False Alarm Smoke Detectors: Smart Solution To Pesky Problem

Not sure if others across the nation have this issue, but here in the desert of Arizona, many of us have smoke detectors that falsely go off, which is both frightening and frustrating.  And smoke detectors are crucial.  I am heartbroken to share that I lost a friend to a housefire in October, so this is another reason why I decided to write this post to share what we do in our home to try to keep us as safe as possible. We have had several false alarms that set our smoke detectors off.  Loud, terrifying and upsetting.  And it seems to always happen to us in the middle of the night!  It turns out that ours fill with dust and must be cleaned out at least once a year.  Two weeks ago it happened again at 1:30am.  To be jolted out of bed to the sounds of “fire, fire, fire” followed by the super loud alarm sounds is not fun and scary for sure.  Once we determined that it was a false alarm, my poor husband had to get the ladder and take every single one off the ceiling.  Since one unit sets all the rest off, this tedious process has to be followed.   But the good news is that I knew what to do next because I know about David’s Professional Fire Systems.  I call him the smoke alarm doctor!

David comes out, inspects your smoke detectors and cleans each one out by vacuuming each one, one at a time.  He will also let you know if your alarms are out of date and if they need to be replaced.  We have Dave come out every year and have now for the last five years.  Several years ago, he recommended that we update our alarms to new ones that would include carbon monoxide warnings as well.  I want that super important option for sure!  I could have gone out and purchased them and installed each one as well.  I chose to have David do that for us and it was nice to know that all are installed correcly and inspected by Dave.

Two weeks ago, when I called the morning after our tiring false alarm night, he came the same day as I requested.  I don’t feel safe going to bed at night with nonworking smoke detectors.  I asked him if our current smoke detectors were still good and he assured me that they should last us the next 8 years since he replaced all of them two years ago.  It is nice that he helps us to keep track of that, too.  I paid $70 for the full check-up and cleaning of each and every one of our detectors and we have a lot of units.  Money well spent for sure.

Note that smoke detectors should be changed out every 10 years.

So, when it comes to protecting your family, your pets and your home, smoke detectors are crucial, but the false alarms are so bothersome.  Put Dave’s contact information in your contacts and have an annual check and cleaning done of your units.  It will give you peace of mind and could be a life saving decision. I highly recommend Dave with David’s Professional Fire Systems, Inc.  Here is his contact information:

David’s Professional Fire Systems, Inc.

Office:  602-677-2941 & Cell:  602-622-7159

Keep your family and home safe and give him a call.  I sleep better at night after his annual smoke detector check-up and cleanings at my home!

Mr Margarita Is The Perfect Party Rental Companion!

Manic: Like everyone else, schedules this time of year! I was honored to take my turn hosting my fellow mothers who are part of our local NCL (National Charity League) chapter for our fall meeting/social.  I wanted to make the event fun, unique and productive all in one with a cool theme.  But how could I accomplish that with a limited budget and not a lot of time on my hands for a full prep?

Managed:  Brainstormed and came up with a Margaritaville event theme complete with Jimmy Buffet music playing in the background, games that included guessing how many limes were in the margarita pitcher with prizes that were about the number 5 since it is “5’o clock somewhere” which included a 5 x 7 gift frame, a $5 Starbucks gift card and more.  My NCL GLA partner set up a Sign Up Genius for margaritaville themed food, so all brought grub that made for a nice buffet style dinner.

And then there was the star of the show…Mr. Margarita!

Meet Mr Margarita, a company that I highly recommend!  Here are two of his top performing companions that looked terrific and produced tasty beverages at my event! 

Yep, nothing says……better than welcoming those friends with yummy and festive frozen margarita machines!

Ray DeLeon with Mr Margarita was top notch to work with from start to finish.  When he arrived with the nice looking machines, we had a power overload problem with my backyard circuits, but he was quick and thorough to fix the issues and didn’t leave until all was working well.  And the flavor…absolutely delish!  I chose to serve two flavors of frozen ritas which included lime and strawberry and both were scrumptious.  Not overly sweet and my guests commented that they tasted refreshing like a nice summertime icy lemonade.  I also tried combining the two in my cup and the flavor combo worked great!                                                                                                                                          So how do you go about having Mr Margarita join your celebration?  It is an easy and economical process.  Here is what you do…

