Gunning Daily News

Fun and Creative Kids' Activities for Fall

October 22, 2013 5:27 pm

(BPT) - Each year autumn marks a time for change - leaves turn colors, the air becomes crisp and parents everywhere prepare for their children to return to school. -The new season brings with it a shift in rhythms and patterns, including a new weekly routine for families as children go back to school.

For young children starting school, it's important to maintain a learning environment even after the last school bell rings and they return home. Spend this time building family traditions and making learning fun by incorporating some of these fun indoor and outdoor fall activities into your seasonal routine.

Explore the outdoors:

- Set up a scavenger hunt with your kids to teach them about the differences between the tree seeds — this activity allows children to run around the neighborhood learning about the wide variety of living things in their environment.

- Collect fallen leaves to create a beautiful fall collage. This is a fun activity for young children as they can use their imagination and creativity to design a unique image celebrating the fall season.

- Use a metallic marker so kids can write on the leaves, creating patterns or images, then place the leaves on wax paper and apply Mod Podge to keep the design in place as it hangs.

- Visit a local pumpkin patch: One of the most cherished fall traditions for families is spending a day at a pumpkin patch. Full of fun and games, the pumpkin patch is a perfect place for young children. Whether you're making your way through the corn maze, interacting with the animals in the petting zoo, or enjoying a hay ride around the grounds, your family is sure to have a blast.

Halloween prep:

- Use the pumpkins brought home from the patch to design a spooky Jack-o'-lantern with your children. Let them design a face on the front of the pumpkin and cut it out for them.

- As Halloween approaches your little one will need a costume. Whether it's shopping for the perfect costume or making one from scratch, use this time to learn more about your child's likes and dislikes while encouraging them to express their creativity.

Make this fall season unforgettable and continue to help your children grow by introducing these lifelong family traditions.

 


Word of the Day

October 22, 2013 5:27 pm

Condominium. Type of housing where buyers own their units outright, plus an undivided share, or joint ownership, in the common elements of the building or community.


Q: Are Low-Ball Offers a Good Idea?

October 22, 2013 5:27 pm

A: Any offer can be presented, but a low-ball one that is extremely less than the asking price can dampen a prospective sale and prevent the seller from negotiating at all. Unless the home is overpriced to begin with the offer will probably be rejected.

Do your homework before making an offer. Compare prices of recently sold homes and new listings in the neighborhood. It also helps to know something about the seller’s motivation. A lower price with a speedy closing, for example, might motivate a seller who must move, has another house under contract, or must sell quickly for other reasons.

Also recognize that while your low offer in a normal market might be rejected at once, it might motivate the seller in a buyer’s market to either accept it or make a counter-offer.


Q: In Home Improvement, When Should I Tackle the Job Myself or Call in the Pros?

October 21, 2013 6:09 pm

A: A lot will depend on your time, level of expertise or willingness to handle the job, amount of help from friends or relatives, and how much you want, or need, to save by doing the job yourself. You could save up to 20 percent of the project cost through your own hard work.

There are several do-it-yourself books that offer guidance, and some home improvement stores, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, offer classes that can be helpful getting you on the right track.

Be aware, however, that you may end up spending more time, and up to double your estimated budget, if problems arise. Also, you may have difficulty selling your home if the workmanship looks shoddy.

Unless you are very experienced, home improvement experts suggest that you stick to painting, minor landscaping, building interior shelving, and other minor improvements.  

Remember, too, that you may need to deal with local agencies to get permits, inspections, variances, and certificates of occupancy.


Staying Safe on the Web: Tips for Online Security

October 21, 2013 5:09 pm

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) wants consumers to know valuable tips and advice on how to be safe online. ICBA and the nation’s community banks encourage members of the public to stay informed and become educated on how to prevent their financial information from being stolen and misused.

“Cybercriminals are on the prowl looking for unsuspecting victims online to hijack sensitive financial information,” says Bill Loving, ICBA chairman. “The community banking industry as a whole needs to be aware of the increased risk of cybercrimes. It’s vital that we stay alert to protect our customers and financial institutions from these criminals.”

ICBA provides consumers valuable tips when it comes to taking proactive cybersecurity measures:

• Be sure to use unique passwords for all financial online accounts. Never share your password, account number, PIN or answers to security questions.

• Do not save credit or debit card, banking account or routing numbers, or other financial information, on your computer, phone or tablet.

