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How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon

July 3, 2013 4:30 am

One of the most important things you should do when choosing a plastic surgeon is do your research. There are different reasons why one chooses to have plastic surgery. One reason could be to improve your health; another reason could be to improve your self-esteem. Whatever your reason may be to have plastic surgery, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. In choosing a plastic surgeon to perform very risky operations, one should be educated in the background of the chosen physician.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking the right questions will guarantee you the best treatment, and therefore the best outcome. The first question to ask is: "Are you board certified, and with which board?"

You want to make sure that your surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Once you find out the proper qualifications for your chosen surgeon, use personal references through friends and family. This will give you another great insight into the plastic surgeon's reputation throughout his or her community.

Also ask what happens in case of an emergency. Your plastic surgeon should always have a backup plan in case an emergency arises. A board certified plastic surgeon will tell his or her patients about the risks and complications that may occur during surgery. They will make you aware of what happens when they occur. Your surgeon should have a good standing with the emergency hospital, or hospitals, that are nearest to the medical facility where the surgery is taking place. You can check the surgeon's credentials with the alternative hospital or hospitals. It is also important to make sure that the medical facility where the surgeon operates is accredited.

Lastly, view before and after pictures of patients that were operated on by the chosen surgeon. Every doctor should be proud of his or her work. Plastic surgeons want to prove to you that they are the best. They want to prove that you are the most important person to them, from the moment you meet with them for a consultation, until you leave their office at your six week check-up.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


American Dermatologists Reveal Top 10 Sunscreen Brands

July 3, 2013 4:30 am

Coolibar, a sun protective clothing manufacturer, conducted a survey to reveal the top 10 dermatologist recommended sunscreen brands. The survey was conducted at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) from March 1-5, 2013 in Miami Beach, Fla. Neutrogena and Aveeno top the list as perennial favorites followed by La Roche-Posay, Elta and Vanicream in the top five.

A record number of 1,572 dermatologists weighed in on the most reliable sunscreens recommended to patients as part of their sun safety education.

A mix of mass-market sunscreens combined with specialty brands are listed in order of the frequency with which they are recommended to patients:

1. Neutrogena
2. Aveeno
3. La Roche-Posay
4. Elta
5. Vanicream
6. Coppertone
7. Blue Lizard
8. Eucerin
9. Solbar
10. Fallene

Source: Coolibar

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Easy Home Improvements to Benefit Indoor Air Quality

July 3, 2013 4:30 am

(Family Features) Runny nose, itchy eyes and headache. These are just a few ailments suffered by homeowners with poor indoor air quality, potentially as a result of smoke, odors, dust or other contaminants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, where air quality can be two to five times more polluted than the air outside.

While asthma and allergy sufferers, children and the elderly are particularly sensitive to indoor air quality, everyone is impacted by it. Fortunately, a few simple and affordable home improvements can go a long way to benefit your home’s air.

Skip synthetic fragrances

Despite their fresh scents, air fresheners and laundry products can emit dozens of chemicals. For truly fresh air, look for fragrance-free or natural products and skip aerosol sprays. Keep rooms ventilated by opening windows and add a fern or aloe vera plant to help purify your air.

Use paint that reduces some indoor odors and pollutants
Using the right paint can reduce common indoor odors like those from cooking and smoke. Promote better indoor air quality by reducing some indoor air pollutants from potential sources like insulation, carpet, cabinets and fabrics.

Clean up dust-grabbing décor
Household dust can trap chemicals and allergens. Some objects are prone to dust, such as rugs, upholstered furniture and infrequently moved accessories. Opt for easy-to-clean or washable items to avoid dust getting trapped in your space.

Dehumidify moist spaces
Moisture can attract dust mites, mildew and mold, so keep your rooms at a safe 30 to 50 percent humidity level. An inexpensive indoor humidity monitor will check your home’s levels, and a basic dehumidifier can solve many moisture challenges.

Clean floors regularly
Use a vacuum cleaner that is equipped with a HEPA filter (a high-quality, dense type of filter) and rotating brushes to remove dust and dirt from floors, and vacuum weekly, especially in high-traffic areas. A good vacuum will not blow dust or dirt out in the exhaust. Twice a month, use a microfiber mop on hard floors, skipping any chemical cleaning solutions in favor of warm water or a natural product.

