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Summertime, Ticks and Tweezers

Posted on June 27, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

“I hate nature,” my 12-year-old daughter mumbled years ago as the urgent care doctor removed a tick embedded in the middle of her back. She’d been away at a week-long school camp in Northern California, so we had no idea how long the tick had been there. Fortunately, she didn’t contract Lyme disease from the bite.

I’ve always been afraid of ticks (along with snakes and poison oak), and I was reminded of my fears last month while taking a nature hike in the redwoods near the Russian River. Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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How Much Do You Know About Your Credit Report & Credit Score?

Posted on May 29, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

Your credit report and your credit score are two different things, and it’s helpful to know about both of them.

A credit report is based on a consumer’s credit history and compiled by credit reporting agencies. One expert referred to it as your “borrowing rap sheet.” Lenders use this information to determine credit-worthiness. You’re entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) through annualcreditreport.com. It’s best to look at all three reports because they sometimes contain different information. You also don’t know which credit bureau a lender might use. Read more

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Posted in: Personal Stories, Savvy Tips

Muddling Through Cold and Flu Season

Posted on March 27, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

If you’re going to be laid up for a couple of weeks with the flu, the Bay Area is a good place to do it. A remarkable number of services and conveniences are a phone call or swipe away.

For example, take-out food and grocery delivery services are a godsend when you’re sick. During a recent illness, I couldn’t leave the house for almost a week (my husband was out of town) and needed some basic groceries. The first delivery service brought canned chicken noodle soup, eggs, juice, bananas, ginger ale and a dozen other things in less than 90 minutes. I used a second grocery delivery service for a larger order, placed 24 hours in advance. Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Health Tips, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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Do I Need All This Stuff?

Posted on February 22, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

Since the recent California wildfires, many of us have been reassessing our relationships to our possessions. Since my home was safe, my immediate response was to find useful items to donate to the fire victims. In fact, many Sonoma County donation sites were overwhelmed with people’s generosity and had to turn away used clothing and furniture. They requested cash donations instead or things like toaster ovens, hot plates and electric teapots for those living in temporary housing.

The stories about what evacuees took with them and what they left behind made many of us think about which of our belongings have value and meaning and which don’t. Read more

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Posted in: House Cleaning, Home Maintenance, Consumers, Home Tips, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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Baby-Proofing Your Home in 2018

Posted on January 25, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

When my husband and I had children in the last half of the 20th century, baby-proofing our home consisted of getting a gate to block the stairway, covering all the electrical outlets, and adding safety clips to kitchen and bathroom cupboards so curious toddlers couldn’t open them. Now that our son and daughter-in-law have an almost one-year-old, I’m learning about how much more can be done to prevent accidents and make a home safer. What once took an hour or two is now a major project for young couples. Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Home Tips, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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December Musings and a Family Recipe

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Chris Bjorklund

As I was thinking of potential topics for this month’s Diamond Certified Consumer Report, I decided it was time for something completely different. Rather than writing about how to be a savvy online shopper, giving wisely during the holiday season or the pros and cons of gift cards, I wanted to share something more personal.

Every year, I ask my family members to think about how we can simplify our celebrations. For example, how about drawing names for gifts instead of shopping for every person? I’ve introduced the idea of a “white elephant” gift exchange where we re-gift items we already have on hand. Rather than going out for a family restaurant meal before Christmas, Read more

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Posted in: Holiday Related, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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Thoughts on Gratitude

Posted on November 30, 2017 by Chris Bjorklund

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, gratitude is “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.” And to quote a North Bay fire survivor, “Gratitude is a big word in my vocabulary right now.”

“Words are powerless to express my gratitude.”

As I looked deeper into the roots and meaning of this word, I found that psychologists have added a social element to the definition. Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips