May 30, 2012 6:04 pm
Consumers who have been holding off jumping into the California housing market may want to consider recent indicators that the best time to buy may be now.
The median home price in the Golden State’s jumped six percent in April over April 2011, according to real estate information source Data Quick. At the same time, sales of new and used homes and condominiums rose two per cent over the previous month and 8.6 percent over April 2011.
“It appears that the California market is taking a step in the direction of normalization,” said Data Quick president John Walsh, who noted these recent sales figures are the highest seen since April 2006.
In Southern California, the median home price rose 3.6 percent from a year earlier to $290,000, and home sales rose by 5.1 percent. In the Bay area, the median sales price rose 8.3 percent to $360,000, while home sales rose 13.1 percent.
A separate report by RealtyTrac showed U.S. foreclosure activity fell last month to its lowest level since the start of the credit crisis in 2007, driven largely by big drops in states like California, where heavy foreclosure rates had been dragging down prices.
“Activity here in Southern California continues to increase,” said REALTOR® Ellen Parker, who specializes in high-end homes in the non-beach areas of southern Orange County. “Mortgage rates remain at historic lows, and that seems to be one of the reasons people are coming in off the sidelines, shaking off the winter doldrums, and taking renewed interest in buying and selling property.”
A total of 38, 241 newly built and previously owned homes, town houses and condominiums sold statewide in April, marking the ninth consecutive month that sales improved year over year, Data Quick said.
May 30, 2012 6:04 pm
Planning to visit a zoo this summer? TripAdvisor® recently announced the top 10 zoos in the United States, according to the TripAdvisor Popularity Index. Animal aficionados of all ages can take in an array of scales and tails at these animated attractions.
1. Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Neb.
Omaha’s famous zoo boasts the Desert Dome – the largest indoor desert in the world, which spans 84,000 square feet and is home to a variety of vegetation and a colony of critters. Travelers can also take in the Lied Jungle, a rainforest setting featuring cascading waterfalls and monkeys jumping from tree to tree. “It’s a wonderful education for children and adults,” commented a TripAdvisor traveler. Admission costs $13.50 for adults (ages 12 and up), $12.50 for seniors, and $9 for children (ages three to 11); children under two get in for free.
2. St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, Mo.
Home to more than 650 animals, this popular Midwest zoo features creatures of all kinds. Travelers can immerse themselves in the ten-acre River’s Edge exhibit, a naturalistic habitat featuring roaming hyenas, hippos, elephants, and more. Feathered friends-galore can be spotted at the Penguin and Puffin Coast, while Bear Bluffs boasts some less cuddly beasts, such as Grizzlies, Andeans and Sloth bears. “This is a great zoo and the fact that it’s free is wonderful for families on a budget,” said one TripAdvisor traveler. Admission is free, but some attractions require a small fee.
3. Cape May County Park & Zoo, Cape May Court House, N.J.
Situated on the southern Jersey Shore, this wildlife sanctuary showcases more than 250 species of animals. Travelers can acquaint themselves with a bevy of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and furry friends – and, when not gawking at quadrupeds, can wander through one of the lush nature trails, or hop on the train and carousel rides. A TripAdvisor traveler noted, “If you and your family like to see animals treated in a fair and humane way and enjoy a wonderful park setting, the Cape May County Park and Zoo is the place to go.” Admission is free.
4. Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden, Columbia, S.C.
From African Plains to Lemur Island, this attraction’s exhibits let travelers get up close to more than 2,000 animals and 350 species. Giraffes, zebras, and ostriches roam across a vast expanse resembling the African savanna, while wallabies and kangaroos amble around an interactive walk-through area. A TripAdvisor traveler said, “Riverbanks Zoo is the perfect family outing.” Admission costs $11.75 for adults, $10.75 for seniors, and $9.25 for children (ages three to 12); children under two get in for free.
5. Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tenn.
