AuthorLauren Lampe

Are you really ready for summer?


For most people, summer is the most enjoyable time of the year. The sun is shining, the grass is greener and more time is spent outside in the warmth and fresh air. These are things we anticipate during the cold winter months. Your vacation might be ready, your summer wardrobe might be ready, but is your home ready?

Summer is here and before it gets hotter, you might want to check that you and the house are ready for the seasonal heat. Here are some great ways to efficiently prepare your home for the warm weather.

Tidy your yard

More daylight = more time outside. Are your front and backyard presentable and in good condition that both yourself and guests can spend time in it? If you have a backyard that has been taken over by toys, bicycles and lawn tools then it is time to take it back. Buy storage containers to put the toys in and have a designated area for the bikes and tools. But before doing that, make sure they are in good enough condition to keep. If they are old, rusty or don’t work properly – add them to the junk pile!

Be Cool

An important way to beat the heat is to stay hydrated. But who wants to stay hydrated in the summer with warm water? Make sure your refrigerator works properly and if it is not consistently keeping items cool, it might be time to invest in a new one.

Less mess, less stress

Trips to the beach are what summer is all about! Planning and packing for trips can get a bit stressful. Having organized storage space where you keep these items is key. That way when you know where everything is it will lessen the stress and the time it takes you to pack. Get those storage areas organized and purge it of the junk. This will make finding the boogie boards, beach chairs and umbrellas much easier!

Gutter Clutter

During the cold seasons leaves fall from the trees and animals will make homes in your gutters. On top of that, constant climate changes such as snow, rain and cold weather can be tough on the gutters. Clear out gunk before the summer rain comes and causes any damage to the home. Hiring a service to do this task is the safest and easiest way.

These simple and easy things can go a long way when prepping for summer. It will help make your summer more relaxing and enjoyable!

Ways to Give Back to Veterans

In the United States, there are more than 23 million veterans. These men and women have sacrificed so much for us, we will never be able to fully repay them for protecting us and keeping us safe. But there are ways we can show our support and thanks to them! These six simple ways can help make a difference in a veteran’s life:

1.) Sponsor or donate money to a dog that helps soldiers with PTSD

When soldiers come home from serving our country some are faced with another battle: PTSD. One in three returning troops are being diagnosed with PTSD/PTSD symptoms and Veterans from past wars are still coping with their PTSD. While it does not rid them from their PTSD, having a companion can help them cope with it. And what better companion is there than man’s best friend?

Paws for Veterans is a nonprofit organization that provides soldiers who suffer from PTSD or other injuries with trained medical service dogs. The soldiers are also provided with supplies, therapeutic group sessions and natural treatment alternatives. Each dog is rescued, rehabilitated and individually trained for their owner’s specific disability. Paws for Veterans extensive training of the furry companions prepare the dogs so they can aid in healing the Veteran’s body and mind as they manage their PTSD.

2.) Write to soldiers currently serving

Letter writing is a form of art that unfortunately seems to be dying. Writing a letter is a simple, but meaningful gesture that can brighten up the recipient’s day. Away from their family and friends, soldiers who are overseas may feel a sense of loneliness. Sending them handwritten letters can provide a sense of comfort as well as a quick distraction from what’s going on around them.

Operation Gratitude has a letter writing program that includes letters in care packages sent to soldiers. If you would like to learn how to get involved, click here!

3.) Mentor Military Children

More than two million United States children have been affected directly by a parent’s deployment (pub med). Growing up with a parent deployed, or constantly having to move can impact children in more ways than we imagine. Being a mentor to them can provide guidance and a positive influence in their lives. While you will not fill the void of a deployed parent or the loneliness of always having to start fresh when moving to a new place, you can be a support system for the child.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has a program specifically for mentoring military children. The mentors involved in Operation Bigs come from all walks of them. They can be active or retired military or civilian volunteers. If this is a program you would like to get involved in, make sure to check out the Operation Bigs page on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America website.