• Be careful about using a password on mobile devices. Be sure to set your devices to automatically lock after a selected period of time to ensure no one can access your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

• Do not provide your secure financial information over the phone or Internet if you are unsure of who is asking for it. Contact your bank directly by using the phone number on the back of your debit or credit card, or stop in your bank to speak with someone in person. Remember, your bank will never contact or text you asking for personal or banking information. Assume any unsolicited text request is fraudulent.

• Be aware of the location of your mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) at all times. Only log on financial websites when you have a secure, safe and trusted Internet connection.

“Contact your community bank immediately if you think your online identity has been compromised,” Loving says. “The sooner you alert proper authorities about suspicious activity, the sooner it can be resolved.”

Source: www.icba.org.


The Best-for-You Halloween Candy

October 21, 2013 5:09 pm

The minute the calendar turns to October, it seems candy begins popping up all over – front and center on grocery and drug store shelves, and increasingly tough to resist.

While it will never do wonders for your teeth or your belly fat, if you’re tempted to indulge in a little something sweet, nutrition experts point to some traditional candy favorites that have at least some nutritional value:

  • Dark chocolate – Bars with at least 60 percent cocoa have proven antioxidant and anti- inflammatory properties. A small piece nibbled each day may actually provide a health boost.
  • Peanut butter cups – Made with real peanut butter, these chocolate treats contain five grams of protein, which helps balance the sugar content and keep you satisfied longer.
  • Nut bars – For the same reasons, any candy bar loaded with nuts provides some satisfying healthy fat and a few grams of protein.
  • Fruity treats – For a fruity munch, flavored candy bits like Skittles are fat-free and contain a bit of vitamin C to go with the sugar.
  • Chocolate bites – Minimize your sugar intake by choosing foil-wrapped chocolate kisses over a handful of the colorful, candy-covered kind. Kisses take a bit longer to eat, too, which may help to keep you from eating more than just a few.
  • Sweet and tart candies – If you must indulge, try a roll of Smarties for a minimal 25 calories in the roll.
  • Chocolate covered peppermints - Compared to a standard candy bar, a 140-calorie Peppermint Patty is a major calorie bargain, especially since it has only 2.5 grams of fat. It’s also on the lower end of the scale for saturated fats and sugar.
  • Lollipops and suckers – To minimize the sugar bombarding your teeth over a long period of time, choose a plain one rather than one with a sweet, chewy gum or candy center.

Selling Your Place? Tips for Negotiating

October 21, 2013 5:09 pm

In talking with real estate professionals across the country, I noticed that most of them are expressing concerns about dwindling or dismal inventory for sellers to consider.

Most are advising that if potential buyers learns about a property that appeals to them, they should run - not walk - to check it out. Even those who are the first to learn of a new listing should be prepared to negotiate against other aggressive and possibly well-financed contenders.

In the next few segments, we'll take a look at what prospects need to know when they are pursuing, or competing to get into a new home in a tight inventory market. We'll also provide some insight to sellers who want to get their price.

A blog at helpinghomesellers.com, has good advice for sellers who want to respond to low ball offers. The site suggests instead of getting into a debate about money, try sweetening the pot with a variety of counter-offers, including:

  • Paying for some of the buyers’ title insurance, closing costs and/or points.
  • Pay homeowner’s association fees for a year.
  • Look into buying down the buyers’ mortgage rate for the first year.
  • Cover a year's cost for a lawn-maintenance/snow removal service.
  • Pay or provide an allowance toward moving expenses.
  • Provide the buyers with a home warranty.
  • Pay for the lawn and pool services for a year.
  • Offer a golf club membership, pool membership, or cable subscription.
  • Offer an allowance to repaint, new carpeting or for window treatments.

Incentives, especially for first time homebuyers, can often do the trick, the site states.

Investopedia.com says even in declining markets it is extremely important to be cognizant of comparable properties, and to price one's home to entice potential buyers to view it and ultimately bid on it.

That site says sellers should reject the temptation to hold out for top dollar, or to price the home at the upper end of what the market will bear. To get a sense of what similar homes are selling for, Investopedia.com recommends:

  • Attending open houses
  • Perusing the newspaper for local listings
  • Ask a real estate agent to print up comparable listings on the multiple listing service (MLS)

Word of the Day

October 21, 2013 5:09 pm

Consideration. Something of value, usually money, given to induce another to enter into a contract.


