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Mary Mastroeni

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Question of the Day

April 16, 2012 7:48 pm

Q: What should elderly homeowners consider when deciding to remodel? 

A: According to the AARP, older homeowners prefer to age in place, meaning they want to live in their homes safely, independently and comfortably, despite age or ability level. To do so, many require a few modifications in the home to enhance maneuverability, including the installation of a private elevator and the addition of a bathroom and bedroom to the main level. A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) may prove helpful. CAPS professionals are remodelers, general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants who are trained in the unique needs of the elderly, Aging-in-place home modifications, common remodeling projects, and solutions to common barriers. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), together with the NAHB Research Center, NAHB Seniors Housing Council, and AARP, developed the CAPS program to address the growing number of consumers who will soon require modifications to their homes.

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Spring Cleaning: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Spring isn't just about flowers and rain showers, but it's also about decluttering our homes and embracing the good ole' tradition of spring cleaning.

Unfortunately, due to the labor intensive duties that go into many of our spring cleaning rituals, we run a high risk for injuries, especially if the proper safety precautions aren't taken.

"We all want a perfectly clean house with the snap of a finger, so we tend to rush through a numerous amount of burdensome tasks in a short period of time, and that's where we put ourselves at risk for injuries," says orthopedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Lana Kang, MD. "Whether it's a fall caused after making a wrong step on a ladder or straining a back muscle, it's best to pace yourself, complete one task at a time, and take regular breaks."

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010, more than 35,500 people injured themselves using a stepladder.

Before creating your spring to-do list, make these spring cleaning safety tips a priority.

• Use proper techniques for lifting, carrying and bending to avoid back injuries:

• Separate your feet, shoulder-width apart and keep your back upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles. 

• Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up; don't try to lift heavy objects by yourself. 

• Use a sturdy step stool instead of a counter or furniture—such as a chair or the couch—when dusting high hard to reach areas. 

• Ladders used for chores—such as washing windows, painting, cleaning gutters and trimming trees—should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft or wet.

• Use care with extension cords: be sure they are properly grounded. To avoid tripping or falling, do not drape extension cords across spans of crossing walkways. 

• When working on a ladder, leaning too far to one side and reaching too far overhead can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder. Never climb a ladder without someone nearby who is able to spot you. 

• Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released. Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary – carefully look for others behind you when you do. 

• Wear protective gear such as proper eyewear, footwear and thick, well-fitted gloves that serve as a layer of protection to minimize cuts, scratches, and chafing, or injury from dangerous chemicals. 

• Read product labels for proper use of chemicals used for cleaning. Store all chemicals in places indicated on the package. This should be out-of-reach of both children and pets. Never place chemicals into unmarked containers or containers labeled for a different substance. 

• Take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration. 

• Be sure to stretch your arms, back, shoulders, knees and hips before starting your cleaning. 

• Keep a cell phone within reach in case of accident or injury. 

Source: AAOS

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Spring Selling Season: Keep Your Inside Air Fresh

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Spring is in full bloom—and so is the spring housing market! The last thing you need when prepping for an open house is odor or airborne pollen and dust, making your clean house seem dirty.

ABC The Chew correspondent and home expert, Evette Rios, knows how to keep a home fresh and clean for showing. She offers some of her top tips, below.

1. When to Go with the (Air) Flow
Rios points out that many don’t realize is that the EPA states that indoor air can be 5 to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. So if the day is nice and the pollen count is low, homeowners should consider opening their windows and doors to let fresh air circulate. On days when pollen is high, consider an air purifier. “Try the Honeywell AirGenius 5, which helps diminish odors and even helps reduce VOCs, airborne allergens, and airborne germs, which is key for families that spend a lot of time indoors,” says Rios, who also suggests using an air purifier when sleeping to keep lungs clear all night long.

2. What Your Fragrance Says about You
When you walk into a home, one of the first things that hits you is the smell, which can be a deal breaker if it’s an open house. Even if your home doesn’t have a strong odor (think kitty litter or last night’s dinner), a musty, dusty smell can still resonate. “Dust has a way of finding its way into the home and can start collecting as soon as you wipe your furniture, floors or countertops clean. Help reduce airborne dust particles with an air purifier,” says Rios, who also suggests using a fan to circulate stagnant indoor air while helping to eliminate odors.

3. Improving the “Ahh” Factor in Your Home
“If you live in an apartment building, air ducts between apartments can be carrying unfiltered air from your neighbor straight to you,” says Rios. “From cooking smells to viruses to pet dander – you name it – just imagine what could be passing through to your dwelling. Use an air purifier to help capture microscopic airborne allergens and help reduce odors in the air.”

Source: Honeywell

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Word of the Day

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Credit report. A past history of debt repayment used by creditors as an indicator of future readiness to responsibly repay debt.

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Question of the Day

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Q: What are the pros and cons of owning a townhouse?
A: On the plus side, exterior maintenance and repairs are minimal; there are no neighbors above or below the home like in an apartment; and because the homes are attached, they may offer a greater sense of security. 

