Holiday Shopping Weekend: What to Consider

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Holiday Shopping Weekend: What to Expect

This holiday shopping weekend is undeniably going to be the largest, busiest shopping event of the year. Before you proceed to shop holiday shopping weekend, check out some important factors to consider. We’ve whittled the categories down to finance, hours, quantity, variety, locale, and gratification. Each day has its pros and cons. Depending upon what’s important to you, you may have to reconsider on which day you shop. But hey, why shop just one day? For one thing, sales start on Black Friday (aka Thursday evening) and continue Small Business Saturday before finally concluding on Cyber Monday. That’s three days to save! So before you rise early to be first in line, check out what we have to say.

Before you brave the masses this holiday shopping weekend, call us to make sure car and computer are in tip top shape.

Black Friday Survival Guide: Five Steps to Survive the ‘Holiday’

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015


While it’s not technically a ‘holiday’, there’s no denying that Black Friday is one of the most widely celebrated days on the calendar. And by celebrated, I mean, you go into stores and try not to get body slammed while looking for dozens of cheap goods. But how are you supposed to do that when you just had Thanksgiving dinner and are weighed down by turkey, stuffing, and potatoes?

To ensure your victory (and safety) on this day, we’re providing you with a Black Friday survival guide. Here are five tips to help you make it through Black Friday:

1. Create a List: You may want to take advantage of every single sale you see but you know that you can’t and shouldn’t. You need to determine exactly what you want, write a list, and stick to it. Know the item and its brand. Take note of the price so you know you won’t pay more than you intend to. Find out everything about the items you want and then go out and conquer.

2. Stake Out Your Location: After deciding what you want, know where you’re going to get it. What store chain are you going to and which specific store out of that chain will you hit? One close to home or one far away to avoid (some) of the crowds? Either way, choose one store and walk around the store beforehand so you can quickly locate items without directions from what will surely be very busy sales clerks.

3. Bring a Shopping Buddy: Every errand is made more bearable, maybe even fun, when you make a date of it. And, when you’re taking on thick and aggressive crowds, pleasant company can help keep you safe and sane. Who else but a trusted friend would pick you up when the stampede knocks you down? Plus, they’ll come in handy if you choose the time-saving divide and conquer strategy where you each divide the store and grab the listed items in your respective territories. For best results, find a willing adult with the patience to wake up early and battle the human and vehicular traffic that will inevitably greet you on your journey. (Note: try to leave the kids and the moody “emo phase” teens at home.)

4. Bring the Right Equipment: Don’t bring a bag loaded to the brim with stuff. Have a properly secured bag (a fanny pack if need be) where you’re able to find your wallet, keys, and any coupons you may have as quickly as possible. If possible, get a scan protected wallet or sleeve for your card as these large crowds are easy hunting grounds for cyber thieves. Finally, bring a water bottle and a portable breakfast so you don’t pass out in the long lines.

5. Skip It: Just don’t go. Thanksgiving was the day before and you had to deal with crazy family members, arguing over food and what to watch on TV. No one will hold it against you if you stay home to avoid the danger that comes with this nightmare of a day. Stay home, relax in your favorite pair of slippers and if you really want to ‘celebrate’ a special deal, take a look at some nice Cyber Monday sales.

And there you have it. If you feel you must absolutely go out this Black Friday, please be safe and use the tips in this Black Friday survival guide to your advantage. If you choose not to go and will give Cyber Monday a try, contact TalkLocal so we can make sure your computer is in tiptop shape.

Happy bargain shopping, everyone!

Four Ways of Honoring Native American Heritage This Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 15th, 2015


American history and culture can sometimes feel like a Seurat painting: some of us stand at a distance and see only an idyllic scene. When asked about that monkey business at the bottom of the famous “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, many say they hadn’t even noticed. There are a few, however, who not only see that monkey but also have a perspective that gives them a close look at the Seurat, revealing its bumps, complexities, and ugliness. Holidays like Thanksgiving and Columbus Day crystallize this dichotomy of perspective.

In particular, Thanksgiving immortalizes a friendly thank you dinner between native people and pilgrims who’d been pulled from the brink of death, but erases the tragic thanks that the indigenous people suffered thereafter. One can’t fully appreciate the historical meaning of Thanksgiving without first taking that disturbing closer look at history and then returning to the quickly lost tradition of honoring native American heritage. After all, without the help of native people, the pilgrims have never have survived to make America our shared home.

Here are four ways to give thanks and appreciate Native Americans this Thanksgiving and throughout the year.

