Gunning Daily News

Q: Is a Vacation Home a Good Investment?

October 3, 2012 5:44 pm

A: Like any investment, it can be risky. Location and current market conditions are extremely important when deciding whether to buy.

Other things to consider:

  • Will you be able to afford repairs, maintenance, insurance, and utilities?
  • What about fees to pay agents who rent the property for you?
  • If you live several miles away from your vacation home, who will clean up between tenants and take an inventory of household items once the tenants leave?
  • What if you are unable to rent your second home? Can your pocketbook withstand the strain of paying the mortgage?

Think ‘Function’ and ‘Scale’ when Weighing Design Option

October 2, 2012 6:04 pm

After a couple of chilly or rainy early fall days, I am ready to turn attention inward. With holidays coming you can never have enough advice on improving your interior living space –whether it is a sprawling mansion or cozy apartment.

With that in mind, we turned to Vanessa Pereira an Interior Design Consultant at Mid-Atlantic Builders (midatlanticbuilders.com) who offered these tips about planning for fall interior design projects that will impress all your holiday guests.

Before investing your time and money on the interior design of a room, Pereira suggests evaluating the following:

Function – Decide the purpose of the room up front. As an example, a family room should have furniture that is both durable and comfortable, as you will likely spend a lot of time in that room. The function of the space will help determine fabrics, furniture placement, lighting and what color scheme to use.

Scale – Fitting properly sized pieces into the appropriate space helps to bring out naturally beautiful features of your home like floor to ceiling windows and fireplaces in the family rooms. A room that is designed with scale in mind will have the right size furniture and a fitting amount of wall treatments with a noticeable focal point.

In rooms with natural focal points, the furniture should be oriented in a way so as to accentuate those features. Pereira says there should be enough room for traffic to navigate between the furniture.

Avoid placing many small pieces of furniture in an oversized room. Instead use two larger pieces complemented with a few smaller pieces such as side tables or accent chairs.

Pereira also says each room should be a reflection of your individuality. The mood of a room comes together by the color scheme, style of furnishings, fabric textures, patterns and accessories.

An inspiration piece such as an antique sofa or painting can lead the way for the rest of the room’s design. To make it easy, Pereira suggests you make sure all the fabric patterns in a room have at least one color in common.

And resist the urge to be trendy - everyone else has already done that and seen that. Since trends come and go, your best bet is always going with an overall plan to fit your personality or your lifestyle.

5 Reasons Why Dogs Make Great Reading Partners for Children

October 2, 2012 6:04 pm

We all know that dogs can be great companions or cuddle buddies. But it turns out that we have another reason to celebrate man’s best friend– they’re good for kids’ report cards, too! Now before you scoff, consider the following:

A Minnesota pilot project called PAWSitive Readers finds that trained therapy dogs helped 10 of 14 grade-school participants improve their reading skills by one grade level. Additionally, a University of California study showed that children who read to the family dog improved their ability by an average of 12 percent.

Michael Amiri, coauthor of the children’s book Shellie, the Magical dog, discusses five reasons why dogs help kids learn to love reading:

• No embarrassment: “Most of us have memories of reading out loud in class,” he says. “Though we may have been proficient readers, the fear of stumbling on a word in front of everyone was a constant source of anxiety.” Dogs are excellent for unconditional, nonjudgmental love; they won’t laugh if and when mistakes happen.
• Confidence boosters: “I never had a dog while growing up, which is too bad because I think I would have had an easier time gaining self-confidence,” says Amiri. As an adult, he discovered the many benefits of dogs through he and his wife Lisa’s very special Maltese, Shellie. She’s often the center of attention in their community at pet-friendly restaurants, where she laps her water out of a martini glass. And she has a full-time job as the greeter at Linda’s hair and nail salon. “If a little dog can give me, a grown man, more confidence, imagine what it can do for kids,” he says.
• Polite listeners: Like humans, dogs are social creatures and most enjoy the sound of a calm voice speaking to them. Many – except perhaps the most energetic breeds – seem to enjoy curling up on a rug and listening to a story being read aloud. They don’t interrupt (except for the occasional ear scratch or to sniff a body part) and they often show appreciation for the attention.
• A fun approach to schoolwork: Too often, when children think of studying, they think of time spent hunched over a desk struggling alone to work out problems and memorize lists. Interacting with a lovable, fuzzy friend for an hour of homework is an appealing alternative.
• Win-win: A canine-student reading program is a great way to help service dogs-in-training learn patience and discipline. Dogs are trained to help veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, the blind, and people who use wheelchairs, among others. These dogs in training help children, while children improve a dog’s service abilities.

