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By : Preston Guyton, 07-27-2017
Tips for Selling a Home with a Solar Lease
 Milennial buyers currently make up the largest segment of prospective home buyers in the US, and are very interested in eco-friendly homes. Homes on the market with an existing solar panel lease should be marketed effectively to capitalize on this demand. 
Tips for Selling a Home with a Solar Lease

The ability to live a greener lifestyle is at the top of the list for more prospective home buyers than ever before. This is, in part, due to millennial buyers, who currently make up the largest segment of prospective home buyers in the United States.

Known for being environmentally aware, technologically astute, and value conscious, millennial buyers are often drawn to homes that offer the green features and environmentally friendly materials and options they desire. Therefore, homeowners who are selling homes with features like solar panel leases will want to make sure they are marketing them effectively to increase their chances of capturing this interest.  

Energy Savings Can Help Fuel Market Appeal 

In addition to the desire to shrink the home's carbon footprint, rising utility costs across the nation continue to fuel buyer interest in all types of energy savings features and options. Because of this, homeowners with solar panel leases are in an excellent position to market them favorably, even though the lease itself can be tricky to navigate.
 
Dealing Effectively with Solar Panel Lease Questions from Buyers 

Selling a home with any type of unique feature, such as a solar panel lease, can create questions in the minds of prospective purchasers. Sellers who can provide answers to these questions, supported by valid information are more likely to overcome any buyer hesitation that may exist and increase the odds of getting a good offer on their home. Effective ways for providing these answers during the marketing of a home with a solar panel lease include:

  • providing documentation that clearly shows how the solar panels provide a cost savings for the homeowner, such as showcasing a year of pre-solar energy bills for the home, along with those from a more recent twelve-month period when solar power was in use
  • providing a packet of detailed information about the solar panel lease, including the date of installation, the installing company, terms, service plan information, and any applicable warranties or exclusions 
  • providing information to help prospective buyers understand that the value offered by the solar panels on the home should continue to increase as energy costs and utility bills continue to rise
In addition to providing this type of information, sellers should also be able to offer prospective buyers helpful information about purchasing a home with a solar panel lease, such as the Energy Efficient Mortgage, offered through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). This loan offers affordable financing options to buyers who want to buy a home with solar power that may be costlier to purchase than another home without solar power options. 

Buying Out the Solar Panel Lease Agreement

Sellers who find themselves unable to get suitable offers on a home equipped with leased solar panels can also consider buying out the lease agreement to make their home more marketable. This is often the best choice when prospective buyers are interested in purchasing the home and want to enjoy the benefits of solar power, but are not willing or able to undergo the credit qualification process or take on existing debt with the solar panel leasing company. 

The Actual Value of Solar Panels 

Since any buyer taking over an active solar panel lease agreement will need to qualify for credit with the solar panel leasing company, sellers may find it easier to market their home by offering to buy out the lease agreement in return for receiving a higher purchase offer on their home. When contemplating this type of situation, home sellers will need to make sure that both they and their buyers are aware of and in agreement on the actual value represented by the existing solar panels.

It is also important to remember that this additional value will need to be documented and supported by any home appraisal process that is used as part of the buyer's financing. The good news is the Federal National Mortgage Association are now actively supporting appraisal policy changes to analyze the potential for added value in homes equipped with solar panels. 

Looking for a realtor experienced with solar leases? Try using EZBZ - the free concierge service. We'll help you find and compare realtors in your area that match what you're looking for. Download the EZBZ app or call us on 1-855-461-8619 to get started. 

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 06-29-2017
Things to Consider Before Adding a Room to Your House
If you want to build a home addition, consider the following before starting the process to save yourself some time and money.
Things to Consider Before Adding a Room to Your House


There are numerous reasons why you may want to add another room to your house. You may need another bedroom because your family is growing, or perhaps you want to add a private bathroom to your master bedroom. Whatever you want to build, be sure to consider the following before starting the process to ensure you won’t have regrets during or after the project is complete:

Your Budget

Determining your budget should be your first step.
If you really want an addition to your home, it’s hard not to immediately jump straight into the planning process. Realistically, though, the first thing you should do is ensure you have the funds necessary to complete the project. HomeAdvisor estimates that the average national cost of building an addition is $41,628. Don’t fret if this is beyond your budget, as the cost can vary greatly depending on the type of addition you want and where you live. However, it is likely you will need a minimum of $20,000 regardless of where you live and what you are building.

Once you have a clear budget, it will make every subsequent decision related to the project easier, for example, when deciding on a contractor. Keep in mind that you should hire the company that is most likely to be reliable or do high quality work. Don’t let their quote be your single deciding factor. Hiring an unlicensed contractor because they are more affordable could end up being far more expensive for you in the long-term.

If you’re worried about the cost, you may be able to save money by thinking about what you really want from the project. For example, remodeling an existing room is typically far less expensive than building a new one, if that’s an option. Ask yourself objective questions to confirm that the addition is a smart investment. Will it add value to your home? Will you still be living there in five years?

Local Zoning Laws

Be sure to research your local zoning restrictions and regulations.
Almost every residential area in the United States has their own set of zoning regulations and restrictions. These rules dictate where and what you can build, including additions to your home. While the nature of these laws can be controversial – restricting what you can do with your own property – they are typically not arbitrary. Often, they exist to protect public health, safety, and comfort.

Most residential areas restrict homeowners from building anything within 20 feet of the front of their property, 7.5 feet on the sides, or 15 feet from the back.

The best way to learn what zoning restrictions you must adhere to is to contact your local municipal planning or building department. A real estate attorney would also be able to answer any questions you have, and can even help you fight some restrictions. Of course, this is another expense that your budget will need to cover.

The Design

An architect can be extremely helpful when planning a home addition.
Thinking critically about the design of your new room can help you save time and money, not to mention ensuring that you will get what you want out of the project. Will the addition be detached or built in? Will you use new materials or attempt to blend the addition in with the rest of your home?

For medium to large scale additions, it is recommended that you consult an architect. An architect will help you confirm the addition will add value to your home and can be integrated seamlessly. They will help you make important decisions and can work in collaboration with your construction company to get the best results.

A Contingency Plan

Construction can have a huge impact on your daily life.
Construction is inevitably loud, messy, and long. If it’s happening within your home while you live there, it will likely be extremely inconvenient to you and your family. If you start thinking about the impact the project will have on your daily life in advance, it will be easier for you to make the construction process as stress-free as possible. For instance, if you know it will be hard to live in your home while the construction is underway, you can include temporary accommodation in your budget.

Looking for a reliable local contractor or architect? Try using EZBZ – the free concierge service. Our team of local business experts can help you find and compare reputable professionals in your area. Simply post a request online or through the EZBZ app, or call us on 1-855-46-8619 for a local recommendation.

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By : Christa Mruz, 05-30-2017
5 Tips for a Better Spring Cleaning
Christa Mruz is the owner and operator of residential cleaning service, Two Maids & A Mop of White Plains, NY. Click here to learn more about Christa's tips for making your spring cleaning a success.
5 Tips for a Better Spring Cleaning

Christa Mruz
is the owner and operator of Two Maids & A Mop of White Plains, a residential cleaning company serving all of Westchester County, New York.  Prior to owning her own cleaning company, Christa had an extensive career in the corporate world.  She is a PTA Mom and lives in Scarsdale, NY with her two young children and hardworking husband.

You gotta love spring. The weather is warm, flowers are blooming, and it’s time to put away the large winter coats and re-emerge outside. Many of us also see spring as an appropriate time to clean out the cob-webs in our home.

As the owner of a residential cleaning service in Westchester County, New York, I clean houses all year-round, and have learned plenty of lessons about how to do my job effectively and quickly. Here are my five top tips to help you with your own spring cleaning:

1. Declutter and organize your house first

Putting seasonal clothing in storage will help you save space
Putting seasonal clothing in storage will help you save space
Over time, we collect things that we no longer need or find useful.  We might have winter coats and sweaters that we don’t need during the warmer months, and need a place to store them.  Take the time to go through your house and locate the items you no longer need, and the seasonal items that require storage. This not only makes you feel like you have more space in your home, but will help you get the most out of dusting, mopping, and vacuuming because you will have a large surface area to clean.

2. Dedicate a block of time to cleaning

Time-management will help you ensure your clean is completed in one session
Time-management will help ensure your clean is completed in one session
Cleaning can be a chore, but it can also be a satisfying experience once you see the fruits of your labor.  Sometimes, if you only clean sporadically, the whole house never gets done; it becomes a protracted project with no end in sight. I recommend blocking off a specific time over a weekend or a few days to clean the entire house. You are more likely to finish and will feel much more satisfied.

3. Call in reinforcements to help

Cleaning together with your family can be a great bonding experience
Cleaning together with your family can be a great bonding experience
There is nothing more daunting than cleaning an entire house by yourself. Whether you get your family to pitch in, or hire a professional to get the job done – a little help goes along way! It will make your cleaning time more manageable and could even turn into a fun experience to share with your family. My company – Two Maids & a Mop – always sends teams of two cleaners to ensure a prompt and consistent clean.