1. Remember great individuals like Sacajawea who helped the Lewis and Clark expedition, Maria TallChief who danced with the New York City Ballet in the 40’s and 50’s, comedian Will Rogers, and of course the political and military leaders who defended and preserved a people and culture under siege. And remember that October 12 is not only Columbus Day but also Indigenous People’s Day – another chance to remember the complete story.

2. Cultivate a pro-indigenous culture in the mainstream by divesting from the many sport organizations, businesses, and products that natives say still exploit, misrepresent, and denigrate native people often for mere branding purposes (looking at you, Sexy Chief costumes).

3. Give back to organizations that serve the needs and interests of these very deserving but often under-served people. Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA), American Indian College Fund, and Native American Business Alliance (NABA) are just a few charitable organizations you can support.

4. Pass it forward. That means taking the same generosity that natives showed to our weak and weary predecessors, and passing it forward to those less fortunate than ourselves. Native people made America possible by teaching immigrants how to till the land and survive; later, we even used their fighting techniques to win our independence. Think about how you too can empower fellow Americans and the weak and weary around the world.

As we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, humility, and generosity during this uniquely American tradition of Thanksgiving, honoring Native Americans for their life-saving generosity towards America’s first immigrants must go beyond plays with children donning feathered headbands. After all, a thank you dinner is all the first pilgrims could do to express their thanks as they struggled to make a new life. We, on the other hand, have the power to do so much more and continue to see new reasons to be grateful as native peoples continue to shape America’s future.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” ― W.T. Purkiser

5 Ways to Honor Local Veterans on Veterans Day

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


While the Christmas fanatics often forget that there are even holidays during the month of November, there is another holiday that we foodies tend to forget even as we reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. Veterans Day is November 11th and it’s a great time to show some pre-Thanksgiving gratitude to those brave men and women who may not be our near and dear, but who’ve risked their lives and made sacrifices to protect our way of life. So, before you stuff and carve that turkey, here are five ways you can honor those who have fought for our country:

Visit: Whether your local veteran is in a retirement home or the house next door, you can put on your Sunday best and brighten their day with your smile. If you do not have a local veteran, visit the closest memorial and give a big thanks to all.

Help: Many veterans are unable to do certain tasks around their home. That’s when a young, able-bodied person (such as yourself) comes in handy. Go give them a hand with whatever chores they may need; fall has arrived and those leaves aren’t going to rake themselves.

Welcome: You know what everyone loves about November? Food and it’s always nice to share the food with others (because you never finish it all in one day). So, you can invite a local veteran to your home for Thanksgiving dinner, and then let them take a big plate back with them.

Listen: Veterans have a lot of stories to tell but there aren’t too many to tell them to. Be one of the people who hears them out and listens to whatever amazing story they have to share. A listening ear is sometimes the best thing.

Give: Whether you’re donating money, supplies or time, it’s always nice to give something to help those who need it. With the cold season here/approaching/near, how about providing some warm clothes or taking time to help build homes for veterans.

And those are just a handful of ways you can honor and say thank you to those who have served. Visit for even more Veterans Day ideas. For those of you who have served, we thank you for your service.

Happy Veterans Day from TalkLocal!

Repainting The Interior of Your Home

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015


Maybe it’s the lack of vibrant natural light, the predominance of reds, golds, and browns, or the stunning beauty of the pure white snow soon to come; but for some reason, there’s a huge misconception that painting is more of a task to do in the warmer months. Sure, the freshness of spring may put you in the mood for all things new- including a color change, but autumn is as good as any a time to paint the interior of your home. In fact, it may be the best time. Here are some advantages to repainting the interior of your home during the fall months:

Not as Humid — The heat and humidity in the summer months actually makes it harder for the paint to dry and cure properly. The excess moisture from the humidity prevents it from evaporating, and it doesn’t bond to the wall. This will cause issues with the texture of the paint and result in an uneven coat. It also makes the paint dry a lot faster.

Moderately Cooler Temperatures — Those temperate weather seasons like Fall and Spring are great for opening the windows to let the paint fumes out without worrying about letting the heat or A/C out with it. Once the winter hits, painting would put you between fumes and freezing; in the summer it’s that or the fiery heat.

Saves Time for Other Projects — By repainting the interior of your home during the fall or even winter months, you will have time for other projects like gardening, patio upgrades, and painting the exterior of the house — projects that are best done in the spring and summer.

If you’d rather skip all that hard work and relax, let TalkLocal find you a professional that can handle it for you. Best part is — painting contractors are likely to score you a good deal because the colder months are their slower months.