  1. Visit MrMargaritaPhoenix (if you are in Arizona) or MrMargarita if you are out of state as they have locations in California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia.  For my local Phoenix readers, the phone number is 602-300-6497.  They rent party rental margarita machines in addition to other items like tents, tables, chairs and more.  All can be rented through the website or phone number above.
  2. Ray (or another Mr Margarita expert) will discuss details with you and suggest what and how much works best for your particular event.  They give you the list of beverage items you need to purchase before they arrive with the rentals.  I rented two machines, one lime and one for strawberry ritas, so I only had to purchase 2 to 3 liters of tequila and one liter of Triple Sec premix.  Ray brought everything else that was needed including cups, straws and salt for the rims with the machines.  I also bought limes for those that wanted a lime wedge in their margarita, which was a nice touch.
  3. Provide your credit card and you aren’t charged until the morning of the rental day. I liked this because receiving the charge notification also confirmed that my anticipated rental rita machines were indeed coming that day.  I paid $249 to rent both machines and another $17.50 for delivery and set-up fees (so worth it since Ray did everything for me).  Sales tax brought the grand total to $291.28.  I could have saved on my budget and just rented the one machine, as that would have been plenty for my guest headcount of 20 women, but I wanted to offer two flavors for fun.  Since the ladies brought all the food and Mr Margarita brought the cups and straws, my total party cost wasn’t bad at all.
  4. On party day, the machines are delivered, set up and the drinks are prepped in the machine and for you.  Then do what I did…and taste test.  My quality control taste was perfect!  Soo good!  And look how cool the machines look in my backyard…The machines arrived very clean, looked super nice and were very easy to operate. Simply pull the lever and out flowed a tasty icy margarita slush that all my guests called refreshing and super tasty. I was very pleased and will definitely use Mr Margarita again!  My only regret is that I forgot to snap pictures at night when the machines lit up my yard and made it a party!  And here is a bonus that Ray told me about.  Put any leftovers in a big plastic bag and freeze for your next margarita night.  I was out of plastic bags so I put some of the leftovers that were still in the machine when my party ended in a pitcher.  I stored it in the fridge overnight and it is still slushy and yummy today! Yay!  I think I may have to have a margarita pool day this weekend.  The company picked up the machines then next day.  I didn’t have to empty, clean or wipe anything down.  My only job was to take the leftovers I wanted, turn the machines off and unplug.  If I had wanted to make more batches, a simple instruction card was left for me and the process is simple.

Call Mr Margarita for your next shindig.  I plan to.  From start to finish, the process was as smooth and wonderful as the drinks were!

3TV Segment-Party Planning? My Top Local Rental Party Picks

Hard to believe but holiday party planning season is once again upon us.  Not to mention birthdays, showers or other events on the calendar. If you are party planning for this time of year or for any kind of celebration, check out my top local Phoenix party rental picks.  I have put several to the test several times now for my son’s big graduation party, a few other events and most recently, my own 50th birthday bash.  I believe that these suggestions below are the best of the best and I even found a company that will rent you Moscow mule copper mugs and that was actually not an easy find!  Two weeks ago I blogged about the cool and chic cocktail truck that I rented called The Duke and The Duchess.

The lovely Duchess parked in my driveway ready to party!

If you missed that article, you can find it here and I highly recommend that fun feature that will make your party truly unique. Read on to see my other party rental service/supply picks that will have your guests saying what a pal texted me the morning after my latest party….that I had the party of the year!  Woo hoo!  Here are my Phoenix greater area party stuff recommendations:

*Party Pick 2 – Moscow Mule Copper Mug rentals — American Mule

Hubs and I…and a ton of our guests…ordered and loved the Moscow Mule drinks, so we had to have the copper mugs. My son is one year too young for a mule drink. He will be 21 next year…otherwise I am pretty sure he would be holding one, too.

We almost gave up on having the cool copper mugs that chill the Moscow Mule drink so beautifully because the only local rental company we could find quoted us $12 a mug for rentals and we needed 50 cups, so there was no way we could do that!  I got lucky and typed in copper mug rentals on Google and American Mule came up, but I thought the company was out of state, so I left an email inquiry.  To my pleasant surprise, the company emailed me back 24 hours later and told me that they would rent me the mugs for $3.20 a cup!  Yay!  Then I discovered that they operate out of Mesa.  So awesome!  So they delivered two crates of the lovely mugs and picked them up the day after the party dirty…they told me not to clean them.  They would happily do that for us after the party.

Ready for pick-up after the party. So awesome and convenient!

No problem there!  The one thing to note is that if any of the mugs go missing, the cost to replace them is $30 a cup, so I made sure that all were returned to our cocktail truck!  Our guests loved the mugs and the drink making our party so fun.

The copper mugs looked so cool at the bar and were enjoyed by many.

So I highly recommend American Mule for your Moscow Mule copper cup cocktail party needs!