4.) Stand Down – National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Designed to help homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets

In 2014, there was a total of 49,933 homeless Veterans in the united states. The number of homeless veterans made up 8.6 percent of the total homeless population. When serving our country, soldiers drop everything to leave their homes and protect our country. Returning to civilian life can be a hard adjustment, since it was a life they put on hold to be in the military. Some Veterans have difficulty in finding a job or are struggling with a mental illness disorder, such as PTSD, that weights heavy on them.

There are many organizations across the country to help combat Veteran homelessness. Some of these wonderful non-profits or organizations include: Support Homeless Veterans, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and Volunteers of America. By giving a donation to these organizations, you can contribute to helping a Veteran get his or her boots back on the ground and have a fresh start.

5.) Providing transportation for Veterans

Taking time out of your day to drive a Veteran to a doctor’s appointment requires a little more effort than the other ways of giving back. However, this is a way that really gives back and helps Veterans. A popular organization that provides transportation for Veterans is Disabled American Veterans (DAV). DAV is a nonprofit charity that provides support for veterans of all generations and their families. They have helped more than one million veterans in positive, life-changing ways each year. With almost 1,300 chapters and 1.3 million members across the country, DAV provides more than 700,000 rides for veterans who have a medical appointment to attend.

Want to get involved in this great cause?

6.) Free Resources

The constant changes within a military family can create certain struggles and difficulties for them. Whether it is the continuous relocating, or a single parent at home with the children while the spouse is deployed. Organizations such as Blue Star Families were started to help assist our military families and lessen a burden they might have.

Blue Star Families is an organization that provides free resources and services to military families to make their living more manageable. Started in 2009, Blue Star Families has reached over more than 1.5 million military families. Some ways that you can support military families through Blue Star Families is by donating goods, services or money.

The men and women who serve our country have taken care of us. Now it is our time to take care of them.

Daylight Savings – How to make the most out of your day


It’s that time of the year that most people dread… day light savings. While most people fixate on the negative of day light savings, which is losing that precious hour of sleep, there are some positives. Firstly, it is a sign that summer is getting closer and we are at the rear of winter. Also, it doesn’t get dark as quickly so you receive that extra hour to get more done.So with more time during the day, you may find yourself wondering what to do. While there is plenty to fill that hour with, here’s an idea, organize and clean your home!

This doesn’t just apply to the inside. Since it will stay lighter longer, more time will be spent outside. So, if you have a backyard or patio, spend some time sprucing up the area. If that furniture is broken or worn down, time to replace it! After all, you are working hard to clean the area so you deserve to treat yourself to new furniture! If you have a play set in your backyard that your children still use, make sure it is in good condition for them to play on. Or if you have a play set that they no longer use, call your local junk removal company to take it away for you as well as the furniture you’re getting rid of!

Ok, now it’s time to move back inside the home. There is always something in your living space that can be fixed up or organized. A good place to start is your closet. Soon you’ll be transitioning from winter to spring clothes so declutter your closet to see which spring/summer clothes you no longer want or fit.

Speaking of spring, it’s about to get a lot warmer and it’s very important to get your house in order before the warmer months start! Enjoy the season and replace your storm windows with screens to get fresh air. And since you’re already at the windows it would be a good idea to dust the blinds, replace heavy window coverings with lighter ones and to wash the windows. With sunlight coming through the windows until 7pm, you don’t want the light to be restricted by pollen or marks. Washing the windows will also give a cleaner look to your home and a better view of outside. Doing this with each window in your home will eat up some time, so you’ll be thankful you have the additional hour during the daytime!

Now remember, these suggestions are only starting points. There is much more that you can do to clean out your home with your added time. Take advantage of the longer days and spring into (cleaning) action.

Looks like losing that hour of sleep isn’t so terrible after all!

Seven Ways To Better Yourself

Declutter your life (physically, mentally and emotionally)
Why declutter one aspect of your life, when you can declutter every aspect of it! There is no better time than the present to get rid of that stack of old magazines that keep piling up or the baggage of something that’s been holding you down. If you want to declutter mentally, make a habit of writing down your thoughts every day. Through decluttering, you will clear up space in your mind and home, helping you to focus on the things that need your attention more.