What to Do with Your Leftover Pumpkins

Monday, November 2nd, 2015


Halloween has come and gone and all you’re left with is leftover candy, the dread of the upcoming gift buying rush, and pumpkins…lots of pumpkins. Now, comes the question: what can you do with all of that leftover pumpkin? While the obvious answer is to throw them away, there are more productive, nutritious, and delicious things to do with each part of those gourds. Here are just a few ideas!

Warning: If a pumpkin has been carved and left out for 24 hours, they can be unsafe to eat.

Pumpkin Seeds

Well, pumpkin seeds are simple enough to recognize and do things with. First, you can the bake them and eat them because they are delicious and nutritious. Or you can choose to eat them raw or give them some salt for a bit of taste. They’re also good in brownies. Maybe after you taste them, you decide you aren’t a fan of the taste. That’s perfectly fine. If they’re not your thing, you can take them to your local park and feed them to the birds.

Pumpkin Guts

Sounds gross. Pumpkin guts are the annoying stringy bits that are attached to the pumpkin seeds. While there aren’t as many uses for them as the other parts, they can still be used to make pumpkin stock. Separate the guts from the seeds and then put them in a pot of water and boil it for about 30 minutes (or until the water changes color). After that, strain the guts from the broth and plan what you want to use your pumpkin broth for. Maybe a good soup.

Pumpkin Flesh

Another gross term but this is different from the guts. This is the part that’s on the inside of the shell and with it, you can turn the pulp into a puree and do all kinds of amazing things with it. To get to that pulp, cut your pumpkin in half and take out all of the seeds and guts (which you’ve probably already done for our first things). Afterwards, place the pumpkin (cut-side down) in a baking dish with about a cup of water then bake it for 90 minutes (or until the flesh is tender).Then, all you have to do is scoop out the flesh and puree it in a food processor.

Now, that you have that delightful puree, what can you do with it? Everything! You can use it for your pies, your butter and even pumpkin face masks which are great for your face because pumpkins are filled with zinc and vitamins A, C, and E.

Pumpkin Shell

And all that leaves is the outside which you probably already turned into a Jack-O-Lantern. With what’s left of the pumpkin, why not create a really cute planter for your garden? If the pumpkin’s been carved, pack the soil really tightly to ensure none gets out of the face. Best thing: out in your garden, the pumpkin will compost naturally and fertilize your garden. Just make sure you’ve removed all the seed otherwise you may end up planting something unexpected.If the pumpkin garden decor isn’t your style, just add it to the compose pile so that your garden can still benefit from the pumpkin’s nutrients come planting season.

Need more ideas? Here are plenty, the possibilities are endless. Was there a pumpkin leftover favorite that we missed? Comment and let us know.

And as always, if you need help with booking a home service, especially as the holiday season ramps up, give TalkLocal a ring.

Ten Top Book Reads for Book Lovers Day

Sunday, November 1st, 2015


Winding down after weeks of stress can be a challenge. A challenge not made any easier by the fact that summer vacation has come and gone. Now that you’re back in the swing of things, you finally find some time to relax again only to discover that your brain refuses to play along and chooses instead to continuously nag you with worry after worry. Rather than beat yourself over the head until you literally fall unconscious only to have your stresses haunt you in your sleep, try distracting your brain with an interesting read instead.

Mystery, adventure, romance, fantasy/sci-fi, and humor are great genres for challenging your brain in a fun way. Even how-to books can be just as fun, providing even more of a mental escape as they challenge you to learn while inspiring you to dream big. So, in celebration of Book Lovers Day, here are 10 great reads that will get your mind off of everything else:

365 Days

DIY: 365 Days of DIY: A Collection of DIY, DIY Household Hacks, DIY Cleaning and Organizing, DIY Projects, and More DIY Tips to Make Your Life Easier (With Over 45 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas)” by White Lemon – Wow! That is a long title, but it gives you a great idea of what to expect. We know those of you who love TalkLocal are also advent DIYers. So, here’s a book for you to have a fun thing to do for every day of the year.

Humans of NY

Humans of New York: Stories” by Brandon Stanton – You might have already liked this page on Facebook, but now, Brandon Stanton is compiling a collection of the photos and quotes he’s taken from people all around New York in his marvelous book.

Cabin Porn

Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere” by Zach Klein – Not focusing on the name, Cabin Porn is a book filled with beautiful scenery and homes filled with people’s cabin creations that let you enjoy the moment and get inspired.

Adult Coloring Book

Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns” by Blue Star Coloring – You remember how relaxing it was to color, but then you grew out of it? Well, Blue Star realizes the importance of it in your adult life, and is providing you a book with beautiful designs that you can color to your heart’s content.


