Gunning Daily News

10 Quick Kitchen Fixes

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

You need not spend a lot on granite counters or tile flooring to give your kitchen a fresh, new look. So says stylist Rebekah Zaveloff, owner of design studio KitchenLab.

“So many people thing kitchen remodeling is an all-or-nothing proposition,” Zaveloff noted. “The truth is, you can brighten and lighten your kitchen with a few deft, inexpensive touches.”

For starters, she offers these 10 simple fixes:

Throw down a colorful area rug
– Kitchens don’t have to be boring. A colorful area rug by the sink, under a portable island, or beneath the kitchen table can really liven up the space.
Update the barstools or kitchen chairs – Browse second-hand shops or Craigslist for vintage or designer chairs or stools that will add new pizzazz to your old kitchen.
Change the lighting – Fluorescent lighting sheds more light in a dark kitchen, and a well-chosen chandelier or other hanging fixture over the kitchen table will provide a whole new look.
Go bold with wall color – A bright paint color will add new life. Paint all the walls or just one area, perhaps in the dining nook.
Paint the cabinets – If you’re tired of white, try a bold color on the cabinet doors, leaving the background white if you care to.
Change the cabinet hardware – New hardware is easy to install and makes a big impact on the look of your kitchen – especially if the woodwork is dark.
Add a pot rack to a blank wall – It will give the kitchen a new look and help to free up cabinet space.
Add display shelves – Shelves on the wall or behind a glass door cabinet can showcase collections, like antique cooking accessories, or hold glass Mason jars filled with pasta, cereal, rice, dried fruit and wrapped candy.
Tile the backsplash – tile of your choice is easy to apply and can dress up the space behind your sink or stove, adding new color and easy-clean elegance to the kitchen.

Tile, paint or wallpaper the built-in island – Choose a pattern that adds a bold look and a statement about who you are.

Should You 'Winterize' Your Pet?

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

(ARA) - The arrival of autumn signals many changes in the household, from switching from salads to soups to pulling sweaters out of storage to changing furnace filters. With pets, however, you may need to think as much about what you don't change as what you do.

Chicago veterinarian Dr. Shelly Rubin is well acquainted with the dramatic temperature swings that accompany the change of seasons, as well as how to help pets and owners cope with them. Following is his list of fall do's and don'ts for pet owners.

Don't “fall” off the exercise wagon. With days getting shorter - and cooler - it can be tempting to skip your early morning or evening walk. But with more than half of all pets in the U.S. being overweight or obese, exercise is vital. A daily walk, or several shorter walks, can rev the metabolism of both two- and four-legged walkers for hours.

Do ensure your pet is outfitted for cooler weather. Small, light-bodied breeds, dogs with very short hair and older dogs with weakened immune systems are likely to need a sweater when venturing outside. And once cold and snowy weather sets in, dogs may require protective footwear to keep their paw pads from freezing.

Don't assume that cooler weather eliminates the threat of diseases like heartworm, which are spread by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have been known to survive well into the winter months, thanks to indoor havens and protected microclimates existing within larger, cooler climate zones. For this reason, the American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm protection for both dogs and cats.

Do ensure your senior pet has a warm, draft-free place to sleep. Many older dogs and cats suffer from arthritis. Just as sore joints in people tend to feel worse in cold weather, so it is with pets. A warm cozy bed can make nights - and mornings - more comfortable.

Do be sensitive to your pets' feelings if fall brings changes to your household.
Just like people, pets can get depressed. And if you're missing a son or daughter who has moved away to start college or a job, chances are your family pet is also feeling the loss. Spending time with your pet and giving him an extra measure of cuddling and affection will help both of you feel better.

Financial Tip of the Week: How to Get More for Your Money

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

You know how it goes: pay day comes and you’re feeling good about your finances, but after your mortgage, college tuition payments, grocery bills and the occasional latte, you’re wondering where that money ran off to. It used to be that "middle class" meant "comfortable." Yet today, some are finding that lifestyle is slipping away as they struggle to maintain their standard of living.

