June 18, 2012 7:54 pm
(ARA) - Shopping for home furnishings and accessories can be a rewarding experience, but it can also drain your wallet. So when it's time to find just the right items to furnish or just brighten up your home, you want to get it right the first time, because most of us don't have the luxury to toss out all our purchases in a couple of years and start from scratch.
So how do you know if that couch or lamp is going to stand the test of time? "Look for something that is built well, like good quality tables that are a little bit older and not mass manufactured," says Claren Pappo, an Interior Design instructor at The Illinois Institute of Art - Tinley Park.
Depending on your decor, antiques may be your best bet. You've probably looked at a few decorating magazines and seen your share of furniture showrooms. That may give you a starting point. "But you need to figure out what you like," advises Heather Carter, academic director of Interior Design at The Art Institutes International - Kansas City. "Think about the connection your home has to you, don't just follow trends."
Color is also important when thinking about the longevity of your future. "Big furniture pieces like sofas and side chairs need to be in a neutral color scheme," recommends Daniela Kohl, Interior Design program coordinator at The Art Institute of Indianapolis. You don't want bright colors that you tire of quickly or can fall out of fashion.
Accessories, like throw pillows, can be trendier with the latest colors because they are much easier and less expensive to replace. But when it comes to lighting, you may want to splurge on something that is both functional and decorative.
"Invest in great lamps; they can stand the test of time," says Pappo. Artwork can really make your home fit your personality, and if you buy something you really like, you'll only grow to appreciate it more over time. "Artwork has great bang for the buck," says Carter. "Go to your local art district or art walk, find an artist you really like and buy their piece."
When picking out drapes or pillows, stick with good quality fabrics like silk or chenille, advises Kohl. Leather furniture will also stand the test of time. But don't go for artificial leather. "It will look worse, year after year," she says.
Finally, Pappo recommends considering how often you'll be moving around. "Think about the flexibility of your furniture and whether the pieces you've chosen will work in another home with a different floor plan."
June 18, 2012 7:54 pm
New Medicare benefits could help keep older people independent, yet many aren't using them. Sometimes that's because they don't know about them. The Affordable Care Act introduced these benefits last year, but with its future in the hands of the Supreme Courts and a decision expected in June, so now is the time to get to the doctor, stat.
"Medicare is complicated. Often, our clients don't know about all the benefits, and their kids feel overwhelmed trying to help them," says Jody Guerrieri, co-founder and vice president of Preferred Care at Home. "But using the benefits can help keep people well and independent. It's important for those of us in the care industry to help people understand them. We'll even drive our clients to the doctor to make getting the services easy."
Here are four Medicare benefits people may not be aware of: Yearly wellness visit:
People with Medicare Part B don't just get the one-time Welcome to Medicare visit anymore. Now, they can meet with their doctor yearly to review their health and develop a personalized prevention plan with no deductible or co-payment involved.
Prescription-drug discount: When people reached the donut-hole coverage gap, they used to have to pay all their medication costs. Now, they get a 50-percent discount on covered brand-name prescription drugs.
Health counseling and therapy: Need to lose weight? Behavioral therapy for obesity is now covered. Want to stop smoking? Counseling is available at no cost if you don't have a related illness. (If you do, it's still covered, but coinsurance and deductibles apply.) You can also get nutrition therapy for diabetes or kidney disease, along with counseling for alcohol misuse and to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Health screenings: Bone-mass measurement is available at no cost for some people, as are screenings for colorectal cancer and diabetes. Newly covered screenings include those for depression, alcohol misuse and sexually transmitted infections. "Using these benefits can mean staying out of the hospital or nursing home," says Guerrieri. "A good home-care agency should help you do just that--not only through help at home but through support and education."
June 18, 2012 7:54 pm
Joint tenancy. Property owned by two or more persons with equal and undivided interest and ownership and the right of survivorship. If one owner dies, the property automatically passes to the others.
June 18, 2012 7:54 pm
A: Certified historic structures now enjoy a 20 percent investment tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses, if they are income producing properties. A historic structure is one listed in the National Register of Historic Places or so designated by an appropriate state or local historic district that is certified by the government. The tax code does not allow deductions for the demolition or significant alteration of a historic structure.
For more information, contact the National Trust for Historic Preservation at (202) 588-6000, or visit its web site at www.nationaltrust.org. Many states offer tax incentives, reductions and abatement programs for owners of residential historic homes.
June 15, 2012 7:50 pm
Abnormal and fluctuating weather conditions have not only left our homes in need of small repairs, but according to the National Pest Management Association, the unseasonably warm weather has also caused the bug season to start earlier.
Steven Kutcher, a Hollywood entomologist with more than 35 years of experience says that during warm weather season, more than 180,000 bugs could pass through your yard and several could make it inside your home through openings you may not even notice. Wear and tear allows easy access for insects through openings such as windows, doors and cracks. The good news is if you are worried about an infestation there are a few tips that you can try before using a pesticide.
