Gunning Daily News

10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

April 16, 2013 5:56 pm

As the weather warms up and spring cleaning begins, a garage sale may seem just the ticket. What a great way to bring in some cash while de-cluttering your living space!

From the editors of Family Circle, come 10 tips for making sure your garage sale is fun, efficient, and successful:

  • Make it a group sale – Choose the date and ask your neighbors to join in. A larger sale brings more shoppers.
  • Permit needed? Check with City Hall to determine if you need a permit and/or any ground rules or restrictions you should know about.
  • Advertise – In the week before the sale, arrange for a free ad in neighborhood papers and/or post announcements in local stores.
  • Arrange for pickup of leftovers – Make arrangements at least a week before your sale date to have a local charity stop by afterward to pick up unwanted leftover items.
  • Sort and price items – Be realistic about what things are worth. Garage sale shoppers are looking for bargains.
  • Have change and wrapping goods on hand – The day before the sale, stock up on ones, fives, tens and lots of loose change. Be sure to have plastic bags, a few small boxes, and newspapers and/or bubble wrap if you will be selling fragile items.
  • Post signs and sort display goods early – Garage sale shoppers get an early start. Be sure items are clearly marked and sorted by type (kitchen goods, books, clothing, tools, toys. etc,)
  • Consider a ‘freebies’ area – Freebies always attract a crowd. You may want to add to the contents as you move toward the end of the sale/
  • Keep an eye on the cashbox – If you have a cash box, never leave it unguarded. Better yet, keep your money on your person in a fanny pack or similar item.
  • Add treats for sale – Consider adding to the day’s income by having the kids sell coffee or cold drinks and/or snacks such as brownies or cookies.

Word of the Day

April 16, 2013 5:56 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.

Q: What Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover?

April 16, 2013 5:56 pm

A: It protects against disasters – whether natural, manmade or mechanical. A standard policy insures the home, as well as your possessions. Because this insurance is packaged, it covers liability for any harm, loss, and property damage that you or your family members cause others. And it includes additional living expenses in case you are temporarily displaced because of damage from a fire or other insured disaster.

While you are not legally required to have homeowners’ insurance, mortgage lenders stipulate that you do. It protects their investment in the home in case of a natural disaster or catastrophic event.

If your mortgage is paid up – or you never had one – it is still a good idea to have homeowners’ insurance to protect your home and your belongings.

5 Ways to Keep Your Social Security Number Safe and Guard against Identity Theft

April 15, 2013 5:12 pm

As hackers devise more innovative ways to steal information from cyberspace, most consumers know that keeping your Social Security number (SSN) from strangers is one of the surest ways to guard against identity theft.


“The fact is, the fewer places your information resides online, the less chance it will be stolen,” says Credit.com’s Adam Levin. “Yet some of us are inclined to give our numbers out any time somebody asks for it.”

For example, he added, the forms you fill out at a doctor’s office routinely ask for your SSN – primarily to help in tracing you down if you default on your bill. But, in most cases, the office will be satisfied with the name and phone number of a relative who can provide the number if needed.

Levin points out five instances when you should never provide your SSN:

Companies or organizations who ask by mail or email – No matter how ‘official-looking’ a letter or email appears, credit card companies and retailers have no reason to ‘confirm’ your personal information. Call the customer service number listed on the back of the suspect credit card to reaffirm that your information is secure.

Anyone who telephones or stops you on the street – Don’t divulge your number to anyone on the phone, especially of you have not initiated contact – and don’t give it to anyone in any public place no matter what allegedly ‘free’ product or service they promise to give you.

Public schools - Your utility bill confirms your address, and your email and phone number give them channels to contact you in an emergency. Asking for your SSN is simply not necessary.

Little League, summer camp et al – For the same reasons, your SSN should never be required by sports organizations or other children’s groups. If you use credit to pay for the activity, it may be needed. If you pay upfront or with a direct debit to your bank account or credit card, they don’t.

Supermarkets – A frequent shopper card is neither a loan, nor a bank account. It’s a tool grocery stores use to track your purchases, primarily for marketing purposes. Yet many supermarket chains request customers’ Social Security numbers on their application forms. Refuse to provide it.

Move Your Workout and Your Family Outdoors

April 15, 2013 5:12 pm

(Family Features) Playing together outdoors is the perfect way for families to bond while staying active and fit, but when seasonal allergies come into play they can keep many families on the sidelines. Allegra is setting out this season to show people there's no reason to suffer if you have the right relief, and has teamed up with basketball star Lisa Leslie to share fun, affordable workout tips that help families enjoy the outdoors even during allergy season.