Today, the best way to maintain the lifestyle you're accustomed to is to become smarter with the money you do have.

Here are four strategies to help you maximize your money:

Budget for your specific needs. When every dollar counts, you can't afford to let anything slip through the cracks. That's where a budget comes in. Creating one – and actually using it – can help you take control of your money. Start by keeping a spending journal so you can see where your money's going. Next, subtract your fixed monthly costs (i.e. mortgage or rent, car payment, utilities, savings, etc.) from your monthly income. The remaining money is what you have left for variable expenses, such as groceries, entertainment, gas, etc. How you divide this money is up to you – the only catch is you have to stay within your budget limits.

Plan ahead to avoid ATM fees. Avoiding this extra cost is as simple as planning ahead. Paying $3 here and there may not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. "For example, paying $3 at a non-bank ATM, four times a month adds up to $144 each year.

Find a credit card that benefits you. Look for one that rewards you for the money you spend.

Save money on everything. With a bit of advance planning and research, you can save money on everything from groceries and gas to haircuts and entertainment. Many of these savings can be found online and through mobile apps. Follow your favorite businesses via social media to learn about exclusive discounts and sales. Mobile apps can help you find the lowest prices on gas and other items you use everyday.

Source: http://www.harrisbank.com

Word of the Day

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

Townhouse. Usually a two- or three-story dwelling with shared walls, or a living unit operating under the condominium or townhouse form of ownership.

Q: Is It Best to Save for The Ultimate Dream Home or Begin with a Less Expensive Starter Home?

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

A: It can take a long time to save for that perfect dream home. Meanwhile, the market has been flooded with some of the most favorable mortgage interest rates in years. Low rates make housing more affordable, which is why so many buyers have jumped on the home buying bandwagon.

Home-price appreciation has also been strong, making very solid gains in communities across the country. In fact, home prices are expected to increase 2.5 percent to 3 percent annually over the next five years.
If you purchase a starter home today, you can potentially begin to build value that can lead to the purchase of a larger, or more desirable, trade-up home in the future.

Q: How Do You Decide whether to Add on to an Existing Home or Purchase a New One?

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

A: There are a few things to consider, including cost, individual needs, and what will add value down the road. Also important: your emotional attachment to the existing home.
As designer and builder Philip S. Wenz, the author of Adding to a House: Planning, Design & Construction, notes, an addition is much cheaper than building a new home and can offer a “new” home without the heartache of moving.

Other considerations:

  • Can you finance the home improvement with your own cash or will you need a loan?
  • How much equity is in the property? A fair amount will make it that much easier to get a loan for home improvements.
  • Is it feasible to expand the current space for an addition?
  • What is permissible under local zoning and building laws? Despite your deep yearning for a new sunroom or garage, you will need to know if your town or city will allow such improvements.
  • Are there affordable properties for sale that would satisfy your changing housing needs?
  • Explore your options. Make sure your decision is one you can live with – either under the same roof or under a different one.

Five Common Mistakes Most Parents Make When Using Car Seats

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

(ARA) - Four million babies are born in the United States each year and that means more than 4 million new car seats are being installed. While great strides have been made to ensure that every infant rides in a car seat, unfortunately, parents are making five critical, but fixable, mistakes when using car seats, according to new data announced by Safe Kids Worldwide and the General Motors Foundation.

“Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent,” says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Engineers are working hard to ensure cars and car seats are designed to keep kids as safe as possible. But it's up to every parent to take full advantage of these innovations by making sure car seats are used and installed correctly.”

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death to children ages 1 to 13. In a nationwide effort to educate parents about the importance of car seat safety, Safe Kids and the General Motors Foundation are asking every parent to take 15 minutes for an at-home car seat checkup using the Safe Kids downloadable checklist.

