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Three Ways to Overcome Vision Challenges

July 8, 2014 3:39 am

An estimated 2.9 million Americans have low vision, which makes it difficult or impossible for them to accomplish activities such as reading, writing, shopping, watching television, driving a car or recognizing faces. Fortunately, there are many strategies and resources available to people with low vision that can help them overcome these challenges.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with low vision and those that care for them follow these tips:

• See an ophthalmologist. Those with low vision can improve their quality of life through low vision rehabilitation, which teaches people how to use their sight more effectively and can be arranged through an ophthalmologist – a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions.

• Make things brighter. Make sure areas are well-lit and cover shiny surfaces to reduce glare. Consider increasing color contrasts as well. For instance, drink coffee from a white mug and always use a felt-tipped pen with black ink.

• Use technology.
Many of today's newer technologies have applications that can help with low vision. For example, e-readers allow users to adjust the font size and contrast. Many smartphones and tablets can also be used to magnify print, identify cash bills and provide voice-navigated directions.

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top 5 Moving Mistakes

July 7, 2014 3:27 am

Whether moving across town or across the country, packing up and moving can be stressful, costly and full of surprises. From shady movers and inaccurate price quotes, to over-packing or not allowing enough time to get the move set up, every step of a move has the potential for mistakes that can make a move a nightmare.

These tips will help anyone preparing for a move, whether they currently live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, with friends or with mom and dad.

1. Hiring a shady mover.
We've all heard horror stories about moving scams, and perhaps maybe you've been the victim of a moving scam yourself. You can steer clear of a less-than-upstanding mover by doing your homework. The Better Business Bureau, Angie's List, your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation—and even your relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues—are all good sources of information about whether a moving company is on the up-and-up. Doing some homework online can save you a lot of heartache on moving day.

If you've done your research and still aren't confident in the movers you've come across, you always can go the DIY route—just be sure you're up for the task.

2. Messing up the quotes.
If you hire a mover, you should be able to have someone from that company come to your place for an in-home moving estimate. If a moving company won't do an in-home estimate, you should think about shopping around for another mover.
Along those lines, don't rely on just one quote from one mover. Contact several movers for quotes. If you really like one mover over another but your favorite company is a little pricey, try negotiating for a lower price. Always make sure to get a moving estimate in writing.

3. Packing too much stuff.
Do you really need those old boxes of baby clothes that you haven't laid eyes on since your 6-year-old was in diapers? Before you move, you need to "edit" your belongings. Think about whether you can trash some of your possessions, donate them to charity, or give them away to friends and relatives. Perhaps you could hold a garage sale to clear out some of the clutter. If you haven't seen, worn or used something in a year, it's best to think hard about whether you need to keep it—and whether you need to haul it to your new place.

4. Failing to schedule your move well in advance.
During the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks—or, better yet, months—in advance. You don't want to be scrambling to find a mover the day before you're supposed to head out. Moving already is stressful enough without adding that frustration.

5. Ignoring the need to pack ahead of time.
You'll find very few people who'll say that packing is fun. In fact, a 2013 survey commissioned by SpareFoot found that people who'd moved in the past year identified packing and unpacking as the biggest hassle in the process.
You can lessen the load by beginning to pack well before moving day comes along. Start by boxing up stuff that you won't need right away -- for instance, if you're moving in the summer, pack up your winter clothes so that they're out of the way. Also, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to check items off your packing to-do list.

If you get down to the wire and need help with packing, enlist friends, neighbors, relatives or colleagues to lend a hand. Make sure you've got plenty of food and beverages as a "thank you" for your volunteer helpers. If you can't rustle up any free help, consider hiring laborers to do the packing for you; that may be a small price to pay to alleviate moving-related stress.

Source: SpareFoot.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Keep Your Home Free of Summer Pests without Pesticides

July 7, 2014 3:27 am

Summer temperatures can be pleasant, but the warm weather is also attractive to insects and rodents. This is the time of year when pests make their way into your home, especially if they find the right living conditions. All they really need to get comfortable is water, food and a place where they can hide.

You can fight these pests without pesticides if you follow these suggestions:

Restrict access to food sources
• Tightly close any food packaging, like boxes and bags of cookies, chips, cereals or candy.
• Store items such as flour, sugar, rice or pasta in airtight bags or plastic containers.
• Clean any food spills or stains off the countertop, floor, and other areas throughout the kitchen.
• Do not let crumbs sit in pet dishes.
• Remember to take out the kitchen trash frequently, preferably every night.

Limit access to sources of water or liquids
• Try not to leave water drops or other liquids in the kitchen or anywhere else around the house.
• Wash and dry your dishes immediately after each meal.
• Repair leaky faucets or pipes in the bathroom, kitchen, backyard and any other area of the house.
• When gardening or watering plants, don't leave puddles or excess water.
• Open the bathroom window after bathing to clear out the steam.