In the midst of Memphis, travelers can connect with wildlife in an array of exciting settings, including Cat Country, Primate Canyon, and Crocodile Cove. Those wishing to learn more about the zoo’s remarkable residents can also take in one of the daily shows, which star a lineup of cuddly cast mates. “Well-timed feedings and shows give the experience an educational element,” noted a TripAdvisor traveler. Admission costs $15 for adults (ages 12 to 59), $14 for seniors (age 60 and up), and $10 for children (ages two to 11).
6. San Diego Zoo, San Diego, Calif.
Set across 100 acres of sun-drenched SoCal soil, this zoo is home to more than 3,700 rare and endangered residents, including giant panda bears, as well as an exotic collection of flora and fauna. Animal lovers can even sleep over at this wildlife kingdom, and enjoy an after-hours stroll through the grounds, before retiring to their tents. “A must-see if you visit San Diego,” commented a TripAdvisor traveler. Admission costs $42 for adults (ages 12 and up) and $32 for children (ages three to 11).
7. Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kan.
This family-friendly attraction lets visitors come face-to-face with exciting species from across the globe. Travelers can visit Malaysian tapirs in the Asian forest, see penguins at play in the Cessna Penguin Cove, or discover the Children’s Farm, where dozens of domestic breeds dwell. “The animals seem to have nice habitats, the zookeepers are frequently roaming around answering questions and educating the visitors,” noted a TripAdvisor traveler. Admission costs $13.95 for adults (ages 12 to 61), $11.95 for seniors (age 62 and up), and $8.95 for children (ages three to 11); children under two get in for free.
8. Brevard Zoo, Melbourne, Fla.
Built by a community of nature enthusiasts, this sanctuary in the sun showcases several natural habitats, including “Wild Florida.” In this exhibit, travelers can feed white-tailed deer or climb into a kayak for a guided tour through acres of wetlands and their denizens. A TripAdvisor traveler noted, “This zoo is a perfect size for young children. I love the opportunity to get so close to the animals.” Admission costs $14.50 for adults (ages 12 and up), $13.50 for seniors, and $10.50 for children (ages two to 12); children under two get in for free.
9. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colo.
This elevated establishment mirrors the natural habitats of more than 800 animals. Travelers can view wildlife from across the globe, including giraffes and meerkats in the African Rift Valley and grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit. Animal gazers can also soar like a bird and enjoy panoramic views of the mountains in an open-air chairlift ride. A TripAdvisor traveler said, “It’s got everything the large zoos have but in a smaller space on the side of a mountain.” Admission costs $17.25 for adults, $15.25 for seniors (ages 65 and up), and $12.25 for children (ages three to 11); children under two get in for free.
10. Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, La.
At this zoo in the Big Easy, travelers can enjoy a parade of spots, stripes, and scales. Activities at this swamp-side attraction include bug tosses and “Creature Features”, during which patrons can pose for a picture with a critter and learn fascinating facts. Warm-blooded travelers can chill out at the Cool Zoo, a water park that boasts an alligator water slide and water-spitting snakes. A TripAdvisor traveler said, “One of the best zoos I have been to; great displays, beautifully maintained… simply a delight!” Admission costs $16 for adults, $13 for seniors (age 65 and up), and $11 for children (ages two to 12); children under two get in for free.
“The exotic sights and sounds at these zoos offer travelers a virtual round-the-world trip, without the price tag,” says Karen Drake, senior director of communications at TripAdvisor. “Whether it’s gazing at gorillas or peeping at penguins, these wildlife sanctuaries offer herds of fun for adults and children alike.”
Source: Trip Advisor
May 30, 2012 6:04 pm
Summer brings to mind a bounty of fresh fruits and veggies. But there is no reason to hold out for summer when you can enjoy some delicious and nutritious spring superfoods! Below are a handful of my favorites.
With two anti-cancer vitamins, A and C, this special spear is one of the best sources for rutin, which strengthens our capillary walls! Stuffed full of anti-carcinogens, the National Cancer institute dubbed it the food highest in glutathione. Take that, cancer!
These sweet Alliums are cousin to the onion, and help eliminate toxins from the liver, as well as protect against heart disease! Sweet and mellow, their flavor is a terrific addition to all your favorite soups and sautés.