*Party Pick 3 – Outdoor Cooling & Heating Needs – Hacienda Rentals

I was a bit stressed having my party on August 18th in hot Phoenix and during monsoon season, but that is my actual birthday and it fell on a Friday, so it was too perfect!  I searched a lot of websites and asked some friends, and all of the best recommendations were Hacienda Outdoor Comfort Rentals. A lot of resorts, hotels and special events use Hacienda, so I gave them a call.  They do charge a fee to come out for an on site inspection, but I paid it because I really wanted a specific plan of how I would cool our backyard and part of the driveway since the drink truck was going to parked there.  Hacienda told me that they could easily give me a game and price plan by looking at Google Earth, so that is an option for folks wanting to avoid the inspection fee.  I can tell you that the inspection fee, the rental charges and all of it was absolutely worth every penny!  If you want the best, most professional, nice looking and operating equipment that will cool your yard down close to 30 degrees, go with Hacienda!  I have used other cooling companies in the past and they don’t compare, which is why I am sure Hacienda is the top pick by the resorts.  Not only did the equipment cool my outdoor spaces perfectly, but the units looked nice, too.  Guests were comfortable and asked me about the cooling rentals.  I had a big white revolving fan that looked nice and cooled perfectly, plus two ultra modern units that are like the stand-up winter outdoor heaters, but instead are coolers that are called misting towers.  Marc Maples with Hacienda, was professional and perfect to work with from start to finish.  He recommended that we not use the hanging misters across the sky in my yard because monsoon season combined with that type of a misting system could make my outdoor climate humid and sticky. I did not want that!  So I took his advice and his recommendations and my backyard was perfect!

*Party Pick 4 – Classic Event & Tent Rentals

To save on money and space, I decided not to rent full size tables and instead I rented cocktail tables that people can stand around.  My pick for these rentals is Classic Event & Tent Rentals.  Classic has an extensive selection of pretty linens and bows to customize the cocktail tables. The tables were set up perfectly by Classic’s team and I appreciated that because I had used a different company for my son’s graduation party and the bows fell to the ground during the party.  That company didn’t tie them down right and they looked sloppy.  Not so with Classic.  Plus when Classic misquoted me a few dollars due to the wrong  linen size for the table size, she discounted the order for his mistake without me having to ask.  I will always use Classic from here on out.

*Party Pick 5:  Robert’s Catering

For over 20 years, I have worked with and used Robert Richter and his longtime delicious catering company, Robert’s Catering.  Back in the early 90s, I was a marketing manager for Southwest Airlines so he would cater flights to new cities with that destination’s themed food, like Cajun fare when we started serving New Orleans.  For big and small events nationwide, Robert never disappoints and always exceeds expectations with his large assortment of menu items, incredibly tasty appetizers, main fare and his specialty, beautifully adorned and luscious cakes.  Plus he provides servers that are professional, top notch and friendly.  They put the class factor in the event.  Robert’s food is all good and my faves include his Chiptole mac and cheese, mouth-watering grilled teriyaki chicken with toasted sesame seeds and chive garnish. That is part of the Robert’s Catering Hawaiian Luau Buffet, which is the theme I chose for my recent 50th birthday bash.  That included the teriyaki chicken, roasted pulled pork served with Hawaiian dinner rolls, honey hot maple sauce and Hoi sin sauce. Also included in that yummy grouping is spring greens with romaine ginger miso dressing and a stunning and colorful fresh tropical fruit display that offers pineapple, yellow papaya, honey dew, orange, cantaloupe, grapes and strawberries. Also included is a really good island rice pilaf with sliced macadamia nuts, dried cranberries and pineapple with saffron butter, but I asked him to swap the incredibly irresistible Chiptole mac and cheese instead. All was a hit and every time I have Robert cater my celebrations, my guests always tell me that I have the best food hands down at my parties!  And Robert’s cakes are incredible!

My sweet daughter lighting my beautiful cakes from Robert’s Catering.  Yum!

He has an extensive assortment of all sorts of flavors and cake décor.  He surprised me at my son’s graduation with two beautiful giant cakes that displayed a sharp picture of my son’s graduation announcement and a second cake with his senior pictures.  They were stunning and scrumptious.  For my birthday, I chose one chocolate, his Heath Bar Crunch Bavarian Crunch and Robert’s Cherry Rum Cake.  So incredibly good!

Party Pick 6:  Décor – Party City, Kirklands & Hobby Lobby

Party City almost always has everything I need for my décor.  My daughter surprised me this time around with Fab 50 items (and a few over the hill things, too) all from Party City.  I especially liked my  “50 Looks Good on Me” sash and crown that she added to my party outfit. The hot pink cane with a horn, oversized silly reader glasses and other fun over the hill items made for fun party décor.

I asked that instead of gifts, guests pay it forward in some way.  To display the awesome charitable acts done, I bought a beautiful bulletin board where folks could add a post-it note with a short description of what was done.  That was so cool!  I also did a drawing for a $50 Visa gift card for all that put their name in a drawing box for doing a charitable act.  Hobby Lobby had the big bulletin board and the handy store also had a pretty large chalkboard on an easel with lights all around the edge.  It is a perfect way to write something fun with colored chalk to invite folks in or to direct them to the food, etc.  Kirkland’s also had some terrific accessories for décor as well and for fall and holiday events, the inventory is plentiful and unique.

Party Pic 7:  Centerpieces – AJ’s Fine Foods Mini Bouquets

AJ’s Fine Foods has the cutest and prettiest mini bouquets of all types of flowers and some come in fun little mason jars.  These worked perfectly in the middle of the cocktail tables and can be given as party favors to guests as well.  I also found the metallic chalkboard markers at Michael’s that I used to guide guests to the food on this cool illuminated giant chalkboard easel that I bought from Hobby Lobby.  It worked great!

