Tips for Perfecting the DIY Manicure (& How to Stay Safe at Your Favorite Nail Salon)

You may not have the option to visit your favorite nail salon in person right now, but that doesn’t mean that your nails have to suffer. You can get a great manicure from home, you just need to know how.

How to Get the Perfect Manicure From Home

#1. Prepare your nails properly.

The quality of your manicure is greatly affected by how well you prepare your nails before you get started. Preparing your nails properly before painting them will make your manicure last longer and the paint go on smoother.

How to prepare your nails:

  • Clip – Unless you’re attached to your length, you’ll want to start by clipping your nails. Clip carefully, starting from the side of each nail. If you start in the middle, you run the risk of breakage.
  • File – File your nails to smooth out the edges and to get the shape that you want.
  • Buff – With a nail buffer (not an emery board) lightly buff the tops of your nails. This will smooth out the ridges and remove natural oils that can undermine your manicure.
  • Cuticles – Soften the cuticles and remove any dead skin with a cuticle remover. Cuticles help to protect your nails from bacteria, so don’t cut them, but you should gently push them down with a cuticle stick.

#2. Prepare your hands.

A manicure isn’t just about making your nails beautiful; it’s about making your hands beautiful, too. And, to do that, you need to take some time to pamper your hands.

Prepare your hands for your manicure by gently exfoliating them with a sugar scrub. This will help to remove any dead skin cells and excess oil on your hands and nails. Then, moisturize your hands thoroughly. For a little extra pampering, wear a pair of cotton gloves for a couple of hours after moisturizing.

Before you move on to painting your nails, go over each nail with nail polish remover to get rid of any remaining oil from the moisturizer, which could make the polish dry improperly.

#3. Use a base coat.

Before you start painting your nails with the color of your choice, make sure that you paint a thin layer of base coat on your nails.

Applying a base coat will help to protect your nails, keep them hydrated, and prevent chipping. It will also prevent the polish from staining your nails. Give your nails a few minutes to dry after you’ve applied the base coat.

#4. Paint two coats of color.

Now, for the fun part, actually painting your nails!

Pick the right color, and if it has started to separate, roll it, instead of shaking it, to combine it again. If you shake it, little bubbles can form in the polish that prevent it from going on smoothly.

Most DIYers will put too much paint on their nails, as well as use too many strokes to apply the paint.

Instead of painting the polish on in one big blob, you’ll want to paint two thinner layers of paint. With each layer, try to get just enough paint on the brush to paint the whole nail without redipping it, but not much more than that.

Try to paint each nail in three big strokes. Start with one stroke in the middle, and finish with single strokes on each side.

Repeat this process with a second coat, and finish by painting the tip of the nails, which will help to seal in the color.

#5. Seal the deal with a topcoat.

Give your polish a few minutes to dry, and then finish your manicure by applying a layer of topcoat polish. This will make your nails look shinier, protect them from chips, and make your manicure last longer.

Do you want your nails to look great for longer? Apply a new layer of topcoat to your polish every two to three days to keep it looking fresh and new.


Nail salons may, or may not be, open in your community, and even if they are open, you may not feel comfortable going into one. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have beautiful nails, nor does it mean that you can’t support the local businesses you love.

If you can’t, or don’t want to, visit your favorite nail salon in person right now, think about supporting them in other ways, like buying gift cards, taking advantage of any alternative services they’re offering — like online consultations or tutorials — shopping with them if they’re selling products, donating to their GoFundMe, writing reviews for them, etc.

If you do feel comfortable visiting a nail salon and they’re open near you, make sure to follow a few safety precautions while you’re there. These include wearing a mask, scheduling an appointment ahead of time, waiting in your vehicle until your appointment, and double-checking the salon’s safety precautions prior to scheduling an appointment.

Whether you want to leave a review for a nail salon you already know and love or you want to find a local nail salon to help you get the look you love, start with Top Rated Local®.

With Top Rated Local, you can read a nail salon’s reviews from across the web and quickly compare their overall online reputation to their competitors’ side by side — all from one place and in no time at all. Get started today.

Illinois’ Top Rated Local® Businesses: 2020

Known for being the home of the first McDonald’s, the Sears Tower (the largest building in North America), as well as Miles Davis, Bill Murray, and Oprah, the Land of Lincoln is also home to a number of truly incredible local businesses — from nail salons to accounting firms — that work to serve their communities and make the world a better place.

Top Rated Local® is here to recognize the many local businesses that work to make Illinois such a phenomenal place to live and visit. There are so many amazing businesses that serve the people of Illinois, but only the best of the best have made it on our list of Top Rated Local award winners for 2020. Today, we’re ecstatic to announce our 2020 award winners in Illinois.