Source: Sherwin-Williams

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Buying or Selling a Home? 5 Must-Reads to Aid the Process

July 2, 2013 5:48 pm

When it comes to buying or selling a home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information available via your agent, family members, friends and even your neighbors. While taking everything in may seem like an uphill battle, a trip to your local library may be worthwhile.

Here are five best-selling books that you might want to pick up to help get a better handle on what you’re going through.

“House Selling for Dummies”/ “Home Buying for Dummies”: These popular books are both on their fourth editions and touch on some basic tips that everyone should know, but don’t always do. Eric Tyson and Ray Brown offer a ton of time-tested advice and updated strategies for buying or selling a home within the current market conditions. Additionally, “The For Dummy” books are available in a wide range of topics, covering everything from getting a mortgage, home-buying kits and even short sales.

“100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask”: Things are changing fast in residential real estate, and this book will bring you up-to-date. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, first-time seller, or haven't bought a home in at least five years, real estate expert Ilyce R. Glink has complied answers from top brokers around the country addressing all of the current trends homebuyers need to stay on top of to find the home of their dreams. Not only does the book include great reference sections on contracts, resources, and real estate terms, it also has mortgage payment tables in the back.

“Holmes Inspection: The Essential Guide for Every Homeowner, Buyer and Seller”: Mike Holmes, star of the popular Canadian home improvement show, “Make it Right,” explains how to spot problems and gives you the information you need to judge a house wisely during an inspection. From the mechanicals (furnace, electrical and plumbing) to the “envelope” (floors, walls, doors and windows) to issues of location, this book includes real case studies, red flag sidebars and hundreds of photographs regarding what to look out for.

“Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home”: Written by legal experts Ilona Bray, Alayna Schroeder and Marcia Stewart, this book is filled with interesting facts, real-life stories and insights, and common pitfalls to avoid when buying a home in today’s market. It’s essentially a guide from A-Z on securing the right mortgage, selecting the right agent, and ultimately finding your dream home.

“The 106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make (and How to Avoid Them)”: Author Gary Eldred has compiled the experience of hundreds of homebuyers, real estate agents, home builders, and mortgage lenders to create a guide to keep people from making errors in the home-buying process. Topics addressed in this book include underestimating utilities and other costs, researching selling prices and not trusting your agent.

For more information about real estate related reading material, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


From House to Home - The Right Tools Help New Homeowners Transform Their Space

July 2, 2013 5:48 pm

Once all the papers are signed and it’s time to move into your new home, one of the first things most new homeowners do is compile a list of projects that need to be completed. Whether it's hanging photos, installing speaker cables—or anything in between—ensuring you have the right tools for the job is the first step toward successfully turning your new house into a home.

While most people could probably find a hammer and some screwdrivers somewhere among their possessions, things such as a drill, leveler, ratchets, electrical tape and different size screws and nails will most likely need to be bought in order to easily complete the projects you have in mind.

Once you’ve determined which tools are necessary to complete the projects on your wish list, a trip to your local hardware store is a must. Now that you’re a homeowner, it’s time to look past keeping your tool collection in a junk drawer and organize your tools in an easy-to-find manner. Therefore, the first thing you should put in your cart is an actual toolbox.

If you don’t already own a hammer and different sized screwdrivers (both flat and Phillips head), now’s the time to buy a nice set. From hanging artwork to replacing batteries in smoke detectors and many other ordinary fix-it-up opportunities, you’ll be amazed at how often these items come in handy.

Next on the list should be pliers and wrenches, as these are good for tightening shelves and cabinets and many small plumbing jobs you might do in the bathroom. There’s also a special tool that is used to turn a small knob on the garbage disposal to help fix any blockages, so make sure you have one of those, too.

A tape measure is another great tool for new homeowners. If you’re thinking about buying new furniture and accessories and want to ensure everything will fit into the space, a tape measure will undoubtedly come in handy. When it comes to buying a good tape measure that won’t break or tear easily, a few extra dollars will go a long way.

A drill is important as well, and there are lots of options out there. To save hassle, go with a cordless, reversible drill and add on a package of different sized bits so you’ll never have any problems hanging or loosening things.

Extension cords are one of those items you won’t think about until needed, so it’s a good idea to pick up a few so that you’re prepared should you need one down the road. Not only do they come in handy at parties, they are also good to have during the holiday season. In addition, they can be a lifesaver when it comes to rooms in your home where electrical outlets aren’t where you need them.