High in folate and magnesium, these antioxidant bombs are as delicious as they are fun to eat. Plus, they are super cleansing—and rumored to cure a hangover! Simply steam them and enjoy!
Ah, my personal favorite! These rich, creamy fruits pack a fatty punch, but the good kind! Eating these treats will lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise your HDL (good cholesterol), plus give you filling fiber. Now go rock some guac!
May 30, 2012 6:04 pm
(ARA) - Gathering with family and friends in the summer helps to create enjoyable memories of afternoons and evenings spent with delicious grilled foods, fun games and good socializing.
Organizing these gatherings isn't difficult, and with a little practice, you'll be known by your family, friends and neighbors as an expert, both in organizing an excellent outdoor gathering, and in your grilling techniques.
To spice up your barbecue menu and make the gathering one to remember, Chef Aaron McCargo Jr., host of Big Daddy's House on the Food Network, has some planning and grilling tips to share.
"Summer barbecues should be fun, flavorful and carefree. And, it all starts with a flavorful menu," McCargo Jr. says. "This is the perfect time of year to experiment with flavor combinations when planning your menu. From seasonal fruits and vegetables to marinades and sauces, there are many different ways to combine flavors that best represent the mood or theme of your celebration."
Prep your food perfectly. Marinate your meat in freezer bags overnight or several hours before to lock in the delicious flavors you're going to be serving.
Gather together some useful, but often forgotten materials that will make life a little easier during your event, like weights or clips, markers and stickers. The table weights are to keep the table cloth down - old unused keys pinned on the corners work well. Markers are so everyone can write their names on their cups for reusing. For a fun twist, encourage people to make up a name, and then guess whose cup belongs to whom. Finally, put stickers on the underside of a couple of plates and mix up the pile. Hand out a door prize to the people who end up using the stickered plates.
Games are also very important, and have a variety on hand for kids and adults alike. Create your own kickball field, or establish a smaller bean bag toss game to encourage a little friendly competition. Another activity perfect for kids is sidewalk art.
When grilling, turn meat only once. For steaks, turn the meat when the juices start to bubble on the top. The clearer the juice, the more well-done the meat.
Apply sauces containing honey, brown sugar or molasses during the last 10 minutes of grilling to prevent the sauces from burning.
Keep a spray bottle handy so you can calm down grill flare-ups, which could blacken the food.
Clean up throughout the gathering, both to make the process easier when everyone's ready to go home after dark, and also to help keep the insects away.
May 30, 2012 6:04 pm
Grantor. Person named in a deed who conveys ownership of real estate; the seller.
May 29, 2012 6:04 pm
Rubbing butter on a burn to cool down the heat is a home remedy with no basis in science. But, according to recent medical blogs, there are some old home remedies for other ailments that do have a basis in fact.
Bloggers suggest beginning with these six simple remedies:
• Blisters – Integrative medicine pioneer Dr, Andrew Weil suggests first dabbing a little petroleum jelly on a blister – then follow up by dabbing the blister with Listerine mouth wash three times daily until it dries up and the pain is gone.
• Cold sores – Try daubing a cold sore with damp lemon balm tea leaves, which have an anti-viral quality. Proponents say it works better and faster than commercial creams.
• Warts – be sure the wart and surrounding skin are clean. Apply a square of duct tape slightly larger than the wart and press it into place. Every third day, remove the tape, rough up the wart with an emery board, then reapply a fresh square of duct tape. It’s a slow process – perhaps up to 60 days – but it’s said to be more effective overall than freezing.
• Motion sickness – Pack a little crystallized ginger, ginger tea, or some ginger capsules in your glove compartment or suitcase. Studies show it works better to combat motion sickness, or even seasickness, than some commercial remedies.
• Itchiness – To reduce the itchiness of a bug bite or poison ivy, slap a banana peel on the affected area for twenty minutes. (And, by the way, some people say a mashed banana makes a great facial for rough, dry skin.)
• Minor burns – hold the butter, but a number of hikers and campers maintain that a coating of mustard will cool down a minor burn. Slathering the mustard onto seared skin may also prevent scarring.
