Gunning Daily News

Prepping for Visitors (while Developing New Habits) with 'Flylady'

June 12, 2013 2:08 am

When it comes to putting those finishing touches on one's home before welcoming guests for spring and summer visits, I sometime become little overwhelmed.

Where do you start? Thanks to Marla Cilley and flylady.net, there is a new method to getting through the madness of spring cleaning and readying for summer parties, hang-outs and visitors.

Her FlyLady system is all about establishing little habits that string together into simple routines to help your day run on automatic pilot. 'Flylady' says, you gotta' walk before you can fly, so she has her devotees start off simple - shining the kitchen sink instead of having it thrown at you.

Cilley offers a detailed lesson plan for everyday activities with practical hands-on tips, that also help build new habits based on a practical sequence of moving through the chore.

And her advice encomapsses a month's worth of tips, with gems like:

  • Establishing a 'Control Journal' with little notes help us to remember the habits we are trying to establish
  • Eliminating 'Hot Spots' - A Hot Spot is an area, when left unattended will gradually take over.
  • Eqip to declutter - garbage bags, boxes, magic markers, and a dust rag. Label the boxes “Give Away,” “Throw Away,” and “Put Away.” Line the “Throw Away” box with a plastic garbage bag.
  • Plan for dinner - as part of your before-bed routine for tomorrow or as part of your morning routine for today. Write this in your Control Journal.
  • Take care of No. 1 - As part of your routines, remind yourself to eat good food, drink your water, and get your rest.
  • Take your time - 'Flylady reinforces using time limits and an ease-in approach to establishing new habits. For example: don't try and clean the whole closet - start by cleaning a shelf and come back tomorrow and do a rack, or a shoe tree.

Word of the Day

June 12, 2013 2:08 am

Net lease.  Lease requiring the tenant to pay all the costs incurred in maintaining a property, including taxes, insurance, repairs, and other expenses normally required of the owner.

 


Q: What Is a Second Mortgage?

June 12, 2013 2:08 am

A: It is a loan against the equity in your home.  Financial institutions will generally let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance on your original mortgage.

You may incur all the fees normally associated with a mortgage, including closing costs, title insurance and processing fees.


6 Reasons to Paint before You Move In

June 10, 2013 10:58 pm

Moving to a new house, condo, or apartment this spring?  Before filling your home with furnishings, there’s something you might want to do first: paint. Experts of every stripe – from REALTORS® to authorities on painting -- say that one of the very best times to do interior painting is just before moving into a new home. Here are six reasons why, according to Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert for the Paint Quality Institute:

1. It’s easy now. Interior painting is a very simple project – and not at all physically demanding -- when you can move freely within a room. Why wait till later when you may have to move heavy furniture from side to side, or work around big items, to do your painting?

2. It saves time. Painting can take a lot longer when you have to cover and uncover things, move them back and forth, and take down and re-hang artwork. It’s better to paint just before moving and short-circuit these time-consuming and unproductive steps.

3. It can save you money – lots of it. If you’re using a  professional painting contractor, he or she can complete the work far faster in rooms that are empty. That’s extremely important, since time charges for labor typically account for 80 percent of the cost of painting, according to Zimmer. “Bottom line: Calling in a contractor before moving into a home can drastically lower the cost of painting the space,” she says.

4. It safeguards your furnishings. No matter how carefully you or your contractor work, there is always the chance of a paint spill, or a few stray flecks finding their way onto a prized possession.  Painting before bringing in your furnishings keeps these items out of harm’s way.

5. It can simplify interior decorating. Don’t yet have your furnishings? There’s no better way to set the stage for your décor than by adding a fresh paint color scheme before decorating. Doing so greatly simplifies the selection of new furniture, carpeting, and accents, allowing you to choose just the right tints, tones, and shades to make your new home picture perfect.

