May 11, 2012 3:02 pm
(ARA) - Life is hectic. And although technology has made our lives easier to multitask and stay connected, it also means that no matter where you go, it's hard to fully escape. While traveling to a remote island to get away for peace and relaxation would be a wonderful retreat, you can easily avoid the hustle and bustle of your daily routine by creating peaceful escapes throughout your own home.
Bliss in the bath
The bathroom is the only place where you can shut the door and have complete "you time" with little to no interruptions. "As people's lives get busier, multitasking is the norm - and our time in the shower is no exception," says Jack Suvak, senior director of market research and insights for Moen. With 54 percent of respondents to a recent survey on showering behaviors saying they have children living at home, a shower means a bit of precious alone time, and people take full advantage of the peace to think about the day, their lives and more.
To add a bit of bliss in the bath, add a spa-like shower with multiple spray settings to meet every mood. The Moen Caldwell Shower Combination offers a spa of multiple sprays and a variety of spray patterns - creating the perfect shower retreat. The collection features an incredible selection of options - both a five-setting wallmount showerhead and a five-setting handheld showerhead with five unique spray settings. And the best part? It won't cost a fortune.
"It's been interesting to watch how the bathroom - and the shower in particular - has become a therapeutic retreat in homes of any size," says Rebecca Kolls, senior director home strategist at Iconoculture, a Corporate Executive Board company. "Living today is a juggling act. Consumers want balance, peace and tranquility, and that is now as easy as stepping into the shower. An effective showerhead brings an experience that's as good as it gets - the golden ticket for relaxation whenever someone wants, or needs, it. It's a step away."
It's time to truly enjoy your shower and create the ultimate getaway. After all, you deserve it. And the multiple spray settings of the Caldwell collection are perfect for everyone in the house, with a slide bar that allows users to easily adjust the handheld showerhead up or down to the preferred height with just the push of button.
Zen in the den
The TV is blaring, the phone is ringing off the hook, and power cords from everything from the Blu-ray, to the Wii, to the table lamp are refusing to stay neatly tucked away. Your den area might be a go-to hangout place, but it's still easy to create peace among the chaos.
De-cluttering is one of the simplest things you can do to create order and a sense of calm. Remove items that haven't been used in months and get rid of furniture that serves little to no function. The less clutter your den has, the better you'll feel. It's also important to open the windows whenever possible. Less mess and fresh air can easily change the outlook of a room.
Perfection on the patio
Don't let that drab patio furniture or lackluster backyard get you down this season. A few pieces of bright colors can really change your outlook. Start off by planting flowers to spruce up the look of your space - no matter how small. Even if you don't have a yard to put them in, flowers can be housed in pots, on balcony railings and even hung from the ceiling. They are the perfect addition of color and soothing smells.
Another great idea is to update your seating areas on your patio. A comfortable rocker, glider or lounge chair could be the perfect addition to create an inviting area for you to escape in a book or relax and unwind socializing with friends. If you already have seating, create an attractive and comfortable update with seat cushions, which can be found for reasonable prices at local retail stores and even outlets - giving your wallet a break.
Follow these tricks, and you'll be on your way to feeling great, inside and out.
May 11, 2012 3:02 pm
Exclusive-right-to-sell listing. Listing that gives the broker the right to collect a commission no matter who sells the property during the listing period.
May 11, 2012 3:02 pm
Q: Are home improvements deductible?
A: Yes, but only after you have sold your home. According to the IRS, home improvements add to the basis, or value, of your home. A tax-acceptable improvement is defined as one that adds value to your home, "considerably" prolongs your home's useful life, or adapts your house to new uses. Examples include installing new plumbing or wiring or adding a bathroom. If the work done on the home is purely for maintenance, the cost cannot be deducted and generally cannot be added to the basis, or value, of your home. However, repairs done as part of an extensive remodeling or restoration of your home are considered improvements and therefore pass the deductible test.