Beyond Granite: New Looks for Countertops

October 18, 2013 6:27 pm

For most of the past decade, at least, according to The Marble Institute, more than 75 percent of homeowners remodeling their kitchens have chosen granite for their counter tops.

Given granite’s durability, longevity and good looks, that’s not surprising. But at $60 to $100 per square foot installed, it is expensive - and extraordinarily heavy, often requiring reinforcement of base cabinets.

If you are considering a remodel, the National Kitchen and Bath Association suggests considering one of these non-granite counter top solutions:

Carrara marble – Marble is softer than granite, and more apt to scratch. But it develops a warm and lovely patina over time that appeals to many people.

Wood – Wood counter tops are enjoying a popularity surge because of its warmth, style and durability. Butcher block is the most common type, but slabs can be crafted from a variety of woods. Maintenance requires only a little oil now and then to prevent drying.

Soapstone - A smooth, matte natural stone that comes in a hues ranging from soft grey to charcoal, sopastone is one of the only natural surfaces that is not affected by acids – so spilled coffee or orange juice won’t leave a stain. It is also heat resistant and requires no special cleaners are needed, but mineral oils can be used to enhance the stone’s natural beauty.

Engineered quartz – These engineered countertops are created by mixing 95 percent ground natural quartz with 5 percent polymer resins. The result is a super-hard, low-maintenance, natural looking countertop that’s available in a wide range of colors. It is scratch and heat resistant, though you may not want to set a hot frying pan on it.

Stainless steel – Complementing many of today’s appliances, stainless steel is stain- and heat-resistant but it can be scratched or dented.


Physician Shares Tips for Surviving “the ‘Easy Life

October 18, 2013 6:27 pm

Dr. James L. Hardeman has seen firsthand the consequences of unhealthy habits during his 30 years as a practicing physician, and he says they’re just not worth it.

“There are very clear, biological reasons why we are compelled to eat sugary, fatty foods; but if there was ever a case of ‘too much of a good thing,’ it’s a sedentary lifestyle coupled with delicious, readily available food,” says Dr. Hardeman, author of “Appears Younger than Stated Age,” a pragmatic guide to looking younger.

As we evolved, sugar, salt and fat were rare yet necessary commodities, and that’s why we enjoy them so much, he says. But there are devastating consequences associated with too much rest, sugar and fat – including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea, he says.

“The ‘easy life’ isn’t so easy in the long term,” he says.

Multiple studies indicate the multidimensional nature of healthy habits, including one recently published by the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden. The study tracked significant improvements in men who changed their lifestyle from inactive to active, and the results were impressive.

Waist circumference and blood pressure drastically improved after six months. But the study also showed that health also improved at the microscopic level, such as the functioning of genes and how they express proteins. Other studies indicate that gene improvement can occur after just one workout.

“Our bodies want to be healthy, and it’s just a matter of getting and staying motivated,” says Dr. Hardeman, who offers tips:

• Don’t fall into the “I don’t have time” trap. Time is arguably the most precious commodity any individual has – and that means life span. Don’t have time to chop veggies before dinner or work out after work? Then make time! You will almost certainly live longer by following a healthier lifestyle. Need more incentive than a vague sense of health? How about avoiding the lifestyle restrictions imposed by diabetes, or the medical interventions necessitated by a heart attack?

• Keep in mind the intake/output principle. Miracle diets don’t exist. While some people can burn calories more easily than others, it ultimately comes down to what you put into your body and what you do with that energy. If you want to lose or maintain weight, think of a 360-calorie muffin as a loan you have to pay back with 35 to 40 minutes worth of jogging, or a 55-minute walk.

• Keep doing fun things! Remember what it was like to be a little kid? Back then, simply running around during a game of tag was a blast! It’s never too late to turn exercise into play. Try snowboarding, dancing at a club, hiking a beautiful landscape or taking a bicycle ride with the family.

• Find the motivator that works for you. Many people find a partner helps them stay motivated to exercise. If you’re not inclined to walk in the morning, but you don’t want to let down your walking partner, then you’re more likely to walk anyway. Same goes for a dog that needs to be walked. However, the most dependable person to keep you motivated is you. If your routine is getting a dull, mix it up with an mp3 player. Whether it’s Metallica, Manilow or Mozart, you can program a personal adrenalin soundtrack to keep yourself fully amped.

Dr. James L. Hardeman has been a physician for 30 years.