"As an athlete and a mom, there's nothing I enjoy more than getting outside to shoot hoops or run around with my kids, but when our allergy symptoms act up it can keep my whole family indoors," says Leslie. "I am thrilled to show families that with the help of Allegra their seasonal allergies don't have to stop them from being outdoors and having fun."

Lisa shares how to utilize simple household items and a little imagination to transform any backyard or outdoor space in to a family fitness center:

Scavenger Hike: Turn a family hike into a scavenger hunt; come up with a fun list of challenges like climbing over a log, finding a pinecone, skipping down an entire trail or racing to the birch tree and back.

Driveway Drills: Using chalk and cardboard boxes you can create your own basketball court on the driveway. Have the kids draw free throw lines and see who can bounce or throw the ball into the cardboard box "hoop."

Time for Fun: Use your kitchen timer or a stopwatch to time kids in sprints, relays and jumping jack sessions; record times on a dry erase board to help kids track their personal best times.

Source: www.allegra.com.

Heavy Metal in Your Water, Part II

April 15, 2013 5:12 pm

In our last segment, I noted that Connecticut just issued a statewide advisory for all homes on well systems to begin supplemental testing for arsenic and uranium. So we'll wrap up our crash course on wells and contaminants by scoping in on two main culprits.

We will begin with arsenic - a classified human cancer-causing agent - which has been associated with increased risk of lung, bladder and skin cancers.

The type of uranium found in groundwater is not considered a radioactive risk and is therefore not a major cancer concern. However, the toxicity of the uranium metal has been associated with adverse effects on kidney function.

You should test for arsenic and uranium when you buy a house with a well or at the time a new well is drilled. Since it is possible for both contaminant levels in well water to fluctuate, it is a good idea to test for arsenic every 5 years.

If you have a treatment system to remove arsenic or uranium from your water, you should test every year to be sure your treatment system is working properly.

Because uranium gets into your body only through ingestion (and not through the skin or through inhalation), it is not necessary to treat all the water in your home, only the water you drink. Reverse osmosis (RO) and ion exchange are the most common types of treatment systems used for uranium removal and are both very effective.

You should also think about whether the uranium treatment system you are considering will also remove radium. If you need to treat your water because of high uranium and the system you select will also remove radium, then you do not need to test your water for radium.

However, if a uranium treatment system is not effective for radium, Connecticut health officials recommend that testing your water for radium. If you have elevated radium in addition to uranium, you will need to select a system that will effectively remove both contaminants.

To learn more, or get more localized information on water issues where you live, go to: water.epa.gov/drink

Word of the Day

April 15, 2013 5:12 pm

Mortgagor. Party or person that borrows money, giving a lien on the property as security for the loan; the borrower.

Q: Can the Seller Include Contingencies in a Contract?

April 15, 2013 5:12 pm

A: Yes. For example, if you decide to sell your existing home first before buying another one, you can make the sale of your home contingent on finding a replacement home. Some sellers opt for this contingency to avoid a double move, such as moving to a hotel or rental until a new home is found and made available.

However, there is one problem with this type of contingency: it can inconvenience the buyer, particularly if his own home is in escrow. He may not be willing to wait for you to move.

This strategy has a better chance of working when the market is relatively strong, your home is a rare find, the price and terms of the transaction are very favorable for the buyer, or the buyer is in no hurry to move.

Tips for Fresh Produce: Soil and Epsom Salt

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

On a sixth-generation farm that the Barbee family has owned for more than a century in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, Brent Barbee has discovered a new way to increase his harvest and make his fruit taste sweeter. He's using Epsom salt.

Barbee says he used to fertilize every time he watered, but fertilizer causes salt buildup in soil. Now he uses Epsom salt through drip irrigation to help separate fertilizer bound to the soil and make it available to the plants. It reduces the total amounts of fertilizers he needs, and makes the fertilizers he uses more effective.

"The Epsom salt makes the nutrients more available," he says.

Barbee spent the first day of spring mixing Epsom salt with water at a ratio of 10 pounds per acre. For residential gardeners, that's the equivalent of an eighth of a pound – or about a quarter-cup of Epsom salt – per 500 square feet. It's a step that's even more important with sandier soil.

Barbee uses the same solution on several of his other crops, including lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Once his cantaloupe and watermelon grow to the size of a baseball, he also uses the mixture as a weekly foliar spray, helping them taste sweeter.

