Not Your Average Resolutions

It’s hard to believe, but 2019 has arrived. Lots of people have probably made New Year’s Resolutions such as going to the gym, eating healthier, and saving money, which are fantastic goals.

However, there are other activities you can (and should!) prioritize this year. They aren’t time-consuming or exhausting, and most importantly, they’re fun!

1. Redecorate Your House or Apartment

We spend a lot of time hanging out in our homes, especially during the winter months. While there’s no place like home, it can get a bit boring looking at the same walls day after day and year after year.

Why not freshen your place up a bit? Redecorating doesn’t have to mean spending hundreds of dollars on new furniture. Try a new paint color or comforter set for your bedroom. Replace old photographs with new ones. Purchase items that can change the look of a whole room (tapestries, large clocks, toilet seat covers). Move your couch or T.V. from one side of the room to another.

If you’re the kind of person who gets antsy being in your house for long periods of time, redecorating might make you feel like you’ve traveled somewhere else (at least for a little while–but then you can redecorate again)!

2. Take Random Drives

Speaking of getting antsy, going for a drive is a great way to clear your head, get some fresh air, and discover new places and things. You probably are familiar with most of the towns and cities near your house, but do you really pay attention to them on your everyday drives to work? By taking in your surroundings, you might discover a new pizza place or see a sign on a telephone pole advertising a local craft fair.

The car is also a great place to have a long conversation with a friend (in person, not on the phone!) if you don’t want to be overheard in a house or a restaurant!

3. Spend Time with Friends Who Are Furry, Fluffy, Fishy, Etc.

Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that spending time with animals improves your mood and makes you less likely to become depressed? The great thing about cats, dogs, and other animal friends is that most of them love us unconditionally without expecting much in return.

If you have the means to adopt a pet, we highly recommend it. If not, there are other ways that you can spend time with animals! Volunteering at a shelter or becoming a foster parent are great options.

Do you consider yourself a cat person? The PURR Cat Cafe in Brighton, MA allows you to destress by hanging out with feline friends while enjoying a snack. Do you consider yourself a dog person? The app Rover allows you to become a dog walker or a dog sitter!

4. Take a Trip

We understand that traveling to Rome is expensive. But there are plenty of other, less expensive trips that you can take!

America is made up of 50 unique states, so why not visit a few of them? From Denver to Houston to Philadelphia, this country is chock-full of diverse cities, each with its own interesting landmarks. Chances are that there is a cool city near you, and it would only require a quick drive, train ride, or flight to get there. Plus, Airbnb takes away the stress of paying for an expensive hotel!

However, we definitely don’t want to discourage you from going to Rome, if that’s where you want to go (you seriously won’t find better pasta anywhere else in the world)!

5. Do Things that Make You Mentally Healthy

Many people make New Year’s resolutions that are aimed at improving their physical health. However, being mentally healthy is just as important.

Between going to work, visiting with family/friends, and maintaining your household, life can often feel hectic. Some people are happiest when they are busy like this. Others may feel stressed and wish they had more time to themselves.

If the latter sounds like you, remember that your life belongs to you and you alone! Make 2019 your year by prioritizing things that are meaningful to you. And if you’re looking for general ways to add joy to your life, consider some of the resolutions listed in this article!

Here’s to a fantastic New Year!

Vinyl Collecting 101: Properly Maintaining Your Wax


If you are reading this, you probably have a new-found or existing respect for vinyl records and all that they have to offer. Truly, vinyl is making huge strides in renewed popularity, partly because of a format that allows listeners to enjoy an emotional connection with the experience of listening to warm sounds generated by oversized discs housed in colorful covers. While the appeal of owning a vinyl collection, large or small, varies in importance according to the collector, the methods for buying, transporting, playing, and storing are relatively set in stone. Keep reading to learn more about how to preserve your music collection for many years.

Getting Started with Your Collection

Older vinyl records are easy to come by these days. Other than Music Row, you can find them at yard sales, record stores, and thrift shops. Most of the time you don’t even need to spend much money on them. However, buying a good record takes a little bit of know-how if you want to add playable, quality albums to your collection. You need to contain your excitement over finding a nearly pristine sleeve of “Love Me Do.” Make sure to check the record for signs of imperfection, including ground-in dirt, scratches, chipped edges, and grooves.