Find a hobby
Having a hobby can be great for several of reasons. It’s a great outlet for when you’re feeling stressed, it offers new opportunity to grow and it helps connect you with others. Even if it’s a hobby that doesn’t require a group, you will come across others who enjoy the same hobby as you. If you choose a hobby that’s unfamiliar to you, it’s a great learning experience and can teach you many new things!

Read more, Watch television less
One of the reasons reading is more beneficial than watching television is because it increases brain activity. Reading can enhance one’s imagination and also is a good trick for falling asleep at night. Here are some great military nonfiction books to dive into.

Exercise and change bad eating habits
As the weather gets warmer, it’s time for you to get outside and get moving. By slightly increasing your exercise regiments each day and tweaking your diet one step at a time, you are improving your health. If you are really determined to make exercising a big part of your life, here are some military workouts you can try to get started.

Get involved
Fewer things are more rewarding than when you are helping others. Not only are you helping improve their life, you are improving your own as well. Getting involved will help you grow as a person and you may discover new interests or passions. Whether you are helping an individual, an organization or a community you are making a difference.

Make a note of the positive things that happen each day
By noting the positive things that happen to you every day it helps you think positively and improve your mood overall. A study at the University of North Carolina shows that positive emotions allow humans to see more possibilities in their lives. When one sees more possibilities, it encourages him or her to plan ahead. Another plus is if you keep a record of positive things that happen to you, you can reread them when you need a pick me up!

Find ways to save your money
Very few people are ever opposed to the notion of saving money! You can do this in a multitude of ways. Start making your coffee at home instead of buying it, turn the lights or television off when they aren’t in use and stop buying unnecessary clothing or items for your home (this will help prevent clutter in your home as well!). Even if you save in small ways, you will see it add up over time.

5 Reasons You Should Start Your Own Business


You’ve been thinking about it for a while, or maybe the thought never even occurred to you. But having your own business sounds enticing, doesn’t it? Sure, it might be a lot of hard work, or you don’t know if you’re cut out for it. But stop thinking of the reasons why you shouldn’t and start thinking of the reasons why you SHOULD start your own business.

1. A story to tell
When you start your own business, you will go through many different stages and obstacles. There will be the easy times, but there will also be the hard times. You will have unique experiences and through these stories you might encourage someone to venture into entrepreneurship themselves!
You may also have a story on WHY you decided to start the business. Those stories are always riveting to outsiders and sometimes they are the best to hear!

2. You are your own boss
This one is a no-brainer! What’s better than having no one to report to? You’re calling the shots now. You can decide your own work hours, deadlines and how you want to operate.

3. You will wake up every day motivated to go to work
Since it’s your business, you will be driven to have it be as successful as possible. Every morning you will wake up asking yourself ‘how can I improve my business today?’ Use each day as an opportunity to take your business one step further than it had been the day before. Your business is a reflection of yourself, make it the best you can!

Personal fulfillment
Blood, sweat and tears went into the creation of your business. The rewarding feeling when it all pays off is invaluable. You envisioned, executed it and now you can beam with pride. You get to watch your business grow from start to finish, and it is all because of you.

5. Gain new skills/experiences
Starting a business is an overall new experience. If you have others working for you, you will enhance your leadership skills. Whether you are a one-man operation or an army, you will gain flexibility to your employees and clients. Also, your networking skills will be strengthened immensely as you try to get your business recognized.

These are just five out the many reasons why you should take that leap and start your own business. It could end up being one of the best decisions you have ever made while creating equity value for you and your family.