4. Assess each room and make a plan

Assess how much cleaning each room in your home will require prior to starting
Assess how much cleaning each room in your home will require prior to starting

Don’t just jump into cleaning a room!  Go around your home first and take note of what needs to be cleaned in each room. Be sure to look at the ceilings, light fixtures, furniture, cupboards, and floor. Determining out how much you have to do (and what cleaning supplies you will need) before you start will help you save time and complete the clean in one session. After you’ve confirmed what needs to be done, gather your cleaning equipment and start with the hardest room first.

5. Use the Right Tools

A dust mop is great for cleaning hardwood floors
A dust mop is great for cleaning hardwood floors
There are plenty of cleaning tools available that will last a long time, help you clean effectively, and won’t break the bank.  We like to use high dusters to clean ceiling fans and light fixtures and to remove cob webs from corners where walls meet.  If you have hardwood floors, invest in a good dust mop. It will make your floors shine without scratching them.  A powerful vacuum will help you clean wall-to-wall carpet.  Lastly, microfiber cloths are great for dusting.  They pick up the dust easily while things like rags or paper towel merely move it around.  Add a little furniture polish to your microfiber rag and your furniture will look brand new.

I hope these tips help you with the spring cleaning of your home, and any future house cleaning efforts. Now, get it over and done with so you can start enjoying this fine spring weather! 

Looking for a professional to help you with your spring cleaning? Download the EZBZ App for free and we'll connect you with reputable cleaning services in your area, who will chat with you directly through the app. You can also call our concierge team for a local recommendation on 1-855-461-8619. 

Download the EZBZ App for free!

Download the EZBZ App for free!

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Fast Credit Repair
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Tim Brad
09-22-2017
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 03-03-2017
The Connecticut Moving Company That Cares
We spoke with the team at Meant2Be Movers, a popular Connecticut-based moving company, about how they got started helping locals with more than just their moving needs.
The Connecticut Moving Company That Cares

 

Meant2Be Movers We spoke with the team at Meant2Be Movers, a popular Connecticut-based moving company, about how they got started helping locals with more than just their moving needs.


After working in the moving industry for nearly 20 years, Steve and Sue Lepack of East Hartford, Connecticut, were growing tired of seeing impersonal and overtly-corporate moving companies take advantage of unassuming customers. As active members of their community and Church, Steve and Sue realized there was a high demand in the local market for a moving company that cared about its customers.

In 2011, Steve and Sue decided to branch out on their own and start Meant2Be Movers. Their mission was simple: to create a moving company that was more personable, honest, and reliable.

Steve and Sue Lepack Lepack Family

 Steve and Sue Lepack; A family photo of Steve and Sue with their children.

“[We] enter with a handshake, exit with a hug,” says Alan Hrabica, operations manager for Meant2Be Movers, of the company’s unique approach to business.

“We do have a really close relationship with our customers.”

Today, business is good for Steve and Sue and their growing company. Their focus on forging close relationships with their customers appears to have paid off, with 5 star ratings on EZBZ and Yelp and an A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Alan says the secret to the company’s success is that they treat customers “like family”.

With their strong focus on customer satisfaction, taking extreme care with client property is clearly a high priority for Meant2Be Movers. Their packing style is so neatly organized, their vans often resemble a game of Tetris.

Meant2Be Movers Van Meant2Be Movers Van

Two Meant2Be Movers vans being packed.

While Steve and Sue are modest about their unique approach to running their business – they’re strong advocates for always “doing the right thing, even when nobody’s looking” - Alan can’t speak highly enough of his old friends and employers. Over the past 20 years, he’s seen Steve and Sue help countless people including members of the elderly community, residents with addiction problems, and himself.

Sue Lepack helping a senior. An artists rendition of Steve and Sue.

Sue Lepack and a member of the local elderly community; an artist’s rendition of Sue and Steve.

Six months ago, Alan lost both his legs as the result of a hunting accident. He’d been an over-the-road driver for a major moving company for 20 years, so the accident meant he didn’t know what his next step was going to be in life.

“I had no legs, so obviously I wasn’t going to be moving furniture or driving a truck anymore," Alan says, looking back on what he admits was a very difficult chapter in his life.

It was at this time that Steve and Sue reached out. Steve and Alan had met nearly 20 years prior when they worked together for a moving company, and had been good friends ever since.

“They reached out to me, and gave me a home when I was at my most vulnerable,” Alan says.

“They turned my life around, and made it so I’m still involved in the moving business, and they didn’t have to do that. And for that, I am very appreciative of them.”

Alan Hrabica Alan-Hrabica-prosthetic-leg

Alan Hrabica in the Meant2Be Movers office; One of Alan’s prosthetic legs.

After building a strong reputation in Connecticut, Meant2Be Movers are now in the process of expanding. Within the past month alone, they have partnered with a moving network that allows them to help customers nationwide.

Despite their rapid growth, though, it’s clear that Meant2Be Movers are still very much a local business. Steve and Sue have strong connections with the local elderly community, and are active members of the Crossroads Community Cathedral in East Hartford. Steve even runs a men’s bible study group for the Church.

“The everyday challenge is just to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Alan says, of the struggles Meant2Be Movers has faced as a company with a conscience in the modern era.

However, it’s very clear that he’s confident in Steve and Sue’s leadership.

“They have changed many lives, mine included.”

Meant2Be Movers are licensed and insured and offer a no fuel charge to veterans and first responders. Contact them today on 860-338-7840 for a free estimate.

Looking for a cleaning service or something else to make your move easy? Try using EZBZ – the free concierge service. You can request a service through our app or website, or call us toll-free for a local business recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.
2 COMMENTS
fantastic service
Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
Wonderful people!
Steve & Sue are the most genuine people I have had the pleasure to meet!
Susan Perry
03-11-2017
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By : Tiffany Rowe, 02-24-2017
Mid-Winter Checklist for Your Home and Lawn
We’re nearing the halfway point of winter, and whether you’ve been dealing with rain, snow, or just colder temperatures, it’s time to see how your home and landscaping are making it through. Click here to learn more. 
Mid-Winter Checklist for Your Home and Lawn

We’re nearing the halfway point of winter, and whether you’ve been dealing with rain, snow, or just colder temperatures, it’s time to see how your home and landscaping are making it through. Better to catch and fix any problems now before they escalate. 

Here's a checklist to guide you:

Mid-Winter Home

1. Roof

Naturally, you’ll call a professional to repair the roof if you’ve already got any leaks, but if not, do a perimeter check (with binoculars if necessary) to see if you’ve got any missing or warped shingles or broken tiles and have them replaced as soon as possible before water finds its way in.

No one would suggest that you climb up on the roof yourself to check further, but if the weather has been particularly harsh where you are, schedule an inspection. Some companies will do this for free, others will charge and apply the fee to any repairs.

2. Gutters and Downspouts

Clear gutters of debris that could cause water to pool and cause leaks and mold. While you’re at it, check to see that they and the downspouts are still affixed firmly. The weight of snow and ice could have begun pulling them away.

3. Vents and Other Openings

Do a walk-around to make sure that all exterior vent covers are still in place. Cold and wet weather drives all manner of critters to find safe, warm places to nest, and you don’t need any freeloading tenants. Once you’ve finished examining the outside of the house, head on up to the attic and check vents and openings there, too.

4. Fireplace and Chimney

If you didn’t have your chimney cleaned before you began using the fireplace this winter, call a chimney sweep to do the job. If your fireplace gets a lot of use, it could have a dangerous buildup of creosote, the highly flammable oil produced by wood smoke, and that coating can ignite and cause a damaging fire that, as well as threatening your life, can cost thousands in chimney repairs.

Chimney cleaning

5. Heating System

You probably don’t have to check to see if your heater is working, because you’d be reading this with mittens on. But if the system has been going full blast for several months, it’s a good idea to replace the filters. If you’ve been making do with an old non-programmable thermostat that doesn’t regulate the temperature evenly, it’s also wise to replace it with one that maintains the temperature and saves you money.

6. Plumbing and Pipes

If your area has seen below-freezing weather, water could have built up and frozen inside pipes and begun to cause cracks. Creaking and odd noises from the plumbing could indicate impending breaks and leaks. Get the plumber out there now to check things over before you wake up to a flood.

7. Lawn

Winter is a hectic time.  Investing in a professional lawn service is a great idea for homeowners who are too busy to devote hours of work to their yard as even in locations with a mild winter season, your landscape can take a beating.

To make sure your lawn is in the best shape possible to survive and thrive during the wait for spring, pick up fallen branches and any other objects that will add to soil compression, keep the lawn raked as possible to remove hiding spots that encourage pests and disease, and avoid foot traffic on snow-laden or soggy soil. On the other hand, if there hasn’t been any precipitation in a while, don’t forget to water.

Home during Winter

8. Trees

Broken or damaged branches can pack a wallop if they go flying during the strong winds of a storm. It’s dangerous to prune large or high branches yourself, so hire professionals who are experienced in climbing and using heavy equipment.