Are you ready to party now?  Did I leave out a great local party planning tool or service that I need to add to my top picks party list?  If so, share in the comments section and happy party season to you!



Movable Cool Closet Organization System

I may be just a little bit jealous of my teen daughter because she got a closet makeover and now I want one!  When she asked for a new closet for her birthday, we liked that idea because she works hard in school and aims to be organized.  Since she is on the right track and is being a pretty good teen for us so far (crossing my fingers this continues) we decided to incur the cost and purchase one of the elfa sets from The Container Store.  We also decided this because the organized closet set can move with us when we move out someday. I had been under the impression that the big get organized closet makeovers were permanent pieces, so this is good option.

At a little over a whopping $1,000, was this new closet system worth it?  That is an awful lot to spend on my girl’s closet, but again, we can take it with us when we move in the future.

My answer is yes.

For us, it is worth it.

I will tell you that money can be saved by ordering a similar online kit and doing the measuring and installing yourself.  With our busy schedule, it was worth it for us to have it professionally done by The Container Store.  Units sold by this reputable store are good quality and the design team, personal consultant and installation person were all professional and good to work with from start to finish.  So, I do recommend it, if you can stomach the cost.

The Container Store elfa set we selected gives her five shelves, eight drawers, a hanging area and four racks for shoes that hold 16 pairs.  Her reach-in closet is not that big, as you can see from the before picture below…














With the new elfa system, she can hold a lot more clothing and shoes than she could store before in this closet.  Plus, she doesn’t have a dresser and didn’t want one, so that she would have more space in her room.  This system works very well for her.  I am especially fond of the racks that pull out and hold so many shoes.  My girl added a few hooks to hang her caps on as well. 

Deep drawers are nice for her bulky sweaters and sweatshirts. And the thinner compartments are perfect for socks, lightweight workout pieces and more.  All of these drawers nicely pull out for quick and easy access.  

Since the closet space is tall, Jen, our wonderful Container Store organization consultant, fit in high shelving for additional storage.  Perfect!

This closet is terrific.  My teenager has stayed organized and clutter-free since we had this system installed.  That makes me happy as she works hard to balance her honors classes with her intense community theatre rehearsal schedule, her high school dance team, her involvement with National Charity League which involves community volunteer hours and cherished time with her gal pals.

With her room organized and peaceful, she finds calm there to study, rehearse and rest.  Since she is a hard working and good kid for us, my job is to support her and get out of her way at times. This room gives her that space.  Teens definitely need our steady guidance, but that is also balanced with giving them space.  This bittersweet and amazing time is when a teenager employs the roots we provide, but really start to spread their wings at the same time.  This can be a confusing time for all.  Having just done this not long ago with my college son, it is hard to believe how fast we are back here in this stage.

For my daughter, this closet gift gave her control to streamline her stuff, get organized and dive into her high school years ready to rock and roll.  It is truly amazing how being organized and clearing out clutter can make one feel more relaxed and on top of things.

Yeah, I thought this purchase through.  It was a big purchase.  It was her one big 15th birthday gift and she cherishes it and appreciates it.  So together, we give the Container Store elfa unit a thumbs up.  We could have gone fancier with wood paneling, etc…but we didn’t want to add to the budget.  This simple, clean and efficient system was the perfect choice for my girl’s reach-in closet.  
Her busy arms reach in there multiple times a day to keep up with her different wardrobe needs for her many activities.  Being organized like this saves time since items are always easily found now and keeps her less stressed.And that keeps this teen Mama less stressed, too!

Helpful Home Decor Idea: Dress Up Cabinets

Just when we think we are done with home improvements, we think of another project that was small, but definitely made a significant difference.  In fact, this is something that I had wanted to do before, but simply forgot about through the years. We have lived in our home for 12 years and once the kids grew into teens, we decided to spruce things up a bit.  Who would have thought that adding simple handles can make such a difference.  It did and we love them!  This is so simple, but I think this job makes such a difference that I decided to share it with my readers for fun and inspiration.  It is nice to fix things up a bit with a new year now in full swing.  Take a look at the minor facelift our kitchen cabinets were just treated to a few days ago that makes a difference…

Cabinets before with no handles.

After with handles added.






























Such an easy thing to add and what a difference they make!  We just love the Liberty 3 inch Venetian Bronze with Copper Highlights half-round foot cabinet pulls that we bought from Home Depot.  And the price wasn’t bad at $21.98 for a 10-pack.  My daughter told me that she is in love with the new handles.  It was always so annoying to have to tug and pull at the corners of the cabinets to open them before we added the handles.  Plus body oils and fingerprints are left behind through the years of pulling as well.  I definitely recommend these handles or any pulls or knobs to dress up cabinets and to make them more functional, too. We had looked at much more expensive pulls, too….some as high as $10 each.  I am so glad that we decided to shop wisely and go for the less expensive ones because I think they look terrific.  We love these so much that we are going to place the matching knobs around the rest of the house next month.  Pictures coming soon.  What new year home improvements are you working on? Share in the comments section as we love to exchange home decor ideas here at managedmoms.com!

