Gunning Daily News

Affordable Outdoor Entertaining

July 6, 2012 4:38 pm

Summer is prime time for many people to use their outdoor spaces - deck, patio or balcony - to provide extended living spaces for their home.

Homeowners will be happy to note that a big impact can come with a small price tag. Bloggers from Sears Outdoor Style and Grilling Is Happiness provide the following tips to live it up in the great outdoors without breaking the bank:

• Bring the outdoors in: All-weather wicker is great for both outdoor and indoor entertaining. It's not only durable, but is more cost effective than indoor pieces and has the added benefit of greater functionality. Many consumers use all-weather wicker as accent pieces in bedrooms, hallways and more.
• Give a little cushion: To stretch your dollar, simply update current outdoor furniture with replacement cushions versus buying a whole new set.
• Made in the shade: Gazebos, pergolas and umbrellas not only look beautiful, but offer a great respite from the sun's rays. Think they cost a fortune? Think again. Sears sells a simple gazebo at $179 and pergolas starting at $270.
• Found beauty: Accent your areas by grouping found objects from outings. Fill multiple jars with sand and shells from beach days to create instant chic and great conversation pieces.
• Light the way: Great lighting sets the mood for any space. Inexpensive votive candles can really make an impact when grouped together. White string lights create a cafe feel and are now available as solar-powered versions in fun shapes like butterflies and ladybugs.
• Chip away at the ordinary: Get beyond chips and salsa. Popcorn is a fun, healthy snack that creates great aroma when cooked on the grill. Mixed with spicy grilled jalapeno, it gives an outdoor gathering a festive kick that is budget friendly.
• Deliver a world of flavor: Think tapas or kebabs for your next backyard bash. Tapas are small plates that focus on quality rather than quantity to offer a variety of unique dishes. Kebabs allow for a colorful mix of veggies with steak, chicken, pork or seafood served. Consider serving the kebabs with seasoned couscous for an impressive all-in-one dish.


Word of the Day

July 6, 2012 4:38 pm

Market value. Generally accepted as the highest price that a ready, willing, and able buyer will pay and the lowest price a ready, willing, and able seller will accept for a property.

Q: What about guidelines for VA foreclosures?

July 6, 2012 4:38 pm

A: As with HUD, anyone can purchase a VA home. Qualified buyers also can receive the benefit of a VA loan – no money down – even if they are not veterans. If you are interested in purchasing a VA foreclosure, visit its web site,

Making A Color Statement: Hot New Interior Color Trends

July 5, 2012 4:58 pm

No matter your budget or time constraints, says Hollywood interior designer and set consultant Stephan St. Orang, nothing can change the mood and beauty of your home more significantly than interior paint and lighting.

“This is the year to look for color combinations that take their zing from nature,” St. Orang maintains. “You need only to take a nature walk to find surprising combinations that are vibrant, dynamic and that harmonize with one another in a joyful or pleasing way.”

Break away from the safety of neutral whites, greys and beiges, so popular in the last few years of economic uncertainty, with bold and optimistic color combinations like these, he suggests:

• Spring forest ambience – Wake up bedrooms or living rooms with walls of forest moss or leafy green and accent with splashes of yellow, vibrant pink and lavender in pillows and other accessories.
• Sense and sensibility – Begin with an exuberant rush of bold color, such as walls of rich copper-orange to create a sense of warmth. Add calming accents of cool blues and light yellows to create a cheerful and uplifting space.
• Earth and sky – Create a look of stylish, airy elegance in the dining room with walls of blue accented with darker wood trim. Add a soothing pale blue ceiling to soften the formality and accent one wall with a weathered, artistic stencil pattern to add visual interest.
• Spiced life – Add interest and cheer to a rec room or home office with an unexpected pairing of natural pewter on the walls and a pop of persimmon on the ceiling. Or stick with a more neutral ceiling and make creative use of color by painting a wide swath of your favorite hue along one wall to create an interesting backdrop for favorite works of art.

5 Reasons to Shop at Your Farmer's Market

July 5, 2012 4:58 pm

Summer in full swing means farmer's markets are popping up all over the place. Why should you swap your weekly grocery store trips for market excursions? Read on to find out.

Support small farmers –
With large industrial farms monopolizing most of the produce you find in stores, farmer's markets are one place where small farmers can continue to make a living. Just like you can control what industry you support by the food you put on your fork (yes to kale, no to dairy !), you can choose to support small over industrialized by choosing to spend your money at the market.

Support your local economy – Similar to supporting small farms, supporting local farms puts money directly back into your local economy. Helping out small businesses—including local farms—is a great way to do your part and give back to your community.

Gain a sense of community - Even if your farmer's market produce is a smidge more expensive than what you can get at the grocery store, there is nothing like chatting with the farmer about his corn harvest, or running into familiar faces week after week. Shopping at the local market, the way people did before huge fluorescent-lit grocery stores were the norm, can foster a sense of closeness within the community that is irreplaceable.