If you’re doing any pruning yourself, avoid stressing the tree and lop off just what’s necessary, like damaged or diseased branches, branches that are crossing each other or growing inward, and branches that are growing in odd directions. Never remove more than 25 percent of a tree’s branches.

9. Garden

It’s better late than never to lay a good cover of mulch around all of your plants to protect roots from harsh temperatures that are still to come as well as keep weeds from sprouting later. Don’t cover the trunks of shrubs and trees, though, because mulch holds moisture and can cause rot.

If you’re looking for a local professional to help you with any of the above tasks, consider asking EZBZ – the free concierge service. You can request a service through our app or website, or call us toll-free for a local business recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.

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By : Natalya Kofi, 12-31-1969
Unexpected Moving Expenses You Always Forget
Natalya Kofi from Portland Movers Company shared some tips with us about how to avoid going over budget on your next move. Click here to learn more.
Unexpected Moving Expenses You Always Forget

Portland Movers Company Natalya Kofi from Portland Movers Company shared some tips with us about how to avoid going over budget on your next move.

If you are planning to move,  it’s likely that you have already made a moving checklist with properly calculated moving expenses. From the gas and cleaners, to the packers and movers, you have anticipated the costs you are likely to incur. Unfortunately, moving is a complex process and you may end up spending more than you have planned for. Some of the unexpected moving expenses you should anticipate to avoid going over your budget include:

Unbudgeted Storage Space

Storage Space

You may realize that your new home is too small right after moving in and may need extra storage space for your belongings. Whether you consider it as short-term or long-term storage space, the truth is you will incur costs to acquire a suitable storage space.

Replacement Costs

Refurnishing

When moving, you may  leave some of the old appliances and household items behind to make a change in you your new house. When unpacking you may also realize that some of the things you left behind played a good part in your home. Replacement for these items could be costly. Refurnishing your new home will also inevitably strain your budget, not to mention stocking up on minor items like laundry supplies, power extensions, dust bins, empty packages. It’s a good idea to set aside money well in advance for these expenses.

Utility Costs

There’s no doubt that you need utilities such as water, electricity and gas in your home. Moving into a new house can increase  the cost of these services. For example, moving to a larger house could mean a higher electricity bill. Some utility providers may also charge you for installation and transfer services.

Household Bills

Changes in Insurance Rates or Coverage

Whether it is your health, car, or rental, your residential address affects your insurance rates. Moving could also prompt you to change your insurance company if your current provider  does not service  your new location. This could cause a change in your budget so prepare for that. This could actually be a positive thing, if you are forced to change to a company with a lower insurance rate.

Miscellaneous Costs

As much as you try to account for every cost, it is hard to anticipate every moving expense. Set aside some money for needs that you may not predict beforehand. These costs may be less, but could be a big deal after they add up to significant costs. Preparing ahead will help you swerve smoothly.

Moving comes with a lot of changes and can be stressful. Planning ahead will help you anticipate you expenses and allocate resources accordingly. As you plan, make sure you give yourself allowance for things you may not anticipate now for an easy moving process.

Portland Movers Company is a BBB-accredited full service moving company. They offer free estimates and service the entire state of Oregon. Visit their website for more information: portlandmoversco.com.

Looking for a moving company somewhere else? EZBZ is a free concierge service that can connect you with reputable moving companies anywhere in the US. Submit a request on our website, app, or call us for a local recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.
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By : Kate Fatess, 03-11-2016
Budgeting Tips for Fall & Winter

It’s already October, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays are right around the corner. For homeowners with a family, this time of year can be very expensive. Click here for some tips on how you can save money over the holiday season:

Budgeting Tips for Fall & Winter


Every year October seems to arrive earlier than expected, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays are right around the corner. What can also happen fast is how quickly your budget for fall and winter disappears before you’ve even made it to December. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas absorb enough money on their own, let alone the expenses that the harsh weather can incur during the colder seasons. For homeowners with a family, the most wonderful time of the year is also the most expensive.

Here are some tips on how you can save money over the holiday season:

Check Discount Sites & Apps

Couponing

These days there are countless websites and apps that exist purely to help you save money. There are the heavyweights like Groupon and Amazon, but don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper to find those less well-known services that could save you some real dough. For example, My City Mommy is a great coupon site for moms all over the country – they have a local coupon website for nearly 40 metro areas including Saint Louis and Dallas-Fort Worth. The EZBZ Store also often has great deals on products and services that are sometimes even cheaper than Amazon.

Don’t forget that most business owners know how expensive this time of year can be and are willing to offer some great discounts if it means you’ll choose them over a competitor. For example, some grocery stores will offer a free or discounted thanksgiving turkey if you purchase a certain amount of groceries from them. For families that already spend a lot on groceries, this is a perfect opportunity to capitalize. When visiting a local business, don’t be afraid to ask if they are offering any seasonal discounts or specials.

Create your own Decorations

Homemade Decorations

With websites like YouTube and Pinterest, it is easier than ever for parents and children to get hands-on with their holiday decorations. Many sites provide affordable ways to use dollar stores and thrift stores to find supplies so that you can create your own decorations for your home. Creating your own decorations is a great activity to do as a family, giving you a sense of accomplishment and making the holiday décor much more meaningful.

Get Ahead of Next Year

December 26

Planning ahead is the first step to saving money, and this is especially relevant during the holiday season. Halloween and Christmas decorations are almost always on sale on the days following the holiday, sometimes with up to 80% off. In fact, these sales aren’t just for decorations – you can buy all kinds of unopened and unwanted gifts from secondhand stores in the days following Christmas for a discounted price. Valentine’s Day cards can also be purchased for as little as thirty cents on Feburary 15, so why not buy them in advance for next year?

EZBZ It!

EZBZ

EZBZ's free concierge service allows you to request anything and receive quotes back from providers in your area. It’s a great comparison tool to ensure you’re getting the best deal for every purchase or hire you make. In the fall and winter, it’s a great way to get quotes from snow removal services, HVAC contractors, and other professional services that can vary from provider to provider. Businesses can also only reply to you via EZBZ – your contact information is not shared with anyone so you can remain anonymous while comparing your options.

The best part is, if you hire a business through EZBZ, you'll get $5 cash back. So, if you’re looking to hire a contractor or professional service anyway, submitting a free request could end up  saving you some time and money. 

With some careful planning and a little research, these tips are sure to provide you and your family with a joyful & affordable holiday season. Good luck and happy holidays!

1 COMMENTS
Very good
Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 03-03-2016
Things to Do This Pumpkin Season
From September through to after Thanksgiving, the nation is obsessed with pumpkin. We have compiled a list of some of the things you can do this season to celebrate the second most wonderful time of the year.
Things to Do This Pumpkin Season


As summer slowly comes to a halt in September, and the leaves of fall begin to...er, fall... an alternative season starts: Pumpkin season.

While you can purchase canned pumpkin throughout the year, the orange vegetable is a winter variety of the squash plant, which means the pumpkin harvest starts every September. Nothing beats the taste of fresh pumpkin, and combined with its strong ties to both Thanksgiving and Halloween, it’s easy to see why pumpkin fever hits the country now until after Thanksgiving.  

We have compiled a list of some of the things you can do this season to celebrate the second most wonderful time of the year:

Cooking

Pumpkin-Pie

Pumpkin is first and foremost a delicious vegetable, so cooking should be the top of your list. It’s one of the few foods that can be utilized across all the Thanksgiving courses – appetizer (pumpkin soup), dinner (roast pumpkin), and dessert (pumpkin pie)! Even the seeds can be harvested and used in a range of different ways.

Pumpkin can also be used to create some other, less well known dishes, that are just as delicious. Pumpkin goes great with risotto and pasta (it makes an excellent stuffing for gnocchi or shells), while pumpkin seed oil, which can be rare in the US, has an intense nutty flavor and plenty of “good” fats. It’s great for dipping fresh vegetables or salty cheese in to. The vegetable’s versatility makes it a great choice for vegetarians – it can be used to create veggie burgers, it’s a delicious (and filling) pizza topping, and it works well with plenty of Mexican dishes, including quesadillas. In fact, pumpkin has been a staple of the Mexican diet for thousands of years – pumpkin seeds have been found in ancient burial caves dating back to 7,000 B.C. With a history like that, it’s hard to doubt pumpkin’s ability to please any palate.

Carving

Pumpkin Carving

When thinking about Halloween, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is the jack-o-lantern – a carved out pumpkin with a candle or light inside. While the typical jack-o-lantern has a scary face carved in to its side, there are plenty of other ways to carve a pumpkin. Every year, thousands of people compete in carving contests, trying to carve the vegetable in new and creative ways. It’s a great activity to do with kids, as it’s good for the development of their fine motor skills, and provides an opportunity to teach them about knife safety. That’s not to mention the benefits of any activity that makes a vegetable more appealing to kids.