My Thanksgiving Table Decor Deals & Ideas

Warm and inviting Thanksgiving table decor can set the mood and get the festivities going.  After I posted a quick picture of my Thanksgiving table on Facebook, I had a lot of compliments and some questions about where I found my festive items.  Love that and love my holiday table! table-3So I decided to share in today’s blog post.  Some of these ideas and items may work for both your Thanksgiving and Christmas table, so take a look.

I am excited and thrilled that our college freshman son asked if we could host a few of his friends who are unable to fly all the way home for Thanksgiving. asu-parentsWe wholeheartedly replied yes and my heart is full that his heart is thoughtful about his newfound friends being far away from home on Thanksgiving.

So with that excitement (and of course my joy that our boy will be home with us) I went to work to put together a complete Turkey Day table.  I asked my husband for my Christmas gift early, as I had been wanting a new dining room table for the last couple of years.  He agreed and I got busy comparing prices at furniture stores, warehouse outlets, online retailers and more.

Here is the result of my complete finished holiday table, step by step and purchase by purchase.  And very cool…one set of items came from a dollar store.  You gotta love that.  Take a look.  I will note that some of the items I show may be sold out, but similar styles can be found.  Moreover, for Christmas table stuff, there is still plenty out there.  But let’s talk about Thanksgiving decor.

Finding My New Table

I wanted simple, but elegant.  And sturdy, since I expect this table to last me a very long time.  Options and competitive prices were available at warehouse stores like Costco, but the shipping wait was over six weeks.  Thanksgiving was coming right up.  Big fancy furniture stores were asking around $4,000 and up for tables that seat 8 or more, which is the size that I wanted.  However, that is way over my budget, especially since we now pay college tuition!  (Future blog post about the shock of that coming soon!)

I also checked Wayfair and Overstocked, but I just couldn’t find the exact one I wanted.  Plus, I like to see and feel the object I am buying, especially when it is a big ticket item.

Then I remembered a relatively new warehouse/furniture store that had come to town recently.  So off we went to take a look.  This place was definitely different.  Very nice and large, but without salesperson pressure. Fancier than a warehouse box store, but with warehouse prices.  Bingo!  My cutie pie son’s girlfriend, Hannah went with me and she quickly spotted this…living-spacesAnd with that, this went from the showroom to my dining room! What do you think?  Do you like it?  I think it fits perfectly, as shown below in my home.  Just in time for Thanksgiving, too!

Yep, it looks terrific in my home!table-1

I love Living Spaces!  We got the set for $2,000, which included adding two nice over-sized accent captain chairs that we personally selected from the warehouse shelves.  We could have reduced the price by $100 if we had picked up the set ourselves, but I needed delivery, so that fee was included in the price.  It is a beautiful sturdy table with quality chairs that have attractive decorative studs. Plus, it seats eight people, which is exactly what I wanted.  Christmas came early for me and I found a quality set at a competitive price.  This table and these chairs will hold many precious memories ahead.  I will cherish each and every one of them.  Now that my oldest is away at college, I know firsthand how precious those times are and how time flies.

Next Step:  Setting the Thanksgiving Table

Now, let’s set the table! And check it out because I saved money by shopping at a dollar store, saving coupons, mix and matching items I had on hand and more.  Let’s set the table and I will share my secrets and tips…

plate-with-wordsGotta love Kohl’s and since I am a Kohl’s Rewards Member, I waited to receive my $5 rewards gift certificate via email.  I then combined that with my 20% off Kohl’s mailer coupon and used Kohl’s cash that I had saved. This reduced my total cost by 40%!  So with those savings, I purchased the place mats, serving platters and full dish set place settings, all from Kohl’s!  Love that! plate-with-kohls

I also really like the place mats I found at Kohl’s because they look festive, but work year-round as well.  Many stores have fun Thanksgiving Day decor themed place mats, but I wanted a smart purchase that is versatile.  Found it!  The dish set is also decorative and fancy for a holiday meal, but also versatile enough to be used for all kinds of other occasions, too.  Again that is smart shopping.

And check out the pretty green water glasses.  I needed a set of 8 and I didn’t want to spend a lot.  I thought about how to accomplish this for a few days.  Unrelated to this goal, I visited an unlikely store looking for something else.  But look what happened instead…glass-waterI really would have never thought of a dollar store for a matching set of glassware. The Dollar Tree had pretty Christmas glasses displayed in the storefront, so I decided to venture over to the dish section.  To my surprise, the selection and variety was large and most styles had at least six matching items. And all for one dollar each.  Brilliant!  Finding this set at Dollar Tree was an added plus!

