November 3, 2011 6:36 pm
With eco-friendly options becoming the norm, solar panels are a great way to decrease your carbon footprint while also saving on your utility bills. Solar panels, which generate electricity from the energy of the sun, can be used to power numerous household appliances, from lighting to your stove and refrigerator.
If you are thinking about installing solar panels, here is a list of things you should know:
• Solar energy is a renewable source of energy, meaning it is a “clean” energy.
• For best results, solar panels should be placed on roofs or walls that face, unobstructed, up to 90 degrees of south.
• The ideal roof for solar power installation is south facing, with a tilt of 30 degrees.
• If the panels are not in full sun for the length of the day, they will still generate electricity, but not at their full capacity.
• Solar panel systems are more expensive than normal water-heating systems, but accumulate more savings over time.
• If well maintained, your solar power system can last up to 30 years.
Shop around before you purchase your solar panels, compare prices—some companies offer free installation—and get referrals.
November 3, 2011 6:36 pm
Healthy habits start young, and this is true for both adapting an active lifestyle and nutritious eating. Since you, the parent, are the largest influence on your child’s life when they’re young, exposing them early to healthy food will promote a lifetime of healthy lifestyles. The following guidelines have been adapted from Evergreen Children’s Clinic:
1. Healthy Buying Behavior. Take your kids to the farm, market or grocery store and buy healthy, fresh goods. Show them where their food comes from, so they can create a deeper connection to the product.
2. Lead By Example. It is important to be a good role model, as children learn by observing behavior around them. If you enjoy and speak highly of healthy food, then your kids will understand this as the encouraged behavior.
3. Hydrate. Drink more water than juice or other beverages, as water helps promote healthier bodies, aid digestion, allow nutrients to dissolve, and cleanse toxins.
November 3, 2011 6:36 pm
The countdown to the holidays is on, bringing with it the challenge of how to serve a large gathering fast and easy. Fear not! There's a simple solution. Forego the traditional, full-service, sit-down meal and opt instead for a buffet-style serving. Follow these three steps and yours will be a gathering remembered with fondness by both your guests and you.
1. Divide and Conquer: No more waiting in lines
. "Set up multiple food stations. This idea will save your sanity," says Chef Jeff Gillis, www.CelebratingHome.com. "A few days before your gathering, clear most items off your kitchen countertops, table, island and dining room buffet and move contents to the laundry room or garage. Convert each area into a serving station where foods will be grouped by category. Label each area with a sticky note so that when the big day arrives, the stations can be quickly assembled."
At each serving station, stack plates so diners needn't traipse off to the table for one. Pre-fill glasses with ice and beverages for quick pick-up. Remember, it's hard to carry more than a plate and glass so preset the table with napkins and flatware.
2. Control the Crowd:
"Don't think twice about placing tables in multiple rooms," adds Chef Gillis. "That's better than crowding everyone together or asking guests to balance plates on laps while sitting on your sofa." To seat people quickly (and without a fuss), use place cards.
3. Keep It Simple
: Flowers in a vase are so last year. Instead, style up the buffet with an eye-catching "Gratitude Tree," a sculptural bronze metal tabletop tree festooned with ribboned tree tags. Guests write what they're thankful for on tags and after dinner's done, take turns reading. This is a unique way to remind guests about the true meaning of the day and, because the tree arrives ready for display, it's a real timesaver.
Remember—every minute saved adds up to extra time you can spending enjoying the day with your guests.
For more information, visit http://www.celebratinghome.com
November 3, 2011 6:36 pm
The holiday season is meant to be spent celebrating and relaxing with loved ones, yet often turns out to be one of the most stress-filled times of the year.
Long lines, crowded airports, ever-changing TSA regulations, even unpredictable winter weather can all combine to make holiday travel an experience many would prefer to avoid.
Just in time for the busiest travel season of the year, Preferred Travel Helpers present the Top 10 Holiday Travel Tips for the Elderly.
10. Remember, walkers, crutches, canes and other devices that can fit through the X-ray machine must undergo X-ray screening (with the exception of white collapsible canes). Ask a security officer for assistance (arm, hand, shoulder to lean on) until you are reunited with your device. Security will perform a hand inspection of your equipment if it cannot fit through the X-ray machine.
9. The limit of one carry-on and one personal item (purse briefcase or computer case) does not apply to medical supplies, equipment, mobility aids, and/or assistive devices.
8. If you have medical documentation regarding your medical condition or disability, have it with you to present it to a security officer to help inform him of your situation. This documentation is not required and will not exempt you from the security screening process, but may make the process easier.