Top 10 Home Improvements for 2017

10. Front and Back Yard Makeover
Curb appeal is key!
1. It tells your neighbors that you take pride in your home and neighborhood.
2. It makes your home stand out.
3. It’s so easy! I always look online in spring when people are splitting their perennials: I have yet to have to purchase anything, since people actually give stuff away. Also, invest in an edger — clean lines are a favorite on my list — as they can dramatically transform a yard. (DIY Network , 2016)
Paver walk ways and groomed flower beds are a great face lift for your outdoor space. Also, adding new shrubs and plants to the flower beds will bring some color to your walk ways. These types of improvements can be done inexpensively and will keep things looking great all year long!
9. HVAC Replacement
This is one thing that’s usually on your list of “things you never want to break” in your home. But when you need to you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. With all of the new energy efficient options you want to make sure you’re doing your research to see what will be best for your home (and your electric bill).
8. Upgrade Insulation
While January may be coming to an end, we still have almost two months left of winter. Upgrading insulation in the walls of your home will prevent any winter coldness you’ve been trying to avoid. If this seems like a task that you might not be able to do, JDog Handyman is always on call for jobs such as these.
7. Brighten up your home
It’s a new year, so out with the old in with the new. No better time than the present to replace those light bulbs that have been flickering on and off. Not only will you be brightening up your home, but you will also be brightening up your mood. If the space you’re occupying is dim, it may dim your mood as well. If you recently changed your light bulbs, add some additional lights in your home. Here are some cool DIY ideas: https://www.buzzfeed.com/alisoncaporimo/let-it-glow?utm_term=.jtvgg9Ab4G#.ppxrrdxJpA
6. Update Plumbing
This may be the one you want to do the least, but that’s what JDog Handyman is for. JDog Handyman does a variety of plumbing services, so for any plumbing you don’t want to do JDog Handyman will take care of. Updating your plumbing every so often is always a smart idea. That way you can prevent future issues with old pipes that may be costly.
5. Tile or Real Wood floors
Installing tile or real wood floors can be beneficial to your home for multiple reasons. One perk is that it will make your house look less cluttered than if you had a rug, leaving the room looking like it has more space. Another perk is the health benefits. Having a rug can trap dust, dirt and other filth that will cling onto your rug. By having tile or real wood floors you are eliminating that and they are also much easier to clean! Now if you’re unsure of whether to get tile or hardwood, that’s up to you. Tile may be more time consuming when you’re having it put in, but hardwood can be scratched up more easily.
4. Remove Paneling
Depending on the vibe you would like to give off, this is an improvement you may want to consider. If you want the rustic feel in your home then sure, keep the panels. But if you’re looking to go more modern, get rid of em! Wood deteriorates over time, especially from moisture in the air, so not only will it be risk factor for your home but it will also diminish the appearance of it.
3. Give the Bathroom a Boost
This is an improvement that may be the most fun, and you can get super creative with it. It could also be the least expensive depending on how you go about it. You can change the color scheme with it, replace the mirror or get a new sink or toilet. Maybe add a different air freshener in it every month – the possibilities are endless!
2. Basement/Attic Renovations
This improvement is great for the weekend and to do with other family members. Attics and basements are the best storage places in a home. Think of all the hidden treasures that have been stashed there throughout the years. There are probably also a lot of sentimental things from your childhood, or your parents, or your grandparents. Get the family together to go through what’s stored there for some family bonding. After clearing the space, you can renovate it into an office, a bedroom or a hangout area.
1. Kitchen is Key
This is another improvement you can get creative with and doesn’t need to be too expensive. You can get new counter tops, add a fresh coat to the walls or get new handles on the drawers. Another idea is to have a specific theme for the kitchen. You can base it off a color scheme, old rustic or flower theme. There is so much you can do with this improvement! Whether it’s updating a few things or completely renovating the kitchen – have fun with it!
http://www.diynetwork.com/shows/money-hunters/articles/10-investments-to-boost-your-homes-value

The Easiest Ways To Prepare For A Move

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Photo via Pixabay by Unsplash

Moving is often a stressful undertaking, and for some, the long list of things that need to be done can be overwhelming. Planning, packing, preparing for any contingency…they all take a toll, and more than likely you’ll end up exhausted before the moving actually begins. It helps to get organized, however, and to ask for help. No one can do everything on their own! Having a plan in place well before moving day arrives will help you feel in control and will ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Grab a notepad and begin making lists: packing lists, lists of things to buy for the new house, lists of things you’ll need to keep handy on moving day, etc. Go through the closets and drawers in each room and pare down your inventory, throwing away things that are old or worn out and donating things you just don’t use anymore. Then, enlist the help of friends and family to make sure the days leading up to the move are as stress free as possible. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Packing