To help keep unwanted bugs out of the home Kutcher suggests these simple tips:
• Know Your Bug - If you have a pesky bug you cannot control, catch it and do your research. Put the bug in a glass container and further examine it while doing online research in order to find suggestions to keep them out of the house.
• Prepare for Pests - To help protect your home and family from bug infestation, prepare in advance by having pest products on hand.
• Tackle Your Do-It-Yourself Projects - Bugs enter the home for food, water, protection from the weather and simply by accident. Be sure to tackle your outdoor and indoor DIY projects to repair any damage including weather stripping windows and doors and filling in any cracks in the wall or flooring. The more prepared your home is for peak bug season, the less likely insects and other pests can get in.
• Don't Bring Bugs Home - Shopping at a local flea market or garage sale is a fun way to spend summer days, but beware as bugs may be near. Be sure to check the purchases you make at each location for signs of insects including actual bugs. It's easy to get an infestation if you bring unwanted bugs into your home.
Learning how to tackle common household problems can help you and your family save money and keep everyone happy and healthy. And by ensuring you have the know-how and tools on hand, you can maintain and enjoy your home for years to come.
June 15, 2012 7:50 pm
When it comes to creating a workout regimen, there are many resources with helpful tips covering everything from stretching to strength training. But what you do after your workout can make the difference in the way you feel and perform. A hard workout can leave your body depleted and running on empty. The correct post-workout nutrition can help replace what you've lost and help your body refuel for the next workout, and post workout recovery activities are crucial.
Post Workout Active Recovery Techniques
In addition to recovery benefits from proper post-workout nutrition, an athlete's after-workout regimen should include active recovery techniques in the hours following intense exercise. Active recovery and rest days are linked to performance benefits.
• Cool down. To help your body bounce back, muscles must cool down. Light active recovery after a race will increase circulation and get your body back on track.
• Stretch. Stretch directly after exercise (or after a foam roll session) while muscles are warm. Stretching increases blood flow to muscle fibers, stimulates recovery and helps prevent injury.
• Massage. A massage helps release muscle tension and increases blood flow, which will help speed up the muscle repair process.
• Foam Roll. Foam rollers are like a self-massage and easy to travel with to training or competition. Foam rolling uses deep compression to help roll out muscle adhesions that develop over time, helping restore the muscle to its original length. The compression causes your nerves to relax -- a myofascial release -- which loosens the muscle and increases blood flow, all of which help your body recover.
• Ice. Within two hours of a very strenuous workout, ice muscles to reduce post-workout inflammation and swelling and decrease muscle soreness.
June 15, 2012 7:50 pm
Interim financing. Short-term loan usually made during the construction phase of a building project or until a permanent, long-term loan can be obtained. Also called a construction loan.
June 15, 2012 7:50 pm
A: Yes, but not so much by refinancing. A reverse mortgage is a better, and increasingly popular, option for older Americans to convert home equity into cash. Money can then be used to cover home repairs, everyday living expenses, and medical bills.
Instead of making monthly payments to a lender, the lender makes payments to the homeowner, who continues to own the home and hold title to it.
According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, the money given by the lender is tax-free and does not affect Social Security or Medicare benefits, although it may affect the homeowners’ eligibility for certain kinds of government assistance, including Medicaid.
Homeowners must be at least 62 and own their own homes to get a reverse mortgage. No income or medical requirements are necessary to qualify, and they may be eligible even if they still owe money on a first or second mortgage. In fact, many seniors get reverse mortgages to pay off the original loan.
Repaying a reverse mortgage is not necessary until the property is sold or the owner moves. Should the owner die before the property is sold, the estate repays the loan, plus any interest that has accrued.
June 15, 2012 4:50 pm
Preserving your own pickles means you have your favorite pickle flavors available all year round.
To can pickles, you will need a large boiling water bath canner or pot with a rack that will allow 1 inch of boiling water over the tops of the jars. Ideally it should be 4-5 inches taller than the jars you plan to can in. You will also need a jar lifter, bubble freer, saucepan, pint canning jars with rings and new lids plus the pickle mix and other ingredients specified on the package.
Seven steps to making perfect pickles
Step 1: Choose pickling cucumbers, not slicing cucumbers. These are short and blocky for their size -- about 4-inches long. They should be firm and green in color with no blemishes. Remember for pickles you must cut off 1/16-inch from the blossom end to help prevent soft mushy pickles (the blossom end contains an enzyme that will cause softening). Keep the cukes cool in the refrigerator until you have enough to make a batch but do not hold them too long or you will end up with shriveled pickles.
Step 2: Fill the water bath canner half-full with hot water and place on the burner, set the heat to medium. Heat another kettle of water for filling the canner after the jars are added.
Step 3: Scrub the cucumbers with a vegetable brush to remove all surface soil. Make sure all utensils and your kitchen is clean.
