designed and produced in South Korea, only sold on-line, minimalist accessory brand which happens to be very charitable, as well! Depending on what color bag you buy, the company will make a donation to a corresponding medical organization (red for AIDS awareness, green for the Anxiety and Depression Association, purple for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and so on).
9. Kordal was started by Mandy Kordal, former designer at J.Crew, Trovata and Doo.Ri, before she discovered her passion of knitwear. Today, as a designer with her own collection, she favors natural fibers and small scale domestic production to keep things clean and green.
10. Litke has a bold style that integrates handmade touches like quilting, embroidery, crochet and smocking in her womenswear – all done on organic fabrics.
The next time you’re in need of an on-line splurge — try a few of these places out! You not only have a wide variety of stylish options, but you’re helping the planet. I can’t think of a better excuse to go shopping!
Feng Shui has made it’s presence known in the western world particularly in the last decade. According to this ancient Chinese science, a balanced flow of energy throughout your home allows it’s inhabitants to be nurtured with stability, opportunity and positivity. Most homes in the United States, however, were not built with on-site consultants which means it’s near impossible to find a Feng Shui perfect home! Of course, some Feng Shui no-no’s are far worse than others. Take a look at the below tips so you can spot a Feng Shui disaster from a mile away!
- “It’s all about the neighborhood” carries a deeper meaning in the world of Feng Shui. The neighborhood around your home is representative of the energy coming into your home. Be mindful that you’re on a clean street with good neighbors. Lawns should be mowed, flowers well kept, and aesthetics maintained.
- Avoid a backyard with a steep drop. For example, a home on the very top of a hill is great for sledding, but not good for energetic stability and protection. In contrast, if you have found a home with good backing (for example, your back yard is sloped upwards), you’ve found a great lot! This will leave your family with stable, nurturing energy that will seep into your life in a very positive way.
- If your potential home is at the end of a T-Intersection where traffic is constantly driving towards your house, this is a massive no-no. Abrasive energy instead of soothing energy will be constantly running into your home, offering a low and rough quality energy that can attract money problems and health problems down the road (no pun intended). This is the same for homes at the bottom of a cul-de-sac, and therefore in direct line of oncoming traffic.
If your home is on a railroad, you may need to find ways to build beautiful barriers that separate the railroad from your home, but even that may not work as the strength of energy coming from oncoming trains are perhaps too powerful to combat.
- Your front door is where your energy should be welcomed. There shouldn’t be any trees, walls or bulky obstacles directly in front of your entrance that blocks energy from smoothly and happily entering your home
- Will your front door need updating? It should be well cared for so that it opens widely and without squeaking, has updated hardware and paint, and is a proportionate size to the rest of the house. Be additionally mindful of the landscaping and bushes around the front door. If you’re not thinking “my home is so beautiful, I love living here” as you’re arriving home, try and determine what it is that you need to change so you start thinking that way.
- What’s the first thing you see when walking into the house?
– If your back door is directly in line with your front door, energy is leaving your home out the back just as soon as it’s entering from the front. This leaves your home (and therefore you) completely unnourished.
– If the first thing you see is your staircase, the energy is flowing directly upstairs, leaving your downstairs with nothing and thus promoting an energetic imbalance that can seep into your life.
– If the first thing you see is a mirror, energy is immediately entering your home, reflecting off the mirror, and leaving from where it came.
– Avoid homes with front doors that are directly in line with closets, bathrooms and walls, also.
- Water elements (ie. bathrooms, laundry rooms, sinks, or other home features that use water) directly above, to the side, or below your front door washes away the opportunities and energy that come into your home.
- Similarly, if you have a bathroom (or other water element) above, behind or to the side of a stove, you are symbolically washing away money opportunities. Stoves are representative of money and therefore should be taken care of both architecturally and once moved in.
- The kitchen is where we eat, grow, nourish ourselves and sustain our lives. For these reasons, it is one of the most important rooms in the house for the entire family. The kitchen is also a Feng Shui symbol of wealth and prosperity so it shouldn’t be too close to the front or back door, making sure that energy doesn’t prematurely escape. The kitchen should have several levels of lighting, be airy, bright and welcoming.
- Once moved in, take special care in keeping your home free of clutter. Whether you have great Feng Shui or not, clutter will drag the energy of any home down.
I am not a Feng Shui consultant, but instead an enthusiast who uses Feng Shui concepts in both my personal life and in business. With that said, if you have any specific Feng Shui concerns, feel free to contact me using the contact form on my “About” page, and I can put you in touch with a consultant who can help.