Gunning Daily News

New Book Helps First-Time Buyers Find Their ‘Just Right Home

April 18, 2013 4:22 pm

I recently made the acquaintance of Marianne Cusato ( after she was named one of the most influential people in the home-building industry by Builder magazine.

Cusato first came to fame for her work on Katrina Cottages, the 308-square-foot kit homes that provided shelter to flood victims in the Gulf. In 2012, Cusato was voted one of the 30 Most Influential Women in the Housing Economy by HousingWire Magazine.

In her new book, “The Just Right Home,” Cusato is not only reaching out to buyers and renters - she wants to help housing experts rethink the way they design, build, sell, and resell real estate, as well as gain an edge on their competition.

Cusato's book leads you through every step of choosing a home - from the broad strokes, such as city vs. suburb and buy vs. rent, to specific details of energy use and building materials.

“The Just Right Home” helps readers understand what they want in a home and what they need by showing:

  • Why proximity - to work, to stores, to schools - trumps location, and what the difference means
  • Why a property’s live-in value is greater than its resale value
  • How to identify and assess the big three variables: function, cost, delight
  • How to get a realistic grip on budget, including factoring in maintenance costs
  • How to plan for future needs - children moving out, a parent moving in, or just growing old in a home
  • Why all square feet are not created equal
  • The ins and outs of zoning, covenants, homeowners associations
  • The five elements to look for when walking through a property

Moving today means more than changing addresses; it is an opportunity to assess how one really wants to live and to truly understand how a home is tied to a job, family, health, and personal finances.

While there is no one handbook for those going through a move, relocation or new home experience for the first time, Cusato's latest book appears to be packed with advice - maybe give it a read.

Figuring out Finances after Divorce

April 18, 2013 4:22 pm

Divorces can be messy. Emotionally, spiritually and financially. If your partner handled the finances, then you can be left clueless. Budgets and bills can be overwhelming if you’ve never had to take them on before. Or, maybe it’s not the new responsibilities, but the divorce itself is cleaning out your savings. Alicia Klat a contributor to offers four ways to help yourself, or a friend in need, find financial empowerment and the happiness that comes with it.

Break it up. Approach one element of finances at a time or set a time limit and work in 10-minute chunks. Removing the pressure to “do it all” in one sitting will help ease anxiety.

Remain positive. Focus on the fact that you are taking action. Positive association around money objectives will reinforce a good energy.

Team up. You can’t do it all. If you’re feeling fluster, then ask for help. Know a financially literate friend? Make a date to review paperwork together.


Nutrition Tips for Busy Lifestyles

April 17, 2013 7:08 pm

(Family Features)—While it’s important to maintain a regular health and wellness regimen, busy schedules and last minute commitments can sometimes send us off track. Many Americans may try to maintain a balanced diet but continue to fall short on valuable key nutrients necessary for a healthy body.  

In fact, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, the overall quality of the American diet gets a failing grade. According to the Healthy Eating Index, adults (19+ years) score just 50 out of 100 on the quality of their diets.

While hectic lifestyles may play a role in this failing grade, registered dietitian and best-selling author, Dave Grotto has a few simple and effective tips to maintain proper nutrition even when time is tight.

Eat nutrient-filled meals. Set aside five minutes to pack a healthy lunch before you head to work each day. Prepare meals such as a salad with grilled chicken or a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread – healthy options that provide a combination of protein and fiber to give you sustained energy throughout the day. “It’s vital that we find ways to get the nutrients our bodies need and eating well-balanced meals can do just that,” says Grotto.

Take your vitamins. In addition to proper food choices, quality dietary supplements can be helpful to fill nutrient gaps.

Stay active and enjoy the sunshine. Even if it is minimal, find time to move each day while you’re at work; take the stairs instead of the elevator or go for a ten minute walk around the block. An added benefit of being outdoors, even for a short amount of time, is the exposure to sunlight, which helps skin produce vitamin D3. Unfortunately, many food sources do not provide nearly enough vitamin D to meet dietary recommendations. Grotto recommends a vitamin supplement.

Don’t forget to take time for yourself. Rest and relaxation can help to rejuvenate your mind, and is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Not only does Grotto recommend getting six to eight hours of sleep a night, he also suggests keeping to the same bedtime each night. Maintaining such a simple routine can really do the body good.