Speaking of FOUND…I found a fabulous local boutique called FOUND by Domestic Bliss that offered napkins that touched my heart. I had to have this shabby chic design with a touching message…

table-set-napkinI absolutely love the give thanks sentiment.  I showed these napkins in my recent morning show segment.  I discussed how I saved money by using mismatched napkin rings that I already had on hand.  It works!  Here is the picture from my TV segment…show-setNotice also the pretty and festive table runner can be seen in the photo above, that also came from the FOUND store.  Christmas table runners are offered as well and I like that they are made of paper for easy roll out, storage, reuse or recycling afterwards. I adore earth friendly items!

For the Arizona locals reading this, FOUND by Domestic Bliss is located in Chandler in the Casa Paloma shopping center at Ray Rd., right off the I10.  Unique boutiques owned by local gals are my thing, so be sure to check it out.  She has all kinds of home decor items, clothing, jewelry, clever knick knacks, one-of-a-kind gifts and more.  And the owner, Kristin Wilson Alber, has done interior design decor for celebs and magazine spreads, too.  Definitely check out her shop!

So my table is set.  The college kids are coming. My husband will help cook.  My high school daughter thinks it is cool that big brother is coming with friends.  May your table be full and full of warm memories, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am so thankful to all of you for following my humble little mama blog.  Thank you!  And on this Thanksgiving, I couldn’t be more thankful for the three peeps that surround me in this picture.  My joy just can’t be hid and was captured in this photograph.  This would also be a picture of my heart.  Happy Thanksgiving 🙂 thxful

Terrific, Tasty & Thrifty Holiday Photo Recipe Gift Idea

Manic:  Thinking of holiday gift ideas that are festive, inexpensive, thoughtful and unique.  It is that time of year again!

Managed:  While working on a food segment with MealGarden (you have got to try this healthy online meal planning tool!), I discovered that a festive food holiday card can easily be created to accompany a food gift.  And look how good this looks.  penultimatefullsizerenderIt tastes great, too!  Get the pumpkin spice mini muffins recipe for these here.  These muffins or any of your family recipes makes a great gift idea using customized photo recipe cards.  Take a look….muffins-in-tin

Yummy homemade Pumpkin Spice Mini Muffins that are a healthier version (but just as tasty) presented in a pretty jar that I bought at Target paired with a thoughtful recipe photo gift card from CVS online photo.  I ordered my own customized photo recipe cards from CVS photo online.  Again get that link here to customize and order your holiday recipe cards.

This is such a great idea and the cast and crew on my morning show loved the pumpkin spice muffins that I brought on set to show on air.  So yummy!  A thoughtful gift because receiving food is always nice and getting the recipe instructions is an added bonus.  

I chose to show the picture of the food on my recipe card, but a photo of the family or family pet, or whatever you want, is also a fun idea.  And when your friends and family dive into these, they will enjoy every bite and thank thoughtful you!  in-jar

So try these pumpkin spice mini muffins or your favorite recipe.  Paired with the CVS photo recipe gift card, this makes the perfect and delicious gift idea.  Happy Holiday ideas.  Tis’ the season already!



A big thank you to CVS photo for the sample cards to test on managedmoms.com.  Love them!  My opinion about how much I love the recipe cards are 100% my very own. 

Ahhmazing Autumn Sangria Recipe

Perfect for fall.  Tasty for your October gatherings.  Nice beverage for your adult Halloween party.  This Autumn Sangria recipe is the perfect combo of not-too-sweet with a little spice.  a-san-drinkI recently served this to my gal pals and they asked for seconds…and thirds.  Everyone commented how unique, refreshing and tasty this particular sangria tasted.  One chef friend of mine exclaimed, “It tastes just like Fall”….true!  If you love Sangria, you will love this.  If you are not a Sangria fan, you may be surprised that you like this one because it is not near as sweet as traditional Sangria. Give it a try.   I am pretty sure it will be a big hit at your autumn gathering!  It was at mine!  Here is the easy recipe that marinates overnight, too.  I think another reason this is so delish is the pumpkin pie spice that is also included in the recipe.  A big thank you to Hob Nob wine for sharing this recipe with me! Hob Nob has their wicked wines available at Total Wine & More now and the Halloween labeling is so cool.  Plus the price is right at only $9.99 a yummy bottle.  Thanks Hob Nob!  mail-wine

Now here is the video recipe preview that I showed on my morning show, with the written recipe instructions appearing below this fun and quick video….

And here is the written recipe below that my gal pals and my morning show team just loved (including the chef on set)! show-set-sang

Autumn Sangria

(15 servings)

  • 2 bottles HobNob Chardonnay
  • 1 cup vanilla vodka
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 apples
  • 2 pears
  • 1 orange


Combine vodka, sugar, apple cider and pumpkin pie spice in a large pitcher and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Chop fruit (apples, pears, orange), add to mix and marinate overnight.  Add chilled Chardonnay. Serve over ice.

So cheers to Fall!  Cheers to Halloween!  And cheers to you, my loyal readers.  Happy Autumn all!