To calculate our 2020 winners, we’ve looked at each business’ Rating Score™, which is determined by the total number of verified review sites the business is listed on, the total number of ratings/reviews the business has on those review sites, and the business’ average overall star rating. The more review sites a business is listed on, the more reviews or ratings a business has, and the higher the average star rating, the higher the Rating Score will be, with the highest being 100.00.

There are a large number of businesses that work hard to serve the people of Illinois and provide them with everything they need to thrive, and this year, we’ve identified 410 total businesses that have made the cut. These one-of-a-kind, local businesses have clearly made an impact on the customers and clients they serve each and every day, as evidenced by their impressive average Rating Score of 98.15 and average star rating of 4.91. For comparison, businesses across Top Rated Local average a 68.84 Rating Score and a 4.20 star rating. These businesses are truly the best of the best.

There are so many stand-out businesses in Illinois that deserve to be recognized for their success, but we’re especially excited to give a shoutout to the number one award-winner in Illinois for 2020 — Chicago Locksmiths. Offering a full range of locksmith services, from lock-outs to lock repair and replacement, Chicago Locksmiths is Chicago’s go-to locksmith. Chicago Locksmiths has received 7,247 reviews across six verified reviews sites with an average star rating of 5.00, which has earned it a phenomenal Rating Score of 100.00 and the bragging rights of being the number one Top Rated Local business in all of Illinois for 2020.

Congratulations to all of our award winners in Illinois for 2020, and we commend you for the outstanding service and support you provide for your community day in and day out.

Your Guide to Supporting Local Businesses

Here at Top Rated Local®, it’s no secret that we love local businesses. They’re the lifeblood of what we do because we know that our community wouldn’t be the same without them, and neither would yours.

It’s also no secret that the small businesses that make our communities unique and special need our support right now.

Small businesses have had to make so many changes, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, that have hurt many bottom lines. Some local businesses, unfortunately, have had to close their doors already, and many more are fighting to stay alive.

If you love the local businesses in your area as much as we do, now is the time to start giving back and doing your part. And, luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can support the local businesses you love.

How to Support the Local Businesses You Love

#1. Always shop local first.

One of the very best ways you can show local businesses a little love is by making the simple choice to always shop local before you turn to Amazon or a big box store. For example, if you’re looking for some flowers, start by visiting your local garden center.

You’ll be surprised at just how much you can find in your local community. Too often, people just don’t look because they know that the big box store has what they need, and it’s convenient. However, a little inconvenience is a small price to pay to save the local businesses you love.

Whether you’re shopping for arts and crafts supplies to keep you busy at home or you’re looking for a pest control company to help you keep your home pest-free, always look for a local source first. Even when you’re shopping online, look for local businesses first.

#2. Buy gift cards.

Thanks to the coronavirus, you may not be able to visit your local beauty salon or barber shop, or you may not be able to get a massage or pamper yourself with a pedicure. But, just because in-person services are less accessible right now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t show your support.

Buying gift cards helps you show support to your favorite local businesses in multiple ways. Obviously, it allows you to financially support them, but it also helps you provide emotional support.

When you buy a gift card, you’re sending the business in question the message that you plan to work with them in the future. You have faith that they’ll be around when you feel safe going out and getting your nails done again or visiting your hairstylist. That hope is contagious and a powerful motivator.

#3. Write positive reviews.

Most consumers don’t understand the full weight of what reviews do for local businesses. They seem them as a way to give feedback and inform other consumers, but for businesses, they provide powerful testimonies that encourage other consumers to have their own experiences with the business. Reviews also help to make local businesses more visible online.

Reviews are everything to your modern-day local business, and if you want to support your favorite businesses, writing reviews is a great way to do so. The best part about this kind of support is that you don’t have to spend any money, at a time when financial support may just not be in your budget right now.

Take some time to write reviews for the local businesses in your community that you’ve come to rely on over the years. Be honest about your experience, and use the opportunity to let them know why they’re so important to you.

#4. Refer them to your friends and family.

Another powerful way that you can help local businesses in your community stay afloat is by sending business their way. You may not need what they have to provide, but if you know someone who does, let them know who to turn to.

People trust their friends and family to send them to someone they can rely on. Referrals almost always lead to business for local companies.

Not only are you helping local businesses when you make referrals, but you’re also helping your friends and family. It takes time to research local businesses online, but a quick referral from you helps them find someone they can trust right away.

#5. Share the love on social media.

In this day and age, a local business’s visibility online can make or break its success. There’s a lot of competition online these days, and since most people don’t look past the first page of Google, it means that a lot of businesses are competing for only a handful of rankings for competitive keywords.

One way you can help the businesses you love to be more visible online — and therefore, more successful — is to promote them on social media. You can share about an experience you’ve had or just express your gratitude for how they’ve impacted your community.

