Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

November 27, 2012 2:56 pm

Cancellation clause. Stipulation in a contract that allows a buyer or seller to cancel the contract in the event of a certain specified occurrence.

Question of the Day

November 27, 2012 2:56 pm

Q: Where Can I Find Foreclosure Properties?

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.

Q: Are window replacements tax deductible?

November 26, 2012 4:10 pm

A: Yes, at least for a limited time. Congress made it a little easier to upgrade your windows while reducing your taxes. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 offers consumers a tax credit for replacing old appliances and home products with energy efficient models. The tax credit is up to $200 with the purchase of qualified doors, windows, and skylights. Look for the ENERGY STAR label. The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency developed the designation for products meeting certain performance criteria. The tax credit is good for purchases made in 2006 or 2007 but does not include installation costs.

Teaching Kids the Joy of Giving

November 26, 2012 3:40 pm

The holiday season is upon us, and children everywhere will soon be writing letters to Santa and making lists of the toys and gifts they wish to receive. But some parents worry that their children are focused on the joy of receiving at the expense of learning and practicing the joy of giving to those less fortunate.

“The holiday season offers a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to work together to put a little more joy in the lives of those who need help,” said California family counselor Dolores Hoffman. “The bonus is that families share the pleasure of working together for a worthy cause and kids experience how good it feels to do something nice for others.”

Hoffman suggests three ways for families to plan and organize their holiday giving projects:

Go online together
– browse a site like charitynavigator.com or worldvision.com to help choose a charity your family would like to support. Go to anysoldier.com for guidelines on sending holiday gifts to service men and women – or to toysfortots.org to learn about donating toys for needy children. Read about several organizations, who they help and how, and the ways in which you can support them. Then decide as a family how much you can afford to spend and how you would like to get involved.

Keep it local –
Contact local houses of worship or social service organizations for information on helping local families in need. Let the children help determine how you will help: pack up a turkey and all the fixings for a family in need…fulfill the “wish list” of local kids or senior citizens…conduct a food drive in your neighborhood and donate the food to a local food pantry.

Make it personal – There are many ways to incorporate your family’s talents in your giving project. Call a local food pantry, soup kitchen or senior center to find out how and when your family can help pack food, serve meals, or entertain. Arrange a time to go caroling at a nearby hospital or senior center. Take along handmade lap blankets or holiday decorations to hand out as you move from room to room.

Whatever program you choose to support, make the kids responsible for contributing some of the funds, choosing and purchasing toys or gifts, and/or participating first-hand in the service project.

Celebrate the Holidays New England Style

November 26, 2012 3:40 pm

If you are getting your home ready for the holidays, adding a dash (or dollop) of quaint New England charm can make all the difference. So we checked in with Linda Gottlieb, DecorDesigner up in Litchfield County, Connecticut for some ideas about how to make your home warm and welcoming the old fashioned New England way.

Gottlieb suggested these ideas, which can be foundational elements you employ before adorning your home with holiday trimmings:

  • Adding a new candelabra as your main table centerpiece can instantly add glamour and warmth to an otherwise boring tabletop. And instead of white candles, use gold or red during the holidays.
  • Year-round wreaths are always a welcoming addition to your entry – and a silk floral wreath will never wilt. Find one for each season, and always have beautiful pops of color.
  • Try soft treatments like new pillows, rugs and more. Just by adding an area rug over your wall-to-wall carpet or hard surface, you can brighten the whole room. Continue to add touches of color using pillows of all sizes and textures.
  • Paint and Wall Coverings - Changing the look of a wall can transform a room and is a very cost effective change, and with the new no/low VOC paint, you can skip the smell of traditional latex paints. Also, if you're a wallpaper skeptic, you'll be amazed at the textures, colors, and styles available in today's wallpaper selections.
  • Throw out the card table this holiday season and consider shopping for new tables and chairs that can transform a room at any budget. Bring color to a dining area with different chair fabrics and accessories that complement your color schemes.
  • Windows - There are new options for shades, blinds, and curtain treatments that not only dress up those windows, but make a fashion statement at the same time, without blocking out winter light.