May 11, 2012 2:00 pm
Mobile devices have become an indispensable tool for many people -- and the thought of losing one of those devices, or having it stolen, is disconcerting, to say the least. But it happens every day. It's estimated that lost or stolen phones alone could cost U.S. users $30 billion in 2012.
When a phone or tablet goes missing, so does a lot of personal information. And that can lead to more than just some inconvenience -- it can lead to a stolen identity.
The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. While identity thieves still resort to old-fashioned methods of information gathering, like going through trash and stealing wallets and purses, they can also get the personal information you store on your mobile device.
Here are three things you can do to help protect your mobile devices and your identity:
Password protect your device. A recent study by Javelin Strategy and Research found that even though many smartphones are being used to handle sensitive financial information, only 33 percent of smartphone owners password-protect their devices. If your phone falls into the wrong hands, you could make it very easy for someone to access your personal information and steal your identity.
Review your social network privacy settings. It's not just advertisers taking advantage of the personal information you include on your social network sites. As the use of social networking continues to increase, it's expected that the use of malware will rise, too. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to steal information and money. So you need to review your privacy settings frequently, be careful of what apps you install, and never "friend" someone you don't know.
Consider getting extra protection. There are a growing number of tools available to help you monitor and protect your identity as well as restore your name and credit, should your identity get stolen. For example, Mobile Rhino is a specialty insurance program that not only insures your device, but also offers an Identity Monitoring Service that alerts you of any changes that could indicate someone else is using your information.
May 10, 2012 5:18 pm
I am here with more sound advice on home inspections, this time coming from Chuck Gillooley, a REALTOR® from San Carlos, Calif.
But Gillooley says there’s one key function of the house that these inspections don’t usually cover — and it’s an area can lead to an unwanted surprise and an expensive fix for the new buyer: The sewer lateral.
Gillooley says the sewer lateral is that single piece of pipe that connects all of the waste lines in your home with city sewer system. The reason it hasn’t been traditionally inspected until recently is because once the sewer line exits the crawl space of a typical home, it runs underground to its junction with the sewer system, thus making it impossible to visibly inspect the condition of the pipe.
If for whatever reason the wall of the pipe is breached, Gillooley says the door is open to all kinds of problems including having raw sewage leaking into the ground below the house according to Gillooley.
Depending on which path the sewer lateral takes to connect to the sewer system, repairing this line can be expensive. If the entire line needs to be replaced, which is usually the case, it requires digging a trench to expose the complete run of the pipe — which can often run right underneath expensive landscaping, or worse, under your driveway.
Until a few years ago, it was difficult to assess the condition of the sewer lateral line. But today, Gillooley says plumbers utilize small video cameras that they can snake through the line and examine the condition of the entire pipe. Some cities in Gillooley's region now require that the sewer lateral of a home must be video-inspected (and in some cases certified) prior to the home changing hands.
At an approximate cost of between $250-$500, Gillooley says a video inspection of the sewer lateral is relatively inexpensive - especially if it uncovers a condition that may cost upwards of $10,000 to fix.
May 10, 2012 5:18 pm
Cooking can be so much more than simply getting dinner on the table. When you cook with your kids, it can lead to better relationships with food and with each other.
Getting kids involved in the kitchen gives them life skills they'll need, teaches them about new foods and healthy eating, and it can be a great way to have fun and bond together.
Kids of any age can play a role in cooking up a good meal, even the youngest ones:
• Scrub fruits and vegetables
• Tear salad greens
• Snap fresh beans
• Wipe tables
• Pour liquids into batter
• Spread peanut butter or butter on bread
• Mix muffin batter
• Shake ingredients together
Four- and five-year olds can
• Mash soft fruits and vegetables
• Measure ingredients
• Juice citrus
• Beat eggs
Older children can help with more complex tasks, including slicing ingredients for a meal and cooking parts of it themselves.