Packing can be overwhelming when you have a lot of rooms, so start in one area and stay there until it’s done. Moving around to multiple rooms will only stress you out. However, you will need to make sure the house is clean and well organized before you start packing; you don’t want to start boxing up books in the living room and think you’ve got the job done, only to find a stack of them in a bedroom.

Designate one box for items you’ll need for cleaning at the new house, including a roll of paper towels, and don’t forget toilet paper and toiletries/changes of clothing for the family for the first night in the new place.

For clothing, keep the things in your closet on hangers. Wrap several of the hanger hooks with a hair tie or long garbage bag tie to keep them together, then cover with an upside-down garbage bag (poke the hangers through the middle of it to create a makeshift garment bag). Lay flat in a car or in the moving van, then hang up and strip off the bags once you get to the new place.

Kids and Pets

Kids can take a move pretty hard, so make sure you involve them in the process to help them feel more comfortable. Let them help you pack up their room and make sure you don’t make too many changes to their belongings once you’re in the new house. It might even help to set up their furniture in similar spots. The same rule applies to pets; if their food and water dishes were in the kitchen at the old place, put them in the new kitchen. Bring along favorite toys rather than buying new ones.

Plan

Before the move, go to the new house and measure windows, the spaces for appliances in the kitchen, doorways, anything you’ll need to know before the big day. Write down the measurements with details about which rooms they’re for (on the same piece of paper, if possible) so you’ll have it handy when it’s time to buy curtains, blinds, or a new stove.

Don’t forget to enlist the help of friends and family well before moving day, and don’t be afraid to delegate chores. You may feel more comfortable doing as much as possible yourself, but in the end you’ll be glad you had help.

Family Affair: How JDog Owner Ray Gagnon Created a Family Business

For many men and women serving in the military, it is not easy to spend as much time with family as they would like.

Ray Gagnon, a veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 25 years, has found a lucrative way to make up for lost time with family by teaming up with them as JDog Junk Removal & Hauling franchisees, joining the trend of veteran-owned businesses. Ray, who founded and serves as president and chief consultant of Business Operational Success Systems Inc., or BOSS, a global provider of business and performance improvement programs, wanted a business he could pass on to his sons and was attracted to JDog’s commitment to veterans.

He, along with his wife Robin and sons Kyle and RJ, opened JDog Junk Removal & Hauling in the Capitol Region territory of New York in April 2016. The Gagnon family is adhering to JDog’s dedication to increasing post-military career opportunities for veterans by hiring fellow vets in their community.

A Family Effort

Ray, a former master gunnery sergeant, oversees his JDog Junk Removal & Hauling business, which operates out of Schenectady. Robin, an optician with more than 30 years of experience managing optical businesses, serves as office manager. She is the face of the business, working with customers, managing operations, scheduling appointments and employees, bookkeeping and other duties. Kyle, 23, who is working toward gaining partnership status, is the general manager. He runs the day-to-day junk removal and hauling operations, which includes leading the crews. RJ, 24, is working toward a masters degree in education with plans on becoming a college professor, and fills in when needed.

“It’s been great,” Ray said about working with his family. “I spent 25 years in the Marine Corps, so I wasn’t always around. There was a good portion of my sons’ lives when I wasn’t readily available.”

Not only is working as a family strengthening bonds and affording more time together, it is also proving to be a model for success. Since opening just eight months ago, the Gagnons have grown their JDog from a one-truck and one-trailer operation to a three-truck and three-trailer fleet, and have added a number of storage sheds to accommodate all the junk removal and hauling they are doing.

“We have very big visions for the business,” Ray said, adding that it includes being the premiere junk hauling business in this entire area. “Every single day we work hard to accomplish that. We’ve already expanded.”