Other things you should buy include a utility knife and blades for cutting exact edges, a saw for cutting wood, vice/clamps to stabilize items you’re cutting, wire cutters to get rid of unnecessary wires and wall hangers in different sizes to make sure you can hang things of all weights.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help at the hardware store, either. Let them know you’ve just moved into a new home as they may be able to suggest additional tools that will help make projects around the home much easier.

Contact our office today to learn more about transforming your new house into a home.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Short Sales Increasingly Popular Among Military Personnel

July 2, 2013 5:48 pm

For military personnel across the board, short sales are becoming an increasingly popular option as permanent change of station orders cause them to relocate. To help with this growing trend, the National Military Short Sale Referral Agency was created this past January to make it easier for members of the military to sell a home via a short sale transaction.

“It is important that the military member, wherever stationed, be expeditiously connected with a local short sale expert to help alleviate what in many cases is extreme hardship with paying a mortgage on a former home, yet facing housing costs at the new duty station,” said Dennis Blackmore, a veteran who created the referral agency. “Taking advantage of the government’s once in a lifetime short sale opportunity for military members should not be overlooked.”

The National Military Short Sale Referral Agency will help conduct the research for the military member to ensure a real estate agent is responsive to all issues and concerns, including checking on experience, references and personal contact.

Additionally, the military rolled out a program last year that considers transferring to a new duty station a hardship, and it makes it easier for a short sale to proceed.

“It is in everyone's interest for the men and women serving in our armed forces to focus on the important job they are doing defending our country, rather than worry about the maintenance and leasing of a property in another jurisdiction,” Edward J. DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said in a release.

The Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP) through the Department of Defense (DOD) is another way to help with short sales.

The program authorizes the Secretary of Defense to provide financial aid to eligible military civilian, certain overseas employees, and non-appropriated fund employee homeowners who have served or have been employed at or near military installations which the DOD has ordered to be closed or whose operations have been significantly reduced and where real estate values have declined because of the announced closure or realignment.

HAP is subject to the availability of funds as appropriated by Congress to the DOD for the program and will cease when all funds are expended.

Congress expanded HAP when they passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and now, nearly every military personnel involved in a short sale can get financial help through HAP if they find themselves upside down when they must sell because of a mandatory permanent transfer.

For more information related to short sales and military personnel, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Moving Day Blues: Keep Your Four-Legged Friend Happy and Healthy as You Transition to Your New Space

July 2, 2013 5:48 pm

Packing up your belongings and moving into a new space is an exciting time in anyone’s life. But the entire process—from start to finish—can be overwhelming when it comes to the family pet. While cats and dogs are comfortable with routine and thrive in familiar surroundings, placing them in a new environment may cause behavioral changes, loss of appetite or just plain old sadness.

When it comes to helping your four-legged friend adjust to its new home, pet experts agree that the best thing to do is to try and follow the same routine you had in place when living in your former home. This includes walking your dog at the same time, feeding your pet at the same time and using the same bowl and brand of food that you have always used.

In addition, when you first arrive at your new house, create a pet-friendly space filled with your pet’s favorite blanket and toys and spend some time with them to help them get comfortable. Make sure they know where their food is, and for cats, where the litter box is located.

Even pets like birds, rabbits or guinea pigs can be affected by a move. Therefore, it’s important to spend some time with them, making sure they’re aware that you’re not leaving them.

Before making a move with a pet, you should get all of its records from your veterinarian in case any problems arise once you’ve arrived at your new place. Additionally, according to the Humane Society, equipping your pet with a microchip can provide an extra level of protection in case your pet loses his collar and tags in your new neighborhood. Be sure to check with your vet about the various options available.

It’s also important to find a new vet once you’ve moved, as well as the nearest pet store. Dog owners should not only investigate the closest dog parks, but also local dog walkers and daycare options in case the need arises.

A happy and healthy pet will undoubtedly ensure a smooth move, so be sure to keep their needs in mind when a move is made.

For more tips on moving with pets, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Simple Bathroom Renovations to Help Your Home Stand Out

July 2, 2013 5:48 pm

From increasing your property’s curb appeal to staging your home to attract a larger pool of potential buyers, the list of things that require attention before putting your home on the market may seem endless. While the bathroom may be the first area that gets overlooked, it’s often one of the most important spaces when it comes to helping your home stand out.