May 29, 2012 6:04 pm
Recent data has shown it looks as if the market may be turning! Home prices have crept upward for the second month in a row, according to a recent S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. However, if you’re trying to sell your home, this news doesn’t mean you should be sitting back and waiting. Draw in buyers by focusing on certain focal points that can give your property a selling edge, ensuring a faster sale—and a higher selling price.
Don’t worry--there is no need to build a pricey addition or completely gut your existing property. By evaluating your home’s top selling points, you can add modern touches to these features to create a new, fresh feel without doing major renovations.
Point 1: Glam up your bathroom and kitchen. Nice bathrooms and kitchens are attractive qualities in a house, and you can make yours look luxurious without going overboard.
If you can’t afford double sinks, a whirlpool tub or a walk-in shower in your bathroom, try making subtle adjustments. Small tweaks, like a new mirror or updated lighting, can have a huge effect on the atmosphere of a room.
Expand the range of your kitchen by adding a center island with barstools, updating major appliances and giving a second thought to your countertops. Slab countertops, especially granite, are really popular choices. And as far as appliances go, stainless steel is the real deal.
Point 2: Opt for wood. Does your home have large, open rooms? Make them appear even larger with the right flooring. Hardwood floors are timeless. Consider ripping up old carpet and refinishing the wood beneath. Hardwood too expensive? There are many synthetic alternatives that are nearly as appealing as hardwood, at a fraction of the cost.
Point 3: Organization is key. Do you have a ton of open wall space? Make the most of them with built-ins. Buyers love built-in organizational systems, like entertainment credenzas or bookshelves. Built-ins are relatively easy to have installed, and can give your home a unique edge.
Don’t forget about closets! Expanding the closets in bedrooms and bathrooms, or adding a walk-in pantry in the kitchen, can add additional sparkle to your home.
Point 4: Don’t forget to landscape. Do you have a large yard? Be sure to keep the grass neatly mowed and any gardens well tended. Adding a deck or patio is a great idea, but if your budget won’t allow it, simply place some outdoor furniture around the yard in small clusters, so buyers can imagine themselves spending time outside with family and friends.
May 29, 2012 6:04 pm
Decorating styles for 2012 have been big, dramatic, and full of rich, vibrant color. The idea is to be unique, grab attention and make a statement. Furniture design has seen lots of daring color so far, including primary colors in fabrics, Union Jack-themed couches and side tables, and dramatic tables with a steampunk, industrial loft look.
Accessories and home accents are just as bold, with chic tones of silver, gold and tangerine tango, the designer color of the year. Not to be left out, a wide range of new designer lamp looks have followed, offering exciting new looks that will add a new brightness to your home decorating. Here are our top 5 table lamp trends for you to explore.
Big and Bold Bases
Lighting designers have gone big and bold with the lamp bases themselves. “The footprint of many lamps has gotten larger over the last couple of years,” says Lamps Plus blogger and designer Marcia Prentice. “The idea is to make the lighting a dramatic and sculptural focal point for the room.” On-trend looks include designs with a carved, antique appearance and organic-shaped bases that mimic forms found in nature. Elaborates Prentice, “To bring in an organic look, I love using big lamps that have a big wooden base or designs that have the look of driftwood or salvaged wood.”
Fashion often leads the way in the exploiting new color trends. Runway inspired decor makes its presence felt in a range of brightly colored modern table lamps. Cool teal blue, more intense cobalt blue, bright and poppy tones of lavender, and glittering color treatments are all making a splash this year. And then there’s tangerine tango, the Pantone color of the year. “This is a really intense color, so a little goes a long way,” notes Prentice,, “but it provides a wonderfully warm and intense blast to spice of bedrooms, seating areas and more.”
Clear Glass and Mirrors
To balance out some of the other big and bold room elements, designers are turning to glass and mirrored lamps. Designer and blog writer Lesley Myrick says that “Glass table lamps offer a clear and pure form that provides sparkle without fighting with other colors or shapes in a room design. With glass lamps, you can see through the body to get a glimpse of the other things going on in the space. They don’t conflict with other things going on.”
