Gunning Daily News

Spring Decorating, Eco-Style

April 8, 2013 5:22 pm

(BPT)—As spring blossoms, so does our desire to lighten up - in life and at home. Simple eco-friendly changes to home decor can set the tone for a much fresher and brighter outlook.

Here are five tips to get you started:

Get a color lift


Color has long been credited for its mood-changing qualities. "Color can really change the energy in a space," says C. Michael Kleeman, program coordinator of design at The Art Institute of Atlanta. Choose the season's hottest color - orange - or seasonal citrus green, turquoise or sunny yellow, in paint, botanical fabrics and accessories.

A new coat of paint - even on one wall - can immediately set an upbeat mood. Use Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) free paints to protect the environment. "These paints don't emit toxic fumes and are completely odorless," says Kleeman. "They make it possible to paint a bedroom today and sleep in it tonight."

Lighten up the mood

Give your home an eco-friendly dose of spring with updated lighting, new furniture arrangements and removal of heavy draperies and rugs.

Rachel Simmons, a member of the interior design faculty at The Art Institute of Jacksonville, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design, suggests converting task lighting to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which are now available in dimmable versions. The reduction in energy consumption translates into a lower monthly electric bill and an overall reduction in the carbon footprint.

Try creating a more flexible floor plan with your furniture. Move a piece or two from one room to another. Angle a sofa or reorient the seating to take advantage of a view or a natural breeze through an open window. Shifting pieces can give a room the appearance of more space, making it feel less cluttered.

For instant brightening, remove heavy draperies and roll up the rug. You can place lightweight panels, preferably organic cotton or linen, on the windows, or leave them uncovered if you don't need draperies for privacy. Leave hardwood floors bare or invest in an inexpensive natural fiber seagrass or jute floor cover for the summer.

Delight in de-cluttering

Spring brings the inspiration to cleanse and purge items no longer needed. In addition to sorting through closets and cupboards, give your home an airier look. Replace heavy accents like wood and ceramics with lighter pieces like baskets or glassware filled with flowers or fruit. Kleeman suggests storing a collection of carefully edited accessories to pull from for each season. Reposition artwork and add mirrors on walls, mantels or even bookshelves to open up a room and give the illusion of more space.

Shop and swap

For an eco-friendly seasonal update, Simmons recommends reusing or repurposing items you already have. A simple piece of furniture like a dresser or chair can be painted in a bright color to liven up a room. Or you might swap items that no longer fit your space with a group of friends or look for bargains in thrift stores or consignment shops. If you do need to purchase new items, look for selections using renewable or organic resources like bamboo, organic cotton or recycled glass.

Bring the outside in

Bring the natural goodness of the outdoors in by adding potted flowers and plants or window boxes. Simmons recommends visiting the local farmers market to find your favorite plants or flowers and place them in locations where you spend time daily. Plants not only add oxygen, but also brighten the indoor environment.

The key to smart decorating for hotter weather is not to overpower the existing elements. "Small changes can make a dramatic difference in the personality of a room," says Kleeman.

Choosing the Best Air Mattress for You

April 8, 2013 5:22 pm

Health experts agree the average mattress should be replaced after 10-15 years. But traditional mattress types have given way to new breeds. If you are in the market for a new mattress, which type is best for you?


“The only way to choose the right mattress is to lie on it for at least 20 minutes,” said Omaha mattress store manager Joe Paginolo. “Don’t let anyone rush you. Get comfy in the position you usually sleep in—and try it out for at least that long.”

Paginolo points out some of the pros and cons of four basic mattress types:

Innerspring

  • Pros: They range in firmness, price and fluffiness of the pillow top to satisfy nearly everyone’s preference and budget.
  • Cons – The cheapest may not have enough springs and cushioning to offer proper support. Be sure the mattress you choose has at least 390 coils. Firmer versions are best for the overweight and people with chronic back pain.

Memory foam


  • Pros: By molding to the shape of your body as your weight shifts through the night, memory foam reduces pressure points and relieves pain. Memory foam also absorbs movement, so if you sleep with a partner, you're not likely to be disturbed by his tossing and turning.
  • Cons - Because they are temperature sensitive, they soften and mold with body heat, so they can make you feel hot during the night. Also, some memory foam mattresses have been known to emit an unpleasant chemical smell.

Latex

  • Pros – Made from either natural or synthetic rubber, they provide a very firm, bouncy support that is uniform throughout the bed. They are supportive but comfortable for most sleepers.
  • Cons - If you don't like the feel of a firm mattress, latex is probably not the right choice for you.

Air mattresses – (Unlike the blow-up kind you use for overnight guests, the high-end types known as ‘sleep number’ beds use air-filled chambers instead of coils, and are covered by a foam layer on top.)

  • Pros – The firmness of each side can be altered, so they are a good choice for couples who have different firmness preferences.
  • Cons – They can tend to pop up on one side when you sit on the other. Be sure your choice has multiple chambers, so this does not occur.

Word of the Day

April 8, 2013 5:22 pm

Market price. Actual selling price of a property.