For more information on Michael and Linda Amiri’s book, Shellie the Magical Dog, visit www.shelliethemagicaldog.com.

Too Early to Prep for Thanksgiving Travel?

October 2, 2012 6:04 pm

Thanksgiving is a time for great food, fun and family. Unfortunately, family isn’t always local. Traditionally over 40 million Americans travel more than 50 miles from their home each Thanksgiving, to connect with friends and family in all corners of the country.

Recognized as one of the most travel intense weekends in the year, packing becomes just another part of life we must be thankful for.

Whether you and your crew are jamming five people into a sedan, or you have the luxury of running through crowded airports, there are a few packing tricks you can use to take some of the stress out of Thanksgiving weekend travel.

Travel light

First and foremost, select a suitcase that ensures your bag isn’t one of the items weighing you down.
Step two, pack only what you need. While we all like to have a few choices, depending on different scenarios we may encounter on the long weekend, making the commitment to travel light will ensure your packing (and equally as important, your unpacking!) experience is a much easier task. Take some time to check the weather forecast for your destination to choose appropriate attire. And do throw in a few back-up items, just in case! Best of all, by packing light, you may just have some room to pick up a few souvenirs along the way.

Leave your self room to maneuver

We’ve all been there – packed perfectly, maximizing each nook and cranny of our luggage. But what about those extra items you may need to bring home? Could a friend or relative have something to pass your way? Are you planning on doing any shopping?

Designed with the traveler in mind, the Helium Fusion 3.0 Trolley bags feature two additional inches of packing space with the expandable zip, so that you can accommodate all your new treasures. Exclusive to Delsey, the bags also include the patent-pending Over Weight Indicator, which signals packers when their bag exceeds the standard 50 lbs limit, and providing peace of mind by avoiding overweight baggage fees at the airport. And in case your bag is over the limit, the Pocket Tote-a-Long clip with an adjustable webbing strap allows you to attach and effortlessly carry another bag.

Pack smart

Once you have selected the correct combination of clothing, take some time to properly place these items into your suitcase. Think of what you will do when you arrive – will you unpack or live out of your suitcase for the weekend? Then, arrange accordingly.

Also, think of what you will need as soon as you arrive, and make sure those items are easy to access.

Source: www.delsey.com

5 Habits That Destroy Your Smile

October 2, 2012 6:04 pm

You’ve heard that too much coffee and red wine can stain your pearly whites. But the Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Steven A. Ghareeb, DDS, FAGD, offers advice on how to keep your smile healthy and pretty by avoiding these five bad oral health habits.

1. Not flossing
Brushing your teeth twice a day is important, but many patients don't realize that flossing at least once a day is just as critical to achieving—and maintaining—a healthy smile. Flossing removes the cavity-causing bacteria left behind from food particles that get stuck between teeth. "Although bleeding and irritation sometimes can occur when you first start flossing, it's important to keep at it," says Dr. Ghareeb. "Your gums will toughen up and your oral health will be better for it."

2. Brushing too soon after eating

Consuming acidic foods and beverages, such as sports and energy drinks, citrus fruits, wine, and tomatoes, can erode tooth enamel—the glossy outer layer of the tooth. Brushing your teeth too soon after eating and drinking these items can cause more damage because you are essentially brushing the acid into the teeth, not getting rid of it. Instead, you should rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and beverages and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your pearly whites!

