Gunning Daily News
October 29, 2012 1:50 pm
During the fall, I know that homeowners and green industry professionals alike take steps to prepare landscapes for the winter. Leaves are swept away for composting or disposal, perennials and shrubs are pruned, hedges are trimmed, and pesticides are applied in anticipation of next year’s growing season.
For professional arborists and landscapers, fall and early winter are an effective time to use pesticides, a broad term that includes products that kill insect pests and also kill weeds.
Just remember to use a light touch, if you even have to use pesticides at all. Many homeowners may be surprised to learn that raking diseased tree leaves can replace fall pesticide applications in some cases.
Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA.org) says homeowners may be able to solve landscape problems without pesticides by choosing non-chemical alternatives, such as sanitation procedures and selecting shrubs and ornamental trees that are less susceptible to diseases and insects.
For homeowners who do decide to use pesticides, the TCIA offers these suggestions:
- Identify the pest first. There is no use in applying a pesticide that won’t address your pest problem.
- Don’t be tempted to use agricultural chemicals. They aren’t designed for use by homeowners. A small miscalculation in the mixing of a small batch could result in drastic overdosing.
- Buy the least toxic application. Most chemicals available to homeowners use the signal words “caution,” “warning” or “danger” on their labels. Try to avoid those with the “warning” and “danger” labels, as they are more hazardous.
- Never mix herbicides with other kinds of pesticides, and never use the same equipment to spray herbicides and other pesticides. You could unintentionally kill the plants you are trying to protect.
- Don’t mix or store pesticides in food containers, and don’t measure pesticides with the measuring cups and spoons you use in the kitchen. Always store pesticides in the original container, with the label intact.
- The best choice may be to consult a professional who can diagnose pest problems and recommend chemical or non-chemical alternatives, Andersen advises. A beautiful lawn, shrub or tree isn’t worth the trade-off if pesticides are not being used properly.
In our next segment, we’ll take a look at herbicides.
October 29, 2012 1:50 pm
(BPT) - It's most likely one of the top reasons you've been putting off that bathroom makeover or remodel - you're not sure where to begin. What should the decor be like? Do you want a pedestal sink or a furniture-style vanity? Will you incorporate any water-saving faucets or fixtures? And, with all the decisions to make, will it all look good together and still perform well?
These questions, and many others, should be at the top of your list when you start mapping out your next bathroom project. Luckily, many manufacturers have made it easier in recent years for you to answer those questions in a painless, affordable way.
“We've created several complementing suites of fixtures and faucets,” says Kevin McJoynt from Danze, Inc. “The elements of each collection were literally made for each other, which makes your job easier.”
So what should you look for when you're planning your next bath or powder room project? Here are a few things to consider when choosing the key pieces:
Sink and vanity - Choices are abundant when it comes to the sink area of a bathroom. For those smaller footprint powder rooms, or where storage isn't as critical, consider a pedestal sink. If a pedestal doesn't match your taste or needs, furniture-style vanities can have a significant impact on a room's decor and add extra storage.
Faucet - This can be one of the most noticeable accessories in the room and one that homeowners and guests interact with the most. Make sure you choose a style and finish that is consistent with the overall decor. A soft brushed nickel or warm oil-rubbed bronze finish can add a distinct detail to the feeling of the room. If environmentally friendly options are important to you, explore WaterSense-certified faucets that can reduce water usage by 30 percent, without affecting performance.
Toilet - This is one of the best places to go “green” in your bathroom. High-efficiency toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf), saving two or more gallons of water during each use compared to many toilets installed in the 1980s and prior. This saves 20 percent compared to more recent 1.6 gpf designs that are standard today. And, just because it's a very utilitarian element of a bathroom, don't skimp on design for this piece. Shape, height, styling and color greatly impact how the toilet can enhance the room's decor.
Shower system - Years ago homeowners had a handful of choices for showerheads. Today, there are hundreds of styles, functions, finishes and components that can comprise a home's shower system. This is a recently discovered area of the bathroom that can really show off your personality and can help you create a unique retreat.
Tastes range from building a “shower spa” with wall- and ceiling-mounted showerheads, to conservation-minded shower stalls equipped with WaterSense-certified showerheads.