Source: www.decorandyou.com

How-To: Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

November 26, 2012 3:40 pm

The holidays are a time to relax with family, spend time giving thanks for all that life has to offer and partake in holiday traditions. However, for many of us, those holiday traditions don’t involve plates of fresh vegetables or long afternoon walks. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and a celebratory time full of temptations and demands due to family gatherings, parties, shopping and entertaining. Unhealthy habits may be inevitable this time of year, but there are simple strategies to help you stay on track to enjoy the season with your health in mind.

"Between busy schedules and a plethora of snacks and treats, it's difficult to stay motivated," says Hannah El-Amin, RD, a registered dietitian at Northwestern Integrative Medicine. "It is possible however to indulge a little without gaining a lot."

According to recent data, Americans gain an average of five pounds during the winter, due to the abundance of holiday feasts and parties where food and beverages are often high in calories and fat.
El-Amin regularly counsels patients on ways to focus on healthy eating habits, and offers the following tips for maintaining a healthy body this holiday season:

Plan ahead – Eat a healthy snack before attending holiday parties. A large apple, reduced fat flavored yogurt, or vegetables with hummus, are low calorie snacks that are filling. These will take the edge off the hunger before you arrive and, therefore, help with portion control. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help curtail your appetite and prevent overindulging.

Don't miss a meal – "A common misconception is that skipping meals will save room for large amounts of food later in the day," said El-Amin. "Instead, this sets your hunger into overdrive and by the time you finally eat, excess hunger will make you more likely to choose food impulsively and overeat."

Control your portions – Avoid the clean plate club by eating until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Take time to pause during the meal to check your level of fullness. When you feel satisfied, reinforce your decision to stop eating by leaving the table, washing your plate and going to watch football. Choosing smaller portions from a variety of foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, will allow you to still enjoy your favorite holiday treats while eating less.

Swap this for that – Offer to make a dish to share that uses fresh, healthy ingredients or makes substitutions to lower fat and sugar. At the holiday gathering, balance out your meal by swapping fattening ingredients with lower-calorie options. This includes liquid calories; drinking high-calorie beverages like soda, juice or alcohol can easily add another 500 calories to a holiday meal. Instead, opt for sparkling water or low-calorie beverages.

Keep moving – Don't park in front of the buffet at a party. Research shows that having food in front of you prompts you to eat more, even if you're not hungry. Add fitness into your holiday celebration with exercise that is fun for the whole family. Take a walk after a large meal, play a friendly game of flag football, or build a snowman with the kids.

"The key to enjoying a healthy holiday season is moderation," says El-Amin. "Allow yourself to enjoy a little while still striving to make nutritious choices."

Source: www.nmh.org

Word of the Day

November 26, 2012 3:40 pm

Buyer’s market. Describes an excess supply of homes for sale, in which there are few buyers and many sellers. In such a market, the buyer can typically negotiate more favorable prices and terms.

Protect Your Appliances over the Holidays

November 21, 2012 12:34 pm

With so many guests coming in and out of the house, plumbing and appliance emergencies are the most frequent service requests over the holidays. Kitchen appliances, chimneys, furnaces and garbage disposals are especially prone to malfunction during the hectic holiday season. HomeAdvisor's Home Improvement Expert and DIY Network host Amy Matthews offers useful tips to help homeowners prepare their homes for the winter season.

"The holidays can be as stressful as they are joyous, especially if an unexpected home repair emergency occurs," says Matthews.

Kitchen Appliances
According to HomeAdvisor, the most frequent home emergency repair in 2012 has been for appliance repairs. Avoid having an emergency situation during a big family feast by thoroughly cleaning your oven and grill and keeping kitchen appliances in tip-top shape. If the oven isn't cleaned properly, homeowners risk the chance of filling their house with smoke and ruining their meal. A professional can inspect top trouble areas and provide insights on repairs or replacements.