5 Tips To Successfully Sell/Rent Home Plus $100 Fox Restaurant Gift Card Drawing, Too!

A lot of my friends are either trying to sell, rent or are considering making a move so when husband and wife realtor team, The Kay-Grant Group shared with me their top five tips for moving a home in the market, I was intrigued to share with my blog readers.  AND when they told me that are also holding a drawing for a $100 gift card to the delicious Fox Restaurant Group, I knew that you all would want to know about that, too.  gift card foxFox has the most incredible restaurants like True Food, The Arrogant Butcher, Zinburger, Flower Child and more!  So read on for some expert ideas on how to get your home sold or rented and be sure to check out how to enter the drawing at the end of this article.

The Kay-Grant Group says:

5 Tips for Selling or Renting Your Home

With real estate prices on the rise and rental rates increasing, many homeowners around Phoenix, Scottsdale and the rest of The Valley are interested in either selling their home to purchase a new one, or continuing to build equity while renting their home to a tenant.

Purchasing a home as a primary residence and living in the home for a year or two is a great way to acquire a real estate portfolio.  Primary residences are afforded lower interest rates, lower down payments, and are easier to qualify for than mortgages originated for investment properties.  Primary residences can generally be acquired with just 5% down.

Whether you’re planning on selling your home, or renting it, here are a few tips for getting the maximum return on your real estate investment:

  1. Get out! – Have you ever toured homes with a real estate agent and walked into a home where the owner was eagerly there ready to tell you about all the great perks of owning this home? This experience is uncomfortable for the prospective buyer or renter.  As real estate agents, we see this happen much more frequently than we would like to.  The result is almost always the same: they hate the home.  Why might this be? Since the prospective buyers or renters feel uncomfortable openly discussing what they like and don’t like about the home they feel uncomfortable in the home.  Nobody wants to buy or rent a home they associate with feelings of being uncomfortable.

If you’re listing the home for sale the answer is simple, your agent should have the home on a lockbox and the home owner should never be present at a showing.  If your plan is to rent the home, you should highly consider hiring a real estate agent that will list the home as a rental.  This allows the home to be on a lockbox just as if you were selling it.  The fee for this in the Phoenix / Scottsdale metro area is generally nominal considering the benefits of having professionals show the home and the exposure your rental property will receive on MLS.

  1. A little paint goes a long way – Having dingy looking paint makes a home feel dirty.  Whether you’re wanting to rent or sell, you don’t want people thinking of the place as dirty.  If your walls have flat paint and you have some extra paint hiding somewhere, a painter can often touch up specific areas, if the paint isn’t flat they’ll likely need to paint the whole wall.  Regardless, the return on investment to have someone paint is likely there.....and this $9 paint kit which is truly designing on a dime! 3.  Get clean – While you’re likely great at cleaning, cleaning professionals just get things cleaner. Hire a cleaning professional to come and clean the home prior to having photos taken or showings scheduled.SSUCv3H4sIAAAAAAAEAJ2QywqDMBBF94X+Q8jahaK1tr8iXYzJIKHRQB6WIv578zCQdXeZc+dO5s5+vRBCJzCC0SfZQ+VrIaUzVoMVavW4rk6OXFilBcgAAzuiQo0F6wyaMOJEDCzOvjfB05//GVNNshBF7/ASpVXBjJsiy+io/namxytHgRlX9o0LF0E0SoQUZEyt9P2xqJcy2iY4qqIGx4UqUm6KgQyGtpjM/EHVUri4P1DYsGnr4TE8unbob929a5re73z8AF3ax6WYAQAA
  1. Make it their home, not yours – Remove photos and knick knacks.
    People want to feel like this would be their home, not yours.  Having photos laying around makes it feel like they’re intruding.
  1. Remove the clutter – The less stuff you have, the larger the home will feel and the more clean it will be portrayed as.  after hallwayClean out the closets, get rid of the extra figurines on the end tables, and pay extra attention to the kitchen counter.  The less items you have on the kitchen counter the larger the kitchen will feel.

If you’re interested in selling or renting your home, The Kay-Grant Group can certainly assist in all ways imaginable.  We have a pool of resources to help you with all of the above items such as painters, contractors, professional cleaners, etc.  The Kay-Grant Group website has direct access to the MLS so you can search for all homes for sale in Arizona.

How to enter the contest for a chance to win the $100 restaurant gift card….

The Kay-Grant Group is also currently running a “Spring Into Summer” contest where they’re giving away a $100 Fox Restaurant Concepts gift card which can be used at any of the Fox Restaurants.  Enter at The Kay-Grant Group Spring Into Summer Contest


About our guest writers:

realtor team


Geoff Lilienfeld and his wife, Andrea, are local real estate agents and the managing partners of The Kay-Grant Group; specializing in the Scottsdale and Phoenix metropolitan areas.  Geoff and Andrea are also real estate investors and eager to share strategy on profitable real estate investing.  
***The drawing for the Fox Restaurant $100 gift card is not done through Managedmoms.com.  It is done through the Kay-Grant group.  The drawing contest rules and explanation is located at the The Kay-Grant Group Spring Into Summer Contest.***

New Hardwood Floors Makes Our Home Feel New Again!