Even if you don’t have thousands of followers, anything you can do to spread the word about the local businesses you love will make an impact.

#6. Take advantage of online services.

A lot of businesses that have had to restrict or eliminate in-person services have shifted to offering services online. For instance, some fitness centers are offering online classes and online personal training sessions, and some hairstylists are offering online consultations.

Stay connected with the local businesses you love online so that you can be in the know about any online services they’re offering. Visit their website regularly, follow them on social media, and sign up for email newsletters to stay up to date.


If you’re in the market for a local business to support, start with Top Rated Local — your go-to local business directory. Search for local businesses near you in a wide range of categories, read a business’s reviews from across the web, and directly compare local businesses to each other side by side — all from one place.

Start your local business search with Top Rated Local today.

Pro Tips for Baking at Home

The pandemic has led to a lot of free time, and if your Instagram feed is anything like mine, it seems that lots and lots of people are using that free time to bake.

From banana bread and decadent cakes to melty cookies and brownies, lots of people have been perfecting their baking skills from home.

Baking tasty treats is easy, but with a little know-how, you can bake like a pro.

6 Tips for Baking Delicious Treats at Home

#1. Fully read the recipe before you get started.

No one expects you to memorize a recipe before you get started on it. It’s totally acceptable to consult your recipe step by step as you go; however, the first time you read it should not be during showtime.

Before you start pulling out ingredients and measuring cups, take the time to fully read the recipe. Lots of novice bakers will check that they have everything on the ingredient list and call it good, but you can miss out on a lot if you only read as you go.

Prepare yourself for what you’ll need to do in the recipe by reading it ahead of time.

#2. Measure your ingredients properly.

Believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way to measure your ingredients, and if you do it wrong, you can end up with way too much or way too little of an ingredient. That can leave you with an end result with a different texture, shape, size, or taste than what you wanted.

Here are a few tips for measuring your ingredients properly:

  • Dry Ingredients – Measure sugar, flour, baking powder, and other dry ingredients by lightly spooning them into the measuring cup until they overflow, and then level it with a knife. Never dip your measuring cup directly into the ingredient; you could end up with up to 150 percent more than you need.
  • Wet Ingredients – Measure liquids like milk, oil, or water using a clear measuring cup sitting on a level surface, and crouch down so that you are eye-level with the measuring cup. Measure vanilla and other liquids directly into measuring spoons, pouring over a sink to prevent overflow.
  • Butter – Sticks of butter are typically eight tablespoons that are divided equally on the wrapper. Cut the butter and paper it’s wrapped in with a sharp knife.

#3. Get the consistency of your butter right.

The vast majority of baked goods have at least one thing in common — butter. Butter is the foundation of many-a-baked-good, and while you may not think the consistency of the butter will make or break anything, it’s actually incredibly important.

Here are the three butter consistencies you’ll run into and what they mean:

  • Chilled – If a recipe is calling for chilled butter, it wants butter that’s been well-chilled — i.e. chilled in the refrigerator or freezer so well that it won’t melt while mixing. Chilled butter is what makes pie crusts, biscuits, and scones so flaky.
  • Room-Temperature – A recipe that’s calling for room-temperature butter is looking for butter that’s cool to the touch. When you place your finger in it, it should leave an indent, but shouldn’t be so soft that it slides super easily. To achieve this consistency, set your butter on the counter for about an hour before you start a recipe.
  • Melted – Melted butter should be completely liquified, but lukewarm, not hot. If the butter is too hot, it could cook the eggs in your batter (gross!). Melted butter helps to make chocolate chip cookies and brownies chewy and gooey.

#4. Prepare your ingredients ahead of time.

If you wait until you’re in the heat of the moment to scramble to prepare your ingredients, it can make baking feel a little hectic and stressful. Most people bake because it’s relaxing and comforting (and, let’s face it, because who doesn’t love pie?), and you’ll have a much more relaxed bake if you do a little preparation ahead of time.

Before you start preheating the oven, take a few minutes to pull out all of the ingredients you’ll need. To make baking even more peaceful, measure out your ingredients into separate bowls so that you have exactly what you need ahead of time.

Some ingredients will need to be at a specific consistency (see point #3) that you’ll need to prepare for ahead of time, and taking the time to prepare your ingredients before you get started will help you avoid any nasty surprises.

#5. Take recipes out of the oven sooner than directed.

Oven temperatures can vary wildly, and unless you’ve got a brand-spanking-new oven or your oven gets recalibrated on a regular basis, its temperature probably isn’t overly accurate.

Underbaking is much easier to remedy than overbaking, so always make sure to check the minimum baking time, and subtract five to 10 more minutes from it. This is when you should first check on your recipe.

