PENNIES#1A Decade of Fundraising for critically ill children!  PENNIES FROM HEAVEN Caleb’s Foundation is celebrating 10 years of fundraising with the announcement of their 10th Tricky Tray basket raffle!  The event will take place on Sunday April 28th from 12:00pm-2:30pm at The Dock on Wallenpaupack at Silver Birches Resort.  Over 175 themed baskets valued at $100+ for every family member will be raffled off.  Admission is free, cash bar available, door prizes & desserts will be given out and all ages are welcome!  General tickets will be sold at $8 for 25, value packs for $50, and specialty baskets valued greater than $250 will be available for $1 and $5 per chance.  Free raffle tickets will be given out to everyone who brings a full jar of pennies/change for Caleb’s Wishing Well, or a brand new Crayola item that will be donated to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia!

PENNIES#2PENNIES FROM HEAVEN was started in loving memory of Caleb, an amazing little boy who brought love and laughter to everyone he met.  He had a wonderful spirit and playful excitement for life.  He found joy in simple things, such as empty Gatorade bottles, his mommy’s guitar and his beloved stuffed animal, Mr Bear.  Twelve years ago on February 25th 2007, Caleb was granted his angel wings just five days after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  He was only 2 years old.  His mother started this foundation because she believes this is the legacy Caleb was destined to leave behind.

“No parent should have to prioritize a payment or job before the care of their sick child”

is the motto the Foundation has lived by since day one.  “Our mission has remained steadfast and that is to support parents in the care of their sick child by relieving the stress of financial burdens at home.  We help by covering rent, mortgage, electric, medical bills, and more” said Caleb’s mom, Nichole.  Since May 2010, more than 650 families with a critically ill child have received financial assistance from Caleb’s Pennies.

Due to outside support from many generous people and businesses, 98% of all donation money goes directly to families in need like Eleanor’s family.  Eleanor is a 3 month old diagnosed at birth with Hurler’s syndrome, a rare life threatening genetic disorder.  She is ready to receive a stem cell bone marrow transplant and will need to remain local for at least 100 days post-transplant.  This will require her family to be displaced for a while since they live 4.5 hours from the hospital.  (Gas bill paid).  Kijuan is a 13 year old who was healthy up until August of 2018.  He was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia and has been admitted to the hospital numerous times since then.  His medical team is in the planning stages of a bone marrow transplant, hoping that his transplant will take place in the spring.  (Rent paid). Logan is a 1 year old who was transferred at birth to the NICU due to a prenatal diagnosis of a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.  He remains in critical condition months after his surgery due to severe pulmonary hypertension.  Attempts have been made to move Logan to a hospital closer to home, but he is too fragile and no hospital will accept him.  (Mortgage paid).  Jayda is a 9 year old diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  She underwent a bone marrow transplant just 5 weeks after diagnosis.  Prior to hospitalization, Jayda was evaluated and treated at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which is 8.5 hours from her home.  For this reason, her family has been split up for months and there is no discharge date set for Jayda at this time.  (Rent paid x2).

These are just a few of the families who have been financially assisted by Caleb’s Pennies From Heaven.  Last year’s Tricky Tray event raised over $51,000, and with your help, they hope to top that total this year!  Please visit for more information or contact Nichole Granville at if you would like to make a monetary donation or become an event sponsor.

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN Caleb’s Foundation, is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, contributions to which are tax deductible as permitted by law.


VictoryPageApr19#2In this age of increased emphasis on sustainability, food miles, good health, and, more recently, the downturn in economics, people have turned toward an old example to set a new standard in gardening.

Your Garden

The victory garden is not a new idea.  In fact, these gardens, also known as “war gardens,” were planted at private residences and on public land (including prominent areas such as Boston Commons and Golden Gate Park) during the two World Wars to boost the public’s food supply.  They were considered a morale booster, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even planted one on the White House grounds despite the objections of the Department of Agriculture.  One historical account has victory gardens contributing to 41% of all the vegetable produce consumed in the nation.  Using this example, there is a movement toward implementing the victory garden, both privately and publicly, going on all across the country.

Driving Factors

Now that the recognition of a looming environmental crisis has pervaded the public’s consciousness, the effort to be more “green” to help combat the effects has become downright trendy in its popularity. But trendy isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the efforts are really green.  One issue is that of “food miles”– how far food travels from ground to table, which includes not only the lengthy transportation but the total energy expended.

