December 9, 2011 3:50 pm
In a comprehensive study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, 2010, researchers discovered significant spikes in both cardiac and non-cardiac deaths during the holidays. Researchers looked at 57.5 million U.S. death certificates spanning the years 1979 to 2004. It found 42,325 more people died of natural causes during the two-week Christmas/New Year holiday period than would normally be expected, given a typical winter. There also were increases in every major disease group of one-to-ten percent and in every demographic group of three-to-nine percent.
They also warned this unfortunate holiday trend is on the rise.
Additionally, the rate of insurance policies issued drops during the month of December, which compounds the problem even more. During the winter holidays, most people would rather be spending time with family than thinking about life insurance. Many add it to their “New Year’s Resolution” list, but by that time, it could be too late. With this in mind, it's crucially important to not put off opening a life insurance policy until the near year.
Whether one is searching for short-term life insurance or whole life insurance, there is always a solution that allows families the protection they require and the ability to obtain coverage affordably and efficiently. Coverage is subject to age limitations and acceptance is based on a few simple health questions on the online application.
Life is unpredictable and the last thing a person needs is an excuse to put off the financial responsibility to their family due to extensive and time consuming life insurance applications and medical exams.
For more information, visit: www.anicodirect.com.
December 9, 2011 3:50 pm
Cabinetry has long been used to create distinctive kitchens and baths, but by choosing affordable and versatile cabinetry, those same cabinets can be used throughout the home to add style and function to nearly any room. As we head into 2012, smaller spaces, smaller budgets and higher expectations will drive the design of affordable spaces that homeowners will love.
The Living Room
The trend of open living spaces is still strong; however, the living room is becoming smaller in size. Homeowners need to consider making every inch of the home functional for that specific living space. For example, the entertainment center is usually the focal point of the room, so why not make it beautiful? The TV doesn’t have to live on its own with just one purpose; cabinetry can be used to house the TV or to surround it. And, this cabinetry can serve as great storage for everything from DVDs and video game systems to board games.
If reading is also a part of your families’ lives, bookshelves are another dramatic and functional design addition that can be created with cabinetry. It adds valuable storage without taking up a lot of room, plus it’s a great way to display family photos and personal treasures.
As homes are getting smaller, bedrooms are sometimes being used for more than just sleeping. Often it serves as the home’s office or craft room, and with these dual purposes, storage becomes even more important. Cabinetry has the ability to transform into a desk, window seats or a built-in dresser. In addition to being extremely practical, cabinetry has the ability to look like high-end furniture pieces, at a fraction of the cost.
When choosing cabinetry for the bedroom:
• Choose cabinetry with clean lines and neutral finishes that have the ability to work with most any décor, from whimsical to modern.
• Remember, a simple change of hardware can dramatically change the look of a furniture-like piece.
• Consider including areas that can accommodate a child and a teenager in the bedroom layout, for example, where a child can sit and color can adapt to a computer/homework desk later on.
The Multipurpose Room
Another growing trend in today’s homes is the need for a “multipurpose” room. These types of rooms can be used for anything from hobbies to everyday activities such as laundry, ironing, or even a place to use exercise equipment. In creating a multipurpose room, cabinetry presents homeowners with a solution that accommodates the miscellaneous items and activities of a busy family without compromising style. It provides homeowners with functionality, yet has the ability to blend in with the décor of the rest of the home.
A higher level of taste and a demand for functional living spaces don’t have to mean a higher price tag. Think outside of the box in terms of design and use cabinetry throughout the home to enhance your surroundings.
December 8, 2011 9:50 pm
More and more U.S. employees are seeking opportunities to work from home, while many managers and business owners are still reluctant. Some middle managers may be fearful that allowing employees to work from home will adversely affect productivity. However, this does not necessarily have to be true. With the right practical advice, small business owners and contractors who work from home can make the best use of their time without letting their setting affect their workload.
Clear communication and well-understood expectations are essential for making home-based employment work. These five tips can aid those seeking to make home-based employment a smooth transition without a lapse in their work day.