Garden Décor

Pumpkin Bird Feeder

When it comes to carving pumpkins, the design doesn’t have to be related to Halloween or kids. The shell of a pumpkin can also be used practically. Check out this guide to making an awesome pumpkin bird-feeder that can hang off your porch or patio, or this guide to making an organic pot plant for your garden.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

Capitalizing on the pumpkin fever, many farmers open up their pumpkin patches to the general public in September so they can offer their pumpkin straight from the source. Many pumpkin patches also provide hay rides, petting zoos, and plenty of other activities, making it a fun destination for families.  Buying your pumpkin straight from a nearby patch is a great way to support local farmers and ensure the produce is fresh.

Looking for a nearby pumpkin patch, cooking school, or farmer’s market? Submit a free request through myezbz.com and we’ll help you find what you’re looking for. It’s free, quick, and easy.
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 02-29-2016
Seven Ways to Not Work at Work
Even if you have the greatest job in the world, no one wants to be working constantly. Here are some tips for how you can avoid doing anything constructive.
Seven Ways to Not Work at Work

Even if you have the greatest job in the world, no one wants to be working constantly. The unfortunate reality is that most of us will spend the majority of our lives working, just to pay for the 20% of time we get to ourselves. Here are some tips for how you can avoid doing work, while actually at work…

1. Random Errands of Kindness

I'm bored

While errands like getting coffee and buying more cups for the water cooler are typically delegated to the office intern, they aren’t always available. Thankfully, you’re bored and don’t feel like working! Of course, it’s important to make sure someone more bored than you doesn’t beat you to it. Tips include monitoring how much paper is left in the printer, calculating how many cups of coffee your boss goes through in a day, and checking the date when the office milk expires.

2. Bathroom Break

Have you ever thought about how many minutes in a work day you get paid for just excreting bodily fluids? I have, for me it’s about 15 minutes. That’s over an hour per week I’m paid for just sitting on the toilet, thinking about life’s biggest questions:

What is the meaning of life? Who shot JFK? Why did I have Indian food for lunch?

I Hate My Job

Be careful though, any more than 20 minutes a day and your boss might get suspicious. That, and you should probably see a doctor.

3. Take an Urgent Call from a Family Member

Those of you with moral fiber may not want to pretend you have a family emergency to get out of work, lest it actually occurs, but even the meanest boss will understand why you have to take a call from your mom in the middle of the day. Why else would she be calling unless there is a real emergency? 

Wish I Were Dead

Little does your boss know that the ‘Mom’ in your contacts is actually your best friend, who’s calling to discuss last night’s episode of Game of Thrones.

4. Cleaning Dishes

It’s only Wednesday, and the office kitchen is already a mess. The cleaner doesn’t come until Friday afternoon, so someone has to do something… but who? You raise your hand confidently....

I volunteer as tribute

Washing dishes can actually be fun. Well, more fun than cold-calling or emailing clients. Plus, you can’t pretend it doesn’t feel good to ‘accidentally’ throw away the lunch of your nemesis – that colleague who reported you for sleeping at your desk. Which brings me to number four…

5. Sleeping

This can be a risky tactic. Unless you have your own office or one of those giant office chairs, it can be hard to get away with this.

Sleeping

I recommend dark sunglasses, and if anyone asks why you’re wearing them inside, you have a headache and the harsh fluorescent lighting is making you feel nauseated. Report your ‘medical condition’ to HR to really cover yourself, and enjoy the midday nap.

6. Prepare for an Emergency

Every office needs an evacuation plan in case of an emergency, just like you need a good excuse to avoid working. Take a few hours to draw a floor plan that indicates the office exits; photocopy and laminate it; plaster it all over the office. 

Make a Plan

This is an easy task, and the boss will appreciate your initiative and forward thinking. If you want to help everyone in the office get out of work, organize a fire drill. Wear a hard hat at all times so people know you’re serious.

7. Write for the Company Blog

This is my fail-safe. In fact, it’s what I’m doing right now. Whenever I get bored at work, I volunteer to write an article for our company blog. 

Write like a Queen

You can pretty much write about whatever you want, and it can actually be quite fun. I did loads of research for this article in particular.

If you’re looking for a product or service to help you get out of work, try using myezbz.com. It’s a fast, easy way to find what you’re looking for.

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By : Kyle Gerien, 02-12-2016
Things to Consider Before you Renovate
Before renovating your home, there are some preemptive steps you can take to ensure the process is safe, affordable, and stress-free. Click here to learn more.
Things to Consider Before you Renovate

It doesn’t take much for a homeowner to consider renovating their home. But while wear and tear are inevitable, renovations are typically a choice, and can bring unwanted stress and tricky surprises. It’s essential that you are prepared. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your home renovation is a success:

Determine Your Budget

Even if you’re only just starting to consider renovating your home, take a look at your expenses and savings. Map out how much you can afford to spend on renovations. Forward thinking is critical – will you have any other large expenditures in the foreseeable future? Remember to take in to account an estimate of how much you will be spending on everyday essentials during the actual renovation. Save enough money so you have a safety net in the event of an accident or unexpected expense.

Figure Out What You Want

Having a clear vision of what you want before beginning the process of renovation will help you save time and money. Make a list of the mandatory things you want, and the renovations you could live without. Of course, while a clear vision is important, it’s also necessary to have some flexibility. Surprises during renovation aren’t just common, they should be expected. Moldy baseboards or faulty wiring can cause serious delays and incur additional costs. This is where your list of essential and non-essential renovations can help you make a quick decision about how to proceed.

Hire a Licensed Contractor

Now that you have determined your budget and have a vision for what you want your home to look like, it’s time to start researching contractors that can complete the renovation. A licensed contractor is always recommended. When you hire a licensed contractor, they are legally required to follow certain safety codes and standards. An unlicensed contractor may not be familiar with the latest industry standards, and could be uninsured. Ultimately, hiring an unlicensed contractor could result in more expenses down the road. The risk is not worth the lower quote. To find a reputable contractor in your area, consider submitting a free request through EZBZ. Local contractors will reply to you directly through EZBZ with their information, availability, and estimates, allowing you to compare your options and make an informed decision about who to hire.  

Book Temporary Accommodation

If you’re planning to renovate your entire home, the best option is to stay out of the house. Construction sites can be dangerous, loud, and stressful, not to mention that renovations can sometimes take weeks or even months to complete. Staying with friends or family is an option, however this can also be conducive to a stressful situation for both you, and your host. Investing in temporary accommodation may also be an investment in your mental health. Credible accommodation companies will provide you with necessities like clean linens, cable, Wi-Fi, and an inviting and clean living space while having representatives on standby at all times in the event of any issues.

Take an Inventory

Before leaving your home, be sure to do a sweep and keep record of any expensive or important items you are leaving behind. It may be a good time to clear your house of old furniture or anything else you no longer need, while storing the items you want to keep in your basement, attic, or a storage unit.

Following these steps will help you ensure that your home renovation goes smoothly. While some preparation efforts can seem tiresome or even futile at the time, their value becomes apparent once the renovation begins and you are stress-free.

When looking for quality, temporary accommodation for the duration of your renovation, consider visiting TempApts.com. If you’re looking to hire a contractor, construction company, or find any other product or service, request it through EZBZ. It’s free, quick, and easy.
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 02-02-2016
Keep Your Home Cool
Want to keep cool this summer without exorbitant energy bills? Check out these tips.
Keep Your Home Cool

In some locations, the heat of summer is almost unbearable. And with increasing temperatures worldwide due to global warming, it’s clear the heat won’t be letting up any time soon. In many areas all over the US, families are choosing to remain inside their cool, air-conditioned homes as long as possible. The irony of this is that every home with an over-active air conditioner is contributing to the carbon emissions that are held partially responsible for rising temperatures.

Of course, not every household can afford an air conditioner. This is good for the environment, but not so great for those of us who hate the heat. Here are some tips for keeping your home cool in summer without an air conditioner:

Windows Open; Curtains Closed

When you know it’s going to be a hot day, open your windows and close your blinds or curtains as early in the morning as possible. If there is a breeze, the open windows will allow a cool draft to flow through your house. By closing the blinds/curtains, you prevent the greenhouse effect – i.e. light from the sun super-heating your home. When combined, these tips can dramatically lower your energy bills, and the temperature of your home. The natural air will also help keep your home smelling fresh, and is a nice change from breathing in recycled air from a conditioner.

Fans

In today’s market, it’s easy to find fans that are effective at cooling you down while consuming minimal energy. They’re a great way to keep the temperature down inside without resorting to using an air conditioner, and if you’re strategic about their placement, you can create a wind tunnel that feels similar to a natural breeze. By placing a bowl of ice in front of the fan, you can also cool the air that’s being fanned.

Bedding

For some people, trying to sleep in the heat is nearly impossible. If this is you, it’s important to ensure you are using sheets that won’t retain heat and will keep your body temperature as low as possible while you sleep. Cotton sheets are the best choice.  Using pillows with buckwheat hulls won't hold heat as much as normal pillows, so they are also great way to keep your bed (and body) cool.

Grilling

It probably goes without saying, but using your oven on a hot day will make your entire home feel like a sauna. Using your grill instead is a great way to ensure your home can stay as cool as possible – by setting up outside under some shade, you can also take full advantage of any cool summer breezes that happen to blow your way.