Bath accessories - Careful selection of bath accessories is key to creating a finished look to your project. Once again, homeowners have a huge choice. Whether it's the ornate styling of an old-world towel ring, or the sleek lines of a contemporary towel bar, make sure to select accessories that match your room's faucet, sink and other elements (all the way down to the robe hook).
October 29, 2012 11:20 am
(BPT) - As the holidays approach, many families are planning annual portraits for personalized cards and gifts to loved ones. But this can be a complex planning ordeal for even the most organized person. In addition to coordinating schedules and what everyone should wear, it's just as important to focus on the best photography tips, tools and techniques to make the most of your family portrait.
“Everyone who has ever taken or posed for a family photo knows it's a rewarding yet challenging endeavor,” says Tim Meyer, owner of Meyer Photography and program chair of the portrait division of photography at Brooks Institute, a leading provider of higher education for film, visual journalism, graphic design and photography. “The good news is that with proper planning and digital photography advances families can get higher-quality photos than ever before, whether you're hiring a professional photographer or doing it yourself.”
While it can still be difficult to capture the entire family with smiles on their faces, Meyer offers six tips for taking the perfect family portrait this holiday:
1. Invest in quality camera equipment. Digital photography has brought the world of photography to the masses, and high-quality digital cameras can be purchased new or used at reasonable prices. For family portraits, make sure the camera has a timer so you can be a part of the picture. You should also consider buying a tripod to steady your camera and make your photo shoot easier.
2. Scope out the best locations and background for the shoot. Think outside the family fireplace to create interesting indoor backdrops for family photos - but avoid mirrors and windows that can create issues by reflecting light. If choosing an outdoor location, make sure it is free from distraction. Like indoor shots, intricate patterns or background commotion can distract from the subject of the photo - in this case, your family.
3. Consider the best time for taking photos with your family. Natural lighting is great for family photos, particularly the golden hour - the first and last hour of sunlight during each day. If this isn't convenient for your family, choose a time when any children involved in the picture are well rested and more apt to patiently pose for photos. If you're shooting indoors, ensure there's adequate lighting, whether natural or from other sources.
4. Take lots of shots, but remember that the best expressions with children are often the first ones. Group photos are challenging, considering the number of people who must smile and look their best at the same time. Chances are you'll have several photos with eye-blinking subjects and wiggly children. To increase your odds of getting the best family portrait, take as many photos as possible and vary the composition to get different angles and arrangements.
5. Plan ahead if including a furry friend in your family portraits. Many people view their pets as members of the family, so it's only fitting that you might want to include your beloved pet in a family portrait. If so, choose a time when the pet is naturally calmer, perhaps after a walk or at nap time. Also, bring treats to hold the pet's attention and reward the pet for a job well done.
6. Leave it to the professionals. If the challenge of taking your own family photographs becomes overwhelming, connect with a professional photographer who can provide additional tips or work within your budget to help you get professional family photos in time for the holidays. Today's professionals offer a greater variety of styles and ways of sharing your images than ever before.
October 29, 2012 11:20 am
While you may not give thought to your home-heating devices until the first frost pulls ill, it’s actually best to inspect them before they are needed, according to Jimmie Cho, vice president of services for SoCalGas.
"Now is the time to perform maintenance on your home-heating appliances to check that they can be operated safely and efficiently," says Jimmie Cho.
Why should you check your furnace now? Failure to perform annual maintenance on gas appliances may result in exposure to carbon monoxide, which can cause nausea, drowsiness, flu-like symptoms, and even death.
Since home heating typically accounts for more than half of the monthly winter gas bill, the best way to keep bills lower is to get gas appliances serviced, Cho says.
Cho offers these tips for a safe, warm, and energy-efficient winter:
- Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor.
- Vacuum and clean regularly in and around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
- Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.
- Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary.
- When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly; never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Check the appearance of the flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor or SoCalGas to have the condition corrected.
- Using an unvented gas heater in your home is dangerous and a violation of the California Health and Safety Code.
- Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.
October 29, 2012 11:20 am
In the next installment of our October focus on fire prevention, I have tapped the National Fire Protection Association for some potentially life-saving fire safety tips.
In a previous segment, the NFPA reported that cooking fires caused an estimated average of 2,590 civilian deaths and $7.2 billion in direct property damage yearly. And based on research by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), cooking was also the number one cause of home structure fires that went unreported.