1. Ensure you know what your employer’s expectations are: See to it that there are no unanswered questions about work hours, breaks, company equipment, and so forth.
2. Ensure that your results are communicated to your employer: Working long hours will not matter if your boss is not aware of what you accomplish.
3. Set up an effective work space: Make sure you have a work area that is free of distractions and is also comfortable and separate from the rest of your house.
4. Establish boundaries with your family and friends: Make sure they are aware of the demands of working from home.
5. Assess your progress on a regular basis: Record your achievements and mark your progress along the way. Make regular evaluations to your work habits.
Working from home is ultimately successful when it is treated like a job. In order to convince an employer you are serious about it, the bottom line is to behave in as professional a manner as possible.
Source: Jenkins Coaching
December 8, 2011 9:50 pm
Squirrel-proof feeders and baffles are the easiest way to deter squirrels, but it takes a coordinated effort to be successful. Even then, success is dependent on how resourceful the squirrels are.
It is costly and frustrating to feed squirrels that play havoc on bird feeders. As we all know, squirrels have this amazing way to get into and trash feeders due to persistence and ingenuity. Don't let your bird feeder become a squirrel feeder. To prevent this, try the following:
1. Locate bird feeders so squirrels can’t leap on the feeder. For example, away from the roof or gutter of the house, a tree, off the deck, wires—they can leap 10 feet and navigate along a cable wire effortlessly as well as climb bricks. They can leap 10 feet horizontally, jump vertically five feet and can drop 10 feet.
2. Put red/cayenne pepper in your bird feed. It won’t hurt the birds but it will deter the squirrels. Don’t touch your eyes until you wash your hands.
3. Use safflower seeds, nyjer/thistle seed and natural or hot pepper suet which are not favorites of squirrels. Tube nyjer bird feeders are also less attractive to squirrels.
4. Explore the various types of squirrel proof feeders. Tube feeders enclosed in wire cages can be effective especially with nyjer seed that allows songbirds access while keeping squirrels at bay.
5. Consider weight-activated feeders that close the feeding ports when the squirrel lands. They are metal, and weather and squirrel resistant and may be pole mounted or hung.
6. Battery operated squirrel-proof feeders that flip, dip, tip, and whip squirrels off your feeder. These are effective and generally more expensive.
7. Baffles can be effective for feeders placed on a pole at least six feet from the ground. A 18” baffle or a torpedo baffle, should be placed 1 ½ feet below the feeder. If you have a hanging feeder, mount the baffle on the top, which also protects the seed from rain or snow. However, make sure with a top mounted baffle that the only way the squirrel can reach the feeder is from above and they can’t leap from the side or from below. There are also 22” baffles for 4 x 4 post mounted feeders. Some bird feeders come with baffles built in.
8. Suspend a feeder on a wire between your house and a tree, or between two trees at least 12 feet off the ground with PVC pipe at each end. The PVC pipe will act as a baffle.
9. Feed your birds seed in small doses. The squirrels come, eat their fill and then are less likely to come back frequently. Of course, this works only if you have a few squirrels. If you have more than a few, they can camp out on your feeder. It’s not squirrel proof but can reduce your seed loss to squirrels.
10. Buy a squirrel feeder and place it away from the bird feeder. Hopefully, it will distract the squirrels allowing the birds to eat at their feeder.
December 8, 2011 9:50 pm
Overwhelmed and stressed-out caregivers may view the holidays as a drain of precious energy rather than a joyous occasion. The love, peace and goodwill are replaced with stress, frustration and anger. Everything from the preparation to the actual event can be tiresome.
Here are some suggestions to help make the holidays more enjoyable and less stressful for caregivers. Keep in mind that the holidays can provide unique opportunities to seek better communication, connection and support from family and friends.
Talk to Family Members Before the Holidays – It is common for caregivers to be disappointed with family members who they feel are not "pulling their weight" in the caregiving responsibilities. Consider clearing the air before the holidays. If this is not a direction you want to take, perhaps resolve within yourself to put those feelings on hold, with the intention to discuss the matter after the holiday season passes. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday. After you have decided when and how much to communicate, you can release the tension of holding onto it and enjoy the festivities.