Garbage Disposals
Matthews advises that homeowners avoid garbage disposal repairs by never placing coffee grounds, grease, eggshells, bones or potato skins in the disposal. It is also important that homeowners do not overfill their garbage disposal or use chemical drain cleaners to unclog it. It is unlikely that chemical cleaners will work completely and they leave the sink full of toxic liquids.

Chimney and Fireplace
A crackling fire is charming during the holidays, but dirty chimneys can be extremely dangerous and can cause a fire in the home. A professional should inspect the fireplace to ensure the chimney is clean before lighting the first fire of the season. A money-saving tip is to install a glass enclosure or glass doors on the opening of the fireplace to reduce the amount of hot air that escapes from the house.

Furnace

Keeping a clean filter in the furnace through the winter is essential to maximizing its efficiency. Dirty filters make the furnace work harder and may even damage it. It is also best to hire a professional on an annual basis to install proper filters, vacuum the unit, and recommend appropriate upgrades. Annual maintenance on a furnace can increase its life expectancy by up to four years

Yard
Dead and dying tree branches can be a danger to people and power lines. Keep your home safe and prevent power outages this season by hiring a professional to prune branches and limbs close to your home.

Source: www.HomeAdvisor.com

Natural Gas Leaks: Recognize and Respond

November 21, 2012 12:34 pm

With the winter weather upon us, people tend to use their natural gas appliances more often. The following safety tips can help you recognize and respond to natural gas leaks:

Use your sense of sight, hearing or smell to alert you to the presence of a gas leak. Signs of a possible leak include:

  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance, dirt or water being blown in the air, dead or dying vegetation (in an otherwise moist area) over or near pipeline areas, a fire or explosion near a pipeline or exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood or other disaster.
  • An unusual sound, such as a hissing, whistling or roaring sound near a gas line or appliance.
  • The distinctive odor of natural gas. Even though an odor is added to natural gas to assist in the detection of leaks, do not rely on sense of smell alone to alert you to a gas leak since there may be occasions when you might not be able to smell the odor additive.
If a leak is suspected:

  • Remain calm.
  • Do not light a match, candle or cigarette, and don't turn any electrical devices on or off, including light switches, or use any device or equipment that could cause a spark.
  • Immediately evacuate the area where the leak is suspected and from a safe location and call a professional, or 911.
  • Do not attempt to control the leak or repair the damaged pipe or meter.
Source: http://www.socalgas.com

10 Tips for Coping with Grief during the Holidays

November 21, 2012 12:34 pm

The glitz and glitter in the stores, special traditions and get-togethers with family and friends make the holidays a time of anticipation and joy. However, holidays can act as a trigger for those who are grieving the death of a loved one. While some people want to ignore the holidays altogether, some want to continue traditions. What can one do?

Diane Snyder Cowan, the director of Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center, Hospice of the Western Reserve, offers the following tips:

  • Recognize that the holidays may not be the same and you may feel intense feelings of grief. Try not to isolate yourself
  • Talk with family members and friends about your feelings and share stories about your loved one.
  • Plan ahead so you can be prepared when invited to holiday get-togethers. People who are grieving often do not have the emotional or physical energy to celebrate the holidays as have they done in the past. Let others know when you are not up to attending a gathering.
  • Consider honoring your loved one through a commemorative ritual. This can be as simple as lighting a candle in his or her honor, visiting a place that holds special meaning, or baking a favorite holiday dish.
  • Do what you want to do, not what you feel you should do.
  • Surround yourself with those who are supportive and understanding.
  • Allow someone else to do the baking, cooking and decorating this year.
  • If you go to an event, take your own car so that you can leave when you choose.
  • Shop using catalogs or the Internet or don't shop at all this year.
  • Do something for others: volunteer at a soup kitchen or bake and deliver muffins to a homebound neighbor.

"There is no calendar for grief. Give yourself permission and time to grieve," Snyder Cowan says. "The first year, things may seem surreal. You may still be in a fog. The second or third holiday season can be just as difficult as your new reality sets in. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Honor your time to grieve."

Source: http://www.hospicewr.org