3. Not replacing your toothbrush often enough

Not only are old toothbrushes ineffective, but they also harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections. Toothbrushes should be changed every three to four months. "It's also important to change your toothbrush after you've had a cold," says Dr. Ghareeb.

4. Excessively bleaching your teeth
Overzealous bleaching can cause your teeth to look unnaturally white and increase tooth sensitivity. Before using an at-home bleaching product, talk to your dentist. "He or she can advise you on proper use of these products as well as which type of bleaching system will provide you with the best results," says Dr. Ghareeb.

5. Using a hard-bristled toothbrush

A hard-bristled toothbrush coupled with an aggressive brushing technique can cause irreversible damage to your gums. Use a soft toothbrush and gently brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle, in a circular motion. Using a back-and-forth, sawing motion causes the gums to recede, and can expose the root of the tooth, making teeth extremely sensitive.

Source: www.KnowYourTeeth.com.

Word of the Day

October 2, 2012 6:04 pm

Undivided interest. Ownership by two or more persons that gives each the right to use the entire property.

Q: What Are the Most Important Considerations in Buying a Vacation Home?

October 2, 2012 6:04 pm

A: The second home market has more ebbs and flows than the primary home market. Sales are iffy in a bad economy except, perhaps, on the high-end. That said, there is a growing trend toward the purchase of vacation homes. They are being bought for investment purposes, enjoyment, as well as retirement. In the latter instance, some people are buying with the idea of turning a vacation home into a permanent retirement haven down the road, a move that puts them ahead of the game now.

Some of the tax benefits mirror those for a primary residence. Mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible, which helps to offset the cost of the home payment. And if you treat your second home as a rental property, you can fully depreciate it as well. But you are only allowed to occupy it for two weeks a year, or 10 percent of the total rented time, whichever is less.

Before taking the leap, ask yourself if you can afford to carry two mortgages, maintain two households, and pay the extra utilities and maintenance costs. Also, learn about financing requirements and options, which can differ slightly from those on a primary residence.

DIY: File Cabinet Planters

October 1, 2012 5:56 pm

In our last segment, I introduced the idea of repurposing old office file storage. One of the ideas was taking multi-drawer file cabinets and upending them to convert into practical planters for exterior use.

Some good points of advice on this project include:

Determining if the cabinet you are planning to use has a hollow bottom or a solid bottom. The perfect file cabinet should be a sealed box with a smooth bottom. Don't use cabinets with no bottom plate.

If your file cabinet has little raised lip slightly elevating the flat bottom, you might have to cut a piece of wood and fit it in to achieve a perfectly smooth surface.

Think about adding wheels or casters so you can easily move that planter around if necessary. Wheels not only make it easier to shift your file cabinet planters around, they raise it up from the floor so the planters can have proper drainage. The can be purchased inexpensively and bolted through the metal or wooden surface that will become the bottom of the planter.

To promote proper drainage, drill about 10 - 12 holes in the bottom of each drawer recess - that would be the side that was previously the back of the cabinet that faced the wall.

Since the planter will be outdoors, it is important to paint the cabinet with rust proof paint. First, sand off any rust from the cabinet, clean the cabinet, and prime the cabinet with metal primer.

Beware when using certain brands of metal paint and primer. In the case of Rustoleum, one blogger noted that you couldn’t apply a second coat of Rustoleum paint within 48 hours of the first coat, or the paint will bubble and peel off.

To avoid having to fill up the bottom of the planter with heavy dirt or large rocks, try using square planter boxes and elevate them using buckets. Another idea is to use plastic spinach containers you can get as throwaways from local grocery stores. Punch holes at the bottom and two of them fit snugly into each file slot to hold your plantings.

Slumber by the Numbers: Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

October 1, 2012 5:56 pm

There’s no getting around it: Sleep is important. It reenergizes us, keeps our minds alert, speeds up our metabolism and helps to elevate our mood. But between snoring partners, lumpy mattresses, old pillows and bed-hogging pets, there's a lot going on in bedrooms across America. Unfortunately, it's wreaking some serious havoc on the quality—and quantity—of sleep we're getting.