Ask for Help When Needed – Let family members know that your caregiving duties are keeping you very busy. You only have so much time and energy for holiday preparation and hosting duties. Any reasonable person will understand and hopefully offer their help.
Be Honest – It is understandable to have reservations about opening up too much and being perceived as complaining or inadequate to the task of caregiving. However, honest communication about the realities of your caregiving situation offers others the opportunity to respond with assistance or at least be in tune to what is going on.
Give the Gift of Gratitude – After the holidays, write a short thank you note to family members or friends who spent time with your loved one. Emphasize the positive impact their visit, or brief time spent with your loved one had on them. This may reinforce positive feelings from their visit and diminish any discomfort they might have experienced. They might be more encouraged to visit again or be more supportive of your efforts.
The holidays should be a time when loved ones come together to enjoy each other’s company. It should not be stressful because of the sometimes tiresome task of taking care of elderly loved ones. By utilizing these tips, you can make your time with family members more enjoyable this holiday season.
December 8, 2011 3:16 pm
Getting your home ready to be put on the market can be a huge undertaking, however, upgrading your home’s fixtures is an easy way to give your home a new feel without spending a lot of time and money.
If you have old, outdated fixtures in your home—whether it’s lighting, faucets or doorknobs—it’s easy to find nice and affordable fixtures at your local home improvement store and do the upgrades yourself.
“There’s nothing that can brighten up a home and give it a more modern feel than new, updated fixtures,” said Margaret DeLorenzo, a lighting consultant with Lamps Plus. “It is a relatively easy and affordable task that can make a real difference in a buyer’s mind.”
A home stager can also recommend upgrades through a home consultation, explaining what fixtures will look best in your home as well as what today’s buyers are looking for.
“Homeowners should stay away from brass and lean more toward the stainless steel and chrome looks because brass fixtures seem very 1980s,” said New York-based home stager Cynthia Bryant. “A simple change like this can totally alter the look and feel of a room for a minimal investment.”
If you’re not sure where to start, a simple Web search will reveal thousands of impressive looking fixtures that are reasonably priced.
“If you have a living/dining room, make sure the upgraded fixtures mesh well,” Bryant said. “They don’t have to be the same fixture, but a silver fixture doesn’t go well with a dark bronze fixture.”
For the bedroom, new lighting can totally transform a walk-in closet. Since most builders typically install basic, flush mounted fixtures in closets, a simple upgrade can do wonders when it comes to adding more light. Contemporary track lighting systems are a great way to throw extra light into the furthest corners of your closet.
If you’re making changes in the bathroom, you should always try to make sure everything matches. In other words, if you are upgrading the faucets in the sink, you should complete the room with new faucets for the bathtub and shower.
When it comes to lighting, the rule of thumb is that more is almost always better. A dark home can look gloomy or uninviting and you want potential buyers to feel welcome.
If your home has a kitchen pantry, check to see if the lighting fixture is outdated, and update it if necessary so that you create a harmonious look throughout the home. Also, make sure all the bulbs in any under-cabinet lights are working. Now is also the perfect time to replace older florescent lights that “hum” when they are turned on.
DeLorenzo goes on to suggest that light from an overhead fan doesn’t do a room justice and when rooms are dimly lit, it can leave a bad impression.
“I recommend using two or three lamps in a large room like a living room or master bedroom to provide optimal lighting,” she said. “Basic or outdated lighting can stick out like a sore thumb. Make sure to replace those old outdated lighting fixtures and make your whole home look more modern.”
For more cost effective ways to update your home, contact our office today.
December 8, 2011 3:16 pm
Whether they are entertaining, creating new recipes or sharing culinary ideas with their spouses, today’s homeowners are spending more time in the kitchen than ever before. Not only can an updated, professional looking kitchen make food preparation easy and even enjoyable, spending some time and money in the kitchen before listing your home for sale is a great way to get buyers interested in your home.