The checkup provides the following important tips that will help parents begin to ensure their car seat is used and installed properly:

Right seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it's appropriate for your child's age, weight and height. Like milk, your car seat has an expiration date. Just double check the label on your car seat to make sure it is still safe.
Right place. Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they are 13.
Right direction. You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until around age 2. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors.
Inch test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
Pinch test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child's shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you're good to go.

Source: visit www.safekids.org.

Fall Car Care Month: Keep Your Car Running Longer

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

As the weather turns, it’s important to take care of your car to ensure you’re getting the most out of your miles. Below are some key tips for consumers to keep their vehicles running longer and to encourage safe seasonal driving.

As cold weather approaches, the following items should be inspected by a professional:

  • Battery cables and terminals (make sure they're not corroded)
  • Levels of anti-freeze, oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, automatic transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid
  • All belts and hoses (make sure they are free of cracks and defects)
  • Air filters
  • Condition of windshield wipers
  • Lights and turn signals
  • Tire treads

Taking care of tires becomes even more important as winter weather rolls in. Stopping on wet roads can take up to four times the normal stopping distance. With a worn tread, tires may hydroplane, skimming over the surface with little or no traction. There are a few steps you can take to ensure your tires are in good shape:

Use the penny test to inspect your car's tire treads:
  • Insert a penny into the tread, Lincoln's head down.
  • If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, the tread is worn and the tire probably needs to be replaced.
  • Also, take a good look at your tires. Are there signs of uneven tread wear? That could indicate under-inflation, unbalanced tires or misaligned wheels.
  • Rotate your tires according to the schedule in your vehicle's maintenance guide — usually about every 5,000 miles.

In addition, the Car Care Council revealed the following statistics about consumer auto care in a recent study, showing many cars on the road need a checkup:

  • Fifty four percent of cars have low tire pressure.
  • Thirty eight percent of cars have low or dirty engine oil.
  • Twenty eight percent of cars have inadequate cooling protection.
  • Nineteen percent of cars need new belts.

Source: http://www.firestonecompleteautocare.com

Safety First: Avoid These Common Cooking Blunders

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

When you think kitchen safety, images of knives in the sink or ovens left on for hours may come to mind. But in fact, many of the largest safety blunders in the kitchen are from unsafe food procedures.
Research findings reveal despite the fact a majority of adults feel confident they understand and follow safe food handling procedures, a sizeable number do not consistently follow certain safe food handling practices.

Here are some common cooking blunders:


  • The quick wash up (or lack of wash up). Only 50 percent of consumers reported washing their hands for 20 seconds, before and after handling food. You've heard it before, but we all need the reminder - wash your hands before cooking, and during cooking, especially when switching between handling different foods. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds -- that's 2 choruses of 'Happy Birthday' (hummed under your breath).
  • Skipping the fruit and veggie wash up. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly in cool drinkable water, including those you peel or cut like melons, oranges, and cucumbers.
  • Bringing meats up to room temperature before grilling. This is a common 'cooking show' recommendation that really has no benefits and is loaded with the risk of promoting the growth of harmful bacteria. Keep foods chilled in the fridge at 4â—¦C until ready to cook - and that includes marinating too.
  • Cooking by color. You can't rely on the 'color test' to know when meats are done. Cook meat and poultry to proper temperatures to know for sure, using a digital food thermometer to test for doneness. It's a pretty simple step and saves a lot of 'doneness debates/arguments' that happen at the grill. Only 15 percent of people consistently use a food thermometer. Use this handy chart to know when food is cooked properly.
  • Using the same cooking equipment for raw as for cooked. Be sure to wash up barbecue tongs after flipping steaks, burgers, chicken, kabobs etc during cooking, and before you use them to take food off the grill to serve. Or better yet, have 2 pairs of tongs - 1 for raw and 1 for cooked. The same goes for cutting boards of course!

Source: www.befoodsafe.ca

Word of the Day

September 28, 2012 4:48 pm

Trust deed. A document used in place of a mortgage in certain states; a third-party trustee, not the lender, holds the title to the property until the loan is paid out or defaulted. Also called a deed of trust.