May 10, 2012 5:18 pm
Grilling season is here, and that means it's time to get fired up for the smoky flavor of your favorite foods cooked in the great outdoors over charcoal.
• The key to great grilling is building the right fire. Below are some general tips.
• Use different briquet arrangements depending on what's going on the grill.
• Thinner pieces of meat respond best to high temperature, direct-heat grilling, which requires spreading the coals out evenly across the grate.
Thicker pieces of meat cook beautifully all the way through, without burning on the outside, with a two-zone fire.
• Stack briquets to one side of the grate for high and low temperature zones. Begin cooking directly over the coals until the outside of the meat has reached the desired doneness; then move the meat to the other side of the grate (the low temperature zone) to finish cooking.
May 10, 2012 5:18 pm
Exclusive agency listing. Listing where the owner reserves the right to sell his property himself, but also agrees to list with no other broker during the listing period besides the appointed real estate broker.
May 10, 2012 5:18 pm
Q: How can I make energy efficient improvements to my home?
A: Begin by focusing on those small cracks and crevices around doors and windows. According to Lowe’s, a 1/8” space between a standard exterior door and its threshold is equivalent to a two square inch hole in the wall. Close those gaps to save up to 15% in heating and cooling costs and also reduce the demand on your heating and cooling system. Other energy efficient steps: lower your water heater’s thermostat setting; blanket or insulate the water heater to reduce the amount of heat lost by the unit, particularly if it is located in an unheated area; insulate water pipes, at least the hot water pipes to prevent heat lost that can cause your water heater to work harder; change furnace filters to prevent reduced airflow through the heating/cooling system and overheating that can lead to premature compressor damage in the A/C systems; and install water-saving shower heads.
May 9, 2012 6:08 pm
(ARA) - The number of kitchen styles and design options for homeowners to consider during the building and remodeling process is enough to make a person go crazy. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by simplifying your options.
Keep an eye on trends
Traditional? Transitional? Contemporary? The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recently surveyed more than 350 designers to identify the top trends and styles they tend to incorporate into their kitchen and bath designs. According to this survey, transitional style, a combination of traditional and contemporary, is now the most popular style in both kitchens and bathrooms.
This marks the first time (since the NKBA began tracking annual design trends) that "traditional" is no longer the most common type of design. The survey also showed that contemporary is the next most common style - with shaker, arts and crafts and cottage also following as frequently used styles.
Richer, warmer and darker wood species and finishes are dominating in popularity. "Hickory cabinets are catching on, as the dramatic grain variation is ideal for creating a rustic look," says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education for QualityCabinets. "Despite the growing trends, maple and cherry are still homeowner favorites for cabinetry."
Determine your style
While it's good to be aware of the trends, keep in mind that you are the one who will have to live with this kitchen. Incorporate design elements that you and your family will enjoy for years to come. If you don't plan to stay long, consider resale value and how kitchen design might help or hurt it.
Determining your personal style is the most crucial step before the kitchen remodeling process can begin (after budgeting, of course). Take pictures of other kitchens that you like and tear out pages from magazines. Scan home and design blogs to get ideas. Apartment Therapy recently revealed the best home design blogs with its award (as nominated and voted by readers), The Homies 2012. These blogs are a good place to start.
Several websites offer great resources and inspiration galleries for homeowners trying to plan their kitchens. QualityCabinets has an Idea Gallery that showcases a wide range of options, from more formal and traditional to sleek and contemporary. Pinterest is another great place to collect home and design ideas and save them to later share with your designer.
Work with a professional designer
While many people think they know their desired kitchen style, many have a difficult time articulating and identifying exactly what they want. A professional designer can help you design a kitchen that is comprehensive and consistent in design style.
The difficult task is designing a room that comes together as a whole versus bits and pieces. This is where a designer comes in and can turn a nice-looking kitchen into one that is both stunning and functional. Designers can also help you add a personal flair through the accessories, organizational features, hardware and finishes you choose.