Checking the condition of a vinyl record begins by carefully taking it out of the cover and visually inspecting it. While dust is to be expected, ground-in dirt is not. Use these tips to avoid problems:

• Look for scratches, grooves, and chips by running your finger along the record.
• Even if the record comes up relatively smooth, you should take the time to listen to it and see if it plays cleanly enough for your ear.
• It is a good idea never to purchase a dirty disc if you can possibly avoid it. Ask if the shop has a cleaning machine and run the album you are considering through it at least once. Doing so makes it easier to identify imperfections in the copy.

Places to Buy Vinyl Records

If you are looking for a good place to purchase vinyl, you may want to consider:

• Record shops
• Second-hand shops
• Book sales
• Garage sales

The first three choices are perfect for older, used copies. These are the types of places where you can find an album that you need to complete your collection of a particular artist. On the other hand, the last two listings offer excellent options for sourcing new vinyl. Of course, you can always check out to find even more stores and websites to shop for the newest additions to your music collection.

Avoiding Bootleg Versions

Unless you are in the market for bootleg copies, almost nothing is worse than coming home with a great find only to discover the record is a fake. The best way to avoid this scenario is to learn to recognize a bootleg copy so you don’t accidentally buy one in your excitement. Bootleg copies of vinyl records typically fall short in the weight category, and they usually have an unbelievably low price tag. When in doubt, put it back.

Handling Your Records with Care

Vinyl records are easy to damage. You can scratch, crack, chip, and warp an album in less time than it takes to place it on the turntable. All you need to do is accidentally drop it, place it on the record player before cleaning it, or store it improperly to damage it. Album covers are even more difficult to keep in pristine shape, particularly because they are highly susceptible to scratches, tears, dents, and stains.

Handling your music collection with care using the following tips can help to preserve their good looks and excellent sound performance on your turntable:

• Minimize heat exposure – Store your records in an area with a temperature between 59°F and 77°F
• Eliminate the risk of pressure – Never stack your records on top of each other, even if you are trying to organize and declutter your home.
• Minimize exposure to rapid temperature changes – Organize your music in an area offering relatively stable temperaturessuch as climate controlled storage.
• Avoid exposure to light – Keep your vinyl collection away from bright light.
• Stay away from vibrations – While the Beach Boys may have loved pickin’ up good vibrations, your music collection will hate this type of experience. Store your records far away from any area likely to undergo some type of vibration, including stairways and appliances.
 Embrace dividers – Separating your records with dividers minimizes the risk of damaging the covers when you slip your albums in and out of storage.
• Minimize humidity exposure – Store your collection in a dry area offering 40% relative humidity or less.

If, at any point, you need to move your music collection from one living space to another, do so carefully. Use plastic sleeves to protect the record before putting it inside of its cover as well as to keep the album cover safeguarded from harm.

Tips for Organizing and Storing Your Collection

Storing your records properly is essential if you want to maintain their playability and their quality of sound. For many years, milk crates have been the preferred storage method for personal collections. Not only are they inexpensive to buy, but they are also the ideal size to organize albums. Unfortunately, milk crates do not make good storage options for the following reasons:

• Flexible construction increases the likelihood of warping
• Sharp edges promote damage to album covers
• Open-air exposure encourages dust and dirt build-up

User-friendly options to declutter your storage of record albums include:

• Storage carts for vinyl records
• Shelving built to withstand heavy weight
• Enameled-steel cubes
• Designed-with-vinyl-in-mind furniture, including turntable cabinets and record player stands

Once you’ve picked out the correct storage or shelving unit for your records, it’s important to take the time to organize them. An efficient organizational method is key in making sure that you can locate individual LPs as your collection continues to grow. It can also help you show off your collection in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

Here are are some tips for organizing and displaying your records like a pro:

• Organize by intrinsic or monetary value
• Alphabetize them by band or album name
• Organize them by genre
• Order them chronologically

Maintenance tips such as cleaning the records and turntable itself

Not only is it important to store your record collection properly, but you also need to care for it well. Before you begin playing your albums, take a few minutes to check them out visually. A dirty record certainly isn’t going to play well on your turntable, and it may even sustain damage while you are listening to it. Use one of the following options to eliminate pressing residue and dust from your vinyl records:

• Carbon-fiber brush – gently brush the dust off the record
• Record-cleaning machine – follow the directions accompanying the machine
• Wood glue – allow a thin coat of wood glue to dry on the record and slowly peel it off