Limit entry access to your home
• Seal cracks around pipes, doors and windows.
• Repair holes or tears on screen doors and windows.
• Close off the spaces underneath doors.
• Throw away or recycle unwanted boxes or wrappers.
• Put mouse traps inside and outside the home in areas where children or pets can't access.

Source: USA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Catch Invisible Energy Thieves in Your Home

July 7, 2014 3:27 am

(BPT) - Today's consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever before. They understand that making eco-friendly choices not only creates a positive impact on your surroundings, it can also translate into actual savings on monthly energy bills.

If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint and make your home part of the "green" initiative, follow these guidelines to help you protect both the environment and your bottom line.

Get the most out of your refrigerator. Most consumers focus on keeping the inside of their refrigerators clean, but keeping the outside clean is just as important. Dusty coils actually can impact the refrigerator's overall efficiency, because when dirty, they trap heat and prevent the refrigerator from cooling efficiently. The grills and coils should be cleaned once or twice a year and more often if you have pets. Use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment to clean the condenser cover and vents of your refrigerator. You can also use a soft bristled brush to access some of the hard-to-reach areas.

Insulate your home. Heating and cooling your home is one of your biggest energy costs, and if your home isn't properly insulated, you're losing money. Start by closing your windows and sealing any drafty areas you find. Hire a professional to insulate drafty areas of your home if you don't feel you can handle them on your own.

Cold is the new hot. A quick tip when it comes to laundry is washing clothes with cold water whenever possible. Look for washers equipped with "cold wash" technology, which achieves cold water savings with warm water washing performance. Another way to save water is to try to wash full loads, or if you must wash a partial load, reduce the level of water appropriately to avoid usage of extra water.

Turn it off. Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips. Turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use as equipment still uses several watts of power when they are in standby mode. And be sure to unplug your cell phone charger when your device is fully charged.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mid-Century Modern Home Upgrades Go Back in Time

July 3, 2014 2:39 am

(Family Features) Mid-century modern inspiration draws from the 1940s through the 1960s, a twenty-year span when design was sleek, elegant and functional. Although the style originated more than 70 years ago, this trend has resurfaced with a fresh revival.

Retro colors and simplistic styles are just the beginning when it comes to transforming a home into a sophisticated, mid-century modern residence. Here are two easy, yet impactful upgrades you can do at home:

Vibrant Colors, Patterns and Texture
Mid-century modern design showcases quality pieces of furniture or accessories rather than décor on the walls. White or neutral color palettes are typical on the walls, but your space comes to life with accessories, bright colors, various patterns and textures.

Opt for lamps with curved bases paired with narrow lampshades, accent pillows that tout bright orange and geometric shapes, or retro art to add mid-century modern personality throughout the home.

Simplistic Furniture
Furniture from this era is characterized by clean, straight lines which play up the natural beauty of the design. Pieces that are stripped down to a simple form often speak louder than those with excess detailing. Simplistic kitchen chairs or cabinets with wood detailing in the living room are perfect ways to play up this modern design theme in your home.
Looking for one piece of iconic furniture to make a statement? Find an impressive Eames lounge chair featuring a wood and leather combination to act as the focal point for a sitting room or bedroom.

Whether the dining room features a gold bar cart stacked with your favorite beverages or the kitchen shines with a unique, vintage light fixture – blending designs from the past into a modern home will result in a personalized, sophisticated style that is sure to satisfy your design cravings and impress guests for years to come.

Source: Brizo

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Shoot Stunning Fireworks Photos

July 3, 2014 2:39 am

Capturing a firework burst is no easy task. Nighttime conditions and a relatively small window of opportunity present challenges for photographers, regardless of skill. But with the right amount of preparation and a few technical tweaks, anyone can shoot stunning fireworks photos. Here’s are three tips to get you started:

Come prepared – Before you start snapping shots, be sure you have all the essentials on hand. Bring an extra battery and memory card, and a flashlight for when the sun sets. Turn off the flash and remove any filters.

Set up
– A tripod works best, but if you don’t have one, put your camera on a stable surface. Place it upwind of fireworks to avoid smoky images. Set your camera’s scene mode to fireworks or night for optimal results.

Point and click – Press the shutter release just before the fireworks explode, and use a long shutter speed to capture changing colors and individual formations. Experiment with wider shots to include the surrounding landscape.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Tips for Hiring a Skilled Roofing Contractor

July 3, 2014 2:39 am

(BPT) - Purchasing a new roof is one of the most important - and biggest - investments you can make in your home. That's why it's crucial to have a knowledgeable professional on hand to guide you through each step of the process. In fact, choosing the right contractor is just as important as choosing the right roofing components. Remember the four "R's" to help ensure you have the best person for the job.

1. Research local contractor options.
A great contractor for your roof replacement project will be dedicated to outstanding craftsmanship and possess a high level of professionalism. Ask for referrals from friends and family or check out reviews on consumer rating sites. As a general rule, any contractor you consider should be in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and hold at least $1 million in general liability insurance. Make sure to verify that he or she carries all required state and local licensing. As with any other professional service, it's also a good idea to "shop around" and obtain multiple quotes before making a commitment.