#6. Resist the temptation to open your oven.

Every time you open the oven door, you’re letting a lot of heat out, which can completely change the internal temperature of your oven. This can prevent your recipes from rising or baking properly.

If your oven has a light feature, use that to keep an eye on your baked goods without opening the door. If you need to test how done something is, take it out of the oven quickly, and close the door. Then, do the toothpick test and, if necessary, place the recipe back into the oven, quickly closing the door when you’re done.


Baking is a fun way to fill the time, but most of us will never be able to rival the creations coming out of our favorite local bakeries. Bakeries may or may not be open to in-person business near you, but many are offering curbside pickup and even delivery.

Find a local bakery near you to show your support to with Top Rated Local®. With Top Rated Local, you can find the best bakeries in your area and read bakery reviews from across the web.

Get started today.

What Could a Private Investigator do for You?

To many of us, private investigators are the stuff of movies and books. Although we know that there are a lot of private investigators out there, many of us have no real indication of what they do or how they might be able to help.

The truth is that private investigators can do a lot of things that could benefit everyone from individuals and families to small businesses and major corporations.

10 Things a Private Investigator Can do for You

#1. Infidelity Investigations

Has your spouse been hiding their cell phone or being secretive about their computer? Have they been making every excuse to get out of the house as much as possible? Has there been a marked decline in intimacy in your marriage?

While these signs don’t necessarily mean your spouse is having an affair, they are a few definite red flags. If you have a sinking feeling that your spouse is involved with someone else, but don’t have the proof to confront them, a private investigator can help you uncover the truth.

#2. Background Checks

Are you hiring a nanny to look after your children while you’re at work? Or, maybe you’re a business owner in the process of hiring someone to fill a sensitive or high-ranking position. Either way, getting a thorough background check will help you get the peace of mind you need.

Most private investigators will look into an individual’s criminal history, history of residences, credit history, employment history, and social connections to help you gain a full understanding of who they are.

#3. Divorce Investigations

In a perfect world, divorce would be simple. No one would try to get more than their fair share, and everyone would be amicable. However, that’s not the world we live in, and the truth is that divorce is often messy.

If you’re in the midst of a messy divorce, having a private investigator on your side is smart. From helping to uncover hidden assets to public record digs and surveillance, most private investigators can help you get your fair share.

#4. Adoption Investigations

For some adopted children, finding their birth parents helps them identify their own life stories and answers the questions they’ve had for their whole lives. But, unfortunately, finding your birth parents isn’t always easy. That’s where a private investigator comes in.

Adoption investigations are some of the most personal, emotional cases private investigators take on, so if you’re considering one, make sure that you take the time to find one you trust and will be sensitive to your needs.

#5. Child Custody Investigations

Are you in the midst of or getting ready to take part in a child custody battle? Are you concerned that the lives of the children at stake are at risk if your child custody battle doesn’t go your way? If so, it’s time to consider hiring a private investigator.

Through social media, interviews, and surveillance, a private investigator can help to gather evidence to support your case.

#6. Elder Abuse Investigations

Whether an elderly person you love is living on their own or in a senior living community, it’s important to know the risks of elder abuse and to be able to recognize the signs. Five million Americans are victims of elder abuse each year, and the consequences for the victim can be disastrous.

If you suspect that someone is abusing someone you love, but don’t feel comfortable contacting the authorities without more solid proof, a private investigator can help.

#7. Skip Tracing

Do you want to serve your spouse with divorce papers but are having trouble locating them? Do you need help locating a witness that might be key to a lawsuit? Do you need to find someone who has information you need? If you need help finding someone, it’s time to turn to find a private investigator that offers skip tracing.

Skip tracing is basically just locating someone’s whereabouts, and, luckily, it’s something most private investigators offer.

#8. Surveillance

Surveillance can be useful in many different types of cases, from divorce investigations to infidelity investigations. But, it’s not something that people can typically do on their own, because it often requires skill and experience.

If you need professional surveillance for any reason, I highly recommend working with a good private investigator near you.

#9. Risk Assessment

Have you or your business recently been threatened? Are you thinking about making a big decision, but unsure about whether or not it’s worth the risks?

Evaluating threats and risks is one of the biggest reasons to turn to a private investigator. A private investigator can help you determine which risks to take on and which threats to take seriously, giving your peace of mind.

#10. Corporate Investigations

Are you thinking of merging your business, taking on a new business partner, or making another big move with your business? If so, a corporate investigation may be the thing you need to help you determine which decisions are right for you.

In addition to doing background research into potential partners and helping you assess the risks of major business decisions, a private investigator can help to look into internal and external threats to your business. These include investigations into employee theft, fraud or embezzlement, and more.