Ultimately, there are numerous things you can do to help keep cool during summer – the most important thing to remember is to focus on lowering your body temperature, rather than the temperature inside your home. It’s much easier to change your body temperature, and it is also a more accurate indicator of how you feel.

If you’re looking to hire a HVAC or insulation contractor, or purchase a fan, air conditioner or other product that will keep your home cool, consider submitting a free request through EZBZ. EZBZ will connect you with reputable providers in your area within minutes - it's a great way to compare your options and ensure you get a fair price.

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By : Bramwel Saisi, 01-18-2016
Maintaining Your Deck: Tips for Homeowners

Many homeowners consider their deck to be the best feature of their home. However, decks are also constantly subjected to weather, wildlife and leaf litter that can have detrimental effects. Here are some tips for maintenance that will help ensure the longevity of your deck.

Maintaining Your Deck: Tips for Homeowners

As an external feature of your home, your deck is constantly exposed to the elements. Harsh weather conditions, wildlife, and leaf litter can all have detrimental effects on your deck, so it is is imperative to take measures towards its cleaning and maintenance. There are contractors that specialize in this work, but you can also attempt to do it yourself.

Regular cleaning is very important. A soapy water solution will work fine for general cleaning. If your deck need a thorough cleaning to remove mildew and stains, there are cleaning agents available that are specially designed for decks. These products are designed to safely clean the wood without bleaching or warping. They are available in most hardware stores, and can also be purchased directly from some deck contractors.

When using the cleaning agents, it is important to wear gloves as you scrub and rinse your deck. A pump up sprayer can be used to apply the agent. A scrub brush can then be used to scrub the deck, and a garden hose can be used to rinse. Allow a few minutes between the scrubbing and the rinsing.  It is advisable to avoid using pressure washers when cleaning a deck, as the water may penetrate the wood and cause it to rot. 

You should take note to remove any leaves or natural debris on your deck. Organic matter can collect moisture, causing the wood to rot. Clean all dirt, grime, and any other debris that may stain the deck or cause the wood to rot. There are tools that are specifically tailored for the use of removing dirt and debris between the floor panels without damaging them.

To prevent direct contact between the deck and any surrounding bushes or plants, some basic trimming may be necessary. This will also help avoid the collection of moisture on the deck that could lead to wood rot.

A sealer or stain can be applied on the deck after the washing. This should be preferably done when outdoor temperatures are a little lower to avoid the stain from quickly drying up. The finish needs to be absorbed into the wood and will help protect it from the elements. It’s also advisable to check on the nails and screws of your deck, and to tighten any that may be loose. A sander can be used to even up any raised boards.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your deck is very important for homeowners, and even renters, as it can extend the longevity of the deck and help avoid costly repairs. The online concierge service, EZBZ,  can instantly connect you with deck contractors and cleaning product providers. Simply go to www.myezbz.com/category/deck-cleaning-treatment and submit a free request.
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By : Percy Tenn, 01-14-2016
Tips For Maintaining Your Bicycle
Riding a bike is not only an easy and convenient way to travel, it’s also a lot of fun, and a great form of exercise. Of course, just like any other vehicle, a bicycle requires regular repair and maintenance in order to ensure complete functionality and safety.  Read on to learn some tips for ensuring your bike will last for years.
Tips For Maintaining Your Bicycle

Riding a bike is not only an easy and convenient way to travel, it’s also a lot of fun, and a great form of exercise. Bikes are also incredibly eco-friendly, as they allow you to travel with zero emissions and little to no carbon footprint. Of course, just like any other vehicle, a bicycle does require repair and maintenance, in order to ensure complete functionality and safety.  Here are some tips for ensuring your bike will last for years:

Cleaning

Regular cleaning is important for maintaining a bicycle’s longevity. When dirt and grime settle on the bike, the frame is at risk of corrosion. Wash the bike gently using soapy water, rather than a hose. A soft nylon brush can be used to scrub the parts that have accumulated dust or dirt. Make sure to rinse the bicycle well after washing it.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is an important part of making sure your bike is safe to use. Tires with high pressure are at risk of exploding – which could have disastrous results if you’re in the middle of a ride. Similarly, low pressure can put more stress on your muscles because you need to work harder to keep the bike in motion. Always check your tire pressure before going on a ride, and not only will you be safer, your tires will have a longer life.

Broken Spokes

If you notice your bicycle has boken spokes, it’s important to have them repaired as soon as possible. They are responsible for transferring weight from the hub of the bicycle to its wheel, so they are vital for having a safe ride.

Lubrication

Lubrication reduces friction in the bicycle chain and will help prevent it from slipping off the crank. High friction can also cause the chain to break. There are a range of different brands and types of bicycle lubrication – Humidity, dryness and cold conditions can also affect your bicycle adversely, so make sure you choose the right type for your bicycle, and the climate of your area.

The Seat

It’s important that your seat is at the right height. Sitting at the wrong height on your bike can cause back aches, knee pain, and other health problems. To determine your correct seat height, multiply the length of your inner leg by 0.887. The result is what the length between your seat and the top of the bicycle bracket should be.


Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to have you bike serviced 2-4 times a year, and have any issues you identify repaired immediately.  A bicycle deserves as much attention as any other vehicle to ensure that it can work properly and safely.

If you would like to find a local bicycle repair or service store, consider submitting a request through www.myezbz.com/category/bicycle-repair. It will instantly send your request to the local bike repair and service stores in your area, who will reply to you directly with their information and estimates. It’s the fastest, easiest, way to find any product or service in the United States and Canada.
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By : Evan Sotieno, 01-10-2016
Prepare Your Home for Spring Cleaning
As the sun rays become warmer, the days longer, and the trees begin to blossom, one thing is clear: spring is here. Here are some general tips to help prepare your property for a warm & wonderful spring.
Prepare Your Home for Spring Cleaning

As the sun rays become warmer, the days longer, and the trees begin to blossom, one thing is clear: spring is here. This is the cue to open the windows wide and start the cleaning. After fall and winter, it’s time to give your home some fresh air, and perhaps give it a little bit of a makeover. Whether you are living in an apartment, or a home with garden, here are some general tips to help you prepare your property for a warm & wonderful spring.

Before you start the spring cleaning, it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t need any home repairs done. You can start with the basics, such as checking the electrical outlets for potential fire hazards or the water heater for leaks. If you own an air-conditioning system, now is the best time to have it inspected and its filters cleaned, but don’t do this yourself; it’s safer to hire a professional. Another great tip is checking and changing the light bulbs; fluorescent bulbs produce less heat than other types, so they’re recommended for spring and summer. 

If you live in a house, it’s important to check the exterior too. Make sure to check your roof – after a season of heavy snow, there could be some damage, which may not be easy to see until after all the snow has melted.  Most gardens will also need a little landscaping this time of year – removing the dead vegetation and planting some new flowers will make your garden flourish! Well, at least until winter returns. A new coat of paint on the door or exterior walls can also help to make your house look fresh and homely. Finally, if you’re planning on having some barbecues this spring, it’s a good time to pull out the grill and give it a good clean.

Now, moving back inside the house, it’s a good idea to do an effective, overall cleaning. If your rugs or carpet are stained, the beginning of spring is a great time to have them cleaned, as it’s warm enough outside to open the windows, and moisture from outside won’t be tracked inside nearly as much as in the winter months. With the windows open, it’s probably a good time to have your curtains cleaned as well.

Another reason to clean the house is that spring is a great time for insects to thrive. They love the dirty and dusty crooks and crevices of your home, so a thorough spring cleaning will make sure you don’t gain any unwanted tenants.  The heat of spring and summer means it’s also a good idea to take out the garbage more regularly, to keep your home smelling nice and roach-free.

These are just some of the tips that you can keep in mind when preparing your home for spring. If you need any assistance when looking for home repairs, landscaping, or cleaning services, www.myezbz.com is a free, online concierge that can connect you with the reputable businesses that can help. It takes thirty seconds to submit a free request, and EZBZ businesses will reply to you directly with their information, availability and estimates.
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 01-08-2016
The Benefits and Affordability of a Personal Chef
Food made in your own kitchen always tastes better.  However, a good home-cooked meal also takes a lot of preparation and timing… Two luxuries most working adults just don’t have. A solution that many people are turning to is hiring a personal chef. Click here to learn if a personal chef could be right for you...
The Benefits and Affordability of a Personal Chef

We all love a home-cooked meal. They are often more nutritious, affordable, and fulfilling than a fast food or take-out option. However, a good home-cooked meal also takes a lot of preparation and timing… Two luxuries most working adults just don’t have. A solution that many people are turning to is hiring a personal chef.

A personal chef is a professional cook hired to come to your home and prepare meals for you. While there may have been a time when only the super-wealthy could afford to hire their own kitchen staff, personal chefs are rapidly becoming the most beneficial and affordable option for adults that are tired of eating take-out, but don’t have the time to prepare and cook their own food.

According to the American Personal and Private Chef Association, a personal chef is typically hired to prepare multiple meals for you at one time – usually enough for a week. So, if you’re thinking of hiring one, make sure you have some freezer space… but that’s where your worries should end.