Source: and

Staying at the Top of your Game

April 17, 2013 7:08 pm

(BPT)—We feel our best when we do our best. At the top of our game is where we all want to be. This is as true in the workplace as it is on the basketball court. But to stay at the top of your game at work and in life, you need to stay primed - ready for that next big play. It requires staying alert; keeping your skills sharp; and hearing your best. That's right - hearing your best.

Listening doesn't typically come to mind as a highly coveted job skill. But the truth is, listening is one of the top skills employers look for in those being promoted, according to the International Listening Association. Both business practitioners and academics identify listening as one of the most important skills for an effective professional.-Individual performance in an organization directly relates to listening ability or perceived listening effectiveness. And good listening skills are even tied to effective leadership.

So if being at the top of your game - especially on the job - is what you're after, pay attention to your hearing. Hearing your best is the first step to good listening skills. And good listening skills help pave the way to success.

For those with hearing loss: Be encouraged. Today's modern, sleek, and virtually invisible hearing aids can help the vast majority of people with hearing loss. In fact, the days of letting unaddressed hearing loss stand in your way are long gone - and good riddance to them! Hearing aids, other forms of amplification, and even modest workspace accommodations enable almost everyone to hear their best so they can do well on the job. Today's hearing aids are digital, wireless, and can be as discreet or as stylized as you choose. They allow you to hear from all directions and in all sorts of sound environments so you can more easily discern what people are saying.

So whether you're a mechanic, a plumber, a nurse, a teacher, a C-suite executive, a police officer, a customer service representative, an attorney, or in any line of work, there are hearing-aid technologies and other approaches to dealing with hearing loss that can help. And remember: You are not alone. Roughly 60 percent of Americans with hearing loss are in the workforce overcoming the very same challenges you are.

Research shows that hearing aids really do help. A study by the Better Hearing Institute found that using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90-to-100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65-to-77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. What's more, people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are nearly twice as likely to be employed as their peers who do not use hearing aids. And eight out of 10 hearing aid users say they're satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives specifically due to their hearing aids. From how they feel about themselves to positive changes in their work lives, relationships and other social interactions, hearing aid users are benefiting from today's technology.

Face it. You've got too much game in you to slow down now. So play at the top of your game. Stay at the top of your game. Make an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional and learn how you can hear your best today.


Things to Know If Divorce Is Forcing Family Relocation

April 17, 2013 7:08 pm

I know from experience that disruption in routine and residence are two changes that come with any divorce.  For children of divorcing parents this shift in schedule can be especially stressful if not managed properly according to the experts at Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group (CCDG).

CCDG is comprised of attorneys, financial and mental health professionals to facilitate an amicable termination of a marriage. Robert Fried, one of those attorneys says, “When it comes to moving, it is very important that both parents be on the same page when relocating children.

Attorneys and psychologists alike recommend moving during a long holiday break such as summer. It allows for an easier transition and time to meet new friends in the neighborhood.

If you can't wait until summer or other big break, it is helpful to try to do as much planning as possible. Include the kids in some decision making about how the move might go.  

For example, do they want to have a friend help them unpack their room or pick out some accessories? Do they want to stay with a friend during the day you actually move out of the old home?

Getting them involved in re-doing their bedroom is often very helpful. It is important for parents to stress the positives about the move, whenever possible.

CCDG Psychologist Dr. Elaine Ducharme also points out that, “It is generally a good idea to have the children out of the house if one parent is moving out first. It is really upsetting for children to see a parent moving out."

Moving to a new school district can also be tough for many children. Therefore, it is really helpful to go to the school ahead of time for a tour and to meet the principal, teacher, counselor whenever possible.

They can be instrumental in pairing your child up with a "buddy.”

“Most children, especially, the younger ones, do well once they have a friend. Middle school and high school can be more difficult because of the cliques that form,” says Dr. Ducharme.  “Moving to a new school is easier at a time when everyone will be new to the school, such as the beginning of middle school or high school.”

Word of the Day

April 17, 2013 7:08 pm

Urban renewal.  The acquisition of run-down city areas for purposes of redevelopment.

Q: Where Can I Find Foreclosure Properties?

April 17, 2013 7:08 pm

A: Look in the legal notices section of your local newspaper. A notice is also usually posted on the property itself and somewhere in the city where the sale will take place.