These are just a few of the many cases that a private investigator could help you through. But, whether you’re working with a private investigator to find the truth about your spouse’s infidelity, fight for custody of your children, or locate your birth parent, it’s imperative that you find a private investigator you feel comfortable with. That’s where Top Rated Local® comes in.

We’re your go-to local business directory because we make it easy to find local businesses you can trust. With Top Rated Local, you can read private investigator reviews from across dozens of verified sites and quickly compare private investigators based on their online reputation as a whole.

Find a private investigator near you today.

Rhode Island’s Top Rated Local® Businesses: 2020

Known for its stunning coastline, as well as for being home to Cormac McCarthy, Viola Davis, and Seth MacFarlane, the Ocean State is also home to a number of truly incredible local businesses — from nail salons to accounting firms — that work to serve their communities and make the world a better place.

Top Rated Local® is here to recognize the many local businesses that work to make Rhode Island such a phenomenal place to live and visit. There are so many amazing businesses that serve the people of Rhode Island, but only the best of the best have made it on our list of Top Rated Local award winners for 2020. Today, we’re ecstatic to announce our 2020 award winners in Rhode Island.

To calculate our 2020 winners, we’ve looked at each business’ Rating Score™, which is determined by the total number of verified review sites the business is listed on, the total number of ratings/reviews the business has on those review sites, and the business’ average overall star rating. The more review sites a business is listed on, the more reviews or ratings a business has, and the higher the average star rating, the higher the Rating Score will be, with the highest being 100.00.

There are a large number of businesses that work hard to serve the people of Rhode Island and provide them with everything they need to thrive, and this year, we’ve identified 373 total businesses that have made the cut. These one-of-a-kind, local businesses have clearly made an impact on the customers and clients they serve each and every day, as evidenced by their impressive average Rating Score of 95.99 and average star rating of 4.86. For comparison, businesses across Top Rated Local average a 68.84 Rating Score and a 4.20 star rating. These businesses are truly the best of the best.

There are so many stand-out businesses in Rhode Island that deserve to be recognized for their success, but we’re especially excited to give a shoutout to the number one award-winner in Rhode Island for 2020 — Dr. Andrew Gazerro D.M.D. Offering a full range of dental services, from dental implants to veneers and teeth whitening, Dr. Andrew Gazerro D.M.D. is West Warwick’s premier source for dental care. Dr. Andrew Gazerro D.M.D. has received 1,667 reviews across five verified reviews sites with an average star rating of 5.00, which has earned it a phenomenal Rating Score of 100.00 and the bragging rights of being the number one Top Rated Local business in all of Rhode Island for 2020.

Congratulations to all of our award winners in Rhode Island for 2020, and we commend you for the outstanding service and support you provide for your community day in and day out.

What to Know Before You Adopt a Dog

There’s a lot to consider before adopting a dog.

Lots of people have decided to adopt a dog during this coronavirus pandemic, and while dog adoption is a positive thing in many, many ways, it’s also not something you want to take lightly.

The truth is that there are lots of things you’ll need to know and consider before adopting a dog.

10 Things You Should Consider Before Adopting a Dog

#1. Can I afford to adopt a dog?

Choosing to adopt a dog from a shelter is certainly more affordable than buying a dog from a breeder — by thousands of dollars in some cases — but the costs of adopting a dog are far more than just the adoption fee.

A good home for a dog is one that is able to meet the dog’s needs, including veterinary care, nourishing food, grooming, and lots of toys for its enrichment — the costs of all of which can add up greatly.

Before you adopt a dog, consider all of the costs of providing your furry friend with a good home, and be honest with yourself about whether or not you can truly afford it.

#2. Do I have time to adopt a dog?

As a proud dog parent, I can tell you that dogs take time — lots and lots of time. Between walking, feeding, grooming, cuddling, and playing with my dogs, there’s not a lot of time for much else. They’re a huge part of my life, and any dog you adopt will be a huge part of yours.

Not only does it take a lot of time to care for a dog, but your dog is also going to want to be with you as much as possible. Dogs are very social animals that don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. Make sure that you have plenty of time to spend with your dog before taking the leap.

#3. How much will the dog’s life change after the pandemic has ended?

Right now, a lot of people are finding themselves home more than ever before. But, even though it may feel like the coronavirus pandemic will never end, it’s important to remember that, sooner or later, it will.

So many people have rushed out to adopt dogs during the pandemic. But, before you do, it’s important to consider what your dog’s post-pandemic life will look like. Will you be able to continue to provide your dog with the same level of care and attention post-pandemic?

A sudden change in a dog’s life — for instance, you being gone at work for eight hours a day when you were previously home all the time — is going to have a huge impact on your dog.

#4. Am I physically capable of taking care of a dog?