A personal chef is trained to cook with fresh, healthy ingredients, and produce meals that are highly nutritious, filling, and delicious – right in your own kitchen. Just imagine enjoying the benefits of eating at a restaurant – delicious food, no cooking or cleaning – in the comfort of your own home, and it’s easy to see why so many people are hiring their own chefs. A personal chef will create and customize meals just for you, so they are also better prepared to deal with any dietary requirements (e.g. gluten free, allergies) than a chef in a restaurant would be, who has to work with a set menu and ingredients.

 If you don’t have much of a kitchen in your home, there are also personal chef services that you can hire to cook for you off-site. They will then deliver your set of frozen meals straight to your door. Of course, if they are cooking in your own kitchen they are more likely to be able to guarantee freshness, but an offsite personal chef can still provide nutritious, affordable and tasty meals.

Of course, the benefits of hiring a personal chef can be obvious. The biggest question most of us have is, how much?

While the price may vary from chef to chef, it can be more affordable than you think. Liza Graves, a mom-blogger based in Nashville, hired a personal chef for her family and was surprised just how many benefits she received for the price. You can read about Liza’s experience here, but her personal chef would prepare 3-4 mouth-watering meals a week for $225 (her Chefs rate was $45 per hour). Considering that was enough to feed a family of five for four nights a week (with leftovers), that’s a pretty good deal.

If you’d like to compare quotes from the personal chefs in your area, consider submitting a free request on www.myezbz.com/category/personal-chefs. EZBZ will send your request to the personal chefs close to you, who will reply with their information, availability and price rates.
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 12-20-2015
The Benefits of Having a Smart Thermostat
The optimization process of an existing technology often results in it receiving the adjective: ‘smart’. That’s why today we have smartphones, smart TV’s, and now, smart thermostats. But what is it that makes a thermostat smart?
The Benefits of Having a Smart Thermostat

Innovations in technology are constantly being released that make life easier. Sometimes, these innovations can simply be optimizations of tools we already had. The optimization process of an existing technology often results in it receiving the new, permanent adjective: ‘smart’. That’s why today we have smartphones, smart TV’s, and now, smart thermostats.

A smart thermostat has the same functions as a normal thermostat – allowing users to control their household heating and air conditioning – with the added functionality of being able to be remotely adjusted by any device connected to the Internet. That means that users can change the temperature of their homes with their smartphone, even if they’re not actually in the house.

It is easy to see why a smart thermostat can benefit any home. The remote controllability would allow you to heat your household in advance during winter, so you could leave work and head straight to an already warm home. And this is just a basic feature of most smart thermostats.

There are now smart thermostats in the market that will learn what your ideal settings are at any given time, such as when you’re asleep, at work, or when you’re waking up in the morning. Thermostats like this are designed to save you money on your heating bill, while keeping your house at the appropriate temperature 24/7. The market leader is the Nest Learning Thermostat, available from Amazon for around $250.

Another popular brand (that’s a little cheaper than the Nest), is the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, which has a bright LCD screen that keeps you up to date on changes in the local climate, and displays the indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity. It is also programmed to learn from your habits, and warn you about extreme temperature changes.

Of course, other than saving you time and money, smart thermostats are also a great way for your household to become more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. With the ability to program their thermostat and adjust it remotely, it is possible for users to minimize unnecessary energy consumption. However, studies have also revealed that in order for a smart thermostat to save money and energy, it is still heavily dependent on the user’s active programming and controlling… At least until it learns how to do it by itself.

Investing in a smart thermostat is just one way you can save time, money, and the environment moving forward. However, until we (inevitably) create artificial intelligence, even a ‘smart’ thermostat is susceptible to human error.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 12-11-2015
Dealing With a Gluten Intolerance
Gluten sensitivity is a condition with similar symptoms to celiac disease – including abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea – when sufferers have gluten in their diet. Unlike celiacs, however, sufferers of gluten sensitivity do not experience the small intestine damage that celiacs face.  Gluten sensitivity is a topic of controversy amongst medical professionals, with many arguing that the condition is, in fact, not real. Of course, the legitimacy of gluten sensitivity is just one symptom of the curious case of gluten disorders in the United States.
Dealing With a Gluten Intolerance

Celiac disease is a serious medical condition that can have long-term medical complications if sufferers do not maintain a strict, gluten free diet.  While it is often referred to as a gluten allergy or intolerance, it is actually an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. It is reported that 1 in 100 people suffer from the disease worldwide.

Gluten sensitivity is a condition with similar symptoms to celiac disease – including abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea – when sufferers have gluten in their diet. Unlike celiacs, however, sufferers of gluten sensitivity do not experience the small intestine damage that celiacs face.  Gluten sensitivity is a topic of controversy amongst medical professionals, with many arguing that the condition is, in fact, not real. Of course, the legitimacy of gluten sensitivity is just one symptom of the curious case of gluten disorders in the United States.

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye, and as a result, is prevalent in food and drink such as bread, beer, pasta, cereal, sauces, dressings and soup. For this reason, it is easy to see why it was quite difficult to maintain a strict, gluten free diet… Until recently.

Despite the fact that celiac disease only affects up to 1% of the population, it is now estimated that nearly 30% of the U.S. population actively try to avoid gluten. There are now successful, Michelin-star restaurants with entirely gluten free menus, and many products in the grocery store aisle proudly display a “gluten free” sticker. Tolerance of gluten intolerance has become the latest trend of the food industry, and has brought with it a multi-billion dollar market.

Gluten free has become synonymous with healthy and organic, and has helped inspire other non-grain diets, such as the paleo diet. The paleo diet is based on the presumed diet of early humans, including seafood, fruit and vegetables, and avoiding meat, grains and dairy. It has become very popular with naturalistic communities, and some swear by it as the healthiest diet they’ve ever had. Other, more legitimate healthcare professionals, are skeptical of such primal-eating trends.

Ultimately, though, it seems like a good thing that gluten free products are now more readily available, if only for the benefit of legitimate sufferers of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. There are plenty of medical conditions that could benefit from the same, widespread awareness. While some of the diets and trends associated with gluten disorders border on ridiculous, they do show that society is increasingly taking an interest in health and wellbeing, and that is positive sign.

If you’re trying to locate a source of gluten free produce, inquire with free, online concierge service EZBZ today, to see what gluten free options are available locally to you.

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By : Karen Lasser, 11-19-2015
Snow Removal Concerns for Seniors
The winter months are among the hardest for senior citizens. Not only does the colder weather create issues for aging population but so does the snow. Shoveling snow can be a hazard to the elderly. The latest stats show that upwards of sixteen thousand people end up in emergency rooms throughout the country for snow shoveling accidents and injuries. The risks come from not only the change in the level of mobility the aging body has but also because of the risks involved with lifting and twisting that is required as well. Another issue is an increased risk of heart attack that occurs with seniors who are more susceptible because of pre-existing issues with their hearts.
Snow Removal Concerns for Seniors
The winter months are among the hardest for senior citizens. Not only does the colder weather create issues for aging population but so does the snow. Shoveling snow can be a hazard to the elderly. The latest stats show that upwards of sixteen thousand people end up in emergency rooms throughout the country for snow shoveling accidents and injuries. The risks come from not only the change in the level of mobility the aging body has but also because of the risks involved with lifting and twisting that is required as well. Another issue is an increased risk of heart attack that occurs with seniors who are more susceptible because of pre-existing issues with their hearts.

The cold air that comes along with winter is another issue that affects senior citizens. The freezing temperatures create conditions that make it difficult to take in deep breaths. They also further challenge already limited mobility. With cold air comes icy door steps, road ways and sidewalks increasing the risk of falling. When someone who is older falls they are at a greater risk for serious injury over someone much younger. Our bones become more brittle and prone to breaks and sprains as we age.

When it comes to the population of seniors amongst us, now we are aware their nature is one of a more independent nature. This can be seen with the increase in the number of seniors choosing to age in place. This is where many winter-related problems stem from when it comes to the elderly.

Despite the number of warnings shared with the aging population many still attempt to continue providing their snow removal services. They continue to shovel, salt and snow blow on their own as they have an overwhelming fear of entrapment as well as a fear that is not continuing to do these so called normal tasks makes them appear fragile and weak. Another reason may be because of issues that arise from living within a fixed budget.

If you know anyone that falls into this category that remains either too stubborn to ask for help or financially unable there are a few things that you can do to help.

Of course, if you are able bodied consider shoveling their driveway and sidewalks for them. If it is a loved one you are concerned about that lives too far for you to travel call upon their neighbors to ask for assistance. Sometimes the people around them are afraid to insult them by offering to help or are unaware a need is prevalent. Another option is to call upon a local snow removal company that services others within the community in which a loved one life and asked them what type of services they can offer within a limited budget. It will shock you how many snow removal companies will clear the sidewalks and walk ways a bit more carefully when they know the service is being provided for an elderly citizen.