Eat seasonally – By planning your meals around your farmer's market purchases, you're making most of your meals local. Since we are so accustomed to being able to get any kind of product at any time of year in our grocery stores, we rarely focus on seasonal produce. Eating seasonally helps reduce your carbon footprint (less fuel used to transport those veggies!) and allows you to appreciate those seasonal gems—hello, garden tomatoes!--when they do make it to your plate.

Eat fresh – Hands down, fresh picked garden produce tastes better because it's fresher than anything you can purchase in the grocery store, which was shipped and stored for who knows how long. Spring asparagus and summer strawberries taste sweetest when fresh, so dig in!

Are Landlords Liable for Power Outages?

July 5, 2012 4:58 pm

Almost half of the United States is suffering from extreme heat, and millions of people are experiencing power outages.

For tenants in apartments without power, they have the option of suffering through the heat in their units or going out and spending time at a place where there is air conditioning like an indoor mall or a friend's house.

But tenants who have no choice but to remain home may be wondering if they have any recourse for their suffering in the dark. Particularly, tenants may be wondering if they can sue their landlords for the power outage.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is probably "no." If the power outage and lack of air conditioning are caused by reasons outside of the landlord's control like a regional power outage or just hot weather, tenants probably cannot sue the landlord. Your landlord is probably suffering just like you.
However, if the landlord is somehow responsible for the power outage, then the landlord could potentially be held liable. Fox example, if a building has extremely outdated wiring that causes a fuse to blow, and a building experiences a power outage, the landlord could potentially be liable for creating the condition that caused the outage.

Liability may also occur if a landlord intentionally cuts power to an apartment to retaliate against a tenant. If that happens, an experienced landlord-tenant attorney can help protect your rights.

There is a massive heat wave on the East Coast and millions are experiencing a power outage. While tenants probably have little recourse if they want to sue their landlords, tenants can try to keep cool by drinking plenty of water, going to an air conditioned place or cooling center, or taking a dip in the pool.


Tips for Taking Care of Your Home

July 5, 2012 4:58 pm

You probably protect your car with oil changes and yearly maintenance check, right? Such a big investment needs proper TLC.

Just like your car, your home systems and appliances all need periodic maintenance checks to make sure they're operating safely and efficiently. A professional preventative maintenance program can help homeowners when it comes to the upkeep of their heating and cooling system, plumbing, electrical system, and most major appliances. Having professional preventative maintenance services performed is key to ensuring tasks are done right and can save you time and money in the long run.
American Home Shield, a unit of the ServiceMaster Company, provides these expert tips to help keep your home's systems and appliances in great shape:

Air Conditioning
• Check filters every month. Clean or replace as needed.
• Keep the condensing unit free of debris.
• Trim shrubs and plants near condensing unit to ensure proper air flow and circulation.
• Bent condensing unit fins can often be easily straightened with a fin comb.

Washing Machine

• Inspect cold and hot water supply hoses for cracks and deterioration.
• Look for signs of water or oil leakage.
• Check to make sure the machine is level, and adjust it, if needed, by turning the legs clockwise to lower them or counter-clockwise to raise them.

• Clean the lint screen after each load of clothes has been dried.
• For gas and electric dryers, check and tighten supply connections.
• Check to see if the dryer is level; if it's not, the drum may vibrate and damage the unit. To adjust the level, turn the legs clockwise to lower them or counter-clockwise to raise them.

Water Heater
• Drain and flush sediment from tank twice a year.
• Check pressure-relief valve once a year to make sure this crucial safety device is not clogged.


Word of the Day

July 5, 2012 4:58 pm

Maintenance fees. Paid by a condominium unit owner to the owners’ association for upkeep of the common areas.

Q: How do I find government-repossessed properties?

July 5, 2012 4:58 pm

A: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acquires properties from lenders who foreclose on mortgages that it insures. These properties are then available for sale to potential homeowner-occupants and investors only through a licensed real estate broker. HUD will pay the broker's commission up to 6 percent of the sales price.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also acquires properties as a result of foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans. These acquired properties are marketed through a property management services contract with a federal bank that then lists them for sale with local real estate agents.

How To Reduce Your Wildfire Risk

July 2, 2012 5:58 pm

Few homeowners prepare for a wildfire or take steps to reduce wildfire risk unless one is threatening their home. However, the fires raging in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, along with the dry, drought-like conditions across the country should have every homeowner taking steps to reduce wildfire risk.
Homeowners reduce wildfire hazards by taking a few simple steps that can make a big difference if a wildfire threatens your community.

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), homeowners should remove potential fuel sources and create a defensible zone around a home which will dramatically reduce wildfire hazards. This may help slow flames or help direct the flames away from your home during a wildfire. Homeowners should also consider doing the following within 30 feet of their houses to reduce wildfire risk:
• Eliminate fuel sources like dry landscaping, woodpiles and decks.
• Prune trees and shrubs.
• Trim taller trees so lowest branch is no less than six feet from the ground.
• Remove dead leaves and branches from the yard.
• Clear branches from around the roof and chimney.
• Mow lawn regularly and dispose cuttings and debris promptly.
• Clear roof, gutters and eaves of debris.
• Maintain your irrigation system.
• Move firewood and storage tanks at least 50 feet away from the home.
• Store flammable liquids properly.