6. It feels good. Adding a new coat of paint makes any home seem cleaner, fresher, more welcoming, and best of all…more “yours.” To keep your paint job looking great, Zimmer recommends the use of top quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint; it will produce a more stain resistant finish that will look new-home fresh for years to come.

Source: www.paintquality.com

 


Turn Your Balcony into an Edible Garden

June 10, 2013 10:58 pm

Improvements in container gardening equipment and techniques have cleared the way for even the most “brown thumb” city dwellers, and anyone without a yard, to grow their own groceries.

“There’s nothing to stop anyone who wants a garden from having one,” says Roy Joulus, CEO of Greenbo, a company that designs innovative products for urban gardening.

“Plants add a great deal to our quality of life – from cleaning the air we breathe to keeping us in touch with nature. Fresh, home-grown herbs and vegetables not only taste so much better than supermarket produce, they’re convenient, and you know exactly where they came from and what was used, or not used, on them.”

While hydroponic and vertical gardening systems have been developed to maximize the yield in small spaces, Joulus says starting a balcony garden needn’t cost much. Start with the right materials and choose plants that are right for your conditions, and you’ll soon be eating from the pots on your porch.

He offers the following tips, especially helpful for balcony gardeners.

Plant the right plants for the amount of sunlight you have:

Most herbs and vegetables require six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. So what do you do if you have just one balcony and it doesn’t get that much sun?

• Choose edibles that can take partial sun/shade (three to six hours of sun in the morning or early afternoon) or light shade (two to three hours of direct sun or lightly shaded all day.)

Some partial shade herbs: cilantro and parsley (both prefer cooler weather); dill, bee balm, spearmint chamomile.

Some light shade herbs: garlic chives, peppermint, rosemary.

Some partial or light shade veggies: lettuce, broccoli, green onion, collards, cabbage, peas, carrots, strawberries, beans, sweet potatoes.

• Remember, pale-colored surfaces increase the light your plants receive. Plants in regions with short growing seasons usually need the full six to eight hours of light per day. 

Choose the right pots:

Bigger pots require less water and are less likely to blow over on high-rise balconies where the winds can be fierce. Terra cotta allows moisture to escape fairly quickly, which is helpful for people who like to water a lot. Non-porous plastic or glazed pots hold water longer and are better for windy balconies, where soil dries out quickly. Use brightly colored containers to add style and visual interest to your garden.

• Most vegetable plants require even watering – don’t let them dry out completely and don’t keep them soggy. Apply water directly to the soil.

• Make sure your containers have drainage holes or a drainage system. If they have an attached tray to catch excess water, don’t allow the plants’ roots to sit in the water, which promotes rot and fungus. Either empty the tray regularly, or use a design that holds the water away from the roots.

Use the right dirt:

• It’s important to use dirt that allows for good drainage. Most edible plants don’t like to sit in wet dirt, and soil without good drainage tends to become compacted – a difficult medium for plants that like to stretch their roots out. You can buy a sterile soilless potting mix, a soil-based potting mix, or mix up your own batch using 1 part compost, 1 part perlite and 1 part potting soil.

• Don’t use garden soil or top soil, which won’t allow adequate drainage.

• On windy balconies, top-dress your container with small rocks to keep the soil from drying out so quickly.

Joulus offers one more tip for high-rise dwellers: Rely on self-pollinating plants, or plants that don’t need pollination by insects, unless you’re willing to hand-pollinate.

“You likely won’t see many bees buzzing around the 40th story,” he says.

Don’t worry about pollination for root vegetables, like carrots and potatoes. Some self-pollinators include beans, peas, tomatoes and peppers.

Source: Greenbo

 


The Summer Save Up: 10 Ways to Save $20 a Week

June 10, 2013 10:58 pm

With all of the summertime fun to be had, for many families, living within their means goes right out the window by the time June rolls around. But if you want to reach financial independence, you must find ways to keep boosting your savings, says John J. Vento, author of the new book Financial Independence (Getting to Point X). He offers several great tips on how to save up this summer.