In the winter months, it is so important that we take extra good care of our loved ones that are aging. Snow removal, side walk shoveling, ice removal and laying down an extra layer of salt are ways we can all chip in to help create a safer environment for senior citizens.
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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 11-16-2015
Childproofing Safety at Home
Babies are naturally curious and they grow fast in the first year. They learn the world around them through tasting, touching and feeling. On average, babies start crawling at 8 months, meaning that the baby can move from here to there in a blink of an eye. Keeping your baby from accidents is no easy task. Chances are that your baby will spend time wadding around your sitting room, nursery, kitchen, fireplace and other places that could pose a threat to your baby’s safety. Baby-proofing your home inside and out is one of the most significant steps towards keeping your baby safe.
Childproofing Safety at Home

Babies are naturally curious and they grow fast in the first year. They learn about the world around them through tasting, touching and feeling. On average, babies start crawling at 8 months, meaning that the baby can move from here to there in a blink of an eye. Keeping your baby from accidents is no easy task. Chances are your baby will spend time around your living room, nursery, kitchen and other places that could pose a threat to your child’s safety. Baby-proofing your home inside and out is one of the most significant steps towards keeping your baby safe. It gives you peace of mind that risks are minimal even when you leave the child with grandparents or babysitters who may not be fully up-to-date or familiar with safety risks. Within this article I’ll point out a number of things to keep in mind when baby proofing your home. 

The items you need to be conscious about are those that pose a potential risk to your baby. This list is long! It should include: sharp edged furniture; electrical outlets; cords; appliances; exercise equipment; doors, including locks and knobs; flat panel televisions; fireplaces, glass; baths; toilets; swimming pool; stairs; cabinets; closets; bookcases; medicine; toiletries; detergents; animals and rubbish bins among other items.

As a parent you may not be aware of all safety hazards. For this reason it is often beneficial to hire a professional to baby-proof your home. You may be shocked at how many things you didn’t think were potential threats to your child! Baby-proofing professionals are trained to spot dangers that don’t occur to most people. They also have access to safety equipment difficult to find locally in stores. Hiring a professional child proofer provides comfort and peace of mind. He/she will also offer you and your family educational safety tips. 

When hiring a child proofer, ensure that the company is experienced and reputable. Though price should not be the first consideration, ensure that company will do the job at a fair price. They should also present as highly aware of the latest safety hazards and the solutions. Once you hire a baby proofer, ensure that they properly inspect all areas of your home for potential hazards. Then with your approval, they will order and install the necessary safety supplies.

Some examples of the common safety measures they will implement will include:

  • Adding padding to sharp edges and corners of furniture and ledges
  • Installing safety gates at the bottom and top of staircases
  • Installing safety latches on cabinets, drawers, closets, and toilets.
  • Putting up additional fencing, including a swimming pool safety fence
  • Installing doorstops to protects a baby from getting caught
  • Mounting or securing flat panel televisions to prevent tipping.
  • Removing all accessible cords from the baby’s reach
  • Installing safety guards on windows
  • Installing carbon monoxide detectors
  • Adding bins with childproof lids for storage of potentially hazardous items
  • Putting covers over bath taps.

If you need help finding a childproofing specialist you can submit a request free request for assistance through EZBZ.

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By : Brendan Mitchell, 08-11-2015
Starting Your Company Blog - Content Marketing
So, you’ve decided it’s time your company had its own blog. Firstly, relax. This could actually be one of the easier, and more fun aspects of building your company’s brand. The best part about blogging is that there aren’t many rules, and it’s a great way to inject your brand with personality. The stronger your brand’s personality, the more consumers can relate with and eventually trust it.
Starting Your Company Blog - Content Marketing

So, you’ve decided it’s time your company had its own blog. Firstly, relax. This could actually be one of the easier, and more fun aspects of building your company’s brand. The best part about blogging is that there aren’t many rules, and it’s a great way to inject your brand with personality. The stronger your brand’s personality, the more consumers can relate with and eventually trust it.

It’s important to remember that you’re not creating the Wall Street Journal; your articles can be opinionated, passionate, even dramatic. Of course, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid – opinionated and passionate can easily be interpreted as ignorant and stubborn – but if you already have a basic understanding of marketing and journalism, you should be fine.

After you relax, you should probably decide how and where your blog will exist. If you have a company website, your blog should probably be integrated in to it, if only for the SEO benefits. If your blog is completely separate from your company website, it is quite difficult for the two of them to share traction. If they are integrated (i.e. share a domain), any attention your blog gets will be shared by your company website, and vice versa.

Your blog can be manually designed and hosted through your initial website, although this obviously requires some developer skills. You can also use a CMS (Content Management System) such as Wordpress to help you create a blog within your website. This means you would author your blog using Wordpress, but host it on your own website. If you’re a smaller operation, this is the easier way to go. Wordpress actually offers fairly basic instructions on how to do this, which you can read here. Similar CMS services that can also be used include Typepad and Blogger, a Google-owned CMS.

But deciding where and how to host your blog is not the hardest part. In my opinion, the real challenge is making sure your blog is relevant, interesting, and kept up to date. 

Keeping it at least somewhat related to your company should be fairly straightforward – for example, nobody wants dating advice from an accountancy firm - and when it comes to upkeep, daily posts are best. When you’re first starting out, however, you may want to start slow and give yourself a target of three to five articles per week. Giving yourself a lower target means you can work harder on making sure the blog is delivering quality content to your audience, whoever they are.

My final piece of advice would be to keep it short and sweet. Blog-readers have short attention spans, and anything over five hundred words is creeping on too much. As I wrote earlier, this isn’t the Wall Street Journal… Even if your articles are addressing a sensitive topic, being succinct is the best approach. If you’re a natural at blogging, you’ll quickly learn not to waste words, and start writing articles that reach five hundred words exactly… But don’t set your sights too high at first.

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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-04-2015
Choosing the Right Type of Wood for Your Custom Projects

Natural wood is one of the warmest and most versatile elements used in interior design. It can be utilized as an accent or as anchor point and transform a space into virtually any style. Interested in a rugged rustic look? Or, more drawn by French country style? Both are easy to accomplish with wood. As is old-time sophistication, or the uber masculine style Ernest Hemingway was known for. Even a sleek contemporary edge can be had with wood!

Choosing the Right Type of Wood for Your Custom Projects

Natural wood is one of the warmest and most versatile elements used in interior design. It can be utilized as an accent or as anchor point and transform a space into virtually any style. Interested in a rugged rustic look? Or, more drawn by French country style? Both are easy to accomplish with wood. As is old-time sophistication, or the uber masculine style Ernest Hemingway was known for. Even a sleek contemporary edge can be had with wood!

Many home owners enjoy the look of natural wood, but are unfamiliar with the differences between one type or another. This brief guide will provide a quick summary of the most popular and readily available options! In future posts, we’ll make recommendations for how to achieve some of the styles mentioned above, so check back!

HARDWOODS:

OAK

Oak is one of the most commonly utilized woods in home projects, primarily due to its durability and availability. While there are several dozen species of oak, it is most simply considered in two basic varieties, white and black (also known as red). The primary difference between the two will be the shade of the wood. White oaks tend to have more of a blonde appearance, while black or red oaks have more of a reddish hue.

Oak is a popular choice for furnishings, floors and cabinets. Many homeowners elect not to stain oak, opting for a gloss finish. Over time natural oak will darken slightly, with white oak taking on more of a yellowish hue. The grain of oak tends to be straight and the texture of the wood coarse and uneven. Even with glossed woods, you can often feel a slight roughness beneath the surface, unless it has been heavily buffed in the finishing process.

MAPLE

Maple is one of the most recognizable woods to anyone who is familiar with American colonial furnishings. It has been a popular choice within contemporary furniture designs also, given its versatility and ability to be stained to shades closer to more expensive cherry wood. It is a highly durable and beautiful wood, known for its ability to resist considerable impact. For this reason, it is an excellent choice for kitchen areas such as center aisles and butcher blocks, as well flooring and furnishings in other parts of the home!

Perhaps one of the best features of maple is the obvious non-toxic advantage. It’s hard to resist a wood that also brings us the wonderful sweet syrup used at breakfast. Yes, those same trees that are tapped when young for sap, grow gracefully into the source we rely upon for home building and design!

CHERRY

Cherry, also known as fruitwood is another favorite wood for making furniture items. It is a moderately hard, closed-grain wood that starts as light brown with a few small knots. It slowly darkens after exposure to light and change can be seen within the first couple of weeks. After a few months, it usually turns into rich light brown. If both new and old pieces are left unstained, their colors tend to become progressively similar. Quite a good number of people prefer to use it for making furniture because of its appealing color and strength. Its relatively hard nature makes it resistant to common dings.

Cherry can be a costly wood, although there is no mistaking its rich color when entering a room. It is a beautiful choice for cabinetry and also flooring, especially in small spaces where it can be the star! Bother cherry veneers and solids make fine choices, depending on budget.

MAHOGANY

Mahogany is considered a traditional furniture wood which is popular for its rich color and straight and smooth grain. This unique feature enables it to have a good quality finish. Mahogany can withstand moisture, which makes it a popular choice among carpenters and designers for making doors and other outdoor woodwork projects.