After all, a bathroom is a place where one starts each morning and ends each night. Not only is it a place for grooming, it can also be a homeowner’s sanctuary—a space for relaxing in a hot bath, escaping the stresses of daily life for a few moments.

In addition, studies have shown that updating a bathroom before putting a house on the market is one of the best ways to increase a home’s resale value. There are plenty of small fixes that are easy to implement, such as replacing the lighting with decorative fixtures or adding a new shower curtain, however, there are a few larger and not-too-expensive renovations that should be considered, too.

For instance, the bathroom is a prime place to start putting those environmentally friendly devices to work. Installing fixtures that save water, such as a low-flow showerhead, a low-flow faucet aerator, and a dual-flush toilet, can save thousands of gallons of water each year and attract an energy-conscious buyer. The addition of energy-efficient windows is another easy option, since bathroom windows are typically on the smaller side. Also, adding natural stone countertops and flooring, which help keep the space cool during the summer and warm during the winter, is another fix that is both decorative and energy efficient.

Even if your bathroom is on the smaller side, there are several things you can do to optimize the space and make it appear larger than it really is. One option is to replace the vanity with a designer pedestal sink, which will add intrigue to the room while taking up less space. You may also want to consider adding large floor tiles and painting the walls a light color to give the illusion of space. Switching out the current bathtub for one that is smaller, but more unique, is another quick fix that’ll add mass appeal.

If you’re looking for something really different, try hanging an entire row of plants along one wall. Or, incorporate multiple mirrors or even a chandelier into the space. Decorative glass, stone tile and extra-wide wall tiles remain popular options in 2013, according to home stagers.

Incorporating unconventional decorating themes will help your bathroom stand out while attracting a larger pool of prospective buyers.

For more bathroom renovation ideas, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


In this Edition: Short Sales

July 2, 2013 5:48 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters, brought to you through our company's membership in RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), examines the importance of updating the bathroom as you prepare your home to be listed on the market. Other topics covered this month include how having the right tools on hand can help new homeowners turn their house into a home and tips to keep the family pet happy and healthy throughout the moving process. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Barbecue Bliss: Keeping Bacteria at Bay

July 2, 2013 4:30 am

Summer brings out barbecue grills—and bacteria, which multiply in food faster in warm weather and can cause foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning). Following a few simple guidelines can prevent an unpleasant experience.

Wash your hands
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. If you're eating where there’s no source of clean water, bring water, soap and paper towels or have disposable wipes/hand sanitizer available.

Marinate food in the refrigerator
Don’t marinate on the counter—marinate in the refrigerator. If you want to use marinade as a sauce on cooked food, save a separate portion in the refrigerator. Do not reuse marinade that contacted raw meat, poultry, or seafood on cooked food unless you bring it to a boil first.

Keep raw food separate
Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate cooler or securely wrapped at the bottom of a cooler so their juices won’t contaminate already prepared foods or raw produce. Don't use a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for anything else unless you wash them first in hot, soapy water. Have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side for serving.

Cook food thoroughly
Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked thoroughly to destroy harmful bacteria. Partial precooking in the microwave oven or on the stove is a good way to reduce grilling time—just make sure the food goes immediately on the preheated grill to finish cooking.

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold
Keep hot food at 140°F or above until served. Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill, or wrap well and place in an insulated container.

Keep cold food at 40°F or below until served. Keep cold perishable food in a cooler until serving time. Keep coolers out of direct sun and avoid opening the lid often.

Cold foods can be placed directly on ice or in a shallow container set in a pan of ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
Don’t let hot or cold perishables sit out for longer than two hours, or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F. When reheating fully cooked meats, grill to 165°F or until steaming hot.

Transport food in the passenger compartment of the car where it’s cooler—not in the trunk.

Put these items on your list:
These non-food items are indispensable for a safe barbecue.
• food thermometer
• several coolers: one for beverages (which will be opened frequently), one for raw meats, poultry, and seafood, and another for cooked foods and raw produce
• ice or frozen gel packs for coolers
• jug of water, soap, and paper towels for washing hands
• enough plates and utensils to keep raw and cooked foods separate
• foil or other wrap for leftovers


Published with permission from RISMedia.