Gunning Daily News

Couple Chaos: Holiday Time Means Family Time

December 7, 2012 3:32 pm

With holiday time often comes time with your loved one—and their immediate and extended family. Whether you love their family, or can barely tolerate them, the following expert tips can help you get along with ease.

  • Don't say "It's your family, not mine." If you care about your partner, his or her family should be just as important to you. If they are just plain out there or tough to handle, suggest going to your family's house for Christmas.
  • Don't say "here we go again!" when an argument begins, especially if you're mid-slice of the gorgeous holiday turkey or ham. Don't risk a holiday fiasco with an audience to boo or cheer you on.
  • Don't cop out by saying you need "space." If you really have something specific to say, explain it in as considerate a way as possible. Besides, if you are away from home for the holidays, where would you go? Try to be as open and honest as you can.

"Despite the pressures of the holidays, it's important to remember the season should be a time of giving and joy," says Relationship Ambassador, Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright. "Individuals that can properly navigate the holidays will encourage more fulfilling relationships with both their partner and their family." Dr. Fulbright provides her keen insight with several tips to help couples and family members work together to reduce holidays stress:

  • Avoid negative communication such as complaining, whining, or bullying which will only build resentment. Couples that are meeting their partner's family for the first time need to give each other open feedback in a supportive environment. Many people are irrationally protective of their families, so it's important to be careful when raising concerns or criticisms.
  • Explain family dynamics to your partner before holiday gatherings. Giving them some context into your passive-aggressive cousin or co-dependent niece will help you both handle any get-together.
  • Communicating positively means owning personal feelings, asking for details, and being comfortable opening up (whether it's a social concern or a sexual fantasy). Solid couples that are built for the long term are able to work together to confront and move on from any issues.
  • Avoid saying phrases such as "they're your family," especially if you're in a long-term relationship. Such language can wedge a gap between the two sides which can be hard to dislodge.
  • Be flexible in planning and accept your partner's family and their possibly odd holiday traditions.

Source: Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright

Word of the Day

December 7, 2012 3:32 pm

Commingle funds. Mixing of a clients’ funds, or escrow, with an agent’s personal funds in an account; considered to be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the broker’s real estate license.

Q: What Is Universal Design and How Does It Relate to Remodeling?

December 7, 2012 3:32 pm

A: Universal design is an approach to design that focuses on making all products and environments as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, physical ability, or situation. In recent years, the housing industry has recognized the importance of a "universal" approach to residential design that modifies standard building elements to improve a home's accessibility and usability. This allows for more equitable, flexible and simple use. Many books exist on the subject, including Residential Remodeling and Universal Design: Making Homes More Comfortable and Accessible, a resource guide offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD’s guide provides technical guidance on selecting and installing universal features during home remodeling or renovation. The modifications can range from expanding doorway dimensions to replacing kitchen appliances. The guide emphasizes eliminating unintentional barriers and using designs and features that could benefit people with a broad range of needs.

Money and Time-Saving Tips for Holiday Entertaining

December 7, 2012 3:32 pm

Many of us love entertaining, but few of us love the added expense or stress that often accompanies hosting. If you’re putting on your family’s holiday gathering this year, read on as Teri Gault, founder and CEO of The Grocery Game, offers ten tips to save time and money when entertaining this holiday season.

