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Tips to Keep the Family Safe All Summer

May 22, 2017 12:51 am

Summer is a season of fun. But in between all that outdoor playtime, it’s important to pay mind to safety. Injury Prevention Specialist Jennifer Hoekstra shares the following tips for families kicking off the summer season:

Stay out of cold water.  Favorite swimming spots can still be cold in early summer months. Temperatures fluctuate from day to day in many inland lakes.  Resist the urge to swim until water temperatures rise above 70 degrees.

Watch out for heat stroke. Know how to identify heat stroke.  Limit your exposure to high temperatures and take breaks by going indoors to rest in air conditioning.  Try finding a shady spot and be sure children have adequate rest and hydration after play.

Drink water, not a diet cola. You cannot stay properly hydrated on Diet Coke or alcoholic beverages.  Drink lots of water if you are going to be in the heat.  If you experience dizziness or light-headedness, find a cool shady spot, sit down, and drink more water.  

Know your prescriptions. Many prescription drugs can trigger increased sensitivity to sunburn. Read labels carefully on any medication you are taking before going out in the sun.

Wait before you take a bite out of that peach! Take the time to wash any fruits or vegetables purchased at local farmers markets.  It is likely these items have not been washed and may have dirt or bacteria lingering.

Don't leave kids alone in the car. This warning is simple and very serious.  Do not leave your children unattended in your vehicle for any period of time. Within 10 minutes the temperature inside a vehicle rises by 20 degrees and by 40 degrees in an hour. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911.

Be a water watcher.  Whether your children are in a backyard swimming pool, at a community center or swimming in a lake, always watch them. Swimming pools are the most common site for drowning among children 4 and under.

Pick out the right shades. Bring along a pair of sunglasses that provide adequate UV protection. Most brands come with labels stating if they are effective against the sun's harmful rays.  Grab your kids a colorful and fun pair too.

Always assume the fire is hot. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from a fire pit for 24 hours after use. Coals don't have to be glowing red to be hot and dangerous.

Don't walk distracted. When walking to friends' houses or the neighborhood pool, teach kids to put down their cell phones and not take photos while walking or crossing the street.  Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing and use designated crosswalks.

Source: http://www.spectrum-health.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make Gardening Fun Again

May 19, 2017 10:06 pm

Remember when you first ventured out into your yard to turn your landscape into the oasis you’d always imagined? Chances are your newbie enthusiasm may have become tarnished over the years as gardening has gone from therapeutic to back-breaking. Here are some tips for easing the strain of yard work, hopefully renewing your love of Mother Nature in the process.
 
  1. Stay ahead of weeds. If only you could get your flowers to grow as quickly as those pesky weeds. Help tackle the weeding challenge by staying on top of it. Rather than waiting for weeds to become widespread and overwhelming, pull them when they’re small. Also, whenever possible, make sure to do your weeding after a rainstorm. Weeds come up from wet earth more easily than arid dirt.
  2. Dedicate yourself to deadheading. Your flowering plants will last longer and produce blooms for weeks, if not months, if you make deadheading old blooms a regular process. This will save you the chore and expense of having to dig up and replace dead annuals.
  3. Containers are your best friend. Container planting can be easier than planting in garden beds. This tactic also allows you to put flora and fauna exactly where you want it, with the option to move it when the mood strikes. Remember that container plantings dry out more quickly, so be sure to keep the water flowing.
  4. Plant more perennials. While it may take a few years for perennials to spread and offer up abundant blooms, it'll be worth the wait. More perennials mean less time, money and effort spent on planting annuals every year.
  5. Cheat a little. Instead of trying to get grass or plants to grow in areas where they just won’t take, use a decorative covering to fill in bald spots instead. Mulch, gravel, larger rocks or sea shells will all do the trick. You can even strategically arrange a bench or bird bath in these areas for instant décor value. 
Remember, gardening is intended to bring joy, not stress, so start taking the necessary steps today.
 