Q: What Are Closing Costs?

April 8, 2013 5:22 pm

A: Closing, or settlement, costs are expenses over and above the price of the property. Both the buyer and seller incur some of these expenses when transferring ownership of a property. Who actually pays, however, often depends on local custom and what the buyer or seller negotiates. Closing costs normally include title insurance, loan points, escrow or closing day charges, property taxes, and document fees. The lender provides an estimate of closing costs for prospective homebuyers.

Sweet Tips for Sweet Treats

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

(Family Features)—You might have a favorite cookie or brownie recipe—but did you know you could make it even better by adding a simple, familiar ingredient? With a few expert tips from Buddy Valastro, author and star of TLC's "Cake Boss," you can take your sweet treats from good to great in no time.

Start with Quality Ingredients -- When you start with better ingredients, you end up with a better cookie or brownie. Use real butter, high-quality vanilla and great tasting chocolate. Here, Buddy shares some of his favorite recipes that use M&M'S candies to add an extra special touch to family favorites -- making them even better.

Chill the Dough -- Leaving cookie dough in the refrigerator gives it more body and results in a fuller and better tasting cookie. Plan ahead so you can refrigerate your dough at least one hour -- or, even better, overnight.

Keep It Uniform -- Use a small ice cream scoop to keep your cookies the same size. This not only helps them look professional, but bake up evenly and consistently.

Pans Matter -- Bake cookies on light-colored, non-insulated cookie sheets without sides. Metal pans will cook brownies faster than glass pans, which means cooking times will vary. Start checking your brownies early to test if they're ready and prevent over baking.

Source: www.facebook.com/mms

Simple Steps for Smart Spending

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

(Family Features)—These days, people are thinking more about how to make smarter decisions with their spending. In fact, simple spending cut-backs can mean a huge difference to your family's bank account. Get back to the basics of what you really need, and you'll eliminate unnecessary spending and stress, while keeping more cash in your pocket.

Here are some easy tips to start you down the road to smarter spending:

Create a family spending plan. Start a weekly budget meeting with your family to make everyone aware of spending habits. Be sure to keep track of all transactions made throughout the week and prioritize necessities over luxuries. With families increasingly concerned with how they are spending, according to a recent Cricket Wireless survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed report paying bills as their highest priority and are using tax refunds to cover basic necessities.

Compare the rates. When reviewing monthly bills, compare the amounts you're paying with others. According to Cricket's survey, wireless phone plans, cable and electricity are considered the top most overpaid bills by consumers. Look for online comparative tools that can help evaluate the advantages between service providers. Consider easy ways to scale back spending on these items, such as going with a more flexible no-contract, prepaid wireless service that can be half the cost than contract carriers, or eliminate the number of movie channels subscribed to through your cable to curb spending and instead go with a lower cost digital movie subscription service.

Carpool with a buddy. Ask co-workers if they would be interested in carpooling with you. This will save you and your co-worker gas money, while also being environmentally friendly. Can't find a co-worker who lives in your area? Many online websites exist to link those interested in sharing rides per region.

Cut those coupons. It may sound old fashioned, but you can score great deals on food and home goods when you dust off those scissors. Clip through your local Sunday newspaper, or search online. Many online sites offer extreme discounts on meals, gifts and services specific to your locale.

Eat economically. If you love eating out on a regular basis, plan to eat breakfast at home. Save your hard-earned cash for leisurely lunches and dinners where you can unwind with family and friends. This trick will lighten the load on your pocketbook, which is always easier to digest.

Source: www.mycricket.com

5 Fast Fixes for a Summer-Ready Car

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

(BPT)—With summer-just around the corner, it's time to get-your car-in tip-top shape to withstand hot days and long road trips. Summer driving requires your car to run differently, some adjustments and inspections are important to ensure your vehicle lasts season to season. Follow these five fast fixes and inspections to cruise through the summer and avoid roadside headaches.

Tire care

Tires perform differently in different weather conditions, so as the weather changes, it's important to check tire pressure and tire tread. To check tire tread, see if the built-in "wear bars" are visible. These are narrow strips of rubber across the tires that appear when the tread is worn down to one-sixteenth of an inch. If you can see wear bars, your tires need to be replaced.

Now that you've put in the effort to make your tires safe, make them shine. The Tire Shine Coating from Dupli-Color will keep your tires looking like new all season long. It's easy to apply and features Shine-Lasttechnology. Its formula lasts five times longer than silicone-based tire dressings, so tires will keep their shine through rain and other harsh elements. Simply spray it on your tires and hit the open road in style.

De-winterize your car
De-winterizing your car is easy and affordable. First, check all the fluid levels - coolant, transmission, differential, power steering and brake fluid - to make sure there aren't any leaks. It's also a good idea to change the oil between seasons, as oil gets thick and collects condensation if it sits in the engine all winter.

It's also important to thoroughly clean the-undercarriage-of your car after a long winter, especially if you live in a snowy climate. To avoid spending extra money on detailing, clean the undercarriage yourself using a basic water hose or high-pressure cleaning system. In just a few minutes, you can ensure your vehicle is ready for the new road conditions and help you avoid any unnecessary issues.