We also learned that Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths followed by heating equipment and then cooking equipment. So consider following these words of advice from the NFPA:
- Smoke outside - Ask smokers to smoke outside. Have sturdy, deep ashtrays for smokers.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach - Keep matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Inspect electrical cords - Replace cords that are cracked, damaged, have broken plugs, or have loose connections.
- Be careful when using candles - Keep candles at least one foot from anything that can burn. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Install smoke alarms - Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Interconnect smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Test your smoke alarms at least once a month and replace conventional batteries once a year or when the alarm “chirps” to tell you the battery is low.
- Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.
- Install sprinklers - If you are building or remodeling your home, install residential fire sprinklers. Sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive.
Homeowners can get more detailed information about each of the above prevention tips by visiting the NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org.
October 29, 2012 11:20 am
Appurtenance. Whatever is annexed to land or used with it that will pass to the buyer with conveyance of title, such as a garage or fence.
October 29, 2012 11:20 am
A: There are many ways to finance a remodeling project. If you have equity in your home, a good credit rating, and steady income, you can refinance your mortgage and borrow a percentage of the equity to cover remodeling costs.
Refinancing is a good option if you can get a mortgage interest rate at least two percentage points below your current home loan rate. Other options include a second mortgage, a home equity loan, or an unsecured loan. Less popular options: margin loans, which are taken against securities you own, and loans from retirement plans, life insurance policies and credit cards.
October 26, 2012 5:50 pm
(BPT) - Why is it that some people can do daring things with color in their living rooms or bedrooms, but stick with the strongholds of beige and white in their kitchens and baths? As bright hues are surfacing in kitchen and bath design trends, existing oft-neutral palettes make it easy to introduce bold splashes.
Whether it's with a new faucet finish, a vibrant wall color, a playful backsplash - even a brightly-colored sink - adding color instantly creates a personalized and pleasing look in your kitchen or bath. Debating the best way to bring new colors into your home? Consider these seven tips straight from two industry professionals:
1. Find your perfect (color) match. Before you begin mixing and matching paint chips with backsplash tile, identify a color that has long resonated with your own design or fashion aesthetic. “If a client isn't able to answer this question instantly, all I have to do is peruse the closet,” says Kohler interior designer Diana Schrage. “Chances are that repeated pop of color worn over the years belongs in his or her home decor as much as in his or her wardrobe.” Once that signature color has been identified, Schrage says homeowners often feel more confident introducing those brighter hues in a more permanent manner.
2. Make a color splash in the sink. “A brightly-colored sink makes a delightful and memorable impact,” Schrage says. “Whether it's on a Farmhouse sink in the kitchen or a lavatory in the powder room, a bright sink is a perfect piece to build upon as you bring new colors into your space.”
3. Harness the power of color. Color can have a big impact on mood andwhat happens in a space. Restaurants and retail outlets often enlist color psychologists to select colors that will encourage diners to splurge on dessert or draw shoppers into a store. So harness that same power in your home. Want your kitchen to be a comfortable space for your family that encourages an appetite in the pickiest of eaters? Incorporate orange. If you long for a peaceful bathroom oasis, bring in calming blues and soothing greens. “Blue in all of its many shades is the universal beloved color in the whole color world,” Adler says.
4. Make up your own rules. “I feel like the world is often tame when it comes to color,” Adler says. “But embracing color is about embracing life. And to truly make a space your own, you have to make your own rules.” If your powder room feels plain and predictable, its small footprint makes it the perfect space to strengthen your color confidence by experimenting to show off your own design aesthetic. “The powder room is all about creating a memorable and gracious experience for your guests,” Schrage says. “Make it a fun one by incorporating color in an unexpected fashion by applying your favorite wallpaper to the ceiling with a complementing color on the walls, or a large installation of tile.
5. Focus on a focal point. Incorporating color doesn't require a complete redo. Instead, focus on a smaller project within the space to create a focal point or accent. Color can act as an eye magnet to create a focal-point-worthy design statement that draws a room together visually and gives you a solid foundation on which to build out the room's design theme. “A striking pairing of a faucet and sink can create a focal point,” Schrage says. “Throwing color into the mix only strengthens it.”