For more real estate tips, contact me today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Vinyl Siding: Know Your Options

May 19, 2017 10:06 pm

One of the most popular choices for your home’s exterior, vinyl siding has made considerable advancements—both in design and technology—since it first debuted in the 1970s. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, the $12,000 national median cost of a vinyl siding replacement job returns a solid 83 percent on investment, should you decide to sell your home. Here’s a primer from vinyl siding experts Ply Gem on what makes siding a great choice for your home:
  • Design options: Today’s vinyl comes in a wide range of colors—from pastels to rich hues—profiles, architectural trim and accessory products to assist architects, builders and homeowners in customizing home designs.
  • Improved durability: One of the most attractive qualities of vinyl siding is its durability over other exterior home options. Homeowners should look for a siding option that's resistant to every element, including rain, wind and sun. Quality siding should be able to resist the harshest of weather conditions, maintaining its strength and color for the lifetime of the home.
  • Energy savings: Research shows insulated vinyl siding contributes to savings in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Look for siding made with premium recycled content.
  • Savings over time: Vinyl siding is a long-term investment. Because vinyl siding can be installed faster and requires little maintenance without the need to paint, stain or caulk, over the lifetime of the product, it's less costly when compared to other siding options, including fiber cement, brick and wood. 
Source: Ply Gem
 
Contact me today for more real estate tips and information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Mom Wants: A Home for Grown Kids

May 19, 2017 10:06 pm

As housing costs rise and student loan debt grows, mothers are becoming increasingly concerned about their children’s ability to afford a home. According to a recent survey of 1,000 mothers by The NHP Foundation, a not-for-profit provider of affordable housing, many are concerned about the ability of their adult children to live on their own. Nearly a third (29.86 percent) of the moms surveyed are anxious about their grown children needing to stay with them for an extended period of time.
 
These concerns are no surprise, considering that 53 percent of the moms surveyed make family financial decisions either alone or with “some input” from a partner. These moms often act as CFO of the family, taking a more active role than ever in the household’s finances and investments.
 
Many women are also living with extended family. In fact, 17 percent of those with a partner and children also report parents or other relatives living with them, emblematic of the modern “sandwich generation.”
 
Here are some other interesting findings from the report:
  • Nearly 63 percent of moms say their adult children are not fully prepared to live on their own.
  • Only 30 percent of moms say that their adult children who live with them are actively looking for other places to live, and less than half (41 percent) say their kids pay rent. One positive note: 67 percent of adult children help around the house, and 65 percent of them are employed.
  • Mothers are very aware that their grown children don’t have it easy. Ninety percent are concerned about rising housing costs, with 43 percent saying they are “very concerned” on their kids’ behalf. Nearly 40 percent of moms worry at least once a day about their adult children’s ability to afford desirable housing.
  • Once kids do move out, only one-third of moms would co-sign a loan for their children, and even fewer (24 percent) would help subsidize rent or a mortgage. Nearly 36 percent say they aren’t prepared to help their adult children financially in any way. 
To combat these and other rising concerns about housing affordability, The NHP Foundation is looking to the government to continue programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and to new private and public partnerships designed to increase its stock of quality affordable housing. The NHP Foundation has also been selected by the University of Virginia School of Public Policy as part of a study seeking new models to help ensure that this and future generations are able to afford desirable places to live.
 
Source: www.nhpfoundation.org
 
Interested in real estate tips? Contact me today for more information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tax Refund? Spend It at Home

May 19, 2017 10:06 pm

According to a recent study from Edward Jones, only 6 percent of Americans are planning to invest their 2016 tax refunds this year. The study, which surveyed 1,004 respondents across various age groups, regions and income levels, found that the majority of Americans (53 percent) plan to put their tax refund toward necessary expenses, such as student loans and credit card payments.

Thirty-one percent of respondents plan to save their refund, and 9 percent plan to put it toward something fun, like a vacation or entertainment. For homeowners, however, investing your tax refund to improve your home—and increase its value in the process—can be the smartest move of all. Quicken Loans suggests looking at these key areas of your home, which often translate directly to the bottom line:

The kitchen. New appliances or countertops are a great way to invest your refund dollars. Also consider giving your kitchen a less-expensive facelift by painting the cabinets.

The bathroom. Bathrooms are high on the list of priorities for homebuyers, so use your refund to make sure yours is up to par. Consider adding new faucets, a low-flow toilet or a new sink counter.

The walls. One of the most important—and most affordable—home improvements is a fresh coat of paint. A sunny shade or calming neutral will instantly change the look and feel of any room.

The windows. An important investment for not only the look of your home, but its energy efficiency as well, new windows are always a smart investment.

The exterior. Whether it’s building a patio, repairing the roof, or installing new siding, improving your home's exterior is never a bad idea.  

Putting your tax refund into your No. 1 asset will not only improve your home’s value, it'll also go a long way toward enhancing your living environment. In the end, any way you slice it, it’s an investment for years to come.