Dogs need regular physical activity in order to be healthy, which means that their owners need to be physically fit enough to ensure that they get the exercise they need.

Studies have shown that dog owners get an average of 200 more minutes of walking each week than people who don’t have dogs, and that dog owners are four times more likely to meet exercise guidelines.

#5. What does my living situation look like?

Your living situation has a huge impact on your dog’s quality of life, and on the flipside, your dog will have a huge impact on where you’ll be able to live, particularly if you rent.

Not every landlord is prepared to allow a dog to live in their property, and oftentimes, when you do find a landlord that accepts pets, they’ll charge a pet deposit and/or pet rent.

Apartment life is also a bit more challenging with a dog because it means close neighbors who might get annoyed by barking or whining, as well as the need for frequent trips outside. Furthermore, you need to plan on additional walks since your dog won’t be able to exercise in a backyard.

#6. Can I practice patience?

Dogs don’t often come pre-trained. Most require lots of patience and consistency in order to learn what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable in your home. It also takes time, and you better believe that you’ll experience a few bumps along the way.

I can’t tell you how many pairs of shoes I’ve lost, how many of my books have been shredded, or how many pairs of my socks have been demolished by my dogs over the years. Dogs, especially when they’re young, operate mostly on impulse. It’s important that you’re willing and able to be patient and weather the storm while they figure out how to control their impulses.

#7. Will I be able to train the dog?

Not every dog needs to be trained as well as a service dog or a dog that works with law enforcement, but every dog needs some degree of training. As a dog parent, it’s up to you to train them.

Training is an important part of creating a harmonious home for your dog. It teaches them what to do and what not to do to keep you happy, but it’s also an important part of keeping your dog safe.

Let’s say that your dog slips out your front door when the delivery person drops off your dinner. A trained dog is more likely to come back when called than an untrained dog, which is more likely to keep running, putting it at risk for getting lost, in a fight with another dog, or run over by a car.

#8. Am I willing to spend time grooming my dog?

Dogs, much like people, require regular grooming in order to be healthy. Not every dog needs a regular haircut, but all dogs need the basics, like having their teeth cleaned, their nails trimmed, and their hair brushed. Some dogs have additional grooming needs, like haircuts or ear cleaning.

Before adopting a dog, inquire about its grooming needs, and make sure that you’re prepared to meet those needs.

#9. Are you ready/able to take on the responsibility of dog parenthood for the long haul?

Dog parenthood isn’t a short-term thing; it’s for the long haul. Dogs can live anywhere from five years to 15+ years, depending on its breed among other things. If you adopt a dog, it’s important that you are able to provide it with love and stability for the rest of its life.

#10. Are you prepared to give up other luxuries?

Sometimes, doing what’s best for your dog requires giving up some of the things you enjoy. For example, dog owners don’t have the luxury of staying out all night or taking a last-minute vacation, because they have a dog waiting for them and relying on them at home.

Having a dog doesn’t necessarily have to mean giving up on your social life or never traveling again, but it does mean being willing and able to make adjustments for the good of your fur child.


Are you ready to adopt a dog? If so, read find the right pet shelter near you with Top Rated Local®. With Top Rated Local, you can read a pet shelter’s reviews from across the web and quickly compare shelters in your community. Get started today.

Tips for a Successful Move During a Pandemic

The pandemic adds another layer of stress to already stressful situations, and moving is no exception. The more you know about staying safe, the more prepared you’ll be and the more peace of mind you’ll have.

6 Tips for a Safer Move During Coronavirus

#1. Find the right moving company.

Finding the right moving company is important regardless of whether or not a pandemic is going on, but it’s especially important during a pandemic. Movers will be coming in and out of your home, handling all of your boxes and furniture. You want to know that the moving company you’re working with is taking steps to keep their clients and employees safe.

Here are a few things to look for in a moving company:

  • Licensing and insurance – Always make sure that any moving company you work with has the appropriate license for your move — whether it be a local move or a cross-country move. It’s also critical that they are properly insured in case anything goes wrong during your move.
  • Paid sick time – The last thing that you want is for a sick mover to be working in your home. Make sure that any company you hire encourages its employees to stay home when they’re sick and offers paid sick time.
  • Safety equipment – Your movers should have all of the equipment necessary to keep you and their employees safe and healthy, including masks and hand sanitizer for all of their employees.
  • Contactless moving – Many moving companies are offering contactless moving, which includes virtual estimates and taking steps to maintain social distancing during the move.

#2. Learn the options for postponing or rescheduling.

If there’s one thing we can all take away from the coronavirus pandemic it’s that you never know what the future has in store. One day, we were all going about our normal routines, and the next, we’re all trying to navigate the intricacies of homeschooling and working from home.