Paint protection
Winter can be tough on a car's exterior and sunshine will reveal every nick, chip and scratch in your vehicle's paint. Restoring your ride's original factory finish takes only minutes with the easy-to-apply Dupli-Color ScratchFix 2 in 1. This innovative touch-up paint product is available in hundreds of Exact-Match colors for domestic and imported vehicles.

Simply use your vehicle's make, model and year to find your guaranteed matching color code, and use one of the two applicators to fix any scrapes or nicks in no time. With a roller ball tip for precision and a tapered brush for full coverage, ScratchFix 2 in 1 will not only make your car look great, it will also protect the damaged surface from rusting and becoming a big, expensive problem.

Check the AC
Your air conditioning system will be working overtime in the summer, so take time to test it to make sure it's working properly sooner, rather than later. Since the vehicle's refrigerant is under high pressure and harmful to the atmosphere, it's best to leave any inspection or maintenance to a qualified professional. Mechanics can easily trap and recycle used refrigerant with the proper tools, and you can drive off with confidence you'll stay cool all summer.

Inspect hoses and belts
The key to comfortable, safe summer driving is keeping the engine cool, and hoses and belts play a huge part in helping your engine run properly. Hoses pump coolant to and from the engine block, and belts run the fan that cools the system further. If the hoses crack or the belts snap, the radiator will quickly overheat, leaving you stranded. Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections. Hoses should be firm, never soft and malleable, and belts can be visually checked for damage. If anything is noticeably wrong, get it fixed immediately, before you're stranded in the summer heat.

Vehicles need updating and maintenance through the changing of the seasons, but a few easy steps can prevent a summer of unexpected issues and repairs. Start now on these preventative maintenance tips and you'll be cruising smoothly all season long.

Word of the Day

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

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: Should I Hire a Home Inspector?

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

A: By all means. Buying a home without getting expert advice is risky. Once a home inspector uncovers major plumbing and electrical problems, for example, you may decide you do not want to spend several thousand dollars on repairs.

Always include an inspection clause in your written offer. This clause gives you an “out” from buying if serious problems are detected. It also gives you another chance to negotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. The clause can even specify that the sellers fix any problem that is uncovered before you settle, or close, on the home.

You also may want to consider hiring experts to inspect the home for a number of health-related risks like radon gas, asbestos, or possible problems with the water or waste disposal system.

Get Kids Outdoors No Matter the Weather

April 5, 2013 4:18 pm

(Family Features)- Parents often keep a running list of rainy day activities, crafts and games to keep kids indoors when the forecast is soggy. But if your kids have never dodged rain drops, built a snowman or enjoyed a lazy summer afternoon outside, they're missing out on something wonderful.

Weather was cited as the biggest barrier to getting kids outdoors by 61 percent of parents recently surveyed by the National Wildlife Federation. But the outdoor activities kids love, such as running, jumping, climbing, playing games with friends and taking nature walks, are a great strategy for keeping children healthy and happy.

"Children are safe to play outside in most kinds of weather barring the extremes," said Lindsay Legendre, manager of the National Wildlife Federation's Be Out There http://ctt.marketwire.com/?release=1003523&id=2820115&type=1&url=http%3a%2f%2fwww.nwf.org%2fbeoutthere movement. "Regular outdoor play is so important to kids' healthy development and a little rain shouldn't stop them from being out there. Parents might enjoy puddle jumping again themselves."

Bring on the Rain. Rain can sometimes be blamed for causing children to catch colds or flu, particularly when their hair or feet get wet. However, rain cannot make you sick. Dress children in waterproof hats, boots and raincoats to keep kids from getting too soggy. If storm conditions develop, get out of any body of water and seek shelter in a nearby building. Prepare for mud and splashes in advance by keeping a heavy mat and dry towels by the front door.

How Hot Is too Hot? When temperatures climb, make sure to have plenty of water available and take precautions, such as applying sunscreen and wearing loose clothing that is light in color. Try to schedule outdoor time during the early morning and evening, which are often the coolest part of the day.

Allergies. In many areas, seasonal allergies are another challenge for parents to contend with in regard to outdoor play. Experts say, in addition to any allergy medications recommended by your pediatrician, there are steps you can take to help allergic kids enjoy the outdoors. Encourage kids to go outside in the early morning and evening when pollen counts are lower. Cool shades or sunglasses can prevent allergens from entering their eyes. Have them shower and wash their hair once they come back in.

Baby, It's Cold Outside. Many moms and dads are reluctant to send kids outside when temperatures drop. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to dress kids in several thin layers to keep them dry and warm, including warm coats, boots, gloves and hats. It's also important to set reasonable time limits on outdoor play and have children come inside periodically to warm up. And don't forget the sunscreen, as sunlight, especially reflecting off snow, can cause burns.

"Kids should get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day, and it's great if they can do so outside for the fresh air and more room to play," says Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and author of Heading Home with Your Newborn.

Source: www.BeOutThere.org