It’s important to know the origins of Mahogany, to avoid finding yourself with a wood that is called mahogany, but isn’t actually mahogany at all! True mahogany is indigenous to Africa, South America and Central America, with African mahogany typically being the lowest grade. When coming across mahogany from the Phillipines, buyer beware, it is most typically a much less expensive hardwood similar in appearance to mahogany, but not related to mahogany at all.

WALNUT

Walnut is a beautiful, strong and versatile wood with a warm, nutty color to it. It is strong and durable, yet not excessively heavy, which makes it great for a range of projects from flooring to cabinetry and furnishings. It handles finishes quiet well, which is great for emphasizing or evolving the natural beauty. Walnut, more than many other types of wood shows a rich grain, burls, mottles and striping. It ranges from light to dark in color.

SOFTWOODS

PINE

Pine is a soft and affordable wood, most commonly used in country designs. Uses ranger from cabinetry to flooring, paneling and furnishings, with the end-user aware the wood will show considerable wear over time. Although, that wear is often what gives pine its charm. Barn wood and broad board floors made of pine have been appealing to designers for years, due to the authentic rustic look each brings to a space. Pine furniture can also be purchased unfinished, for painting and staining to the desired end result.

CEDAR

Although cedar is categorized as soft wood, it is still considered somewhat durable and weather resistant. For this reason cedar is preferred for outdoor furniture and living spaces. When utilized in this manner, it is important to treat it, or protect it from the harshest elements, to extend its life.

Cedar starts off with a red-tan hue, which dulls to a medium grey when exposed to the elements. It is a light-weight wood, with some knots that is easy to work with. Cedar is also highly fragrant, with natural essential oils known for keeping moths and other insects at bay. Given this, cedar makes a great choice for closet construction.

CYPRESS

Similar to cedar, cypress is a soft wood that is considered durable and weather resistant. It is sort of a little sibling to hardwood, often grown alongside, harvested and processed at the same time. This, is a testament to its strength! This silver-grey wood is a popular choice for building decks, siding and outdoor furniture given its appealing look and resistance to insects and decay. Cypress contains a natural preservative that helps it stay durable over time. When given a choice, old growth is always preferable over new growth. The newer growth can still contain sap and bleed out at times.

Now what?

If you've done your research and are ready to act, consider submitting a request through EZBZ to find the service providers or suppliers to complete your design project! Whether it's finding a supplier of a specific type of wood, an interior designer to help guide you in the selection process or a contractor to build or install your dream cabinet and floors, we can help!

Submit a request via EZBZ

1 COMMENTS
Thank you, for the information. White oak could be the most beautifying and wonderful choice for for use. Recently one of my friend used the same and the kitchen just gloomed the house. So an advice to use white oak in woods could be preferred. Good luck!
Michael Kuhn
09-13-2016
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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-04-2015

There is no better time than spring to organize the closets! As bulky items take a back seat to lighter weight clothes and shoes, it's a great time to examine what's needed versus not. In this blog post, we'll discuss the best ways to weed out the wardrobe as a first step to getting those closets organized!

There is no better time than spring to organize the closets! As bulky items take a back seat to lighter weight clothes and shoes, it's a great time to examine what's needed versus not. In this blog post, we'll discuss the best ways to weed out the wardrobe as a first step to getting those closets organized!

Before organization can even begin, it's necessary to take inventory of what we have and how much space we are (REALLY) working with. Just as is the case with money, it's always wise to live within our means!.Having more stuff than storage is a one-way ticket to clutter, mess and stress. Did you know that mess causes anxiety and stress? It's true, so before it gets to that point, or if it already has, let's remedy any problem together. EZBZ is all about helping to make life better!

Are your closets and drawers bursting, with nary a space to fit anything else? Then, it's time to weed out the wardrobe. Start with one type of apparel at a time and take stock of what you have and determine whether it fits, is ever worn, is owned in duplicate or excess, or has passed its prime. Some scenarios to look out for and overcome:

"I've got different sizes in my wardrobe because one day I'll be that thin again"

If you've been holding those smaller sizes in the back because you're planning on dieting, ask yourself if you're really (REALLY) going to get into that size. Is it a reasonable goal that you're committed to? If not, get those clothes out of your closet.

"I haven't worn it in years, but I may"

If you haven't worn something in years, what the heck is it doing in your closet? It's taking up valuable space! Get rid of it. If you're still too attached and convinced you're going to wear it, give yourself a hard deadline to use it or lose it.

"I know it's worn and ugly, but it's comfy and I love it"

Yes, we all have a few of these and they can be hard to part with. But, if they really are passed their prime, consider whether it's time to move on. Think about how you'd feel in them, if they were the only item you had to wear. For example, if the house was on fire and you had to flee with only that on, would it work for you at all? If the answer is "no", get rid of it!

"Sure it doesn't match anything but I'll buy something in the future so it will"

It was an unwise purchase, wasn't it? Time to move on.

Once you get through the above vetting process, check back for part 2. We'll give you some great tips on organizing those closets!

Need help with the vetting process? The EZBZ App is always available to assist! We can connect you to wardrobe stylists and professional organizers to help you get through this first step!

3 COMMENTS
Moving Companies Offers Wardrobe Boxes for free
Thinking of this article and the hassle of moving from Arizona to California. My biggest concern is to use moving companies that do not handle my wardrobe with care. I will have to do some research work.
Colonial Van Lines
11-25-2016
Very useful information
Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
I love this website!
Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-04-2015

Nearly every kid on earth looks forward to a birthday party thrown in their honor. For some kids, any party will do; just make sure to have cake and the standard three Gs: guests, games and of course, gifts! But for others, evolving interests drive the party requirements and many parents feel like pulling their hair out as the requests increase proportionately to their children's ages. Here are some tips for keeping it stress-free.

Nearly every kid on earth looks forward to a birthday party thrown in their honor. For some kids, any party will do; just make sure to have cake and the standard three Gs: guests, games and of course, gifts! But for others, evolving interests drive the party requirements and many parents feel like pulling their hair out as the requests increase proportionately to their children's ages. Here are some tips for keeping it stress-free.

Plan far enough in advance, 4-6 months
Many parents remember growing up and planning their own birthday parties the month before they occurred. Invitations were handed out at school or mailed for summer parties and all went smoothly. There was often one parent on mission control who was home enough to manage things; there was only a single way to RSVP and guest nearly always did; and kids lives weren't heavily scheduled. Nowadays families are busier than ever, so reserving 4-6 months of advance planning, preserves sanity.

Pick a date and time wisely
Some parents believe the majority of kids will show up regardless of the date and time selected, but that isn't always the case. Plenty of parents have learned this the hard way. Choose a date and start and end times to enable the best opportunity for guest to share in the occasion. The party doesn't need to be scheduled for the exact birth date, or even the same week. Try and avoid observed religious holidays of potential guests, high travel periods and times when team games are likely to occur.

Choose a theme, make sure it's one you can execute, then stick with it
Kids interests change with wind. That doesn't mean the party theme has to. Pick a theme your child loves and run with it. As long as it isn't too immature or fleeting, chances are they'll still like it enough four months later. Resist the urge to change to the latest big thing. As musician Rick Danko use to say 'go with your first thoughts, they're usually your best thoughts.' Whatever theme you pick, just do the research and make sure you can execute it. Some character themed parties can be significantly harder to pull off than parents realize!

Figure out exactly what you need at the start
This may seem obvious, but many parents don't give it much thought until the last minute. If planning to use a venue, find out exactly what is included with your reservation; There are many places that supply everything except the cake and party favors. If you're doing it at home or the venue doesn't supply anything except for the space, give thought to what you will need in the way of food, decorations, entertainment, favors, etc.

Make a master list with 4 main components :

1. Things to schedule
2. Things to buy
3. Things to make or assemble
4. Guests to invite

Lists are among the best time management tool for busy parents and the four categories above cover everything you need for planning a party. By organizing items in this manner, you can quickly cross things off and move onto the next priority. It also makes sense to add in deadlines or timeline lines to complete, to really keep yourself on schedule.

Simplify wherever you can
Unless you're on an uber-tight budget, it can be a wise to outsource some of your party needs. Planning on serving lunch? Pick up ready made pasta or pizza, or even better, have it delivered! Not an adept baker? Buy a cake. It's likely to cost a similar amount once you add up the cost of ingredients and value of saved time. Planning on making favor bags? Consider skipping them in favor of giving the kids small gift cards to iTunes, or bulk purchased movie tickets. They're cool, save time, cost about the same and kids love them!

Enlist friends and family for help when needed
The expression 'it takes a village to raise a child' isn't far from the truth. If there are friends and family available to help or lean on, take advantage of the offers and then repay in kind at a later date. No parent is going to be knighted or sainted for being a martyr for their child's birthday celebration.

EZBZ understands how stressful planning a child's birthday party can be and we would be more than happy to help you find the things you need. Just submit a request for whatever it is via www.myezbz.com or the EZBZ App

2 COMMENTS
Exciting
This is very cool!
Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
very smart
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Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
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