Life is unpredictable, and you need to know if life gets in the way, you’ve hired a moving company that makes postponing or rescheduling your move easy and painless. Whatever the reason for needing flexibility with your move, it’s important that any mover you hire offers the kind of flexibility you need.

#3. Invest in fresh moving materials.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the primary way the coronavirus spreads is from person to person, and although it’s not transferred easily from a surface, it’s still possible to get infected after encountering the virus living on a surface. That means that it’s probably in your best interest to invest in fresh, new moving materials rather than looking for used ones.

I am normally a proud proponent of looking for free boxes at liquor stores and grocery stores. They often have plenty of great boxes that are perfect for moving. But these are not normal times, and you’ll have more peace of mind knowing where your boxes have come from and who has handled them.

#4. Do the packing and unpacking yourself.

Relying on your movers to pack your belongings is a great way to reduce your stress during the moving process, but again, times are not exactly normal. Packing and unpacking involve close handling of your belongings, which raises your risk of getting infected.

Moving during the middle of a pandemic can be risky, but the more of your move that you can handle yourself, the less of a risk you’ll be taking. Try limiting the jobs that your movers take on to only the ones that you can’t do yourself.

It’s also important to realize that the safety risks are greater inside your home than outside your home. So while it may be acceptable for movers to be in your home for a few minutes carrying a load in, having them hang around for hours to pack and unpack is a different matter.

#5. Follow health and safety guidelines.

Keep in mind all health and safety guidelines regarding coronavirus during your move. That means, when you’re inside with the movers, wear a mask and ask that any movers entering your home wear masks, too. Also, wash your hands frequently and make your sink available to your movers so that they can wash their hands frequently, too.

Most importantly, maintain your distance with the movers. When they come to the door, greet them with a smile instead of a handshake, and request that any forms that need to be filled out can be completed online. Thoroughly label furniture and boxes so that your movers don’t have to ask where things go.

#6. Wipe down anything and everything.

Before your movers start bringing things into your new home, make sure that it’s thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, making sure to put an emphasis on high-touch surfaces, like doorknobs, counters, faucets, etc. You could even consider waiting for 24 hours before unpacking your boxes, giving any virus that may be living on your boxes time to die off before you unpack. As you’re unpacking, it’s also a good time to wipe down your belongings.

Consult the CDC’s guidelines on how household cleaning and disinfecting.

Find the right local moving company near you with Top Rated Local®.

As I said in my first tip, finding the right mover is always important, but it’s especially important right now in the midst of the pandemic. But, finding the right mover is not always easy to do, especially when all of the moving companies in your community claim to be the best.

One of the best things you can do to ensure you’ve found the right company is to learn what their previous clients are saying about them, and you can do that by reading their reviews.

With Top Rated Local, you can read moving company reviews from across every verified review site, including Google, Facebook, and Yelp, and you’ll be able to compare the online reputations of movers in your area virtually instantaneously with the Rating Score™ system.

Start your search for a local mover with Top Rated Local today!

Iowa’s Top Rated Local® Businesses: 2020

Known for being the nation’s number one producer of corn and hosting one of the biggest and most famous state fairs, as well as being home to John Wayne, Herbert Hoover, and Johnny Carson, the Hawkeye State is also home to a number of truly incredible local businesses — from nail salons to accounting firms — that work to serve their communities and make the world a better place.

Top Rated Local® is here to recognize the many local businesses that work to make Iowa such a phenomenal place to live and visit. There are so many amazing businesses that serve the people of Iowa, but only the best of the best have made it on our list of Top Rated Local award winners for 2020. Today, we’re ecstatic to announce our 2020 award winners in Iowa.

To calculate our 2020 winners, we’ve looked at each business’ Rating Score™, which is determined by the total number of verified review sites the business is listed on, the total number of ratings/reviews the business has on those review sites, and the business’ average overall star rating. The more review sites a business is listed on, the more reviews or ratings a business has, and the higher the average star rating, the higher the Rating Score will be, with the highest being 100.00.

There are a large number of businesses that work hard to serve the people of Iowa and provide them with everything they need to thrive, and this year, we’ve identified 386 total businesses that have made the cut. These one-of-a-kind, local businesses have clearly made an impact on the customers and clients they serve each and every day, as evidenced by their impressive average Rating Score of 96.66 and average star rating of 4.87. For comparison, businesses across Top Rated Local average a 68.84 Rating Score and a 4.20 star rating. These businesses are truly the best of the best.

There are so many stand-out businesses in Iowa that deserve to be recognized for their success, but we’re especially excited to give a shoutout to the number one award-winner in Iowa for 2020 — Trixies. A full-service beauty salon and spa that offers everything from hair styling to massages and eyelash extensions, Trixies is Des Moines’ premier source for beauty and relaxation. Trixies has received 1,561 reviews across six verified reviews sites with an average star rating of 4.97, which has earned it a phenomenal Rating Score of 100.00 and the bragging rights of being the number one Top Rated Local business in all of Iowa for 2020.