Additionally, says Roger Doiron, founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, people are concerned for their health and that of their families.  There’s an emphasis on organic produce, seasonal eating, and buying local, but the best way to know where your food is coming from is to grow it yourself.

Certainly, the economic situation is contributing to this movement as well.  Buying organic produce is expensive, even at a local farmer’s market.  Doiron, who has grown numerous vegetables, best illustrates this point.  “We spent about $100 last year on seeds, and we’ve converted that investment into over six months of organic vegetables for a family of five,” he says.

Lastly, Vanessa Richins, a writer for website, Urban Garden Casual, thinks that victory gardens are growing in popularity due to a desire to return to simpler times as the reliance on technology increases and the current economic and environmental situations get tougher.

Where the Gardens Grow

The definition of a victory garden is loose.  In order to grow one, all that’s needed is the impetus.  While yard space is ideal, if you’re in an apartment or other building without access to a plot, vegetables can be grown in containers and still supplement your regular produce buying.  Some cities offer community garden spaces to residents as well.     Container gardening expert, Kerry Michaels, loves growing vegetables and feels you can grow almost anything you want depending on what makes sense for your region and the season. She also notes that contained herb gardens can make a beautiful centerpiece. “Perfect for the center of the picnic table and then you can put it on your salad,” she says.

Mary Ellen Chambers, a six-year gardener who had no prior experience to planting her first vegetable garden, came up with a novel way to procure some space.  She and her husband live in a historic section of Baltimore, and their yard was almost entirely in shade rendering it less than ideal for growing veggies.  However, the property next door was owned by an absentee landlord and the yard was perfectly sunny although quite unkempt.  Chambers and the landlord made a deal: We’ll care for your yard if you let us do what we want with it.  She and her husband now grow a variety of vegetables, such as potatoes, leeks, asparagus, corn, artichokes, and squash. When they reap more than they can consume, they share the bounty with other members of the community.

Beyond those options, though, there is one plot of land often ignored and it’s prime gardening space. That is the front yard.  Doiron thinks there is starting to be a trend more toward what’s known as the “edible landscape” and that people are forgoing the perfectly manicured lawn and landscaping, once the jewel of suburban affluence, to use that space for fruits and vegetables.  Doiron notes that in Europe, “People put gardens in where the sun shines.  For different cultural reasons, we tuck our gardens behind our houses.” Doiron himself has a garden “smack dab” in the middle of the front lawn and says it’s “been really encouraging to see people’s reactions.”

How to Start

There are several Web resources devoted to victory gardens if you’re interested in learning more about this specific trend, but in terms of starting to grow your own vegetables, don’t be afraid to seek out help from local gardening experts.  If you have the land to garden, great, but if not, consider the container garden.  Start modestly so you don’t get overwhelmed.  Doiron also suggests succession planting – planting seeds over a period of weeks so your harvest is extended over a number of weeks.  Chambers feels that the work to maintain her large garden could be done in as little as a couple of hours a week, but she usually spends 10-12 hours a week as for her it’s a peaceful retreat.  “It’s a form of meditation,” she says.  “You can get away with a lot less [time] and get a lot out of it.”  Also, learn good storage techniques so you can take advantage of your food for much longer.  Doiron employs a variety of storage methods, and at the start of the New Year hadn’t store shopped for produce since the previous May or June, he says.

© CTW Features


SpringCleaningpicApr19Spring is here at last, and with it the chance to finally clean away winter’s yuck…  Our long NEPA winters can certainly take their toll on you and your home.  Spring cleaning, when done right however, doesn’t just help your home recover from those winter months, but prepare for the warm ones!

Here are some tips to start off your Spring Cleaning right!

*As always, pretest all cleaning products in an inconspicuous area first to ensure they do not harm or discolor the finish

Open the windows

Your house is still full of stale winter air.  Take advantage of a nice day by opening all of the windows to air it out.  You will not believe the difference this can make.  This is also a great opportunity to give the windows and screens a thorough cleaning!  For an easy DIY cleaning hack that will help you make short work of the window screens, use a scrap of carpeting.  The fibers are perfect for cleaning all of the little gaps in the screen material.

Put away your winter stuff

We never seem to have enough space for all of the seasonal clothing, blankets, comforters, and decorations.  By giving them one final cleaning and putting them into storage, you know that they won’t be in your way all Summer!  For blankets that may be a bit musty, try hanging them outside on a clothesline during the day.