The first step in making sure your kitchen is up to par is to upgrade to more durable products by adding stainless steel kitchen sinks, refrigerators and ovens. Not only does stainless steel resist scratches, it is also easy to maintain.
“Stainless steel, as it is a neutral color, is easy to match with just about any modern kitchen décor. These appliances usually come in a high-shine, mirror finish or a less bright, but still beautiful, brushed stainless steel finish,” said Lenore Anders, an associate for Kitchens of Colorado, a kitchen showroom. “Stainless steel can withstand very hot and very cold temperatures, making the material ideal for appliances. Unlike plastic or ceramic, stainless steel does not break easily, even if dropped. Stainless steel may dent, but it will not shatter or chip the way other materials will.”
Some home designers recommend wood cabinets as a way to contrast, complement and even add a warm, organic element to kitchens with stainless steel appliances. A nice backsplash can also do wonders.
For those looking for rich color along with durability, cast iron is a good alternative for sinks. If you have the room, you may want to think about adding additional sinks. Not only will multiple sinks simplify the cooking process, it also allows for better cleanup and organization.
Another great amenity for the kitchen is a pot filler, or an extendible faucet that can be installed next to your stovetop or prep sink for easy water access.
For the home chef who wants a professional place to cook, granite and quartz are the leading choices for countertops, especially for pastry chefs seeking an expansive workspace and a cool surface for rolling out dough.
If you’re looking to make food preparation even easier, moveable cutting boards, rinsing baskets and various trays and receptacles will help get the job done quickly and properly.
Whether you’re updating your kitchen for your enjoyment or to help your house stand out among the competition, the ideas above can do wonders in opening up the eyes of a potential buyer.
To learn more about kitchen upgrades, contact our office today.
December 8, 2011 3:16 pm
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 136 million tons of construction and demolition waste was generated in 1996—the last time these figures were made available—and those numbers have most likely risen in the 15 years since. And less than 30 percent of that waste was salvaged for recycling.
Today, architectural salvage, which refers to the reclamation or reuse of architectural materials, is gaining popularity in our more environmentally-conscious society.
“The advantage of this is that it’s generally better quality, a better price and has a lot more character than something newer,” said Stuart Grannen, owner of Architectural Artifacts Inc., an architectural salvage company in Chicago. “Our focus has always been on pieces of intrigue, objects of a lost world, the aesthetic and the beautiful. It’s a lot more fun and you can always feel good about the green part of it all.”
Designers have known about this decorating secret for decades, but it has more recently come into fashion in the past 20 years or so.
Materials come from salvaged elements from buildings slated for demolition, including homes, churches and commercial properties. The items found include kitchen cabinets, antique bathtubs, aged barn wood flooring, furniture, doors, marble fireplaces, ornate radiators and handcrafted decorative hardware.
“The salvage and reuse of building materials helps to preserve historic and antique fixtures, furniture, and building materials, prevents more waste from entering landfills, and reduces the consumption of new resources,” said Steve Feldman, President and Founder of Green Demolitions, which recycles luxury kitchens, bathrooms, appliances and more in three stores in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
The items don’t need to be used for what they were designed for, either. Many of the ornate or unique things are often used as standing art or for some other purpose.
“I have an 18th century door from Saudi Arabia that’s around 260 years old with innate carvings, and it’s never going to be a door again, but it’s a beautiful object for the home,” Grannen said. “I have a gate from Argentina, that’s totally useless as a gate, but it can be used to make a fabulous headboard.”
Someone looking for the perfect reclaimed item for their home is probably not going to just walk into one of these businesses and walk out five minutes later with exactly what they were looking for. The key is persistence.
“In today’s economic topsy-turvy environment, one of the huge advantages of what we do is price,” Feldman said. “We recently had a quarter million dollar kitchen for sale and a homeowner picked it up for $50,000, picking up $250,000 equity in cabinetry.”
One can create a beautiful bathroom by choosing items from one of the companies’ showrooms that will be much more unique for a price that is around 75 percent less than if they were to go the new route.