Invitations—
Save time and money by inviting your guests for a party within the same card as your annual holiday card! Another low-cost, eco-friendly option is to try an online site like PaperlessPost.com or Evite.com.
Decorate for Less—Find new uses for everyday items by repurposing them for decorations. Try using garland, bows and candles on hutches and tables or holiday decorations in vases to add a festive touch.
Drinks Guide—Factor in how much guests will drink using this guide: two drinks in the first hour, one drink per hour after that. To find low-cost wines, check drugstores and supermarkets; whereas for hard liquor, visit warehouse club stores.
The Perfect Punch—The simplest and most cost-effective pre-made drink is a champagne punch with frozen berries. Remember to use moderately-priced champagne -- no one will know the difference!
Christmas and New Year's Ham—Ham is at an all-year low price now, so buy two and freeze the extra either for New Year's dinner or for use in sandwiches, soups and other dishes later in the year.
Holiday Baking—Baking goods like sugar, flour and cake mixes, are also at the lowest price of the year right now. Stock up for your holiday baking, as well as for next year's baking -- think of your upcoming birthday parties and holiday parties like the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Buy products with the most extensive expiration dates.
Clean-Up!—Buy convenient disposable disinfecting wipes on sale with online coupons or manufacturer coupons for the last-minute spruce up. Use a large sink or outdoor bucket filled with water and soap to soak your dishes and avoid a long, time-consuming and messy clean-up.
"Do-Aheads"—Save your sanity and time by doing most of the cooking and prep work in advance of the big day: chop vegetables and arrange and cover cold platters and keep them fresh in the fridge.
Santa's Helpers—People want to help, so let them! Have guests help you with small tasks such as opening wine, tossing a salad or watching the timer for oven-made dishes to avoid over-cooked or burned entrees. Getting help from others lets you focus on the bigger picture of managing the kitchen and entertaining your guests.
The Perfect Centerpiece—Use seasonal flowers to set a beautiful centerpiece. Look for reduced price mixed floral bouquets leading up to the holiday. Be sure to use a short vase so guests can see one another across the table.

Source: www.TheGroceryGame.com

10 Easy Tips for a Festive Holiday Buffet

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

A formal-sit down style dinner may seem pleasant, but for larger families or those who crave a more casual setting, they sometimes aren’t ideal. This is where the buffet table takes center stage.
"For many busy families, gone are the days of formal sit-down gatherings at the dining room table," says Brenda Dillon, VP of Merchandising for Ashley Furniture. "During the holidays, people often drop in anywhere from late afternoon to late in the evening -- making buffet-style parties the perfect choice. And with the right space and a little planning, it's easy to bring everyone together."

In order to pull off a successfull holiday buffet, it's important to keep your guests' comfort in mind. Here are 10 savvy food-serving ideas that'll make your holiday party go off without a hitch:

1. Avoid placing food in a single line if serving a large crowd. Instead, repeat the same food on both sides of the dining room table.
2. Keep drinks in a separate area. A cart, table, server or sideboard helps avoid congestion.
3. Serve drinks ahead of time. It makes moving through the holiday buffet line easier and faster. Appointing or hiring someone to serve drinks makes guests feel extra special.
4. Use large, sturdy plates and oversized napkins. Avoid flimsy paper plates and choose napkins large enough to cover the lap.
5. Know where to put everything. Place clean plates and cold items at the beginning of the buffet, silverware at the end.
6. Avoid serving food that requires a knife. Your guests will appreciate not having to cut food on their lap!
7. Roll a napkin around a fork and spoon. Utensils that are rolled in a napkin are easier to carry. Secure it with a holiday ribbon and place endwise into a glass, mug or pencil cup for easy pickup.
8. Place a toothpick in items that are tough to grab. Be sure to pre-cut pieces off cheese blocks and break grapes into small clusters.
9. Label food that isn't recognizable, or that may cause allergies. Or label everything restaurant-style with a folding card or flag.
10. Consider serving desert and coffee on a tray or rolling cart. This lets guests stay seated and relaxed.

Source: AshleyFurnitureHomeStore.com.

Holiday Pet Safety 101

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

Food, family, friends and celebration. It's holiday time! But, how do our pets handle it? Some of the simple things we take part in over the holidays can often be hazardous to our pets' health, from food to decorations.

"There are 10 common hazards that pet owners should be aware of at this time of year," says Doctor Doug Aspros, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "If you keep these at the top of your mind and away from your pet, everyone will enjoy the holidays free from trips to the emergency clinic."

Table scraps: Mother was right; don't feed the dog under the table.
Candy: There are a number of things about candy that are bad for pets, but among the worst is the wrapper.
Decorative injuries: The decorations you set up around the house may look great, but they could be a source of injury for your pets.
Tasty decorations: Some decorations are so pretty that they look good enough to eat.
Flowers and plants: Many times we put out new plants, flowers or trimmings, depending on the holiday, and these can be poisonous and deadly.
Sugar-free snacks: Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener in baked goods and sugar-free gum and candy. It's also poisonous for dogs.
Chocolate: Chocolate is a big part of many holiday celebrations, but not for pets.
Guests: Many pets can become downright panicked when faced with a lot of new visitors.
Candles: A lit candle can provide a real hazard.
Pets as presents: The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advises against giving pets as presents, because the recipient doesn't have the opportunity to have an active role in selecting the animal.