7. If you have personal supplemental oxygen, it will need to undergo screening. Check with your doctor prior to coming to the airport to ensure disconnection can be done safely. If you need an oxygen supplier to meet you at the arrival gate, check with your airline well in advance of your departure about their procedures for allowing suppliers to meet you, since these procedures vary from airline to airline.
6. If traveling internationally, apply for a passport at least three months prior to travel. Be sure to fill out the emergency contact page of your passport. Make a copy of your passport and store it separate from the original. Some foreign countries will also require that you have a Visa.
5. High altitude, air pollution, humidity and extreme temperatures may cause health issues. Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance. Medicare does not cover medical expenses outside of the U.S.
4. If you have a medical device (on the interior or exterior of your body) check with your doctor prior to traveling to determine if it is safe for you to go through the metal detector. If your doctor indicates that you should not go through the metal detector, or if you are concerned, ask the security officer for a pat-down inspection instead.
3. Pack your medications in a separate pouch/bag to facilitate the inspection process. Ensure that containers holding medications are not too densely filled, and that all medication is clearly identified. If possible keep your medication in its original, marked container. The TSA recommends that passengers do not pack medications that they do not want exposed to X-rays in their checked baggage. Instead, send larger quantities of medications to your destination by mail ahead of time. Travel delays due to weather and unforeseen circumstances can happen. Bring at least three extra days worth of prescriptions with you, just to be safe.
2. Do not wrap gifts you're taking on the plane. Security officers may have to unwrap gifts if they need to take a closer look. Plan to ship wrapped gifts ahead of time or wait until your destination to wrap them. You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they may require additional screening.
1. Consider hiring a travel assistant, who can focus on the traveler's comfort and safety as well as overseeing every detail of the trip.
For more information, visit www.preferredtravelhelpers.com.
November 3, 2011 6:36 pm
Open listing. Listing that gives a broker a nonexclusive right to find a buyer; the owner can still find a buyer himself and avoid a commission.
November 3, 2011 6:36 pm
Q: Is it best to save for the ultimate dream home or begin with a less expensive starter home?
A: It can take a long time to save for that perfect dream home. Meanwhile, the market has been flooded with some of the most favorable mortgage interest rates in years. Low rates make housing more affordable, which is why so many buyers have jumped on the home buying bandwagon.
Home-price appreciation has also been strong, making very solid gains in communities across the country. In fact, home prices are expected to increase 2.5 percent to 3 percent annually over the next five years.
If you purchase a starter home today, you can potentially begin to build value that can lead to the purchase of a larger, or more desirable, trade-up home in the future.
November 2, 2011 6:34 pm
The goblins and ghouls have come and gone, but your home still may be a frightful place. Real cobwebs that hang in the corner no longer add to the ambiance of the living room. Dust balls lurk under the beds, and only a scientist can hazard a guess at what's growing in the dark recesses of your refrigerator.
Experts at The Maids (www.maids.com), a franchised residential cleaning service to clean for health using environmentally preferable products, a strategic cleaning approach and state-of-the-art equipment, offer these ideas to help you focus on often-overlooked areas so you can transform your haunted house into home-sweet-home.
It Came from Above. Cobwebs might have been the perfect decor for a Halloween party, but now they are simply creepy. Attach a microfiber cloth—a rubber band works nicely—to an extending pole or even a broom handle and run it along ceiling and wall creases. You can also use an extender attachment on your vacuum to eliminate webs from windowsills and other areas where spiders like to congregate. Don't forget to wipe down curtain rods or other window treatment fixtures that aren't part of a regular cleaning regime.
Next dust tops of picture frames, bookshelf tops, door moldings and other wall decor. Remove any vent covers and thoroughly clean with a mild soap and warm water. Dust smoke and CO2 detectors to make sure they're operating efficiently.
If you have silk or other artificial floral arrangements, remove dust or sticky cobwebs with a microfiber cloth. At the least, take them outside and give them a good shaking. If the dusty grime is too foreboding, consider throwing them away.
What Lies Beneath. Some of the truly scary places in your home are those you rarely see. Take this opportunity to dust or vacuum closet floors and corners, under beds, and any other places you might not have cleaned in several months. Use soapy, warm water to clean under kitchen or bathroom sinks; while you are there, check for leaks or other pipe issues.
Use a long-handled, soft brush to clean any accumulated lint and other fuzz from your dryer vent. Use a vacuum attachment to eliminate dust and debris from behind your washer and dryer and other appliances placed close to walls, including the refrigerator.