Clean out the fridge

There probably isn’t an appliance in your home that sees as much activity as the fridge does.  While you try to keep it clean, in order to do so properly, you need to take everything out and this can be time consuming.  As part of your Spring Cleaning Checklist, make some time to empty and thoroughly clean the fridge, you probably didn’t even realize that jar of pickles in the back leaked!  For an effective, all natural, cleaner, mix some salt and soda water together.  The foaming action of the soda water combined with the abrasive salt is an extremely effective cleaner.

Make faucets and shower heads look like new

Lime buildup can be a real problem.  In addition to looking unsightly, it can clog shower heads and reduce water coverage.  White vinegar works phenomenally well at removing lime buildup and can make your faucet look like new.  For stubborn buildup, you can soak paper towels in vinegar and wrap them around the faucet, or even fill a zip-top bag with vinegar and put it over the shower head (tying it securely behind the shower head).  Let this sit for 45 minutes or an hour and remove.  The lime buildup should have softened and will now be easier to wipe off!

Clean hard floors and vacuum carpets

All winter, you’ve been tracking in snow, salt, and mud.  Now is the perfect time to clean hardwood and tile floors, and to vacuum carpets.  Take some time to work your way through the house, cleaning and polishing hardwoods, cleaning tile and grout, and vacuuming / shampooing carpets!  You won’t just be getting these surfaces looking fresh and clean, you’ll be removing a lot of the dust and allergens that would otherwise be floating around in the air!

Now that winter’s finally over, you’re probably eager to freshen up your home and start enjoying the warm weather.  We hope these tips will help you start off your Spring Cleaning right!

About Disaster Blaster

Disaster Blaster is an indoor environmental firm serving the Northeastern PA Area.  We have been providing our local area with unparalleled water damage mitigation, mold remediation, asbestos abatement, and radon mitigation services for decades, and are proud to have been recently named The World’s Greatest Indoor Environmental Firm.  For more about Disaster Blaster, as well as more helpful tips, please visit our website at: or call our office at (570) 963-1123.


FrontDoorPage19If your front door could talk, what would it say about you?  A front door is a focal point of any home, and the color, material, and style of the door set the tone for the entire structure.

“People should consider the entire entrance when choosing a front door,” said Craig Smyth, owner and president of Clemleddy Construction in Hawley.  “There are many choices of materials and finishes that may be considered, but ultimately the entrance should draw your attention to the door itself.  Being the gateway to your home, the front entrance should be a reflection of who you are and how you live.”

A front door is the entry point where energy, abundance, and opportunities await.  Walking through someone’s front door is literally walking into his or her life, space and mind.  For the best visual appeal, the front door should be appropriate for the style of the home.  Done right, a front door can bring out certain touches and elements of the outside of the home, from the décor around the home such as light fixtures, planters, steps, walkways and gardens to the color of shutters and window treatments.

Deciding on the right front door for your home is a fun and important task, whether you are building a new home or remodeling a current one.  What style, texture, or color should it be?

Read on to find out how to choose the best front door for your home and what your front door says about you.

How to Choose the Best Front Door for Your Home

Front doors come in a variety of materials, such as wood, steel, fiberglass, wood composite, and aluminum.  Wood is the most cost effective but also requires a lot of maintenance.  Steel doors can be more expensive but are also more durable when exposed to the elements and require the least maintenance for the homeowner.  Once you decide on the type of door, consider whether you want a front entry door design or glass panels for a classic finish.

Colorful Doors

For many people, the color of a front door adds to the unique architectural quality of a home, but for many cultures, the shade of a door conveys different meanings.

  • A red front door creates a welcoming energy into your home. In addition, this color holds symbolic meaning for many cultures and religions.  For instance, in Scotland, a red front door indicates the homeowner paid off their mortgage.
  • When you picture the color blue, you may think of the sky, water, and calmness. According to Feng Shui practices, the color blue is often linked with feelings of security, stability, abundance, and prosperity.  Any shade of blue for a door emits positive energy flow into the space.
  • In many cultures, green represents growth and wealth, whether you have a large family or a substantial income. It can also convey a desire for wealth for those who have more modest earnings.  In addition, the color green signifies balance, peace, compassion, renewal, and harmony.
  • Purple is an eye-catching color in itself, but painting a front door purple shows you are daring, energetic, versatile and open-minded.
  • White is a classic color for doors, especially on cottage style homes. Throughout history, white has represented virtue, purity, and serenity.
  • The color yellow evokes mental clarity, perception, understanding, wisdom, confidence, curiosity, humor, and merriment.