Source: www.avma.org.

Great Gadget Gifts for Life on the Go

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

(Family Features) Technology is always high on holiday gift lists, and this year is no different. Recent trends in mobile phones, an ever-growing range of tablet and e-reader price points and styles, and fashionable accessories mean you have more great options than ever.

  • Thanks to some of the hottest handsets coming to no-contract plans, smartphones are truly giftable for the first time. Get the ultimate in flexibility with no long-term commitment from providers like RadioShack No-Contract Wireless, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Time to upgrade on an existing contract?
  • Consider a gift card, or look for the best deals at a retailer that offers top contract carriers.
  • For the video or book lover on your list, tablets and e-readers come in many brands, sizes and price points to meet their needs and manage your holiday budget. They are very portable and are a great way to make waiting in line or at the doctor fly by much faster. Consider buying a device on the same operating system as the recipient's smartphone so app purchases will go twice as far. Plus, some people are loyal to one camp or another and will value your gift more if you show you know that.
  • Accessorize your gadget purchases. The right phone, tablet or e-reader case shows recipients you know their style and protects their present. Speaking of extending the life of these devices, consider a warranty plan -- especially for kids or adults whose work or leisure activities might put that gifted gadget at risk.
  • For the music lover, headphones are a great choice. Wireless headphones use Bluetooth technology and operate on batteries for a hands-free experience. If choosing wired headphones, look for a pair with a strong cord or one that can be replaced if damaged. For a combination of high-fashion and high-function, look for hot headphones like Beats by Dr. Dre.
  • For entertaining a crowd, check out compact options such as the AUVIO Bluetooth Portable Speaker. The speaker has great sound, and a compact size make it easy to enjoy music with friends no matter where you are.
  • Don't forget the power. For battery-operated gifts, make sure to pick up the right batteries. For rechargeable tech gifts, power them up with Enercell Portable Power Banks, car chargers, or even a phone-charging case.

Source: www.radioshack.com.

Word of the Day

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

Collateral. Something of value given or pledged to a lender as security for the repayment of a loan.

Q: What should I consider when remodeling the bathroom?

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

A: Don’t jump too quickly to discard reusable fixtures. If your tub is in relatively good shape, consider having it re-glazed instead of replaced, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. As for the walls around the tub, cultured marble sheets are cheaper to install than marble tiles and also easier to clean. Fiberglass is also less expensive than tile. If space is extremely limited and you cannot “steal” it from other areas of your home, purchase a jetted tub and shower combination or install a pedestal lavatory instead of a vanity cabinet with a sink. Remember, installing a large jetted tub can overtax your water heater, so consider adding a water heater that is dedicated to the tub to prevent problems later.

Winter Is Coming – Time For Bedding Your Garden (Tools)

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

It’s a no-brainer - as Christmas approaches you bed down your garden for the winter. But I recently learned from Betty Alden who posts at gardenstuffs.com, that it’s equally important to bed down your garden tools properly.

Alden says that storing gardening tools properly over the winter can extend their life - especially for expensive power equipment like your electric lawn mower. She offers these five tips on storing gardening tools for the winter:

Scrape Off Dirt – look for excess dirt, soil or mud sticking onto or being left to stick on pots, shovels, watering buckets and other gardening tools. Before storing these tools, remove the dirt or mud using a wire brush or removing them by hand after soaking the tools into a pail of water.

Excess dirt or mud on these equipments could contain water droplets that may freeze, causing some parts of the tools to rust.

Remove the Rust - some of the equipments or some of their parts may already show some rust. Before storing them, remove rust using a steel wool. Alden says wear a pair of proper gardening gloves because a cut while doing this can lead to various types of infections.

Rust Prevention Measures – Alden says spray a layer of penetrating lubricating oil such as WD-40 on top of the steel part. Then, make sure that you store the tools at a dry place - the garage floor is a bad choice because it gets damp easily during winter.

Sharpen Gardening Tools - some of these tools include spades, axes, shovels, pruners and other tools with a sharp portion.

Smooth Out Wooden Parts - that are worn out due to frequent using with sand papers. An extra step will be to coat the wooden parts with a layer of paste wax to keep the wood from getting moisturized and attracting pests such as termites. If the wooden parts are not properly coated, fungus may also grow on them during the winter.