The Thing. Speaking of refrigerators, some of the unwanted things you find there can be, well, chilling. First, toss any foods that are expired, unwanted or look like they came from Frankenstein's laboratory. Place foods you want to keep on a counter or other clean surface.
Use a healthful and environmental-friendly solution of one quart warm water to one-quarter cup baking soda to wipe down the inside of the refrigerator. Place drawers and shelving into the sink or your bathtub and clean them with the same solution. To keep your refrigerator smelling fresh, keep a box of opened baking soda in the back of the fridge; change about every three months.
It Came from the Black Lagoon. Your bathtub and shower stall may not be that terrifying, but the truth is, thousands of germs and bacteria thrive in warm, moist places. And don't forget the mold and mildew that accumulates on tile grout.
Soapy water and a scrub brush are your best defense against any swamp creatures living in your bathroom. A simple paste of baking soda and vinegar and a tooth brush will scrub away grime that has accumulated on tile grout. If the grout is stained, reach for a lemon. The acidity in the fruit's juice will attack stains and discoloration. Leave the juice on for about ten minutes before wiping clean.
For more information, visit http://www.maids.com.
November 2, 2011 6:34 pm
New Light Bulb Regulations
With the movement towards a greener world, the U.S. is developing stricter requirements focusing on energy efficient lighting. Over the next five years, several changes will occur in the lighting industry, the most prominent of which will be the phasing out and replacing of standard light bulbs by more energy efficient alternatives.
Many people are misinterpreting these regulations by thinking that they have to stock up on the light bulbs being phased out because they will no longer be available. This is not the case, as these regulations are simply being put into effect to replace current bulbs with more energy efficient ones.
In January of 2012, 100W incandescent bulbs will be phased out; however, they will be replaced by more energy efficient 72W bulbs. These new bulbs will be required to emit the same amount of lumens as a 100W bulb, just without consuming as much electricity. Remember, lumens refer to the amount of light produced, whereas watts refer to the amount of energy consumed by the bulb. This trend will continue through 2014 in an effort to increase overall energy efficiency.
In addition, packaging standards have been in the process of changing since the middle of this year. Instead of referring to bulbs by their wattage, packaging now refers to them according to their Lumens, and will include a cost figure for yearly usage. In addition, packaging will now include a "Lighting Facts" portion that will inform consumers about brightness, energy cost, life expectancy, light appearance, wattage, and mercury content.
For more information, visit http://www.goldenlighting.com/.
November 2, 2011 6:34 pm
The holidays are a great time to make memories with friends and family, and a clean and inviting home sets the tone. From family traditions and cookie exchanges to visits from out of town guests, you want your home to always have that special holiday shine.
Windex has been helping homes sparkle for the holidays—and every day—for 75 years. Here are some hints to help you keep your home clean and inviting all season long.
Tackle the Fridge—Clear out food and leftovers that are past their prime. Wipe down shelves and make room for batches of holiday cookie dough and perishable food gifts you might get. Wipe down the handles and doors with Windex Multi-Surface Vinegar. It gently cleans even stainless steel with a streak-free shine and a fresh, clean scent.
Declutter—Clear everything off the counters that isn't involved in cooking. Put whatever has been slowly piling up, like mail and magazines, in piles: throw away, keep and recycle. This will make clearing the clutter more manageable.
Work from the Top Down—Start by dusting the tops of cabinets. Then wipe down the cabinet doors, followed by countertops, lower cabinet doors, then the floors.
Clean the Stovetop—Crumbs can build up in the space between the stove and the countertop. Use a stiff brush to loosen and remove them in no time. Once the crumbs are gone, wrap the bristles with a cloth dipped in warm soapy water to degrease that area.
Manage the Microwave—In the microwave, boil a cup of water with a few slices of lemon in it for one minute. The steam softens stuck-on food, while the lemon water can be used with a sponge to wipe away grease and residue.
Let the Light In—Take down your bathroom light fixtures and clean them with Windex Original Glass Wipes. Dust off your light bulbs too—you'll be surprised at how much brighter the bathroom looks when you're done. Sweep First, Then Mop—Vacuum or sweep the floors, using the crevice tool to get behind sinks and toilets and to get into corners. This will clear the floor of hair and dust before you wipe down the baseboards and mop the floor, leaving a clean and shiny floor.
Soap Up the Sink—Use an old toothbrush to get behind the sink faucet and knobs, and don't forget the sink pedestal or lower cabinets where dust, hair and makeup can build up.
