Like and unlike govern nouns and pronouns, not verbs and clauses. So as in America not like in America, as I was saying, not like I was saying, as Grandma used to make them,not like Grandma used to make them, etc. English has no unas equivalent to unlike, so you must rephrase the sentence if you are tempted to write unlike in this context, unlike at Christmas, or unlike when I was a child.
If you find yourself writing She looked like she had had enough or It seemed like he was running out of puff, you should replace like with as if or as though, and you probably need the subjunctive: She looked as if she had had enough, It seemed as if he were running out of puff.
The usage of because of/due to
Due to + Noun phrase
Due to the fact that + Main clause
Because + Main clause
Because of + Noun phrase
Stop being lazy. Just get in the habit of loving words and seeing their original meanings. Stop being afraid. Get in the habit of forgetting about your audience entirely. You must find your subject interesting (otherwise, why not choose something else to write about?), and so it simply is interesting.
If you really feel something is missing, choose something evocative–but just one single image for the entire article–and stick with that.