Mirrored table lamps offer more punch, reflecting textures and colors used throughout a room. “Mirrored lamps are really cool to use in smaller rooms or anywhere you want to add a little splash and dazzle,” says Myrick. Both the glass and mirror offer a taste of the hot Hollywood Luxe design look, a style that draws inspiration from classic Hollywood set design and home styles from the 1930s and 1940s.
Metallic Table Lamps
It’s not just splashy colors and eye-catching glass that’s turning heads. Bold metallic tones of silver and gold are also being used. Observes Prentice, “Metal table lamps offer wonderful texture and glitter. They really make an impact in a room, especially when set against more organic elements or soft wall paint colors.” New designs are even bringing back an old favorite from, the brass table lamp. “Brass is a really appealing metallic tone for lamps,” says Prentice. “I love using them to give an extra layer of richness for a room.”
Custom DIY Looks
With the boom in DIY home projects and Etsy crafting, there’s also a big movement of customizing table lamps to create unique designs. Adding new trim or ribbons to a shade is one easy way to add a little personalization. “I’d also suggest looking at a new finial,” suggests Myrick. The lamp shade finial is the decorative top of the shade. These screw down onto the lamp spider to hold the shade in place. “You can find lots of really unique, inexpensive finials; there’s everything from cool abstract shapes to animals and more.”
May 29, 2012 6:04 pm
Whether you're a new mom of an infant or the proud mama of a boisterous brood, you are busy. Doctor appointments, sports practices, late-night feedings, recitals, school, work--all of these things demand your time and energy. Who has time to exercise?
You do! You can make time for exercise if you're motivated and realistic. You may just need to think outside the box with a few of these tips.
Whether it's a New Year's resolution or the beginning of the month, make a commitment to see an exercise regimen through. You're not going to get very far if you just sporadically start exercising whenever you feel like it. Have a plan and stick to it!
Get the right equipment
If you're starting with jogging the correct footwear is integral to your performance and safety, so make sure you have the right fitness and sports equipment before you get started.
In order to make that commitment, you'll want to set realistic, motivating goals. Some people are motivated by losing weight, while others are motivated by checking a workout off a list. Realistic goals include losing a pound a week, exercising for 30 minutes a day five times a week, or doing regimented training for a race, fun run or similar fitness-centered event.
Give Yourself Rewards
You deserve to be rewarded if you meet your goals. You should stay away from food rewards, which can be counter-productive. Instead, treat yourself to something special such as a visit to a spa, shopping trip or a vacation abroad.
Include the Kids
As a mom, your biggest challenge may be building a fitness routine around your kids' schedules. Instead, try building exercise into your kids' routines. Not only will this help you, but it will teach them the important habit of regular exercise. Go for walks or bike rides together. Do exercise videos together. Walk the dog as a family. Play games that will raise your heart rate such as tag or tossing a ball around. If your child is at a sports practice, walk or jog laps around the field or gym while you wait.
A lot of people give up exercise because they get bored and lose motivation. The way to combat boredom is to incorporate variety into your workouts. A natural way to do this is to coordinate your exercise with the weather. If the weather is pleasant, exercise outside-play sports, go for walks, or move around at the park. Fitness classes like aerobics, yoga and Pilates can also be fun and challenging.
Bring a Buddy
Working out with a friend or your partner is a great way to spend time together and stay motivated. You may even be able to find a group of moms who exercise together-with kids in tow. Talk to your friends and family and figure out some group exercise routines that work for you.
Use Small Sessions
Try breaking 30 minutes of exercise into three 10 minute sessions broken up during the day. If you're having difficulty finding space in your day, separating your workouts maybe the best way to make adjustments to your busy schedule.
With these tips you'll be well on your way to a fitter, healthier and happier you-without completely changing your schedule. You have the time to exercise; all you have to do is find what motivates you and build fitness into your routine.
May 29, 2012 6:04 pm
Grantee. Person named in a deed who acquires ownership of real estate; the buyer.