As for the disadvantages, if there is a homeowner’s association, buyers will have to pay a homeowner’s fee. There is also less privacy than with a detached single-family home. And there are limits on how you can make exterior changes to the home.

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Tips for Living Comfortably When You're on the Road

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Traveling can leave you craving the comforts of home, especially when you're on the road for more than a day or two. Making life comfortable while you are away starts with choosing the right hotel and finding ways to keep your real-life routines rolling, so being miles from where you live still feels close to how you live. 

Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, co-founding editor of Apartment Therapy, founding editor of Apartment Therapy's culinary arts site TheKitchn.com, and author of "Good Food to Share," is a frequent traveler, and for the first time, she's taking her lifestyle expertise on the road. For this food expert, being comfortable and maintaining her routine starts with selecting a hotel with all of the amenities she needs, such as a fully-equipped, in-suite kitchen and separate living and sleeping spaces. 

Sara Kate offers the following tips for making life on the road feel more like home: 

Do Like the Locals Do
Find a local farmers market or local gourmet grocery store. Buy yourself flowers there -- a pot of your favorite violets on the counter or by the window will add color and life to your hotel room. Or, even just having a freshly-baked baguette or some fresh yogurt to snack on in your room can make you feel more cozy and at home. It's also a great place to go for a walk and explore the neighborhood. 

Get Exercise
Ironically, travel can be sedentary, so make sure to move your body. Look for hotels with 24-hour gyms or spacious suites, which provide the perfect setup to work out with your favorite DVD or get in your morning Pilates or yoga routine. Keeping your workout consistent, even while on the road, will help keep you energized throughout the day. 

Sip and Enjoy
Bring your favorite tea bags or coffee grounds -- whether you crave espresso or chai, one sip of your favorite coffee or tea will evoke memories of home and start your day off on the right foot. Find a hotel with an in-room coffee/tea maker so you can enjoy your morning drink while getting ready for your day. 

Source: www.hyatthouse.com.

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Protect Your Pets from Pests

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

For pet owners, warm weather brings the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with their furry loved ones. But it also brings the risk of flea and tick infestation. 

Veterinarians across the country are expecting an abundance of fleas and ticks this year, due in part to warmer winter temperatures in some areas of the nation. 

"Fleas and ticks are more than simple nuisances for your pets," says Laura Petree, DVM, Manager of Technical Services for Central Garden and Pet Company. "They can cause your pet discomfort, and in the case of ticks, put your pets and your family at risk for a variety of diseases." 

Dr. Petree says that flea eggs can account for 50 percent of a domestic flea infestation. One adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. If your pet has 10 fleas, your problem suddenly multiplies to 15,000 fleas in a month. "In order to effectively protect your dog or cat from fleas and ticks, you need to address any initial infestation problem, then keep the problem from coming back," she said. 

Preventing problems
Prevention is the best course of action. Making your yard unfriendly to pests is a good place to start.

Don't give fleas and ticks a welcoming environment.
Mow regularly, keep shrubs trimmed, and rake up leaves. Keep the garbage covered so it won't attract rodents -- that means fleas and ticks won't have any help getting close to your house.

You can spray your yard to kill adult fleas and ticks.
Outdoor sprays can be used on lawns, flowers, trees and shrubs. They kill and repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, crickets and other insects. Spray wherever your pet frequents the most. Allow it to dry before letting pets or people onto the treated area. 

Preventive maintenance should be a regular part of your pet care routine. Whenever you groom your dog or cat, check for fleas and ticks. Signs of fleas include redness and scratching, as well as what's known as flea dirt -- black flea droppings left on your pet's coat. Ticks are most commonly found around the neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and body, and in between the toes. Cats may also have them around the neck and face. 

Topical treatments contain an insect growth regulator (IGR) that kills flea eggs and prevents re-infestation. They kill and repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes for up to 30 days. 

Shampoos and mists can also be used to complement your pet's regular flea and tick control maintenance.

Shampoos clean your pet by eliminating adult fleas, ticks and flea dirt. The active ingredients must come in contact with the pests for a certain period of time in order to be effective. Results are immediate. However, because shampoos have no long-lasting effects, it's a good idea to follow the shampoo with a dip or maintenance product.

Mists are used to kill fleas, ticks and mosquitoes on dogs and cats instantly. Flea eggs and larvae will be prevented for one to two months. 

Controlling an infestation
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your pet brings home some unwanted pests.

Here's what you can do:

Quickly kill biting adult fleas and offer several days of flea protection by using short-term control products for severe infestation problems. Sprays, dips, shampoos and other products can be used to help combat an infestation problem until it is under control. 

Vacuuming plays an important role in getting a flea infestation under control. Vacuum before the first home treatment, then daily for the next few weeks. This will help remove newly emerged fleas, flea dirt, eggs and some larvae from the carpets.