The Epicurious Cookbook: More Than 250 of Our Best-Loved Four-Fork Recipes for Weeknights, Weekends & Special Occasions” by Tanya Steel and the Editors of Epicurious – For those of you who enjoy the Epicurious website, it is now in book form! So many delicious and delightful recipes for you to try one at a time. Just start from the beginning and work your way up, or dive straight into your favorite traditional holiday recipes.

Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel” by Harper Lee – Did you know that Harper Lee’s famous novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” was actually a rewrite of an earlier work? That original work, the aforementioned “Go Set a Watchman” is very different from the story you know and love, but it’s a great read none-the-less.

Wreath Recipe

The Wreath Recipe Book: Year-Round Wreaths, Swags, and Other Decorations to Make with Seasonal Branches” by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all around the corner, and you’re going to need pretty things to decorate your home. So what’s prettier than wreaths made from your own backyard? Answer: nothing.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson – In an effort to get to know the man behind so many gadgets we use in our daily  lives, there’s his fascinating biography. Getting a closer look into his mindset and imagination may influence your own creativity.

Unlimited Memory

Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive” by Kevin Horsley – Who doesn’t want to be able to remember more stuff? This book is meant to give you ways that will help you tap into your brain’s potential (sadly, it won’t be like Lucy where you’d be able to stop time…or will it?).


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo – Sometimes, all you need for your home to look nicer is to declutter and reorganize, but it’s easier said than done. That’s why we have handy how-to books to tell you how to make it easier and make your home look so much lovelier.

And there are ten fun books you can look at to calm the ever raging storm that is your brain. And while you’re reading those books, why not find a handyman through TalkLocal who will take care of whatever house project that’s plaguing you? Happy reading.

#BabiesVsPets Halloween Costume Contest

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015


There is only one thing as cute as a pet, and that’s a baby. Put a Halloween costume on either a pet or a baby and you have created an unstoppable monster of cuteness, capable of melting every heart in its path. Baby and/or pet plus costume equals the single-most adorable thing in the universe hands down. The only thing more difficult than not falling victim to the awe-inducing charms of a pet or baby in costume is deciding which one is cuter. What sociopath could possibly fix their minds to choose between cute babies and cute pets? The combined forces of babies and pets embody everything good, beautiful, and pure; a life without either would be unlivable. It’s like choosing between air and water. Yet, here at TalkLocal, we challenge you to do the unthinkable.  Pets and babies together in one costume contest, and there can only be one winner!

To vote: check out the hashtag #BabiesVsPets, the most adorable place on the internet. Retweet and like  as many sweet pet and baby pics that you like. Who could fall in love with just one?

To submit your pet, baby, or both: share your baby or pet costume pics with @TalkLocal and use the tag #BabiesVsPets.

To win: Get the most faves and retweets by Midnight Monday November 2nd, and you’ll win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Need some extra funds for Holiday shopping? Here’s an easy way to get it!

Of course, babies and pets are equally cute in different ways. Plus, the love that parents and pet parents have for their beloveds has a glow that no single picture can capture nor retweet or fave can express. This is just a fun way to celebrate the internet’s most powerful feelings-targeted weapon, and share in the pride of all the parents who have  invested time, energy, and money to make the sweet eye candy of costumed pets and babies possible.

Click here to submit or vote!


Five Super Fun Kids’ Crafts for Halloween

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015


It’s the final countdown to October 31st! Soon, you’ll need the mountains of Halloween candy ready and the kids will need to have their costumes primed and prepped. You’ll also probably need to put up a decoration or two. Now, how do you distract the kids long enough to get those things ready?

Well, to help keep the kids busy for a while and even get some cute (or terrifying) Halloween decorations up in time, here are five super fun kids’ crafts for Halloween that we loved on our Pinterest board:

Halloween Tin Can Bowling: What’s better than crafts for kids? Crafts for kids that continue to distract them afterwards, of course! This Tin Can Bowling DIY is child’s play, literally. Take about five or so tin cans and have the kids paint them to look like fun Halloween monsters. When that’s done, give your children some room and a small ball (no firmer or larger than a tennis ball) so that they can defeat their monstrous creations by bowling them over.

Black Sock Cat: Happen to have a black sock and don’t know what to do with it? Well, the kids can lay the sock flat, trim the ankle opening into a big C shape, then stuff the sock full of soft cottony filling. Afterwards, we recommend you being the one to sew it up. Add a cute ribbon,  some little button eyes, a triangle nose, and you have a new pet cat who is plushy, pawless, and will keep the kids entertained and the upholstery perfectly safe!