Mind Your Medicine Cabinet—Yes, guests will peek. Tidy things up, dispose of old medications and stash items you'd rather not be seen.
Spruce Up—Fresh, neatly folded towels, scented hand soaps and a seasonal candle go a long way toward making a bathroom look and feel welcoming.
Clear Reflection—Make sure the mirror is free of mascara smudges and water spots by wiping it down with Windex Original.
Freshen Up Fabrics—Get pet hair off of upholstery with your favorite pet hair remover. Vacuum upholstered surfaces, then spot clean and use a fabric freshener where needed. Add a few seasonal pillows or throws for a fresh look guests will love.
Make It Shine—Dust can build up on your most valuable electronics including computers, televisions and other items in your living room. Whether it's Windex Electronics Spray, Dry Cloths, or Wipes, the gentle formula removes dust, dirt and grime from household electronics, leaving behind only a streak-free shine.
Get Rid of Smudges—Doorknobs, light switches, phones and more can get smudges and fingerprints. Give them a good cleaning with Windex Original Glass and Surface Wipes—this is a great job for the kids to tackle.
Speedy Clean-Up Secrets
If you're on a tight schedule, or find out at the last minute that you'll be having guests, here are three quick tricks to help you tidy up in a hurry:
Speed Clean—Go through the house with a few Windex Original Glass and Surface Wipes to remove smudges on mirrors, fingerprints on windows and glass tables, and grime on light switches. You'll be surprised at how quickly your home will seem polished and pulled together, with just a few touch-ups.
Focus on Key Areas Only—Pick the main rooms that guests will be in and clean those. Concentrate on the bathroom first, then the main living area, then the kitchen.
Involve Your Family—Have each family member pick up clutter or misplaced items in a different area of the house and make a game of it -- the first person done gets a special holiday treat!
For more information visit www.windex.com.
November 2, 2011 6:34 pm
Year-round outdoor cooking is on the rise as consumers are becoming more adventurous chefs, forgoing the oven or stove-top and opting for turkey and trimmings cooked on the grill, smoker or fryer. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) 2011 State of the Barbecue Industry report, 62 percent of consumers are cooking outdoors year-round and 15 percent are cooking part of their Thanksgiving meals outside, up 9 percent from 2009. Whether it's for the convenience, minimal cleanup or crisp fresh air, consumers are willing to prepare the entire Thanksgiving meal—from the turkey to desserts —outdoors.
"As the popularity of year-round outdoor cooking continues to grow, so does our appetite to try new techniques, gadgets and recipes—even for Thanksgiving," said Leslie Wheeler, HPBA communications director. "This holiday season, be adventurous and try cooking your turkey and classic side dishes outside for a convenient, flavorful and healthy way to prepare your holiday feast."
Along with new techniques, gadgets and recipes, Americans agree that there are many reasons they are cooking outdoors this holiday season—and all year round —according to new State of the Barbecue Industry report findings. Consumers say they'll cook outdoors for:
• More flavorful food preparation (58%),
• Cost savings compared to eating out (47%),
• Healthier preparation (38%),
• Less cooking time compared to oven recipes (24%)
The National Turkey Federation (NTF) agrees: "With an estimated 46 million turkeys being cooked this holiday season, Americans are continuously looking for ways to reinvent their Thanksgiving feasts," says Sherrie Rosenblatt, NTF vice president of marketing and communications. "Turkeys can be fried, smoked or even grilled to add a new twist on the traditional Thanksgiving turkey."
HPBA and NTF offer the following preparation and cooking tips to ensure a safe and delicious meal:
• Purchase a whole turkey according to the weight recommendations in your grill, smoker or fryer owner's manual.
• Thaw the turkey completely and pat it dry. Cook the bird un-stuffed.
• Brine the turkey for increased flavor and moisture.
• Outdoor cooking times depend on many factors: the size and shape of the turkey, the distance from the heat and the outside air temperature. Allow more time on cold or windy days and at high altitudes. Allow less time in very hot weather.
• Have a food thermometer handy to measure the internal temperature of the bird; the temperature should be 165 degrees F, but most people prefer it to reach 170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh.
• Check to make sure the grill, smoker or fryer is in working order.
• Be sure to read the owner's manual for safety precautions.
• Stock up on enough charcoal, propane, oil or wood chips needed to cook the meal.
• Be sure to use the grill, smoker or fryer outside only—never indoors—and make sure that it's set-up on a flat, stable surface, preferably on a protective grill pad, and away from any combustible materials.
For more information, visit http://www.hpba.org or http://www.eatturkey.com.