Manic:  Trying to keep our 11-year-old carpets clean and looking nice in a busy home that houses two teenagers and four cats!

Managed:  Decided to have 99% of the carpet removed so that real hardwood floors could be installed. The result?  Wow!  What a difference new flooring makes.  The house looks and feels like a new build again! Check out our beautiful before and after pictures!  And a big thank you to the very talented, very professional and hardworking Excalibur Hardwood Floors Company!  These guys rock!  We hired Excalibur and they were top notch to work with from start to finish.

Several days before the home flooring makeover job, the company delivered the flooring to be stored inside our home.  This is because real hardwood must sit at room temperature for a few days to become acclimated to the climate.  Receiving the shipment was the very exciting first step to our new flooring. stack of wood shotWe selected and purchased the Garrison II Hickory Chateau flooring because we love the shade and this particular color hides dirt very well.  Our floors have been in for over a month now and that has been very true.

We were pretty excited the following week when Excalibur arrived, set up their professional work trailer and began the work of tearing out that old worn carpet that was also contributing to our allergies.company trailer

As the carpet was pulled out, I could see just how beaten down it had become and I was anxious to say good riddens to the stuff!  A busy family puts a lot of wear and tear on carpeting.  That is for sure!ripped carpet shot

Even though the stairs still looked nice and the carpet wasn’t a total eyesore, I just couldn’t believe the difference the new hardwood made, especially when I looked at this before and after picture….stairs before and after

Wowza!  I truly can’t believe the amazing change!  And check out our master bedroom before and after pictures!  I really did love the Berber carpet before but what you aren’t seeing is how the entrance points to the room were frayed.  And it never failed, just weeks after professional carpet cleaning was done, a new stain would appear.  No more stains with these gorgeous wood floors!  The room feels bigger, clean and newer, too!  I don’t miss the Berber at all even though I am still a fan.  I love the wood so much more.bedroom resultsWe also did the hallway.  As the Excalibur professionals did the work and began laying the new floors, I was already impressed with how good it was looking even before completion!  If you decide to have hardwood floors installed, know that the baseboards have to come off.  We decided to go ahead and repaint the boards and do touch up paint on all the walls since we were moving stuff all around anyway. It feels and looks great! guys workingAnd check out the hallway before and after photos.  Here it is before….b4 hallwayAnd here it is afterwards.  So warm and inviting I think.after hallwaySo pretty and updated.  I just love this and I think it looks bigger.  We are still in the process of putting things back as is evident with all of the stuff that is sitting in the very front room of the house. We are getting there.  And having to move everything out and around has been totally worth it!

I have to mention that the Excalibur guys were terrific.  They worked hard and kept their projected timeline of completing the job within two weeks.

I will let you know that the odor of paint thinner and glue can be a bit overwhelming so be sure to open all of the windows and maybe even wear a mask if you plan to be there during the hardwood installation job.

The Excalibur team was so impressive that I asked them to pose for a picture towards the end of the job.excalibur guysAnd the thumbs up they gave me is exactly right because this job went perfectly!

I also really love how great the downstairs looks from the upstairs.  The new hardwood compliments our existing tile perfectly!  I am very happy with how it looks together.  It flows beautifully! living room front doneBut my favorite room now has to be the room that I use as my office that sits right off the master bedroom.  The french doors were nice before, but the lovely hardwood really gives this area a designer look! french doors shotI am thrilled with this room now and find myself working in there more than I did before.  The new floors make me feel productive and relaxed at the same time.

We also had hardwood laid in several other rooms but those rooms belong to my teenagers and are a bit too messy to photograph at this point.  My daughter is remodeling her room this summer so I will save those pictures for that home decor redo article, so stay tuned for that!  Home improvement projects are such fun to blog about as we have waited over 10 years to finally do some updating.  It has been worth the wait!

Probably the best thing about our stunning new floors is that our allergies have all but disappeared.  So I am very happy to report that it is not our beloved cats who made us sneeze.  It was the carpets that trapped not only pet dander, but dust and other allergens as well!  The felines seem to like the new flooring, too!  And cleaning up their cat fur is much easier than when we had the carpeting to keep tidy and nice.  A quick run of a Swifter takes care of the job.  These three cute cats approve I think….
cats on stairsNow I am going to return to putting our home back together and treat my feet to these news floors as we put the mirror doors back on the closets and continue the process of putting all of our stuff back.  That part takes time but is worth it. feet on floor shotTaking these steps to put in brand new hardwood floors has put us on the path of an allergy free beautiful home that feels brand new again!  Meet my happy feet and our perfect new flooring!  I highly recommend Excalibur Hardwood Floors.  It was worth every penny that we saved to put in these new floors.  Love love love!