In addition to the financial savings, the real beneficiary from all these projects is the environment.
For additional home design trends, contact our office today.
December 8, 2011 3:16 pm
For many, the holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re trying to get your home sold, the hustle and bustle of the season may prove to be a bit too much.
Real estate agents across the board are torn about whether it’s a good idea to keep your house on the market during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Some believe that those six weeks are busy enough for people without worrying about the notion of buying a home, while others argue that there will be less competition and a better chance for sellers to get their homes sold.
Proponents of leaving a house on the market argue that prospective buyers who do look at your house over the holiday season will be more serious, and if you wait until the New Year to list your property, you will face more competition.
Plus, since January is traditionally a month when employers have to move, many are looking for a new place to call home during late November and December, so it’s a great time to capture that market.
There are also buyers trying to claim the tax benefits that come from buying in a given year, and those who need to make a quick decision might be more apt to settling quickly.
One downside for the seller is that the hectic time of year makes it harder to get a home ready at the drop of a hat if an agent calls to schedule a last-minute showing. People are busy making food, wrapping presents and preparing for a house full of guests, so it could be a big inconvenience.
However, your house will be decorated with beautiful lights and decorations, creating a festive elegance that will attract buyers.
Some agents believe that keeping your house on the market throughout the holiday season will have you appealing to a much smaller inventory of buyers who have very specific needs that your home might not meet. Others counter that less inventory throughout the holiday season means less competition. Since more people vacation during the holiday season, they actually have more time to look for a home that includes everything they want and need.
For homes that have been on the market for a while, removing them for the duration of the holiday season will allow the house to go back as a new listing in January, thereby drawing more traffic because it’s fresh. However, you need to take into account the fact that you risk losing the buyer who may have been looking in December.
Finally, many agents believe that buyers tend to be more emotional during the holidays and are in the habit of spending more money, so getting the price you want may be easier.
For more information about selling your home during the holidays, contact our office today.
December 8, 2011 3:16 pm
Selling your home during the holiday season can be tricky, especially when it comes to holiday décor. While an overabundance of lights and holiday decorations may not work in your favor, if done properly, holiday décor can actually attract potential buyers.
If you’re looking to create a top-notch display, one smart idea is to use a professional holiday decorator.
“This doesn’t just apply to people selling, but most homeowners don’t have the benefit of regular practice—they decorate once a year, if at all,” said Brandon Stephens, Vice President of Marketing at The Decor Group, Inc., specializing in interior décor. “Our crews replicate the processes over and over. Plus, with our service package, maintenance is included, so if you are living off-site, you don't have to worry. Most of our clients come to us, specifically, for convenience and results. But they decorate because they want to celebrate the season, and draw attention to their home.”
A great way to get the house in the spirit, while still making it presentable for home shoppers is by using plenty of ribbon and ornaments that compliment the décor or colors of the house.
“Beautiful décor sets the ambiance of the property in a way that makes buyers more comfortable,” said Amy Cornwell, President/Lead Designer for Creative Impressions, which specializes in seasonal decorating. “Rather then shuffling around the house, prospective buyers will associate a sense of ‘home’ through the traditions and memories of holiday décor.”
Creative Impressions provides full-service outdoor and indoor residential décor, in addition to holiday rentals, which include setup, teardown and storage.
“We do indoor and outdoor lighting,” Cornwell said. “This year we are also offering a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. It’s a 15-minute light show featuring about five different songs that are choreographed with the lights.”
Home sellers obviously want to draw attention to their home, and many prospective buyers are out driving around at night.
“We find that most clients like simple, tasteful designs,” Stephens said. “A well-designed display adds festive elegance to a home, and highlights the already-present features of the property.”
Another great idea is to hold an open house at night so that you can show off the Christmas lights, holiday decorations and all that the house has to offer.
A holiday party is also a great way to showcase a home or property that you are trying to rent or sell.
Great decorations really set the tone for the holidays, and this is the one time of year when you can showcase your house in a different way to highlight areas which normally do not stand out.
For more holiday decorating ideas, contact our office today.