However, real estate agents are the best source for information about foreclosures before they begin. Often a property will be listed and the agent will know if it is approaching foreclosure. Perhaps the best way to get the information is to have your agent put the word out that you are looking for properties with pending foreclosures.

Another source can be the bank or financial institution that holds the mortgage. Of course, they generally will not give you the names of those who are facing foreclosure, but they may give the property owner your card or phone number.

Buying foreclosures is not easy. Savvy investors are highly skilled at nabbing these properties.  Inexperienced buyers may find themselves surrounded by pretty stiff competition. They will need to get as much information as possible, including a "foreclosure inspection report" and an appraisal from the lender.

You and Your Kids: Keep Moving Day Safe

April 16, 2013 5:56 pm

As April progresses, more and more families throughout the country will continue to move in higher numbers from now through the summer, according to the American Moving & Storage Association. During this often hectic time, it is important for families to not forget about safety in all the hustle and bustle of a move.

Children are especially vulnerable during a move, and preoccupied parents need to be especially vigilant with small children. For example, be wary of:

  • Loose bottle caps of medications and household chemicals.
  • Furniture and boxes stacked high around the home.
  • Windows without screen guards.
  • Window coverings and drapes with hanging cords.

Window covering cords can pose a strangulation hazard to infants and toddlers. Check your window coverings to make sure there are no dangling cords, and if there are to replace them with today's safer products or order retrofits kits.

To protect children from the potential hazards that often arise during a move and the few days following, parents are reminded to:

  • Keep children offsite and with family or a babysitter during the actual move day.
  • Do not leave furniture, boxes, beds and climbable surfaces by windows and stairs, or left perilously stacked.
  • Check all window coverings to see if they have dangerous cords.
  • Make sure tasseled pull cords are as short as possible. Continuous-loop pull cords on draperies and vertical blinds should be pulled tight and anchored to the floor or wall.
  • Be sure cord stops are properly installed and adjusted to limit inner-cord movement.
  • Install window guards to prevent children from falling and accidents.

This Spring, Make Your Home Improvements Colorful

April 16, 2013 5:56 pm

Spring is finally here, and people are looking to update their homes and turn their design dreams into reality. In fact, two-in-three (62 percent) homeowners are planning a painting project, according to the National Home Color Survey from Sherwin-Williams.

From simply updating a room to a complete home transformation, homeowners are looking for ways to add color to their space. The home's most colorful features, paintings/wall hangings (39 percent), walls (23 percent) and furniture (15 percent), are often used to express people's creativity and interests.

"I love to see people get out of their neutral groove and add a splash of color to rejuvenate a room, whether it's with eye-catching accessories or a fresh coat of paint," says David Bromstad , HGTV® star and celebrity interior designer. "Color can really set the mood for a room and bring personality to your home."

Bringing More Color into the Home
The National Home Color Survey indicates three-in-four homeowners (74 percent) would like to incorporate more color in their homes, especially the living room (29 percent), bedroom (19 percent) and kitchen (10 percent).

That said, the most commonly used living spaces are in need of the most paint this year, with 32 percent of homeowners focusing on their bedrooms, 29 percent tackling the living/family room and 28 percent updating their bathroom. In addition, 15 percent of people believe their home's exterior could use a refresh.

National Painting week kicked off on April 15. To inspire homeowners. will feature color inspiration, painting ideas, expert tips, product information and one-of-a-kind projects from 14 top design bloggers.

Tips to Rejuvenate Your Home with Color

  • Identify a colorful object as the focal point of the room. Select a few colorful pieces to build your room around, such as artwork or a lively piece of furniture. Throw in some fun accessories like geometric patterned pillows, bright lacquered picture frames or unusual light fixtures.
  • Explore color. Use a range of color selection tools to help select colors for your space.
  • Highlight unexpected areas. Colorful paint can turn ordinary areas like ceilings, banisters or doorframes into extraordinary spaces. If you want to keep walls neutral, paint a piece of furniture, such as a chair, headboard or the back of a bookshelf. Or balance neutral walls with bright trim on doors, windows and ceilings.
  • Use colorful patterns for the illusion of space. When working with a small or challenging space, use paint to create optical illusions. Horizontal stripes can help small rooms feel more spacious, while vertical stripes can add the illusion of height to low ceilings.

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.