Inspiring New Generations of Entrepreneurs

Similar to many franchise owners who want to pass their business on to their children, Ray and Robin’s vision includes providing Kyle with a greater stake in JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Capital Region and making him a full-fledged owner. The purchase of the franchise has awakened an entrepreneurial passion in Kyle that was not there before. Ray said Kyle’s enthusiasm for the brand and for providing job opportunities to military veterans and family members of veterans has his son thinking big picture. It is reflected in Kyle’s enthusiasm, Ray said.

“Kyle dove in head first—there was no recruiting necessary. We told him we’d love to have him build the business with us,” Ray said. “For Kyle, it has opened his eyes to business opportunities. It’s helped him understand how businesses work. His aspiration is to own multiple businesses like his mother and I do. He’s thinking about this business – how to build it, how to grow it and how to create the assets he needs to open other businesses. Being involved in the family business has given him the entrepreneurial bug.”

To Ray, family includes more than his wife and sons, however – it is also his fellow military veterans and their families whom he is eager to hire.

“My big thing was I always looked out for my Marines, I always looked out for my people,” he said. “After 25 years, I probably got pretty darn good at it. I wanted to help veterans, I wanted to find a company that provides business opportunities for veterans, that gets them started owning a business or by providing employment.”

Learn more about becoming a JDog Junk Removal & Hauling franchisee here.

Brothers in Business: Why the Weins Bros. Chose JDog

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Andrew and Isaac Weins are more than business partners, they are family. As JDog Junk Removal & Hauling owners in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, they are equally dedicated to building a successful business as they are to the respect, integrity and trust that defines JDog’s approach to service and business operations.

Since the two brothers became JDog owners in May 2016, they have been able to grow their business by making local connections within the community, and hope to expand their footprint in the greater Milwaukee area over the coming years.

What was it that attracted them to the JDog franchise opportunity?

Military Mission

Andrew Weins joined the United States Army Reserve out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2004 serving two tours, one in Iraq in 2006 and the other to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2014. After his last deployment, he was stationed as an Army Reserve Career Counselor.

With 12 years in military service, he achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class and uses his experience as a career counselor to help other veterans and soldiers make career decisions. At the same time, Isaac has worked in the junk removal industry alongside Andrew in the Milwaukee area for the past 15 years. Isaac has been able to use his experience to create innovative business strategies through dismantling and deconstructing of commercial spaces. He is also a business owner, turning reclaimed materials into artwork.

As a JDog Junk Removal & Hauling business owners, Andrew and his brother Isaac have been able to establish a connection with a larger network of military-owned business operators who hold true to the same values of respect, integrity and trust.

Ethos of Brotherhood

In keeping with JDog’s military culture and values, Andrew and Isaac were both motivated by the strong support network of veteran business owners that differentiates the brand from other business opportunities.

“We also have the ethos of brotherhood, where franchise to franchise we take care of each other, we look out for each other,” Andrew explained. “We reach out to each other if we ever need help, and we also reach out when we want to help other franchises, which is something you don’t see a lot.”

Instead of looking at other JDog Junk Removal & Hauling operators as competitors, they call on each other for help to build a stronger brand.

Bigger Than Yourself

As a JDog business owner, Andrew and Isaac are both able to create positive, meaningful change through their business investment.

“We want to be part of something bigger than just ourselves,” said Andrew. “This allows us to hire more veterans locally. We’ve been able to hire fellow veterans from the Milwaukee area, giving them opportunities that they may not have otherwise had.”

The brothers enjoy having fellow military veterans on our team because they understand the military values – respect, integrity and trust.

Support from the Top

Another advantage of being part of the JDog network of veteran-owned businesses is the support operators receive from the corporate office.

“The support from JDog Junk Removal & Hauling’s corporate since the beginning and even until now has been tremendous.”

Any time the brothers have needed to call corporate, they pick up the phone and help guide them in the right direction.

For more information about how you can become a JDog Junk Removal & Hauling business owner, visit us here