"According to some experts, the average American sleeps just six-and-a-half hours a night during the workweek and just over seven hours on weekends—that's well below the suggested 8-plus hours per night," says Denny Bradford, director of Ashley Sleep.

So what's keeping us awake? Here's a look at some factors that can often play a major role in sleeplessness:

  • A snoring spouse
  • Pets in the bed
  • Partner's motion
If these sound all too familiar, consider the following easy ways to improve your sleep so you can seize your day, every day:
1. Decide if your mattress is a good fit. If you have a spouse that tosses and turns, or pets that share your bed, a memory foam mattress—or gel mattress with memory foam—may be a good fit. Memory foam contours the mattress to the body and helps alleviate pinches and pains that can cause restlessness. It also absorbs motion so that each partner is supported independently.
2. Control the snoring. Since allergens can be a cause of snoring, make sure to rid the room of any potential snoring hazards like dust, mildew, fungus and pet hair. You can do this by replacing pillows yearly and by regularly washing sheets and keeping the room clean and vacuumed. Latex mattresses may also help with snoring since they're more resistant to bacteria, mold, mildew and dust-mites. If you've tried every possible remedy and the snoring just won't go away, it may be time to see a professional.
3. Take advantage of the weather! With the fall season officially upon us, the cooler weather can actually work to your advantage—and save you some money on your heating bill. Optimal sleeping temperatures in the bedroom should be somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees—so no need to crank up the heat too high. Fall's shorter days can be beneficial to your sleep, as well, since the sun is early to set and late to rise. A darker room means better sleep.
4. Keep the family room OUT of the bedroom. A bedroom should be a personal sanctuary, an inviting place that reflects your personality and taste. Unfortunately, many people also use their bedroom as a home office or TV room. Reserving this space for sleep alone will lead to a more restful environment and better night's sleep.
5. Be routine. Keeping a nighttime routine isn't just for kids; it can also help improve your level of sleep. Whether it's a hot bath, a book, journaling, or a cup of decaf tea that does the trick, be sure relax and unwind before bedtime so you can be at your best the next day.

Source: Ashley Sleep

Hot Home Trends: Euro Metro Modern Furniture Design

October 1, 2012 5:56 pm

You don’t have to be a hipster to decorate your home with modern furniture. Today, bright, sparse furniture is drawing on more than just its reputation for uncluttered, art-inspired designs. The iconic bright colors, pop art and sci-fi shapes of mid-century modern furniture are giving way to more understated colors and up-market designs.

"Euro-modern styles perfectly marry a light-filled, uncluttered, high-tech home with a comfortable, high-style, luxurious one," says Brenda Dillon, VP of Merchandising for Ashley Home Furniture. "This look is style with an edgy vibe. White leather. Black finishes. Clean textures. Chrome. These are some of the elements that make Euro style the hottest trend. It's modern style—all grown up!"

Ashley's new Euro pieces are smaller in scale for those who are space-challenged, as well as clean-lined with no ornamentation for a cool esthetic. They include:

Small-scale sectionals, modulars and sofas. These pieces create a number of set-up combinations to fit within any living area -- without sacrificing the comfort of the thick, boxed-seat cushions and backs surrounded in a soft chenille fabric.
Sleek, space saving tables. Choose from faux marble, travertine, chrome, and more for a cool, sophisticated palate that awakens the décor of any living area.
Innovative lighting designs. Say goodbye to sloped or angled lamp shades. Euro-modern designs feature straight shapes, including rectangular styles, as well as square and circular styles.
Abstract art. Modern art was made for modern furniture. Choose from big pieces, including art canvases without a frame. Hang a complementary pair of pictures together for a clean, modern look.
Bold accent pillows & rugs. Rich and contrasting textures are must-haves in a room with such clean lines. Ashley offers accessories that are a trendy counter point to the hip Euro feel, including shaggy rugs and throw pillows to contrast sleek chairs and shiny steel.

Source: AshleyFurnitureHomeStore.com.