Don’t forget about the stylus needle of your record player, because you also have to keep it clean in order to avoid damaging your records inadvertently. Use one of the following to do so:

• Stylus brush – gently brush the stylus from back to front
• Stylus pillow – gently place the stylus needle into the pillow
• Ultrasonic cleaner – follow the directions accompanying the ultrasonic cleaner

Whether you are preserving vinyl as a collector or as a practicing musician, there’s a right way to do it. Truthfully, though, there is a learning curve in learning how to properly care for vinyl records. After all, this isn’t a practice that most households indulge in anymore. Nonetheless, if you are going to take the time to build a fantastic collection of albums, you may as well strive to maintain their value by using tips for the proper care of your records and turntable.

Tips for Safe Holiday Travel

So you’re taking a trip this holiday season. Good for you! You deserve some time away with family and friends.

Besides having a great time, your top priority on vacation should be keeping yourself and your fellow travelers safe. We’ve come up with a list of helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Research your destination before you leave. For example, if you’re traveling to a country with unsafe drinking water, it’s important to know this beforehand to avoid becoming ill.
  • If traveling abroad, make multiple copies of your passport. Keep one at home and bring a few on your trip.
  • Keep your actual passport in the safe in your hotel room.
  • If you’re traveling with children, make sure to never leave them unsupervised.
  • If you’re visiting a place where people speak an unfamiliar language, travel with a guide of the language’s important phrases.
  • Do not flaunt any cash or credit cards in public.
  • Make sure to regularly apply sunscreen or bug spray if your vacation spot is known for its hot sun or insects.
  • Be respectful of the culture of the country you are visiting.
  • Purchase travel insurance before you leave for your trip. Travel insurance can help you avoid the high costs of an unexpected flight cancellation, a medical emergency, and more.

Get started with a travel insurance quote here.

Stay safe and enjoy your holiday vacation!

Winter and Cars: A Dangerous Mix

Winter is coming, so it’s time to consider an important question: How can you stay safe while driving during one of the most dangerous times to be on the road?

There are plenty of precautions you can take to protect yourself from the harsh conditions you’ll likely face behind the wheel this winter. Here’s some to keep in mind:

  • Before driving, utilize a snow brush and ice scraper to prevent anything from falling on your windshield or side mirrors while driving.
  • Make sure your vehicle is completely defrosted prior to pulling out of your driveway.
  • Driving slow is the way to go during a winter storm (but the best option is staying home, if possible).
  • If you must drive in a storm, try to take a back road rather than the highway.
  • Don’t attempt to drive through a storm without a full gas tank, proper oil levels and a charged cell phone.
  • Don’t get too close to the person in front of you–it’s not always easy to see ice on the road, which can unexpectedly propel you forward.
  • Try to leave the party a little earlier than usual since darkness arrives sooner in the winter.
  • Drinking and driving should never be mixed, but winter conditions make this combination even more deadly.
  • Keep a blanket and warm clothes in your car in the event you get stranded or your car unexpectedly stops running.
  • Driving during the winter can be stressful, but taking the proper safeguards can make accidents and other unfortunate situations less likely. Stay safe this winter!

Things that are Scarier than Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner, which means scary things are lurking. After all, what could be more frightening than witches, clowns, and other creepy characters banging on your door asking for candy?

We can think of a few things.

Imagine that in the midst of entertaining trick-or-treaters, your dog devours a pile of chocolate that you accidentally dropped on the floor. A few hours later, he requires immediate medical attention.

Imagine that you awaken at 2:00 A.M. Halloween night to rowdy teenagers throwing rocks at your brand new car. You run outside and find that your vehicle is badly damaged.

Imagine that you are all set to leave for a vacation to Aruba, just to wake up to a November 1st blizzard. The storm leads to the cancellation of your flight.

All of these situations sound pretty scary, right? They get even scarier if you don’t have insurance.

Purchasing insurance allows for peace of mind when life decides to stress you out. The situations mentioned above are far from ideal, but they are manageable when you have pet insurance to cover your dog’s medical bills, auto insurance to cover your car, and travel insurance to cover the financial loss of your trip.

You have the power to protect yourself from some scary situations that could take place this month (maybe not from the clowns, though), so make it a priority to review your insurance needs with one of our licensed agents today!

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