6. Layer for visual interest. If you want use color like a pro, learn to layer. Adler's go-to layering hue: navy. “It's a great base color to use with other bold colors,” he says.
7. Do your homework. If you're considering a fresh coat of paint, a bright backsplash or bold new sink, experiment with apps and different websites to see how new colors can best be applied to your space.
Once homework is done and the concept is complete, conquer any lingering hesitation with by remembering Adler's last bit of advice: “Incorporating an exclamation of color in a more permanent manner - such as a sink - resonates not only with your own design aesthetic, it means more permanent happiness.”
October 26, 2012 5:50 pm
Are you a baby boomer looking to start your own business? You’re far from alone. The "Boomerpreneur" trend, which involves individuals on the cusp of retirement looking to realize their self-employment dreams, appeals to many for a variety of reasons.
For some, the change has been forced upon them by the tough job market. Others are taking the leap to escape boredom, become their own boss, pursue a passion -- or simply in hopes of striking it rich.
Whatever the motivation, entrepreneurs face a tough road.
So how can you beat the odds if you want to join the boomerpreneur boom?
While there are many benefits to opening a small business in retirement, 'Boomerpreneurs' should understand that entrepreneurship involves an enormous financial commitment that is best managed with the assistance of a financial professional. Lack of sufficient preparation could have a negative effect on the business owner.
BMO Harris Bank offers the following tips to Boomerpreneurs-to-be:
Do your research: Take advantage of the resources and network you have built over the years and learn all you need to know to set up your company. This includes gaining industry insight, arranging a new phone number, deciding whether or not to incorporate the business and looking into the potential tax implications.
Consider the pros and cons: Think carefully about why you want to start your own business. Being your own boss can offer some flexibility. However, other sacrifices, such as longer hours and a possible decrease in cash flow – starting up, and potentially over the life of your retirement -- may be necessary to ensure your success.
Develop a plan: Stress-test your idea and research your marketplace, including what products and services you will be offering, their appropriate price point(s), who your potential customers will be and what your sales targets will need to be to cover your costs. Keep your end goal in mind as you build your company and maintain a positive, yet realistic, outlook as you progress.
Seek outside advice: Speak to an accountant and a small business banker. Financial specialists that can provide insight into setting up your company, market competition, personal and business capital and how it may change over time.
October 26, 2012 5:50 pm
It's not ghosts or goblins or even public speeches that scare workers the most this Halloween: In an Accountemps survey, more than one in four (28 percent) respondents said making a mistake on the job is their biggest workplace fear.
The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 420 working adults 18 years of age or older and employed in an office environment.
Workers were asked, "Which one of the following is your greatest workplace fear?" Their responses:
* total is 101 percent due to rounding.
- Making errors on the job - 28 percent
- Dealing with difficult customers or clients - 18 percent
- Conflicts with your manager - 15 percent
- Speaking in front of a group of people - 13 percent
- Conflicts with coworkers - 13 percent
- No fears - 3 percent
- Other - 7 percent
- Don't know/no answer - 4 percent
"Mistakes will happen from time to time, and a healthy concern for avoiding them improves job performance -- as long as that concern doesn't undermine one's confidence," saysMax Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies®. "Fear of failure holds many people back in their careers, but without smart risks new ideas would never take shape."
Like successful trick-or-treating, navigating frightening workplace situations requires forethought and the right approach. Accountemps offers five tips:
Plan your route.
A 20-page to-do list would scare anyone and is a recipe for mistakes on the job. To ease workload-related worries -- and be more efficient -- prioritize your responsibilities, and delegate when possible.
Ask for directions.
When facing a challenging project or new responsibilities, make sure you know what is expected of you. If you have concerns, let your manager know, and work with him or her to develop a strategy for overcoming them.
Bring a friend.
Don't be afraid to tap a mentor for advice on a particularly devilish challenge. When preparing a critical project or communication, ask a confidant for his or her feedback.
" Whether it's for candy or help with a difficult task, a sincere thank-you can go a long way toward building strong business relationships.
Give out treats.
Volunteer to assist overburdened colleagues, and be quick with praise for those who deliver outstanding work. You'll make people -- including yourself -- feel good and foster an environment where colleagues help each other on a regular basis.