Contact me today for more tips on improving your home's value.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Redecorate Without Spending a Dime

May 19, 2017 10:06 pm

You know the feeling. You look around your home and are struck with a case of the blahs. The immediate thought is to set out on a shopping spree for new rugs, new lamps, new linens or whatever it takes to revamp your space. Unfortunately, your wallet may say otherwise. But don’t despair. With a little creative thinking, you can update the look and feel of your home without spending any money at all. Here’s how:
 
The old switcheroo. Believe it or not, switching furniture from one room to another can completely change the look of a room. Try swapping out a living room end table with your bedroom nightstand. Or move that stately floor lamp from your den into your dining room. With just a little muscle, you will instantly arrive at a brand-new look.
 
Find buried treasure in your linen closet. If you’re like most homeowners, it’s more than likely been a while since you’ve cleaned out your linen closet. And I bet you won’t believe what you’ll find in there. Curtains, tablecloths, throws and bedding that was tucked away years ago and forgotten about can be reintroduced to various spots in your home for a brand-new look.
 
Enlist old paint. Remember all those half-full cans of paint leftover from various projects over the years? Put them to use to change the look of a room by painting one wall, a piece of accent furniture or even cabinet doors. You saved them because you thought they’d come in handy someday. Well, today’s that day.
 
Get digging. Want to switch up the flow of your yard? Look around and see what plants, shrubs and small trees can be relocated to a brand-new spot. Be sure to do some research online ahead of time in order to determine the correct way to transplant certain items to ensure your green friends survive the move. You can do this even more easily by repositioning container plants and patio furniture.
 
Embrace the online community. Before you spend money on new furniture and décor items, check out some of the increasingly popular websites for scoring free stuff. The Freecycle Network, for example, is made up of 9 million members worldwide. The nonprofit describes itself as a grassroots movement, comprised of local volunteers who moderate activity to keep dealings on the up-and-up. Membership is free to boot.
 
With the right mindset and a little creative thinking, your home will be on its way to a brand-spanking-new look.
 
Contact me today for more real estate tips and information. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Clean Machine: Tackling the Fridge and Freezer

May 18, 2017 12:51 am

If there’s a funky smell coming from the depths of your refrigerator or small icebergs forming in your freezer, it’s time to bite the bullet and do a deep clean. Not only will this make for an odor-free, organized environment for your fresh and frozen foods, more importantly, it will ensure your food’s safety. Follow these tips from the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association to make the task easy and effective:

1. Prepare. Unplug the refrigerator to save energy and to safely clean coils. Empty ice from your freezer into a cooler where you can store food you plan to keep. Fill the sink with warm soapy water for cleaning shelves and drawers. Set out dishtowels on counter tops for drying. Fill a spray bottle with a cleaning solution of 1cup water, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of dish soap.

2. Purge. Empty the refrigerator, then the freezer, and place items on counter. Take time to sort and discard old, unwanted foods, drinks and condiments. Check expiration dates and beware of moldy and freezer-burned foods. When in doubt, toss it out!

3. Clean. Remove drawers and shelves and clean them in the sink with warm soapy water; set aside to dry. Spray the interior with cleaner, and wipe from the top down with a warm, wet sponge or towel. Thoroughly dry and replace drawers and shelves. Wash the exterior door and handles. Replace water and ice-maker filters if needed. Clean the grill on bottom front of refrigerator. Consider cleaning the condenser coils for optimum cooling efficiency (refer to manufacturer directions).

4. Check Temps. Food kept too long or at improper temperatures can become contaminated with bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness. Your refrigerator temperature should be at or below 40 degrees and your freezer 0 degrees or less to ensure food safety. You can check the temperatures with an appliance thermometer.

5. Organize. When restocking your clean refrigerator and freezer, organize according to usage and group like items together. Label and date new foods so you know when to use or throw out. Do not store perishable foods in the door as temperatures fluctuate there. Place meat, poultry or seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags and keep fruits and vegetables in separate drawers away from the meats to avoid cross-contamination.

Source: National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How-to Buy a Home in a Tight Market

May 18, 2017 12:51 am

We all know the equation: low inventory means higher prices. Also known as a tight market, this setting can be stressful for buyers, who are trying to snap up their dream home but keep running into competition. According to the National Association of REALTORS® , attempting to purchase a house in this type of market can make the already complex process of buying a home even more overwhelming.