Stay cool without breaking the bank. Hot summer days mean your AC is practically running non-stop, which means your summer power bills can sometimes break the bank. But you can allay some of these costs by using a programmable thermostat to minimize your utility use and cost or by installing ceiling fans to allow you to use less air conditioning. “You should also make sure your home—especially your attic—is sufficiently insulated,” notes Vento. “If the insulation in your attic is less than 6 inches thick, you are under-insulated. Insulation of 12 inches thick can lower your heating and cooling costs by 25 percent in a year.”

Save on gas. A great way to cut back on how much you’re spending on gas each week is to trade in your car for a bike. “If you live close enough to your work, enjoy the warm weather by biking or even walking to work,” says Vento. “If biking or walking isn’t an option, organize a summer carpool or start taking public transportation. Of course, if you’re able, these are great changes to carry over into the fall and winter.”

Wash your own wheels. It can be tempting to just zip into a local carwash and pay someone else to wash your car. But depending on the level of care you’re paying for, you can spend anywhere from $5 to $30. Get outside and enjoy the weather by washing your own car. You’ll save some money and will probably even do a better job on your own.

Shape up… Insurance companies take into account your physical health. Therefore, people who smoke, have high cholesterol levels, have high blood pressure, are overweight, and have other problems (including depression) will usually have higher insurance premiums than a person who is in good physical shape and health. “Use the summer to make healthy life choices,” says Vento. “Clean up your diet. Stop smoking and start exercising.”

…but forgo the gym membership. “Bathing suit season” as it’s often called will probably have you focusing a little more on your fitness. But rather than throw out a bunch of money on a membership to a gym you might not even end up using that often, think of all of the ways you can workout outside for free. Walk, run, or bike local trails. Use workout videos. Or attend donation-based classes that allow you to pay a much more reasonable amount for your workouts.

Have fun for free. Check out “free events” offered in your neighborhood. Many towns offer free concerts and movies in the park or at the beach during the summer. Or take the family to the park for a Saturday afternoon or evening picnic.

Don’t splurge on vacation. Of course, there’s always a lot of build up around the yearly summer vacation. “But if you don’t have the money to spend, you should absolutely look for more cost-effective options,” recommends Vento. “Instead of going on expensive vacations, traveling first class, eating at the most expensive restaurants, going on all the most expensive tours, and going to overpriced five-star hotels, fly coach, cook in the hotel if possible, and go to a safe, fun, cheaper hotel.”

Go green and save. Summer is a great time to make an effort to “go green” and start making more environmentally friendly choices. “A great way to do this is to refill your cleaning product spray bottles with less expensive refill bottles, instead of buying another more expensive spray bottle,” says Vento. “Or replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). These use more than 70 percent less energy and last much longer, which will save you money on the cost of light bulbs and on your electricity bill. And of course, you should always turn off the lights when you leave a room and take advantage of all the natural light you get during the summer.”

Hang it out to dry. Instead of running your dryer during the summer, hang clothes and other laundry outside to dry. This saves money on your utility bills as well as wear and tear on your clothing.

Become a thrifty foodie. First, give up junk foods completely: Not only are they expensive, they are unhealthy. Second, plan your meals. “Doing so can save you money and time,” says Vento. “When grocery shopping, you will know exactly what you need to buy so there is no excess food thrown out at the end of the week. Take advantage of readily available, in-season fruits and vegetables by cooking more at home. Then brownbag your leftovers for your lunch at work the next day. And finally, buy in bulk or use grocery store rewards cards.”

“Creating a summer of fun should not leave you worse off financially than when the season began,” says Vento. “Be sure to discuss and share your family financial goals with your entire family so that everyone can commit to taking these easy, responsible steps toward saving and building on your financial stability. When you make these smart choices, it makes reaching long-term financial goals all the more achievable.”

 


Word of the Day

June 10, 2013 10:58 pm

Qualification.  Act of determining a potential buyer’s needs, abilities, and urgency to buy and matching these with available properties.