"It was an old myth, but we tried it, and it works," Barbee said. "You do a blind taste test, and you can tell the difference."

Barbee grows more than 40 crops, from apples to zucchini. His harvests are so successful that last year, he had an additional 50,000 pounds of produce to share with the Society of St. Andrew. The group's national volunteer-driven gleaning network has helped people in need receive more than 143 million pounds of produce that would have otherwise gone to waste.

"You don't farm for the money," Barbee said. "It's something in your heart."

Barbee offered the following tips for residential gardeners:

  • Fertilize your soil in the winter, about a month before growing season starts, and then add Epsom salt when you set the plants. Use an eighth of a pound of Epsom salt – or about a quarter-cup – per 500 square feet. With sandier soil, you may want to fertilize about two weeks before growing season begins.
  • Look for yellowing between the veins of leaves, because it could be a sign of magnesium deficiency that might require Epsom salt.
  • Work with your county extension agent to test your soil by sending a sample before planting. This should be done every 1 to 3 years, depending on the cost. If there are problems with plants, county extension agents can also ask smart questions to help with a diagnosis.

"Taking care of the soil," Barbee said, "will take care of you."

To donate to the Society of St. Andrew, please visit: www.endhunger.org.

Sources: www.barbeefarms.net, www.epsomsaltcouncil.org

Tech Talk: Understanding 'the Cloud' and What It Can Do For You

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

(BPT) - News headlines, commercials and chatter between colleagues - recently there has been a lot of hype around "the cloud," but the term can be complex and confusing. What exactly is the cloud, and furthermore, what does it mean for you and the way you use technology? Although the concept feels relatively new, it's simpler than you may think.

You've probably heard a lot about storing and sharing information on the cloud, but did you know there's a good chance you're already utilizing the cloud regularly without even knowing it? Every time you check or send an email online, you're sending information through the cloud, in other words, through a network of servers, software and services in a remote location.

Much like connecting your television to a cable connection, you connect your tech device to the Internet to access content stored in the cloud. When you use cloud storage, what you can do with your technology devices - from desktop to tablet to smartphone - expands greatly.

The cloud isn't just for tech elites - it can make life easier no matter how tech-savvy you are. Whether you're heading a global conglomerate or are simply the head of your kid's soccer team, the cloud can help streamline what you need to do online. Beyond checking email, the cloud lets you work with other people online with documents that can be edited simultaneously, store large files so you don't have to keep them on hand, and easily access and share important photos and personal documents, like travel plans.

There are two simple ways you can start seeing the many benefits of the cloud immediately. First, personal cloud email services make staying in touch with friends, family, and professional contacts easy. Is it time you upgraded your email experience? Outlook.com is a free, personal email service from Microsoft that has tools to keep your email streamlined.

With Outlook.com you can access easy-to-use, automated tools to help you get through your inbox quickly. Set up your preferences that mirror how you live your life: bills can automatically go in one folder, important documents archived in another. You can even "sweep" out all of your old daily deals or newsletters with just a few clicks.

Spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter or other social media websites? Outlook.com works with your favorite social media sites. You can add contacts from your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks, so that changes like address updates in those accounts are automatically updated. You can save time and energy by chatting, updating, and even posting comments or accepting friend requests in a few clicks all from your inbox.

The second way you can experience instant benefits from the cloud is through a personal cloud storage service. Microsoft's SkyDrive provides 7 GB of free storage which is more than what most competitors offer, and additional storage is available at rates that are also lower than most competitors. Outlook.com and SkyDrive work together, and SkyDrive works with your smartphone, tablet, PC, or Mac, so you have access to your photos, documents, and other important files anytime, anywhere, automatically.

Do you ever have a ton of photos you want to email to a friend, but you can't because the files are too large to send all in one email? Or sometimes you just want to share those photos with specific people instead of to everyone on Facebook. Just upload the photos to SkyDrive and email the link to the people you choose! You can share photos beautifully only with the people you choose, without taking up space in their inboxes.

Another invaluable benefit to personal cloud storage services is the ability to work with others on projects from anywhere at any time. With SkyDrive, you get free Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote in your browser, so multiple people in different places can work on the same document, at the same time. Plus, you get to choose who can view and edit these documents.

No matter how simple or complex your computing needs, the cloud can help keep you more organized, -save time, save space in your inbox or on your desktop, and sometimes it just plain saves you from losing an important document or email. Learn more about how the cloud can change the way you use technology by visiting www.outlook.com and www.skydrive.com.