To help buyers successfully get through the buying process in a tight inventory market, NAR offers these five suggestions:

Determine and stick to a budget. Before beginning the house hunting process, prospective homebuyers should receive preapproval from one or more lenders to verify the amount of money they are qualified to borrow. Then, after taking into account additional costs of ownership such as taxes, utilities and insurance, buyers should determine a final budget they can comfortably afford. When listings are scarce, bidding wars can drive up prices, so buyers must be prepared to walk away if the asking price surpasses their budget.

Identify desired neighborhoods and home wants versus needs. When housing inventory is tight, buyers may need to compromise on what they believe they want from a home. Certain wants, such as stainless appliances or hardwood floors, can be added later. However, if a buyer wants to be in a specific school district or have a decent sized backyard, those cannot be addressed later and must be taken into account during the house hunting process.

Be ready to make a decision quickly. In a seller's market, homes rarely stay on the market long, so when a house that is in their budget and checks off all of their needs come along, buyers should not hesitate. Buyers should be ready to submit an offer quickly, or they may risk missing out on the home altogether.

Bid competitively and limit contingencies. It is tempting to submit a low offer as a starting bid, but in a seller's market buyers need to put forward their highest offer from the very beginning or they are likely to lose out on the home. It is also important to remember that in multiple bidding situations it is not always the highest offer that is most attractive to the seller but the one with the fewest contingencies. Removing restrictions related to the sale of a current home and being flexible with things like the move-in date can make a bid stand out to a seller.

Work with a Realtor®. All real estate is local, so it is important to work with an agent who is a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, and who is familiar with the areas and neighborhoods the homebuyers are considering. Realtors® are the most trusted resource for real estate information and have unparalleled knowledge of their communities; they can give buyers the competitive advantage needed in a tight market.  

Source: www.nar.realtor.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Battle Back Pain

May 18, 2017 12:51 am

Those of us that sit at our desks all day likely suffer from back pain. To help promote the proper posture and avoid a slew of sitting-related issues, www.blitzresults.com offers the following tips.  

- Place your computer monitor at least one arm's length away. If it's too close, you will create tension in your shoulders and neck.
- The monitor should be set so that your eyes are at a downward angle. This helps to relieve strain on your neck and your eyes.
- Sit with the pelvis tilted slightly forwards. Ergonomic chairs and seat cushions help to retain the backs' natural posture, providing relief to the discs and muscles.
- Move around the office! Speak personally with your colleagues instead of sending them emails. Drink a lot of water: it's not only healthy, but it will keep you moving.
- Important: Adjust the desk and chair to your height so that you are relaxed while sitting. How does that work? Use an online calculator for ergonomic sitting.

Source: https://www.blitzresults.com/en/ergonomic/

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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That Back Porch Hammock is Good for Your Health

May 17, 2017 12:51 am

The idyllic idea of languishing on a warm breezy afternoon in the snug comfort of a backyard hammock is very appealing.

But did you know that hanging around in your hammock can have a few health benefits? A 2011 study showed that rocking during a nap leads to the synchronization of brain waves, which results in the quicker onset of sleep and deeper sleep benefits.

According to a study by Neuroscientists at the University of Geneva, the kind of rocking movement one experiences in a hammock increased the length of N2 sleep, a form of non-REM sleep that takes up about half of a good night's rest.

It also increased slow oscillations and "sleep spindles" - brief bursts of brain activity that can cut into deep sleeping patterns. So hammocks can sometimes act as a natural cure for insomnia. The experts at Patio34,com in Oswego, Ill. say it's because there are no pressure points on your body.

While it can be difficult to get comfortable when settling into bed or onto the sofa, painful pressure points are soothed when you’re in a hanging hammock.

In addition, experts say that the best sleeping position is one in which you lay on your back with your head slightly elevated - just like the way you lay in a hammock. This opens the air passageways for unobstructed breathing and encourages healthy blood circulation.

So taking good care of your hammock is important - you want it ready and waiting when it's time to relay, right?

So here are a few quick tips to keep your hammock in tip-top condition from Patio43.com:

- Be mindful of the weight limit - putting excess weight on one can result in tears to the fiber or even large-scale rips.
- Bring it in during extreme weather - heavy snow, rain, winds, and other environmental factors can cause excess damage.
- Keep it free of debris - bacteria grows on natural debris, like fallen leaves and twigs, and lead to the growth of mold or mildew, so wipe off debris right away.
- Know your hammock's material - some are more weather-, mold-, and stain-resistant than others. So pay extra attention to manufacturer's recommendations for care, and follow them!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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