Step 4: Prepare the pickle mix. If you don’t want to make your own pickle marinades, mixes make it easy for you to make many of your favorites including sweet pickles, bread and butter pickles, kosher dills, spicy dills, and many more. If you just want one jar for the refrigerator, buy the single refrigerator pickle mixes. If you want to preserve more for later, the mixes for canning yield 4 or 5 pints per package, according to the package directions. Heat it in a large non-reactive pot, stirring until the ingredients are well mixed and the mixture comes to a boil.
Step 5: Choose the style of pickles you want -- whole, spears, or slices and prepare the cucumbers for the jars. Pack the raw cucumbers into sterilized hot jars (jars that have been boiled in water for 10 minutes), making sure to leave 1/2-inch of headspace at the top of the jar.
Step 6: Divide the hot pickling mix evenly among the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. If more liquid is needed heat 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water and fill to the desired level. Wipe the rims of the jars, add prepared lids and screw bands. Use a jar lifter and lower the prepared jars into the canner (make sure the rack is in place and the jars are not touching). When all filled jars are in the canner, check to see that the water is at least 1-inch over the tops of the jars, if not, add more boiling water to the canner. Put the lid on the canner and set the heat to high. Start timing the canning process when the water has returned to a full rolling boil. Process for the specified amount of time. At the end of the processing time, turn the heat off and remove the lid. Let the jars sit in the canner for 5 minutes to complete the canning process.
Step 7: Cool the jars. Remove the jars to a cooling rack or towel leaving them upright. Allow jars to cool for 12 to 24 hours then check to make sure all jars are sealed. Wash jars, label and store in a cool, dry place. The rings can be removed for storage. Jars that have not sealed should be placed in the refrigerator and used soon.
June 15, 2012 4:50 pm
Most adults of a certain age believe they’ve had some colorful jobs. Chances are likely, however, that Bethany Mooradian has them beat.
“I began finding random jobs after receiving my degree in puppetry because I realized that most puppeteers don’t make that much money,” says Mooradian, author of I Got Scammed So You Don’t Have To, a how-to book for finding legit work in an economy of scammers. “At one point, I was even Ronald McDonald’s bodyguard.”
Beginning in 1999, in order to make ends meet while pursuing her artistic passions, she looked for odd jobs. It wasn’t long before the search for and execution of odd jobs became a lifestyle. She gave so much advice to her friends on how not to be scammed, that she decided to write a book about it.
Mooradian came up with an acronym to help as a general outline to avoid scams: SCRAM.
S = scrutinize the source
C = check for affiliate links and fees
R = research the heck out of every detail
A = ask for more information
M = mouse over images and links to see what website you end on before you click.
“I was scammed in a work-at-home gig from a magazine ad when I was young and naïve,” she says. “It was before the Internet was widely used, so it wasn’t as easy to check it out, and I hadn’t yet developed my SCRAM method.”
While the odd, random job or source of supplemental income usually does not replace the income of a fulltime job, there are several ways of making money people often overlook, or simply don’t know about.
Mooradian emphasizes that anyone can find extra ways to earn income from what they already know how to do, “No one ever goes to college to learn how to ‘work at home.’ It’s simply a matter of taking your skill set and translating that into a home-office or flexible work environment instead of a 9-5 job.” Here are five income opportunities most people are not aware of.
• Being a Virtual Assistant: If you have computer and internet skills, you can work as a VA doing general secretarial work, or processing orders for large-name corporations at home. Many companies are seeing the benefit of “homesourcing” instead of “outsourcing” because overhead is reduced, and customers get to speak to local operators who understand the language and culture.
• Merchandising: Have you ever walked up to someone shelving products in a store to ask for help and they reply, “I’m sorry, I don’t work here?” Those are merchandisers. They’re hired to set up displays, check prices on items, and shelve products like magazines, food items, and greeting cards. Merchandisers have specific locations to service, but with fairly flexible hours.
• Landlord (rent that extra space!): Many people own property because they want their personal freedom. But for those who’ve fallen on hard financial times, like millions of Americans, finding a good, trustworthy person to rent your extra room, a storage space, garage, or a parking space is a great option.
• Mystery shopper: Mooradian has created a video and book training course on this topic titled “The Mystery Shopper Training Program,” which can be found on her website, as well as through Amazon.com and local bookstores. Mystery shoppers are paid to surreptitiously check out the behavior of employees in retail shops, bars, restaurants, apartment buildings, car dealerships, banks, and even on cruise ships and travel resorts.
• Use your talent: You don’t have to have movie-star aspirations to get work as an extra in movies, television shows or industrial/training films. Many times you can call up your local film board to find casting directors in the area to get on their “extra” list.
Voiceover work can also be done from the comfort of your home if you have a powerful enough microphone, and you can also be a “standardized patient” acting out diseases to help medical students with their board exams.
“The Internet is full of information, but finding useful leads for jobs or making extra money can be like searching for a needle in the proverbial haystack, which is why I provide over 300 legitimate companies, ideas, and resources for money-seekers,” she says.