Treating your home with carpet powders, carpet sprays, room foggers or home sprays will help control fleas. Every area your pet frequents should be treated -- including the garage, basement, kennel and yard. 

Source: www.adamsfleacontrol.com.

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Time-Saving Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

It's no surprise that mothers make compromises every day. A recent survey of 1,000 American moms by Green Works naturally derived cleaners revealed that 57 percent admit to turning down bedroom time with their mate to clean the house. This number soars to 74 percent for new moms. 

In addition, the survey found that moms don't get to take breaks for special occasions. In fact, half of all moms reported cleaning the kitchen after a special meal on their own birthday and even Mother's Day. Thirty-six percent of new moms reported cleaning up the mess on their first Mother's Day. 

When it comes to keeping a clean home, moms will also compromise plans with friends. Half of the moms surveyed admitted to turning down time with pals to do laundry, and 64 percent responded that they have cancelled fun activities in order to clean. Even with all of these cleaning compromises, 90 percent still admit to feeling guilty for taking time for themselves. 

"The truth is that moms have a house full of cleaning priorities and not enough time to get it done," says Amanda Mahan, blogger for Green Mommy in a Plastic World and creative director for Green Works. "The logical solution becomes compromising personal time. But there are easy ways to cut down on time spent cleaning without compromising yourself or the clean." 

To help busy moms keep the house cleaning manageable, while making time for the people and activities they most enjoy, Mahan offers the following tips: 

Five minutes to clean laundry
• Take a few seconds to spot treat tough stains.
• Don't sort laundry before throwing it into the washer. Simply leave out garments that are likely to bleed and use the coldest water setting on the rest.
• Use the shortest wash cycle, then treat your load to an extra spin cycle. This will wick away extra moisture and cut down on drying time.
• If you have kids old enough to hit the mall, it's time for them to start pitching in. Assign specific tasks, such as sorting or folding. 

Five minutes to a clean bathroom
• Stash stray items in cupboard organizers for easy sorting.
• Use a gentle cleaning wipe that is naturally derived, yet packs a punch, such as the compostable Green Works wipes, to quickly give the mirror, countertop, faucet and sink a good once-over.
• Shake out the bathmat and use a few squares of toilet paper to wipe the floor.
• Use a disinfecting wipe to clean the toilet seat. Spray the inside with cleaner, and flush.
• Lastly, throw out the trash. 

Five minutes to a clean kitchen
• Stow away bulky appliances, pots and pans.
• Recycle old newspapers and take out smelly trash.
• Stick dirty dishes in the dishwasher or fill the sink with soapy water and submerge dishes into hiding.
• Hit hot spots with an old T-shirt and all-purpose cleaner, wiping down fridge door, counter, stove top and sink.
• Do a quick sweep of the floor. 

Source: www.GreenWorksCleaners.com/blog.

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Clean House Naturally and Avoid Toxic Cleansers

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

It's time to tackle the annual home cleaning. But just because you're thoroughly washing, scrubbing and disinfecting your home, doesn't mean you need to turn to cleansers with harsh ingredients and chemicals. In fact, you can easily clean using inexpensive products already in your kitchen, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Use these tips to clean your home naturally. 

Start seeing clearly: After months of winter weather, windows are often coated with a layer of grime. A solution of 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 liter of warm water can be used to gently remove dust or dirt from all glass surfaces including windows and mirrors. 

Freshen up the fridge: In addition to food spills, your refrigerator takes on odors from all the different foods stored throughout the year. Discard old items and be sure you are regularly cleaning out the fridge. Help reduce odors year-round by keeping a box of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda in the fridge at all times, replacing it every 30 days for best results. 

Reawaken your wardrobe: Start the season feeling good in clothes that smell fresh. Even when carefully stored, clothing can still be exposed to dust, and may require a good washing before wearing. Add 1 cup of baking soda to your next wash to naturally boost the power of your detergent. The combination will help balance PH levels to leave clothing cleaner and fresher. You can also freshen non-washable items like gym shoes, bags and sports equipment by sprinkling baking soda inside. 

Renew the everyday rooms: Avoid the fumes of harsh kitchen and bathroom cleaners by naturally cleaning surfaces with baking soda. A sprinkle of baking soda on a damp sponge will clean counters, stainless steel sinks, microwaves, ovens and much more without scratching. For tough grease, mix vinegar and lemon juice to leave your surfaces like new. 

Bet on a BBQ: After the inside of your home is looking spic and span, prepare for warmer weather and outdoor entertaining. Get your grill ready to prevent bad tasting hot dogs and hamburgers from ruining your next BBQ. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush, then scrub away any residue and rinse clean. For really difficult stains, make a paste with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part warm water and use a wire-bristled brush to work away at grime and grease stains. 

Source: www.armandhammer.com.

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Word of the Day

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Counteroffer. An offer made in response to an earlier, unacceptable one; it terminates the original offer.

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