Blog Directory Martinspiration

School of love

January 14, 2018

Kellie O’Brien and her daughter Heather can teach you a lot about perseverance and the power of women determined to make a difference. The school they helped build in Tanzania 10 years ago can also teach a lot of impoverished students—over 430 a year, in fact.

Back in 2007, the O’Briens travelled from their home in Hinsdale, Ill., to Tanzania, East Africa, to perform volunteer work at a Franciscan convent. After learning that the local village lacked a primary school, mother and daughter began gathering the funds and resources to open one. Within a matter of months, the O’Brien School of the Maasai opened its doors, offering year-round instruction to kindergartners through seventh graders.

Read the entirety of this feel-good story, published in this month's Costco Connection magazine, by clicking here.

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Going against the grain

January 5, 2018

Oaks, ashes, hickories and maples can coexist harmoniously in the wild. But can they and other wood species play nice when gathered in the same room? For homeowners who prefer the natural beauty of wood furniture, floors, decor and trim and don't want to go against the grain of proper design, it's an important question to answer. The good news is that, while experts recommend some do's and don'ts when it comes to pairing woods in a room, the right choices come down to personal preference.

Before you suffer any "wood-a"-shoulda-coulda regrets, read my new story on this subject, published in the Omaha World-Herald.

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A front door that shouts "season's greetings"

December 23, 2017

In December, many homeowners focus on decking the halls, trimming the tree, and hanging stockings by the chimney with care. But not enough emphasis is put on the pathway and portal to all this indoor holiday cheer, some experts say. The solution? From the first day of Christmas onward, focus on making a great first impression via your front porch, door and entryway—with no partridge in a pear tree required.

Get more tips for outdoor holiday decorating by reading my latest story for CTW Features, published here.

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Exotic furballs

December 10, 2017

There’s a reason why hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils are popular first pets for many kids: they’re harmless, gentle, spatially efficient, inexpensive and low maintenance companions who don’t need to be walked or groomed like a dog does. But these critters typically don’t live long (a hamster’s lifespan is as short as two years), and children often lose interest after a while with these ubiquitous pocket pals. As they age, kids often crave more unique animal mates that fascinate and entertain as well as impress friends. While you’ll probably be quick to quash requests for a snake, tarantula or piranha, here’s an idea that could work: consider an exotic small mammal species, including rarer breeds like a chinchilla, hedgehog, degu or sugar glider.

Discover more about these lesser-known compact companions by reading my latest article for Chicago Parent magazine, available here.

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Want better Wi-Fi? Make it mesh

December 3, 2017

Whether you’re trying to stream a Netflix movie to your smart TV, upload new photos to Facebook while making dinner, or listen to a podcast as you shovel the front walk, buffering delays can quickly sour your wireless experience. Problem is you’ve got too many devices divvying up the Wi-Fi signal pie at the same time, all reliant on a router that may be too far away to be effective. Now, there’s a solution that can prevent Wi-Fi dead spots in your home and amp up the signal, allowing you and your family to be on multiple devices simultaneously without internet interruptions. It’s called mesh networking, and it comes in the form of plug-and-play “node” devices that different brands bundle into starter kits.

Learn more by reading my newest article for The Costco Connection magazine on this topic, available here.

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A silver lining for first-time home buyers

November 26, 2017

The thought of buying your first home can be exciting. But the reality is that times can be tough for first-time purchasers. Socking away enough for a down payment is tricky. And finding a home that fits your finances isn’t easy, either. Yes, it’s still a strong seller’s market. But that doesn’t mean buyers can’t find signs of hope. In fact, fresh data suggests a more positive outlook than many would have you believe.

Learn all the details by reading my latest article for The Mortgage Reports, available here.

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