Handprint Witch: Hand painting is fun for the kids because it’s messy and it lets them personalize their art. Bonus, it helps you track their growth over the years and remember how little they once were. The handprint turkey is already popular in school, so why not adapt it to the Halloween season? The kids can turn their handprint into little witches. A green handprint, some orange paint for hair, a paper pointy hat, and whatever other witchy things they can think of.

Fuzzy Monster Snap Bracelets: This one is great because the kids can walk around with them and show them off to their friends. Pick up a fuzzy snap bracelet and some googly eyes. Put on as many eyes as you want (we say the more the better), then add some felt scraps for whatever special kind of monster your child wants to represent.

Halloween Garland: A Halloween garland is pretty simple to make. You’ll need various colored construction paper (orange, yellow, black, all the fun Halloween colors), then you cut them up and make them into whatever Halloween thing you want before you glue them to a long piece of string. Voila! Hang them up wherever you want them in the house, or even outside.

So, there you have it! If you have anymore craft ideas that you want to share or look for, then check out our Pinterest board. Also, don’t forget to give TalkLocal a ring when you need a professional to get some home projects done before the twilight hour.

Happy Halloween!

To Grow Your Small Business: Discover Your Special Sauce

Friday, October 16th, 2015


If you did the same thing, the same way, and for the same customers as every other business then you wouldn’t have started your own business in the first place. Yet, recognizing and articulating your “special sauce” so that you can stand out among the competition is one of the biggest challenges a small business owner will face. Communicating that difference effectively is the only way to attract and retain a customer base and grow your small business. Here are 6 tricks for discovering and sharing your “special sauce” in your marketing campaign.

Research your competition

You’re not going to know what your company does right without finding out what your competition does wrong. Look into the most well-known businesses who supply a similar service or product. Look up customer complaints, articles written about them, their business models – anything that could give you an idea of what your competition does differently than you. Compare what you’ve learned about your competition with how your company conducts itself. Odds are there is at least one thing you do that’s different and better than your competition. If your business looks like a carbon copy of your competition, it’s time to re frame your business model and look for what people complain about most regarding your competition. Then, remodel your business to address those problems.

Get the word out!

Once you’ve figured out what it is that sets your business apart, it’s time to advertise. Make your “special sauce” the key focus of your social media campaign. There are multiple mediums to broadcast your “special sauce,” but here are a few suggestions of what worked for us.


Blog writing can be one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your business’s “special sauce.” Write about problems customers encounter with businesses in your field, issues have with your competition, and anything related to what your business does. The important thing to do at the end of each of these posts is to separate your business from the issues you’re writing about. Incorporate the “special sauce” of your business into your solution to the problem that the blog post addresses.

Incorporate the “special sauce” Into the sales pitch

Call a meeting with the sales team. Present them with the facts that separate you from your competitors and tell them to emphasize these points in the pitch. The “special sauce” should be incorporated into the sales team’s explanation of your service or product. If done correctly, the sales call will educate potential customers about what sets your business apart from the competition (and hopefully close them).

Make the “special sauce” a major talking point in your business presentations

Business conferences are where you can get the attention of major backers and investors. These individuals who have the power to make your company sink or swim, want to hear why they should invest in your company compared to your competition and what you do that will make their investment worthwhile. Donate at least a few slides of your presentation to explaining the “special sauce” of your company, what makes it unique, and why it puts you far above your competitors. This will hook investors who are on the fence of whom to invest in, and spread word of your company across the business world like wildfire.

Create the tagline-splash the sauce on top of it!

A clear and concise tagline or catchphrase can do wonders for your online presence. You can incorporate a good tagline into your blog posts, your sales pitches, your presentations, basically any form of communication between your company and the business world. With the tagline being as important as it is, why not incorporate your special sauce into it. Make sure to do it in a catchy way. Any example can be seen is what we’ve done with our tagline here at TalkLocal. We’re a lead generation service and our “special sauce” is that we generate free leads in real time by phone. A potential tagline could be “free leads.real time.real people. TalkLocal.” If you incorporate your special sauce into an effective broadcasting campaign, you’d be surprised with how fast it will cause your business to grow.

And, did I mention that TalkLocal also helps service professionals meet new customers? Sign up to get lead previews of matching customers by phone and opt-in to speak to them immediately. Premium members pay a small flat rate per conversation; they never pay for calls that go to voicemail or are not the types of jobs they want. Click here to learn more.