2. Rely on a trusted brand.
The top roofing manufacturers proactively seek out alliances with some of the best contractors in the business. Contractor networks are supported by the manufacturer and offer homeowners added assurance that participating professionals are skilled and reputable. These designated contractors are typically up-to-date on the latest industry standards and technologies, as well as being trained inside and out on the manufacturers' products.

3. Review any proposals thoroughly.
After a prospective contractor does a thorough inspection of your current roof, he or she should provide a written proposal and cost estimate for your roof replacement project. Review the proposal closely and inquire about such details as projected start and completion dates, expectations for payment and adherence to local building codes. The proposal also should clearly outline the scope of work for the job - including all products to be specified. In addition, this is an ideal time to ensure that the contractor will commit to supervising the job during each phase of the work, inspect it thoroughly when finished and leave your yard in the same shape it was found.

4. Request a comprehensive warranty.
Consider selecting a contractor who provides additional warranty coverage for excellent protection. Make sure your contractor takes the time to explain all available warranties so that you thoroughly understand the limitations and requirements before your roof is installed, and you know who to contact if there's a problem in the future.

It's important to make the extra effort to find a roofing contractor who will provide the support, know-how and breadth of services necessary to install a beautiful new high-performance roof for your home.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Guidelines for Grill Safety

July 2, 2014 2:27 am

(Family Features) With the warm weather season in full swing, the opportunities for firing up the grill are plentiful. But before you reach for those barbecue tongs, there are some important grill safety tips you and your family should keep in mind.

1. Follow instructions. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for assembling, using and maintaining your grill.

2. Keep it outdoors. Outdoor propane grills should be located on a level surface at least five feet from the house, siding, outdoor furniture and anything else that could be a fire hazard.

3. Be smart when lighting and relighting. Keep the lid open and don't lean over the grill when lighting it. If the flame goes out, turn off the gas, keep the lid open and wait at least 15 minutes before relighting.

4. Check for leaks. Use a soapy water solution to check connections for leaks. Expanding bubbles indicate a leak. Follow this procedure when replacing a cylinder.

Source: Grilling for Heroes

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Best Times to Score a Cruise Deal

July 2, 2014 2:27 am

For travelers looking to book a significant deal on a cruise vacation, timing is everything. Cruise Critic, the world's largest cruise website, shares five occasions when booking a cruise can yield big savings.

• Hurricane Season:
While Atlantic hurricane season typically stretches from June 1 – November 30, particularly good deals abound for sailings during its height (mid-August to mid-October). There are considerations to keep in mind – itineraries may change as ships re-navigate to avoid storms – but a majority of cruisers are unfazed by potential hurricane-related issues.

• A Year Out (or More): Travelers may just be setting out for this year's summer vacation, but it's not too soon to book next year's cruise. As sailings are announced – usually a year or more out – cruise lines tend to offer a number of added-value promotions. This includes anything from drink packages to gratuity or airfare – all added costs that cruisers will usually end up paying anyway, and could save hundreds of dollars.

• Last-Minute: The final payment for a cruise is usually 90 days out. At that time, cabins that have not been paid in full may be released, giving cruise lines a better idea of the occupancy that they have left to fill – which often means deeply discounted fares for potential cruisers.

• Off-Season: Each destination has its own high and low seasons – with cruise fares following suit. By booking a cruise during a destination's low-season, cruisers may have the option to visit their destination of choice at a much lower cost than offered during high-season – and without the crowds. Examples of low-seasons include Alaska in May and September, the Caribbean in late spring or winter (holiday weeks, excluded) or the Mediterranean in the fall.

Source: Cruise Critic

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Smart Kitchen Improvements

July 2, 2014 2:27 am

The kitchen is the center of our lives at home, serving needs way beyond its intended culinary purpose. With so much activity on a daily basis, it’s important that kitchens are equipped with functional features. Make improvements with these five smart upgrades:

Quartz countertops – Move over, granite! Quartz countertops are gaining popularity due to a wide variety of styles and low maintenance costs. They don’t need to be sealed, and are naturally resistant to spills and stains.

Smart faucets – Gone are the days of the simple stream. Homeowners will save time and money with smart faucets that boast varying stream patterns and pressures to ensure just the right amount of water is used.

Charging stations – Think about how many gadgets homeowners plug in each day – and how much easier it would be if they could all be charged in one location. Whether it’s a freestanding station or installed directly into an island or cabinet drawer, having an area to charge all electronics keeps everything within arm’s reach.

Induction cooktops - Additional seating at an island has long been the norm, but installing an induction cooktop transforms the island into a fully functional workspace. They’re also a snap to clean, blending seamlessly with the surrounding countertop.

Wi-Fi appliances – The future of total home management. Save time with new appliances that come with Wi-Fi capabilities, such as electric wall ovens. Homeowners can preheat the oven ahead of time with a few keystrokes on their phone or tablet.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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