Congratulations to all of our award winners in Iowa for 2020, and we commend you for the outstanding service and support you provide for your community day in and day out.

Is it Time to Replace Your Windows?

Window replacement comes with many benefits.

Replacing your windows can add to the curb appeal of your home, making it easier to sell and adding to your home’s value. It can also help you save more on your monthly energy bills and make your home more comfortable year-round, and make your home quieter and more insulated against the world around you.

The truth is that there are so many reasons to replace your windows, but it’s not exactly a cheap upgrade. There’s no doubt about it, window replacement is expensive, which is why most homeowners aren’t overly excited about the prospect of completing this upgrade until they absolutely have to.

7 Signs That it’s Time to Replace Your Windows

Sign #1. It’s no longer easy to open and close your windows.

There’s nothing more pleasant than opening all of the windows on a warm, slightly breezy day, or falling asleep with the windows open on a cool summer night. But, in order to enjoy these small life pleasures, your windows actually have to be able to open and close properly.

Does it take the strength of an army to heave your windows open? Do you have to use a block of wood to keep your windows propped open? Do you have to lock your windows in order to keep them closed?

There are lots of issues that can make opening and closing your windows difficult. For instance, if the frames have been warped or have started rotting, or if the frames have been displaced because of shifts in your home. Whatever the reason, if your windows are inoperable, you need to replace them.

Sign #2. You’ve got single-pane windows.

If you live in an older home, you may have single-pane windows. Single-pane windows are affordable, which is great, but they are extremely poor insulators. This can result in high energy bills.

Single-pane windows also negatively impact how comfortable you are in your home. In the summer, they allow warm outside air to leak into your home, and in the winter, they allow the heated air in your home to leak out.

If your home has single-pane windows, it’s time to consider replacing them.

Sign #3. Your energy bills are high.

Single-pane — or otherwise old, outdated, or damaged windows — can have a significant impact on your energy bills. As I mentioned, cheap, inefficient windows let outside air leak in, making your HVAC system work a lot harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

The EnergyStar program from the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average home in the United States could save between $126 and $465 a year by replacing single-pane windows with EnergyStar-qualified replacement windows.

The energy savings from replacing single-pane windows is significant, but I won’t pretend that window replacement will pay for itself from energy savings alone. It won’t, but you’ll be more comfortable and your home will be more energy-efficient.

Sign #4. You can hear a lot of outside noise.

Your windows are how you connect to the world around you, but the great thing about windows is that they can be closed and shutters can be drawn. They allow you to let as much or as little of the world around you into your life and into your home. But, if your windows are old and inadequate, they may let a lot of outside noise into your home, which cannot be so easily dealt with by closing the blinds.

Double-pane windows that are properly insulated do a much better job of keeping outside noise outside than outdated single-pane windows do. This can enhance your quality of life in so many ways, including a better night’s sleep, even if your neighbors are having a party or are noisily sitting around the fire pit.

Sign #5. There’s a buildup of condensation on your windows.

Have you noticed condensation building up between the panes in your double-pane windows or on the inside of your single-pane windows? In the winter, does that condensation turn into frost?

This is a surefire sign that any insulating gas that was previously keeping your windows sealed is now gone. Windows that are no longer properly sealed will make your home much less comfortable and wreak havoc on your energy bills.

Sign #6. Your window panes are decaying.

The condensation that sits on the glass can be wiped away, but it’s the condensation that you don’t see, and can’t be so easily wiped away, that causes the most damage. When the condensation starts building up on wooden window frames, it leads to rot, mold, and decay.

Decaying window frames no longer hold their seal and don’t often operate properly. If you’ve had issues with condensation building up on your windows, make sure to keep a close eye on your window panes for signs of rot.

Sign #7. Your window frames are warped, broken, or otherwise damaged.

The integrity of the window frames is just as important as the integrity of the glass on the windows. Window frames that are chipped, water damaged, or have started to decay won’t be able to provide you with the seal you need against the outside world.

Your windows, like your exterior walls, are standing between you and the outside world, which means that they are constantly exposed to the elements. Over time, the elements can damage your windows, making it impossible for them to do their job.


If you’ve decided that the time has come to replace your windows, it’s important that you find the right local home contractor for the job. With the right contractor, you can maximize the benefits of window replacement, therefore, maximizing your investment.

Start your search for a home contractor near you with Top Rated Local®. We’re the only local business directory that allows you to read a home contractor’s reviews from across every verified site they’re listed on, as well as easily compare home contractors’ overall online reputations. Get started today!