Q: What Is an Unsecured Loan?

June 10, 2013 10:58 pm

A: The interest rates on these loans are often higher than on secured loans and you generally will not be able to get a tax deduction for the interest paid.  However, the costs to obtain an unsecured loan are usually lower. And the relative ease of getting this type of loan makes it popular for small projects costing $10,000 or less. The lender evaluates applications based on credit history and income.

 


Are You Prepared for the ‘Specialist Economy’?

June 8, 2013 9:12 pm

Jacks-of-all-trades, masters-of-none, beware: Companies increasingly require specialized talent, and professionals with niche skills in fast-growing fields are often receiving multiple job offers.

“Firms have a critical need for laser-focused professionals who can help them grow their most lucrative service areas and maximize efficiencies,” says Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies®, 3rd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). “Full-time and temporary workers with education and concentrated knowledge can help a company operate more efficiently and competitively — top priorities in today’s business environment.”

Messmer adds, “Some professionals have specialized skills but fall short when it comes to marketing themselves. Emphasizing specialty areas in application materials and during interviews can help job candidates stand out from their peers.”

Robert Half, author of The Specialist Economy: How Businesses and Professionals Can Prepare for the Trend Toward Specialization, offers six tips to help job seekers succeed in the specialist economy:

Create a specialist resume. Your resume should highlight your unique specialty areas and interests. For example, if you’re an accountant who has worked in the healthcare industry, emphasize not only your accounting skills but also your healthcare expertise. Add a “Summary” section that describes your specific attributes and experience.

Build a name for yourself online. Brand yourself as a specialist through professional networking and social media sites. Add keywords to your profile that reflect your specialization, and participate in groups in your areas of interest.

Know yourself. If you’re just beginning your career, choose a niche that strongly interests you, and acquire additional skills and training in that area. A career focus that you are passionate about is more likely to lead to long-term success.

Acquire more education. The unemployment rate for professionals 25 years or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher is roughly half that of the general unemployment rate. Depending on where you are in your career trajectory, consider completing a degree or certification in your field that you never finished — or never pursued.

Fish where the fish are. If you’re in a competitive field, specialization is even more important to your career success. For example, if you’re a marketing professional, specializing in a hot area such as cloud computing, mobile marketing or natural search can help you become more attractive to potential employers.

Work with a specialized staffing firm. A staffing company that specializes in your field can help you accurately highlight your strengths and specialty areas.

Source: www.roberthalf.com

 


Cool It: Tips to Avoid AC Repair

June 8, 2013 9:12 pm

Continuously running an air conditioning unit during the summer can send homeowners calling for AC repair. Take the following advice to prevent your unit from getting overworked:

  • One of the most common problems is a poor refrigerant charge. A home that has a unit that is constantly running, but isn't getting cool may have a refrigerant problem.
  • The power source should always be checked first if a unit stops working. Check to be sure the thermostat is on the correct setting and the unit is properly plugged in. If those are correct, check the fuse box to be sure a switch has not been flipped.
  • Lack of maintenance on the homeowner's part can also lead to repair. Homeowners should properly change air filters, clean the system and maintain regular check-ups to maintain a unit's efficiency. Yearly maintenance appointments should also be scheduled with a licensed technician.

    "Homeowners should clean air conditioner periodically, as well," says Phil Montgomery, owner of Atlanta Heating and Air Conditioning. "Using a garden hose, a homeowner can spray down the coils, and then use an air conditioning cleaner on them. Homeowners should be sure to follow all directions on the cleaning solution and thoroughly rinse the coils after cleaning them. The unit should be allowed to dry thoroughly before being used."
     
  • Locate the unit's drain outside and use a wet/dry vacuum to clean the drain of any debris. Be sure the drain has a cap that covers it to keep debris out of it. Remove any twigs, grass, or other debris that might have entered the outside unit. Homeowners should periodically clean the outside unit to maintain maximum efficiency.

Source: Atlanta Heating and Air Conditioning